Last weekend I found myself without a crochet project. Or specifically the RIGHT crochet project – the sort I could do in front of the TV after a hard day, or take along to Knit and Natter. Though ‘Craft and Natter’ would be a more befitting name for us, as anything textile related goes. Honestly, ‘Natter, Natter and More Natter’ would be right on the button though. Say ‘Hello’ to the Natterers!
Meeting up with crafty friends gives you a wonderful warm sense of camaraderie and well-being and there’s always someone to help out with any personal or dropped-stitch crisis. However, there’ve been times when I’ve come home having frogged more stitches than I’ve actually worked. The sort of pattern I needed therefore, was one requiring no concentration whatsoever!
I’d just completed such a project. The Common People Hat by Martin Up North. Admittedly, it takes longer than the average hat but it’s ever so simple and the extra fabric makes it super cosy and perfect for a winter walk.
No-one could quite believe I was making a fisherman style hat when they saw the shape emerging looking something like a very tall crown. I wasn’t sure either until I checked the photos on Martin’s blog and yes, I was doing it right. When you’re done, you just hook it together (no sewing!) and your flat piece of crochet magically transforms into a ‘fits everybody’ hat.
Confession. Even though the stitches are super simple – I still went a teensy bit wrong. In my defence I was multi-tasking (as in following the Silent Witness plot). Martin points out that it can be tricky to spot the last stitch of the row and he’s right. I didn’t count my stitches and lost a few here and there (that I just snuck back in when I realised). I soon learned to check off my rows and put a stitch marker in the last stitch. The brim is double folded though so my errors are completely disguised. I used the 4.5mm hook and Scheepjes Merino Soft yarn specified and it all turned out perfectly well.
Ferreting for WIPs, I knew there must be something needing finishing? A-ha! Christmas tree bunting that I’d ran out of time on last year. Done and dusted a few hours later, blocked and stashed away in the attic. Once again I was bereft of a project but also slightly smug at being very ahead for Christmas 2020!
Then I found a blanket I’d started as a relatively new and slow crocheter. I’d completed about a third before getting a bit bored. It got ticks for being easy and repetitive but it’s a bit bulky, requires colour changes and I wasn’t feeling the autumnal colours at this time of year. Next!
Hmm, here was a possibility. Stormy Seas Gloves by Elin Jones pass on portability and seasonality. Maybe they’re not Silent Witness/Knit and Natter simple but probably fine for Midwives/Pottery Showdown/Death in Paradise. I really like the look of them so far.
I think I’d abandoned them after getting a commission with a deadline that took priority. The only problem with resuming is that I’ve lost the printed pattern I made my notes on. It’s a free pattern so not the end of the world but I’m just not sure where I was up to.
The yarn for the gloves is Scheepjes Our Tribe – soft and lightweight and in a beautiful range of shades – but it’s notoriously difficult to frog so I need to concentrate on some careful counting before I continue! I’ve kept these out on a ‘will return to soon’ promise.
Fortunately these days I’m much more organised keeping notes of every project I start in my Crochet Project Bible by Stationery Geek. It’s an invaluable piece in my kit now and encourages me to complete what I start!
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning new techniques and a crochet challenge. Recently I was a tester for the Copenhagen Cardigan. The pattern has just been released by Tatsiana of Lilla Bjorn Crochet, the prolific designer of so many well-loved patterns. This was the first three dimensional garment I’ve completed and my first time doing crochet cables and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
Choosing my favourite from the 80 shades of Scheepjes Metropolis yarn was the tricky bit. Eventually I settled on this gorgeous green shade ‘Vancouver’ with its very subtle yellowy fleck. I decided to make a longer length, short sleeved version for Springtime layering. The yarn is lovely and light but still warm and cosy and not at all itchy.
Pattern testing for top designers is such a privilege and comes with responsibility and deadlines so I treat these projects totally differently, keeping copious notes and booking out diary time when the house is quiet and stitcking to a very strict schedule. Of course it’s essential to add bit of contingency when you have a busy and unpredictable family and work life. Being strict with yourself doesn’t mean there won’t be moments that are still totally relaxing though and I loved every stitch of this design!
There’s another exciting pattern coming soon that I’ve recently been involved with. It’s by Christa at the The Curio Crafts Room. I’m so looking forward to sharing the details very soon when she releases it. It really is stunning. Meanwhile Christa has also been working on a series of shawls. When I mentioned the type of project I was looking for next she suggested giving her Lunation Shawl a go. It sounded ideal and I set about choosing some new yarn that was delivered super quickly by Black Sheep Wools. Excellent news, as I was itching to start!
Using Scheepjes Whirl gradual colour changing yarn means I only have to carry one ball around. The border is worked at the end in a corresponding Whirlette. To help me choose from all the delicious shades, I used this really helpful guide by Simy Somer. The name of the one I picked is ‘Dandelion Munchies’. How lovely!
Starting this pattern there was more good news. No fiddly long starting chain. Hurray! Easy increases are at the edge of rows so your shawl grows to become an asymmetric triangle – a very wearable and adaptable shape. After a few rows you know exactly what you’re doing so there’s no need to refer to the pattern or count rows until you get to the end of your Whirl. It’s so easy to get into a rhythm and the shawl is growing fast after just a couple of nights. I’ll look forward to the added interest of the border. Perfect, just perfect. Everything I wanted in a portable project so thankyou Christa – I’m all sorted for February!