Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Lotus Moon Crochet Along

I published my first Crochet Along (CAL) project in 2011 after encouragement to do so from my friend knitwear designer Debbie Abrahams who has herself run a Knit Along blanket club for the last 10 years. I have always loved designing CAL projects as I tend to get a bit bored with repeated blocks and love the challenge of adding lots of different elements and techniques to a design.

Crochet Along 2011

Since my first Crochet Club in 2011 crochet along projects have become incredibly popular - indeed my 2 most recent CAL projects, Lily Pond Blanket and Frida's Flowers Blanket have had thousands of participants world wide and my designs are just a drop in the ocean in the world of Crochet Along projects as there are so many fabulous CALs to choose from. My current favourites include Sophie's Universe, which, more than a year on from the launch of the the CAL, has me totally in awe of Dedri Uys's expert stitch construction and the Last Dance on the Beach CAL from Scheepjes.

Despite the fact that I love these designs, there are very few CAL projects that I have the time to work on even though I would love to spend my days working through other designers projects! However in the last few weeks I have fallen head over heels in love with 2 current Crochet Alongs - one is Sue Pinner's Carousel CAL which you can find a link for yarn packs for by following this link. The CAL starts in September (I am planning to follow it using the Batik yarn) and it has a really fun theme of circuses and travelling fun fairs. there are 2 colour ways to choose from, or, as the patterns will be free via the Stylecraft web site you could choose to use up yarns from your stash.

The other project that I am really keen to have a go at is the Lotus Moon Tiles CAL by Polly Plum from Every Trick on the Hook. To join the CAL you need to purchase the wonderfully in depth pattern via Polly Plum's Ravelry page (the link is here). Then you can join the Facebook group, which already has almost 2000 members, to see other people's interpretations of the design and especially really great ideas for yarn colour combinations.

The pattern is written for a Worsted Weight yarn, but I am going to do mine using Stylecraft Special DK and part of the reason I want to work through the whole project is so that we can work out yarn amounts and have dedicated kits on the web site - with the kind permission of Polly Plum of course! The CAL runs until the 19th October with weekly updates on the Facebook page.

I have already worked through one complete main motif using shades from the Stylecraft Special DK range, but to be honest the colours are not totally doing it for me and so I am going to do the blanket in a slightly different choice of shades. Below is an image of the original colour way which I want to emulate. I am happy with my first 2 colour choices - cream and yellow - as I don't think I can go too wrong with these!

The first stage of the CAL and therefore this week's task before the next stage on Monday is to make the first 3 rounds. The original pattern (for Worsted weight yarn) is for 12 main motif, but as my pieces are going to come up smaller because I am using DK weight I am going to make 20. I am also using a smaller hook.

I have sat this evening and worked through a couple of motifs. I need to work through about 3 or 4 a day to keep up with the pace of the CAL so hopefully I will get a little more spare time tomorrow - I am doing a workshop all day so perhaps a can squeeze a few sneaky rounds in during my lunch break? Anyway, I will let you know how I am getting on and will post again about the CAL next week.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Frida's Flowers Pattern Set Eight

So here I am again with the final part of the Frida's Flowers CAL!

After all your hard work crocheting your motifs this set of patterns will probably come as a bit of a relief! It has been amazing to see your near completed projects popping up on social media and I would like to say thank you to everyone who has sent images and lovely emails over the last few weeks - it means so much to know you've enjoyed your Frida's Flowers Crochet Along experience.

When I was thinking about the edging for the project I had lots of big ideas - I thought about little 'Day of the Dead' type skull motifs and love hearts. I envisaged more flowers and elaborate lace, but in the end it occurred to me that the ideal frame for the design should be a simple one so that the flowers became the focus and so I decided to try and emulate the idea of embroidered zig zags which are so common in Mexican textiles. I kind of had in mind the image of sewn ricrac fabric tape.

When you work an edging it is neater to work into stitches themselves rather than into the spaces between stitches, this is especially the case when working into treble crochet (US double crochet).
Working into stitch spaces will accentuate the gaps, so try to work into the post of the stitch instead.

It isn't essential that you achieve the same stitch count as me, but you need to make sure that your repeat works out so that you work 3dc (3sc US) into the stitches at the top of the zig zags - if this means you need to skip an extra stitch somewhere this should be fine.

I think the final round in black really finishes the blanket off nicely, but you could always add more rounds or use a different shade.

So there we go - Frida's Flowers all finished! Here is my version below photographed on the living room floor! 

The image of the blanket below has been sent to me by an amazing crocheter called Lucia - isn't it amazing! I adore Lucia's layout. You can visit Lucia's blog page on Facebook by following this link.

It is always quite sad when a CAL comes to an end and always incredible to think back at how quickly the time has flown. Frida's Flowers has been my 6th crochet along project in as many years - I designed 4 projects using Rowan Yarns between 2011 and 2014 and have designed for Stylecraft for the last 2 years, but now I think it is time for me to move on again and so I am beginning to think about my own CAL design for 2017 - as soon as I have anything concrete to tell you about I will let you know!

In there mean time you may want to check out my Sunshine and Showers Mystery CAL that I have designed for Crochet Now magazine and look out for my new blanket kit project Mexican Diamonds, which will be launched at the end of July. 

I am sure that the guys at Stylecraft have plenty up their sleeves to keep you going through the Autumn so be sure to keep an eye on them too!

I love the challenge of designing the Crochet Along projects and hope that you have all enjoyed your Frida's Flowers experience too. 

Sending you all much love and crochet happiness!
Jane x

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Frida's Flowers - Block Seven

Today sees the release of the final hexagon block motif for the Frida's Flowers Blanket.

This block is placed at the centre and top and bottom edges of the blanket and you will need to make a total of 5 pieces.

I have called this block Frida's Bouquet as it features small flowers and leaves. It is quite a complicated piece, but is uses all the techniques you will have already got to grips with in other blocks so I am hopeful that you shouldn't find it too difficult.

Once you have completed the central flower you need to work a framework behind it to create the base for the leaves:

You need to work with the Right Side facing you - however the image below is shown Wrong Side facing so that you can see the framework:

You need to create 6 leaves using your darker green shade (the shade names differ depending upon what yarn you are using). Make sure you have 6 leaf bases!

The other side of the leaf is worked using your other green shade - the chain loop at the top will be covered up later on:

The background shades are added over the next few rounds - you will need to work behind the leaves so will need to fold the leaves forward while you are working:

I am so pleased with these motifs - working the chain stitches behind the leaves means that you can achieve a lovely 3D effect which I think really echoes the details of Frida Kahlo's traditional Mexican textiles that she loved to wear.

When I choose a colour palette I almost always include a shade of yellow as it is such a fabulous accent colour. In this design I think the bright yellow shade is key and it really sets off the other shades.

Once all your colourful flowers and leaves are made you need to add the black border:

I feel that the blue bullion stitches add a really nice highlight to the centre of the flower, but of course making these is optional!

I hope you will enjoy making these motifs as much as I enjoyed designing and making them. In a fortnight the final part of the pattern will be available to download. The last set of patterns includes instructions for adding the edging.

Janie x