Thursday, 17 April 2014 'think' you can't crochet?

After learning to crochet as a child, I returned to it about six years ago, but other than making a chain and a double crochet I couldn't remember much. So this was what I made.

Technically the real name for this type of crochet is 'lace' or 'trellis work'. In it's most basic format, it's the creation of a crochet chain and then linking it together at various counted and patterned intervals to make a trellis-type 'structure'.

Although rather clumsy, and now very well worn, this little scarf was a good first project as I was able to invent it as I went along - counting in multiples of four and eight to make squares that were joined with a slip stitch.

Looking back, I can now see that for someone first learning to crochet, the best and most obvious practice initially is to keep making a long chain, undoing it, and then starting again. However, most people, embarking on crochet for the first time (or returning after a long while, like me), want to make something interesting straight off, rather than a practice square, or a dishcloth.

So, as the title says, you 'think' you can't crochet, and........
  • you've only ever got as far as making a chain in crochet and no further?
  • you want to make something interesting and attractive for your first ever project?....and
  • you want to make something that others will look at and say 'oooh, you must have been crocheting for years, it looks so intricate!'?
Well, here's a further pattern I have devised where you can do just that, using only the skills of making a chain and a slip stitch (both of which I will show you here)........and nothing more!!!! We are going to make what I am hoping to call my 'Hexagon Highlight' scarf and it's a quick and effective crochet 'fix', all made from one very looooooong and unbroken crocheted chain.

I find that the best type of yarn to start trying something like this with is a nice ball of good old acrylic double knitting (DK) - there is something substantial to get hold of, you can easily see your stitches, it is no problem to wash afterwards and it won't easily become misshapen when you work with it. Also, if things don't go according plan whilst you're 'learning', then there hasn't been any great expense involved in your initial venture.  Deramore's have some excellent choices in DK, Robin being a very well known and trusted brand - you can see what is available HERE.

A reasonable sized hook for working with this type pattern and yarn is a 3.5mm (USA = D). Over time we all get used to our own particular brands, styles and favourites (I certainly have mine!) but you will find a good selection, also with Deramores, HERE.

So,  as a little refresher, you will first need to make a slipknot to start,  and here is a simple way to do it.

1. Form a loop with your yarn

2. Use your crochet hook to locate the back strand and start to pull it through

3. Keeping a firm hold on both strands of the yarn, continue to pull the loop through until it looks like this

4. Close the loop on the hook (but not too tightly) by pulling the tail end of the yarn.

And there you have it - a slipknot.

Ok, so now a reminder on creating the basic chain stitch.

1. Wrap the yarn around/over the hook

2. Pull the yarn down to the loop, and then through

3. Repeat this, wrapping the yarn around the hook....

4. .....then pulling the yarn down to the loop, and through........
.......then just keep repeating the process to make the chain -  it's as simple as that, and really easy to get back into! Notice how the chain has already started to appear, even after only a couple of stitches.

Until you feel really at ease doing this, it is advisable to do the 'making a chain and then undoing it'  thing, repeatedly, until you get into a rhythm with it and are creating a nice, even, flat effect. Chain-chain-chain as much as you like! (although about 2 ft each time is more than enough).

When you have mastered the technique for a nice even crochet chain, this is where the interesting bit starts!

Depending on how long you want to make your scarf, you will need to make your starting (or base) chain accordingly. For mine I made a chain of 400. It sounds like a lot, but it's about right for a scarf and it doesn't take long at all (especially after all that chain-chain-chain practice you've had!). This will give you a scarf that is approx 160cm long with plenty to wrap around.

Whatever length you decide to make, it does need to be in multiples of (or divisible by) five for this size of pattern.

After making your chain, keep a note of the last stitch and then makes another 9 chains (1). Count back 5 stitches from the stitch that you noted and make a slip stitch here, as follows. Put the hook through the fifth stitch along (2), wrap the yarn around the hook (3) and then pull it through both the fifth stitch (4) and one you already had on the hook (5).

1                                                                    2
3                                                                    4
Then continue by chaining another 9, counting along 5 stitches and making another slip stitch here. Your work should start to look like this, with a row of little loops or triangles. 

Continue in this way to the end, chaining 9, counting five stitches and making a slip stitch to attach it.
You should have made 80 triangles if your multiples of 5 have worked correctly.

On getting to the end, turn your work (so that you can crochet back in the other direction) and chain another 9 to make an additional 'continuation' triangle, this time connecting it to the 5th (or middle stitch) of your first triangle. Then chain 5 and and slip stitch into the fifth (middle) stitch of each triangle until you get to the end of the row.

Continue to add rows in this way, alternating a row of triangles with a row that makes a straight line in groups of 5. The ends of your rows will leave you with a pointy zigzag edge across the finished ends. Add as many pairs of rows as you require - I found that 7 was about right for me.

This is still a WIP. I have started adding some crochet chain embellishments to the basic structure, using different colours to pick out the hexagon shapes that have formed from the triangles. It will be interesting to see where this goes and I shall add an update when I have finished.

And this is how the scarf looks when it is worn!

 'thought' you couldn't crochet?? This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

A new look, new hooks and new projects!

Welcome to the first post of the newly revamped Dinkyflowerpots blog. I felt it was time for a change and, although not too radically different (a new background, header and title font) there has been a bit of a spring clean. Hope you like it!

I am finding increasingly these days that I prefer a comfier handle on my crochet hook. Maybe I am just getting older, maybe I crochet a lot more - either way it's not as easy to keep hold of the thinner variety of hook, of which I have many.

So, whilst also trying to keep an eye on cost, these are my latest acquisition, with lovely chunky bamboo handles no less.

They are so smooth and light to hold and I am loving them quite lot.

For those who are interested (and depending on your thoughts re buying from Amazon these days), this set of 10 crochet hooks cost me £4 with free delivery. Similar can be found HERE.

Creating crocheted/knitted clothes for little ones isn't something that I have ever really done. I helped out with the jumpers, hats and blankets for charity (the latest details from which will be in another post in the next week or so), but that is about it.

I am also not one for completing
a) anything that is too big (but this is soon to be remedied)
b) anything for myself.

So, in my 'book', an item that is small and for someone else is usually the way to go as it has twice the chance of being finished!

A couple of other knitters I know have been making some very nice 'modern-looking' jumpers and cardigans for the little ones of relatives and friends, but nothing so far has been of the crocheted variety. I too have a couple of relatives who have not long both had girls so, after a brief search through some of Sirdar's more recent publications in a local shop, I was lucky enough to find me this - The Baby Crochet Book.

After checking that I could follow the patterns!!...... I bought it in the sale for £6.99 and have designated this little bolero cardigan as my first new project.

Sirdar recommend that this should be made with yarn from their 'Snuggly' range and I found some in the sale, online, at Black Sheep wools.

The little 'wiggly-worm' bits in a contrasting white give it lovely texture and interest but I am sure that it must be easier to knit with than to crochet as I am constantly getting stuck on the 'worms'. Also, it is a bit of a pain if you have to undo any of your work and I am getting stuck on the 'worms' going that way as well. As this pattern is a learning process for me, the yarn is probably something I should have taken into account, but there you go. It gives me more reason to get things right first time!

Other than that it is a nice soft yarn to work with and further updates will follow as I progress! (NB. Picture take before acquisition of new hooks!!)

Anyhow........talking of other things that I don't complete, I did mention larger items. This includes blankets. My recent experiments with dyeing acrylic yarn have given me a reason to try and get past this hurdle and I have started a blanket that I intend to finish whilst also testing out the newly dyed yarn to see how the colourways and dye patterns work.

Instead of working in individual squares or stripes, or following a pattern, I though I would start from a largish plain square in the middle (where I may add some embellishment at a later date) and work my way outward, making things up as I go along, depending on how the mood and the yarn takes me.

It is quite a revelation watching the pattern appear from yarn that you have dyed yourself. This is the centre square and I wasn't at all sure what to expect.

It has been a pleasant surprise and gives me ideas for other dye combinations that I might try.

Working out from the middle I have used the different colourways as I have dyed them, combining them here and there with the un-dyed yarn in it's original cream shade

Working this way holds my interest far more mainly because I have no idea what I will do next until it happens....therefore it has far more chance of being completed. I will have a blanket yet!

So, this is my progress to date. I have a new blue/grey/green colourway to start adding next and then when I have used all the dyed yarn I will make some more. The randomness of whole process totally fascinates me!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Parcels of yarn and an abundance of daffodils

So, after much rinsing and drying, the  acrylic-dyed yarn samples are ready to go to their new homes - one in this country and one 'over the pond'

Although the fibres have toughened slightly, it is still a nice workable acrylic yarn and the colours have faded to some rather lovely shades of cerise and fiery peach.

I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am with the way that this has worked out!!!!

Wrapped in tissue paper........

....and tied up with turmeric-dyed string....

.....they are now in the post and should arrive at their destinations any day now.

Meanwhile, during what has been a rather dull weekend weatherise up here in the north of England, we went to the park for a walk yesterday to see the absolute abundance of daffodils that are there at this time of year.

Some very grey skies and a rather cold wind stayed for most of the day yesterday but these vibrant bobbing flowers were a real dose of alternative sunshine.

It is probably the slightly colder weather that is allowing them to bloom so slowly and stay in flower for so long.

And it is so nice to welcome in the spring at long last. I love this time of year!