‘Emily’ my February blanket: a humble homage to the Brontë sisters.

As you probably knew already,  last weekend, I went to my first STYLECRAFT’S BLOGSTARS  meeting.

It will take all week for the experience to sink in and  I am still in the process to write a blog entry about what I saw , who I met and millions of ideas and exciting new projects, but today I am going to give you an update on my plans for the February blanket.

Stylecraft’s HQ is in Yorkshire in the north east of England, a wonderful rugged landscape well worth a visit if you got the chance.

While I was there for the weekend, I  decided to stay an extra day and fulfil a wish  that I had  wanted for ages.

I went to Haworth to see the Brontë Parsonage.

As with all the things that you put up off for a long time, I had developed some sort of concern that there was a possibility of disappointment. And that  my experience wasn’t going to be what I expected. But I m very pleased to say that it was not  the case for this visit.

I wanted to see the house in winter, and also I wanted to see it when it wasn’t too crowded because in a very selfish way it was quite an important pilgrimage for me.

I was very fortunate, I arrived there at  twilight ,just before closing, beautifully quiet, as the museum had just reopened last week and many are not aware of it.

It was wonderful to be standing in solitude  in their very  front garden.

You are wondering why a 50 something year old  woman is so fascinated by the Brontë sisters?

Well I, have been fascinated by them for most of my life, since I read their novels and poems when I was a teenager, I  never  saw them as a  gloomy trio of unmarried women in a  isolated village in the Yorkshire’s moors  telling tales of love , despair and sometimes  happy endings.

I thought of them as witty , intelligent and also quite troubled women, well ahead of their time, raising topics that are still pertinent today , 200 years later. Drawing attention with their novels on subjects such as; choosing  your own path,  independence and being true to yourself .

The Brontë sisters have all an extraordinary ability to express their emotions so intensely about, not just love , loss, and  passion; but also about rage, madness, and domestic abuse, and  the reality of working just with the sole purpose to survive.

What also appeals to me a great deal is the fact that you can  be an extraordinary individual  without living a life full of  epic experiences.

So back to my visit…

I was standing at twilight in the front garden of the parsonage and looking at the colours, the light, the moss on the tombstones, the interiors  of the house with their soft dusty blues , greens and purples,  the books, paintings, clothes, kitchen utensils and objects of an ordinary life and I felt so content in being there.

To capture in a tangible way how I felt , I m going to dedicate my February blanket to my favourite Brontë sister, Emily, a blanket to remember my visit to Haworth on a beautiful winter afternoon.

I selected the yarn , a mix of tweeds and solid colours , some soft alpaca mix  for comfort against the gloomy weather, and a  general mood for the blanket.

the tomato looks more like an hot pink in this picture…which is not right but it give you an idea, hopefully in the next few days if it is not raining I will be able to take a better  picture.

The pattern is nearly there too; I am still tweaking with it.  It is going to be different from what I normally make but hopefully will work . more updates as the week progresses.

Love you all Lucia x

 

THE JANUARY BLANKET IS DONE!!

First THANK YOU SOO MUCH for the lovely comments and likes , I m really glad that the first blanket of 2017 has been received so well, I am so glad you loved the colours even if the pictures  I posted on Instagram where not the best.

The best way to appreciate the colours is  with an outdoor picture and I  have been stalking the sky for days now hoping for a break in the weather. this morning I managed  to take a few but the sky is like pewter colour and the light is poor too , those are the joys of living in Scotland! today we even have a rainbow…

anyway I am not entirely happy with the results but I have to do for now, as I have received so many messages asking for details ,colours and ..the border!

so lets start with the  yarns and colours first:

2 types of yarn : STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK and STYLECRAFT BATIK

As said in my previous post the SPECIAL  DK  is 100% premium acrylic fibre and comes in a 100 gr. ball. the STYLECRAFT BATIK DK is a 80%premium acrylic and 20%wool and come in a 50 gr. ball.

both yarn are machine washable at 30 degrees and also cool tumble dry.

I tested both of them several times and they wash beautifully .that is the reason why I use this yarn, because there is no point making a beautiful blanket and then been afraid to use it because it is a nightmare to wash ( never mind drying) but I wont go into a big discussion about quality and versatility . we leave that for another time.

colours 22 of them…I know sounds a lot but the variety in hues makes the blanket really.

 

STYLECRAFT SPECIAL IN: lime,pistachio,cypress,khaki,spring green,tomato,mocka,walnut,pale rose, raspberry ,sage,storm blue.

STYLECRAFT BATIK IN: graphite,coral,old gold,cream,pistachio,sage,raspberry,storm,indigo

the border joining and border are made with STYLECRAFT BATIK in biscuit.

QUANTITIES:

SPECIAL : 1 ball for each of the colours

BATIK: 1 ball for each of the colour listed, plus 5or 6 balls for the joining and border.

a note: when I made the blanket I found I got a bit short on the batik but just for probably 7/8 grams.

now ideally you want  to have 2 balls of the batik for each colour  but again you will have left a lot of yarn, and I don’t know how you feel about it. I don’t mind as I make blankets all the time so I will re-use what is left, but  if your blanket is one-off, you might want to think about it and maybe use more of the special colours as you will have plenty there to finish with.

I would still use the biscuit for the border and joining though, it is so lovely and it suits the blanket beautifully.

The quantities above are for a blanket which measures:  120cmx200cm  .I made 9 strips of 15 squares each , so we have in total 135 starburst squares.

As said the pattern for the starburst is from Jane Brocket’s book : ‘the gentle art of knitting’. I know the name is misleading but it is a book with patterns for both  knitting and crochet. I bought mine 2nd hand on amazon this is the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Gentle-Art-Knitting-Jane-Brocket/1843405326/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486052621&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gentle+art+of+knitting

please check the 2nd hand availability as it can be a fraction of the price and unless the books are ex library they are always in great condition , besides you recycle and save the planet and give a really nice book another chance! so win-win all the way !

note that I have added an extra round of half trebles, that is because it frames better the square and make the all thing much neater , but I am afraid, it adds more ends to sew! and talking about the much dreaded ends, just after each round is complete please,please sew your ends!!! if you do that it is not such an horrendous task at the end !

there are 2 ways to make the blanket: one you do the lucky dip and pick random colours off a bag without looking, or if you are like me and you want to control the hues makes all the 135 squares one round at time , then you clear up some space or use the outside and place 135 little squares so to decide the next colour up.

both methods are excellent it is just up to you what you prefer.

THE BORDER!!!!!

I m so surprised and delighted that the border has been such a success! as said on facebook I tart up something I saw on the internet. this is the original diagram. as you can see it is just the horizontal part and there is no corner.. so I made the corner up and eliminate some of the  rounds.

lets start from the beginning:

you join all the squares together with a simple SC stitch then I did a full round  ( foundation round )of half trebles in biscuit : the corners are 2 sc- ch1- 2sc then  2 more rounds . I think it is called moss stitch:

ROUND 1 : sc, 1 ch,skip a stitch below and 1 sc

ROUND 2: skip the sc of the round 1 and in the ch1 space make a sc not in the space but in the row below, the foundation row

this will make a nice sturdy frame for the border. the border works on a multiple of 13 stitches . I started just after the corner with a ch3 skip 2 of the base. and kept going with round 1 . this  round it is really important and yougot to arrive at the corner with a ch3 so be careful, if you find that for some reason you are either shorter or you got too many just unravel a few of the chain and try to fiddle a bit you wont notice that much at this stage if instead to skip 4  you skip 3 as long as you do it for a max extra of 4/5 stitches! it is called fidgeting…don’t do more then that or you have a dog-dinner of a border!!

On a serious note if you keep the intervals precise of round 2 in the diagram your  border will sit perfectly flat .

ROUND 3 :I followed the diagram but I didn’t do the 3 ch space between the 2 shells.

ROUND4: I followed the diagram but instead to do the shell on the 3ch space that I omitted in the previous round I did my shell in the space between the 2 shells of round two.

ROUND 5: as the diagram.

ROUND6: skipped

ROUND 7 : final round I followed he diagram but instead then more chains I made sc in the round 6 ch spaces. that give a solid well defined last round instead then some flimsy chains , they might work for cotton but in heavier dk yarn  it is much better more definition , it keeps your border neat and straight without either frilling or curling

corner: please look at the picture, it is self explanatory .

I will get the program to write diagrams and  once I figured out how it works I will make it easier for everyone to follow my pattern..it is just I need to find the time to do that. If out there is one of you that is a computer wizard and know how to do that get in touch!!!

well that is all for today,

to the next blanket for February…gosh I have to think of something then!!!! …I deffo bitten more then I can chew with this one blanket each month!

all the best Lucia xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM AND CROCHET. WHY NOT?

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

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

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

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

lets go back to the colours…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom line of all of this is:

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

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

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

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

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

my version is made of 9 rows:

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

PATTERN:

ROUND 1:

make a magic circle, inside 12 trebles,

ROUND2

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

 

ROUND3:

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

ROUND4:

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

ROUND5:

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

ROUND 6:

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

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

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

ROUND7

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

ROUND8

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

ROUND9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

colour sequence border:

ROUND1 : camel

ROUND2: gold

ROUND3: midnight

ROUND4/5/6/7/8 : claret

ROUND9: midnight.

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

round 1 and 2 together : 4 grams

round 3: 3 grams

round4:4 grams

round5: 5 grams

round6: 6 grams

round 7/8/9 together: 26 grams

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

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

all the best

Luciaxx

 

 

 

 

FOR THE NEW YEAR ALL WE NEED IS SOME GREEN!!

FOR 2017 ALL WE NEED IS SOME GREEN !!!

As I bet you are all busy getting organised for the festive season I thought I share with you some ‘colour’s love’. This weekend Pantone, the  market leader in colour communication and colour technology,has released their new colour of the year 2017 and it is FABULOUS !!

It is called GREENERY .

It might seems a bit silly getting excited about a  release of a new colour ,but colours trends are quite important for my job , so I keep always a close eye on them because they can have a substantial impact on  the industry.

The other reason it is because I LOVE anything about colours anyway!

So ,if you are not familiar with,what  is the PANTONE Colour of the Year?

It is a symbolic colour selection; a colour snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.

So even the colours industry seems to send a message of hope ,regeneration , environment issues ,etc  and all the above is very relevant  with the choice as Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.

So what do you think? You like it?

I do. I think greenery is much better then last year choice of a dusty blue n a pale fleshy pink, and has a much better vibe too.

Back to crochet….

I know that some people find green difficult to use in crochet but ,trust me,  green can be really effective and just lovely!

One of the projects I did last February was a multi-green wrap. I have been wearing it quite a lot because greens are one of those colours that goes with everything and it does compliment not only most wardrobes but also skin tones and complexions .

The idea came from an amazing blanket I saw  quite a while ago on a blog called ‘according to Matt’ the blog has now been revamped , renamed and it  looks fantastic is called : ‘Boys&bunting’

http://boysandbunting.blogspot.co.uk/

Please Have a look because there are a lot of really nice projects, tutorials,reviews and amazing photography too.

This is the link to the blanket: http://boysandbunting.blogspot.co.uk/p/according-to-matt-archives-japanese.html

From there I got redirected to Lucy ‘s at Attic24, as she used the pattern for the Japanese flower on a lovely wrap in 2011! ( good patterns never get old)

Http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2011/03/japanese-flower-scarf-ta-dah.htmlo,

So , well, I had to make one too!!

Mine is all green, made with a lot of left overs , great for your stash and really easy to do too. The pattern I used is the same that Lucy used on the original entry and it is from   a Japanese book , that I believe it might be still available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/MOTIF-BOOK-VOL-Japanese-Crochet/dp/4529044424

But  don’t worry  if you can’t get your hands on the book  , it is not that crucial as there are so many very similar versions  of the pattern on pin-interest so just put Japanese crochet flower on your search engine and see which one you like best .

That is all for today,

2017 is going to be the GREEN YEAR  so TRY  SOME GREENS!

Lucia x

P.S. The sample is made with Stylecraft special dk in : bottle,meadow,cypress and pistachio.

X