Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Alicia Paulson

As you can see the weather is determined to keep me indoors. Today is a wild and wooly day (I will probably do loads of crochet!) and so perfect to dip into a world of eternal spring colours and sunshine. This, to me, is the world of Alicia Paulson; an extraordinary gal as she is talented in just about every creative field you care to present her with. Sewing, photography and, hurray, crochet, which is her favourite!!! Her web-site is sooo pretty and there is a blog too, Posie gets cosy. Her life has not all been spring brightness and in a podcast on CraftSanity you learn about the horrible traffic accident that brought her to the creative arts and to a happier outcome than it might have been. The colours and cheerfulness of her work allows the sunshine in and alot of inspiration. There is very revealing interview on Crafty Synergy which also gives you some insight into how to get going in the business of selling your craft. As an aside, I love this site too as you have a peek at all the talented people out there in the big wide world.On her blog there are some free patterns and lots of tips so we can all appreciate a little of her talent and eye for freshness and colour. I constantly visit the blog and web-site for a bit of a lift and inspiration. In a wicked world Alicia Paulson is a real joy.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Some more yarns

Just as a little follow through from the 16 April post about braids and trims; I wanted to continue making up cufflets (my name!!!) to sell through my 'shop' on notonthehighstreet. I bought some more of the Hand Maiden yarn at Loop in some vibrant colours of coral and teal. I think I'll add some beads and maybe some sequins that I bought in Paris at La Drougerie - if you are ever in the city or Lille, then this is a must-go destination store. Why, oh why, there isn't one in London or somewhere is a really big pain!!!

Anyway, on the same theme I also bought the Peria Kid Mohair which I think will crochet up nicely on a fine hook.

At the same time I dug deep and bought some Alchemy Silken Straw in Teal Tide (it says it all!!) which I'm going to use on my cordette bags. The handle requires short bulky chains to join handle to bag and I want to cover the rings in something close to raffia but more stylish. I think this fits the bill. As with all Alchemy yarns the colours in Silken Straw are stunning. Take a peek.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Bag project

I'm continuing with the project I started last Monday (see Monday 21 April post) and, needless to say, I've been stoopid and started two. One in the Texere Picasso and the other in the Noro Daria Multi. The pattern is a cinch but you do need to 'fill' it out a bit. The trouble with some vintage patterns is that there is an assumption of skills and understanding which we've maybe lost. We love having our hands held through a pattern these days.
The bag is in a lovely repetitious pattern; double crochet (single US) and a treble puff stitch (double US). The foundation chain is 20 chain giving 18 complete dc and 5 increases in the 19th stitch. This leaves a further 18 along the other side of the foundation chain. These 18 sts either side of the bag are the straight sides and must be counted off before shaping the base. The following 2 rows have 4 even increases at the curve. This is a pattern for a saddle bag and it must keep it's shape. The curving along the base edge is on 2 dc rows (not the puff stitch row or the dc row following that) and has 6 st increases evenly spaced around the curved edge between the two 18 st side rows.
The finished side piece has a dc hem along the top edge with the second row of dc in the front loop of the stitches. This gives a 'fold' for the hem to join the lining.
I'm sooo looking forward to finishing my bags and getting them lined. Trouble is I've run out of yarn for the turquoise bag (Texere are pretty speedy with deliveries) and I'll have used 6 skeins in total for the bag and then I'm finishing the handle in the Noro Daria Multi.
For the lining I'm going to use some fabric I bought from Suzi Q Quilts who are happy to ship to the UK and have a stunning range of cotton fabrics and crazee low prices (particularly for us sterling people!!!).
This pattern is super quick and easy to memorise so sitting on the train (or in the office or wherever) is hassle-free and no paper flapping in the breeze! Try it out and goooood luck.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Chain creative - the blog

The blog is settling down nicely and I'm hoping that by mylittleol'self I'll be able to keep the ship afloat. I love searching for tit-bits in the world of crochet to pass on and to make it all look gorgeous at the same time. You may have already seen a pattern appearing and every week there will (hopefully!!!) be 3 posts - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday's post will feature patterns, projects and yarns; Wednesday will feature a designer, artist or specialist in the skill of crochet and Friday will be a rundown on everything crochet out there in the big wide world of retail or cyberspace. If you know this then you can completely plan your web life round chaincreative's routine and visit, certain that you're going to find something to tantalise you.

All I ask of you is that, if you have some knowledge that you think is truly chaincreative then please, please send your comments and messages and I promise to follow it up. Now off you go, put your feet up and enjoy the read!!! Look forward to hearing from you.

Going shopping - again

I might as well set up a tent in Marylebone Lane at the moment it seems!!! I returned to do a little bit of purchasing at Saltwater and I succumbed and bought this necklace by Pepita. I love it for the quirky objects strung along it - beads from a 70's necklace, crochet medallions and little sewn objects. Met a friend for lunch and she gave it her seal of approval so sighs of relief!!!

I then moseyed along to Tracy Neuls who, not only makes the best and most comfortable shoes ever, but also treats her shop like an art installation and dots wonderful objects in pleasing formations round the shop and holds arty evenings there! This week she had a tasteful display which I caught of shoe bits and some delicate lace work by The Girl and the Gorilla from Germany. Although it is stricly lace, the gloves and necklace are so closely related to crochet that I felt it truly fell into the chaincreative hall of fame.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Helle Jorgensen

Helle Jorgensen is a crochet designer working in Australia and the ocean and it's occupants are her inspiration. I discovered her designs through her blog, gooseflesh, and was so impressed that I wrote to her asking to feature her on chaincreative. Of course, the world-travelling show that is Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is an ideal showcase for her work but she has also designed for the Rubbish Vortex which to us sounds rather strange but to countries bordering the Pacific Ocean is a real and growing problem. This art brings a human level to a worldwide problem and is thought provoking.She also sells her jewellery designs through etsy through her The Gooseflesh Boutique and it is so challenging to see that crochet goes far beyond granny squares and scarves.

Monday, 21 April 2008

This week's project

Hopefully every Monday I'll post a yarn and/or stitch project that I've been tackling, with links and suggestions for all of you.

This weekend I was rootling around in my overstuffed drawer of pending projects and stumbled on some yarns I bought from Texere. Some of the yarns they offer are quite unique to anywhere else I've found and include heavy linens and these 'gimp' yarns. Picasso gimp is an acrylic fibre yarn with the most stunning array of colours to choose from. It's very similar to Noro Daria which I've linked to Pavi yarns as supplier but can be found elsewhere. I understand that it was due to be discontinued by Noro but there do seem to be supplies out there. I made a little 'salad' of the Picasso and Noro yarns for the photo to give you a flavour of the colours available (Noro is multi-coloured). I had been squirreling these jewels away for a number of projects inspired by my Jack Frost Handbags which I've featured before (Jack Frost Bags 1 September 2007), but this time I actually used a pattern from Hiawatha yarns. Earlier in the year I made a make-up bag from the Noro using the Jack Frost book and a cross-stitch (created in a treble row by skipping a stitch, 3 tr, treble in the sk st) which I mentioned in Friday's post about the Jamin Puech bag. I think it looked sooo effective with that yarn and I'm planning to find another bag to try out. These patterns are for specific yarns available in the 40's called Corde or Cordette but they're dead ringers for these yarns pictured here.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Shopping in London

Had a lovely day yesterday just mooching about the highways and byways of London town with dear Susan from Loop and came across some beautiful uses of crochet. First stop was Saltwater in Marylebone Lane. Their new catalogue pictures are so beautifully shot by Kristin Perers who was responsible for the gorgeous pictures in Loop Vintage Crochet. Sadly they did not include (but they are in the shop) the delicate jewellery by Pepita Accessori which used small crochet motifs and found objects on antiqued chains. They were sooo lovely but I haven't been able to find an example to show you. Hunt them down!!! Next was Liberty (my home-from-home) and the handbag department. Very excited to see that Jamin Puech never let's me down in the use of crochet and even more excited when I can identify the stitches (cross stitch)!!! This also uses a fibre not dissimilar to a cord which I've used in past. Watch out next week for some examples and tips for yarns.

Jamin Puech always inspires me, using a wealth of stitching, beading and (hooray) crochet (if you click on this link, go to About Us and find the lovely images there). Established in Paris by Isabelle Puech and Benoit Jamin, I do recommend even just going to look at these beauties for inspiration and ideas (that's for free). Knowing that the traditions are still encouraged is wonderful. Here's another example.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Braids, trims and a cuff

Among the wishes of the people I teach crochet to, the most frequent request is for tips on making trims. There are many ways to whip up something unique and a trawl through the pattern books always reveals little gems. I came across this book, Crochet Edgings and Trims by Sue Smith on Amazon at £9.99 which seems to have a wealth of ideas. You can even peep inside!!!

Another way to create something special is to take a tip from Victorian crocheters who would use purchased trims and then crochet onto them. They never did anything that didn't require even more embellishment!!! Anyway, I really like this particular idea and with this in mind I bought some beautiful trims from the lovely shops in Berwick Street in Soho, The Cloth House, and the ribbon and trim emporium (let's keep the Victorian theme going!) in Marylebone V V Rouleaux. As you can see from the picture these are simple trims but all can have crochet added to them or can be added to existing crochet. The first and third in this little group can be used as 'bases' - just crochet into the picot trim on one selvedge. The second and fourth can be sewn onto a crochet base. This all set me thinking about the little crochet cuff from the CP Store (March 17 2008 posting) and I made my own!!! I used a fine hook - 1.5mm! - and a beautiful new yarn from Loop by Hand Maiden called Sea Silk in Smoke. Although it isn't specifically for fine guage, it did work incredibly well. I was pleased as crochet 'thread' is really hard to come by. I used 50 stitches and combined simple stitches such as double and treble crochet and an arch motif and picots. I added the beads later but these could be threaded on as you crochet. I do love cuffs as an alternative to bling and maybe you do too!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Tips for beginners and improvers

Everything seems easier when you can actually see what's going on. When you have a crochet query - what's spike stitch? - and the books you have are like the words of a long-lost language, there are sources you can turn to. There are a number of websites that have very clear instructions on almost any question relating to crochet technique, and in the case of one in particular, very clear instructional videos. Going for basic step-by-step instructions, there are a number of sites, crochet about and Crochet Guild of America, both of which have very comprehensive picture instructions and guides for left-handed crocheters. The next site is a really jam-packed resource centre with step-by-step pictures and videos with clear spoken instructions. I found Nexstitch invaluable for advice on more complicated directions but it covers any question of technique you might throw at it. You do need to have Windows Media Player or Quicktime to download the videos.

Friday, 11 April 2008

A departure in lace

I know it's not crochet but why be prejudiced?!!! This pattern is sooo beautiful and does make use of a crochet hook at a certain point, that I feel duty bound to share it with you. I came across this shawl, Laminaria, on knitty and was so struck by the way it mirrored crochet. It really is a beautiful alternative to the hook and would be a terrific project for the more intrepid. It incorporates a crochet cast-on which I feel is enough to qualify it for our end of week project here on chaincreative.

Another equally beautiful pattern (and don't you just love this picture) is Muir which I feel a particular affection for as Muir woods were a redwood grove in my native California.
Let me take this final week's post to say, have a good weekend and watch out for braids and finer crochet yarns next week. Eeekkk!!!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

April collection

Each month I want to feature five of my favourite items from the chaincreative with an additional prize of mentions for the loveliest things I've found on etsy. I hope that this will refresh your memory and give you new ideas and inspirations. Here's April's list...
1. Aurelie Mathigot 2. Dudua 3. Jessica Polka 4. CP Store 5. Lots of vintage crochet!!! Now for etsy
6. Karin Eriksson 7. Peaceful Provisions 8. Rae Dunn 9. Bookhou 10. Amie King

Monday, 7 April 2008

So effective - crochet installation

I came across these wonderful pictures of an installation by a Scandanavian artist called Anu Tuominem. I think they are so effective and have such beautiful colours. There are so many possibilities to create beautiful works of art from the seemingly mundane.

A day in the country

Two years ago I organised a day of crochet here at my home in Kent. It was a great success and I plan to repeat the plan this year. I'm going to start with a choice of two dates, Sunday 6 July and Saturday 2 August, with a program of workshops and opportunities to trawl through vintage patterns or books and to enjoy chatting to fellow crocheters and hopefully a little sunshine and some nice food and wine. The day will begin at about 11.30 (time to get here from the big city) and finishes at 5.30. There are regular trains from Charing Cross and the station is very close to my house. The day, including lunch and refreshments, is £40 and this will also cover all materials on offer. Workshops will be for new stitches and techniques, tunisian and hairpin crochet and the chance to try your hand at some fillet crochet through a small project. If you would be interested then please contact me on my e-mail (

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Moving the frontiers - Jessica Polka

Following on somewhat from the hyperbolic crochet event on the South Bank next month I found this artist extraordinaire who has gone down to the sea also. Jessica Pollack comes from a part of the world very dear to my heart - San Francisco. I was born just down the coast at Monterey and the sea creatures that she crochets are very familiar friends from my life on the beach and travels out to sea on the Bay. Her blog, Wunderkammer, is a treasure trove of images of her work and is just lovely to look at too. She does offer patterns and you'll find alot to look at.

Friday, 4 April 2008

It's officially spring

Just to get us in the mood for a splash of green in our lives, I thought I'd show you a little 'green' (as in the colour) crochet. These cute little pots are made by the Barcelona artist Alicia and are on-line in her shop Dudua. I found out about them through a very nice blog called bloesem which also has a little knitting section where our beloved Loop gets a special mention!!

By the way, my fav's the four-leaf clover but a bit late for St Paddy's day.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Bosnian crochet

This is relatively unknown (possibly as we are not in Bosnia) but is a technique which can have a purpose, particularly if you want to make lengths of firm, tough crochet for belts or trims. The picture is taken from a quaint little book published at the end of the 1800's in France with everything imaginable to do with needlework.

The first example is just in one colour and is simply a foundation row followed by the pattern. This is formed with slip stitches throughtout, alternately in the front and then back loop of the rows beneath. The placement of these is by setting your own pattern if you want but this description is for the top one pictured. 1st to 3rd rows the stitches of the pattern would be in the back loops and on the 4th to 5th rows the stitches of the pattern would be in the front loops. 6th and 7th rows would continue in the back loops and then 8th to 15th alternate 3 stitches in the back loops with 3 in the front ones. Stagger one stitch to the left in each row of the pattern so as to form oblique stripes. 16th to 17th rows are in the back loops with 18th and 19th in the front. The 20th row finishes with back loops. If you want to create your own pattern, mapping it out on grid paper is often a good idea.

The braid in the second example above does require plotting and is created by changing shades. The entire work is in slip stitch in the back loop. Both of these braids are quite difficult to work (hence their toughness) so a fine thread yarn is preferable although I have made this in a 4-ply cotton.

If this all sounds like a deal of trouble then take a look at some gorgeous trims on the left that admittedly are knitted and are featured on etsy by knitastic from Somerset.