Tag Archives: Inside Crochet

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

Mary Janes

I’ve no idea who Mary Jane was, nor if she wore this style of footwear. The necessity for making something as adorable as these arose when another friend of mine had a baby, so I’ve a  mini-make to show off… Cute, aren’t they?


The new arrival is Carolin, and hopefully she won’t be as fussy as Emily (recipient of the pompom blanket from the post, Half A Mermaid). Emily apparently doesn’t like wearing anything on her feet or head, so that rules out some of the sweetest patterns.



These booties were designed by Vita Apala, and the pattern appeared in issue 34 of Inside Crochet (October 2012)


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Twelfth Night

The end of Yuletide has arrived and, with it, the end of revelries. Back to work in time for “Plough Monday”, and a return to normality. For me, it was an excuse to send a Xmas prezzie late, as I hadn’t finished it on time for December 25th. It hadn’t been a particularly difficult pattern, but I miscounted stitches a few times and had to undo rows several times. The pattern was Claire Montgomerie’s Fern Cowl from Inside Crochet issue 14 /Feb 2011 – it’s a pattern I’ve wanted to try for ages, and finally! got round to it..

100_7397I was pleased with how it turned out, though I’m a bit apprehensive that it might be too snug a fit.. What I wasn’t pleased with is my inability to get colour right in photos – I find it really tricky to get the colour of a garment the same in pictures as in real life. I gave the recipient of the gift a choice of hue – turquoise or.. well, I could only describe it as a kind of greeny-yellow, verging on the acid green. My instincts told me my friend would like the latter best, and I was right. When I went to the yarn shop to get more wool to complete the project, I asked the helpful assistant how she would describe it – she called it pistachio, which sounds more appealing!

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Inspired by Nature

Nature is a common theme from which designers draw inspiration.  Browsing some recent magazines, I noticed several people citing the natural world as their muse, whilst others named patterns after natural elements, whether a “gnarled bark” beret or a “birchwood” cowl.  Floral corsages or brooches are popular too, and the cover of a recent Inside Crochet magazine encourages readers to “Go botanical with our latest floral designs”.

This is by no means a modern trend.  An exhibition at the GardenMuseum (which ended last month – this post has been a long time in coming!)  showed how fashion over the centuries has copied nature and, intriguingly, how horticulture has sometimes emulated clothing.  Embroidery had an impact on gardening in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, particularly in Europe when the craze for intaglio took hold in the gardens of the elite. Evergreens such as box, hyssop and thyme were tightly clipped to form elaborate scrolls and knots which were very similar to those found edging clothes. The parterre de broderie literally means the embroidered parterre, and was pure pattern-work, involving no flowers.  The English, however, seemed keener to include blooms among these intricate loops and whorls.

Botanical realism was much more a focus in British clothing than in France and the rest of Europe, where depictions of plants were often stylized.  Around the time that Herbals were being printed, flowers started featuring on British clothing. They were a common motif throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st and until the death of her successor King James 1st.  Hedgerow blossom appeared alongside imported newbies, from honeysuckle and pansies to tulips (originally from Turkey) and African marigolds.

pansy flower macro photography

The enthusiasm for floriferous decoration may have diminished for a while, but returned in the 18th century. During the period between 1720 and the early 1760s, when dress styles remained static, it was through patterns woven into fabric that fashionable variety was created.  Silk weavers based around Spitalfields, for instance, endevoured to provide new designs each year, and floral motifs were a recurrent theme.  Anna Maria Garthwaite and other successful designers even joined botanical societies and were able to view the latest species arriving on our shores.  No real surprise, then, that one of London’s biggest nurseries was situated next to Spitalfields.  Whilst Capability Brown’s stark landscape style came to dominate garden design, nurserymen courted the dressmaker’s interest, and a rare anemone was equally likely to be snapped up for the loom or needle as for horticultural use.

In the 19th century, Victorian innovation meant that colour became more vibrant, both in horticulture and fashion.  Technological advances in heating and glazing were instrumental in the mania for carpet bedding; half-hardy perennials, usually unsuited to our climate, could be started off early in the season and planted out en masse in garish patterns when the threat of frost had passed.  Bedding schemes changes yearly so gardens could change their clothes, so to speak, as often as a lady changed her wardrobe.  Meanwhile, a similar eruption of colour in fashion occurred as chemists discovered how to intensify hues and developed synthetic dyes.  A new language of colour emerged with Michael Chevreal’s formulation of the Colour Wheel, still in use today.  This classification of colour according to whether they harmonised or clashed was applicable in fashion and gardens alike.  In 1861, the article ‘Colour in Dress, Furniture and Gardens’  was publishes in the Englishwaman’s Domestic Magazine,  which explained colour theory and how to use it.

Eventually this fervour for vivid tones subsided due to a snobbish reaction to its prevalence.  Public parks created by philanthropists for the benefit of the poor meant that bedding schemes originating in wealthy gardens were now for the ordinary public to appreciate.  Likewise, cheap dyes became more readily available so bold colours were no longer the prerogative of the elite.  By the 1870s, more sedate hues created a soft haze in the herbaceous borders and, in clothing, white became a status colour.  It showed up dirt, so indicated the wearer was not a labourer.

Returning to the present day..  I’m looking forward to the completion of the Suffolk Collection by knit and hookwear designer Joanne Scrace.  The basis for stitch patterns and construction is the undulating landscape of East Anglia, and its colours and shapes, the countryside where she was raised and still lives.


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There’s nothing like problems with a pc to deter me from logging on and blogging!  I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to computers anyway, and have approached social media with timidity and hesitance.  Setbacks become a real obstacle to blog-flow.  I’ve finally got it all sorted thanks to the helpful people at Red Desk (a local virtual assistance company)

Meanwhile I’ve also had problems with my crochet!  One of the projects I’m required to do for the IDC  Part 1 is something worked in a fine yarn. Of all the yarns we’re expected to use, this laceweight stuff  is my least favourite.  I can appreciate the outcome of someone else’s efforts with it, but working this yarn is far too fiddly for my liking, and I feel a bit cross-eyed after a while – good strong light is a must!  Give me an aran yarn any day, or at the very least a 4-ply!

The project in question is the Patricia shawl by Heidi McCarthy in issue 48 of Inside Crochet.  The instructions say to work the foundation chain with a 4mm hook then switch to a 3.5mm for the rest of the shawl.  I found this unsatisfactory as the chain seemed too baggy for my tension – I really should get into the habit of swatching, as I could have noticed this quicker with a swatch and saved time and frustration!  I tried working the foundation chain with the same sized hook as the rest of the project and this has produced better results…  but I found it difficult maintaining an even tension on such a long foundation chain (369 stitches) in such a fine yarn.  Needless to say I had to unravel a couple of times.  Then! when I’d reached about a quarter of the way into the piece, I realised I’d made a mistake early on in the pattern and had to rip right back.  I was so  peeved that the yarn broke in the process.  It was at this point that I decided to put the project, and actually all crochet, to one side for a week or two.

Now that I’ve got back to it, I’ve managed to reach the half-way point (more or less!)  The picture below shows how far I’ve got..


Fingers crossed that I can make it to the end of the project without any more angst!



Filed under International Diploma in Crochet, Makes

A Christmas Carol … of sorts

The festive season gives us the perfect opportunity for reflection and resolution, a convenient halt in proceedings as the year dwindles to make ends and beginnings.  These are underlying themes in A Christmas Carol and, inspired by this, here is my take on this classic Dickensian tale..

Ghost of Crochet Past

Is there a hookster or a knitter out there that doesn’t have any longstanding unfinished projects?  Certainly not me!  A couple of ghosts of crochet past are blankets that I can’t even remember when I started.  I’m already using both (stitch markers in place!)  as they are big enough to offer substantial warmth.  Both have narrowed as they progressed due to, perhaps, a change in tension, or forgetting which hook size I used, or inattention to counting stitches (easy to do with rib, which doesn’t require counting to maintain intricacies).  The green blanket with raised treble stripes is nearly finished and hasn’t misshapen too much, so I plan to complete this in the way in which I had started it.  The red half treble ribbed blanket, however..  well, I recently started to unravel that – but not too quickly as it can still keep me toasty watching telly in the depth of winter.  I thought about re-working it using the Strawberry Lace Stitch, but I might still shilly shally, rendering this project a UFO for a while yet!


Ghost of Crochet Present

In the days leading up to Christmas, I was frantically crocheting a hat for a friend who had asked me to make use of some luxury yarn she’d bought to knit a shrug,  As a busy single mum and business woman, she never got round to finishing it and requested that I put the yarn to good use.  We agreed a pattern, one that she liked and I was sure I could do; but when I finished it and blocked it, to my dismay, it hadn’t turned out right.  I’ll have to find the neatly tucked in yarn-end, and rip back the brim, maybe adding a few more rounds (did I misread the pattern, or miscount the rounds in my haste?) and possibly even change the way the brim is constructed.  Dare I??  Intriguingly, I made a hat early in my crochet obsession, and worked the brim too tight.  It’s the opposite problem this time…


Ghost of Crochet Yet To Come

As for ‘turning over a new leaf’ as Scrooge did (or at least focussing on best intentions), here are my crochet resolutions for 2014:

Get Social!  Interact with other bloggers now that I’m more comfortable with the whole blogging experience!  Find a stitch’n’bitch group to participate in.

Socks!  I’ve been wanting to make socks (knitted or crocheted, I’m not fussed) for a couple of years now, but somehow haven’t settled down to it.  I’m not a big fan of DPNs anyway, and haven’t spied any crochet designs that I like.  But finally!  I spotted a sock pattern that took my fancy by Rohn Strong in Inside Crochet (issue 46) so I reckon I’ll be giving that a go fairly soon.

Right, well two’s enough to be getting on with, else I’ll be more likely to break them!  All that’s left to say: to all my readers, be they few or many, best wishes for 2014!

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