Friday, 31 October 2008

Etsy yarns

Well, today's post is easy. Yarns, and lots of them. Etsy is a wonderful source of produce from designer's around the world. It's a treasure chest of beautiful and eclectic things and hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns are one of the items I love to browse through. I know you can do your own browsing but sometimes it's nice to have your attention drawn somewhere you haven't looked before.
Just type in 'handspun yarn' and away you go. After a little sorting out, you'll be spoiled for choice. Surprisingly, alot of the sellers also crochet. Hmm, the two must go together.
I thought I'd feature some of my personal favourites but go there yourself and dip in.
The first I've chosen is from the UK called Alchemy Fibre Arts and is based in the north of England where alot of the inspiration comes. I love many
of the heathery, heathy tones of the yarns and particularly this yarn called...Heath!!! I'm a great fan of fine yarns and this is the one for me. I'm going to include a little of it's description to whet your appetite. 'I have spun this 2 ply yarn from a mixture of fibres to give stunning subtle tones & textures. The fibres used are a base of British fine wool and merino blended with alpaca angora,mohair,kid mohair, wensleydale wool and a touch of linen.'
Pigeonroof studios has a small but perfect little collection. My personal favourite is this russet yarn. They also sell rovings, the base for all spinning, and I think the piece at the top of the post is particularly luscious.

Guttersnipe is my next port of call and what great names for yarns. Makes each one so personal and even more colourful. I've chosen Your Father's Tartan and I'll leave you to create your own impressions from that!!

To finish, let's go to Snowberry and Lime which has a unique selection including this gorgeous vegan yarn with pearls woven in. Divine.
There is no excuse now that the nights are drawing in and winter is a long, long time to wait till summer.
It's going to be a busy time to.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Fryd + Design

Just back from Jeanette's beautiful blog and she's done it again. Another beautiful image AND crochet. Double hurray. Just had to share it with you!!!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Ideas and dreams

I'm sending you on a journey to Norway again. Two designers who I've often mentioned before are perfect resources for inspiration and ideas and with the granny theme in mind I thought a reminder of their talent would not go amiss.
Guro at Hobbykroken, has been a chaincreative friend for some time and we've posted before about her blog. I spotted a sweet little idea she had come up with for using some squares she'd made and I thought you might agree with me.
The next person is Jeanette from Fryd+Design. Jeanette is a graphic designer by trade but really is just an all-round talented person and crochets as well!! I love to dip into the blog and soak up the beautiful atmosphere that her pictures evoke and I'm not alone. Just recently her home has been featured in a number of interior publications. The picture at the top of the post is her beautiful home. Go to her blog and you'll find out why she's admired and why she loves her craft.

Well, I think this post will wind up the 'granny' theme that we've been running this month. Next month will be felting time and, with Christmas just around the corner, gifts and toys.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Motifs and a pattern

The Japanese craft books are the greatest discovery I've made and I'm always seeking out new ones to add to my collection. At the moment my favourite is an Ondori book (ISBN978-4-277-17217-2) whose title I, sadly, cannot translate! Anyway, from the cover you can see why I mention it as it's full of nice 'granny motif' projects made beautiful by the careful choice of colours. I buy the books from Saucy Louise who has both a store of her own and an Etsy shop. If you're looking specifically for motif patterns she's got a several books. Another way to resource these wonderful books and magazines is through various web-sites and blogs. The two most useful I've found are Japan Craft Journal and Crafting Japanese.

I've also had a few requests for the pattern for the shirt-dress from my 1970 book 'Make It Crochet'. With great pleasure I'll post it for you here!!! Happy crochet!

Monday, 20 October 2008

What goes round

Browsing through my collection of vintage patterns I came across a lovely 1970 English publication, 'Make It Crochet'! Up until about the mid-seventies yarn and design companies produced plenty of brochures and leaflets specifically on crochet. I suppose gradually knitting took the limelight and the number of publications dwindled. It's so much fun to wander into the outer reaches of crochet design in those days. The 50's was very much influenced by Paris or the staples like afghans or handbags. The 60's was a blast of mini-skirts and hotpants and the 70's had granny squares. Now you see where I'm coming from!!
So in this little magazine there's a poncho, waistcoats and this divine little shirtwaister (I know it's not in a square but it employs the 'granny' technique). I think I'm going to give you a little treat and post this 'super rug'. With the mountain of gorgeous double knit yarns we can choose from at the moment, you should have no problem choosing lovely colours. How about using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK from Loop at £4.25. There are so many colours to choose from so you can have fun mixing and matching.
Do be aware that the pattern is written for the British market so 'dc' is 'sc' and 'tr' is 'dc' in US terms. I know alot of you out there love many things 'just like granny's' so this one's for you. Enjoy!!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Not so olden days

I've just begun another round of beginners' classes and I love them. Everyone is very enthusiastic and keen to get to grips with a new skill. Sometimes it falls in their lap just like falling off a log and other times it puts up some challenges. I always ask why they want to learn crochet and many times the answer is they want to know how to crochet a 'granny square'. I don't know why this always surprises me but it did set me thinking and researching.
There is alot of creativity round this. The Babette blanket from Interweave has really struck a chordand I posted about it some months ago.

Lovely CraftyStylish (full of so much niceness) has a neat little tutorial page and discussion of the wonders of being square. Once you've got settled with the technique then you can get inventive and design a snuggly rug for yourself. It's a beautiful day but with a nip in the air so there's no time like the present to prepare for the cold days.

I give the link for the Babette pattern in the post but no harm in repeating myself here. The blanket uses lovely, lovely Koigu Wool Designs KPM which I mentioned in my last post. It is a wonderful yarn and comes in a galaxy of shades. If you want to create a harmonious palette of colours then a 'palette generator' might be the thing for you. I know that Veerle at nevousinstallerpas uses this method when designing with her beautiful colours. Another place to tap into is kris's colour stripes which is wonderful for giving background to the choices. A beautiful blog and with design to boot!!!

Once you've chosen your yarn and the colour mix, then the world has no limits. Here a few suggestions and I'll be popping back with the some more next week.

Moonstitches is a lovely introduction to the art of creating a thing of beauty and has lots of advise pictures which I've used here. It obviously gives alot of pleasure and we need that nowadays. Maybe that's what our grannies were searching for too!!! Hmm, I wouldn't be surprised!

Interior projects needn't stop at blankets. Little Pearl of the Orient uses them in bedroom project as a covering for a headboard. So effective.

Of course, much of the projects that you see around are inspired by patchwork and this is best seen on something like Bonnie Pierce's Elegant Squares patterns.

For a wealth of info and examples you can do no better than hop to Flikr and view the Granny Squares stream and maybe find some inspiration. I particularly love Sarah London's flowers.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Welcome Back

Feeling a little less than sparkly at the moment but that's all just jet-lag and will pass! Have had a wonderful time on the West Coast and would go back in a heartbeat. The weather (unlike the news) was sunny all the way and we had a fabulous time as always. I confess I didn't visit any yarn shops as promised but there was too much else to do and sitting in my brother's yard with my crochet was the most I managed in that department!! As you can see, it's a very 'candy' colour project in Koigu Premium Merino yarn bought from Purl. Unfortunately, here in the UK we get punished for such pleasures with import taxes but thankfully Stash yarns in south London have a selection of the colours also to choose from. Hurrah!! The 'project' is a sweet little sweater taken from a pattern first printed in the 1930's which I hope to offer shortly to you all. Watch this space!
San Francisco was marvellous and I loved this Dale Chihuly sculpture at the Legion of Honor Museum in Lincoln Park. It was accompanying a massive exhibition of his work at the DeYoung Museum which completely captured my heart with the colour and excitement of the sculptures. As I expect you can tell, I LOVE colour.
All the fun had to be accompanied with food and the cake at The Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove was my all time fav. Pacific Grove is where I originally come from and it is a little jewel of a town forever kept in my heart.
Well, now I've returned I've got to cook up some goodies for you for the autumn/fall period and I'm going to get into being a crochet granny. Well, granny square, actually. Some Sophie Digard in there too. Keep checking!