Friday, 28 August 2015

Persian Tiles

I have released a new crochet blanket kit via the Janie Crow web site. The project is called Persian Tiles and the design is based on my 2013 Crochet Club project, which in turn was based on Persian and Moroccan architecture, ceramics and textile design.

The pattern for the 2013 Crochet Club is no longer available as it was an exclusive design for club members only. We are asked for the pattern and kit all the time, but will not be releasing it as this would be unfair to club members who committed to the exclusivity of the project, however, because of the demand for the kit, I decided it would be a good idea to revisit the design theme and so set about designing a new blanket.

Following the success of The Lily Pond Blanket I decided to use the Stylecraft Life DK in order to get the right mix of shades at a really attractive retail price. I used elements from the central star of the Crochet Club project to design an octagonal shaped piece as the starting point for the project. The step by step images I took along the way are all in the 12 page printed pattern which comes as part of the kit.

Once I had designed the octagonal piece I wanted to make a square tile to complete the design. I tried designing a load of square motifs, but nothing seemed to fit the design, so in the end I resorted to making a Granny Square in order to look at colours and to get a break from designing squares from scratch. Very quickly I found that with a bit of a twist I could make the traditional square fit this design really well and I am incredibly pleased with the effect that the crossed stitches have on the Granny Square motif.

Some of you may already know that I try my very hardest not to use existing crochet motifs within my work and that I always try to design my projects from scratch. To be honest, one of my 'crochet hates' is anything made from Granny Squares, despite the fact that I find them incredibly satisfying to make, so it was a real surprise fro me to find that the square fitted perfectly into this design.

Another one of my pet hates (in most cases) is crochet designs which let the shape of the crochet piece dictate the design. Many crochet motifs are hexagonal or octagonal and, whilst the tessellation that these shapes can produce always has me so excited, I think it is a real cop out when patterns do not provide half or quarter shapes in order to make a completed project square or rectangular and therefore logical in terms of shapes fit for purpose. This pet hate has a major downside for me, as designing half or quarter motifs is never very easy, but in the end I managed to come up with pieces which make the design square!

Having just said that about fill in shapes I have to say that my lovely friend Jo Smith would totally disagree with me! Jo really loves the edges that tessellated shapes leave you with and she uses her edges in a really lovely way! You can find a link to her Etsy shop here and the image below is of one of her beautiful blankets.

If you like the look of Jo's design, keep your eye on the Janie Crow web site in the autumn as we are very excited to be able to tell you that we have just commissioned her to create a design for us!

The new Persian Tiles blanket is available in 2 colour ways - the original one, which is pictured directly below and in all the step by step images and we have just put together a kit in a light blue colour way. 

We have the choice of kits in Life DK at £38.50 and Special DK at £26.50 and can find more information about the kit on our web site. 

The demand for the kit has already been incredible and we are doing our best to update stock as often as we can, so if you look and the kit is showing out of stock, do check back every couple of days to see if we have had new stock in. 

Please note that the design is not currently available as a pattern only option.

We have a lot of exciting things to look forward to over the next few weeks (despite the fact that we seem to be fast tracking it into the autumn!) so please keep an eye on what we are doing. You can sign up to our weekly/fortnightly newsletters by submitting your details via our web site home page, or by following the link via Facebook.

Hope you have a lovely weekend! I think I have a ton of housework on the horizon as I have neglected my little home for far too long and now that the spiders appear to be creeping in, I think I need to take action! 


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Set 8

I have just spent a lovely 15 minutes reading all the fabulous comments about the Lily Pond blanket on the Stylecraft Facebook page. It has been so nice to see the incredible reaction to this project and I am so glad that so many people chose to work through the project. It is amazing to think that within the next few days literally thousands of people will complete the project and have their own version of the Lily Pond Blanket.

Without the support of the wonderful team at Stylecraft it would not have been possible for me to offer a project like Lily Pond as free downloads and I think they have been amazing over the past 4 months while the CAL has been going on.

If you haven't done so already, you can download the last set of CAL patterns from the Stylecraft page by following this link. The patterns will be in place on the Stylecraft web site until December, after which time they will be removed. If you fancy doing the blanket, but don't have time at the moment it would be a good idea to download the patterns to a safe place so that you can use them in the future. We still have a few Lily Pond yarn kits in stock and our kits come with a free bag pattern.

The final set of patterns includes instructions for making the large Lily Flowers which will sit centrally and at the corners of the Lily Pond Blanket and for making the edging.

Below you will find step by step images for the Large Lily:

The image above shows the flower after 3 rounds 

Join the new yarn in at the central point between picots

Once you have made the framework for the first set of petals you need to work groups of 9 sts into each chain space

The petals are given an edging using the 'Rose' shade. To work the next round you need to join the yarn into the reverse side of a stitch between 2 petals

Once you have completed the framework for the second set of petals you make the next layer of petals so that they sit behind the first

As before - the next round of crochet is made by working behind the last round

Once you have completed 2 rounds of crochet using 'Fern' you just need to do 2 more rounds in 'Olive' to finish off.

I love the way the light green yarn creates the illusion of leafs sitting behind the flower.

Making Up & Edging:
Thankfully you don't have a massive amount of finishing off to do once you have completed the 5 large Lilies, but I know for a fact that many crocheters really dislike the making up process. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to take plenty of time to complete this process neatly and methodically.

It took quite a lot of maths calculations for me to get the edging right. Not only did I need to work out a repeat for the fan design, but I also wanted the fans to line up with the bobbles made along the lower edge of some of the pieces.

It is important that you manage to pick up the correct number of stitches around the outside edges in order to make the edging fit.

The first complete round is made using 'Cranberry'. It is worth checking your stitch count a few times to be sure you've got things right!

Working an edging can be incredibly time consuming, but I think it is like the icing on a cake. I remember attending a talk by Kaffe Fassett about his knitwear design and he talked about doing fun things with cuffs and necklines in order to create a lovely framework for his designs. He said that he thought of this as the frame on a painting and said that pitting the wrong edging on was like putting the Mona Lisa in a clip frame! I've always remembered what he said and have always tried to create lovely edgings. I use this fan edging quite often and felt it was particularly good in relation to this design as it emulates the Lily Flower petals.

So! That is it! The Lily Pond CAL is complete!
I am amazed at how quickly the time has gone and so grateful to all of you who joined us on the journey. If you get a chance, please send us some pictures of your completed projects.

We have been asked many times about the prospect of a new CAL. Stylecraft and I have been talking about it and we had originally thought we could do a new project to launch in the Autumn, but unfortunately, due to time restrictions, this has not been possible. However, Stylecraft have asked me to work on a new CAL design which will hopefully launch next year. I have some ideas and have already started working on some swatches, but my design process is a long one and it can take me months to finalise a design, so please don't hold your breath!

I am always working on new design ideas and have some new kits ready to launch over the next few months, so, if you are desperate for more of my design work to see you through the Autumn, do make sure to keep an eye on us by joining our mailing list. You can do this by filling out the form via our web site home page (the 'Newsletter' box is bottom left above the dark grey box) or following the link to 'email sign up' on our Facebook page.

Lots of hugs to all you amazing Lily Ponders! 

Janie x

Thursday, 2 July 2015


I have spent the last couple of evenings working on a crochet mandala in memory of crochet designer Marinke Slump who very sadly died last week. There has been a global response to her untimely death and many crocheters have created crochet mandalas in her memory.

If you want to make a manadala in Wink's memory, you can find lots of lovely patterns on her blog 'A Creative Being' by following the link and, if you want to find out what to do with your mandala once it is completed, follow this link to Crochet Concupscence.

As a tribute to Marinke, I have turned one of my Lily Pond Flowers from the Lily Pond CAL into a mandala. I won't be sending mine off to join the other mandalas which are being collected from all over the world as the idea is that you send one of Wink's mandalas along with a note or personal message. I am hoping to find the time to do this another day.

I have attached my mandala to an embroidery hoop and have hung it on the wall in the kitchen so that I have a daily reminder, not only of my feelings upon the loss of Wink, but also as a reminder as to just how many people struggle with the dark clouds of depression every day.

I urge you all to make one of Marinke's beautiful Mandalas and have put some images of her work below:

If you would like to make a mandala like mine I have written a few notes below on how I made it. Please note that this is a rough guide to help you create your own mandala and there is not a written pattern for what I have done.

Using the pattern for Block Five of the Stylecraft Lily Pond CAL project (which you can download for free by following this link) I made a Lily Pond Flower using Stylecraft Classique Cotton. I followed the pattern through to the end of Round 12, then sewed all the yarn ends in. 

I secured the yarn into the reverse of one of the yarn loops behind the central dtr (tr US) of one of the 9st groups made on Round 11 by working 1ch. The image below shows where that stitch is. I worked a dc (sc US) into this stitch. I then created a framework using areas of chain between the petals.

I made 5ch and then worked a cluster of 3sts into the stitch at the top of the next petal (made on Rounds 8 & 9) and through the stitch between 2 petals made on Round 12 at the same time:

I made 5ch and then worked a dc (sc US) into the back of the next central st made as part of the next 9 st group on Round 11. 

I continued in this way until I had a completed framework. The image below shows the framework from the reverse side (please excuse the quality of the image, the light wasn't great by this time!):

I created the mesh rounds by working 5ch between each ch sp, with a dc (sc US) to secure the chain in each ch sp. To create the last chain space of the next 2 rounds (in order to leave the hook into the correct place) I worked 2ch, then a tr (dc US) into the st at the beginning of the round.

I bought some lovely coloured embroidery hoops at the Knitting & Stitching Show last year and have been looking for an excuse to use them. I though the aqua coloured hoop was perfect for this project and I am really pleased with my mandala. 

I am not sure how to finish this post - I am pleased with my mandala, but really sad about the loss of Marinke and the circumstances which led to me wishing to make the mandala in the first place. Depression is such a common illness and the fact that a talented beautiful girl like Wink has been taken from us far too soon as a result of it is sad beyond words.

Below are links to 2 mental health charities who are doing amazing work in the UK. They are Mind and The Depression Alliance.

Janie x

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Block Seven

I am writing this blog sitting at the kitchen table in bright sunshine this morning. We seem to have been waiting for our warm sunny weather for so long this year and it really is a treat to know that we are in for a scorching day here in London town, however, my mood is not really as it should be on such a lovely summer's day. I heard yesterday that a fellow crochet designer Marinke Slump (otherwise known as Wink) took her own life on Friday after a battle with severe depression. Wink was a fabulous crochet designer, her projects were bright and fun and she will be sadly missed within the crochet community.

Wink's death has of course sparked a huge wave of condolences and expressions of sadness on social media forums and so the crochet community has come together and asked that people pay their respects by sharing a crochet mandala with the hashtag #mandalasforwink. You can also share a photo of yourself with flowers in your hair is you would rather #wearingflowersinmyhairforwink

You can read the final posts on Wink's blog by following this link. You will also find a wealth of her lovely mandala designs on her web site should you wish to make one. You can find more information about making a mandala in her memory by following this link.

Today the penultimate set of patterns for the Stylecraft CAL have been published via their web site. The patterns feature another lily flower block and you need to make 4 of them if you are working on the Lily Pond CAL. There is also some finishing that you can do this week so that you are all ready for the final set of patterns in a fortnight's time. A link to this set of patterns is here.

The Medium Lily Flower in this set of patterns is made in a very similar way to the last few you have made, so there are no major surprises, but there is a little bit of making up to do.

Below are the step by step images for making the Medium Flower Block:

Once you have completed the flower at the end of Round 6 you need to create the frame work for the remaining part of the block. In the same way as you have worked for all the other larger flowers, you need to build a framework behind the existing petals by working into the remaining parts of stitches on the reverse of the work. Make sure you catch both yarn loops which sit centrally between the petals:

The image below shows the framework from the reverse side of the work

The image below shows the framework from the front side of the work 

Knitters and Crocheters are famous collectively for the fact that the majority of them hate the sewing up and making up process of their projects. This is to be expected I suppose, as the craft they enjoy is the knitting or crochet and the making up is simply a by product of this process, however if you spend a little time practising and make sure you are relaxed and calm about the process you will find you will achieve some great results!

It is my experience that many crafters leave far too little time for the making up process and therefore get frustrated when a piece isn't completed in the space of about half hour! I have been known to sit for days working on the finishing process of a piece, indeed, one of the crochet blankets in my book 'Homespun Vintage' took me 3 days solid to put together and work the edging!

If you do the finishing in the stages I suggest you will find the process far easier than doing it all in one go at the end. I always sew my yarn ends in as I go along; sewing in after I complete each block so that they are ready for the finishing process once all the crochet is complete. I also mark my pieces with stitch markers so that I can line them up easily to join on the reverse side.

I know that the slip stitches along the side of some of the swatches have driven some of you crazy, but making slip stitches along a side edge, which are then used as the stitches to join your pieces together is the neatest way I know of joining crochet pieces that have been worked in rows. 

If you would rather not have a pronounced ridge on the reverse side of the work, you could always use slip stitches instead of double crochet (US single crochet) as your joining stitches, but you will need to make sure you don't work your stitches too tight. If you would rather sew your pieces together you could use a mattress stitch. 

I hope you enjoy working through the patterns in Set 7. Thank you to all those of you who have taken the time to send me lovely emails and pictures of your projects - I am so glad that so many of you are having a lovely time working through the Lily Pond CAL.

Janie x