Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Lily Pond CAL - Stripes & Waves

After what seems like months of waiting the first set of patterns for the Lily Pond blanket CAL have been released today. If you haven’t been on the Stylecraft web site and downloaded your free patterns yet a link to their web site is here. You can download the patterns in UK or US terminology and have the choice of English or Dutch language.

The patterns will be released every 2 weeks and there are a total of 8 sets. 
The patterns will be available every alternate Tuesday from today through to the 14th July. The project is aimed at relative beginners and there are no really complicated stitches or techniques used, however it is important that you have some basic knowledge of how to crochet before you start the project. The focus of the first set of patterns is basic stitches and colour changing. You will need to know how to do the following things:

  • Make a chain
  • Work a foundation row of double crochet (US single crochet) along the chain
  • Work rows of double crochet (US single crochet) keeping the stitch count correct
  •  Change yarn shade
  • Work rows of treble crochet (US double crochet) keeping the stitch count correct
  • Work rows where chain stitches are skipped
  • Work rows with a pattern sequence – stitches used here are double crochet (US single crochet), half treble crochet (US half double crochet), treble crochet (US double crochet) and double treble crochet (US treble crochet)
If you think you might need help with any of the basic stitches used you can find a wealth of video tutorials and help on line. YouTube provides a fantastic library of information and there are lots of web sites that focus on helping you master crochet techniques. 

Working in order:
The Lily Pond design is made up of a total of 8 different motifs, 3 of the motifs are rectangular and made in rows and the rest are made in the round. The rectangular motifs represent the water in the Lily pond and so have unusual stitches and stripe sequences to give the idea of movement and ripples in the water. 

The first piece (in today’s patterns) is rectangular and so is worked in rows, the piece starts quite easy with simple row sequences, then gets a little harder with a wave stitch later on. In most instances, you will need to make 4 of each motif of the 8 motifs within the blanket every 2 weeks, apart from the motif in the final pattern of which there are 5. I felt that making this many pieces per fortnight was manageable and could mean that you can keep up to date with the progress of the piece. 

It is my suggestion that you work through this pattern in sequences, making all four pieces to the same point before you move on to the next part. For example, get the hang of the double crochet (US single crochet) stripes with the simple colour changes on all four pieces, making sure they look the same and measure the same to this point, then work the treble crochet (US double crochet) stripes on all four pieces, again making sure that everything looks the same. Working in this way will mean that by the time you start on the wave stitch pattern repeat you should feel confident enough to complete the stitch sequences. 

Below you will find my step-by-step guide for working through the pattern for Block One:

You will find a guide on working some tension pieces in my previous blog post. Before you launch into the project it is really important that you have achieved the correct tension as failing to do so will mean that your crochet pieces will come out the wrong size and might mean that your blanket does not fit together properly in the making up stages later on. Keep an eye on your tension as you work through your project as your tension can change depending upon loads of different things; your mood, what TV show is on or how much wine you have drunk can all make a difference so do make sure you keep a check as you go along! 

Making the chain:
To make Block One you need to start with a chain of 86sts.
Don’t use your chain as an indication of your tension as it can stretch or contract depending upon your foundation row. 

When making a long chain it is easy to loose count – you could add some markers in as you go along to help, or you could mark down your count on a piece of paper as you complete blocks of 10 or 20 chain. You are better off having too many chain than too few – it is easy to mis-count your chain, so if you are concerned that you have not made enough, add in a couple of extra – if these are not used once you have completed your foundation row you can unravel the stitches from the slip knot end. When you count your chain it is easiest to count down from the hook. Don’t count the slip knot or the loop that is on your hook. Only count the completed chains. 

The foundation row:
Working your first row along the chain is one of the hardest techniques in crochet so it is worth taking the time to get it right. Always make sure you haven’t twisted the chain and have made a stitch into each one, it is easy to miss some of the chain or work more than one stitch into the same place, so keep checking your work as you go along – it is really frustrating to find a mistake towards the beginning of the row as the only way to put it right is to unravel your work and correct it. 

When counting a row of double crochet (US single crochet) you can count the chains that run along the top of the row, don’t count the loop on the hook, or the turning chain at the beginning of the row. You need 85sts on almost every row of this piece – I count after almost every row just to make sure I haven’t missed anything! Crochet loves to curl up, so make sure you keep straightening things out and don’t worry if you piece looks a bit uneven after the first row. 

Working your first colour change:
At the end of Row 1 (the row of crochet after the foundation row) you need to change yarn shade from Fern to Olive. You need to change the yarn shade one step before the last stitch of the row is completed – this is so that the chain left on your hook is in the new shade Insert your hook into the last st of the row and draw the yarn through the stitch so that 2 yarn loops are on your hook

Leaving tail end of yarn approx. 15cm long, draw the new shade of yarn through the loop on your hook so that the new loop on your hook is the Olive yarn. 

Skipping stitches:
Once you have completed a total of 6 rows (your foundation row plus 5 more) and have 3 rows of stripes as in the image above you are asked to work a row where you make a chain between each stitch and skip one stitch between each new stitch.

You need to work this row on a larger hook so that the stitches do not get too tight, make sure you change back to your original hook size once this row is complete.

Working treble crochet (US double crochet):
When you reach Row 8 of the pattern you are asked to work in treble crochet (US double crochet). To help you work in the correct way the following information could be useful: 

Understanding turning chains:
When working stitches with a long post, such as treble crochet (US double crochet) your chain at the beginning of the row usually starts to count as your first stitch - this is why the pattern will say the following at the beginning: 3ch (counts as 1tr) Most patterns will tell you how many chain to make at the beginning of the row and what stitch they count as, but others may assume that you know. The chain at the beginning of a row is often referred to as the turning chain (tch). The number of chain you make will vary depending on the length of the stitch. As a general rule, the turning chain for the 3 stitches used in the Lily Pond Blanket are as follows: 

Skipping the first stitch:
Because your chain at the beginning of the row counts as a stitch you need to skip the stitch at the base of the chain and work your second stitch into the next stitch along. This is so that only the equivalent of one stitch (made by the chain) leads from the first stitch. If you find it hard to identify which stitch to miss, make your 3ch before you turn your work, this way you will be able to see clearly which stitch the chain leads from. When I was first learning I used to pinch the stitch before I turned so that I knew not to use it. 

Counting the stitches at the end of your first row of treble crochet (US double crochet):
When you have completed your first row of trebles, count your row of stitches by counting the posts of each stitch, making sure you count the 3 chain at the beginning of the row as the first stitch. 

What to do at the end of subsequent rows of treble crochet (US double crochet):
It is very common for crocheters to loose stitches when they start to work repeated rows of treble crochet (US double crochet). To help you understand the reason for this it helps if you understand how crochet stitches work: Rows of crochet stitches do not sit directly on top of each other like knit stitches do. Instead, each row of stitches sits slightly off set to the previous row, rather like bricks in a wall. The chain left on the hook at the end of one stitch becomes the chain that sits over the top of the next stitch in the row. 

When you work a row of crochet you work into these chain stitches that run along the top of the posts of the previous row of stitches. Because a lot of stitches start their rows with a turning chain rather than a true stitch (a post with a chain on top) you will find that the final stitch on your second row and all subsequent rows do not look the same as the others as they do not have a chain sat on top of a stitch post. To keep your stitch count correct you need to work your final stitch into the turning chain made at the beginning of the last row. You need to work into the last chain made if possible – I tend to use the sharper side of my crochet hook to find the last chain.

Working more than one type of stitch in a row:
To create the idea of ripples in a pond of water I have used a stitch combination known as Wave Stitch. There are a total of 14 stitches per repeat, with extra stitches worked at the beginning and end of the rows so that the repeats work mathematically and sit centrally. The stitches you will use are as follows: 

The Stylecraft patterns do not contain charts, but I know that many of you find charts helpful when understanding stitch repeats. I have hand drawn the following chart - it is not perfect, but hopefully it will help. I have highlighted the repeats on 2 of the rows. If you click and save the image it will come up much bigger than it does here on the blog.

Yarn Usage:
As I have said before, all yarns have a varying amount of left overs, with Teal and Fern having the smallest amount remaining once the project is completed. It is my advice that you keep hold of all your yarn until the end of the project – by this I mean all the pieces you might undo and any pieces that look a bit frayed. Don’t be tempted to use any of the yarn for any other project until you have completed this one and make sure you keep everything in a safe place. 

For those of you who have bought and received the original or mixed yarn kit via the Janie Crow web site we will be sending you a free download pattern for a bag that you can make to use up your left overs. The pattern will be sent to you later today via email, but please don’t be tempted to make it with your project yarn until you are sure you have enough left over! 

A Note on my blog posts, images and any incidental bits and bobs:
I will be writing a blog post every 2 weeks to help guide you through the making up process of the Lily Pond Blanket. I will talk about all the things I consider relevant to each set of patterns and will be adding in any images and charts I can. All step-by-step images have been taken on my little camera as I worked through the project. My images have not been photo shopped (other than to brighten them up a bit) and where applicable I have not cropped out the edges. I think that images like this can be really helpful and are a great alternative to charts (which are not included in the CAL patterns this time) and I feel it is important that you see how the pieces look as they are worked on, even if they look a little curly and uneven. 

Whilst I hope that my blog posts will help you work through the project I cannot guarantee that they will offer help with every single aspect of the making process. I don’t really want this to sound like an official disclaimer, but please bear in mind that Stylecraft and myself are trying to give you a wealth of exclusive design and information completely free of charge and that we have not advertised this project as a learning tool. 

Please note that the rights to the Lily Pond Blanket patterns belong to Stylecraft Yarns and that I have exclusively designed the project. The patterns should not be resold in any form and no part of the design is to appear in any other form, so please respect the copyright of the design. If there is something you need help with and can’t find any information about it here on my blog please take a look on the various chat forums on social media (such as the Sylecraft Facebook page and Ravelry) as you may well find the answer you are looking for. If you want to get in touch, the easiest way for you to make contact is via the facebook pages. You can find the Stylecraft one here and the Janie Crow one here.