Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Block Four

It has been a busy couple of weeks since my last post and I have a lot to tell you about this time, including a few tips for working through Block Four, a summary of the lovely Lily Pond workshop I tutored at Stylecraft last week, as well as a few other things that have been going on, but I want to start by talking briefly about the bag pattern that I designed using the left over yarns from the Lily Pond CAL as I am aware that there is a lot of chat on social media about the pattern and I know that Sylecraft have been inundated with requests for it.

For the moment the bag pattern will not be available to anyone other than those who purchase a Lily Pond CAL yarn kit via the Janie Crow web site or come to a Lily Pond Bag workshop. In order to explain the reasons behind this decision I think it is important for you to know and consider the following things about me and my company:

I am an independent designer and I am not salaried or tied to any yarn company. I work within a highly competitive field and, in order to boost my income from my design work, my husband and I run our own web site selling knit & crochet accessories, books and kits. The bag pattern was designed by me as an incentive for crocheters to purchase their Lily Pond CAL yarn kit via our web site (Janie Crow) rather than from another retailer as we currently cannot compete with the 'big players' within the online yarn retailers, many of whom offer discounts, free postage and multi buy offers continuously. We sell the CAL yarn kit via our web site and the bag pattern is our point of difference in relation to this - in the same way that the larger companies give free organza draw string bags or free US postage for example.

When I designed the pattern I had no idea just how many people would like it, or how many thousands of people would end up working through the Lily Pond CAL project. Possibly, had I realised what the demand would be, I wouldn't have offered the bag pattern as an exclusive to my customers, but, having said that the design is an exclusive to Janie Crow customers, I feel it would be unfair to go back on my word and start giving the pattern to others. The bag design was not commissioned by Stylecraft and they are not to blame for the fact that I have chosen to offer the bag as an additional extra to my customers and not to everyone working through the CAL project. I have seen comments in relation to the bag project on social media which include words like 'unfair', 'let down' and 'disappointed'. These comments are, in my view, unfounded - the bag pattern was not used in any Stylecraft branded pre sale information and was never a part of their CAL offer.

At the present time I do not plan to release the bag pattern for sale, but I might well use it within other promotional offers in the future, so it is worth looking out for it later on in the year. You can also work through the bag design within one of the designated workshops such as the one I tutored at Stylecraft last Friday (more info further down this post) and I will be tutoring another one at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington in July - there are currently just 3 places left on this workshop so you might need to be quick if you want to grab a place.

I know that the offer of a workshop might not be enough to calm everyone of those 'disgruntled' crocheters who can't get their hands on a bag pattern, but without giving too much away and before I can talk myself out of giving you a few clues, it doesn't take a genius to see the similarities between the bag pattern and Block Four. Both start with a row of 6 multi coloured bobbles, followed by a few stripes and the pin wheel stitch and I'm sure you are all able to do a little bit of maths to work out how to make the Wave Stitch from Block One fit……

I hope this little explanation will help you understand why the bag pattern is not currently available and might encourage some of you to take a look at the Lily Pond design and come up with your own bag designs as an alternative. Designing stuff is fun and I don't have a problem with you coming up with your own variations so long as you don't publish an exact copy of my bag or try to make your own profit from doing so!

Block Four:
I really like this block! I love doing multi coloured bobbles and use the pin wheel stitch a lot in my design work, it really is so satisfying seeing those lovely crochet fans and clusters creating the stitch formation.

If you haven't done multicoloured bobbles before they can be a bit fiddly. I have pasted some of the images from the pattern below to help you - sometimes it is better to see these on a larger scale, so you could always copy and paste them to your own document or save them as images on your PC or note book.

Bobbles are made on a wrong side row because they pop through to the opposite side. 
You need to change yarn shade one step before the end of the stitch before the bobble so that the loop on the hook is the new shade. 

You will need to bring your green yarn forward before changing yarn shade so that it doesn't get left stranded on the opposite side of the work

To make the bobble you need to work 5 incomplete treble stitches (US double crochet) into the next st

You need to make 5 incomplete treble sts (US dc), leaving one yarn loop on the hook after each stitch
You will have 6 loops on your hook

Change the yarn shade to green by taking it across the bobble and drawing it through all yarn loops

Give the green yarn a tug to make sure the bobble really pops through to the other side of the work

It is a good idea to catch the yarn loops in at the back of the work between bobbles

The images for the pin wheel stitch are also posted below:

You will be on a wrong side row again when make the first row of fans - the image is taken from the right side of the work. the fans are made by working 7tr (US dc) into the same stitch. Make sure you skip 2sts before and after the fan - double check as it can be easy to skip too many or too few.

At the beginning of the next row you need to make a cluster over 3sts - you do this in the same way as you made the bobble, but you work into 3 separate sts.

The next cluster is worked over 7sts.
To make sure the cluster is central, the 7sts are made by working 2sts on top of the last 2sts of the fan made on the previous row, 3sts along the 3dc (US sc) made on the previous row and the final 2sts from the first 2 sts on the next fan.

Don't forget to work 3ch before and after the cluster

When you make the next row of fans, you need to work your 7sts into the stitch at the top of the cluster made on the previous row.

When I designed this block I felt like the pin wheels looked like small lily leaves emerging from the water, but you can get a very different effect if you use similar shades to make the 2 row repeats and it can be even more fun if you add beads. We had fun playing with colour and stitch combinations at the Stylecraft workshop last week and you can read more about this below.

Workshop At Spa Mill
I had a lovely few days travelling around 'up north' last week as I was asked to host afternoon tea at Black Sheep Wools and a workshop at the home of Stylecraft at Spa Mill. I had a really lovely afternoon at the craft barn at Black Sheep and you can find more info about my afternoon by following this link to the Black Sheep blog. After the event at Black Sheep I drove (very slowly whilst admiring the amazing scenery and abundance if sheep) to the home of Stylecraft yarns in Slaithwaite ready for my Lily Pond Bag workshop on Friday.

We had a great day at the Mill and it was such fun to play with yarn and beads for the day. Below are some images of the bag projects in progress. I'm sure you will agree that they look fabulous and there are some really inspiring colour combinations going on…

It was so nice to meet all the ladies who came along to the workshop, some of them had come a long way to be there, including one lady from Cornwall and another one all the way from Holland! Being at the mill also gave me the chance to meet the lovely team from Stylecraft and I was made to feel so welcome I didn't want to get back in my car and drive home!

Once again I am at the end of another blog post. If you haven't downloaded the pattern for Block Four already you can find the link to the Stylecraft web site here. It is amazing to think that once you complete these blocks you will be almost half way through the project - doesn't time fly when you're having fun!

Jane x

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Block Three

You can download the third set of patterns for the Lily Pond CAL from the Stylecraft web site today by following this link.

The patterns this time are for a small flower within a block which I have called Lily Bud. The flower is supposed to represent a brand new lily flower which is just beginning to bloom on the surface of the pond water, with the green of the leaves sitting behind it. This block is made in a very similar way to the Tiny Lily which was the focus of the last set of patterns, so you may want to follow this link to a place further down on the blog where I talked about the techniques used within the block.

Things have been really busy for me over the last fortnight with lots going on here at Janie Crow. We have had a delivery of beautiful Hamanaka Crochet Hooks direct from Japan. You can read my blog about them and a tutorial for how to make lovely crochet bullion stitches by following this link.

Below I have posted the step by step images for the Lily Bud so that you can see them larger than in the pattern should you wish to. Instead of putting all the images on the blog I have picked those where you may need to see a technique in close up, such as changing yarn shade or working into a stitch on a previous row:

Adding the new shade on Round 3

Where to put your hook at the back of the work to make a frame work for the next round

The work after Round 8 - sewing your yarn ends in as you go along keeps things nice and neat!

Working a treble crochet (US double crochet) into a stitch 2 rounds down

Completed Block

You need to make a total of 4 of these motifs and so far you have been given the patterns for there following pieces:

Block One - Make 4

Block Two - Make 4

Block Three - Make 4

If you have seen this month's copy of Inside Crochet Magazine you will probably know that they have a preview of a later block which is a larger Lily motif. This will be available to everyone in a couple of months so don't worry if you've missed it. 

I hope you enjoy working through the patterns this time, a new pattern will be launched in a fortnight's time for Block Four which features one of my favourite stitches called 'Pin Wheel'. This is a relatively easy stitch that can look so effective, especially when you play around with colour combinations. 

Pin Wheel stitch has been used in the exclusive bag project I designed to accompany the kits we sold via our web site and I have used it in projects from my book 'Kaleidoscope' which Debbie Abrahams and myself published a few years ago. Below you can see an image of my iPad cover which uses a beaded pinwheel stitch.

Kaleidoscope features 24 knit & crochet projects for the home and is available from our web site. 

So that is it for another fortnight, in terms of my CAL blogs anyway! I try to blog a couple of times a week as things crop up, so do try to keep an eye on the blog and on my Facebook page if you have a bit of spare time over the next few weeks. I am off to Wadenhoe at the weekend to tutor a workshop with Debbie and the following week I am heading to Black Sheep for an afternoon tea event. There are currently just 4 places left so you need to be quick if you want to come. You can find more info here.

I will also be tutoring a workshop at the Stylecraft Mill at the end of next week (on Friday 15th May). Participants at the workshop will be provided with the pattern, yarn and bag handles to make the Lily Pond Bag project (pictured below). 

Despite lots of chat about it and a previous indication from me that this pattern will be released for sale in the future, I have now decided that this pattern will not be available as a download for sale in the future. The bag pattern will only be given to participants at a CAL workshop or it may be available in relation to special offers every now and again. 
This being the case, the Stylecraft workshop is one of your few chances to work through this project and the added bonus is that you get to do it in the surroundings of the Stylecraft Mill in Yorkshire. You can find more info about the workshop and book palace by calling Emma on the following number 01484 848430

Happy Crocheting!
Janie x

Friday, 1 May 2015

Knitting & Crochet Guild Design Competition

A call out to you all you budding knit & crochet designers - here is your chance to enter a fabulous competition and support The Knitting and Crochet Guild. Read on for more info about the competition and how to enter.

The Knitting & Crochet Guild Archive is an amazing resource with knitted and crocheted samples going back to the 1830s as well as a huge collection of pattern leaflets and every kind of knitting needle and crochet hook you can imagine.
The Yarn Stories brand believe this is an historic collection, arguably larger than the Victoria and Albert Museum and one that should be treasured, so they have come up with a very special design competition for knitters and crocheters from all around the world to enter.

Yarn Stories have gathered together a selection of inspirational images of items in the archive on Pinterest and they would love you to design a 15 cm blanket square in DK yarn inspired by the archive, which can be created in either knit or crochet to become part of a blanket design. You can read more from Yarn Stories and see extra images by following this link too.

The competition is now open and closes on 5th June. A judging panel including Debbie Abrahams, Jane Crowfoot and Angharad Thomas from the KCG archive, as well as members of the Yarn Stories team will choose 10 finalists by the middle of June. Then Yarn Stories will throw open the judging to knitters and crocheters all over the world to vote for their favourite square during July and August.  

The overall winner, announced on 4th September, will receive £100 of Yarn Stories yarn and each finalist will receive two balls of the Yarn Stories yarn of their choice.

But the excitement doesn’t end there. All the finalists’ squares will be put together into a blanket pattern that will be available on the Yarn Stories website with 50% of the revenue going towards the continued protection and support of the archive. The finished blanket will be at The Knitting and Stitching show in October for you to see.

You don't have to be a guild member to take part, but it is an organisation we highly recommend you join. You can find details of your local groups here and can join by following this link.

Amanda Crawford, Head Designer at Yarn Stories says: “I have been lucky enough to visit the Knitting and Crochet Guild Archive and it is such an amazing collection. We wanted to do something to support this vital piece of history for knitters and crocheters everywhere. Our competition is a fantastic project and we are very proud to be able to help the archive.”

Entries for the Yarn Stories competition should be sent to
Yarn Stories/KCG competition
Spa Mill
New Street
Huddersfield HD7 5BB