DECEMBER’S blanket,Frau Holle and a little girl called Annabelle…

29th of December…in Italy, we say “meglio tardi che mai”  which translate… “better late than never”…..

Firstly,  I am so sorry for the lack of posts…and thank you for your patience and I hope you are all enjoying your festivities.

What have I been doing?

This month has been a bit of a blur … I had things to finish that, unfortunately, I can’t share until next year…I also had work, family and all the rest to manage as December seems to be the busiest time of the year!!! Yesterday was also my birthday.

If you are following me on facebook you might have seen some post about Frau Holle as she is the theme for my December blanket. So let’s start introducing this special lady which has been part of my Christmas since I can remember…

 

 

I should start by saying I have been brought up with books…  and yes, as you might have guessed,  I am old enough to remember apple just as fruit- yes, a time before iPads, mobile phones, internet and computers.

It was the time when entertainment meant books and I was so lucky to have a grandmother with the most extraordinary knowledge of folk tales and stories and the will to share them.

I was the little girl that always said ‘another one, please’…

I know now, after 50 years, that my grandmother loved mixing and matching.

she picked what she wanted from the stories, she also made some up on the spot.

One night was an episode from the Odyssey or Eneid, the other was some mythological beast. Another night was some exotic location, the other a tiger out of a Salgari’s book ( if you are Italian you might know him). One night would be some little girl lost in Nordic landscapes, a god with one eye, a grey horse with eight legs , a magical tree  with lots different worlds and my favourite …GHOST STORIES!

and I mean proper ones…none of this wishy-washy Twilights saga….

The common denominator of all these stories were that none of them were PC ( politically correct) , no annoying pig which jumps in puddles (she who must not be named).

My nonna’s stories were full of monsters, gore, dramas, swords, heroes, felons, dragons and skeletons on horseback, a LOT of pre- Disney’s  faeries, and amazing goblins lost little creatures which were always rather nasty … (I am still quite wary what is lurking under a bridge over a creek…)

so tales of all sort, I loved them so much and I still love them now.

One of my favourite stories is from the Dolomites, a range of mountains in northern Italy on the border with Austria.

I love those mountains so much, they are home to me and to Frau Holle.

You might be familiar with one of the versions of this folk tale’s  figure. The story is as old as the 1st century BC when Germany was populated by tribes.

The legend tells the story of an Earth Goddess that we know as Frau Holle or Hulda.

She was known in Northen Hesse and quite popular on my mountains too until she became famous in the 19th century thanks to the work of the Brothers Grimm. So if you don’t know it you should read Wilhelm’s version- it is a lovely story.

For us, on the Dolomites, Frau Holle is not just the depiction of a nice lady who shakes her pillow and the feathers which fall become snow on Earth… she is also the sky queen who, besides mastery of clouds and winds, she had the power of granting sunshine and prosperity to the fields. She is the motherly protector of women’s lives, she controlled feminine work, namely favouring spinning, and, as Frau Holda or Holle, she kept the souls of the unborn children.

In some countries, it was said that her home was on a mountain, a magnificent cave, and still in some others, it was in the waters of some fountains or ponds it all depends on where you are.

So I made a little one to hang over my table to remind me that, sometimes,  we all need a bit of magic too!

 

anyway back to the blanket…

A new baby girl has just joined the family, she is the daughter of my husband’s cousin Siobhan. Her name is Annabelle and she has a beautiful big sister called Rose who is truly adorable.

Annabelle was born about 6 weeks ago and she is well overdue a blanket!

I made a blanket for her older sister so I making one for her now. I used, as inspiration, one of several beautiful images of Frau Holle from the Grimm’s tales…

I loved the colours and the details of these illustrations as much as I love the story.

So here it is my last blanket on the go..hopefully it will be ready in a few days but here you can see the first square…on some very “on theme” fresh snow!

and the usual production line on the go…

and some very appropriate, fresh snow, shot of the garden this morning…

 

The colour choices are mine but the pattern is not- I bought it online, I will give you all the details once I have finished the blanket.

To you all, I wish you a peaceful New Year and the best for 2018!!

I will write a final post with a summary of this amazing year VERY SOON

lots of love

lucia xxx

November blanket: the WALRUS HUG

Ok it is December already… and I finally found the time to write a post about the November blanket. I don’t really know where my days go especially at this time of the year, it feels like I am always chasing my tail! I had a couple of project to finish and deadlines at work too. plus we had a bit of a drama with frozen pipes and burst pipes… the joy of living in a house that is 200 years old…

any way back to the Blanket..do you like it?

 

I started joining the pieces together at the end of November and finished the blanket a couple of weeks ago . Joining the pieces is one of my favourite parts as the blankets start to take shape. Until this stage, it is a bunch of squares that “should” work nicely together, that is what happens when you start a blanket from scratch without a pattern to refer to- so there is always some risk involved!

 

It might be a bit daunting to create something from scratch but it is very exciting too, until the end you don’t know if it is going to all workout or if it is going to be something “OK “… I make several attempts before getting it right, and there isn’t really a plan of action. I do start with an idea of a general feeling, then I try to match the yarn to that feeling.Then I look on the internet for images that might convey my idea, as inspiration, then …even if I have been doing that for many years, I still need to put them on a scrapbook. There is nothing like a visual aid if you plan a blanket and that is what I was teaching to the ladies that came at Poppy’s in November.

On that matter if you haven’t read it, please read the Blog entry that Sophie from Stylecraft did of the weekend, it is so well written and has lovely pictures too…I was far too busy chatting and playing with the yarn that I took virtually no pictures at all!!!

This is the link if you haven’t read it yet….https://stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/blog/lucias-eastern-jewels-workshop-at-poppys/

so back to the blanket.. why WALRUS HUG?????

Well, there is a story behind… Like many of you, I crochet while doing other things, especially at night, I might listen to audible if I need to keep my eyes on the project, but if it is something I am quite comfortable with I watch TV with the family. One date that we never miss is a Sunday night Sir David Attenborough’ s BLUE PLANET 2. All my kids love it and we make a point to watch it together. It is a bit of  a routine..cups of teas, biscuits, blankets, I always have a WIP in my hands, but I choose something easy so I can follow the program at the same time…( I have been known  to crochet without looking..) Blue Planet is amazing, I watched all David Attenborough’s programs but there is something really special about this last one. I think it is not only about the amazing, extraordinary beauty of the world that we are living in, but there is also an emphasis on how important it is to be aware of the fragility of the environment. What we can do, even on a simple domestic scale, to make a difference.

Nothing hit home as obvious as the mother walrus, swimming in the icy waters of the Arctic , holding her exhausted pup as she grows increasingly ­desperate to find a resting place for herself and her baby. As ice flows diminish, she finds competition for a spot is so fierce she must fight her way through the other breeding walruses. It brought tears to my eyes and all my children were the same…that is why it is so important for them to see programs like that.It creates an awareness of the situation and it might help in the long run.

That is why the blanket is called a walrus hug, it doesn’t matter if it is a human or another mammal, the maternal instinct is always there to protect, comfort, and keep our children safe. A blanket, as trivial as might be, can help to make something feel better.  So while I was watching the program I thought about the blanket I was working on in my lap and that is how the name came along.

If you have a chance do watch  BLUE PLANET 2, it is amazing and such a breath of fresh air in a very disappointing selection of programs to watch with the family on a Sunday night.

so here is my walrus hug..it is heavy, cosy and perfect for the season.

I am writing the pattern and I am determined to get it out before the end of 2017!! so yeah still a few days in the office then Christmas then hopefully some chilling time and plenty of crochet ahead! so wish me luck!

I am getting there..well maybe 😀

happy crochetting and thank you for reading,

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

 

 

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

 

unexpected and incredible!!

I have been thinking for two weeks about this blog entry, I just wanted to write about my weekend at Yarndale and few Yorkshire tales too but it occurs to me that I might have to write something else.

 

I am going to write how surreal these past two weeks have been and how touched I am for all your comments and the amazing popularity the blanket has reached. I totally wasn’t expecting such a success and it fills me with happiness, do you know why? It is because when I started my blog I started because I wanted to share something that I thought even if it is just some yarn worked with a hook it has some amazing power to bring people together and to bring a little slice of rainbow and warmth.

 

It might sound a bit pompous but I knew the Eastern Jewels was a good blanket, sometimes when you crochet so much you have good blankets and maybe not so good blankets- it is all a part of the process. BUT when I was making the eastern I thought “WOW this one looks good!!” as I never plan ahead or sketch the different squares it really becomes alive as it grows.

BUT when I was making the Eastern I thought “WOW this one looks good!!” as I never plan ahead or sketch the different squares it really becomes alive as it grows. But I never thought in my wildest dream that it would have been so good! What I thought about as I was making it, and please correct me if you think is not the case, is that crochet is really universal and never mind who you are, where you live or how old you are, you can see the same thing I see and that to me is mind-boggling. And so exciting. So when I read all those amazing comments under the Stylecraft competition I was like ohhh my goodness- all that work, all that frogging and endless cups of tea and pieces of octagons on the floor everywhere do have paid off! I manage to let you see what I see or better what I want to see.

 

Can we crochet something as ephemeral as happiness? Probably we can, or better according to your comments we absolutely can! You can sit in your home or whenever you like and with some balls of yarn you can make something that makes you smile and it is not an attempt or a copy! And it is not like a painting that you need a magic touch…you just have to follow some lines written in a piece of paper and there you go! You have the exact same blanket done by you for you. And I find that so amazing! I wish I could find the words to better express what it has been like seeing all these messages, and following all the saga of  Stylecraft running out of yarn, running out of brochures because no one could have predicted how popular the blanket would be!

 

It has been so crazy that I started to make another one myself! I started before I left for Italy at the beginning of the week and I took some of the octagons with me to let my parents see them and it is so interesting remaking the same blanket again and so enjoyable because this time I have not to think or frog constantly I just follow the patterns and it happens again all those colours start to sing together! Yes, you can repeat over and over.

 

Now I am thinking about all of you crocheting the blanket in your homes, maybe you have a special place where to put it once it has been done or maybe you have a special person in mind to gift it to. I find it so humbling that you decided to take a little bit of my thoughts and bring it to something as special as your own home!

 

But also want to point on something else which is collaborative work. How great we are when we join together and work together! I would probably never manage to make  something as the Eastern Jewels is  if Jane had not let me use her pattern!

 

Patterns are a piece of you and it is really something quite special to let someone else take over and interpreting your work Jane is an amazing artist and a generous mind and to me this is the best of all this experience the collaborative side of it. You do not need to work alone or be jealous of your work. Go out there, get together use your mind and hearts and make something amazing! We all have something to bring to the party, we all have ideas, experience, happiness, to share! Buddha says  “Thousands of candles can be light from a single candle and the light of a candle will not be shorted  happiness never decreases by been shared.”

Love you all,

Lucia .

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

The August blanket: when things do not go as planned….

My august blanket…you might all think what happend?

Normally I blog a few times during the month and I have a ‘plan’  but blankets can have a mind of their own and this one took a different route.

This blanket was not going to be a place or a painting or a memory. This blanket was going to be about something really special that comes with blogging.

Blogging for me is about throwing  all your dreams, time, passion and the odd ball of yarn…  to this virtual space like paper airplanes. Some are just not meant to fly and they dive down or land on a puddle. However, some take the wind and they bring back amazing things, they bring back possibilities, new ideas, even more, paper in magazine articles’s form or patterns, but my favorite planes are those who bring me back friendship.

We all need that. It is as important as the air we breathe.. it keeps us healthy, focus our minds, helps us when the chips are down and also help us to celebrate good things.

I am sure there  are many more  reasons why people blog, people blog for support a cause or sharing information that matters to them, people blog for expanding their business, or for financial gain, some blog to educate others on different topics, but a lot of people blog for fun and sharing things that they like. Regardless what your reasons are often the  audience you attract through blogging doesn’t have to just be your “audience.” They can become your friends

I think deep down that is one of the main reason why many bloggers spend hours upon hours writing. Of course, I am not so naive thinking that it is all pink and fluffy and some of us are out there for purely personal or financial gain but I m pretty sure that loads are there because they genuinely want to share their passion with the world

Blogging is an amazing platform to communicate and share experiences, dreams, passions and is not just a one-way route, the best part for me is all of you out of there. I love getting comments and response, I love knowing that we have something in common, we share an interest but sometimesI found that crochet opens the doors to much much more that goes beyond some lovely comments about a well-executed blanket.  Crochet opens the door to friendship… such a big word!

So you might are wondering if I am diverting once again, but I am not..Ok I m maybe taking the scenic route to come to the point. The August blanket is about the online friends I made been a blogger.

I met a lot of amazing people been on social media from all corners of the world which have inspired me with their amazing creations, kindness, patience on putting up with my chaotic mind and most of all general good chat.

If you have seen this picture I posted on Facebook at the beginning of the month, you might have noticed the beautiful Durban girl square designed by Jen from Hooks and Tales. https://hooksntales.blogspot.co.uk/

in this past months I have been chatting with Jen about many things and not only crochet, she is a most extraordinary lady with a track loads of talent and a great deal of humanity too. After chatting with her I was going to make an amazing blanket using some of her beautiful patterns. So I left with a bag full of yarn ready for ACTION!!

 

 

 

Then I boarded the plane…with some planned plane-friendly yarn and small project because there is always some crochet you can do on a plane that doesn’t involve invading your fellow passenger’s space with scissors, loads of balls of yarn…

 

Then I landed in Venice…

and I got HIT BY A WALL OF HEAT! I obviously was aware that the difference between Scotland and Italy’s temperatures is huge, but I wasn’t expecting 41 celsius!

I suspect 25 years in Scotland lowered my tolerance to the season but I found the heat so fierce that it made working with acrylic an impossible task even if with air conditioning. So disappointing…

all my plans had to be revisited…

My parents live in a small village now at the foot of the Euganean Hills in a region called Veneto. My brother lives there too with his family. It is the Pianura Padana or the Po Valley and with Bologna, Florence and a handful of other urban areas probably the hottest /humid place in Italy.

So I went back rummaging in my bag…and I did bring some cotton with me too, but I am so spoiled at home with my wall of yarn and colors that I was missing some of the colors I wanted and I couldn’t come up with something to make to keep me busy for the month. So before leaving for the mountains and the sea,  I went to visit the local Yarn shop in the village. It is called ‘Non solo mercerie’  which translated in ‘Not only haberdashery’ and it is run by a lovely lady called, like me, Lucia.

this is Lucia, the picture is the work of Alessio, a local talented photographer  https://www.facebook.com/Fotostudio4A/  the one I took was out of focus.

Lucia and I are friends on Facebook and we sometimes chat a bit on line, so was really nice catching up with her and Claudia in person, in their lovely shop 😀

and chatting about the inevitable heat, but more interesting about yarn, the difference in trends in Italy and the UK, the retail business, and how difficult it can be owning a brick and mortar yarn business,  new colors and blogging. I decided then to put my beloved Durban girl in her bag and find something new to do. Lucia had a box of Anchor cotton sitting in the shop,

I haven’t used Anchor cotton in years, I didn’t even realize that it came in so many different colors, so I bought a few random balls, not much of a plan and I left for the mountains to escape the heat. Look how glorious the Dolomites are!

As I had not a clue what I was going to make, and I also had some poor internet connection with the phone, I opted for something very simple also because these three weeks have been really busy. in an ideal world I would have sat  high in  the Dolomites trekking and looking at the amazing scenery, but I also wanted to catch up with my family cousins and Olympia, my youngest daughter,

and travel companion wanted to go to the beach…so  I traveled 2500 kilometers up and down the country catching up with people and places.

here some pictures… mountains and sea…:D

 

I am going to write another entry with the details..sorry is a bit late but please stay with me I am trying to catch up…:D

oh…here is the  August blanket made photographed on the beach 😀

love to you all,

Lucia x

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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