Friday, 3 November 2017

Repairing crochet in an outside row and a "Russian Join"

Scissor Attack!


Recently I was working on my blanket for the Stylecraft #Blogtour17. Here's a finished shot:



One morning as I sat down to join a few more motifs I found that my 4yo son had become adventurous with my scissors. Look what he did to our lovely tablecloth that we bought on holiday 17 years ago!! (I'm going to write a tutorial on how I repaired this in the future - because I've yet to repair it).

A beautiful hand-made filet crochet bedspread we bought in 2000 while on holiday in Bali. We use it for a tablecloth on our 8 seater dining table.

Once I got over that horror, however, I found that he had also attacked my blanket! Now he was living on borrowed time! First, I had to repair it and finish the blanket because I had a deadline.

Imagine the horror!

It was not one, but two diamond motifs that he had cut, in an identical manner, and I took a lot of photographs as I repaired them in order to share my experience with you all.

So, as much as I wanted to kill him at the time, I managed to turn it into something to be grateful for. There had better not be a next time though. Grrrrr.

I noticed the cut as I was adding motifs to the next row!

There are many kinds of crochet repairs that can be attempted, and I wrote an article on this back in 2014, with links to some great tutorials on how to do many of these. You can find the article here: Repairing Crochet Items

Yet this time, when I sat down to reread these tutorials, I found that they didn't quite meet my needs. They were more concerned with repairing issues in the center of blankets and cloths, not a cut to the outside of a motif. Even though there wasn't anything specific, I had refreshed my memory enough that I had a fair idea of what to do, so I attempted my first ever crochet repair, and now I get to share that "joy" with you. I hope that you find this helpful (although I hope more that you never need it, lol).

Repairing an outer edge in crochet


Materials needed: darning needle or tapestry needle, scissors, crochet hook.


Unlike other repair types, repairing on the outer edge means that you don't have to stabilise the fabric above the row that you are working on, because there are no rows above! So, you can really get into it straight away.

The first step is to match the yarn as close as you possibly can. For me, because it was something I was still working on, this was not an issue.

The same for the next step which is to know what pattern you are working with. As this was a current design project, I know what stitches have been affected.

So, look closely at your damage, see where the cuts or holes have been made and CAREFULLY remove any loose fibres. PLEASE NOTE, IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE ROW AFFECTED, YOU MAY NEED TO STABILISE YARN FURTHER DOWN. That isn't covered in this particular tutorial. Watch this space for a tutorial on repairing a central piece of crochet.

Look closely at the damage to see how deep it is

Now you need to make it worse - yes worse, but only temporarily. The loose thread on the left is stable, but the thread on the right, if pulled, can frog your work. You're going to need to frog a little bit in order to get enough yarn to work with - ie to attach the repairing yarn.

Frogged to gain length

There are many ways to join yarn, my preferred method is known as a "Russian Join". Thread the yarn from the frogged section onto a darning or tapestry needle. Now, most tutorials say to run the darning needle up through the center of itself, but I find that it can work loose, so I basically sew a running stitch if you like, back and forth through the yarn. Make sure that you leave enough space at the "bend" to form a loop or an eye. Make sure that this frogged section is still attached to your poject. See below.

        


Remove the tapestry needle from your loop, and thread it with the yarn you will use to repair the crochet. Before you create another loop, thread the darning needle and the current working thread, through the loop you created using the frogged yarn (still attached to your project).



Repeat the process of doing a running stitch back up the length of the new strand of yarn, creating another loop that is woven through the first loop. You will find that once you remove the darning needle and tug on both pieces, they are firmly attached!



Now you have extended the yarn, work the missing stitches up unto the end of your work. If you need to, carefully frog a stitch or two on the left hand side of your work (this is more tricky than it sounds as it is actually well anchored) and tie a small knot.



Replace any stitches that you frogged on the left with the yarn from the right.



I like to treat the ends like they are from a standing stitch start. So first I tie off the yarn and cut any excess leaving a reasonable tail. Then I thread the end created on the LEFT, and work it across to the right by coming up through the middle of the < on the top of the stitch.



I then wind it around the next < and then take it down the back of the work and hide it as per usual.



Taking the right hand end, I run it through the loop sticking out towards the right from the left hand side.


As it comes through from the front to the back, I take the needle back toward the right hand side and up through the middle of the < at the top of the last stitch, from the back. I then wind it around the back loop of the next < on the right and then take it down the back of the work to hide the ends. These steps ensure that the leading edge of the work keeps the <<<<<<<<< look, and provides the third strand underneath.


See, when you think about it,  you've probably done some similar things yourself without them being actual repair work. You have joined more yarn before, you have tidied up your ends... this is exactly the same, except you are replacing stitches, rather than creating new ones.

Now, I know that the Russian Join creates a thicker yarn, and that may not be a viable option for you, please use whatever joining method you prefer. Here is the repair completed:


The cuts were made to the right of where I've placed the tip of the hook. Here is the motif finally joined with the others:


So, if your washing machine takes a bite, or your furry loved one, or a baby, or insects or time, or whatever causes your teeth to gnash and your heart to weep, remember, all is not lost. YOU CAN repair it.

Go on, Get Knotted.
xoxo

Friday, 27 October 2017

Stylecraft Blog Tour '17

The Security Blanket


On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh, hang on, right sentiment, wrong event. Let me start again.

On the twelfth day of the Stylecraft Yarns #blogtour17 you get me, or rather, you get my input.

So, if you are new to my blog, hello and welcome! I'm Angela, I have three beautiful children under 10, and a husband of 20 years who is to die for! I know I say that I'm slightly obsessed with yarn, but the truth is I'm decidedly obsessed with yarn, lol. I'm thrilled to bits to be participating in the blog tour this year, I had not long signed on as a blog star last year and had just given birth to our baby girl, Sophia, so understandably I couldn't participate, so this is actually my first blog tour where I've been able to be a part of the process. Did you see Catherine's blog post yesterday? If not, you can find it here: Catherine's Crochet Corner Stylecraft Blogtour 17

Remember to read to the bottom for details on how to win today's yarn pack, and to find out where the tour heads off to, tomorrow.



At this stage in the tour, I don't think I need to introduce the yarn in too much detail. Stylecraft Batik has been around for a while, but the Batik Elements are a new range of variegated yarns in the line and I love them all. I have a reasonable collection of Batik in my stash, and I've loved sitting and playing with them and seeing how all these marvellous colours go together. I think I might need to blog in future about some of the combinations that I have come up with, but for today, I'm working with the Lagoon Pack.

The Lagoon Pack consists of 4 balls of the new Batik Elements in Krypton, plus one ball each of the following colours: Silver, Indigo, Teal, Sage, Lupin and Storm. 10 dreamy balls of colour that just sing to me and my love of cool shades.

So, I have ten balls of gorgeous yarn, what to make?? If you've followed me for a while, you will know that I'm inspired by everything around me. Not just the "pretty stuff" but interesting shapes and colours that can inspire me to create. The first picture of my inspiration is hardly pretty, lol.


It looks a bit like a prison, doesn't it? We live in a rectory, and people assume that there's money here to be handed out to the poor. Most places, us included, no longer hand out money, rather we give food hampers or we're able to direct them to places where they can get help. We got quotes for a famous style of screen for our windows. What we imagined was almost impenetrable (hey, if they have a grenade, not much is going to last, lol) screens, but ones that didn't need this criss cross of mesh. There apparently was miscommunication and this is what we got, and because they were made specifically for the quirky shaped 125 year old windows, it wasn't a case of swapping over. Can you see the diamonds that are connected by small squares? Because that shape is my inspiration. Here's the first few pieces joined together.


At this stage I was still playing around with the layout of the colours. I was trying to find a way to use as much of the pack as I could, while making the colours flow together. As I looked at it, I was reminded of a print of a wood block by M. C. Escher. My maths teacher in high school had huge posters of his work around her classroom, and I always thought they were so cool. I was specifically reminded of one that had geese and fish, and I had a quick google to see if I could find it, because I loved the play of light and dark as the picture flowed downward, and the morphing of shapes.



I knew that somehow, I wanted to incorporate that feel into my design. There was lots of movement and frogging and eventually, I came up with this combination:


So, because this is a security screen inspired blanket, I'm calling it the Security Blanket. Giggle. It will be available soon on Ravelry, and there will be a coupon code for the first 100 to download it for free - keep watching my blog for the pattern launch!

It wasn't all smooth sailing you know. Aside from the agonising over colour placement, we had some health issues (some sealed under the cone of silence so that you don't have to bleach your brains lol - Rotavirus is awful), and a seriously adventurous 4yo who found a pair of scissors.



He was living on borrowed time for 24 hours, but I managed to turn it around by taking step by step photographs of the repairs so that I can write up a tutorial on crochet repair for you.... coming soon!

My friends will tell you how many versions of this I came up with before I was happy, lol. But where are the elements colours? Well, they are the framework for this blanket. The border and the edging. Take a look here:


First I had to make the border, and then I had to come up with the edging. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but it was only this morning (keep in mind that I'm in Australia and I'm posting this at 9pm Sydney time) that I had an even better idea of what to do!

Finally, we ended up with this. The Security Blanket.



Now for the nitty gritty. Just exactly what is the Batik yarn like?

Label Information for both Batik and Batik Elements:
Meterage: 138m or 151 yards
Recommended hook or needle: 4mm
Yarn Weight: DK
Fiber type: 80% Premium Acrylic 20% Wool
Ball size: 50g

The yarn is light, soft and gorgeous to touch. It's spun a little loosely so that it gives a nice drape. The down side to that is occasionally you will stick your hook through the working thread rather than around it. To be honest, it doesn't happen often. It has a little stretch but it's not springy. The meterage is very good. I wasn't paying attention for the plain colours, but for the elements balls I could make 13 diamond motifs from one ball and join most of them onto the blanket using the same ball.

If you look carefully, you will see that the plain colours, each was used for something aside from the motifs. Some were used as joining colours to provide contrast and a kind of ombre effect across the joins. Some were used to provide an extra row of motifs, and one was used as part of the border. I still had yarn left over, but it wasn't enough to add another row to the blanket in its entirety. You could use it to make embellishments, or even start another project with it like a stripey scarf. I'll be playing with my leftovers and I'll let you know what I eventually come up with.

This is a great yarn to work with, I have quite a bit in my stash and I'm going to enjoy using every single gram up. I already have another design in the works using the desert pack.

Ok, now for the really exciting stuff. I hope you enjoyed your visit today, and tomorrow the tour heads over to Helen's at The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty don't miss it.

Here's how to enter for your chance to win today's yarn pack, the competition begins at 8pm Sydney time which is 10am GMT time and is open for 24 hours to allow WORLD WIDE participants. Simply click on the link below:
Today's yarn pack give away is here, just click on this sentence and enter for your chance to win!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review - Cute Crocheted Animals by Emma Varnam

Emma Varnam is one of the sweetest people I have met in the design world. Recently I was able to help her with a little matter and the next thing I know, she sent me a signed copy of her book as thanks! How generous is that? So, I have decided to review it, because this book is a treasure trove of talent and fun and you should have a copy.

Emma and her book

The first thing that you will notice about this book is the photography. The colours are beautiful and they make you just want to flip through the book again and again for the pictures alone. The book is well thought out in terms of layout and content. The index is clear and concise, so you can either bliss your way gradually through the whole book, or you can jump right to where you need to go to get started.

The photography is spectacular
The contents page is well laid out

This book isn't just a generic make the body and change the ears type of book. Each character is lovingly described in terms of structure and accessories. The faces aren't all the same and there are little touches everywhere that show not only attention to detail, but a desire to produce the ultimate complete item, rather than having to look elsewhere for embellishments. There is a whole cast and crew of animals to make, and each one of them are gorgeous. My two little boys have requested just about every animal in the book, and I'm glad that my daughter can't say much beyond Mumumumum. LOL. Believe me, we'll end up with the whole menagerie and an entire wardrobe of clothes!

The attention to detail is phenomenal

When it comes to the wardrobe, again Emma has not stinted in effort. It's not just a generic dress and coat. There are button tops and cabled tops, and tops with a design or stripes. There's a hooded coat, a short coat, a long coat and more. There really is an entire wardrobe that you can make for these gorgeous characters.

An entire wardrobe awaits

But the wardrobe doesn't just end at clothes. No, there are accessories as well. Anything that you see in the photographs of the animals has a pattern to go with it.

Accessories are included in the list of patterns

Now all of this might seem overwhelming, but do  not be alarmed, because the patterns are well written with clear instructions so that even a beginner could take on the creation of a treasured friend for a little treasure.

Instructions are clear and concise

This book is a gift that allows you to keep on giving. A rabbit with an outfit for a birthday, and a new outfit for Christmas. I don't know about you, but I loved dressing up my toys when I was young. I even sewed together a waistcoat out of fabric scraps for my favourite teddy. I'm looking forward to getting my hooks into some more of these patterns so that I can share the joy with my children too.

Summary:
Clear Instructions: 5*
Layout: 5*
Variety: 5*
Attention to detail: 5*

Worth purchasing? Goodness, YES!


Happy Hooking
xoxo

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Blogstars Meet-up, February 2017!

Oh me, oh my! Where do I even begin to talk about my experience on the weekend? What experience you ask? Well, that is probably the best place to start.

Twice a year, the Stylecraft Blogstars head over to the mill at Slaithwaite to meet up with the fabulous Annabelle, Sophie, Anna and Juliet (and others whom I haven't met yet - we'll get to that though), and talk about the upcoming season and (SQUEE) new yarn! Those of you who have been following me, know that I'm in Australia, so while it's technically possible for me to attend, realistically it will be a few years before I can get over there to actually physically do it. 😭

So, this time arround, we tried SKYPE. I wasn't the only non-UK member this time, my beautiful friend Zelna of Zooty Owl joined us from South Africa. We had a bit of a dress rehearsal a few days before, because the best laid plans of mice and technology "gang aft agley" (translated - go pear shaped, lol. Dear Mr Burns just rolled over in his grave!) With a bit of fiddling, and a definite "I don't think this will work, Mum." from an "anonymous" source, we actually got there, with Zelna and I in a joint SKYPE chat with Annabelle. That was it, the bar was set! This was going to work!

In anticipation of the weekend, Stylecraft had sent Zelna and I yarn packs in opaque bags with big lettering saying "Do not open until February 4th". I have to tell you, it was the most unusual form of torture to see the box with those puffy bags and not touch them, but I did it! (Mind you, I did consume more chocolate than normal). You will have to wait until the next post to find out some of what they contained, because some of that news is still embargoed. I know! It's killing me not to tell you!

Now, one thing you don't think of when you're talking about international chat, is time zone differences. The Blogstars arrived at the mill on Friday afternoon and went for a trip to the Knit and Crochet Guild Archives. Apparently it was fascinating, but you're going to have to check their blogs for what it was like, I cannot help you there. So, for Zelna and I, the weekend actually started on the Saturday morning. It isn't so bad for Zelna as she's only two hours ahead, but I'm a full 11 hours ahead at the moment, so when they commenced at 10am, it was already 9pm my time. I have to say though, I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I wish it was every weekend!

So, here's a shot of my talented companions, from Left to right: Jane of Janie Crow, Phil of The Twisted Yarn, Sarah of Annaboos House, Heather of The Patchwork Heart, Julia of Hand Knitted Things, Lucy of Attic 24, Helen of The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten, Emma of Emma Varnam, Sandra of Cherry Heart, Lucia of Lucia's Fig Tree and last but certainly not least, Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats. The gorgeous Sue of Shropshire Scrapper Suz unfortunately couldn't be with us this time.


That's a lot of talent for one room, and for me, they're all my crochet idols, so by the time I was due to sit down at my computer and log into skype, I was ready to either pee my pants or vomit! (So I went to the bathroom and at least eliminated the first option, lol).

Now, you must be wondering what went on. Well, lots of introductions, lots of laughter, and a great deal of learning by everyone. It was a thoroughly well thought out day. The first item on the agenda was of course the yarn on the table - or in my case, the parcel beside my chair. I was finally allowed to open it, and there was much laughter in the room at my OOh's and Aaahs and Oh Wow's. They got it, they knew my excitement - it was such a beautiful moment for me because they UNDERSTOOD! I tell you now, it was better than Christmas morning when you're still a child. It was the "best Christmas morning ever" lol. I wasn't the only blogstar keen to get a look at what was inside. 😜



Now this is the kind of meeting that all yarnies want to go to - nobody bats an eyelid when you pick up hook or needles and start working way. In fact, it's encouraged! But of course, it wasn't just a stitching event, lol, so eventually we turned our eyes toward the projector and got down to business.


I'm the shorter one with the silver computer lol. They were all saying how we had special treatment with "Front row seats!" I have to agree, it was an excellent spot to sit, and we had copies of the powerpoint presentation emailed to us beforehand.

I could show you what was in it, but then I'd have to kill you. Suffice to say, my heart was constantly having little flutters! There should be a warning before they show you lovely things like that!


Here I am, in the dark like a good little mushroom, lol, being introduced to the others. Very kindly they all came one by one up to my screen and gave their name and blog and said hello. (Like I wouldn't know who they all were because I admire them so much, giggle). The blur in the corner is me waving to them all. You can see how excited I was. Later on I turned on the overhead light, but at that point I wanted to be unobtrusive while the powerpoint got underway.


Here we are after the powerpoint, and I'll show you the view I had....



It's a bit blurry I'm afraid, but I spent several hours just absorbing so much. Now that I've seen the podiums I understand why, but I kind of felt like a little kid at the adults table. LOL. 

After all the important stuff was done, we then had a workshop on Tunisian Crochet. I've had a bit of a dabble with this before, I've tested a pattern for a friend, but it was a bit of a mental exercise to remember how to do it. I'll show you what I managed to cobble together in the next post, because the yarn I used to do it with is one of the new yarns by Stylecraft and it is awesome!

Happy Stitching!


A special thank you to Phil Saul, Sophie Cromwell and Helen Kurtz for allowing me to use their photographs. xoxo

Friday, 21 October 2016

Color Inpiration with Courtney {Desert Dusk Mandala Madness}

I'm really privileged as I journey with yarn to meet some totally fabulous people and to make some friendships that I know will last for the rest of my life. My friendship with Courtney is one of those special miracles that keep on blessing me through and through.

I love her eye for colour, she produces the most amazing palettes and I love to help people, which she does too. So when I asked her to do a guest blog post for me on colour choice and colour inspiration, Courtney jumped at the chance. I'm thrilled to pieces with what she has written for you, and I hope that we'll be able to bring more colour creativity to you in the future. I also hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I did, I know I learned a thing or two. 


Angela
xoxo

Color Inspiration with Courtney 

(Desert Dusk Mandala Madness) 


One of the questions I am most often asked is where I come up with my color combinations in my crochet projects.  The simple truth is that I pull inspiration from the world around me.  I see color everywhere and paint that color into my fiber work. 

Today I would like to talk about the inspiration behind one of those projects and show you how I pulled the colors from an object in my home and translated them into a crochet project.

The project I’m going to be talking about today is my {Desert Dusk} version of Mandala Madness by Helen Shrimpton.  The pattern for this project is available here:  Mandala Madness Pattern





When I decided to do this project it was a crochet along and so the finished piece was a mystery.  I was having very real trouble picking a color palette without knowing what the final piece would look like.  I could not settle on anything that thrilled me.  I had just come home from a trip to Arizona, where I’m from, and a funeral, and I was missing my desert home.  I was wandering around my house thinking about home and at that moment my eyes fell on a small hand thrown Native American Pot that I had purchased on one of my many drives through the Painted Desert in Arizona… and I knew I had found my inspiration.



 

Finding the inspiration for your colors is the first step and it’s your biggest hurdle.  You need to choose something that speaks to you.  An inspiration piece that is just that, inspiration.  This piece speaks of the warmth of the desert days, the colors and the heat and the stark contrast of mountains unrelieved by vegetation or moisture.  Garnering color only from the sun.  It is a true representation of home for me and so it speaks to me.  

When you choose something to pull color from you need to choose something that speaks equally to you for your own reasons.

The next step is deciding which colors to pull from the inspiration piece.  In this particular piece there aren’t many colors so I pulled them all.  The dusty orange, the gold, the charcoal, the silver, the denim blue, and the icy blue. Six colors all contrasting each other would make my palette.




When choosing your colors, you want to pay attention to basic color theory.  Now color theory is a huge concept that fills encyclopedias and has been argued by scientists and painters and changed through the centuries.   But it honestly doesn’t have to be intimidating.  

My preferred method is to have contrasting colors, cool colors, and warm colors and some form of neutral that allows me to play them off of each other.  For this project I knew I wanted the orange and the gold so I made sure I had the blues as a cool color and then the two colors of grey to be a neutral base color to set off those bold contrasting colors.





For more information on color theory feel free to explore, there are some fairly easy to use tools available.  Here are a few wonderful links to start with if you are interested. 

This link will explain basic beginner color theory: http://www.colormatters.com/color-and-design/basic-color-theory

This link will give you an idea of how to choose your colors based on the color wheel:  
http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-theory-intro.htm


I set about pulling these colors from my stash yarns and you can see a little more about that and see how each section progressed in my project page here:  {Desert Dusk}





 If you are interested in reproducing this colorway, I have worked out it’s equivalent for you in Stylecraft Special DK.  The following colors should give you a very similar pallet in a very lovely soft and versatile yarn. 

Spice 1711
Mustard 1823
Aster 1003
Sherbert 1034
Graphite 1063
Silver 1203



A very good tool for learning how to draw colors from an object or picture is a color palette picture.  You can find these in multitude on Pinterest.  I have a Color Inspiration Board which I invite you to take a look at:  My Color Inspiration Board 




Color inspiration can be found anywhere.  I have found it in a field of flowers and in a woman’s winter coat while she had lunch with her children, as well as in many of the things in my own home.  I wonder if you will find inspiration in your own home?  The things you surround yourself with would not be sitting on your shelves and tucked away in your corners if you weren’t drawn to them. 

Until next time,

Courtney a.k.a. Spin A Yarn 32


You can find Courtney at the following places:
Spin a Yarn 32 on Facebook

Spin a Yarn 32 on Ravelry
Spin a Yarn 32 on Etsy