A major project finished!

I’ve been working on this crochet blanket for, probably, 10 years, perhaps more. It was supposed to be my ‘easy’ project, that I could do when talking to friends or in front of the tele. It was also started with the intention of using a large bag of wool, mostly left over from my Masters course in the mid 80s, and a batch of indigo dyed wool. This wool was in hanks, very overspun, grey, originally from Craftsman’s Mark, a yarn firm that some of you may remember, which was owned and run by Morfudd Roberts. This I indigo dyed to various shades of dark blue.

The idea behind this blanket was to be quite improvised looking. I was freed from being too neat with crochet by the book, Louisa Calder’s Creative Crochet in which she shows visible joins in colours and other irregularities. Some of the reviews on the Amazon page are interesting – some people ‘get it’ and some don’t.

 

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Anyway, the whole project has been a design challenge as the quantities of yarn seem to have altered – more indigo dyed wool to use, then less, then more on one side than the other, then the whole thing getting far too big and so on. It started as a series of pieces and then got added to with strips being crocheted for the sides, and so on.

I am pleased with it though, although I think the wools used for the final edgings are too new and bright, but I’m hoping that I’ll stop noticing this in time.

The final round was going to be done in crab stitch, which I like to use as a finished edge, but I had a brain wave and decided to use a purple wool boucle for the last round. I think I must have dyed this too, as there’s quite a lot of it and it’s pure wool, not easily obtained now. It completes the piece. Here it is:

Crochet blanket

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I’m pleased with this – it looks like I intended it to look, by and large.

I now have a large bag of hand spun yarns left from my mother -what am I going to make with them?

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Crochet (not about gloves or Xmas)

A while ago I bought two crochet blankets from a vintage shop in Huddersfield. They are both large, generous double bed size and nicely made. They were a lot of work for someone and are in a variety of mainly synthetic yarns, which does mean that they can go in the washing machine easily.  One is mainly red and the other mainly purple. I have had them in the house on the wall, the red one at the top of the stairs and the purple one on the landing where they looked pretty striking. They hang well on metal picture hooks one in every square onto the picture rail. However, they’ve made the journey to our caravan in the far west of Wales where they are now brightening up the rather beige sofas. Here they each are with a closer shot of the square too.

 

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Vintage crochet blankets

Interestingly, the red one has the squares set parallel with the sides but the purple one has the squares set on the diagonal so that the edges are serrated.

I’ve made several granny square blankets but over the last 10 years or so I’ve had a crochet blanket on the go in rows of double crochet (single in the States I think?). The idea was to use up a large bag of wool yarns, mostly left over from my Knitwear Design Master’s course, which I completed in 1986. So the continued existence of this yarn was and is a testament to whatever mothproofing it has had, and to the fact that I rarely throw anything away (especially yarn).

This blanket was supposed to be my ‘easy’ making – that I could do when chatting to friends or perhaps in the car and so on. It started life in small sections, some of which were plain, and some striped and then got added to in a purposely random fashion with a strip down either side of plain blue indigo and so on.

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P1010324My work in (very long) progress

The design inspiration came from several sources, including a piece o West African Kente cloth that was brought back for me and a crochet blanket seen on the bed at a friend’s house when staying overnight. I really wanted the overall look to be lively with not too much neatness and order and I think that I have achieved that, although the individual stitches are properly formed. I took the time to sew the side strips onto the main central block while I was in West Wales last week, where the days seem longer, and now I’m ready to finish it off with an edging down the sides and then one last stripe of bright red all round.

If you’ve read this far, thank you and best wishes for a lovely festive season.

White poppies (not gloves)

There is a vogue for knitting or crocheting the red poppy that is worn in the UK to commemorate those who died in the First and Second world wars, and those since. Patterns are available  like this one:

http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/media/4069303/Poppy-Patterns.pdf

and now there are patterns for wreaths as well:

How to make a knitted or crochet poppy and wreath

I used to find it hard not to wear a red poppy as it seems disrespectful to those who died but at the same time I find the tone of the commemorations unacceptable – war is glorified and the reasons for it seem to be forgotten. Issues such as the global arms trade and our governments involvement do not get an airing. I have been part, shamefully small, of the peace movement over the years, demonstrations, visits to Greenham Common and so on, and I needed a way to show that. Several years ago I discovered the white poppy and for me, this an ideal way in which to acknowledge the history of wars and my position regarding them. They are made and sold by the Peace Pledge Union here where some of the arguments for the white poppy are given:

So the next move was to knit or crochet a white poppy.

Here it is:

A crocheted white poppy

A crocheted white poppy

 

I started with the Woman’s Weekly pattern and some scraps of 4ply wool, and made the white petals last year, ran out of time, found it a week or so ago and just finished it with some modifications making it up as I went along. It has a rather curly stem and a leaf that went a bit funny – think oak meets holly – but I think it does the job.

 

 

Why I love volunteering in the KCG collection

From the collections

One of the best things about volunteering in the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild is the opportunity to see the pieces close up. As we sort them out, the ones that are really in need of a wash, which is in fact, most of them, come home with us volunteers to be given the treatment.

This week I brought home these:

A full length crochet evening dress, pink synthetic

A knit and crochet jumper with the front and back in small granny squares

A hand knitted colour and texture jumper – very home made

A crochet curtain in a vine and grapes pattern

And last but not least, a crochet apron (yes really).

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Here they are, draped artistically on my garden seat, after being taken off the washing line

So, with a nod to the Orange Swan, author of one of my favourite blogs ‘The Knitting Needle and the Damage done’, let’s have a look at these.

The pink dress is notable for several reasons – it’s beautifully made and has been worn, perhaps for a special occasion as it is floor length (one of several in the collection). I think it’s from the late 60s or early 70s but could be wrong on that. There is a lot of work in it, especially when compared to many current projects. This piece is from a time when crochet was high fashion, and you could have a piece of that fashion by making it yourself. The yarn is a light synthetic which has a rayon-y look to it, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. The armhole trims have been finished in another lighter colour yarn, turned under,  and the index card for the piece says that the maker ran out of yarn before quite finishing the dress. It has a zip up the centre back, nicely put in.

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The pink dress, looking refreshed

We have a box for items that are made from both knit and crochet and that is where this next piece will go on its return to Lee Mills. I think it’s a work of art. The front and back are standard ‘granny’ squares, in probably 4 ply wool or perhaps a light DK, but then they’ve been turned into a jumper by being knitted into and given sleeves, a neck and trim. The skill with which this has been done can be seen, I hope in this picture of the neck edge where the edges of the crochet have been picked up and knitted, with sharp decreases and I think, increases making the knitting lie flat.

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Neck detail from the knit and crochet jumper

The next garment is also a jumper – this time in colour and texture combined, similar to the Bohus garments. It’s in wool, perhaps left overs, and it’s been well worn. It’s not a perfect piece of knitting by any means but it has a life and character about it which make it very special I think. Here’s a close up of the front – the sleeves are plain fawn knitting.

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Fabric detail from the ‘Bohus’ style jumper

And then there’s two more pieces of crochet, a hostess apron and a curtain. The apron is one of several that we have in the collection. They seem to have been popular in the 1950s, when housewives were being told that their place was in the home (post war, men returning, needed their jobs back etc ). As the theme for the Knitting&Crochet Guild shows is ‘Afternoon Tea’ this year, we have an excuse to get these out, along with tea cosies, tea dresses, tableclothes, doilies, sugar basin covers and all sorts of things.

The hostess apron, with handy pocket:

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You’d wear this over your best dress if you had friends for tea

However, the last piece, a curtain/hanging (?) references not tea, but wine, with its crochet vine leaves and crochet grapes. It is possibly Italian and meant to go in a doorway where it could be seen to advantage. In the mean time, here’s a close up:

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Next time I have a batch of exciting and precious washing I’ll try to remember to take some pictures and show you more from the KCG Collection.