February was filled with making hats. Cold winds over the hills where I walk my dog made hats a necessity over February’s snowy days. So I made just a few, to vary my head warm and decoration. These were great instant gratification projects, none taking longer than a few days.
Don’t you just love scarves? So versatile and perfect for accessorising any outfit. They can add a touch of glamor, fun, urban warmth or sophistication. I can wear them in any weather, light silky neckties in the summer and chunky warm snugglable scarves in the winter. Recently I’ve become addicted to making them. Stash busting whilst experimenting with colour mixing, stitch sampling and texture to create unique wearable pieces.
Two were made as Xmas gifts. A pink and black, lacy free-form crochet scarf “this is what makes us girls” for my sister. A glamorous purple chunky wool and velvet knitted scarf “deep purple” for my mum.
Two I made for myself as a fantastic way to practice knitting and to sample a couple of Jane Thornley’s fabulous patterns. I’m really loving the free-range, no mistakes only design features style that Jane advocates. Perfect for learning to knit without the pressure of nothing turning out right. I added crochet borders to my scarves adding my own freeform touch. The scarf recipes are available free through Ravelry or Jane’s website.
Pink, butterflies, black lace, tassels, sequins, animal print beads, lacy crochet, feather boa fluff – this is what makes us girls. Freeform crochet scarf made with a multitude of pink, black and purple yarns then decorated with beads, butterfly’s and tassels. Xmas 2012 gift for my wonderful sister.
Deep Purple Scarf. I used the holiday scarf recipe by Jane Thornley as a start point to the scarf. Such fun to knit with thick, fancy yarns. Following this “recipe”. I used a range of different purple/pink yarns including chunky wool, mohair, velvety ribbon and DK. I differed from the recipe by including strips of crochet as well as knitting in the main long center piece. I also added a crochet border then decorated with a velvet flower.
Blue Stary Scarf – Blue knitted scarf inspired by Jane Thornley’s creations. With a crochet border and star beads to add a bit of dazzle.
Will She Trick or Treat? Knit and crochet scarf. Adapted from Jane Thornley’s ‘Fresh-Baked Squash’ scarf recipe. I used orange and black yarns in a mixture of DK, sparkley, mohair, boulce. A very Halloween feeling scarf 🙂
As I was working with DK weight yarns rather than aaran I added to the middle, 1 row drop stitch (k2 wrap 2), then 1 row knit the k2. Followed by 1 row sead stitch. This was then reversed before again following Jane’s pattern. I used similar toned yarns for the reverse section. I added a row of single crochet to tidy up the scarf edges and make it ruffle a bit more.
I can’t believe its over a month since I last posted. I’ve been so busy making Xmas pressies for people. Which I’ll wait until I’ve given them out to post on here so not to spoil any surprises. There’s even some knitting sprinkled through my creations 🙂 This month has been spent learning to knit and I’m finding it rather relaxing. I just love my big red plastic needles, very funky and comfortable to use with chunky wool that means I can progress quite quickly. I tried a bit of my fingering (2ply) yarn but that was far too fiddley so I think I’ll leave the lacey look for crochet whilst I practice knitting with the big soft fluffy stuff.
I had a bit of a splash out and purchased a copy of Jenny Dowde’s Freeform Knitting and Crochet so I could venture more into free-form and get ideas and techniques for “taking your yarn for a walk”. Its an ace introduction to freeform for newbies like me which gives an overview of all the different parts of the process of creating items from yarn filled with gorgeous inspirational pictures. Jenny encourages you to experiment with design, try out new things and create your own beautiful piecves of fibre art. I have several favourite bits of the book already and still haven’t finished reading it all!!. She gives some instructions on creating scrumbles/fragments, taking you through the process stitch by stitch. It’s great to have some scrumble templates to use as a start point for creating my own. One chapter covers details of some funky fx and different stitches she uses in her freeform creations and another details connecting pieces together and different techniques. Again this is really good for reference and to get a good grip on the how-to’s of freeform. There’s also a selection of projects with how-to’s which I think are a great base point for creating your own freeform marvels. They are different from patterns as no detailed instructions are given rather these give an overview of how each project was made and ideas for making your own. These are lovely pieces that agive ideas for where you can go with freeform. I’d highly recommend the book to people new to freeform, asit really breaks free-form down into managable chunks showing you how to create your own. Perfect for if you are thinking of giving freeform a go and would like a bit of guidance on where to start. Some of the pics from the book can also be seen on Jenny Dowde’s blog.
My Fragment Beret
My hat obsession was fed by the how-to for the fragments beret in Freeform Knitting and Crochet. So I decided this would be my first creation inspired by the book. I used a variety of black and blue/green/turquoise yarns. About 10 different textures I think which included DK, eyelash, lurex metal threaded yarn, chunky and 2-ply. Instructions from Fragment 2 were used as a start point for creating my scrumbles using a mix of knitting and crochet but I varied with the stitches used from the template given. I prefered to start with a knitted fragment then add on crochet around it. Each scrumble contained a mix of the yarns and I tried to balance out colour and texture through the overall piece. I used a crochet hat I had made previously as my template and safety pinned fragments/scrumbles onto it. I added a bead to each scrumble – 7 in total. Then joined them together using sc on either inside to hide the join or outside when I wanted a ridge. Holes were filled in using dc/tc. Finally I used 4 types of black yarn and made a band to fit it onto my head. As I crocheted the band I checked it fit by trying on every row. I’m really pleased with how its turned out. Its lovely and warm and great for covering the ears against the bitterly cold weather.
I had such fun making a lovely warm hat for my head. And the bonus is it doubles as a teacosy 🙂 It’s perfect for walking Jasmine out on the windy hills, really snug and wooly.
This hat is inspired by the absolutely beautiful freeform hats Renate Kirkpatrick makes – check them out on her blog Rensfibreart.
I started off with a bunch of basic circular and spiral scrumbles in shades of red and pink.
I made a hat shaped mesh and attached the scrumbles onto it using single crochet. The pink area was made to flop over the top like a pixie hat.
Then I hit the really fun part. Decorating the hat and letting my imagination run wild. This is also the part that takes the most time! I filled in the gaps with more crochet, buttons and beads and added a funky tassel. Building up a range of textures and adding surface crochet to areas of interest. The hardest part is knowing when to stop……
Grey skies freeform scarf
I’ve been having such fun doing the UK freeformers challenges over on Ravelry. The group is great for inspiration, tips on how to do things, support and generally drooling over the beautiful items members create. I thought I’d share here how I made my scarf for the CAL. But as its free-form it’s not a tutorial as such but more a guide of what I did so you can make your own individual version if you wish.
The latest challenge was to create a freeform scarf or cowl. Instructions for the challenge: “With winter approaching, our next cal is a scarf or cowl. The choice of colour, yarn, and stitch patterns is yours, but only trebles (US double crochet) and chains can be used.” You can see the beautiful designs other Ravelry members made as part of the CAL in the UK Freeformers Scarf/cowl CAL-thread. (You may need to join Ravelry to be able to view their forums, but its free to join and full of inspiration and tips for crochet and knitting).
I started off by looking through my stitch pattern books for tc (US dc) and chain only patterns. One I found especially useful was The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs. This book shows pictures of each pattern with both charts and instructions on how to create them. Perfect for when you are making your own patterns up. I found some good stitch patterns that are dc/chain only in the dc and chain, shell, x-stitch and puff stitch chapters and bookmarked them so I could easily flip from one pattern to the next as I crocheted along.
My floor was then hidden beneath a huge yarn pile of black and grey yarns that would be suitable for this project. My initial inspiration for the scarf was the grey winter evening skies that flow from black through the grey of the clouds. I wanted a neutral scarf that would go with any outfit so chose a grey to black colour scheme. I needed a variety of textures and shades as I wanted the scarf to be very tactile. Therefore the yarn weights varied from thin 2-ply up to chunky weight. I especially love King Coles Galaxy sequins yarn it adds such glamour to a project and I also added in a couple of yarns which had silver thread running through them for a bit of sparkle. Winter is so dull a girl needs plenty of sparkle to brighten the days up. But any yarns that you have on hand can be used to create a freeform scarf.
I made the first “fish” scrumble using treble pattern stitches and the range of black and grey yarns. I was drawn to creating a gradient moving from the darker to the lighter yarns. I worked in rows and each time I changed yarn I altered the stitch pattern that I was using. I increased and decreased randomly as well to give the scrumble a wavy effect. I varied the stitch patterns using shell stitches, X-stitches, puff-stitches, dcs and chains.
Its really easy to create a scarf in this fashion. Just change the the yarn every few rows. And each time you change the yarn you use a differnt stitch pattern. If you find a pattern you really like the look of you can use it again further down the scarf. There’s no set structure, just follow what feels right for the next section.
An example of how I did this: The nose of the scrumble was created by chaining 1 then adding 2 treble crochets (US double crochets) in sequin yarn. Each row I increased at the edges of each row adding 2 tcs to expand it outwards. After about 5 rows I changed the yarn to a plain black dk then added a simple mesh pattern of tc, chain 2, tc for 3 rows. I continued addng more rows of yarn using different tc stitch patterns. E.g. When I switched to a grey chunky yarn I changed to using a X-stich and decreased the number of stitches per row to make the scrumble curve back in. I added a slightly fluffy grey yarn (King Cole haze) to make 2 rows of tc puff stitches separated by 2 chains. The eyelash yarn at the end is weaved in then dcs used to secure it in place. This scrumble measured 36cm long and 16cm at widest part. Its a big scrumble that ended up being a 3rd of the scarf!!
The next scrumble I moved from grey to black but varied the sequence of the colour change so it wasn’t identical to the first piece. I used different stitch patterns from the first scrumble which gives it a distinct wavey shape, but again it is all in treble and chains. The change in stitch patterns and colour order I hope means it doesn’t look too organised when the two are together. This piece measured 40cm long and 18cm wide max and I nicknamed it “the squid”
For the 3rd scrumble I worked from black to grey again altering the order of the yarns and the stitch patterns that I used.
All 3 scrumbles were attached together with safety pins so I could see how the scarf flowed and draped. As some of the thinner parts stretched too much for my liking. I worked around these sections of the scarf adding horizontal mesh to make the scarf wider in parts and to help it drape well. I used a simple mesh pattern of tc, chain 2, tc. I then used dcs to attach the 3 scrumbles together and removed the pins. Ta-dah one finished scarf.
I’m really pleased with how this turned out. Its great for this cold weather and was such fun to make. Although it takes longer to complete an item I find freeform much more enjoyable than repeating the same pattern over and over. Its suprisingly easy once you get started and as the stitch patterns and yarns vary each item is wonderfully unique. Which really appeals to my individualistic, eclectic tastes.
And here I am modelling the finished item, looking immensely pleased with making the scarf. 🙂
Modeling the grey skies freeform crochet scarf
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As an attempt at “learning how to do freeform” I’m taking part in a free-form bag Crochet-along (CAL) run by Ravelry UK Freeformers Group . I decided to blog along each step so I could follow what I did and my thought processes and repeat for future endeavours. Hopefully anyone thinking of taking up freeform can see its not as daunting as it first looks. I’d highly recomend any one new to freeform joins in with a CAL so you can get feedback and tips on what you are doing, see how others are progressing and get lots of encouragement and support as you go along.
These are just my own interpretations/ideas around free-form crochet, there’s lots of different views about what does and doesn’t classify and how to do different things. I’ve put a set of links to what resources I am using to learn on the links page.
Things I’ve learned so far.
Flowers, leaves, stitch patches etc are all called pieces they are not scrumbles until artistically joined together. Therefore a scrumble is when you put pieces together to form something containing multiple pieces in different textures/stitches. Or crochet/knit a scrumble all in one go changing yarns as you go along. Scrumbles have no size or shape limits. It is all open to interpretation!
Random holes in the scrumbles are allowed, even encouraged. But you can also fill them with pretty sparkly beads and buttons.
Scrumbles can be put together to form free-form objects. Otherwise known as majestic, artistic creations.
Scrumbling is highly addictive and can make time disappear into a bright spark of creativity.
Looking at other people’s scrumbles is highly addictive and can make time disappear into a bright spark of inspiration.
Firmly rewind your yarns after each time you use them otherwise you end up drowning beneath a tangle of yarn and create a nest for the little dog to play in and further mess up yarns.
Yarn change regularly. Learn to love weaving in loose ends or crochet them in as you work.
Fairy wings are awesome to create and curve beautifully around flowers. Bullions however are nightmares invented to make you throw down your crochet hook in fury and storm off to make a cup of tea.
Freeform is pure artistic expression, there are no rights or wrongs, its about having fun and letting your imagination run wild.
When I posted my first scrumbles I got some lovely feedback on the CAL forums that breaking up the big blocks of red and adding in more yarns would improve them. My first attempt is shown in an earlier post. The group is very supportive and there are ton’s of tips shared on yarn selection, how to create scrumble, what to improve, stitches and yarns used, how to line a bag etc.
So for my second set of scrumbles I endeavoured to use less red and try to balance them out more. I followed the guidelines of creating about 5 pieces and joining them together to form a scrumble. But as you can see they are still rather plain, and I felt looked basic compared to the beautiful creations I’d seen described as freeform. The great thing about this was it gave me an excuse to do more “research” and look through a few hundred or so examples of what other people had created. The sheer amount of talent was amazing. I came away feeling daunted but also incredibley inspired. The main site I used for an idea on how scrumbles could look was Prudence Mapstones A Scrumble a Week blog. Her creations are jaw-dropingly artistic. Go take a peek at her site for examples of just how beautiful freeform can look.
I was happy with the overall shape and feel of my scrumbles. So these scrumbles became the foundation from which to build upon and add in more detail.
For the leaves I added outlines/extra parts in different coloured yarns, often just using a row of sc or surface crochet. On one leaf I weaved in a length of contrasting yarn to emphasise the stem.
Holes in flower centres were filled with glittering beads and buttons to add a bit more sparkle to the scrumble.
I covered over gaps with tiny flowers crocheted with crochet cotton.
Using a greater variety of yarn and adding more stitches to each one added more detail and interest. The hard part was then knowing when to stop before it all turns into a mess of yarn!
I now have the first scrumble that I like and can be classed as completed.: