Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Frida's Flowers - Block Two

The Stylecraft web site has now published the second set of patterns for the Frida's Flowers CAL project. You can follow this link to download them for free.

This set of patterns features another hexagonal block which I have called Dahlia Bud. Further down this post I have included the step by step images for this block, but want to tell you about a couple of really exciting things first!

If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on social media you will know that I am a supporter of the fabulous charity Knit For Peace. I am keen to raise as much money as I can for this incredible charity (who help people in need all over the world) and so have launched a monthly prize giveaway which gives you the chance to win a lovely knit or crochet project simply by making a small monetary donation to the charity.

To launch the monthly giveaways I have donated my completed Flowers Of Life crochet bag (pictured above). This is a ready made item for which the pattern is not commercially available, so the only way to get a ready made version is via this giveaway*. To be in with a chance to win simply follow the link to the Knit For Peace web site, then follow the link to make your donation. You can donate as little as £1 and can enter as many times as you like. The prize draw will close on Friday 29th April and the winner will be notified within the following week.

To help raise even more funds for Knit For Peace I have also put together an exciting workshop schedule. The day workshops will start in June and will take place at the charity HQ in Hampstead. Workshops are £60 for the day and you can find more information here. Workshop tutors include myself, Debbie Bliss, Juliet Bernard, Sarah Hazell and Dedri Uys - all tutors are donating their time for free and all profits from the workshops will go to the charity. There are knit and crochet workshops available so please get involved if you can!

* the pattern for the bag is only available to those who have purchased the Frida's Flowers yarn pack via the Janie Crow web site.

Dahlia Bud

A link to this set of patterns for the Frida's Flowers blanket is here. The images above show the motif worked in Stylecraft Life DK and Special DK. This pattern starts with a ring and a round of double crochet (US single crochet) . On the next round you need to make 6 popcorn stitches. I really like making popcorn stitches, but it can be a little un nerving when you first start as you need to take your hook out of the yarn loop and could inadvertently unravel your work.

I recommend that you make all your popcorn flowers (Dahlia buds) before you start work on the following rounds. Working in this way means that all the flowers end up the same size and also means that you can memorise the pattern and refer to the pattern less often. Don't forget to make sure that your flower is made from 6 popcorn stitches!

Over the next rounds you are adding your background shade.

Below are the close up images for the chain stitches made between the groups of treble crochet (US double crochet).

Make sure you check each round before you start the next one as it is easy to make a mistake on the stitch count.

Once your motif is complete you need to check your tension. The written tension is for unblocked pieces using the Cotton Classique DK. If you are using an alternative yarn you may find that you need to block your piece to active the correct measurements.

Once you have made 4 main motifs you need to make 4 half motifs.

When I was designing this project I wanted to do it in a way which gave you very finishing off to do at the end of the project. Doing all the fiddly bits at the end of a project can be pretty demoralising, so I urge you to sew in all your yarn ends as you go along and follow the instructions for joining.

I hope you enjoy working through this set of patterns. The next pattern will be available on Tuesday 3rd May.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Frida's Flowers - Block One

So today is the day (at last!) when you can download the first pattern for the Frida's Flowers Blanket pattern for free by following this link.

I am delighted that Stylecraft asked me to design another Crochet Along project for them following the success of the LilyPond Blanket last year. The inspiration for the design has been sitting at the back of my mind for a while and I knew that the Stylecraft Classique cotton would be a perfect choice for this project. The shades are bright and crisp and the yarn has fantastic stitch definition making it perfect for the 3D aspect of some of the flower designs. 

The image above is from the Love Knitting web site - they always take such lovely pics!

My design process is pretty slow and I estimate that this project took me approximately 4 months to design from start to finish. I design almost all my pieces from scratch and on the whole I do not use existing pattern motifs as the basis for my design, so for every motif that became part of the blanket there are many other trial pieces and test scraps that didn’t make it into the final design.

I will admit that the prospect of following Lily Pond with a new design was pretty daunting. I have tried my best to look at the positives and the negatives of the last design and think about how best this new project can work as a Crochet Along project. Like the Lily Pond Blanket, this project starts with the simpler pieces and the motifs get progressively harder, but this time the motifs are made solely in the round which should hopefully cut down on some of the tension issues some crocheters had when working through the Lily Pond. I have written a long piece about tension and why it is so important so please read this before you embark on the project.

I was introduced to the art of Frida Kahlo when I was in my late teens and was taken to an exhibition of the work of her husband Diego Rivera. I adore his work and was awed by his massive murals depicting the struggles of the Mexican people and the revolution. Rivera and Frida were incredibly famous as a pair of artists fighting for the rights of their people, but they had quite different painting styles; whilst Rivera painted on a huge scale with a watery, almost romantic style, his wife’s paintings were often brutal and maybe a little crude. Kahlo used bright colours and chose very personal subject matter for her paintings, many of which feature herself as the main character.

Whilst I have always admired Frida’s art, it is the woman herself that I am fascinated by. She was a tough person, who, despite her tiny frame and poor health, battled her way though her life. She is a symbol of feminine force and many people now recognize her as a huge figure within the women’s rights movement.

Frida was a very colourful person and so I have chosen to base the design for this new crochet along on her costumes and the floral aspect of her paintings. Frida wore bright traditional style Mexican clothes at a time when this was very much against convention. She wore her hair long with flowers and ribbons interlaced and she was a lover of embroidery and hand made items, often layering her clothes to create some really stunning combinations of colour and style.

The Frida’s Flowers blanket takes it’s main inspiration from traditional Mexican embroidery work with the bright shades sitting against the dark back ground. I have used Black within a blanket design for the very first time and hope that you will all forgive me for this when you’re finding it a little harder to see your stitches!

I am really proud of this new design and hope that you will enjoy working through the new crochet along.

Janie x

Block One - White Cosmos

Frida Kahlo loved her home and garden. The ‘Blue House’ where she was born and that she later shared with Diego Rivera is now preserved as the Frida Kahlo museum. The image below shows Frida in her beloved gardens where she spent a lot of time and surrounded herself with native Mexican plants and flowers.

Photo by Sally Wilson

The first motif is pretty straightforward with a small cosmos flower sitting at the centre of a pretty plain treble crochet motif. We have cosmos in our garden in the summer, but they are a native flower of Mexico and are bound to have grown in Frida’s garden at Casa Azul (the blue house) in Mexico City which is now the Frida Kahlo Museum.

Use this motif as the template for all your others and try your best to make sure the width measurement is as close to 20cm (4in) as possible. You will need to make sure you check your stitch count at the end of each round and keep an eye on the consistency of your treble crochet stitches. If you find your piece is coming up too big or too small take a minute to read the notes about how you work a treble stitch as well as the notes on tension.

Below I have posted all the step by step images so that you can see them in a larger format.

Image above shows the flower after Round 2 once 6 flower petals have been made

To make the next round you need to work behind the petals of the flower you have just made. Fold the petal forward and insert your hook into the skipped stitch and make one chain to join your yarn.

The image above shows the motif after Round 4. Make sure you have 30sts (including the 3ch at the beginning of the round) at the end of this round. you should also have 6 chain spaces.

Image above shows motif at end of Round 5

Image above shows motif at end of Round 6

Image above shows motif at end of Round 7

Image above shows motif at end of Round 8 - make sure you count your stitches at the end of each round.

On Round 9 you need to work 3 stitches into the chain space.

Make sure you change your hook at the end of the last round. Colour coded hooks help when you're changing hook sizes. If you don't have hooks with colour coded handles you could dab some different shades of nail polish onto the handle of each hook.

Make sure you measure your motif once it is complete. It should measure 19.5cm at the widest point. if you are .5 of a cm out (either bigger or smaller) this shouldn't present you with too much of an issue so long as each of your remaining pieces measure similarly. 

If your piece is 1cm or more bigger or smaller you are advised to try using a different sized hook to achieve a closer tension to mine.

You need to make 4 main motifs and 4 of the following half motifs:

The flower for the half motif is made in the same way as the main motif.

This motif is worked in rows not rounds, so you need to turn at the end of each row

The image above shows the motif after Row 5

Make sure you change your hook size after Row 7

As with the main motif, make sure you measure across the widest point.
You need to make 4 half motifs.

I always sew my ends in as I work so that each piece is completely finished before I start crocheting a new piece. I know that a lot of people hate sewing in as they go, but it really does make the finishing process so much easier.

I hope you enjoy working through your first set of Frida's Flowers patterns.
The next set of patterns will be ready for you to download from the Stylecraft web site in 2 weeks time on the 19th April.

Have Fun!
Jane x