Monday, 8 May 2017

Sunshine and Showers - Part 1

Link to Part 2 here

We are a little ahead of time as tomorrow officially sees the start of the (re launch) of my Sunshine and Showers Crochet Along project which was originally featured in Crochet Now magazine, but as we are still at the office I thought I might as well set this live this evening before we leave! You can access the patterns for the project on a monthly basis by following my blog posts from now through to next April, or you can download the PDF versions of the patterns by following the links posted lower down. If you want to follow the project in it's original form within the magazine you can still find back copies from issue 6 onwards and can subscribe to receive digital versions. The magazine features an average of 25 patterns a month from many other designers, stitch and technique tutorials, lots of interesting features and monthly columns.

The blanket project, which was previously launched as a mystery crochet along project with the complete design of the blanket only revealed within the magazine at the end of 12 months, is based on the seasons/months of the year and the pattern is worked in rows, with each month featuring a new technique and stitch pattern.  

The blanket is made by working a total of four pieces (2 x 2 repeats) which are joined together at the end. To make the blanket you will need to make 2 matching strips from May through to August and 2 more from September through to April 2018. 

The completed blanket size is approximately 90cm x 170cm. If you want to make it any bigger or smaller you will need to look at the pattern repeats for each month and work out how to make things work mathematically. I will try to remember to write in the pattern repeat numbers at the beginning of each pattern. As a general rule the stitch count is 171 sts, although this does vary on some rows. 


Before you start work on your crochet along project I urge you to check that you are working to the correct tension, that is the number of stitches and rows measured over 10cm (4in). You will find lots of information about the importance of tension in my last blog post.

If you achieve a tension tighter or looser than the suggested tension you will find that your project will differ in size to mine, that you will use a different amount of yarn and possibly that your pieces won't fit together properly in the making up stages.

OK - So let's get started!

When thinking about the level of skill needed for the project I tried to design so that the blanket gets progressively harder so that crocheters can use it as a learning source, however there is an assumption that crocheters know their basic stitches and are able to understand written instructions. There are no charts.

The blog patterns will be written for the Stylecraft Special DK version with the shade and hook alternatives for the Yarn Stories option written within brackets. You can choose to purchase a download version of the patterns for just 95p a copy (total of 12 patterns). There is a link to the download copy for the Stylecraft Special DK version here and for the Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK version here. Please note that all step by step images are for the Special DK version.

May is the month when the grass is at it’s greenest and the British Countryside is bright and fresh. When designing the first part of the Sunshine & Showers sampler blanket I wanted to capture the idea of green rolling hills and lush meadows. Within this set of patterns I will talk you through basic stitches, colour changes and show you how to make a wave stitch pattern.

Yarns used this month:

Stylecraft Special DK 100g balls
1820 Duck Egg
1722 Storm Blue
1027 Khaki
1065 Meadow

Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK 50g balls
2507 Duck Egg
2535 Bluebell
2501 Bottle
2510 Leaf

Equipment Special DK:
4mm & 4.5mm hook
Sewing needle

Equipment Fine Merino DK:
3.5mm & 4mm hook
Sewing needle

Dealing with yarn ends: Sewing yarn ends in as you go along makes the finishing process much easier and means that you are less likely to loose stitches or make errors with your tension.

Hook Changes:
Please take note of changes in hook size. 

Pattern Repeat:

If you want to make the blanket in a different size you will need to calculate your stitch count accordingly.
Wave pattern (Row 4 - 6) is worked over a repeat of 10 stitches with a remainder of 11sts.

For example - Row 4 pattern repeat = * 3dc, 2htr, 3tr, 2htr; repeat from * (10st repeat)

To make the repeat work with 171sts the pattern has 4sts at the beginning of the row before the repeat starts and 7sts at the other end of the row after the last repeat finishes.

Note: The pattern is written using UK terminology

Using Duck Egg (Duck Egg) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook make 172ch.

When working your foundation row it is important that you do not twist your chain. The image below shows the Right Side (RS) of the chain on the left and the Wrong Side (WS) of the chain on the right.

To help when counting the chain you could decide to put a marker in at every 10 or 20 sts.

Foundation Row: skip 1ch, 1dc into each ch to end, turn. (171sts)

At the end of the row your tail end will be to the left hand side. When you have the right side of the work facing you the tail will always be to the left hand side.
It is common for crochet to want to curl up, so don’t panic if you have some twisting going on at this stage. To count your stitches over double crochet, count the chains that run along the top of the row. It is really important that you count your stitches all the time to make sure you haven’t lost any along the way!

Row 1: 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, changing yarn shade to Storm Blue (Bluebell) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)

Change yarn shade as follows: 

Do not complete the final stitch of the row so that 2 yarn loops remain on hook.

Draw the new shade through the loop on the hook to complete the stitch.

Change hook size by slipping the yarn loop onto the new hook.

Row 2: Using Storm Blue (Bluebell) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into each st to end, turn. (171sts)

Working rows of crochet is rather like preparing to build a brick wall in that the height of the next row of stitches is set before you start your row or round of stitches. This is done by working a turning chain (tch). In this case working 3ch makes the turning chain. The 3ch counts as the first stitch of the row.

You need to skip the stitch directly at the base of the 3 chain stitches and work your next treble crochet stitch into the next stitch.

Work a treble crochet stitch into every stitch to the end of the row.

Row 3: 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into each st to end, working final st into 3rd ch of 3ch made at beginning of last row, changing yarn shade to Khaki (Bottle) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)

Unlike knitted stitches, crochet stitches do not sit directly on top of each other on every row, instead they work in a brick like formation. This makes it easy to start loosing stitches over subsequent rows. To count your treble stitches, count the posts made by the stitches and not the chain that runs along the top of them. In order to keep your stitch count correct (remembering that your first 3ch counted as your first stitch) you will need to make a stitch into the turning chain (3ch) made at the beginning of the previous row. You will also need to change your yarn shade by drawing the new shade through on the final step of the last stitch.

Row 4: Using Khaki (Bottle) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into next st, 1htr into each next 2sts, * 1dc into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts; repeat from * 15 times, 1dc into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 2sts, working last tr into tch on previous row, turn. (171sts)

The pattern you have worked is called wave stitch. The pattern can be made up of lots of stitch variations -  for this one I have used double crochet (dc), half treble crochet (htr) and treble crochet (tr).

Row 5: Using 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, changing yarn shade to Meadow (Leaf) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)

Row 6: Using Meadow (Leaf) and 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each next 2sts, * 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * to end, omitting 1dc on final pattern repeat, turn.

Row 7: Using Meadow (Leaf) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, place last st on stitch holder. (171sts)

You can cut yarn ends to approx. 10cm length.

It is a good idea to sew your yarn ends in at this point. This cuts down on the amount of sewing you need to do at the end of the project. When sewing in behind double crochet, thread your sewing needle through the reverse side of each stitch as in the image below. After a few stitches work a stitch back over a yarn loop to create a small knot and then sew away from the edge for a few more stitches.

When sewing in behind treble crochet, thread your sewing needle up through the post of the first treble (or 3ch) to get the yarn to the point between the rows of stitches where the fabric appears to be at it’s thickest. Sewing along the row (in the same way as for double crochet) at this point means you are less likely to see the yarn end.

When all yarn ends are sewn in you can trim them.

Make another piece to match.

Next month I will show you how to make puff stitches to form a pretty flower design and how to work double crochet into the front and back parts of a chain to create a textural stitch. 

Below is a preview image of the design for June:

The next part of the Sunshine and Showers CAL will be available here on the blog on the 6th June.

Have fun! Janie x