Heart on My Sleeve

After what we can all pretty much agree was a rubbish 2016, I started 2017 with a very clear and renewed sense of action, asking myself what can I do in my every day life to make the world just a tiny bit better. Many of those actions were about how I use my time and money in my personal life to make the world just a bit better, but when Emily from Tin Can Knits approached me to design a wee heart for the new book Heart on my Sleeve, it felt like a small way that I could contribute to a good cause using my work.

The Heart on My Sleeve charity ebook is such a lovely premise - the sweaters are all Dk weight knit designs with the same body and sleeves, with a number of yokes designed by different designers to choose from at the end, sized from baby to adult. Alexa and Emily are donating 100% of the proceeds of each ebook (after fees) to the Against Malaria Foundation. These funds will be used to purchase nets to prevent malaria and save lives.

Heart String Designed by Joji Locatelli

Heart String Designed by Joji Locatelli

Hearthstone Designed by Ysolda Teague

Hearthstone Designed by Ysolda Teague

There are 8 sweater designs in total, as well as some lovely motifs to put on your sleeves.  While they are mostly knit, but you may notice a small crochet one designed by me! 

You can purchase the ebook via Ravelry here

 

Finishing School

Perhaps the most loathed of crochet-related tasks is finishing: edging, sewing up, weaving in ends, blocking...they all get a  bad name.  I get it, when you finish that final stitch, you just want to be DONE.  But, trust me, using some basic finishing techniques will really make your project shine.  

WEAVING IN ENDS:

Once you reach the end of your work, cut the yarn, leaving at least a 6” tail.

ull the tail through the last loop on your hook to secure your stitches. Use a tapestry needle or your hook to weave the remaining ends in securely into the back of your work. If you are working in rows, there may not be a clear wrong side, so use your pattern for guidance or choose one. Weaving the end into 3-4 stitches in 3-4 different directions will ensure they do not pop out later.

 

TO KNOT OR NOT TO KNOT:

Some people really like to tie off their yarn. This can work well in some situations to secure your end if your project is going to get a lot of use.  However, knots have a tendency to work themselves to the font of your project and always in a place that is super obvious.  In most cases, if you are working with a wool yarn, the yarn will be "sticky" enough to keep the ends in place an no tying is needed.

SEWING UP AND ON

SEWING APPLIQUE:

Crochet is a great fabric for sewing things onto.  Its lines of stitches make it easier to see that you are getting all of your items placed and spaced correctly.  It may help to pin your applique into place before sewing. Straight pins, safety pins or locking stitch markers work well for this.

Once you have your items placed, thread your tapestry needle with the yarn you want for your stitching.  Use the same colour as the front piece if you want to hide your stitches.  Starting from the back of your work, pull the needle through all layers. I work my stitches just under the "V" of the stitches.

 

Running Stitch: Thread needle with yarn and work up and down through the crochet fabric with even spaces between the stitches.

Back Stitch: Backstitch is similar to running stitch, except you will work a portion of the stitches back on themselves. Pull the stitch through the crochet fabric and then back into the underside behind where the thread came out. The needle is carried under the fabric to the point of the new stitch, where it is brought up again and back to where the thread was brought up on the last stitch.

Continue all the way around. Deal with the ends of the sewing as you would with ends at the end of your project, with the added bonus of being able to use a crochet hook to pull your ends underneath the applique (between the two layers of work) to hide them.

There are  other stitches you can use, depending on the effect you want. Blanket Stitch and Whip Stitch are both very popular.

SEAMS:

Most of the time, I will slip stitch a seam closed. Using a slip stitch to join different parts of your crochet project makes a really strong seam. In my experience, it also is very easy to make the seam nice and straight.

To crochet a seam, lined up the 2 pieces of your project, right sides together. Insert your hook through all 4 loops of the stitches, yarn over hook, and pull through the 2 pieces you are joining and the loop on your hook. Repeat to the end of the seam.

If you are concerned about the seam having a bit of a crimp in it, use UK double crochet/ US single crochet instead.

EDGING AND WORKING INTO THE ENDS OF ROWS

Most of the time when you are working in rows, you will need to edge your work to give it a nice finished edge. There are many many kinds of edging, but the principle is the same, you need to work into the ends of the rows ( where you turned and chained).  In taller stitches, it is pretty easy to see, but it can be harder if you are working UK Double Crochet/US Single Crochet. Aim to work 1 stitch for each row you worked, unless your pattern says differently.

Blocking

Blocking is my favourite part of finishing up a project. I just love how it takes a lumpy and misshapen object and makes it lay perfectly and nicely. When working with wools that have a high natural fibre content, you are able to block your project that will help the yarn relax into the shape you have made. There are many different blocking techniques. Steam blocking uses an iron with a high steam setting - hover your iron over your project, being careful not to press or you may damage the work or flatten the stitches. 

I normally use wet blocking. This can take longer to dry, but does tend to give most consistent results. 1. Wet your work in lukewarm water. Use wool wash if you have some around.  Hair Conditioner is also useful to help soften scratchy fibres. 2. Gently agitate your work (not too hard, lest it may felt!) 3. Rinse in cool water and gently squeeze out the excess water. 4. Lay your work flat on a towel and roll up to extract as much water as possible. 5. Lay the item out on a flat surface, shaped as you would like the final object to look. It may help to pin the edges down to help it stay in shape 6. Leave to dry fully.

Goodbye 2016 ~ Hello 2017

While 2016 might not have been our favourite year in terms of personal lives, political happenings and celebrity deaths, it was a great year for us professionally. We were super busy releasing new patterns, building our business, forging great partnerships and meeting lots of you at shows. Here is our round up of 2016 and a sneak peek at 2017 will bring for The Crochet Project.

February saw the launch of our first ever book collaboration, Crochet Yeah!. We couldn't have picked a better collaborator than Rachel Coopey who provided beautiful yarn and great inspiration for the collection of accessories.

Crochet Yeah! Six accessories.

Crochet Yeah! Six accessories.

 

In April we added Riley, the 4ply/fingering weight version, to the aran/worsted weight Saunders Sock pattern to make it an ebook and printed leaflet. 

Riley Socks

Riley Socks

Riley & Saunders is available as a pdf for £5 or in print for £6

We took the long trip to Wales to meet lots of you at Wonderwool and launch our collection of cardigans, Three From the Top. It was our most ambitious book to date with three cardigans sized from baby to 60in chest. With four pairs of eyes tech editing and a proof reader, we made it with only a couple of small issues popping up since launch!

Three From The Top. Three cardigan patterns.

Three From The Top. Three cardigan patterns.

Summer was all about the shawls. May saw the launch of the very popular Contour Shawl. We are so thrilled to see that there are now more than 60 beautiful projects on Ravelry. In July we launched the beautiful Flag Iris shawl that Kat designed for her Mom. And August saw the launch of Yealm, in collaboration with Kettle Yarn Co for their Baskerville collection.

From L to R: Contour Shawl, Flag Iris Shawl, Yealm Shawl.

From L to R: Contour Shawl, Flag Iris Shawl, Yealm Shawl.

In September we headed to Yarndale. Thank you so much to everyone who came to see us there and made it such a fun and rewarding show to be at. We launched our third (3rd!!?!!) book of the year at Yarndale. Raw is a collaboration with Blacker Yarns and we were thrilled to work with them to promote the best of undyed British Breed wools.

Raw: Two garments and four accessories.

Raw: Two garments and four accessories.

Never ones to rest, we launched Trailing Wake in October quickly followed by a four piece mini collection of DK weight accessories, called The Warmer Project, in early November to launch at Yarnporium.

The Warmer Project. Four accessories, available individually or as a bundle.

The Warmer Project. Four accessories, available individually or as a bundle.

We rounded the year off by releasing the Humbug Scarf. Which was our fastest selling pattern ever! What a great end to this busy year!

Humbug Scarf

Humbug Scarf

So what of 2017?

We have a shawl all ready to release in January so expect some sneak peeks of that soon on instagram.

In March we will be at Edinburgh Yarn Festival, hoping to meet lots of you there. We will be launching the long awaited third book in our The Shawl Project Series. It contains patterns designed for one 100g skein of 4ply plus a set of mini skeins if you want to get stashing (or stash diving if that is all your new year's resolutions allow!)

We do have some exciting plans a bit further into the year too, but we'll keep those a surprise for now.

We wish you a very Happy New Year

Joanne and Kat.

x

The Warmer Project

We are so very excited to release 4 new individual patterns.  All of them are made in gorgeous Fyberspates Vivacious DK and are designed to highlight this gorgeous multi tonal yarn for quick makes as the weather gets a bit colder. 

Click through the images for more information on each pattern.  The patterns are £3.00 each for the pdf or buy all 4 pdf patterns in The Warmer Project for £8.00. We are also selling printed versions, available here. 

We will also be selling kits for these 4 gorgeous patterns, so watch this space.  

How to crochet a ribbed cuff (cuff first)

To celebrate Socktober we are finally getting around to writing up a few tutorials that we have always meant to.

Today's tutorial covers cuffs, where the cuff is worked first. If you are having a go at the Saunders or Riley sock patterns then it will get you started. But the method for making cuffs is the same as for making a cuff for a mitten or a brim for a hat so you might find this useful for the Bromsgrove Hat and Tenbury mitts from Crochet Yeah or The Tenbury Hat and Mitts set from Raw.

Crochet ribbing works best when it is worked perpendicular (at right angles to) the work. That is, so that the rows run around the ankle or wrist. This is because crochet has more stretch vertically than horizontally. It is generally worked in the back loops as this adds extra elasticity to the fabric made and makes it look more like knitted rib too.

Here's how:

STEP ONE

Make a chain, as specified or the length you'd like the ribbing plus turning chain.

STEP TWO

In this example we are using half trebles as they give a really nice ribbing. So starting in the third chain from the hook half treble in each chain then turn.

STEP THREE

Chain two then, working only in the back loops of the row below, work half trebles across the row.

STEP FOUR

Continue working rows of half trebles in the back loops until you have enough rows completed for the pattern or to fit.

Counting rows of half trebles is quite easy as each of the lines that look like knit stitches mean you have worked two rows.

STEP FIVE

Fold the piece in half so that the foundation row meets the last row you worked.

STEP SIX

Slip stitch through the back loop of the last row you worked and the foundation chain.

STEP SEVEN

Repeat Step six for each stitch across. The piece is now joined in the round.

STEP EIGHT

You will now work into the row ends. Check the pattern carefully to see how many stitches to work into the row ends and where.  The picture shows where the row ends are and how we might describe them when working into them to help direct you.

Congratulations! You have a cuff!

We hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. We are working hard to build up our tutorials to make this site really useful for our customers, and crocheters generally, so if you have an idea for a tutorial or have found something in our pattern that you think it would be great to clarify in a tutorial then do please get in touch.

 

How to graft half treble crochet

As a knitter and a crocheter, one of the things that always has annoyed me is that there wasn't a method I'd ever seen of seamlessly grafting crochet in the way you can knitting with the kitchener stitch. I was absolutely sure it was just a matter of looking at it logically, breaking the stitch apart and working it out but I never quite got around to it. I knew though that there would need to be a different technique for each stitch.

So why graft rather than seam? Because a graft replicates the stitches and gives a smooth almost invisible join that flexes and moves in much the same way as the rest of the fabric. When making socks, for example, it avoids an uncomfortable seam pressing on your heel and toe.

When I was writing the patterns for Crochet Yeah! I had two that would really benefit from a seamless join, the Malvern cowl which is worked in double crochet and Evesham socks worked in half treble crochet. It was the excuse I needed to sit myself down and thrash out a method for each.

I'm pleased with the results of my experiments and I shared the method in the book. This technique is so useful and creates a great finish on lots of different projects and it is always nice to have a visual step by step tutorial so without further ado here is how to graft half treble crochet.

STEP ONE

Thread a doubled length of yarn through a yarn needle.

STEP TWO

Insert needle from front to back through the top of the stitch on the last row furthest from you.

STEP THREE

Insert needle around the post of the last row on the side nearest to you from right to left, front to back to front again. (the same way you would insert your hook to make a raised front (front post) stitch.)

STEP FOUR

Pull yarn most of the way through stitch but before the loop closes, pass needle between the two strands of the stitch as you tighten it up.

Repeat steps 1-4 for each stitch.

Abberley Shawl

I'm not much of a blanket maker, it's just not what interests me - too much time and yarn  commitment and I'm just much more interested in making things I can wear. But I was asked to run a class on the corner to corner blankets. I agreed and became a bit obsessed. Its such a fun pattern to work, grows quickly and creates a lovely texture. I made a baby blanket for a friend but my mind soon turned to the possibility of adapting the pattern for a shawl.

Abberley is the result of this playing with the corner to corner pattern. I wanted to add a geometric lace pattern so came up with the idea of using an open block in the pattern, almost combining filet crochet with corner to corner. Don't worry, it is simpler than it sounds. The pattern starts off by stepping through the full instructions with a notation system given and switches to a notation once the pattern becomes bigger and more complex as it is much easier to read and follow this way. It's also fully charted out, as you'd expect from us.

I used the beautiful Blacker Yarns St Kilda laceweight to give the shawl the right proportions and a lovely rustic kind of finesse. The yarn is a stunning blend of wool from sheep raised on the Island of St Kilda. It is spun from the fleeces of the Boreray and Soay sheep which two of the oldest and rarest of all British breeds and are native to the island, being bought back from close to extinction. The yarn has a very crisp rustic feel as you work but softens beautifully on washing and wearing to give a lovely drape. Its now available in another beautiful natural colour and as a limited edition hand-dye collaboration with the Knitting Goddess in rich jewel tones. Read more about the yarn here and don't forget that the book contains a £5 discount voucher towards your purchase.

Here are all the technical details that you might want before getting started on the shawl:

Size
Finished depth: 60cm/24in
Finished wingspan: 142cm/56in

Size is easily adjusted by working more or fewer rows. Altering the size alters the yarn required.

Materials
2 50g balls Blacker Yarns St Kilda (laceweight, 100% wool a blend
of Boreray, Soay and Shetland, 405m/440yds/50g) 
3mm (US C or D) hook

Tension
7 blocks and 7 rows in pattern to 10 cm/4 in using 3mm hook (or size needed to achieve tension)

Difficulty: Easy

Skills Used
Basic crochet stitches, working in rows, working into chain spaces.

Construction
Started at centre bottom, each row is increased at each end to form a triangle, stitches are worked on the bias in the same manner as corner to corner (C2C)

The Abberley Shawl is one of six patterns in Raw. The book is available now and you can buy print version here or the ebook here

 

Raw - behind the scenes on the shoot

As we prepare for Yarndale and the launch of Raw (read all about it here) we thought you might like to take a peek behind the scenes on the photo shoot.

We had a beautiful location at The Hatch in Worcestershire and all the patterns in the book are named for nearby locations. 

Our wonderful friend Kate of A Playful Day followed us around as we worked and made this gorgeous video.

We'd like to thank Kate SO MUCH for making such a beautiful film for us and really capturing what it is like on a The Crochet Project shoot. (Although She very kindly cut footage of Joanne in her undies changing in a hedge!)

Reading a Crochet Chart

When I first moved to the UK (and before I knew the difference between tabloids and proper newspapers), I used to buy the Mirror every day before work, not for the news or the celebrity gossip, oh no, it was all about the Codebreaker section that would keep me happily entertained as I crossed London to my job in Victoria. I directly link my love of codebreaking to my love of Crochet Charts.  Once you have "cracked" it, you have before you an amazing international communication device to read and understand crochet patterns.  None of this dc/sc rubbish or uncertainty about where on earth the hook goes. In addition, for visual people, crochet charts can really help with pattern understanding.

At a glance, crochet charts tell you so much about the pattern - where your stitches go, which loops they are worked in, the relative height of the stitches and they even provide an almost schematic-like glance at what your finished object will look like. At The Crochet Project, we provide charts in our patterns where there may be confusion from the written patterns.  

THE SYMBOLS

Crochet charts are based on an internationally recognised symbols that correspond to each stitch or instruction.

 

One of the great things about crochet symbols is that they look like how you would make that stitch. For example, the horizontal bars in stitches relate to the number of yarn overs at the beginning of that stitch (except for half treble/double stitches).

It is the same with most special stitches, they are made to look like how one would make the stitch

With the exception of the わ symbol used in Japenese patters to mean magic loops, even the start of rounds make it instantly clear how the project starts.

joining.jpg

 

READING ROWS:

Once you have the basic principle that each symbol relates to a stitch, reading charts becomes that bit easier.

 

- The chart is read from the bottom up and are written for right handed crocheters, unless other wise specified.

- A solid triangular arrow shows the direction of work at the beginning. An outlined triangle shows where the work should be bound off.

- After the initial chain, you work from right to left across the row, then on the next row, from left to right, continuing on in a zig zag fashion up the chart. In a full chart, the rows will be numbered at the beginning of each row.

- Stitches should be aligned in columns to show you which stitch you work into for the next row.

- Chain stitches hanging off the ends of the rows (as in the 1ch shown on the right hand sides of this chart) do not count as stitches, but merely raise the row.

- Chain stitches in line with a stitch from the row below do count as stitches

The other kind of chart in rows you may come across is one for a stitch pattern.  These are often found in books of stitch patterns or sometimes as part of written pattern as a way of making the stitch clearer.

 

- Pattern repeats are generally shown either highlighted in a colour, or Japanese patterns will often show the number of stitches in a repeat with a bracket underneath the beginning chain.  This is useful if you are working a stitch pattern and need to know how many chains to work at the beginning.

- The number of rows in a pattern repeat are often shown as numbered rows on the side.

WORK IN ROUNDS

Working in rounds follows the same basic principles as working in rows.  Symbols correspond to stitches.

 

 

- Rounds are generally worked counter clockwise, but again follow the arrows.

- Rounds are numbered next to the chain stitches that begin the round

 

- Arrows will show the direction of work, or where a round is worked without a slip stitch join to raise the rounds.

 

 

- Charts DO NOT distinguish whether your work into the stitch or into the chain space (as in row 5 above). You will either need to refer to the written pattern (if there is one) or use your knowledge of crochet to figure out how to deal with that round.

For the more visually minded, charts can be a real breakthrough when it comes to understanding crochet. Plus, being able to read crochet charts literally opens up a world of new patterns.  Some of the most original patterns available are from Japan, where all of the patterns are charted.  Check out Pomadour 24's etsy shop for an amazing selection of Japanese craft books, or of course, if you love charts, all of our books are full of them, but shawls one and two have charts for pretty much every pattern.