JULY IS NEARLY OVER…THE HARLEQUIN BLANKET’S DETAILS

Hello everyone,

This month I am very ahead of myself! It has been a really busy month, I had a lot of deadlines and also I went to the Blogstar’s summer meeting last weekend which was absolutely fantastic! I came back with a bag full of new yarns and shades!! I met several of Stylecraft’s retailers too which was very interesting but I will tell you all about in another entry because the purpose of this one is to give you the details of the ‘Harlequin’. Having said that, I have been messing around in my studio all week clearing up yarn and upgrading the space, those of you that follow me on facebook will have seen some of the pictures…the purpose of the clear up was to be able to play with all that squishy, colorful new yarn!

I can’t wait to show you some of the new shades !!!!

I will update the blog and the Facebook once I start to make some samples and decide what to do with the haul….I am also going camping next week just for five days near Gloucester, with my daughter Francesca, and my friend Yvonne, another fabulous crocheter, so guess what get put in the boot of the car before anything else:

I bet you already know… YARN, YARN, YARN !!!!!

But as usual, I m going on a tangent… back to the ‘HARLEQUIN’:

I haven’t had a chance block the blanket yet as you can see the weather is really poor and I had no chance to do it properly as I  can’t dry it outside, so apologies if the border looks a bit “curly” it is actually perfectly flat.

 

first the PATTERN:

As said on facebook it is not mine but I found it free on the internet. It is the work of Solveig Grimstad , a very talented  Norwegian crocheter. This is her page :https://www.facebook.com/Solstrikke/.

She has fabulous projects, some are translated in English too, there are charts ( I followed the chart for my Harlequin)   and this is the link to the harlequin blanket which I used for my version:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/harlequin-blanket-5

I followed her pattern and my blanket measures: 92 cm x 102cm including the border. ( the original one is 75 x 80 cm.) I think the discrepancy between sizes is due to the yarn used, and the fact that  I made a different border.

As in the original version, there are:

38 full diamonds motifs,8 half diamonds

8 half diamonds  (vertical),

12 half diamonds ( horizontal).

The joining method is a JAYGO and again she has a lovely very clear photo tutorial on her blog’s entry I  gave you the link to, which I have followed.

 

BORDER:

I wanted a border a little bit more substantial so I opted for a different one:

Many of you I am sure are aware of the fabulous CAL called: NUTS ABOUT SQUARES. sponsored by Scheepjes. http://www.scheepjes.com/en/

It is free on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/nuts-about-squares-cal  and also comes with Esther Dijkstra ‘s fantastic video tutorials too!!!

Nuts about Squares CAL

 

I really wanted to make the Nuts about squares blanket but sadly I have not enough time to squeeze another project in! I have still followed the different squares’ entries online as many of my favorite designers have participated designing one of the squares.

The border I used is week 15 of the CAL ,  it has been designed by Tatiana Kupryjanchyk    here is the link:

http://www.lillabjorncrochet.com/2017/07/nuts-about-squares-cal-border.html

the only thing I have added is a row of trebles all around to adjust the number of stitches to the requirement of Tatiana’s pattern repeat.

and a final row of: 1dc,3ch,1dc on he same dc of the precedent row, skip one dc and repeat. It is my mini shell finishing that I use in most of my blankets.

The joining color is CREAM  ( 2 balls)

 

crochet hook: 3,5 ( normally I use a 4,0 for the Stylecraft’s dk but I wanted a more tight fabric hence the 3,5. please do a swatch if you want to crochet the blanket and see what you like best).

YARN USED:  STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK

STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK in:

GOLD/GRAPE/VINTAGE PEACH/SPICE/FONDANT/CANDYFLOSS/BUTTERMILK/CREAM;

FONDANT/CANDYFLOSS/BUTTERMILK/CREAM;

STYLECRAFT  LIFE DK in:

DAFFODIL/MELON/CLOVER/LILY/FUCHSIA;

BATIK:

CORAL.

with the option of one ball of  KING COLE  SPRITE shade KOS.

I said option because you really don’t need it as there is plenty of yarn left from the Stylecraft to finish the project.

 

The reason I used the Sprite is that I wanted to create the effect of the crumbling walls of many of Venice’s buildings and the variegated effects of the Sprite did the job.

Here is a picture that let you understand what I mean with crumbling walls if you never visited Venice in person…they have a wonderful color/texture. the image is the House of the Rennaissance painter Tintoretto :

I love the colors not only of his house but of his paintings too. Look at this is called “Christ in the house of Mary and Martha” painted in 1580.

The warm oranges gold and pink are very common in the Rennaissance art, especially when linked to Venice.  I got another painting for you: this is a portrait of the Doge Andrea Gritti ( the Dogi were the rulers of Venice )  painted by Titian in 1545.  Just magnificent!

 

Anyway back to the Sprite …I got my ball as a sample from Linda at Threads…( she always tempts me with something new to try!!)  Now the Sprite looks lovely but I haven’t tested it.  I am saying this because I noticed it has an ever so slightly fuzz that I am not so sure how it will behave after several washes and use. I am very thorough with my testing, especially if I am going to recommend a yarn to you I feel the responsibility to make sure it behaves as it should as there is nothing more disappointing than spending loads of hours on a project and then ruining it through washing or use.

All the blankets I make are not just made to be PRETTY they are also made to be USEFUL, dragged by children, family pets, back of your sofa, car, taken on family holidays,  or simply used when you want something comfortable to wrap yourself in.

every yarn I use, regardless of the brand,  goes under the same process: I make a sample and then I hand wash it first to see the color fastness, then I put it in the washing machine and tumble dryer several times before using it for my projects. I didn’t have time to do all the above for the Sprite, so fingers crossed.

QUANTITY:

the blanket weight just 560 grams. I used probably about 45 grams of each colour…some more some less, plus 150 grams of cream again the quantities are approximate. But , as I said before, you can really decide if you want more motifs in one color instead than the other. I did about 3 motifs for each color to distribute the hues  evenly.

 

 

So this is all for today, I leave you with a picture of oranges and pinks in my garden…have a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading,

Lucia xxx

 

 

Odinella..the Icelandic Blanket.

Another blog entry…two in two days!  I love weekends because no work mean more time to write stories!  So some more about the June blanket:

 

Despite the heat, I finished the June blanket just a few days later then envisage.

 

I was so close to put the blanket in the WIP’s pile …as I didn’t consider the possibility that Scotland could get hot too, but I loved the yarn and the pattern I designed for the blanket so much that I persevered regardless of the temperature.

So now it still needs a  very simple border of some sort of type but I have run out of yarn and while I am waiting for it I started my July new adventure.

I might postpone the border to September I see how things go.

I was on the Ayrshire coast last weekend with my daughter Olympia and three of her friends,  so I took a few pictures of the blanket and the lovely coast.

The blanket is beautiful both sides! I still cant make up my mind which one I like the best…

 

The original idea for the pattern was to emulate the colors of Bifröst, the burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Asgard and Midgard,  a tribute to yet another of the books I love and I mentioned before: ‘the Prose Edda’.

I thought I was going to make some sort of stepping stones like large pebbles, colorful paving stones for the bridge, but as always happens with things that are made as you go, the ‘pebbles ‘ looked more like a starfish then anything else!

more so when I photographed the blanket on the Beach…

So yeah…no paving stones, sorry Heimdallr,

 

On the matters of lore, traditions, and stories I was going to mention elves and trolls and more so some really amusing little books written by a blogger and journalist called Alda Sigmundsdóttir. She has written several “Little Book” . they are a series of short essays that tell the story of the Icelanders,  now and in the past, some of the how they live, how they eat, how they deal with the beautiful but challenging Icelandic landscape.

Some of the topics include early superstitions, cultural anecdotes, and stories of the elves. (Do modern Icelanders really believe in elves? The answer may surprise you!)

Back to the blanket. I gave it a new name is called Odinella. you will find out why …

I realized that looks more like a  coterie of starfish, but as they are technically not fish… I am calling them sea stars.

While looking at images of sea star to use for this blog entry I stumbled on this beauty…is called Odinella and belongs to the family of the Brisingids.

     

 

The sea star’s family  is named after the Brisingamen, Old Norse for “glowing jewellery”,  ‘fire torc’ , the most beautiful necklace worn by the goddess Freyja so we still have  after all a Norse mythology connection, and Heimdallr is back too, as in the Prose of Edda, Loki steals the necklace, to avoid been found  he disguises  himself into a seal. Heimdallr turns into a seal as well and fights Loki. Heimdallr wins and returns Brísingamen to Freyja….great fun indeed.

Now this might be a bit controversial, as the Prose of Edda is a phenomenal extraordinary scholarly book, but…if you have no time to read it or you want something ‘lighter’ to share with your children you should have a look at  Neil Gaiman’s book :’Norse Mythology’. I found it witty and very enjoyable,  for me the added bonus,  is that it is available on Audible too, and the reader is Neil Gaiman himself!

back to the blankets some lovely shots of Turnberry’s lighthouse…( I walked over the golf course, not with a set of clubs but with a basket, a blanket, and a camera..and few puzzled looks)

 

 

the details of the pattern are still in a jumble in my scrapbook. I will ( don’t I always say that?! …) write it  down, but ,as I have been asked for the yarn I used, here is the list of the colors:

The yarn is LETT-LOPI  , a DK weight  100% wool. it comes on a 50 grams ball,100metres.

0867/9427/9426/9423/9421/1404/9418/9419/9432

/1414/9417/9431/9429/9428/9414/9434/1408.

I used 2 balls of all the above, besides 1408 (light red heather)  which I used just 1 ball as it is a very powerful hue.

 

the joining was done with 6 ( so far ) balls of 0058 (dark gray heather) I  am saying so far because I haven’t finished the border yet. I reckon I will need probably another 4..I am not sure.

More warnings…they yarn is FABULOUS BUT….if you are accustomed to the feel of acrylic, cotton, or merino please note that this is different. Lopi Lettlopi Wool is a breathable and water-repellent Aran weight roving yarn.

I love it and it is my favorite 100% wool yarn! it is the best for garments for the Scottish weather as it is rustic but so warm you will be pleasantly surprised! also, it is handwash only.

my advice? if you want to make the blanket before embarking in buying the full amount yarn just try a ball and see how you feel about it…

that is all for today,

happy crocheting,

lucia xxx

 

July’s blanket: A white rabbit, Venice,brocade and Arlecchino…..

July is already here!!! and to quote a very special white rabbit from one of my favorite books, ‘Alice in Wonderland’:

“the hurrier a go the behinder I get”!!

 

 

Besides me  chasing my tail for the past few weeks trying to fit everything in , Alice in wonderland’s  little white rabbit is not just going to remind me that I seem to be always behind with things, his tabard with the playing cards, is also going to be one of the sources of inspiration for my July blanket.

The July blanket is also a place that is very dear to me and where I have lived for 7 years while studying Architecture…

VENICE !

I know, how lucky is that?? I loved every single minute of those 7 years!

   

There are so many things I love  about Venice, to fill several blog entries, but for today I m going to focus on colors…( just for a change!) I am going to show you what has inspired not only the palette for  July’s blanket but also the pattern too.

So where to start….some shots of fabrics, buildings, interiors…  a riot of warm colors that summarize Venice for me…

how about the ‘coral room’ at Palazzo Brandolini,

 

or the interiors with their brocade’s dressed columns of St Brigida Church…

 

 

Some amazing fabrics…  Rubelli’s ‘ silk brocade with strawberries’

When coming to fabrics Venice for me is Rubelli and Mariano Fortuny….

From the historic Venice location of Palazzo Corner Spinelli , Rubelli , a 200 year old textile company, produces in their own weaving mills, an extraordinary quality of damask, silk, two-pile velvet, soprarizzo, lampas, and brocade.  they also have very modern and contemporary designs but what I am focusing on, is their traditional cloths.

    

and with Rubelli I also have to mention Mariano Fortuny.

Fortuny was a talented artist with a  passion for textiles.

He was an extraordinary man,  an inventor, painter,  sculptor, photographer, he was interested in architecture, and theater staging and lighting. But most of all  Fortuny was a fashion designer and  Palazzo Fortuny is the place where this extraordinary eclectic artist lived and worked and it is now a Museum well worth a visit.

Fortuny ‘s dresses were so legendary that if you like Proust you will remember Albertine been bribed to stay  by buying her Fortuny gowns that “swarmed with Arabic ornaments, like the Venetian palaces hidden like sultanas behind a screen of pierced stone.”

 

When it came to fabrics and fashion, he not only created extraordinary garments but he also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics, with these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, in museums and many people’s personal collections.

 

Well, what can I say?, every corner of Venice is truly remarkable

to go back to the blanket now can you see where the colors come from….and the shape of the pattern?

the shape of the pattern is  not only from the playing cards’ tabard of the white rabbit , it is also from  the outfit of a very famous character of ‘la Commedia dell’Arte’ : Arlecchino ( Harlequin)

 

here a bit more of ‘Venice’…

 

Guess is enough for today, I m going and see how I assemble this little blanket of mine….

happy crocheting  !

Lucia xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Some overdue details for the Indigo blanket.

Hello everyone,

This entry is well overdue, but as I said on facebook I have been really busy with family, work, a commissioned crochet project, that I can’t wait to share with you all,  magazine articles, June’s blanket…and the giveaway too!!

Having said that, I have been putting together some close-up pictures of the Indigo blanket and a few notes about the patterns for the different squares,  the stitches used and some links online for them.

 

Firstly I would like to start saying that the peculiarity of this blanket is to be a  bit random, so please do not feel stressed about sizes of the squares, how many rounds etc. it is after all  it is all about scraps, recycling and  random  motifs  pieced  together, wanting to perfectly recreate what I have done defeats the purpose of the concept of ‘boro’.

Use my blanket and the details I have posted here as a guideline to create your own indigo blanket!

In my previous post I gave you the details of the yarn and materials  I used:

 

 

and the link to the overlay mandala from CARO that is the focal point of the blanket. As I have said, anything round that you like will do. I wanted to try one of her mandalas and that is why I bought the pattern.

besides, it is SO IMPORTANT to support the designers by buying some of their patterns when you can. I know that everyone prefers free patterns but please sometimes spare a moment for the designers.. after all the patterns will  cost as much as a fancy coffee out of your favourite chain, or  a magazine; and the point is those 3, of 4 pounds you spend  will give you hours of pleasure and entertainment and will help one of those talented ladies to find the time to dedicate to create some more patterns for all of us to enjoy!

I had no idea what an arduous task it is to write a pattern until I attempted to do it  ‘properly’myself. It takes hours upon hours, then you got to have it tested for mistakes by some other crocheter, then you have to photograph the different stages, maybe make a chart and also you have to set it up on a template!

I am doing all of that for the Norian…So far I had to pay for someone to make me a template to use, because I do not have the IT skills to create one from scratch by myself,  also often it is a good idea to use a  professional pattern corrector to make sure that your pattern is absolutely foolproof  and making sure that each comma and hyphen is in the right place so anyone can understand and follow your instructions, that doesn’t come for free either….

well …sorry for the rant!

 

Anyway, back to the Indigo blanket.

 

let’s start at the top with the cherry blossom squares.

There are 10 of them, they measure 19cm square ( just over 7 inches square) I used a size 4 1/2 hook and one strand of Jeanie yarn in Memphis/Dixie/Delta. Also, the petals are in StylecrafAran in cream. This is the pattern I used.

I am sorry the chart is not good quality but it is a zoomed screenshot from Postila Ru and I can’t find the original link.

After round 7 I added another round of front post trebles to increase the size of the square and give some tridimensionality.

The squares are joined together on the right side with a simple dc round. Again I loved the 3D effect.

 

The long rectangle on the right of the  cherry blossom square is made up with rows of  long double crochet linen stitch  a fabulous textured stitch here is a link to the pattern:

 

Long Double Crochet Linen Stitch Pattern

It is made of alternate rounds: one round is a strand of 4ply

one round is a strand of 4ply Stylecraft  yarn in cream with a strand of Sundae dk in blueberry sorbet.

2nd round is one strand of Batik  storm.

The rectangle measure 58cm/18 cm.  and I started with a 28 chains and 78 rounds.

the first block with the embroidery the pattern is of a pot holder. I liked the look of it and this is the link to the embroidery aspect:

https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/506373551838477528/

there are 8 solid granny squares all made of 7 rounds. This is the pattern  I used : http://www.craftpassion.com/solid-granny-square-crochet-pattern/

one of each in : cream/Memphis/dixie/delta

one in a alternate rows in delta/menphis/dixie/cream/ delta/Memphis.

one in alternate rounds of  a strand of 4ply in cream and storm together and a round of cream

one in a strand of 4 ply cream and blueberry sorbet together

one in a strand of batik indigo and 4ply cream

they all measure 19 cm square.

there are  2 squares of half trebles alternate 2 rows of each in dixie and delta and the other one is memphis and cream

a large rectangle in Memphis with some embroidery in cotton classique dk ivory . This is the diagram , again from postila. no idea of the source.

The one that I haven’t been able to source again is, unfortunately, my favorite square. I think has been taken down from online because it must have breached copyrights. I have no idea. All I know is that it has disappeared…But there are loads of alternative of  very similar shell patterns on my picot. here is a couple of links you might want to consider:

 

 

http://mypicot.com/0031.html

http://mypicot.com/0037.html

There are some denim squares, rectangles, and 1 hexagon. I tried to salvage as much as I could out of the jeans I cut. The size is not relevant but make sure your corners are 90 degrees, it make easier to crochet around !

I cut my pieces with a rotary cutter, it came with 3 types of blades: a straight one, a wave one, and a perforating blade. this is the Amazon link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005DQ90UM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 .

I cut the pieces to the shapes I wanted with the straight blade, then I ran the perforated one about 5 millimeters from the edge of the piece. That creates the holes that allow you to go through with a crochet hook and make the border ( I just did a sort of elongated DC (UK terms) ). 2 points of advice. if the fabric ( like mine was ), is a bit frail and old you might end up ripping the space between the holes…as there isn’t much space, my blade created probably a 2/3 millimeters bridge between holes, so when you try to join 2 pieces of fabric that have a crochet edge, it is not strong enough to hold. Hence why I often overlapped the pieces to not create a point of tension and rip the border. But if you use a stronger fabric I think it will hold much better. It all depends. Another way to do it it is making single holes with the crochet head..now I did that on the hexagons, again it is a bit of a pain, to be honest…I know that the correct way should be using a needle and thread and create a border where you can attach the crochet, but I felt it was a bit of a palaver and I always try to find out the quickest route. ( after all the blanket was an experiment). so to summarize: perforating blades are a great choice but you must have a reasonably strong fabric, and a steady hand to run the holes; individual holes, again great if the fabric is thinner but a bit labour intensive if otherwise; 3 the thread and needle one: most likely the best if you want something really neat but it will take a great deal of time. You will have to make a sample with the fabric of your choice and see how you feel about it.

The piecing together it is really a bit of a try and miss!! I just overlayed some and but together others….the only important thing is that you try to come up with a blanket that is as rectangular as possible with straight sides!  If your squares are too big and do not fit, once you have decided the frame of the blanket just overlay them to fit! After all, that is what Boro is about, overlaying and just stitch together.

If you are more skilled and patient than I am let your creativity run riot and decorate your blanket with some lovely embroidery!  Get inspiration from sashiko work, some is incredibly beautiful and complex but some are just simple run of single small stitches together..I tried a bit of this and that but I am definitely NOT skilled at all.Having said that I love it because it is not perfect!

 

I hope the guidelines above are of some use to you all,

happy crocheting,

Lucia x

 

 

 

 

June’s blanket, bucket-list and Iceland…

Hi Everyone… it is June and time for another blanket….

this one is about my bucket-list.

I have a few thing on that list, one of them is traveling and visiting/living in new places. the top of the list for the places is ICELAND, and that is what this blanket is dedicated to Iceland.

I always knew since I was a small girl that I wanted to live ‘up North’ well before  Hygge or  “Scandi style”  became so popular.

I made it just 2000 miles up north!  from Italy to Scotland… but I always wanted to hop another little bit..Shetland, Faroe Islands, and then Iceland!

If I wasn’t 53 and had a family, I probably would pack my bags and head for Iceland. In the back of my mind there is still a small flicker  of light which says I could  still do it …my kids are starting flying the nest; Francesca my oldest, she got her master in fine art, Valentina has just graduated this May in Law, Giuseppe is off to Edinburgh University next September, and I just got left Olympia that has still 4/5 years of High school…mmm never say never! ( mind you does Iceland needs a middle age woman that is obsessed with  wool/yarn /colours and books??? )

I could start with visiting Iceland first! I have never been… BUT it is on the top of my list hopefully in the next few months.

So why do I love Iceland?

the most obvious reason is that Iceland is beautiful, There are breathtaking mountains, volcanoes, highlands, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, geysers, lava fields, and a variety of coastlines.

but what attracts me most  are the Icelanders and their way of life and their values.

Icelanders are highly educated and the society is progressive.They have a literacy rate of 99% and most of the population has experienced higher education, they publish more books per capita than any other country. The have topped up the gender gap index Economist recently named Iceland the world’s best place for working women – in comparison, the UK came in at No. 24.Iceland was the first nation to elect a female president; Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected in 1980 and stayed in office for 16 years. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay female head of state.

Climate change is on the news every day and I believe it is a real issue for our planet. Fossil fuels are NOT the way forward. Iceland is the only country in the world which obtains 100% of its electricity and heat from renewable sources. 87% of its electricity comes from hydropower, and the remaining 13% from geothermal power. Oil-powered fossil fuel power stations are only used as backups to the renewable sources.

I could go on and add 20 pages of facts. and you are wondering if  I am a serious case of “The grass is always greener…. …..in your neighbor’s field” !!!

So what is really my tangible experience about Iceland and why I like it so much?? and here is where the creative side kicks in and the relevance to the blog…

LOPI YARN!!!!!

and in particular.

Icelandic Lopapeysa!

I made LOADS of them over the years…lopi yarn  is made from the wool of the Icelandic sheep.

 

It is unique in its composition and together, the distinctive fibers create wool that is warm, lightweight, water-repellent and breathable.

 

OK, it is  a little itchy ,but once you have worn a few times and washed too, it becomes really lovely. I can tell you this from experience as some of the jumpers  I knitted are 10 years old, they have a few holes but they are as much loved as they were once new!! those are few of them I have here at home…

also some of the books ( that is my other vice…books) I love about Iceland:

 

So I never attempted using Lopi Yarn for crochet but I m going to give it a go and the next blanket is going to be made entirely with Lopi . another experiment then…

Next time I will  tell you all about how I have chosen the colors and about Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. I read a simplified version of it when I was 12 . and it is still now my favorite book.

I am also going to tell you about Hávamál, probably one of the most important poem in the book , which tells the story of Odin and the tree Yggdrasil.

and  Bivröst (“Moving Way” in Old Norse),The Bridge of the Gods:

Gvðín gerþu bru af iorþu til himins, er heitir Bifravst: “The gods made a bridge from earth to the heavens which is called Bifravst”

and about some amazing music I  I was so lucky to see live last night: Eivør Pálsdóttir.

Eivor is not an Icelander, she is a Faroese singer-songwriter with the most amazing voice ever! totally mesmerizing here is a link to youtube.

 

Thorin, our cat, loves Iceland too….

To the next time, Happy crochet,

Lucia x

 

 

 

The end of May: The indigo blanket

Last day of May and here is my May blanket…

I’ve called it the Indigo blanket because of the colors.

 

 

The Indigo blanket has been a bit of an unusual one and definitely an experiment. As I have said on my previous post on Facebook I did not have a plan of what I was going to do, I started with the fabric and from that, I built up the different squares. As you know my inspiration has been Japan textiles, indigo, Japanese pottery and also the spring season too.

 

 

Scottish spring starts quite late and one of the things I like most about the month of May is the cherry blossom trees. They start around the 3rd week in April, depending on the weather, and they are in full bloom at the beginning of May. Near my house, there is an old graveyard that has the most amazing display of Cherry blossom trees, and every year I wait to see them bloom, and I found walking or sitting under them very relaxing.  I hope you will not find the photo I took of the Graveyard at all offensive, or disrespectful, it is a beautiful and peaceful place.

That is why I thought cherry blossom in my blanket were relevant because they have a Japanese connection too.

In Japan, the custom of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers is called “hanami” and it is an important date in the calendar of many Japanese, as, for those brief few weeks, many flocks to see the flowers and enjoy the festivals sitting, eating and drinking under the blossoms.

I know my local cherry blossoms aren’t remotely as majestic as the 1000’s of plants at Tokyo’s  Shinjuku Gyoen or Ueno Park , or more so the world famous Kyoto’s Maruyama Park  but nevertheless, every year, I wait to see them coming up hoping the weather is good enough to have them in full bloom even if it is just for a short time.

So let’s have a general look at the blanket then…can you see the cherry blossoms? there are 10 of them …, also there are different plain squares, some textured ones and a bit of overlay crochet.

 

 

For the overlay crochet, I bought one of CARO Created Design’s  beautiful mandala patterns. I wanted something that resembles the sun  and also reminded me of  the decoration of a Japanese ramen bowl so I used the central part  of her Mandala 6

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/overlay-mandala-no-6

But if you do not want to buy a pattern you can always use any mandala design you like. Interesting enough look at the back of the blanket…the back of the mandala is lovely too.

I thought even a circular simple alternate colours mandala  works too.

 

The denim part I just cut the jeans and tried to make some pieces with neat corners. The pieces came out of different sizes and also I cut a few hexagons too. I thought that if I crocheted around the edges I could join the fabric squares to the crochet squares. I found out that it is not that easy and I ended up doing quite a bit of overlay with the different pieces, mainly because I wanted to make sure the blanket came out a neat as possible rectangular shape. also one of the characteristics of  Boro textiles is different pieces overlay-ed on each other.

There is a bit of embroidery too…,

 

Some of the patterns are inspired by Sashiko’s geometric shapes and the little sort of stars are my answer to this amazing picture of

Japanese gold fireflies photographed by Anthony Luke.

http://anthonylukephotography.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/truly-remarkable-long-exposure.html

the blanket measures 170cm x 100 cm.

THE YARN:

 

I used a combination of Stylecraft JEANIE in Dixie,Menphis and Delta. fantastic yarn,Aran weight, that beautifully compliments the denim fabric.

I also used some BATIK in Indigo and Storm; some Stylecraft Special Aran and 4ply in cream;

some Sundae dk in Blueberry sorbet;

and finally some Classique Cotton both dk and 4 ply in Ivory for the embroidery.

The Batik and Sundae are used  one strand of each together or , for certain squares I added a strand of  4ply special in cream, to get the same gauge of  the Jeanie.

I can get in more details of the patterns if you are interested, please just let me know.

Happy crocheting!

Lucia xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane ,the Frida’s Primavera and myself…

My YARN SHOP DAY at THREADS in Dunbarton

Let me tell you about last Saturday. As part of YSD I was at  THREADS WOOL SHOP in Dunbarton.  (143 Glasgow road, Dunbarton, G82 1RQ ).

Dumbarton is a town on the north bank of the River Clyde about half an hour from Glasgow.

I got an amazing welcome from the owner Linda, her daughter Lorna, Nancy, the knitting expert, and Prince, Nancy’s dog, and official shop mascot.

Treads is not dissimilar to Aladin’s cave, it is full to the brim with yarn, buttons, ribbons, knitting and crochet accessories…also Linda sells lovely handmade garments and baby sets too.

 

 

 

 

Linda’s team had invested a lot of time, care and attention to the day, she had organized radio adverts on the local station, social media updates, goodie bags, for all the customers, raffle prizes and special discounts on the day and a lot of bargain wool too. I was really chuffed that they asked me and my blankets to be part of such a special day.

I was so busy chatting to Linda’s customers, that I only managed to take a couple of quick snapshots between visitors so I can show you how lovely the shop is.

 

 

I met a lot of lovely ladies of all ages, and  I chatted all day about yarn, crochet, blankets, colors, you name it. I got A LOT of compliments about my blankets and I was so overwhelmed by the kindness of the ladies I met, a special mention goes to Linda’s crochet and knitting club members, they all came to say hello. I met some regular customers and some new one that came for the event thanks to the adverts and social media.

In the flurry of activity,  I realized,   that I did not have a real grasp of how important local shops are and how important it is to support local businesses as it means you support local events that connect people together and that was to me the most obvious and special part of the day.

An old lady came in, she got a warm welcome bought one ball of yarn and she pulled out from her bag some pictures of what she had made for her relatives, she was so proud of her achievements and she loved the care and attention that Linda and her team gave her. The shop was really busy but she got the same care and attention that other customers that bought much more got.

I thought that was very special, and it embodies the spirit of Treads and of many of those small independent yarn shops. They do not only sell yarn, buttons ribbons, and accessories, they also  have a vital role in the community, they are places where people not only buy yarn but also can go for a chat, some exchange ideas, they’re an invaluable source of knitting and crochet advice and news, and are great for discussing your WIPs and next projects.

Linda’s host’s classes virtually every day of the week, where you can learn to crochet or knitting. She also has crochet and knitting clubs where people can spend a few hours, every week, knitting and crochet together.

And if you think that local shop do not offer the same bargains that the big online retailers do, you are mistaken, most shop like Threads, have custom’loyalty schemes’, they  use their discretion to reward regular customers, which means  you get discounts  on the items you actually want to buy, rather than being tempted by multi-buy offers online,  you get a warm welcome and you have a chance to feel the yarn you buy and get a true sense of the colour too which is very difficult to do online.

 

So remember your local Yarn Shop is VITAL to your community. Especially now, with independent traders closing down every day do you really want the next one to be your local Aladdin’s cave full of squidgy beautiful yarn????

I don’t think so!

I came back home with a big smile on my face, I had a wonderful day, I got some bargains too! I bought some lovely yarn to take home with me and also a present too…Linda gave me a lovely candle and I was so touched look…

 

FIG TREE… how thoughtful!

 

thank you again to Linda and all the ladies of Dunbarton to make my first YSD an AMAZING ONE!!

Nice cakes which I HAD to try IMMEDIATELY!!!  LOL

love,

Lucia xx

May’s Blanket: an old pair of jeans and a journey.

If you have been following my blog, you are by now aware that what I am aiming to do with this crochet journey is to experiment how you can use crochet as a medium to weave a story into the fabric of a blanket.

Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you out there to do the same and to create your little piece of history.

Today I want  to introduce something else that it is very important to me:

“Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect”.

It is a Buddhist concept called wabi-sabi  “the wisdom and beauty of imperfection.” it can be applied to virtually anything but in this case it  is about  taking the time to create something really unique  as a beautiful way of connecting with a garment or textile, and making a feature of an old scrap of fabric, recycling  old yarn or mixing oddballs,  given as a present, out of a sale basket or an impulse buy..( we all have been there…) , old yarn from the bottom of your stash.

With the assumption  that beauty is in an object’s impermanence and imperfection that means that  mistakes, maybe some wonky stitching or different textures can be embraced, and you do not need to be a confident crocheter you just need to be able to hold a hook and have some yarn, so this is also a perfect project for a beginner.

What has inspired me are traditional Japanese boro cloths.

 

They have a beauty like no other. Each cloth tells a unique story of its journey through life with patches carefully sewed on and reinforced with stitching, often over generations of a single family.

Although beautiful, boro cloths came about through pure necessity. During the 18th and 19th centuries cotton,in Japan, was a luxury afforded only to the nobility. The lower classes had homespun fibers, like hemp, which were more difficult to make into a fabric and didn’t last as well. By patching and stitching, the fabric could be strengthened and its life could be extended. During the Edo era, there were also laws that restricted lower classes from wearing bright colors which is why the cloths are indigo blue and brown.

 

During these times pieces of cloth were re-purposed in various forms. Often starting off as a kimono then becoming everyday clothing, a piece of sleepwear, a futon cover, a bag then finally a dusting cloth. Every scrap was used until it wore out.

Boro textiles are now highly sought after collectibles. I am not so sure about the ethical side of that and the fact that now they  fetch thousands of pounds and adorn the lounges of affluent people, to me it defies the purpose in the first place, but I am grateful for the opportunity to see them in exhibitions n museums as a tangible piece of history and a lesson too.

 

Boro celebrate the beauty of something frayed, decaying or repaired and also conveys a deep sense of regret concerning waste, as Earth’s resources are limited and it is important to search for new and creative ways to recycle and reuse.

So back to the blanket…

What am I going to do? I have no plan really. I  have been collecting bits and pieces: some Japanese bowls I use every day, I love the colors and patterns, some yarn I have been given to try at the last Blogstar’s meeting and  some crochet samples I made.

 

 

 

All I know I want to use my old jeans. I bought them years ago. It must have been a bit of a ‘middle life crisis’ as I never wear jeans and I thought they looked ‘trendy’.

Then I gained some substantial amount of weight and they lingered at the bottom of my wardrobe for ages as I couldn’t wear them anymore, but since Christmas I have been shedding the weight once again and now they are far too big for me to wear. I wore them to go camping for Beltane’s celebrations  last weekend and I had to keep pulling them up which was really annoying.They are not good enough to go to a charity shop but they are precious to me as they remind me of my weight loss journey. So they are going to become a blanket!

I am going to see if I can introduce some sashiko to join the pieces together,

Sashiko is a traditional form of Japanese hand sewing that uses a simple running stitch sewn in repeating or interlocking patterns, usually piercing through several layers of fabric.

wish me luck…I will keep you updated on it’s progress,

love to you all,

Lucia xx

 

April blanket: ‘the Norian blanket’

My belated Easter post…I have been sitting on this blog entry for 10 days…the plan was to get it published before Easter, but things have gotten in the way so I am just now making the final touches to the post.

So I hope all of you had a lovely Easter or spring break with your families, loved ones and maybe with some crochet too!  Whether you managed to find some free time for starting a new project or continuing with some WIPs.

I had a bit of extra time to surf the net last weekend and I saw there are a lot of new CAL’s that have started.

I  like Esther @https://itsallinanutshell.com/ new CAL , have you seen it? it is called the ‘nuts about squares ‘ it looks really interesting I love week2 block!

https://itsallinanutshell.com/2017/02/17/announcement-nuts-about-squares-cal/

I also saw that quite a few of you had started the  Hydrangeas’s blanket, Lucy’s @attic24 new creation.

http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2017/04/hydrangea-stripe-blanket-ta-dah.html

I really like the colours she has chosen for her latest project, the pattern is beautifully simple but so effective and I am sure it will bring hours of joy to many people.

So many temptations and I wish I had loads of hours and try them all!

Anyway let’s get back under the Fig tree, so I can update you on what I have been doing…

 

The April blanket now has a name, it is called  ” the Norian blanket” you will see why pretty soon, I am very happy with my block it is an original design of mine and it is a lovely hexagon that I hope you will like.

 

I know in the past I have been outsourcing patterns or partial patterns mixing with something original designed by me, but this blanket will be just my design, that will make the pattern details much easier for everybody to outsource and follow by having it all being written down in one place. I have been getting some help so I can create as clear a template as possible for the pattern and, assume everything go smoothly, I should be ready to publish it in the next few weeks.

 

Here is a picture of the block, I’d love to hear your opinions! The idea is obviously Bee related, and it should look like a bees’ friendly meadow with loads of pretty flowers in bees favourite colours!.

now you wondering why Norian?

well there is an article I am going to link you to:

The Beekeeper Who Craved a World Without Right Angles

http://vernon.npdc.govt.nz/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=269200&db=object

It tells the story of a very keen Kiwi Beekeeper called Roy Brewster. Roy and his wife Nettie built a  house in the 1950s in New Plymouth, NZ , where nearly everything was hexagonal, from its floor plans to its windows to all of its interiors and furnishings. They also had a hexagonal quilt on their bed too.

the name Norian is short for:  “NO RIght ANgles.”

I love the story and I love the house and I thought my April blanket could fit quite nicely in their home.

more about Norian blanket:

 

The block and the yarn and colours selection were the easy part, and I fired away pretty quickly all those hexagons. The problem started when I had to figure out how to join them together…You might think the joining is the easy part but actually often is not, and It has taken me several attempts and a lot of unraveling but, after a few frustrating days, I have hopefully got it now, I don’t know yet, the joining is still in its early stages, so I will let you know in a week or so..hence why at Easter I decided to leave the blanket on a side and make something else.

 

If you follow me on Instagram and facebook you might have seen some pictures I posted earlier in the week.

https://www.facebook.com/luciasfigtree/

https://www.instagram.com/luciasfigtree/

you might have seen some pictures I posted earlier in the week.

The shawl is called Edlothia, the designer is  Jasmin Räsänen , and this is the link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/edlothia

I loved the fact that this pattern has charts.   I found charts so much easier to follow, it might look complicated but it is surprisingly easy to crochet and the results! It is not blocked yet as I hope on a nice dry day for it, but it looks good and I think the Scheepjes whirl I have chosen does it justice. I bought a couple of those cakes a few weeks ago and I was waiting to find a project that used most of it if not all of a cake, so to show off the gradients effect to its best.

 

First time using Whirl I found the yarn a bit splitty at the beginning but then I got the hang of it, it is lovely to work with and I  love how gradual the change of colours is I hope will block well, I will let you know as soon as I am done.

 

that is all for today, wish you a happy weekend,

all the best Lucia xx

 

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