November blanket….time to cosy-up!

Halloween is over, yesterday we had the first frost, so as the temperatures plummet, no excuse is needed to wrap up warmer…and that is what I am aiming for with the NOVEMBER BLANKET.

I like the colder months very much, I do not mind shorter days, the cold, the wind and the rain as the key to enjoying this time of the year is to surround yourself with the softest, cosiest textiles around and maybe the odd hot chocolate or two….

Chunky knit, throws but also some soft cushions, maybe a sheepskin rug, some lovely scented candles, mood lighting ..it is all over magazines and shops windows as a way to create a perfectly plush refuge from the wind and rain and to lighten up your home as the days get shorter.

This trend is getting more and more popular, and has a few names: it is called Hygge, Gezellig and many other names…all of which encompass this desire for something cosy, nice, homey, friendly, snuggly, fun, comfortable or enjoyable…I guess it’s a feeling rather than a word.

It is everywhere… I went to IKEA a couple of days ago to get few bits and pieces ( they have the best and cheapest unscented candles…)  so I took a couple of snapshots with my phone of some neutral interiors set-ups, I always feel IKEA is a good indicator of what is trending and what people are seeking.

 

 

so I decided for this month I am going to go cosy, chunky and neutral!

 

neutral what a word for me!!!

I love colours and I am always surrounded by colour but for this month I thought would be fun to step out of my comfort zone and try something new and go NEUTRAL…

How scary!

so where to start..

the first thought that came to my mind was my nightmare hue, the unnameable one …it starts with an “M”…

the colour of the 90s: If like me you are 50 something you know EXACTLY what I am talking about, it  was omnipresent and everywhere, public spaces, hotels, new homes, old homes……well I bet you guessed what I am referring but I might write it down just ONCE: “m-a-g-n…” I bet ALL of you have used, have lived with, have bought a tin of…

MAGNOLIA!!!

I still have nightmares of designing houses and been told that the colour for walls, ceilings, woodwork and everything else that could be painted, was going to be magnolia, because “it goes with everything, it looks clean and fresh…” and me thinking “gosh not AGAIN!!!!”

Now I think that nearly 20 years later, neutral rooms don’t have to be a bore.

the trick is to create contrast and avoid everything been ” too plain and too matchy”  because that is what causes dullness is the same tonality;  so what is vital is to play with the saturation levels and undertones to create a warm, calming, inviting environment that has still freshness and crispness.

Another key to ban dullness is TEXTURE, and that is chunky yarns, sheepskins, washed wood, earthy pottery, candles, greenery and maybe even a pet!

Now if you go in a DIY store you find rows upon rows of neutral colours and undertones available for your home.

What I find really funny is that they aren’t called white, cream, beige, pale grey anymore…

they are called…

newborn, falling snow,lambskin..polar drift, icing sugar ..hahhaha you name it!

said that one thing is true…neutral colours, when used properly, work anywhere and everywhere.

So this is my challenge this month a neutral blanket!

 

I have already made a sample or two, I cant make up my mind yet about which one of the 3 colours to choose …so I have to sit on it for a little while I guess…

 

 

 

Chat  to you soon,

love you all,

Lucia xx

 

 

October…October…it is over.

October has been one amazing month…I cannot believe it is already gone!!

I feel my feet have not touched the ground, I have been running around even more than the usual.

I went to Italy just for a couple of days at the beginning of the month because was my dad’s 84th birthday,  then back home for a few days, some final touches on the new blanket ,the Fiesta,  which I made for October, as an alternative kit to offer with the  Eastern Jewels at the Knitting &Stitching show  at the Alexandra Palace in London,

also, I made,re-made, and made again my entry for the blog tour2017..but you probably have already read the all saga in my last blog.

Now that the BLOG TOUR2017 is finished I can say it was amazing! so many projects and so much variety !!

I am so pleased you loved my Spanish moss scarf!  there were so many downloads of the pattern that it crashed my blog!

I love the scarf too, I have already used a few times, hopefully, you will enjoy yours too.

 

So two projects for October: here they are together the FIESTA and the SPANISH MOSS SCARF.

and few more pictures from AllyPally:

a nice collage Sophie did ( I was too busy chatting and took virtually no pictures!) as few friends came and visit us on the stand, so you got  Phil  from https://thetwistedyarn.com/  and  Sarah, https://annabooshouse.blogspot.co.uk/and Emma, http://emmavarnam.co.uk/

 

London was amazing, the Stylecraft team made me so welcome, I had a fabulous time, I loved every minute of it.

It was also quite ” dreamlike “too as I am not used to the attention, the compliments and general extraordinary kindness.

Been a crocheter and a blogger can be quite a solitary pursuit, You sit at home with your yarn and your laptop and you just ..crochet, write, frog, read comments, answer emails, mix  more colours, make swatches…more frogging…drink endless cup of teas…it is a marvellous thing  but it is also a bit of an obsession too….

I grab EVERY second I got free to do yarny things, yarn follows me everywhere it is in my handbag, it is in my drawers in the office, it is  ALL OVER my craft room, I have some in the car..( just in case there is a traffic jam …) I carry some in my pockets too, my children tell their friends that, in our house, you can spot the odd skein or two in the fridge too…I always attempt to denial but, if I am entirely honest, I have to admit that “maybe” a lonely ball of mohair has  occasionally made her way  in the vegetable drawer..as I read somewhere that to  avoid the fine hair to catch on your hook you should stick the ball in the fridge..( I have to say I m not so sure it works after all! Mohair is, cold or room temperature, still a bismal  to work with a hook!!)

So back to Ally Pally…what can I say?? AMAZING ! thank you, SOO MUCH for coming to see me, and for being so kind! I loved talking to everyone that came to the stand, some chats were technical questions about the blanket, some were just general yarny chit-chat, it was great fun. I also had the privilege to meet in person some of you that have been following my blog and my facebook since day one!

So besides the huge feel-good-factor of being able to meet some of you crocheters out there, there was another bonus, as being at a show gives me an opportunity to understand better what you like, what you are interested in, how you choose a project and why.

So I came back with a lot of new ideas of what to make next, how to improve the page and the patterns and also I came back with a little present too…

In the past few months, I have been chatting online with a lovely lady called Joy which owns a shop in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, the shop is called Wool &More  https://showme.co.za/plett/lifestyle/woolmore/and they are stocklists for Stylecraft but they also have a lot of amazing local yarns.

 

Joy was in London visiting her new grandchild and also she came to see us at Ally Pally, she was so kind and brought me a selection of beautiful South Africans yarns! I loved reading the story behind these amazing mostly artisan-like fibres, I could appreciate the passion and skill required to produce the yarn and it makes using the skeins even more special. without people like Joy and her team, it would be really difficult for these yarns to reach the end consumers so

support your local shop wherever you live and  WELL DONE  Wool&More!

look a beautiful array of south African yarns!

and here a picture of   Joy ‘s friend Nicki and myself and in the background the VERY busy Stylecraft stand!.

 

I did make another scarf too , and loads of samples for the months to come, some will see the light and some others will go back at the bottom of the basket.

oh i nearly forgot…I made a bag too!!

so  November here I come!

 

stay tuned and remember…..

 

 

lucia xx

 

 

 

BLOGTOUR TIME !!! the “Spanish moss scarf”

Gosh! my first blog tour…..!!!

What can I say? it is very exciting and a bit scary too. It feels quite daunting to have to add my small contribution to this amazing array of fabulous projects made by my friends and fellow blogstars. Yesterday was the turn of  https://annabooshouse.blogspot.co.uk/  : Sarah made the most amazing knitted shawl I thought was beautiful, I used to knit all the time, then crochet took over, but that shawl is really tempting!…

Anyway back to today project, I gave it a go  and I hope you will like my scarf it is called “Spanish Moss”.

I got one of my daughters, Valentina,  to model it ,so you can see it on an actual person and not on the floor or a table.

 

 

 

As you know, back in July, at the Blogstars meeting, we all got the opportunity to pick one of the packs of BATIK and BATIK ELEMENTS  to make something with.

The packs are 500 grams and contain 10 balls of Batik :

 

 

the main colour is   Krypton, then there is  Indigo, Sage, Storm, Silver, Teal and  Lupin

 

The colours are fabulous, it is a great yarn to work with, one of my overall favourites, I have to say, in fact, as you know, I have used Batik a lot in the past months, not only alone but in combination also with other yarns like Cotton Classique and Special DK.

So do you want to know how the scarf came about?

 

As I like to share with you the creative process I also have to say that has not been the smoothest of all experiences.

Nothing to do with the yarn which I LOVE  but all to do with ME!!

I do panic when I get told that I have a limited amount of yarn to use and  also  when I get told what colours to use…500 grams in the big scheme of  blankets production is a minuscule quantity , I use at least the double, sometimes even 3 times the quantity so after few failed attempts to conjure a blanket  of some sort I had to give up and make something else..so..here as a testimony how creating a pattern out of the blue is not that simple (for me  at least )… a small selection of loads of  debris…!!

Back to inspirations…during the summer I went to visit a couple of places that are very dear to me, one is the Bomarzo’s Gardens, near Viterbo in central Italy.

 

 

A strange and fascinating  garden build by Pier Francesco Orsini in the 16th century, full of bizarre and fascinating sculptures , statues covered in moss , strange crooked buildings and a huge monster  mouth (known as “the mouth of hell”), inside which, on the tongue, stands a picnic table where you can  have lunch.

Why do I like it?

I don’t know ,probably because it is something halfway between a dream and a nightmare… I always loved places that are unsettling like the steps of the Franciscan Monastery of La Verna, in Tuscany or

 

or indeed something that you might be more familiar with:  the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

 

 

On the unsettling theme, one of the places that I haven’t visited but do fascinate me are the Swamps of the Southern States of America like Great Dismal.

Somehow the changing colours of the Batik Krypton reminded me of the variegated colour of the moss, the one I am familiar with, in Bomarzo, La Verna and Heligan and the so called “Spanish moss” that I have just seen in documentaries hanging down from some ancient cypress trees in the Lousiana’s bayou.

I have seen some speciments of Spanish Moss “live” in Botanical gardens too:

the picture of the Spanish moss is from the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh.

 

So there is how the Spanish moss is scarf came about…

I wrote the pattern for you to try if you like.

The scarf has a main body made of ‘trellis’ using Krypton,

then some 3D  strange flowers, which I made using some of the other colours available in the pack, plus some “dangling bits”  my attempt to imitate the Spanish moss.

 

I used most of the Krypton available in the pack and a bit of the other colours. I was tempted to make flowers all around the edge of the scarf but I estimated that I  wouldn’t be able to manage to do so with the quantities in the pack so instead than having a few sparse lonely flowers hanging about on the longer sides edge I opted for 8 flowers huddled up together  at the two  extremities of the scarf.

 

Also a note about the pattern…I tried my best, it is most likely the most complex pattern I have written so far and I am still learning so, fingers crossed, I hope it is comprehensible enough for all of you to try,  I added some pictures that I hope will help when my pattern writing it is a bit puzzling…

CLICK THIS LINK TO DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN: Spanish Moss Scarf- luciasfigtree 

Stylecraft is doing a competition today where if you enter you got a chance to win a pack like the one I have used.. so give it a go! this is the link to the competition:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28570cc5126/?.

I am sure you can use for any of the amazing projects that the rest of the Blogstars have made so far and in the next few days!

The great thing is that, by the time the Blog tour is over, you will have 16 different projects to choose from!! and you will find for sure one that appeals to you!

And, the last thing, DO NOT MISS  tomorrow Blogtour’s entry from   Zelna from http://zootyowlcards.blogspot.co.uk/.  she is amazingly talented and I can’t wait to see what she has come up with…

love you all,

happy crocheting,

Lucia xx

 

The EASTERN JEWELS is finally LIVE !

 

The September blanket is a bit of an unusual one…because I start making it 7 months ago…it took ages ( but I am going to tell you why) but I finally can share  it  with you and I never been so eager to write about a project as much as I have been for this  blanket.

So here is the story behind this latest collaboration between Jane Crowfoot,  https://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/Stylecraft https://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/ and myself.

I will start with a bold statement:

THIS IS THE BEST BLANKET I CROCHETED SO FAR!!!

…and let me tell you I have crocheted quite a few of them!

It has been a real labor of love and,considering that it is not such a big blanket, it has also taken me ages to come up with the final color selection. I have been through several balls of yarn and I have a big basket of failed attempts sitting in my studio!!!!

Look at this “baby”…how lovely is she????

 

 

So grab a coffee or a tea, sit comfortably so I can tell you the story of the latest creation I have been working on, behind the scenes, for the past few months.

It all started back at the beginning of the year with another recoloring project: the Frida Primavera which I am sure many of you have seen it.

I enjoyed the challenge very much, I knew the blanket as I had taken part to the CAL that Jane ran for Stylecraft the previous year.

And, I am taking the opportunity to say that I am so happy that the new colorway was well received by many of you, thank you again for all your lovely messages!!.

On that wave, Annabelle from Stylecraft and Jane asked me, back in March, if I would consider doing the same for the Persian Tiles.

and by now you know me so I said …

YES!!!!

I knew the original pattern as I had bought a copy from Jane when it got released but I never got around making it…

Hence I got quite excited about the prospect of working on something new. The Persian tiles was another chance to unplug, look away from the screens and my day job, let the liminal brain take over and unleash creativity.

Doing that for an already existing pattern is an added bonus as I feel like it is a bit like coloring between the lines, in a way, quite a safe exercise,  as all I have to do is focus on the colors which are my favorite part of the process.

Where did I start from?

I always start, like I do for all my blankets, by making a sample of the motif with some random yarn as long as it is the same composition and gauge. It might seem a waste of time but it is the opposite.   Making a sample helps you to familiarise yourself with the pattern. It helps you to solve some possible “tricky” parts and it gives you an idea of tension and size of the final motive. It also allows you to see if you need to adjust or not the size of your hook and finally it is a record of your work to keep as future reference, especially if you are making the blanket for someone else.

this is a picture of one of the ‘trial’ motifs I made as said, it is random yarn to start with….

 

Once I got the motif right then is when the fun starts as it is COLOUR TIME!

So this is the original Persian Tiles. The picture is from Michelle and Anne’s page  crochetbetweenworlds.net    Michelle and Anne are also  Blogstars for Stylecraft, they are amazing and you should check their page! I believe this blanket was made by Michelle

what catches your eye first?

For me was the geometry of the pattern and how the original colors emphasized this aspect, so my first thought was that in order to make something that looked different and was a real alternative to the original, I needed to do something more than merely changing the original seven colors. I needed to come up with a different way to use colors and keep the geometry but in a more relax and loose manner. I show you what I mean with an example of actual tiles…

Here you have a collage of different way to use the colors in tiles that are very similar in style and all retain the same strong geometry feel. As you can see just changing how the colors are used it changes quite dramatically the overall look.

Using the tiles above as a reference, I thought that Jane’s original color selection was similar to square N.1.  What caught my attention was square N.3

I liked how the geometry aspect was a bit diluted by the apparent randomness of the colors.

So let’s have a close-up look at the Eastern jewels…

Can you see where I am coming from?  By not repeating the same sequence of colors for each motif it makes the blanket looks more ‘random’. In reality, it is not random at all, Every single color and its position have been chosen.

I used just 12 colors to start with including the buttermilk which is my “neutral”.

The buttermilk is actually the most important hue in all blanket. I was so pleased when Annabelle at Stylecraft accepted my proposal and introduced this new color in their range! I was so determined to convince her that it was a must! now you can see why…

 

 

 

these are the “neutrals” on the Stylecraft range…so you have:

white, cream, parchment, and buttermilk.

I apologize as the white is not in the picture but ..I run out of it!

Said that it doesn’t really matter because what I want to show you is not the actual hue but how they work with the other colors.

So now look how these neutrals behave in blankets….

WHITE:

 

 

 

CREAM:

 

 

PARCHMENT:

 

 

and finally the BUTTERMILK:

 

you will agree with me that if we are looking at:

PICTURE 1:

just ONE round of white in a very bright blanket still makes a huge impact.

PICTURE2 :

even if the percentage of the use of cream is much higher than in picture 1  it is still predominant but not as stark.:

PICTURE3:

there is a LOT of parchment…but it blends more with the colors and the impact is quite subdued.

finally PICTURE 4:

 

in the Eastern the buttermilk it is completely blended and helps the other colors to keep the geometry!

I know it might sound a bit too technical and boring but I want to give you the tools to see how colors behave so you can make your own combinations.

Another bit of theory and then I promise  I stop..

the blanket uses as I said 12 colors. I needed to keep the number of colors down to keep the cost of the blanket ‘s kit down and also to avoid to have a lot of left-overs.

 

To create the illusion of LOADS of colors EVERY motif has a DIFFERENT colors combination, BUT even if there are 12 colors and 14 rounds on each of the hexagons, I  used just an average of 7/8 colors for each Hexagon. The result is that each hexagon has a color which is more predominant and that is what creates the effect you see. Ironically if I had used all 12 hues for each hexagon  ( considering that there are 14 rounds you could, in theory, use all the hues for each motif) I would have a much more uniform looking blanket than what you see.

how did I decide what colors to use and when? very, very simple:

I wanted a “HAPPY” blanket, and I started by selecting colors that I identify with that. Colors that remind me of the past, of happy holidays, beautiful landscapes, the Mediterranean sea, but also the colors of food, spices, and even, why not, …smells.

As an example of colors reference how about this picture of the Cinque Terre,  five small villages on the Ligurian Coast of Italy called Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore…beautiful places so worth a visit if you are touring Italy.

Someone once asked me what computer program I use to choose and select the position of my colors…I actually laughed!!!  because if you knew me in person you would know that my relationship with technology certainly is one of “LOVE-HATE”!

I love computers as they allow me to communicate with you, but at the same time, every single task doesn’t seem to come ‘naturally ‘ to me. I always struggle and forget the sequence of steps  I have to take even in simple tasks as transforming an HR picture in a more manageable format so not to take all my allowance of data for the blog…so the idea of me mastering complex technologies and using some amazing gizmo of a color program is totally ludicrous!!

I use a large table crammed with pencils,  balls of yarn, color swatches,  and most of all my eyes…that is all there is to. No magic formulas in operation here!

Same goes to balance the blanket and choose the next round.

I always make one round at a time for each of the main motifs then I place them on the floor, the best place is outside if its not raining… as I get a real feel for the colors in natural light.   Here is a  couple of pictures of the blanket starting taking shape.

 

I wanted to share the creative process with you because it gives you an idea what takes making a blanket .. and that is just one part of it.

After the blanket is done, then the long and a bit tedious, process to record and translate my scribbles on my copybook into something that can be used starts…

I have to say I am not a fan of this particular stage of “blanket making” because you got to be precise and make sure that everything is correct and make sense, and I find all the above quite boring! I like playing with colors and making things..I do not like papers!  but at the end of the day that is of no use if it is not shareable…after all it is like a cooking recipe: you cant say ‘Oh there is a bit of this and a pinch of that..’ if you want someone else to make it!

That is all there is about it, my dear fellow crocheters!!

I want to thank Jane once again for letting me play with her patterns, and Annabelle plus all her team at Stylecraft for their hospitality and making me feel part of the team, for checking and re-checking my notes …. for   the  copious amounts of yarn they send me on a regular basis and the platform they have offered me to share my work with all of you out there!

I leave you with a couple of pictures I took in July at Stylecraft’s HQ…

 

and… I know the Model on the billboard looks much better than me holding the blanket… but please indulge me a little. lol!!.. after all I do love the Eastern very much and

I hope you will love it too!

 

thank you for reading

love lucia xx

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Yarn,friends,more yarn,macaroons and a family’s ceilidh…part one

Let’s start with a question:

Do I need more yarn? ABSOLUTELY NOT !!!

Do I WANT  more yarn? ALWAYS!!!

Saying that let me start telling you about my weekend.

Every year I go to two yarn exhibitions: Yarndale and the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

The reason why is because I like the spirit behind them. They both are a gathering of mainly independent producers, dyers and designers. And they are so worth going to because of the amazing talent and creativity behind those stalls.

On Friday morning my daughter Valentina and I took an early train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Valentina had a dissertation meeting at University, and I went  to the Corn Exchange where EYF is held.

I met my friend Julia from http://handknittedthings.blogspot.co.uk/  in the queue outside the building amongst many very enthusiastic and chatting ladies! It didn’t rain which was a major plus, and it wasn’t too cold either so the hour and a bit waiting outside flew by in a flurry of yarn chats!

Julia and I  we went inside and we met Janehttp://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/ who was one of the exhibitors. and Sandra http://sandra-cherryheart.blogspot.co.uk/   then I just I wondered off admiring all the goodness in the show. Highlights? Far too many to mention but I especially loved Marie Wallin’s   tiny stand with her jumpers with the most exquisite colour combinations,

 

 

Amanda Perkins crochet blankets  http://www.amandascrochetblankets.com/home-page

The knitting Goddess http://www.theknittinggoddess.co.uk/,  Eden Cottage Yarns and my friend Zoe, which was exhibiting too and  has a lovely shop in Glasgow where I buy all my natural yarns. Zoe has a great selection of small independent producers, plus she dyes her on yarn also.  http://www.thequeenofpurls.com/

But let me tell u what made my day…

It wasn’t the yarn; it was those ladies that somehow recognised me and stopped to say hi and to tell me that they read and love my blog, my stories and my 12 blankets in 12-months challenge.

It was so overwhelming and humbling to get tangible recognition that my rumblings online are enjoyed by you out there .!

So a MASSIVE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!!

I am not taking the time you are spending reading my blog for granted it is totally appreciated.

So what did I brought back with me? I already posted a couple of photos on Instagram; I bought some lovely hand dyed yarn from the Knitting Goddess, three skeins from Eden Cottage and a VERY expensive cake from this new Hungarian supplier of gradients yarn called Bilum

B .

 

Amanda’s new blankets book, small pamphlets on crochet shawls that look very promising and a book on knitted toys because I couldn’t resist all those mini dresses and cute animals!

Out of the show, I shared a taxi with a lovely lady from Hampshire which very kindly gave me a lift to Edinburgh centre. I went to Mademoiselle Macaroon! https://mademoisellemacaron.co.uk/

Because I haven’t forgotten about my blanket and because they have THE BEST MACAROONS IN SCOTLAND!!!!  Gosh, I wish you could try them! They are delicious, and the small bakery/cafe is so quaint, you can see Edinburgh castle while sitting sipping your coffee and ejoying your macaroons and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

yeah, as we say in Scotland: ‘PURE MAGIC!!’

and look what we got here…..can you spot the macaroon and the new squares??

 

More Edinburgh news tomorrow as my weekend is not over yet and I have a family Ceilidh tonight.

love to you all,

Luciaxx

The blogstars weekend…

Overdue post…

As usual, I am always the last one writing, all the other bloggers have uploaded their take on the weekend, and Kathryn  (http://www.crafternoontreats.com)  has also uploaded a podcast which is very good and informative and I would highly recommend it.

http://www.youtube.com/crafternoontreatscrochet

Here are the links to the other Blogstars if you want to listen or read more:

 

http://emmavarnam.co.uk/stylecraft-blogstars-a-little-bit-star-struck/

http://sandra-cherryheart.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/stylecraft-blogstars-meet-again.html

http://zootyowlcards.blogspot.co.za/2017/02/yarn-yarn-and-more-yarn.html

http://getknottedyarncraft.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/blogstars-meet-up-february-2017.html

http://handknittedthings.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/stylecraft-blogstars-meet-up.html

http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2017/02/yarny-happenings.html

http://thetwistedyarn.com/2017/02/05/stylecraft-blogstars-meetup-aka-not-too-shabby-a-weekend/

http://theknittingexploitsofjosiekitten.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/stylecraft-blogstars-blogging-all-over.html

 

What did I bring back home from the weekend? (besides a big bag full of new yarns and colors to try of course!)

I think I brought back quite a few things that slowly have decanted down after the excitement of the weekend.

Below are some pictures I shall start with some pictures because to me images speak 1000 words and also do not make spelling mistakes!

The pictures are not mine they are a few of Helens http://www.theknittingexploitsofjosiekitten.blogspot.co.uk  and Sofie http://www.Stylecraft-yarns.co.uk) uploaded on our chatroom and I’m so glad they were taken because I was far too busy chatting and doing things! Helen and Sophie did capture beautifully what for me was the spirit of the weekend.

 

So what do you see?

You see colors, a table full of yarn, lots of sample garments, coffee, a beautiful sunny room with brick walls and a high ceiling and some very happy, busy, crafty ladies!

If you can get a feeling for this atmosphere, it is because that is what we all got in common not only us at the weekend but all of you out there that read our blogs and follow our yarn and other stories online. We all love making things.

I didn’t know what to expect for my first meeting, I knew the bloggers, as you do, by reading their stories online, or having briefly met them at shows like Yarndale or the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I was really looking forward to the weekend, but I also had a certain degree of apprehension being the last to have joined the group.  The apprehension went out of the window in 2 seconds!  As they couldn’t have made me more welcome, it felt like catching up with some old friends.

So if I could summarize what I liked most of the weekend I would say sitting together chatting about not only crochet related issues, but also the quotidian,  lots of little windows opened on ordinary lives, with family, work, pets, hobbies, travel, food, likes and dislikes. You name it.

Then I  had a Eureka moment as I  found out that the main reason why I like making things, and talking about it, it is because I love the social side of it.

A sort of déjà vu moment where I  remembered when I was a little girl under the fig tree with my grandmothers and their friends. It is hard not to see a common theme: friendship. That doesn’t matter where you are, or what language you speak; all that matter is that you take TIME  to make something and been creative. It is a bit like being an artist or a poet or a musician, you make things that make you happy and also creating things that make others happy because they understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

That applies to many of the bloggers and also to the ladies that look after the archive of the knitting and crochet guild which, some of us visited on Friday afternoon. It was a warehouse-like building which sat unassumingly in a back street in  Scholes, near Huddersfield, in Yorkshire.  I wish I had taken a picture of the door because I had to bend down ( and I m not a giant ..) to get in and there I was in Aladdin’s cave!!!

There I was, amidst rows upon rows of shelves with boxes. Each box with details of the contents. The most amazing collection of EVERY single pattern ever published for both knitting and crochet, and also yarn samples and lots of crochet and knitted items. All of which I wish I could’ve examined and enjoyed for hours and hours.

I have been a member of the knitting and crochet guild for few months, but I had no concept of the amazing work that these ladies, which are all volunteers,  do to preserve this extraordinary archive of creativity and also to promote the craft!

For a very small fee you can support them and become a member it makes a huge difference to their work, so  please have a look at their page:

http://kcguild.org.uk/

 

One of the things I liked most is that the work of cataloging the items and the patterns it is also a research of the origin of the items and the story behind them. Who made it, when, where and why.  How amazing is that?

This is one of the lovely items we saw a bed cover donated to the Guild and the original pattern that had been used.

 

 

Well, that is a snippet of my visit, I m sure I will think of something I forgot and write some more as it comes back to me. Hope you are all having a lovely week,

many thanks,

Lucia xx

 

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM AND CROCHET. WHY NOT?

Abstract expressionism and crochet…. I bet a lot  of people will find my statement total blasphemy.

I don’t mind, if that is the case, and I apologise in the very unlikely eventuality that an art critic has stumbled upon my blog. The purpose of the entry is to tell the story how this blanket came about, and   how I have used  saturated colours.

It all started with a pile of yarn , and the notion  to try something out of my comfort zone for a change. I wanted to use a pattern with a strong visual impact so I opted for  bull’s eye  which is a circle inside a square. If you google bull’s eye crochet square, the search engine will come up with several versions same basic design but slight differences due mainly to the thickness of the yarn ,which will determine  the size of the square, the number of stitches and the numbers of rounds .

I made a few samples ,with one strand  of DK but it turned out too flimsy and far too many rounds , so I opted for 2 strands together and fewer rounds. That created a more distinctive texture and visual impact. that made  the blanket  not only bold in colours but also bold in texture and weight!. ( in the photo above the one strand sample)

lets go back to the colours…

I wanted to use bold strong saturated colours and most of all  what are often considered ‘difficult ‘colours such as midnight blue , emperor, burgundy for example. 

Colours that very seldom I choose to add to my selection. I toiled with different combinations without much success I have to say, Then ,while in London last  September , I went to see an exhibition with my oldest daughter Francesca at  the Royal Academy of Arts called ‘Abstract Expressionism’  a selection of works by Hofmann, Pollok, Gottlieb,Willem de Kooning, Rothko,Kline,Still and many others.

I am not an expert or an art critic but just looking at those paintings as an ordinary person  what  I found astonishing  was how colour do exist as an independent element, and how colours project a mood and  also , how simplified forms and geometric shapes plus the use of saturated hues  create such a strong and bold statement.

I know that  it might be a bit ridiculous to compare crochet to works of art , but it is all about what catches your eye and what do you see and inspire you, it doesn’t have to be a painting at all ,  it can be someone else amazing blanket, can be nature, can be a pininterest board or a scrap of fabric or your favourite jumper.

That afternoon three paintings made quite an impression on me: one is called ‘in sober ecstasy’ painted by Hans Hofmann ,then ‘penumbra’ by Adolph Gottlieb, and  Williem de Kooning ‘untitled’.

I  couldn’t take pictures  obviously so I bought one of the catalogues of the exhibition and went home .

Now I  wish the pictures could give justice to the original but it can still give you an idea where I am coming from. what I saw in Hofmann was the amazing combination of colours and how those  brown/reddish rectangles  just made the painting sing, so it occurred to me that  a ‘dull’ imposing block of colour with a very strong geometric form can make  the other colours sing beautifully. hence dull colours  handled correctly can make a fantastic impact.

I loved Kooning’s  painting for the colours choice and  the  impact  of circles and squares  together and last in Gottlieb’s painting the red ring around the the black dot. can you see where I am coming from?

Bottom line of all of this is:

Just look around you and just pick what you like, and I mean it, pick ANYTHING that inspire you, because that will make any of your work personal and your item will tell  a  lovely story which is not my story but  it is YOURS.

Now few details because I have been asked to write down a pattern for it and the colours selection.

The blanket measures: 200cmx150,  there are 35 squares of 25cm each one.

I used Stylecraft special dk 2 strands together and a 5,00 hook.

the colours are: camel,midnight,tomato,gold,claret,emperor,fuchsia purple,storm blue,lime and pale rose. each square is made by a round centre squared up , I think a shape you are probably quite familiar it is also called bull’s eye.

my version is made of 9 rows:

row1 to row6 for the central circle and the last 3  rows squares it up.

PATTERN:

ROUND 1:

make a magic circle, inside 12 trebles,

ROUND2

2 trebles  together in each of the trebles of the previous round close with an ss on the ch3 of the beginning (24 trebles in total)

 

ROUND3:

ch3repeat this sequence: *1 treble, 2 trebles together* all around ( 36 trebles in total)

ROUND4:

repeat this sequence: *2 trebles,2trebles together* all around (48 trebles in total)

ROUND5:

repeat this sequence: *3 trebles, 2 trebles together*  (60trebles in total)

ROUND 6:

repeat this sequence: * 4 trebles,2 trebles together* all around ( 72 trebles in total)

those 6 rows make the internal circle. be aware that the sequence remain the same for all the blocks but  in each individual block some of the rows are in simple crochet and NOT in trebles! so please refer to the details of the the individual block to know which of the rows are in simple crochet.

ROUND 7/8/9 they will square the circle as follow:

ROUND7

start this row with *1dtr, 3tr,2htr,5 sc,2htr,3tr ,1dtr* then we do the corner as follow: in the same treble we crochet: **2dtr,ch1,2dtr** repeat 3 more times the all sequence that will make 4 corners (2dtr,ch1,2dtr) and 4 side of the square (1dtr,3tr,2htr,5sc,2htr,3tr,1dtr)

ROUND8

start this row at the corner . in the ch1 space make *2dtr,ch1,2dtr* this make the corners, then  the side is 20 trebles to reach the other corner and repeat the sequence all around.

ROUND9

start this row at the corner in the space ch1 of the previous round and make the corner as follow: *1tr,1dtr,2ch,1dtr,1tr* 23 trebles for the side and the corner again.

note: I say at the beginning 1 treble but the first treble is substituted ,as always happen at the beginning of each round, by 3 ch and if it is a rounds of sc will be 2 ch. also I close every round with an ss on the first group of chains.

normally I would say choose the colours as you please but in this case it makes a different if you use them in a specific order so I am going to list the different blocks as follow:

there are 10 different blocks in the blanket : this is the list:

then combine your 35 blocks as follow in the picture, and join them together with 1 strand of yarn only and  a simple sc in the back , now I m a bit of a perfectionist so I didn’t want the seam of the joining to be detected so when you join the block together please make sure that the colour of the yarn you are using matches one of the colours of the last round of the block. which means if you have 2 blocks to join together  which the last row is one lime and the other emperor use emperor to join. I know you will have more ends to sew but it does make a difference trust me.

the border is 9 rounds using 2 strands of yarn together.

first 8 rounds are sc and the last round is crab stitch .

colour sequence border:

ROUND1 : camel

ROUND2: gold

ROUND3: midnight

ROUND4/5/6/7/8 : claret

ROUND9: midnight.

QUANTITIES of yarn…I am afraid that is going to be a bit empiric but I tried to make a block to see the quantities, you will have to add it all up ….

round 1 and 2 together : 4 grams

round 3: 3 grams

round4:4 grams

round5: 5 grams

round6: 6 grams

round 7/8/9 together: 26 grams

the border I have no idea but I recon is at least 100 grams of claret.

sorry for the quantities, it wasn’t my plan  to make a pattern out of it, it was just an experiment blanket, so if you want to make one please make a sample of the block , that will help you to decide how much you need.

all the best

Luciaxx

 

 

 

 

NEW YEAR NEW ADVENTURES

Hello everyone and the first blog’s entry for 2017!

Firstly I would like to wish to all of you, out there, may you have hope, peace, joy, good health and more during this coming year.

Second, now that it is official, I can let you all know I am an STYLECRAFT BLOGSTAR!!!

How exciting is that???

I have to thank not only Stylecraft to invite me to be part of their group, but more so I have to thank you all for liking my page,  sharing what I do and supporting me and my crochet adventures !!

It still amazes me  that I got the opportunity to write and share my experience with you all, simply because crochet doesn’t have borders, crochet it is what we all got in common, and it links all of us together regardless nationality, culture, language and social background and I think, you will agree with me ,

it is a beautiful thing.

So you might wonder how did I become a Blogstar… well actually I m a bit surprised myself!

It all started with Lucy’s blog Attic24. I just stumbled on it a couple of years ago, while looking at crochet projects, and chatting to a friend of mine, Yvonne, who loves crochet as much as I do.

Lucy ‘s blog was, and still is, amazing! Full of colours, beautiful images, advice, lovely projects and tutorials, to the point that I decided to buy a kit for her cottage ripple blanket and give it a go. The price was very reasonable, the colours looked amazing BUT….

big, BUT, it was…ACRYLIC!

My memory of acrylic yarn was  of an unpleasant,scratching ,shining  fibre, which, if you rub it on, will make your hair standing like a porcupine!!! But it wasn’t the case…  when I opened the pack, I got a soft, squidgy lovely yarn with beautiful hues, exactly how Lucy had described it on her blog!!!

I loved the yarn so much that that year I made LOADS of blankets and I bought every single shade that was available!!

So when STYLECRAFT launched a competition for a new shade, I had to be part of it!

My entry was Lobelia, and I was lucky enough that Lobelia got selected, with other beautiful hues, and became a permanent colour in their special DK range.

From there it is all history… emails, a visit to their HQ in Yorkshire,  I met Sue Pinner at Edinburgh yarn festival last year, more blankets, more designs and here I am a blogstar…😊So  this year is going to be a BIG one, and I will try my best to bring you lots of colours and projects, to share my journey and last but not least to HAVE FUN!!!

 

X