Monday, 15 October 2018

Stylecraft Blog Tour 2018

I am amazed to see that the last time I put something on here was in April when the final part of the Sunshine and Showers CAL was posted. I now write a weekly blog style newsletter which drops into email in boxes on a Friday afternoon, so this blog has been more than a little neglected over the last 6 months. If you want to sign up to my newsletter you can do so by following this link - there is a box at the bottom of the home page!



I am here this morning to post a round up of all the fabulous designs that the Stylecraft Blog Stars have been revealing over the last 2 weeks as part of this year's Blog Tour. I have really enjoyed seeing the designs appear on a daily basis. The patterns are free for the duration of the tour and are all made using Stylecraft's Bellissima and Bambino DK, an acrylic yarn with a lovely bouncy feel and soft, rich colour palette. The projects have been made using 2 colour choices - Autumn Leaves and Summer Pudding, which you can see above.


First up on the list of Blogstars sharing their patterns was Helen Shrimpton of Crystals and Crochet. You can see Helen's crochet waistcoat, which has proved really popular and is pictured above by following this link. At the time of my writing this post Helen's blog appears to be down (probably because so many people are trying to access her fabulous pattern), but do keep trying the link to see more images and Helen's pattern.

https://crochetbetweentwoworlds.blogspot.com/2018/09/stylecraft-blogstar-tour-2018-stacking.html


The second (pair of) blogstar(s) to take part in the tour was Anne and Michelle from 'Crochet Between Worlds' who came up with these lovely stacking baskets shown above. Helen and Michelle used the Autumn Leaves pack, here is a quote from their blog:

'If you follow our blog, you know that we dislike sewing. And we love useful and easy things. Combining these "features" the Stacking Hexagon Baskets were born. They can we used for everything really... a bread basket, a toy basket or whatever tickles your fancy. When not used, they can easily stacked into each other, so they won't be space eaters. We hope you like them as much as we do!'


Third up was the lovely Sandra from Cherry Heart who posted the 'Dotty Darlings' baby blanket pictured above - with this mornings news that the Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby this project seems particularly timely! Sandra says of her design:

'So I settled on a nice and easy dotty motif.  It's inspired by fillet crochet, although technically it doesn't quite follow the rules... I also went for nice wide stripes of colour, with changes often enough to keep things fresh, but not so frequent as to be changing yarns all the time.'


On Day 4 Lucia Dunn had a festive theme in mind as she posted the pattern for a wonderful crochet cushion cover. As I am sure you are aware I am a massive fan of Lucia's work and I love the way she has used cross stitch on a double crochet background to achieve the stag motifs. Lucia says:

'I really hope you will  like my cushion, it is a quick, cheery, little project, something that you can make in no time (the yarn is used two strands together), It is  something for your home or to give to a loved one, or something  special you can add to a hamper full of Christmas goodies!'


Polly Plum posted her pattern on her blog 'Every Trick on the Hook' on Day 5. I love this project, especially as wall hangings are becoming really fashionable again. This project uses the Autumn Leaves yarn pack.

'For my project I wanted to make a baby blanket because, like I said – SO snuggly! But, I didn’t have quite enough yarn for what I wanted to do. Instead, I decided to capitalize on Bellissima’s stunning stitch definition and sheen and made a wall hanging'.


Day 6 saw the lovely Helen Kurtz of 'Josie Kitten' post the first knitted project. Helen designed a fabulous infinity cowl and a scarf called 'Frosted Blooms' using the Summer Pudding colour pack and you can follow the link above to her blog to find the pattern and more images. Helen says:

'Both the infinity scarf and the cowl are knit flat and then joined once all the kniting is done. They feature snuggly garter stitch along with a pretty floral star motif - it looks complicated but it isn't! This was one of the stitches that I learnt when I took a shawl class with the amazing Melanie Berg and I have been wanting to include it in a design for some time'.


Emma Varnam is well known for her cute knitted and crocheted toys, so it wasn't a big surprise to see that she had used her yarn pack to make yet another gorgeous little bear, complete with his own carry bag on Day 7 of the tour.

I adore this project - Emma has such a knack for making toys look so adorable and I really like that this bear (Billy) has his very own little pouch so that he can be transported on his travels. You can find the pattern by following this link and Emma says:

'This year I knew immediately what I wanted to make. I have been creating this quick and easy toy bear for a couple of years, but never wrote up the pattern. The time was nigh. The pattern is super simple and would make an excellent festive present. But then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cute to create a matching bag?’. The idea is that any proud owner could take their bear with them on a high adventure'.



Phil at 'The Twisted Yarn' posted the second knitted project of the tour on Day 8 when she shared her knitted clothes line peg bag, but if you are a crocheter and not a knitter, don't be disapointed as Phil also made a crochet version, complete with minitaure crochet clothes! You can find Phil's blog by following the link above. Phil says:

'I couldn’t decide whether to knit or to crochet, let alone what to design. And then inspiration struck, because I really needed a new peg bag. As for the knitting versus crochet, well let’s have both! Here’s the crocheted version.'


On Day 9 Catherine Bligh posted the pattern for a really cleverly constructed 'Harlequin Bag', a close up image of which is shown above. Catherine used the Autumn Leaves colour pack, but I am sure this would look amazing in the Summer Pudding colours too! Catherine says:

'Inspired by traditional pantomime harlequin costumes, it’s composed of diamonds and triangles that are then worked together in slip stitch to create a lattice effect. The base is a circle, making it nice and roomy. The straps are long enough to go over my shoulder, but are easy enough to make longer or shorter if you wish.'

 
Julia of 'Hand Knitted Things' posted her projects on Day 10 of the tour and you can find the Scallop Scarf and Mittens. shown above, by following the link. I really like Julia's eye for detail in her designs and her projects are always so neat and well thought out, not to mention the fact that her images of the countryside that surrounds her home always look amazing! Julia says:

'One of the many qualities I like about Bellissima is the good stitch definition.  I had the idea to make a long scarf, using an all over lacy pattern called "scallop" with bands of colour separated by the neutral cream. The bold colours increase in length from one end to the other.'

 
The fabulous Sarah Shrimpton posted her crochet cushion project via her blog 'Annaboos House' on Day 11 of the tour. You can find her post by following this link. Sarah likes to work on a large hook and is famous for her super chunky designs, so this pattern does not disapoint. I really love the effect that Sarah has achieved by using 2 yarn strands held together. Sarah says:

'Now I cannot take much credit for the idea behind my design - it was one of my fellow Blogstars, Helen Shrimpton (no relation - well actually, we probably are related somewhere along the line, but that's a whole other story ..) who suggested that I work with two strands of yarn held together and tried blending different colours. So thanks to Helen, that's exactly what I did to make the Colour-Blend c2c Cushion'.


Kathryn Senior at 'Crafternoon Treats', who used the Summer Pudding yarn pack, posted her wonderful crochet shawl pattern on Day 12 of the tour. I adore this design and agree with Kathryn that it would make a super cosy cover up now that the weather is becoming a little cooler. Kathryn says her project is:

'A super big, super squishy shawl that is a meditation and a pleasure to work. Soothing, relaxing and lots of colour play… And you have it to wrap up in once you are done'.

 
Heather Leal of 'The Patchwork Heart' took her turn to post a project on day 13 of the tour. Heather's corner to corner blanket (which is the same crochet technique used by Sarah for her cushion cover) is shown above and her blog includes step by step instructions and some great tips and images to help you along the way. You can find Heather's project by following this link and Heather says"

'I have designed a blanket using corner to corner or C2C. This stitch is a favourite of mine. It works up so quickly and is very easy when you have learnt the basics. The texture created by this stitch makes a wonderful thick 3D blanket'.

 
Day 14 saw a lovely post by Angela of 'Get Knotted Yarn Craft' where she shared the design process for her 'Summer Pudding Blanket'. You can see Angela's note book with her sketchings of the design above and she very kindly posted the pattern for the central motif on her blog, which you can find by following this link. Angela says:

'The packs this year are stunning. I know that Stylecraft have their own names for them, but in my head they are Elsa and Anna from Frozen. If you have children, you'll know what I mean. So, I'm working with Elsa, aka the Summer Pudding Pack'.


Zelna Olivier of Zooty Owl posted the link to her 'Kerchief and Tote' patterns on day 15 of the tour. You can find the patterns, which feature some lovely crochet flowers and braids, by following this link. Zelna says:

'I chose the "Autumn Leaves" yarn pack which consists of 1 x 100g ball each of 5 fabulous colours:  Sugar Snap;  Mellow Yellow;  Single Cream;  Ash Rose and Rio Red. Bellissima is the "grown up" version of the super soft and squishy 100% Acrylic Bambino and it comes in 14 "to die for" colours!'


The final patterns of the tour were designed by Stylecraft's in house designer Charlotte Johnson and you can find them by following this link to the Stylecraft blog. Charlotte was inspired by the zig zag designs by Missoni and the fabulous huge pom pom on the hat is bang on trend! Charlotte says of her design:

'....Knitting the rucksack just wasn’t enough I decided this heavenly stripe pattern would look amazing as a big pom pom hat…. And of course, I needed a scarf to match! I became excited and giddy at the thought of bringing all the colours and blending them all together creating a twist on the iconic Missoni Stripe!'

 
So that wraps up all the fabulous projects featured in this year's Blogtour and all that remains is for me to offer you the opportunity to win the very last yarn pack. To be in with a chance of winning a 'Summer Pudding pack' as shown above, all you need to do is follow this link. Good Luck!

Janie x


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Sunshine and Showers - Part 12

Well here I am on this first Tuesday in April posting the final piece of the Sunshine and showers CAL pattern. I cannot believe that yet another year has flown by and that we are well and truly planted in 2018!

One of the things that I really love about designing and making a project over a long period of time, such as the Sunshine and Showers blanket, is that the crochet becomes a visual reminder of the things that happened over the same period of time. I originally designed the project a few months ahead of the people who made their blankets by following the original magazine patterns in 2016/17, so for me the months don’t always tally with the themes, but I still love the way the crochet stitch combinations and panels can trigger a memory. I hope you will find the same positivity from your own blankets, that you will be pleased with the outcome of the design and that you feel you have learnt lots of valuable crochet techniques and tips along the way.



When I designed this project on paper (as a rough sketch in my notebook) this month was going to represent the moon sitting high in the sky on a clear spring night, but as I worked through the design it became clear that I would not have enough yarn to make the circular motif in Cream as planned, so I have used the yellow based shades instead. I really like the effect created by using Gold and Lime as it reminds me of a slightly foggy/misty moon, but if you feel you might have enough Cream yarn to complete both pieces I am sure it would look great too! 

I know that when this final pattern was revealed in the magazine last year everyone thought I had designed Easter Eggs - so feel free to interprit the design however you wish!

 

This month you will be making fans and clusters to create a pinwheel stitch pattern, you will also finally be joining your crochet panels together to make one blanket piece and will be adding a simple edging along two sides.

If you want to purchase a download copy of the patterns for just 95p you can access the Stylecraft Special DK version by following this link and the Yarn Stories version by following this link - please note that step by step images in all patterns are from the Special DK version.
Yarns used this month:

Stylecraft Special DK 100g balls
1078 Petrol
1067 Grape
1709 Gold
1712 Lime
1068 Turquoise
1241 Fondant
1023 Raspberry
1080 Pale Rose

Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK 50g balls
2503 Cobalt
2518 Thistle
2502 Burnt Sienna
2516 Spring Green
3534 Iced Teal
2514 Raspberry
2509 Fuchsia
2536 English Rose

Equipment Special DK
4mm & 4.5mm hook
Sewing needle

Equipment Fine Merino DK
3.5mm & 4mm hook
Sewing needle

Dealing with yarn ends: Sewing yarn ends in as you go along makes the finishing process much easier and means that you are less likely to loose stitches or make errors with your tension.

Hook Changes:
This month there are quite a few hook chnages so make sure you take note of where they are.

Note: The pattern in written in UK terminology

Method: 

Last month left you with the wrong side facing. If you are unsure of which side is which take a look at the bobbles that you made in October and check that they are on the side facing away from you.
Undo stitch from holder to the point where you can change yarn shade to Petrol (Cobalt) on the final step of the stitch, turn.


Row 83: (WS facing) Using Petrol (Cobalt) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st) 1dc into each st to end, turn. (171sts)

Change to 4mm (3.5mm) hook.


Row 84: Using 4mm (3.5mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each next 3sts, * skip 2sts, 7tr into next st, skip 2sts, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * to end changing yarn shade to Grape (Thistle) on the final step of the last st, turn. (21 fans made)

Change to 4.5mm (4mm) hook.


Row 85: Using Grape (Thistle) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st) 1dc into each st to end changing yarn shade to Gold (Burnt Sienna) on the final step of the last st, turn. (213sts)

Change to 4mm (3.5mm) hook.


Row 86: (RS facing) Using Gold (Burnt Sienna) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook 3ch (counts as 1tr) 1tr into next st, tr3tog over next 3sts, 3ch, 1dc into back loop of next 3sts * 3ch, tr7tog over next 7sts, 3ch, 1dc into back loop of next 3sts; repeat from * 19 times, 3ch, tr3tog over next 3sts, 1tr into each next 2sts, fasten off, do not turn.

On the next row you are asked to work into the centre of the cluster (tr7tog) made on previous row. The stitches look best if you work into the stitch where all the yarn loops appear to be made into one stitch and therefore looks like the centre of the cluster.
This ‘stitch’ is in fact the space made by the first chain after the 7trtog on the previous row, however in the pattern it is referred to as the centre of the cluster.

Because of the way crochet stitches work in this pattern when counting the chain that you need to skip it will look like you count 4 (not 3) and then 2 (not 3) after you have made 7tr into the cluster.


Row 87: (RS facing) Using Lime (Spring Green) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook join yarn into 3rd ch of 3ch made at beginning of last row by working 1ch + 2ch (counts as 1tr), 1tr into next st, 3tr into centre of cluster (tr3tog) made on previous row, skip 3ch, 1dc into each next 3ts, * skip 3ch, 7tr into centre of next cluster (tr7tog) made on previous round, skip 3ch, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * 19 times, skip 3ch, 4tr into centre of next cluster (tr3tog) made on previous row (this is the top of the next tr made on the previous row), 1tr into next st changing yarn shade to Grape (Thistle) on the final step of the last st, turn.


Change to 4.5mm (4mm) hook.

Row 88: (WS facing) Using Grape (Thistle) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each next 5sts, * fold last 2 rows forwards do that you can see the remaining loop of the stitches made on row 85, 1dc into each next 3 sts made on Row 85, skip 3sts made on previous row, 1dc into each next 7sts; repeat from * 19 times, fold last 2 rows forwards so that you can see the remaining loop of the stitches made on row 85, 1dc into each next 3 sts made on Row 85, skip 3sts made on previous row, 1dc into each next 5sts working final st into top of tch made on previous row and changing yarn shade to Petrol (Cobalt) on the final step of the last st, turn. (213sts)


Change to 4mm (3.5mm) hook.

Row 89: (RS facing) Using Petrol (Cobalt) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st) 1dc into each next 3sts, * 3ch, tr7tog over next 7sts made on previous row (leaving sts on Row 87 unworked), 3ch, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * to end, turn.

Change to 4.5mm (4mm) hook.

Row 90: (WS facing) Using 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as st), 1dc into each next 3sts, * 1dc into each next 2ch, skip 1ch, 1dc into next st, skip 1ch, 1dc into each next 2ch, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * to end changing yarn shade to Turquoise (Iced Teal) on the final step of the last st, turn.


Row 91: Using Turquoise (Iced Teal) 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, fasten off. (171sts)

Measurement: Each piece should measure approximately 58cm (23in) from bottom edge x 92cm wide.

Work another piece to match.
Sew in yarn ends.

Joining the panels:
You should have 4 completed crochet panels: 2 panels were made May to August and the other 2 were made September to April. The panels now need to be joined together using double crochet stitches on the reverse side of the work.

When joining the smaller panel (May to August) you will be matching the chain stitch that runs along the last row of April to the remaining part of the foundation chain made at the very beginning of the project back in May.

Method:

Using Fondant (Raspberry) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook hold the 2 crochet pieces together making sure you have the wrong side of the work facing you and that both the right sides face inwards towards each other. It is easier if you hold the smaller panel at the back.

Join yarn into the first pair of corresponding stitches by working 1ch, 1dc into each pair of stitches to the end.

The images below show step-by-step joining.


At the centre of the blanket you need to work into the remaining part of the foundation chains and match stitch for stitch.

Method:

Using Turquoise (Iced Teal) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook hold the 2 crochet pieces together making sure you have the wrong side of the work facing you and that both the right sides face inwards towards each other.

Join yarn into the first pair of corresponding stitches (these are the remaining yarn loops of the foundation chain of both pieces) by working 1ch, 1dc into each pair of stitches to the end.

It can be a little tricky working into the remaining part of the chain. I find it easier if I turn my hook away from me to find the yarn loops.

Edging:

I have added a simple double crochet edging to my blanket. I worked 2 rows, but if you want to use up more of your left over yarn you could choose to do a striped version using more shades.

When working edging stitches I work into the obvious space left by double crochet stitches between rows and into the post of all other stitches rather than into the stitch space as this can leave a gap. Try to get 2 or 3 stitches into the post of a treble and 4 into a double treble where necessary.


Note on yarn swaps: 
Throughout the blanket patterns I have referred to the yarn shade swaps between the original Special DK version and the Yarn Stories Fine Merino version. In all but one case (for the heart shapes in February) the yarn swaps have stayed consistently the same, however, for the edging the swaps are not the same as previously and have been based on left over yarn amounts.

Method:
Row 1: (RS facing) working along the side edge from flower edging towards the middle of the blanket and using Rapberry (Thistle) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook work 43dc along side from flower edging to Fondant join, work 119dc along next panel to next Turquoise join, work 119sts along next panel to next Fondant join, work 43sts to flower edging, fasten off, do not turn. (324sts)

Row 2: (RS facing) Using Pale Rose (Fuchsia) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook join yarn into first dc made at beginning of last row by working 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc around back post of each st to end, fasten off. (324sts)

Work another to match.

Sew in yarn ends.



Completed Blanket Measurements Special DK:
Pre Blocked measurement: approx 177cm (69¾ in) x 92/93cm (36in)
Blocked measurement: approx 186cm (73¼ in) x 95/96cm (37½ in)

Completed Blanket Measurements Fine Merino DK:
Pre Blocked measurement: approx 172cm (67¾ in) x 89cm (35in)
Blocked measurement: approx 180cm (70 in) x 92cm (35½ in)

I hope that you have enjoyed working through the Sunshine and Showers CAL blanket. I am hoping to start work on a new CAL project soon, but as you may be aware my design process takes me quite a long time! All being well though, there should be a new CAL project either late Autumn or early 2019.

Over the next few months we will be releasing some new projects too - the first will be my Indian Roses blanket, which I have designed using West Yorkshire Spinners British yarn. The project will be available as a kit from mid to late April, so do watch out for our weekly newsletters for more information.  

 With thanks to the team at Crochet Now magazine. 

Janie x