Thursday, 2 July 2015

#MandalasForWink

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

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Block Six

We are very lucky to live near some beautiful woods and parks right on the edge of the green belt to the north of London. I love living here because we get the best of both worlds - the lush countryside of Hertfordshire one way and the excitement of the city the other way. I adore the fact that I have miles of countryside right on my doorstep and have always loved my time walking the dog over the woods whatever the weather and whatever the season, it gives me some really great thinking time and of course a little exercise, whilst also making me a total hero in the eyes of our dog who is happy to charge around the woods like a loony for an hour, circling back to check on my progress every few minutes.

Our walk includes a visit to a large lake in the centre of the woods. Back in the 1930s through to the 1950s you could hire small boats and take a row around the lake, but now it is the domain of fishermen and dog walkers like me. It is a quiet, pretty place, where I see herons, squirrels and the occasional deer, but this time of year it is extra special because the water lilies are starting to appear. Their leaves are busy growing up through the water and the buds of the lilies are beginning to show through and I just can't wait for the day when I get to the lake and first of the lilies are in bloom. As soon as they appear I will post some images.


image courtesy of John Keogh


Jack's Lake in 1942

If you're doing the Lily Pond CAL you will probably know that today is new pattern day! You can download pattern set number 6 'Bobbles and Wavy Shells' from the Stylecraft web site by following this link.

As with a few of my other blog posts in regard to the Lily Pond CAL, I don't have a huge amount to tell you about this piece, so instead of waffling on, I am posting the step by step images so that you have a larger version than those used in the patterns to refer to. 


The block starts in exactly the same way as Block Four, 'Bobbles and Pinwheels' and you can see the step by step images for making the bobbles by following this link to my blog post about Block Four. On Row 4 you will make a wave by working a pattern repeat of stitches that range from double crochet (US single crochet) thorough to double treble crochet (US treble crochet).


Make sure you count your stitches after Row 5. Having the wrong stitch count will affect where the fans are made on the next row and you could find that your pattern is out of sync.


On Row 6 you will make some fans using the mint shade of yarn - all 7 stitches are worked into the same stitch. 





The pattern has a four row repeat. Every alternate row is a row of double crochet between the rows where you make the fans. 






I love this stitch formation as it reminds me of ripples in the water and of the water lily leaves beginning to form on the top of the pond water.




On Row 18 you need to work a combination of stitches in order to create a straight edge. Once again it is important to check your stitch count before and after you work this row.




Once you have completed your piece you need to sew in your yarns ends. I tend to do this as I go along so that I don't have a major sewing job to do once my crochet is complete. 


Once you have completed your 4 blocks, you need to work a row of slip stitches along each side. You are going to place a motif from Block Three between each strip so make sure you crochet your edges in the correct shade - Teal where the Lily Bud will join in and Olive along the remaining side. the images below show the slip stitches along the edge of Block One, but the way you work the slip stitch rows is the same. 




Join the Lily Bud motif using double crochet (US single crochet) on the wrong side of the work and matching one side of your slip stitch to each full stitch around the motif. 


If you prefer a flatter seam you could do your joining using slip stitches, but you will need to use a larger hook than the one used for double crochet (US single)

It is hard to believe that there is now just a month before the last set of patterns are released for the CAL. As you are now beginning to put your motifs and blocks together, Stylecraft have posted Blocking and Pressing instructions which you can download from their web site and you can link to a blog post which includes this information by following this link.

The response to the Lily Pond CAL has been really amazing and I am so happy that Stylecraft supported me in this project. I am a major fan of their yarns and so have been working on a new blanket project which we will be releasing as a kit very soon. I have pasted a taster image below in the hope that it might whet your appetite for another Janie Crow project and I will add more images and info about this project very soon.


The kit will be available in both Life DK and Special DK and we are currently aiming to have kits ready for dispatch in about a month's time, so watch this space!