Tag Archive | book review

Fragments Freeform Hat

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.

Grey Skies Freeform crochet scarf – how I made it

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.

First scrumble

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”

2nd scrumble

For the 3rd scrumble I worked from black to grey again altering the order of the yarns and the stitch patterns that I used.

3rd scrumble

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.

scarf detail

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

First steps in Tunisian Crochet

Taking a deep breath this morning I took the plunge to try out my first bit of Tunisian crochet. This piece didn’t have to be perfect as it was serving as a sample stitch “rectangle shape” for my freeform crochet bag WIP scrumbles.

I’ve been fascinated by Tunisian crochet since I started reading Kim Guzman’s blog and seeing the beautiful patterns she has designed. I initially started trying to work from my Complete Photo Guide to Crochet book, and as wonderful as this book is for normal crochet stitches I didn’t get how where I should be inserting my hook etc from the pictures and description.   Two cups of tea and several unpickings later I headed over to Kim’s blog to see if she had any guides.  I found Kim’s you tube videos and   this video guide combined with the step by step written instructions helped it all fall into place.  I carefully followed what she did and I soon picked up the basic Tunisian simple stitch.  I’d highly recommend  the videos to anyone wanting to learn Tunisian crochet, they show clearly what you need to do.

I don’t have a proper Tunisian hook so kept the stitch length short (20 stitches) so it didn’t slide off the standard crochet hook. I started with DK yarn and a 3.00 mm hook but soon increased to 3.50 as I was finding the stitches too tight to work with easily. I might try an even larger hook next time.

I lost stitches, not just one, several…. this resulted in one side of my rectangle having a distinct incline at the bottom and straight at the top once I got the hang of picking up all the stitches. Just look how the toe kicks upwards, thankfully it fit in-between the two “flower shapes”. I decided this was an erm intentional toe effect, just what I needed to match in with my leaf shape, after all perfect rectangles are boring aren’t they, artistic toey bits are much more freeform.

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Artistic patch showing my first attempt at Tunisian simple stitch

I then went on to try out the Tunisian Purl Stitch (wrapped) again watching Kim’s You-tube guide.    This one turned out a little better.  Although the going was slower with wrapping the yarn in front of each stitch.    I still lost stitches so had a bit of a inward curling edge.  But liked the pattern produced.

First attempt at Tunisian pearl stitch
Then I discovered my favourite stitch.  The Tunisian Double Stitch (TDS) which felt much more like crocheting along.   I also liked the looser fabric this created.  This was easily to manipulate into a nice leaf shape, which complements the flowers in my freeform scrumbles perfectly.  I made several more using this double-stitch done with single or knitted stitch.
I still need much, much, more practice doing Tunisian crochet.  But I enjoyed my first venture into using this technique.     I’m looking forward to the next steps of a nice scarf  once I get a proper Tunisian hook.
Leaf formed from Tunisian double stitch.

Of Crochet, Lace, and Steampunk

A steampunk event in Leeds called for a new outfit (yes I know, any excuse for new items…..)  It was my first venture into the world of Steampunk so I wasn’t quite sure how I should dress.  I went for a grey ruffled shirt with a black bustle pencil skirt and black boots (all from my usual wardrobe).   I decided the cheapest way to make this more Steampunky was to add a few accessories (crocheted of course)  to make my look a little bit more antique.      The first accessory was my flower headband (pattern here).  Followed by a crochet gothic necklace (one I had made and photographed previously)

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Gothic crochet necklace

I finished the outfit off by making  a new corsage from black lace, a sparkly button and a grey flower I had crocheted. I think it turned out rather well and its really simple to do (instructions below).  I’ve discovered the beauty of combining different textures in my art.  Crochet and lace just go so well together like chocolate and caramel….

Whilst at the event I discovered a wonderful Steampunk short-story book – Tales from the Asylum and got a signed copy.  It’s produced by an independent UK publisher (I think) that describes itself as “by Steampunks, for Steampunks”.      This really appealed to my love of  dark gothic horror with the bonus of supporting local writers.  The short tales that dip into different themes and visions seemed a fun intro to Steampunk novels as I could read snipets from different authors viewpoints without committing to reading a lengthily novel.  It is set within the dark decaying walls of an old fashioned asylum.  Each of the story’s  tells a tale of one of the special inmates and they are linked together by the wardens footsteps and laminations as he journeys from cell to cell through the asylum. This all makes great bedtime reading.  Available from the publisher or in the UK via  Amazon link.

Corsage:
What you need:
Lace
Fabric
Crochet flower
Sewing thread
Sewing needle

Button
Safety Pin

Cut the lace and fabric so that it is a little larger in size than your crochet flower and scrunch/fold to form a flower shape then add a few stitches to hold the shape.

Place the crochet flower over the lace.

Sew  on the button to hold all the layers together.

Push the safety pin through the back to turn this into a brooch.

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Corsage – I think it looked quite Steampunk from what I know of the style!