Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Barkham Hookers 2015 CAL ...Introduction and General Info

As a New Year project  I have decided to challenge my ever-growing group of Barkham Hookers to a stitch-sampler type blanket which we will all work on together as a CAL (crochet-a-long). There are so many beautiful examples out there to gain inspiration from like these beauties...

Little Woolie

I have decided to design my own using as many new stitches  as possible so that we all get to practise new techniques.
I have found Sarah Hazell's book 200 Crochet Stitches very very useful and I can highly recommend it.

We will all be using different types of yarn and many of us will be treating it as a stash-busting exercise. Some will be using a limited colour palette whilst others will be going for the mad mix of everything. I hope to publish about 5 rows every Sunday starting from 1st Feb and I guess there will be around 150 rows in total. 

Here's a sneak peek of the first few rows to whet your appetites I hope! 

Foundation Treble, Granny Stripe and Back loop stitches

It will start with some basic stitches that we are familiar with and I will gradually introduce some new ones each week so I hope that by the end we will be stitch gurus having mastered spikes, front post and back post, crossed stitches, tulips, Catherine Wheels, starbursts, basket weave, waves, v-stitches, and maybe some Fair Isle too. I'm very excited I can tell you!

Stripey CAL by Hannah Davis
General Info

1) I will be using UK terms throughout but will give the US terms in brackets. As a reminder though,
UK DC Double Crochet =US SC Single Crochet.   Go into stitch, YO pull through, YO pull through both loops on hook
UK HTR Half Treble = US HDC Half Double.  YO, go into stitch, YO pull through, YO pull through all 3 loops at once
UK TR Treble = US DC Double. YO, go into stitch, YO pull through, YO pull through 2 loops, YO pull through last 2 loops
UK DTR Double Treble = US TR  Treble. YO TWICE, go in to stitch, YO pull through, YO pull through 2 loops, YO pull through 2 loops, YO pull through last 2 loops.

2) To change colour you can either YO (yarn over) with the new colour on the last pull through or just tie it on with a knot then put hook in first stitch and pull the new colour through.

3) Try to crochet your ends in as you go wherever possible to save you a huge job at the end. If crocheting them in isn't practical because of the type of stitch then try to sew them in at the end of each row....good intentions and all that...

4) Don't worry too much about the exact stitch count. I have to admit that mine isn't always perfect after every row but as long as you are within 1 or 2 of the original count then you'll be fine as the border can hide a multitude of sins.

5) If you decide NOT to use the Foundation Treble Crochet to start then I advise you to use a hook one size bigger just for the starting chain but don't forget to pick up your original hook for the first row.

6) I think that most of us will be using DK (8-ply )and a Size 4 hook but you can use any yarn as long as you stick to the same PLY throughout. I will be using up odd bits from my stash so will be using mainly DK but also the odd bit of 4-ply which I will double up to make it 8-ply. I hope that makes sense!

7) Always work into BOTH LOOPS of the stitch unless directed otherwise.

I will try to post links and photos to help with stitches as we go but please just ask; either here in the comments below or on the Barkham Hookers FB page. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

End of Year Confessions (****warning...long post alert...***)


 ...It's been rather a long time since I last posted here. Life just seems to be too frenetic to find enough time to sit down at the PC and tap away when frankly I 'd rather be hooking...! However,  in my defence I have made loads and loads of stuff which I'll try and remember as a lot were either sold or given away as presents for Christmas.

August End
In order to catch up I have to go all the way back to the end of August I think when it was still warm enough to run my evening class outside in the last rays of the sun. It started to get quite chilly by 8.30 though so we all snuggled up in some of my blankets. I just love having the excuse to get them all out in one go but it does make me realise that we really don't need any more. Ooooopsss!

Towards the middle of August I was contacted by the local paper who had heard a little bit about our group and who wanted to write a piece about us. Luckily the weather held out and all our poppies made for a colourful display!

Fame at Last!

All my sessions have been proving very popular so I decided to contact another local library about the possibility of running another session there. Wokingham library were so enthusiastic they even designed and printed posters to advertise my weekly classes with them. This one currently has pride of place on the door inside the ladies' toilet...perfect marketing if you ask me!

Seen in the ladies' toilet!

 Eye-Strain Scarf
Not the nicest title of a scarf I know but really.....this scarf nearly broke me. Had it not been destined as a present for my own Mum then I'm pretty sure I would have given up. It's in Alpaca Laceweight by Drops. Really amazing value but OH! so  fiddly and splitty and just TOO TINY to work with; I actually needed to wear reading glasses to finish it when I didn't at the start!

My Mum loved it though so it was all worth it. I think!

 Jewelled Pineapple Scarf
This one was SO much easier as it was 4-ply so I re-gained my CroJo and whipped it up very fast as a present for a friend.

My 365 blanket was steadily growing

A butterfly shawl made for a friend's Birthday...

...and one that I sold

Very proud of my custom-made Barkham Hooker project bags!

This year we raised over £500 for Macmillan Cancer Care 


Poppy Art Project

Inspired by the stunning poppies at The Tower of London and with our own crochet poppy-making going great guns, one of my ladies suggesed a fantastic new project for us to raise some more money for the Poppy Appeal which involves mini granny squares. She had seen some incredible pixelated pictures of granny squares being used to create the most amazing art installations like this and this and this . We decided to embark on a massive group project which would hopefully be finished for November 2015. 

A design was chosen, 

patterns drawn up and colours handed out. 

 ... and so began the mammouth task of crocheting over 1200 mini squares...

We have used cotton 4ply as a rule with a 3.5 mm hook to produce squares of about 4.5cm.

All these little squares  will be pieced together very carefully to create our 6ft by 6ft art installation . All 1200 have now been made...we just need to sew them this space.......

Over-sized Pouffe!
I made this with my 10 year old one weekend in October out of lots and lots of thick yarn which she had finger knitted together first.

 I borrowed a 20mm hook from a fellow hooker ( see my favourite purple 4mm above for comparison) and within  few hours had hooked it up. You've all heard of tennis elbow right?
Well I think I had hooker's elbow after this...does that sound terribly wrong????

I finished my Vicky Chan top using gorgeous Skein Queen wool/silk/cashmere blend 4 ply yarn called Flockly. Such a treat.

 I whipped up yet another shawl, this for a dear 96 year lady that I visit weekly.
 She loves it and wears it every night to keep the chills off.
 We made hundreds of squares for our Poppt Project...
 and hundreds more...
 Another quick customer order made from King Cole Riot - I love the colour ways so much

Then I started making crocodile stitch boots designed by Bonita Patterns

 These were the first pair I made for my daughter...then within the next 2 weeks I had made 5 more pairs for customers. They are so fab to make especially with colour changing yarn like this Big Drops Delight although King Cole Riot Chunky also works really well.
 Then a quick baby set for a friend up in Scotland..

During all this we were frantically making poppies to sell. We yarnbombed Wokingham on the Saturday night before Remembrance Sunday and were thrilled with the positive response.
 To commemorate the end of the war in 2018 we hope to be able to cover all the lamp posts and basically anything that doesn't move so we will be beavering away on more bunting each year.

This year we were absolutely gobsmacked to have raised over £4,800 by making and selling crocheted poppies all of which which we donated to the Wokingham branch of the Poppy Appeal. It was a very special moment for us all. Proud Hookers of Barkham we are one and all. I have a fab photo of the huge cheque that we presented but am experiencing tech difficulties right now so will try to upload it another time...

 In early December I realised that I had only a couple of weeks to finish my 365 Blanket as we would be away over New Year. So I assumed artistic licence and finished it ahead of time enabling me to photograph it and complete the EDGE. It is all made out of odds and ends except the cream final rows and the edge which I bought specifically for the job. When the kids let me,  I leave it on the bed in the guest room but more often than not it finds its way back down to the snuggling sofa.
 I love it and feel very proud to have completed it at last. 

I also managed to get this scarf done for a present for a very special friend in colours that I know she'lll love.

I used this pattern for the staccato shawl featured in back issue of Simply Crochet
But I added in a contrasting colour for the edge to make it a bit more special

Christmas Jumper

How could I resist this beauty? Just when I thought I had completed all my projects for this year when one more grabs me. Damn you Simply Crochet!

I ordered the wool but went with just the one colour for the Fair Isle bit and decided to make it a sleeveless tunic instead of a jumper as I knew I would wear it more...and I have worn it a lot in this windy, chilly weather we've been having of late.

 It's a bit shapeless but it's great for slobbing out in on these cold dark nights.
 Year End Ripple

To finish off my year I decided to do Lucy's Cottage Ripple at last. I bought the pack a few months ago but just wanted the right time. So with the weather closing in and a skiing holiday to look forward to I made a start. This is actually the first ripple I've done and I'm SO in love with it! Lucy is absolutely right when she describes rippling as therapeutic and calming (well it is once you get the hang of it and stop making mistakes that is). So...Ta Dah!

 There's something rather  lovely about folded blankets isn't there...or is it just me?
 Just yummy all those gorgeous ripply ripples. Cannot fail to make me smile.
 Full credit to the wonderful Lucy though - she sure knows how to choose fab colour combos.

Only question now is...which one next?