I AM BACK !!!!!!

I am BACK!!!

I know it has been ages…

I have been so busy trying to finish several projects which I  had committed to it and I  was so frustrated because I couldn’t share any of the work I was doing… but now my last project is live  I am BACK  !!!!!!

It has been an amazing few months!

I have been working flat out on several things.. I should also say  I did take on board a bit too much and at times I was slightly overwhelmed by the all things but now that all the blankets are available it makes it all worthwhile.

The final chapter was to deliver my last blanket to CROCHET NOW’s HQ last month!  very exciting and a bit scary too… The RISE &SHINE cal has been a real labour of love! to create something to keep an audience interested and more so, happy to continue on a project that is going to run over 12 months it is NOT an easy task!!

I really hope you will like it, and with trepidation, I am waiting for the reactions online as it went live TODAY !!!!!!!!!

So I am back writing again… I missed writing my blog, but I know you all have very busy lives and I didn’t want to fill my blog with idle chit-chat and not been able to tell you what I was doing.  so where to start…

Let’s go in reverse order and start with the latest project…

here are some pictures, also you will find pieces of information on the CAL on Crochet Now website… I have a few more pictures but I will post them as the CAL progresses.

 

The blanket is a CAL and will run over 12 months.

Part 1 can be found in Issue 27 of Crochet Now which will be in shops on Thursday 12th April or available to buy online at www.moremags.com/crocheting 

I have used STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK, (mainly using 2 strands  held together)  the colours are:

 

Stylecraft Special DK – 295m per 100g ball; 100% acrylic

3 balls in Mustard 1823

2 balls each in Fuchsia Purple 1827, magenta 1084, Shrimp 1132, Grass Green 1821, Sage 1725, Bright Pink 1435, Emperor 1425

1 ball each in Plum 1061, Fondant 1241, Pistachio 1822, Empire 1829, Petrol 1708, Lipstick 1246

(Important Note: Based on the designer’s tension, 98g of Fondant 1241 and 96g of Empire 1829 were used in this blanket. If you are unsure of how loose your tension is, we recommend purchasing additional balls of these shades.)

Stylecraft Special Aran – 196m per 100g ball; 100% acrylic

1 ball in Lipstick 1246

 

What I can say, is that it is really great fun, it is a project for everyone and I hope you will love it.

It is all about texture, interesting techniques,  and more so COLOUR!!!

I don’t know where you are based around the world, but for us in the UK has been one VERY LONG WINTER!! we had snow in Scotland up to last weekend.. really  I’m still thinking spring will never come this year!! so the brightness of the colours of the Rise & Shine kept me entertained during the winter months. To be able to create something it can be really tiring and sometimes quite frustrating too…especially when things do not go to plan, but I loved every moment of it.

But thats not all…

two more blankets I designed for Stylecraft went live a few weeks ago… both bursting with colours, one is called HYPNO and the other BOHO…

you can find them as a Pattern  here:

https://www.poppys-holmfirth.co.uk/lucia-s-shop/lucia-s-shop/lucia-dunn-hypno-blanket-cushion-printed-pattern-9527

https://www.poppys-holmfirth.co.uk/lucia-s-shop/lucia-s-shop/lucia-dunn-boho-blanket-and-cushion-printed-pattern-9528

at the same time, I made the Valentina Shawl…for Poppy’s ,

and I wrote the pattern with the help of the ladies at Poppy’s for the Walrus blanket too..they are both available on my shop at Poppy’ s https://www.poppys-holmfirth.co.uk/lucia-s-shop/lucia-s-shop  and soon should also be on my Ravelry’s store.

 

I will write all about my Poppy’s adventures as it deserves a proper special blog entry!  everyone made me so welcome! and it has been amazing to be able to collaborate with others! but I will do it in a  separate entry,  this one is just for touching base, dust off the cobwebs out of my blog and just let you know I am back again.

So you have: a CAL, 2 BLANKETS, A SHAWL  and the WALRUS BLANKET too…

what am I doing now? …

I am helping to finish my daughter  Francesca’s granny square blanket… she made 180 squares and she panicked a little when it came to joining them so I said I was going to help… ( don’t ask me why…)

I also had a dip into amigurumi…

It all started because I needed a rest from Blankets and I wanted a little project.. if you follow me on facebook you might have guessed I got a bit obsessed with it! no idea why the amigurumis are so addictive!

it might be the fact that you work on a tridimensional plane and that is a bit of a novelty to me… so I started with a Crafter Granny… then I made a bear, then  I made another bear..( which I  still have to complete)..then I tried a bunny but looked like out of a horror movie …then my son Giuseppe asked me to make  a  chameleon for his girlfriend that loves  Tangled’s Pascal.. so I just finished that a day ago ready for her 18th birthday..

I am planning other things too… but I needed a few weeks of not designing, recharging my batteries by just enjoying other people amazing patterns!! and I feel the energy coming back which is a good news indeed!!

So, as I LOVE lists of TO DO’s my new resolutions are…

  • do not take too much work on!!!
  • write at least 2 blogs a month with updates on what I am doing,
  • walk and not be a couch crocheting potato!
  • be more social and not a grumpy bear hiding behind a mountain of yarn…
  • organise some new exciting material for classes ( because I love teaching!!!) and put some dates in the diary.
  • make more videos!
  • last but not least go to London to see my daughter Valentina!!
  • loads of more things that I am sure I have forgotten…

that is all for today! thank you for all your support, I love your messages and all your lovely comments on Facebook and Instagram!

and on that subject just a little note…

I understand how frustrating  it must be not to be able to get either the patterns or the kits for the Eastern Jewels and the Frida’s Primavera because often they are sold out or are not available as digital downloads , but as I replied to many of  you, I just designed both the patterns and I am not involved in how they are distributed.

So please get in touch with ether Stylecraft or Janie Crow if you need some updated pieces of information.

https://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/

https://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/

My only direct contact with the retail status is Poppy’s and I know they have  sold several packs of the Eastern Jewels, ( the Frida’s Primavera is just available  from Jane ) but again they too, as retailers, depend from Jane and Stylecaft for the  printed patterns so please, if you are interested, leave your email with Helen’s at Poppy’s and I am sure that if the packs will be back in stock she will message you .

https://www.poppys-holmfirth.co.uk/lucia-s-shop/lucia-s-shop

HAPPY CROCHET!  thank you for reading,

love to you all

LUCIA XXX

The “art” of blanket planning…a beginner’s journey

I am still thinking if I am going to have a theme or what I am planning for 2018… I have few deadlines I need to honour but after that, I am a free -bird and I can do whatever I fancy.

So in the midst of creating something new and exciting I am also putting together a program for classes for beginners and more advanced crocheters, because one of the highlights of last year was teaching, I discovered that  I LOVE TEACHING! I like the excitement to meet new people, I like the energy and buzz that they bring to the table and I like that they go home, hopefully with some new skills to work with.

teaching to beginners is probably the most challenging of all lessons as it is often their first encounter with this amazing exciting artform and you want to pass on the rudiments of crochet as well as possible,

but at the same time not be boring or frustrating or altogether scary!  so I engaged the help of my daughter Francesca to test some samples of possible projects to make sure that I teach them  to walk before to run as Hussein Bolt! Francesca is great because she can crochet already, she is what I would call a very keen beginner and I think that is a good platform to start with.

While testing and chatting about several possibilities she said she wanted to make a blanket “all by herself” for someone very special… so I started to say ..ok what do you have in mind, what size, what colours, what yarn …etc.

 

 

It became apparent to me that you can make an original, interesting and exciting blanket from scratch even if you are a beginner, just following some basic rules.

So that is what this  Blog entry is all about a beginner’s journey…and I will keep you updated on her progress and you might find something interesting to use on your projects at home.

So where to start…

WOOOW SO EXCITING I AM GOING TO MAKE A NEW BLANKET!….

then comes the frantic search on Pinterest , Ravelry, magazines, books, social media, and patterns of all sorts.. which is all good.

So I encouraged her to collect things, scrap of fabrics, leafs, stones , anything that can create a visual map .  Even the process to combine them all together it is very important because you can focus on the colours and that will reflect on the choice of yarns you are going to make . so make a bord, take a picture with your phone and THEN CHOOSE THE YARN!!

Bring the picture with you at your yarn-store or use it as reference if you shop on line  or even to select some hues from your stash..( because we all have one of those…).

So Francesca collected things she likes and patterns she finds interesting, but also I reminded her that if you make something for someone else your search should be focused not on the pattern you like or you want to make yourself, but on what he/she would  like to have!

She made the boards and took the pictures herself  …so this is a collaboration project!

Some nature’s inspiration….and , by the way, you do not need amazing skills or amazing landscapes, travelling or what so ever…just go outside !!!

Very often you see on social media fellow crocheters complaining that they spent a lot of time, efforts and money making  what they thought was a lovely blanket ar scarf or whatever but they encounter  a very  tepid reception. Now I do believe there is always a rogue one that no matter what you make he/she still could not  careless but you will find that 99% of the  time people love receiving a handmade gift made with  love. .. BUT  you must follow a few rules to succeed…

I have to confess, I have seen some shockers on my computer that made me think ..oh well no wonder it didn’t work out!

FIRST RULE:

ARE YOU SURE HE/SHE WANTS A BLANKET?????

that is a GREAT START  to figure that out first!  maybe he /she prefer a new t-shirt, a pair of shoes, a concert ticket, been taken out on a special day, a Transformer, some Kyle Jenner’s makeup or a gosh.. a Gucci bag! I don’t know..million of different possibilities and remember

if he/she doesn’t really want a blanket it is not all lost! don’t get upset or deflated..just MAKE A BLANKET FOR YOURSELF ! or find someone else 😀

SECOND RULE:

DO NOT BITE OFF MORE THEN YOU CAN CHEW!

aghhhh really delicate point… I know we all have seen the most amazing and intricate blanket and we want to make one exactly the same but you must  be realistic and not only look at your budget but also at your abilities especially if it is meant as a gift. it has to be right..none of that malarky “ohh I miss 2 stitches on my round 23..now I am at round 37  should I unravel and fix it?…if you noticed the answer is always YES!! totally utterly YES!!! I can’t stress that enough..the idea that you could call it unique means you are kidding yourself on ,it is like baking a cake and forgetting the sugar, apologies if I am being a little bit harsh.

I am going to tell you a little story… after the Frida’s  Primavera was released I had a lot of emails from ladies showing me their progress and I really loved to help and  compliment them on their efforts.. but I also had a lady who sent me a picture of the blanket and one of the  hexagons had only 5 sides… she  had joined the blanket and said to me..I know it has 5 sides and not 6 but will it be still ok? can you tell me how can I fix it ?.. what could  I say? there isn’t a nice way to say…sorry but you have to unravel the all blanket because it doesn’t look right.. I did say that and I don’t think she was very impressed at all.  I wish I had a “Magic Wand” or an a “Aladdin’s Lamp” to correct mistakes , but trust me..mistakes have to be fixed. I made tonnes myself and I have had to unravel countless times until I am entirely happy with it.  So the bottom line is;

if you see it, others, even if they do not crochet,  will see it too.

 

So CHECK YOUR WORK! and more importantly practice your square until you are completely happy with it,  before embarking on a full blanket!. It takes just maybe an evening  to practice a  motif or a  square,  please make a swatch of the stripe, or wave or  whatever pattern you plan to use..and I know it might be a bit boring and you are excited to start, but it will save you time and frustrations in the long run.

I have been going on a bit of a tangent..let’s get back on track…

 

so my advice is simple;

 

Do not bite off more you can chew.

Swatch whatever you think is good

Believe and be comfortable that you can do it.

And  tackle the project head on!

 

Please always remember, that  it is MUCH BETTER to make a beautifully executed properly planned, humble, granny square’s blanket, than  a wonky striped blanket or a complex hexagon blanket with  one of the sides missing .

Back to Francesca’s blanket…

As the blanket is for a guy she didn’t want a fussy pattern and she opted for ..the granny square. and I am very happy she did that because it allows me to show you what amazing potentials a granny square has!

So she did a few samples..until she was happy with it..then came the part I like most COLOURS !!! I leave you with a picture…and  I will tell you the story next time 😀

love to you all,

Lucia xx

Annabelle’s blanket colours and few more stories….

my plan to write a blog entry last weekend didn’t really work…due to a flu epidemic that left most of us floored for a few days.

I am on the mend now so I thought I could catch up with this.

Firstly I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU for all the lovely comments on the colours choice! I  thought Caro’s pattern was really lovely and unusual and it worked really well with the bright colours  I used.

 

Here is the link to the original pattern just in case you missed it on Facebook, as said, I bought it on Ravelry.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-blanket-in-overlay-crochet

and this is the list of the colours and yarn I used for my version:

STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK :

1 ball each in:

spice,fondant,fuchsia purple,magenta,mustard,aspen and buttermilk.

STYLECRAFT BATIK DK :

2 balls each in :

pistachio and coral.

a note on the quantities…

I listed what I started with, but as you know, I made the 48 squares suggested in the pattern, but I ended up using just 20 squares for Annabelle  because I wanted the blanket to be stroller’s size as I found it is  a very practical option to give as a present, they are not too big, they can be carried everywhere,  they can be fold and stuffed  in a bag if  not needed and, in my experience, you can get the most use out of it

 

So if you are thinking to make a blanket for a baby I would suggest anything between these 2 sizes:

a minimum of   60cm x 75cm  to  75cm x 100cm .

Annabelle’s measures: 65cm x 85cm and you can see it “in action” here…

How cute are Annabelle and her sister Rose? I was delighted that Siobhan and Andrew were ok with me sharing this lovely picture of their beautiful girls with you, so you have a chance to see the other blanket I made for Annabelle’s older sister, Rose when she was born two years ago. It still looks great and I am so pleased they use it all the time because that is what blanket -making is all about! making something that is useful, that can be washed, that can be dragged around and snuggle under and if the colours make you smile that is an added bonus!

Next, I have to organize my thoughts for 2018…

I have several things in mind and a few projects I have been working on, behind the scenes,  coming up too.

it is going to be a VERY exciting year! as I am NEVER tired to crochet, I have a head full of colours and ideas. but my aim this year is to take on board all the comments and advice I gathered in 2017 and to make my work more accessible to all of you out there, I want to do more classes so I can pass on my passion for this amazing craft , I want to be less erratic with my blog entries and improve my online presence too…

It is going to be a lot of work but it is going to be great fun too so stay tuned!

 

lots of love,

Lucia xx

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

A trip to Yorkshire episode 1: Salts Mill and David Hockney….

I said I was going to tell you my trip to Yorkshire  last weekend, as I am off camping next week in the wildness…( I do that once a year 😀 )  hence I will not be able to write much next week so I’m doing it today 😀  So two blogs entries in two days AGAIN!

I went to Yorkshire for a Blogstar’s meeting as you probably already know, and part of the weekend Stylecraft always organize something interesting to do that is craft/art related.

Last time we went to see the Knitting and crochet guild archive in Holmfirth.

The archive is just open by appointment, I believe, but it is absolutely amazing. And we were very privileged to be able to see some beautiful garments and artifacts.  For ones of you that are not acquainted with the KCGuild, they are a charity dedicated to UK domestic knitting and crochet, run by volunteers and supported by subscriptions and donations.

Here’s a link to the page if you want to have a look,  http://kcguild.org.uk/.

 

If you are going to visit any of the lovely yarn’s shows that are up and down the UK  they always have a stall and some volunteers more than happy to let you see some of the artifacts from their collection or you can have some yarny’s chats!

Back to last weekend, on Friday some of us  went to see this amazing place called Salts Mill in Saltaire www.saltsmill.org.uk/

 

Saltaire is a UNESCO  World Heritage Site because it is an outstanding example of a mid 19th-century  textile industry town.

This is a picture of the Salts Mill painted by David Hockney and exhibited at the Mill.

Salts Mill it is a beautiful building and I quote from their official page: ‘The Mill opened in 1853, the centerpiece of Sir Titus Salt’s utopian vision of Saltaire. He built the adjoining model village to house his workers. Cloth production at Salts finally ceased in 1986, and the following year the mill was purchased by the late Jonathan Silver, who re-imagined it as a place where culture and commerce could thrive together.’

On that note Salts Mill hosts a very substantial number David Hockney’s  permanent art collection, special events, and exhibitions, there are  lovely restaurants ( I  can vow for that, I arrived early and I went for a delicious salad  for lunch  before my visit), shops to browse all sort of goods, from books to clothes and home ware to art supplies and everything in between….

 

 

You know how much I love art and exhibitions in general, I also love guided tours too, the lady that took us around the Mill was called Sue  @saltsmill and she was a FANTASTIC ambassador for the Mill!

She was not only incredibly knowledgeable on David Hockney’s art work and life, but also Sue was genuinely so enthusiastic about his work that it was contagious. I loved every single minute of it! thank you, Sue!

I saw exhibits of Hockney’s work before in London but I thought the Mill was the best overall experience.  So if you got a chance and you are in the area go and have a look, it is well worth it a visit!

Now why I like Hockney and why I think it is relevant for my yarn endeavors?

Bare in mind that I am definitely not an art critic and I look at paintings just  as the average person’s perspective.  I like  mainly two things: his work is innovative, he uses not only canvases and paint or pencils but, printing, lithography, fax machines, photographs, iPad’s print outs  and an 18-screen film installation;

this is one of his huge paintings:  It is called “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty-eleven)”  it was part of an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London January 16, 2012. (Routers)

He also paints lots of landscapes and portraits,  this one it is of his parents:

My Parents, 1977. © David Hockney/Collection Tate, London

and the second thing I like which is my favorite thing and has given me much inspiration is that his work is VERY COLOURFUL! :

 

So I came back with a head full of colors, and a bag-full of postcards to use a reference!

So get a pair of sunglasses and be prepared for a shower of COLOURS in the next blankets!!

happy crocheting,

Lucia xxx

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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