The Lydia Blanket – she’s finished!

I’m delighted to inform you that I have achieved my own personal crochet milestone today!

I have finished my Lydia blanket – a beautiful pattern from Dedri over at Look at What I Made – and in doing so, I’ve completed my first ever crochet blanket which is made of motifs.

I fell in love with this blanket when I opened the yarn pack – the colours look so perfect together.

Lydia Blanket Yarn Pack
I love the pinks together with the freshness of the green and blue – such a lovely colour combo!

Are you ready? Here she is!

Lydia Blanket finished
Look how pretty! I’m so proud of her!

I love the Lydia blanket – it’s truly a sight to behold, and the scrummy Scheepjes cotton 8 is a great, breathable yarn – it has a satisfying weight to it, but it still feels airy.

Finished Lydia Blanket
Here she is, hanging out on my office door…

As per usual with Dedri’s patterns, this was easy to follow and super imaginative. I wouldn’t have expected any less from the designer of Sophie’s Universe!

Lydia Blanket completed
In all her pink glory – isn’t she beautiful?

I did have to go slightly off-piste when it came to the border after having misplaced my final ball of light pink yarn (I bet it shows up as soon as I post this!). I replaced the scallops row with the green of the leaves, which I’m just about happy with. I do think this would’ve been better with the pink, but I will happily let my roses sit amongst a bed of leaves.

Lydia Blanket with amended border
You can see the extra green in the border here – I’m still pleased with it.

It took me slightly out of my comfort zone working with a fine yarn and a 3.25 crochet hook for this blanket, but I must say, I love the way it’s turned out.

Lydia Blanket on an armchair
She might have to live on my armchair?

Working a blanket made of square motifs has been a revelation for me – I’ve loved the portability of it. My love of commuter crochet is well documented, and this was the perfect project to accompany me on my commute.

Lydia Blanket commuter crochet
As you can see, I worked out a pretty good system to crochet on the move!

I worked in batches of 6 squares at a time, which meant I never got bored of my production line but still made tangible progress – there are 48 squares in the blanket, and they are arranged in rows of 6, so each batch got me another row.

I loved having a production line on the train – I tend to carry a big handbag, so I could have my yarn and scissors lined up next to my squares on top of my zipped up bag. The fact that all of the squares are the same colours was great too – it was novel to not have to make any colour decisions and just focus on my stitches and a podcast or two.

I’m so happy to have overcome this crochet fear of mine, and to have such a beautiful blanket to show for it. I only have one problem now – it’s a baby sized blanket and I want to keep it anyway, despite having no babies! Any excuses to keep hold of this gorgeousness are welcome – help me come up with some!

Lydia Blanket outside
Excuse my poorly painted bench! The blue matches nicely though!

You can buy the yarn pack for the Lydia blanket over at Wool Warehouse.

Until next time,

Elsie Pop

xx

 


2016’s Must-Hook Crochet Blankets

I thought 2015 was an incredible year for crochet. The year that brought us the unbelievably beautiful Sophie’s Universe by Dedri Uys (which I adored making myself!) and Jane Crowfoot’s phenomenal Lily Pond CAL was one I didn’t think we could top.

But here we are in April 2016 and already I’m astounded by some of the blankets that I’m seeing around the internet. This year is shaping up to be another amazing one for crocheters – aren’t we spoilt?

Frida’s Flowers CAL

Frida's Flowers CAL 2016
How gorgeous is this Mexican inspired blanket looking?

Jane Crowfoot has done it again with this year’s Stylecraft CAL – look at Frida’s Flowers! The Frida Kahlo inspired colour scheme is amazing, with vibrant Mexican tones against a black background.

Frida's Flowers CAL 2016
Hexagons are so nice for a motif blanket – and these ones have flowers!

As with all crochet along projects, pieces of the pattern will be released over the course of a few weeks – so we’re still waiting for the full reveal on this one, but from what I’ve seen so far, this looks amazing! You can buy the yarn pack from Deramores or Wool Warehouse.

The Lydia Blanket

The Lydia Blanket crochet
Isn’t this just adorable?

I must confess – this is the yarn pack I’ve invested in already! This pattern is by the incredibly talented Dedri Uys, so I’m really really excited to give it a go.

The Lydia Blanket

Would you believe that in all my years of crocheting, I’ve never managed to finish a blanket which required sewing together – I’m a one piece gal! Making a motif blanket was one of my 2016 aims, so I’m excited to be starting with this one (it helps that it’s baby blanket sized, so I won’t get bored!).

I’ve made a start on the Lydia already – I’m tackling 6 squares at a time, and I’m on my 2nd batch. With only 48 to make, I’m sure I’ll be done in no time!

The Lydia blanket pack is available from Wool Warehouse or Deramores.

Mandala Madness CAL

Mandala Madness is the CAL being run by Crystals and Crochet and featured in the CCC Facebook group which was used for Sophie’s Universe last year.

Mandala Madness CAL
Mandala Madness at part 3

We haven’t seen any sneak peeks of the finished blanket so far, but I’ve already started playing with the first few weeks of the pattern (using some spare Deramores Studio DK), and I’m loving it!

Mandala Madness on the train
Wrestling 2 balls of yarn on the train whilst indulging in some Mandala Madness!

You can buy the yarn packs for Mandala Madness from Deramores or Wool Warehouse. They are available in 3 different colourways (and sizes), all using gorgeous Scheepjes yarn.

Mandala Madness CAL part 3
Mandala Madness CAL

 

Last Dance on the Beach CAL

Last Dance on the Beach CAL
Last Dance on the Beach CAL from Scheepjes

This stunningly beautiful blanket comes with a bittersweet back story. The concept, and the overall design was the vision of Wink from A Creative Being – an incredible crochet blogger who sadly lost her battle with depression last year.

In Wink’s memory, her friends from the crochet blogging world have collaborated to finish her design and run a CAL project.

The Last Dance on the Beach CAL starts in April 2016, and the packs are available in two different yarns, and three different colour combinations! Every pack sold includes a donation to Mind in Wink’s memory.

Last Dance on the Beach - Dance in the Rain
Dance in the Rain colours
Last Dance on the Beach - Dance In the Sea
Dance in the Sea
Last Dance on the beach - Dance under the Stars
Dance Under the Stars

I’m thinking to pick up the Dance in the Rain pack in the Colour Crafter (there’s no point having Merino blankets in my pet hair-filled house!).

All the Last Dance on the Beach colour packs are available on Wool Warehouse.

What about you? Are you planning any other fabulous crochet blankets this year?

Until next time,

Elsie Pop

xx

 

 

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Commuter Crochet – a Beginner’s Guide


Anyone who follows me on Instagram will be aware that my favourite hashtag is #commutercrochet. As a London commuter, I spend a lot of my time crocheting on trains.

Commuter crochet in action
See? Definitely crochet – definitely not finished (ends everywhere) and definitely on a train!

I can’t say enough positive stuff about commuter crochet – I genuinely love it. Commuting had a lot to do with my decision to learn to crochet in the first place.

My journey to becoming a yarn lover started with knitting. A friend taught me in a coffee shop just off Carnaby Street one day about five years ago, and I loved it. I was rubbish, but I loved it.

I loved knitting so much, I tried to commute with my projects – I am a seriously slow knitter, so I had to fit in as much knitting time as possible. But I struggled. Two needles, a ball of yarn, a project bag, a handbag and a pattern is a lot to juggle in a small space. Back then I didn’t knit continental style (I say this as if I’ve mastered it now – I *almost* have!), so it was even more difficult – I knit with my elbows! So I gave up.

But I missed yarn, so I decided to try crochet, on the strength of there being one less implement to juggle on the train… and the rest is history!

Train crochet time houndstooth

While crochet is a lot more portable than knitting, there are a few things I always consider when I’m preparing for a commuter crochet session:

Project Bags

All you need is crochet bag
Project bags are important for the crocheter on the move

I won’t go out to the office and count my project bags, because it would expose the full extent of my addiction – but suffice to say, I have a LOT!

I’ve tried all the project bags out there and there are a few things I consider when choosing a crochet bag.

  • Material: it’s tempting to pick up any cheap canvas bags you find, but bear in mind that thin material can be annoying in a project bag. I’ve had loose crochet hooks stab holes in bags before! I look for either thick canvas or jute bags. Don’t choose a material with holes – you don’t want to lose hooks or stitch markers!
  • Handles: consider how you want to carry your bag. Are you an over-the-shoulder bag holder, or a crook-of-the-elbow type of person? Get handles which suit you. Jute bags usually have smaller handles, but I have found a few elusive versions which allow a shoulder hold.
  • Capacity: I’ve got bags in a lot of different sizes because I commute with all kinds of projects. If you’re carting a blanket around, you’ll need a larger bag; if you are working on a smaller project like an amigurumi toy, take a smaller bag.
crochet project bag
A sneak peek into one of my larger project bags.
  • Design: I try to carry crochet project bags that I like! There are some lovely designs out there – reusable bags are so easy to find now the 5p charge has come in for plastic bags – so find one you like!
Crochet project bag
I think this is my favourite project bag! Ironically, since this photo was taken I have spilt red wine on it…

Seating

When I crochet on the train, I consider my seating carefully. There are some things that can make train crochet difficult, and I’ve become pretty fussy. I look for a seat which meets my needs:

  • Look for an extra leg room seat: I carry a LOT of stuff with me – and I don’t like putting my handbag on the floor on the train. So I need a seat with enough room to put my handbag (and coat, depending on the season) on my knee, whilst still being able to fold down the tray table to put my project bag on.
  • Sit by the window: It’s annoying when people barge into your elbows on the train, right? Or when people are standing in the aisle and you have to lean away from them to avoid touching their crotches? It’s more annoying when you are halfway through a popcorn stitch! The window seat also gives you some lovely natural light to work with.
  • Make sure you have a tray or a table: I’ve tried to crochet in a seat with no table or tray in front of me – it doesn’t work. Stuff slides off your knees, yarn flies all over the train, and anyone sitting opposite you spends the whole journey staring at you – which is really distracting!
Tunisian crochet commuting
A tray table in action!

Tools

Make sure you have a crochet kit with you. I try to carry:

  • A case with my crochet hooks. I use this crochet hook case by Clover as I love their soft touch hooks, but I do find that most of my hooks from other brands fit in there too.

  • Nail scissors or a yarn cutter. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on the road and unable to fasten off a project!
  • Stitch markers – being without these is almost as annoying as being without scissors! I’ve used hair clips to mark stitches before – it doesn’t work very well.
  • A yarn needle – useful for sewing in ends, making Russian joins where needed, and – as I’ve discovered – a really useful thing to carry with you anyway! I’ve found myself repairing a lot of stuff with my trusty yarn needle!

Yarn preparation

I always try to use yarn which I can pull from the centre of the ball. This is extra important when you’re in a confined space – if you work from the outside of the ball, your yarn will dance around!

If your yarn doesn’t make it easy to get into the centre, consider re-winding into a yarn cake.

Centre pull yarn cakes
Yarn cakes!

Project portability

This feels like an obvious point, but this is the one I fall down on the most often. Make sure your project is portable!

Corner to corner crochet blanket on a train
This adult-sized blanket wasn’t very portable, but I took it on the train anyway…

Blankets are tough once they get over a certain size. Taking Sophie’s Universe on the train was a battle.

Crocheting on the train - Sophie's Universe blanket
She was DEFINITELY too big for the train here!

I’ve been doing this a while and I would recommend smaller projects – like amigurumi, motif-based projects or scarves and shawls.

A quick note on Tunisian crochet: if you use a long hook, you will be more likely to elbow your neighbour. I try to use extended Tunisian crochet hooks, with a wire and a stopper.

Tunisian crochet on the train
Being a good girl and using a flex hook AND making a motif project!

And there you have it! I hope these tips help you take your crochet on the move. With these considerations, I’ve managed to crochet on hundreds of trains… and planes, and automobiles!

Tunisian crochet time on a transatlantic flight
Going international doing some Tunisian crochet on the plane to Vegas!

Do you ever craft on the move?

Until next time

Elsie Pop xx

The War on WIPs

I had to make a confession to my husband the other day. It was hard to admit, but I currently have about 30 works in progress (WIPs).

I wish I was exaggerating.

I think the root of the problem is that I love yarn too much – when I find some yarn I love, I immediately drop everything and start working with it. I think I’m taking too many life lessons from our labrador (“Oooh look, something new, I WANT THAT ONE”).

The problem is, when you’re drowning in WIPs, it’s really demotivating. I’ve been crocheting for months with nothing to show for it but more and more things on my to do list.

So I’ve declared war. I’m being ruthless with my WIPs and I’m only finishing off projects I really love.

Let’s look at an example.

I bought myself this utterly drool-worthy Madeline Tosh yarn from Deramores in their last sale.

Madeline Tosh Sock yarn in Lichen
JUST LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY!

It’s incredible – I love Madeline Tosh – she makes such beautiful colour combinations, and they’re always perfectly dyed – no unwanted white patches, beautiful colour transitions. It’s gorgeous. This was the Tosh Sock yarn, which is 100% Superwash Merino – which makes it lovely and soft, but wearable and it has a really unique obvious twist to it which adds texture.

Madeline Tosh Sock yarn in Lichen
See the beautiful twist in the texture? It’s too good!

I could go on all day, but let’s just say it’s love.

So I decided to make a shawl pattern I have used before and loved – the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms shawl by Michele DuNaier. Only… I didn’t love this as it worked up.

Madeline Tosh shawl WIP

I think I went for the wrong hook size, which meant the shawl I’ve loved in laceweight yarns felt heavy and dense. But I’m not sure this yarn is right for a lace pattern anyway? It’s a sock yarn after all, so it wants to be one solid piece of fabric.

Madeline Tosh crochet shawl work in progress
See how dense it looked? And how the colour just doesn’t look right in a holey fabric?

I worked my way through the whole of the first skein before I admitted what I already knew – I would never love this shawl. And I’m not willing to make a shawl with two skeins of Madeline Tosh that I don’t love.

Madeline Tosh shawl crochet
The whole disappointing shawl

So… I frogged it!

Would you believe, I’ve never frogged a project at this late a stage before? This is why I have so many WIPs!

It felt great – I actually let out an audible sigh of relief.

Madeline Tosh yarn cake
Isn’t that better?!

I love the yarn again, and I can’t wait to work with it… but it has to be the right pattern. I don’t want to double-frog.

So I’m feeling empowered. I will no longer stand for projects I’m not loving – I am determined to frog everything I don’t love and take a few things off my to do list in the process.

Until next time,

Elsie Pop xx