Tag Archives: crochet

Crocheted urchins

Hello! It’s been a time. Knitting was taking over my life a bit, so I wanted to shift focus for a while, back to the horticultural. I found this article while researching something on orchards. It shows a stunning use of crochet to decorate a public space. That would definitely stop me in my tracks!


Choi+Shine Architects





Filed under Re-blogged

Tin & Hairpin

Now, I know I said I was having a ‘hook hiatus’ but a few things have come up recently to bring my mind back to crochet, if not hands and wool yet. One is an article commission which regrettably hasn’t come together in time due to problems with images, but hopefully will go ahead this time next year when all that is sorted out..

The others were spotted on a trip to the Midlands to visit a friend for an all too brief couple of days. We tootled over to Stratford Upon Avon and couldn’t resist the lure of a secondhand bookshop where I spied a publication that I knew I’d regret not getting. Of course I bought it! Quite a rare find, I think.


The other was a piece of filet crochet in the Mission Church (or the ‘Tin Church’ as it was also known) at the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings – where historic buildings retire when in danger of being pulled down! It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in Worcestershire. The tin church originally stood in Bringsty Common, Herefordshire, and was moved to the museum in 1995. I’m not sure if the crochet was also original – the information stated that the church had been maintained well after it had closed: the interior of the church was complete and that the font, lectern, pulpit, pews and vestments were rescued before dismantling, but the organ had to be restored.

It just goes to show…  crochet pops up even when you’re not looking for it (or trying to ignore it!)


Filed under Travel (sling yer hook)

Phone Sock

What to do with a forsaken crocheted sock experiment? Turn it into a cover for my new phone, that’s what!


I decided to get with the times and obtain a smartphone, seeing as the knackered old Nokia that I’d had for yonks had given up the ghost. In an attempt to be socially responsible, I went for the FairPhone 2 developed by the Phone Co-operative. Looking to the future, I thought a smartphone might be good when (if!) I eventually set up shop, and I now have the option of Instagram.


My new purchase just so happens to fit snuggly into a top-down sock design I was working on a few months ago. I stopped at the heel, and this sock leg conveniently formed a woolly envelope to protect the phone from grime etc – I’m a gardener for a living, and have noticed that bits of nature find their way into the guts of gadgets surprisingly easily!


It’s pleasing to re-purpose a UFO, utilizing something that has been hanging around for a while. Now to think of some good use for all those swatches I have sitting around being a nuisance…


Filed under Makes

Hidden Possibilities

There are hidden possibilities that lurk within limitation, like woodlice under a pot. Consider the humble, nay boring, double crochet stitch. I’m not a fan generally , but one of the compulsory submissions for IDC Part 2 requires that we produce a textured crochet fabric using only dc related stitches. This means no chains other than turning chains, no sneaky double trebles against a background of dc to create bobbles etc. Just dc, extended dc, dc in the back loop only, and such like.

This limitation is interesting because it forces us not to rely on the taller stitches to supply texture, but to explore the boundaries of the dc stitch itself. Here is what I came up with:


Surprising, isn’t it? In addition to the basic dc, I used exdc, dc front loop only, and dc worked into the back loop of the previous row, as well as a kind of puff (with exdc substituting for the more usual treble).

Now I have to think what use I might put this fabric to…


Filed under International Diploma in Crochet


I didn’t tell you, did I, that I finally finished Part 1 of the International Diploma in Crochet? I received the certificate back in August, and am now signed up to Part 2 which focuses on design.IMG_1864

I’ve only sent in and received back a couple of samples so far. I’m too distracted by all the designs that have been gathering dust in my head during Part 1, and now they’re all clamouring for attention! I’ve been swatching like mad, and trying to make sense of numbers. I’ve no doubt my maths is going to let me down, especially when it comes to grading. As well as the valuable process of writing instructions/charts for samples and projects of IDC Part 2, I am very glad there is a free pattern testing group on Ravelry, which I intend to make use of. If anyone snaps up any of my designs to test, that is!

N0 doubt most of you have heard of the w.i.p. (work in progress) Well, here is sneak-peak at a couple of designs in progress (is there such thing as a d.i.p. in knitting and crochet parlance?) …

I’m not sure if other designers find this, but the process of design ain’t quick, even when it’s a simple design!




Filed under International Diploma in Crochet, Uncategorized

Just in Time for Summer!

Just in time for summer, I’ve finished a heavily textured pullover! After the lower than average temperatures of May, June has started to hot up and thick jumpers are unnecessary! It’s my penultimate project for Part One of IDC and fulfils the criteria: commercial pattern; sleeves; and shaping. The pattern was called Elbow Patches Pullover by Nichole Magnuson (Inside Crochet, issue 60) but I omitted the patches, which was acceptable as we are allowed to make one change to the commercial pattern.


Dare I admit it..? Even though I’ve been doing crochet for about six years, this was the first garment I’ve made – though not the first attempted! I was keen to do something tactile, as I’m more interested in texture than colour-work. I have the (perhaps incorrect) notion that colour dates a garment faster than texture, and as I’m not really into fast fashion (handmade items are slower to make and so surely have no proper place in fashion that gets replaced every season) texture appeals more. I really liked this jumper when I started making it, but by the time I’d finished it, I completely gone off it! It remains to be seen whether I wear it or not. Anyway, as an IDC project, it passed with ..ha.. flying colours!



Filed under International Diploma in Crochet, Makes

Alpacas and Dragons and Sheep, Oh My!

Ickworth House, a National Trust property in Suffolk, held their second Wool Fair at the end of May. I went along because my IDC teacher/assessor Helen Jordan asked if I might, on the off chance, be up for helping with her crochet supplies stall Thread of Life. I had just handed in my household project and the request came when the project was returned to me. I didn’t immediately agree, as I’m not really a “Roll up! Roll up! Come and see this…” kinda gal and thought that this, combined with my rubbish maths, wouldn’t make for a good stall companion! Helen said it was fine, and that I could sit and do demonstrations. The magic words were “all expenses paid!” Well, I thought, why not?? It would be a good, if slightly daunting, experience for me and, although a stall companion isn’t essential, it is handy to have someone to mind the stall during a break as well as to help with setting up/deconstructing a stall, and hefting things about.


Helen Jordan and her stall, Thread of Life

The event came around, and the forecast was for a lovely bright Saturday, followed by a wash-out the next day (did someone say Sunday?). We were situated in a big marquee – less likely to get blown away than the individual tents (this did happen to someone the night before the event!) The weather matched the forecast but the rain didn’t put the public off, as I think there were nearly as many visitors as on the sunny day.

To calm my nerves, I sat and did demonstrations for much of the day (mostly of hairpin crochet, with a bit of tunisian thrown in), The hairpin really piqued people’s curiosity and I was asked about it lots. I explained it wasn’t new-fangled technique dating to at least Victorian times but, for some reason, had never become widely used. I showed how it could be used to create intricate and delicate shawls but also to produce denser fabrics. It uses less yarn than ordinary crochet, and works up quickly, which is great if you’re an impatient beginner! Most of those stopping by the stall didn’t know what hairpin was, though some had heard of it; only one elderly lady knew exactly what it was. She told me her grandmother had used this technique but that she hadn’t seen it in a long time. I found out she had taught a bit of crochet so I encouraged her to teach this method of crochet which deserves to be more widely known.

Another fascinating conversation sparked off by the hairpin was with a Textiles graduate. From a distance, she seemed totally entranced by what I was doing, before coming to talk to me. Turns out she had tried her hand at most textile crafts but had never encountered hairpin. Not that she got on with crochet at all – apparently, the constant motion of slightly flicking the wrist in crochet wreaked havoc with her neck. My comments about hairpin being an old technique in a relatively young craft surprised her as she believed crochet to be older than knitting, which is ages-old. (Pauline Turner of the International Diploma in Crochet teaches that there is no solid evidence of the craft prior to the 1800s.) The graduate’s eyebrows rocketed! This all lead on to her telling us about her studies, and her dissertation which revolved around the idea of the invisibility of “women’s work” – the cooking and cleaning and clothing – which enabled men to get on in life. Her husband was nearby and smiled at the irony – while his wife studied, it was he who did the housework… much better with the Dyson than she was, in fact! Not content with a Textiles degree, this crafter is going on to do a Masters in Fine Art – no easy thing when the emphasis is textiles. I remember something Grayson Perry said about craft not being valued as highly as art, and how it was more difficult to “come out’ as a crafter than as a transvestite”! Let’s hope this woman manages to shake up the status quo!


Rare Breed Sheep.. before the music started..

Of course, no wool celebration is complete without sheep. In a spare moment I wandered round the fair and got drawn in by the dancing sheep. Yes, you did read that right. Even scarcer than a rare breed sheep is a dancing rare breed sheep. There was Lenny the Lincoln Longwool, Nobby the Norfolk Horn (a breed rarer than the panda), Dougal the Scottish Blackface, and Sam the Suffolk. These disco woollies were on tour with The Sheep Roadshow. Of the many interesting facts thrown at the audience by Sean the Shearer, here are a choice few: there are more sheep in the UK than the rest of Europe; the waterproof oil in wool is lanolin and is used in cosmetics e.g. lipstick, which is “basically sheep sweat with a pretty colour!” And did you know that sheep have a great sense of smell? Desert sheep can smell water from a distance…


Rivals for the attention of the public were the (non-dancing) alpacas. They are lovely creatures belonging to the camel family – think camels without humps. Mind you, I’ve tended to think of them as long-legged sheep with elongated necks. But don’t you dare call their fleece wool! For some reason it’s called fibre. Unlike wool, it is hollow in structure, and the absence of lanolin makes it hypoallergenic. There are two types of alpaca based on differences in their fibre: the Huacaya have sheep-esque woolliness; the Suri have long,spiral locks.These camelids are friendly with sheep, goats and chickens and can be kept alongside them. Handily for the chickens, they offer great protection against foxes. But if you’re thinking of keeping a guard-alpaca, do remember that they are herd animals and must be kept on groups of at least three. Not that they’ll vocalise aggressively; they don’t even brazenly bleat like sheep or goats. It’s almost as if they’re ventriloquists, throwing their voices, as the sound doesn’t quite seem to come from them. I now understand why it’s described as “humming”..


The dragons were of the non-maiden-eating type. They jingled a bit, they skipped a bit, for these were the Green Dragon Morris Dancers, a “family side” meaning that women are allowed to participate.


Other delights included a sheepdog trial which I, unfortunately, missed, and non-woolly stalls such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and Libbidib Pottery. All in all, an enjoyable weekend – and a lesson learned: don’t pass up an opportunity because of self-doubt.

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Filed under Events, Travel (sling yer hook)