Crocheting with beads

Just finished a beautiful but simple crochet project, crochet wise a very simple repetitive pattern but incorporating beads which gives it that extra special twist. The pattern is by Kirsten Hoogerwerf- Ballering from the Haakmaarraak blog and has been run as a make a long recently in the Scheepjes Facebook international crochet group, the pattern is available via Kirsten’s blog or via her Etsy shop of the same name as her blog. The yarn from Scheepjes is not one I have used before, like most Scheepjes yarns the Alpaca rhythm laceweight yarn is gorgeously soft and comes in an excellent range of shades, the yarn has to be used double so 2 balls at a time using 8 x 25g balls in total so it is not a cheap project. However the design produces an heirloom type shawl for bridal or evening wear with the addition of seed beads so is a reasonable investment if you want to make that type of garment. I’m experimenting with a cheaper Scheepjes yarn for a second shawl, Stardust which also has  mohair content and tiny amounts of sparkly fibre throughout which makes it ideal for this project, when I have completed the alternative project I will let you know how the cheaper non alpaca yarn works out.

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The pattern although simple does require patience in the preparation however as the seed beads need to be strung onto the yarn every 10 rows or so, stringing about 200 beads allows you to complete 10 rows without any tarn bead tangles before needing to cut the yarn and re-string the next lot of beads. The beads required are 6/0 seed beads to fit the yarn size, any make is suitable in the correct size, (a big eye beading needle is recommended for stringing the beads) Toho beads are suggested due to the pretty variety available, this is the type I used, again there are a number of websites that sell beads, I can the recommend the one I use for price and speed of delivery, I also sometimes use these type of beads for embroidery I- Beads.

For my evening shawl I used the deep bluey purple shade of vogue in the Alpaca rhythm yarn and I combined it with 3 different colour Toho beads: transparent rainbow sugar-plum, gold lined rainbow light sapphire, and aqua/ purple lined.

The second version in progress is Scheepjes Stardust Pegasus 652 with Toho beads 6/0 silver lined crystal and gold lined rainbow crystal, see the photo below, I will update you about whether it works out as well as the first shawl when I finish it.

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LoveCrochet

New to crochet?

I’m often asked by friends, acquaintances, people who I meet who are starting out on their crochet exploration, either who are learning the basic stitches already or who have decided they want to learn the craft after being inspired by projects they have seen or are encouraged by others (including myself) praising the relaxation qualities of crochet and how it can actually improve your mental health and well-being, (follow on Instagram hashtag craft as therapy) how to start projects how to decide what to make, what materials and tools to use? Everyone has to take their own journey finding out what styles suit them whether it’s the type of crochet hook they prefer or the yarn they find the best to use or the type of projects they enjoy the most, and whether they like  to keep a few wips (works in progress) on the go or just concentrate and finish one. However there are many aids out there can help you develop your own way of enjoying crochet, that can assist you find you own particular way of enjoying the truly fabulous diverse fibre art craft that crochet can be.

You no longer need to be taught crochet by someone you know, there is a vast wealth of how to videos on the internet today, teaching all the basic and more complicated techniques you could ever need, the most useful aspect of this type of learning is the ability to stop / start and pause videos whilst you attempt to copy at your own pace whether you are quick or a bit slower, the pace can be set at what you need it to be. I learnt this way by myself as I was going through a long grieving process when my daughter died and although I was looking for another craft to help me keep my brain occupied in other ways I did not want to learn in a social way which involved talking to other people outside of my close family and friends circle, grief had made me very unsociable at that time. I found it very easy to learn at my own pace and to develop my skills further as I became more confident. ( An excellent U tube channel which provides clear demonstrations of most stitches, including left hand versions that I would recommend is  Bella Coco ) Additionally most of the magazines on the market now also nearly always provide a ‘how to ‘ section, some just include basic stitch tutorials as a refresher and others more advanced techniques as well so you can pick information on more varied methods as well. Many publications as well as being a rich source of ideas and information about products available also run ‘CALS’  Crochet a-longs where readers can work on projects at the same time as many other’s, often groups on Facebook/ instagram will run in conjunction with the CAL organised by the magazines or yarn companies, enabling you to have access to the support of others if you choose, provide support for others if you can, and see examples of other peoples work to inspire you, and share your own when you have triumphantly mastered something you thought you never would! Currently there is a very good CAL being run by Simply Crochet suitable for beginners, one of the more long-standing publications, in conjunction with a yarn supplier where a pattern for one square of a blanket is released every month so the blanket is completed over the year, each square teaches the participants and new crochet stitch from basic to slightly more advanced, giving people time to complete the project at their own pace, there is also a facebook support group for this CAL. The patterns are also published on Ravelry ( if you miss a magazine edition) which is a site for knitting and crochet enthusiasts where patterns can be purchased on-line and provides an excellent personalised section where you can record your projects planned , in process and finished, organise an online record of your yarn stash, swap yarns with others and chat on forums. There are numerous facebook groups some independent , some run by yarn companies that are great resources for ideas, help and support and information about crochet along projects that may be running, it keeps people going on projects when they have others to share with who are undertaking the same project, which include progress photos and tips and tricks. Simply Crochet -hook & learn CAL Facebook group

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latest edition of the magazine running the CAL, one each of the first two squares that have been released monthly and example of the yarn that can be used , which is an excellent quality but inexpensive acrylic yarn just right for beginners, there is a second option of a more expensive cotton mix yarn for those who want it too.

If you do enjoy more of a social learning environment there are also many workshops for crochet advertised on the internet and crochet magazines, these can be anything from a simple how to session, often materials are provided, to who weekends away or ‘retreats’ in lovely settings, including excellent accommodation and food, and provision of materials, tuition and patterns. (e.g. The Crochet Retreat) There are also specialist events and festivals for fibre arts such as Yarndale in Skipton, North Yorkshire which provide oodles of inspiration from the makers and yarn dyers and sellers who show off their wares at such events, crochet magazines carry adverts for these and there is plently of online information.

If you want something more tactile than organising your creative ideas and projects on-line  with sites like Ravelry and Love Crochet you can also buy crochet project books and swatch cards for yarn to keep a record of projects and your ideas and colour combinations for makes, some of the products available like the one pictured below are small enough to fit into an average handbag so that you can note down ideas and yarns you have seen whilst you are on the move. (The Stationary Geek)

There is wealth of information and inspiration out there for anyone starting out with crochet as a new hobby/ skill and a lovely welcoming and helpful online community to get to know, all you have to do is enjoy creating beautiful tactile projects ! 🙂

LoveCrochet

Optical Illusions

My latest crochet project is a very clever patten ‘Crochet between the lines’ from Canadutch using Scheepjes Whirl, and not just one gorgeous whirl but two! Through a very simple double crochet stich it creates a lovely soft fluid fabric with a clever striped optical illusion. It is a long project for a shawl but the final result makes up for the amount of work it requires using both complete whirls, each whirl provides a 1000 metres of gorgeously soft magical colour changing smooth 4 ply cotton yarn, it is a delicious yarn to work with due to both the smooth texture and the simply huge range of mouth watering colour choices available to choose from. This shawl/ wrap project gives you the opportunity to choose two of the available colour streams or you can combine two of the same starting at opposite ends and create a personal colour fusion from your favourites, there are literally upteen possibilities. On the Scheepjes make a long page on Facebook there are many photos of all sorts of tantilising variations that crocheters have embarked on, also for those who prefer two needles to one there is knitting pattern version called ‘Read between the lines’.

My own attempt combined two whirls I had in my ever growing yarn stash – ‘Sherbet Rainbow’ whose bright effervescent colours conjure up exactly that premise and the slightly more sombre but deeply rich colours of ‘Dark Grape Squish’ which appeal to my own very bad crush or squish on the colour purple. I now have a gorgeous big wrap that I can use during the summer to jazz up my summer dresses and T-shirts during those enevitable cooler moments in this country, it will also accompany on my much awaited summer hoilday cruise this year as well as cover up from that sometimes too intense sun of the mediterrean on my shoulders ( being of slightly fair skin ). A cruise is of course the perfect excuse for many types of shawls and my current new project is a beaded evening shawl to accompany me as well, but more of that on my next post!

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Finishing last year and onto 2017

I haven’t been on my blog for a while- December was very busy craft wise as this year I made all my own cards and Christmas presents as I had a lot more time than previous years now I’m retired from midwifery, and then its been the usual post Christmas rush catching up with all sorts of projects, however hopefully now things are back to a more steady pace and I can share my projects during the year which will include a few for my eldest daughters wedding . She got engaged at the end of the summer and will be getting married on August 18th this year in Christchurch Dorset. Currently i am making some hopefully very nice “rustic” themed wedding invitation cards which hopefully I can share with you soon including the details of how I made them. A couple of photos below of some of the crochet Christmas  presents made for my daughter and son in law to be and my youngest son.

I made a a lovely chunky mermaid tail for my daughter at her request – using 12 balls of Sirdar “Chunky” yarn

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mermaid tail in Sirdar chunky

I made some warm bobble hats for my sons and son in law to be, scarves and mittens, the basket weave stitch hat and scarf were made with Scheepjes stonewashed yarn in the lovely shades of blue apatite and smokey quartz which go very well together, another hat in some left over schweppes merino soft from my last dance under the stars blanket, and some bright blue creations for my youngest son in the Pokemon team mystic colours using the new love crochet Paintbox aran yarn, which I must say is a nice budget acrylic yarn to work with with- practically no splittings  and a nice soft finish

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Blue, white and grey team mystic set with Paintbox yarn aran and Scheepjes stonewashed basketweave hat and scarf.

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New projects for this year include one of my favourite things to crochets – shawls, the first I have started is the Scheepjes melting snowflakes shawl which I have chosen to make in the “crystal” colour way, this uses Scheepjes gorgeous merino soft yarn again with crystal bead decoration in the flowers and for the tassels at each end- this is my work so far and when I finish it I will share some photos and review the kit provided by scheepjes.

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Scheepjes melting snowflake shawl in merino soft

Just finished on the shawl front is Joanne Scrace’s Northmoor lock shawl, I would class this as a shawl type scarf, from the The Crochet Project– The Shawl project Book 1, I previously made her Acer  shawl (Love Crochet CAL Acer Shawl) which you can see below also, Joanne is definitely the Queen of shawls as far as I can see and I will be treating my self to the Shawl project book 2 in the future. For the Northmoor lock I used the new Scheepjes secret garden cotton and silk mix yarn, I chose the shade lily pond as the shawl/ scarf was for myself and the pattern used 3 50gram balls, the pattern is suitable for any silk mix yarn, the scheepjes secret garden works up beautifully and makes a lovely draped fabric. I used a 3.5mm clover hook with the yarn, I blocked the the shawl afterwards as Joanne suggests and washed it in my favourite jasmine Eucalan for blocking 🙂 This an ideal project for a crochet beginner I would say.

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Northmoor Lock pattern by Joanne Scrace The Shawl project book 1

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Acer Shawl pattern by Joanne Scrace – Love Crochet CAL

I plan on completing some more of Joannes shawl patterns this year which i will share and also i am going to to do the new Scheepjes  CAL the “Hygge” wrap, I will review the kit provided by Scheepjes when I receive it and share my Cal journey – this CAL is slightly unique in that it includes decorating the crochet with cross stitch and lining the wrap, the project has been designed by Kirsten Ballering. So hopefully see you during the year for ongoing projects- what do you have planned for 2017?

Happy hooking and crafting 🙂
LoveCrochet

Last dance on the beach 2016 CAL – Sea blanket now finished

This will be my last post regarding the the Scheepjes last dance on the beach CAL 2016 in memory of Wink as i have now finshed my last dance in the sea blanket which i used the Scheepjes Colour Crafter option for, I have to say I have been quite impressed with this fab acrylic yarn and to be able to make such a gorgeous blanket for a budget price is definitely a bonus! With of course the added convenience that this acrylic blanket can be popped in the washing machine very easily – which is why I chose the acrylic version for my sones blanket.

I didn’t use the invisible zipper method for joining this blanket from the CAL pattern  like I did with the stars blanket as with these colours I felt the border colour actually added  something to the look of the blanket and it suited a division between the squares this time.

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I loved making both these blankets and enjoyed the CAL group on Facebook from where I have also made some new instagram friends 🙂 With both these blankets to remind me of Wink’s beautiful colour rich designs its been a very special project to be involved in with crocheters from all over the world.

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