September crochet round up

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September crochet round up

It’s 7 October so I’m only a week late with my round up of crochet in September. This is good going, I think.

In September I was mainly working on my Stripey Stash Smash. I love, love, love the result.

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I joined the three panels with mattress stitch and edged it in linen stitch.

I wrote more about the colours and stripes in an earlier post, in case you want more detail. I finished it while visiting the country: the orchard was blooming and the sun was shining and it was all just lovely.

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I finished it while visiting the country: the orchard was blooming and the sun was shining and it was all just lovely.

I also started work on a commission. A lovely friend has asked me to make a crocheted wall-hanging. I sketched out some ideas and sent them off to her. Then I had the task of turning a drawing into a pattern.

This is the drawing:

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This is the work (so far):

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It’s coming along nicely.

And now October is already nearly a quarter done! This month I have been sewing and have made two dresses, a new tote bag and six little earbud pouches you can carry on your key chain so that you always have your headphones when you need them. I don’t actually need six, but I got a whole heap of free zips and I was ON. A. ROLL.

I feel as though I do this stuff because I have a looming deadline for a writing assignment and I am therefore drawn to engage in what I like to call “Procrasti-crafting”. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds themselves drawn to creative projects when they really should be doing something else, but I’ve yet to find a solution for it.

What about you? Are you a procrasti-crafter?

 

 

 

 

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Flashback Friday: The 1930s

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Flashback Friday: The 1930s

OK, I know it’s knitting not crochet, but I couldn’t go past The Economy Knit Book no. 3. It’s men’s wear for the active bloke. We know this because the chaps in this book appear to spend every moment either golfing, sailing or skiing.

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Then there’s this one.

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Yes, that’s right, the design is called A Man’s Best Friend Is His Lumber Jacket. I know, I’m confused, too, but it did prompt me to compose this ditty (to be sung to the tune of Monty Python’s I’m a Lumber Jack and I’m OK).

I have a lumber jacket, it’s OK,
It helps to keep the chill away,
My wife she knitted it for me,
That’s why I wear it cheerfully.

I have no pals but that’s alright,
Because my jacket hugs me tight,
That’s why I say that it’s my friend,
‘Cause on its warmth I can depend.

Even though I mock these things quite mercilessly these books do make me think about what was happening in the life of the woman who first purchased it. Who was she knitting for: a husband, a son? While I don’t know the exact publication date I think it must have been the late 1930s, judging by the Errol Flynn look of the guy on the back cover. The Great Depression had passed its worst years, but for many life was still tough.

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Errol Flynn, is that you?

Then I think about the men who posed as models in the book’s pages. Were they caught up in WWII? Did they shiver their way through a European winter on the Western Front, thinking longingly of the pullovers they modeled? Maybe in that context a lumber jacket really could be a best friend.

But at the moment these men are OK. In fact, they’re better than OK – they have a lumber jacket, golfing socks and a sweater that’s perfect for winter sports.

And  the lady doing the knitting is thrilled to discover on page 15 that there are savings to be had on stockings – just don’t be alarmed by the STARTLING PRICE DROP!

Hosiery

 

 

 

Flashback Friday: 1950s hats

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Flashback Friday: 1950s hats

The 1950s were great, weren’t they? All those fantastic B-grade horror flicks, all that optimism about the future of space travel and the wonders that surely awaited those earthlings lucky enough to be alive in the second half of the 20th century.

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Looking at Patons Knitting Book no. 421 (Hats and Scarves) you do get a sense of that space-age aesthetic. Particularly when you see this little number.

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It’s really special, isn’t it?

My favourite bit is the way the beads of the crown make it look as though she’s already partway through her transformation from normal human to terrifying and murderous alien copy, a la the 1956 version of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Imagine how those beads would flutter and shake when she moved her head. Why, I’m sure it sent the children running in terror.

Then there’s this delight.

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Having given the Pierrot a French name I’m pretty sure they told the model that she was therefore obliged to look haughty and kind of Gallic. How else to explain the “I smell rotten cheese” expression on her face?

For the Lace Cloche, however, the instruction was to adopt an air of confusion. Or perhaps the model is simply trying to recall where she left her other glove. Or maybe that gormless expression is just her normal face. Really, who can say?

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Which hat would you choose?

 

 

Crochet roadblocks: 5 ways to get through them

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Crochet roadblocks: 5 ways to get through them

We’ve all been there. You’re working through a project and suddenly you realise something is awry. You re-read the instructions. You read them out loud in case that helps. You check your work and it all seems to be right. What is going on?!

For whatever reason, sometimes a pattern just doesn’t seem to work for you. You may have ripped back and reworked multiple times without success. You may have reached the stage where you just want to throw your work across the room and never pick up a crochet hook again.

Don’t despair! Here are the tips I’ve learned will help me find the solution:

1. Check your place in the pattern

Are you looking at the right row or round in your pattern? Perhaps you’ve skipped ahead a line in your pattern, something that is easy to do. Using a piece of highlighter tape to mark the row you’re working on and moving it down as you go is a great way to avoid this particular hiccup.

2. Count your stitches, count your rows and count again

Double, triple and quadruple check that you have the right number of stitches, the right number of rows. Try to count your stitches as you work or at the end of every row – it really helps avoid these sorts of problems, though I freely admit it can get awfully tedious.

3. Look at the chart

If your pattern comes with a chart as well as written instructions it might help to take a look at that. Seeing the instructions presented in a different format (visual vs written) can be a great way to reset your mental block and find a solution.

4. Check online

Occasionally, there is an actual problem with the pattern. When this happens designers will often add an errata to the pattern’s listing online. Ravelry is a great place to find this kind of correction.

Even if there is no fault with the pattern you can use Ravelry to review the notes made by other users who have tried the pattern to see if anyone else has encountered problems and found a solution. Ravelry allows you to sort projects to find the projects that other crocheters have nominated as helpful. To use this feature first find the listing for the pattern you are using then click on the tab that at the top right that says “projects” then use the filter on the left to select “all helpful projects”

5. Adapt the pattern

If you really enjoy the look of a design, but cannot make sense of the pattern no matter what you do try adapting it. Use the pattern as much as you can, then use your skills to find away around the section that is confusing. This is also a great way to develop your abilities.

What do you do when a pattern doesn’t make sense?

Flashback Friday: Crochet for him

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Flashback Friday: Crochet for him

Ah, the 1970s. When men letting their hair grow long enough to touch their collars was considered daring. It was a time of fondue, of Abba, and an inexplicable fondness for orange and brown.

It was also a time of this:

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And more specifically, this:

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These two! What a couple! I can just see them strutting into the RSL on a Friday night for a meal at the bistro. She sips her Brandy Alexander, he sticks to beer because even though he’s fashionable he’s also Australian and you can’t get carried away or people might suspect you of being some kind of poofta.

While this pattern clearly predates the Teletubbies one can’t help but be reminded of the look they pioneered in the 1990s.

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Let’s also pause to consider how creepy this model appears. He has his hand on her butt and she does not look entirely comfortable with it. Also, what is he saying to her? Honestly, one can’t help but think it is some kind of inappropriate proposition, perhaps an invitation to a key party, where the Blue Nun will be flowing freely.

If you have a hankering to dress your man like a weird 1970s version of  TinkyWinky you can have the pattern. If you do decide to make one for your male friend, please ensure you have plenty of Blue Nun on hand, as you’ll probably need to get him drunk in order to convince him to wear it. Then take photos and send them to me.

 

It’s a stripey stash smash

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It’s a stripey stash smash

Like most crocheters or knitters I have a massive, out-of-control stash modest collection of yarn that simultaneously brings me both joy and despair. Joy because it’s so pretty and soft and sparks my imagination. Despair because it is just so huge and it sits there accusing me. Occasionally, it  whispers things like, “Hey Marg, we’re 10 balls of beautiful alpaca/wool blend you bought five years ago to make into a shawl/sweater/cardigan. How come we’re still sitting here?”*

One such accusatory bundle of yarn was a spontaneously purchased collection of Knit Picks Shine Sport. I bought it back in January after being struck by the beauty of the colour options, choosing 17 shades from the range of 30. I bought two balls of each, apart from the grey/brown (Wallaby) because I thought the neutral would work to balance out that riot of different shades. I bought five balls of that.

Then it sat in my stash and didn’t really find a purpose until I took it away with me on a trip to the country. I didn’t take any other projects so it was this or nothing. Inspired by Kathy Merrick’s Warm Colours Striped blanket I decided to do three panels of random stripes and then sew them together.

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Planning it was harder than I thought. I didn’t have internet access so the random stripe generator came from my head. Also, it turns out I cannot reliably count to 155, the number of rows I decided each panel should be, so that arithmetic failing added another layer of difficulty.

Despite these obstacles, I’ve now done two of the panels and the project is enormously satisfying. The colours are just so gorgeous and really speak to the change in season as we head into summer. I love seeing how they combine and it’s simple enough that I can do other things while I hook.

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With two panels down and just one to go (plus border) I reckon I’ll definitely be done by the end of the month. At that point, I’ll be confronting the dilemma of whether to buy more yarn (there is so much more room now!) or do the right thing and use what I already have.

What would you do?

*Do not be alarmed: The author does not actually hear yarn speaking to her, this is simply a metaphor.

Flashback Friday: Party like it’s 1969

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Flashback Friday: Party like it’s 1969

I have inherited a bunch of old knitting and crochet patterns from family and friends. I don’t know about you, but in my experience as soon as people know you are a crocheter you are the recipient of every old bit of crafting paraphernalia they find. Not that I’m complaining – I adore it. Looking at patterns from decades gone by is always a source of inspiration and amusement.

Take this number:

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It comes from  McCall’s How To Crochet It! (Book Two) and I love everything about it. Not that I’d ever wear it, just that I love to consider the questions it raises:

  1. Were the shoulder straps added because the designer realised it wouldn’t stay up on its own?
  2. Did anyone ever make this pattern and wear it?
  3. Where did she get those shoes?

Speaking of those shoes, here’s a close up:

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Are they not divine?

And how about that polo neck?

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Also, is it possible that model’s look of amused contempt could be any more chilling?

In case you want to make it (in which case, I demand pictures) I have scanned the pattern and you can download the PDF here. You’re welcome.