How my passion for crochet started

Mums-bag by Queenandfox
Mums-bag, a photo by Queenandfox on Flickr.

A couple of years ago, my Mum was getting ready to travel from France to visit us here in Melbourne and spend Christmas with us. And, as I mentioned before, Mum is pretty crafty and I told her how much everyone comments on what she makes, especially a couple of handmade bags that she knitted for me and my daughter. I told her: “Mum, can you show us how to knit and how did you make that little flower, was that crochet?”.

So, she brought all her tools over, some yarn and left-over material and she started showing my daughter how to do a simple knit-stitch and she showed me the same stitch and the purl stitch.  That went well, but I still wanted more from her. I seem to not really connect with straight knitting. “How about that beautiful blue blanket you made for Dylan (my son)?” I asked her. She said that I would need to learn crochet to do that. So, she started showing me how to do my first granny square. It was so hard, in the beginning. I had no idea, it seemed like decyphering an old parchment to me at first.

Then, I got it. And while I was getting the hang of it and perfecting my simple granny square skills, Mum got inspired and started getting an idea for a new bag. So, she used the yarn that was hanging around and leftover bits from one of her old dresses and she made the bag you can see in the above photo. She left it to me as a gift and once she was gone, it gave me a challenge. I was determined to reproduce what she had made!

I ended up making the same square with different combinations of colours. And I made enough so I could turn it into a scarf for my daughter. It was the first garment I ever made using crochet. The squares were not exactly even, so I did have to cheat and add extra edging to some. I also had to work out how to do fringes, as it was a strong requirement coming from my daughter! It took me ages to finish, as I was not very experienced, but I was pretty proud by the end of it. Lana loves it too and Mum was super amazed.  This square is kind of a special family pattern now. I hope Lana uses it one day, maybe for her own kids – that would be cool!

Do you also have a special sentimental attachment to a project you’ve made or a pattern that was passed on to you from older generations? It would be great to hear your stories.

Granny square scarf

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Doilies in Glenlyon

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I have just come back from my weekend in Daylesford, which was a great success. I also managed to catch up with an old friend, Magali, who runs an art gallery called Stockroom in Kyneton.  We had dinner with her family in her country farm in Glenlyon, which is not far from Daylesford.

She was the one I was making the red doily for (see previous article). I ended up making a second one, as I got into the swing of it and because it’s much nicer to share with someone else. She was really pleased with them and immediately put them on her dining table to use as coasters. She also told me how she would like to learn how to crochet. So, this could start another crochet addiction! I have recently taught my niece how to make granny squares and she is also hooked and bursting with her own ideas for various projects. So, I think it’s going to be hard for me to stop this wave of crochet love!

I used a 2 mm crochet for this and a pattern from Le Monde de Sucrette. So, let me know what you think.

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Poncho girl!

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Tadaaaa!!! I’ve finally finished my daughter’s poncho. Just in time for the cooler months here in Melbourne!!!

She’s super happy with the results. She originally thought she would like fringes as a finish. But, I ended up doing a different kind of edging, as the wool we picked did not work well with fringes. I’m not sure how this type of edging is called, so I call it petal edging, since I usually use it to make crochet flower petals. If anyone knows the correct term for it, please drop me a line in the comment box.

The pattern for this edging goes like this:

Row 1

sl st, ch 5, sl st at the end of each cluster (so every 4 stitches)
Keep going around and sl st at the end. It looks like semi-circles all around the edge.

Row 2

dc around your 1st semi-circle, tr 5 times, dc. You have made 1 petal.
dc directly around the second semi-circle and keep going until the end. Fasten off.

If anyone gets inspired into making their own take on this poncho, please, please, please post a photo of it and send me a link to it. I’d love to see your work!

An ode to the world of Laina Briedis

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©Laina Briedis

I’m feeling so very Autumny at the moment. This wood-scented air is giving me strange compulsions to walk on crackling orange leaves, to go mushroom-picking, to crochet a warm blanket for my bed (of course) or to bury my head in a sweet-smelling basket of apples.

Talking of which, if you happen to have like me this strangle apple-smelling urge, the chances are you’ll probably fall in love with the photography of Laina Briedis. It feels like her photos have often been taken on gentle Autumn afternoons (or maybe I’m just obsessed). Her universe is full of apple orchards, seriously cute bunnies, pine cone patterns and characters being at peace with nature. There’s even green branches wrapping themselves around people in a delicate hug (maybe it’s what the reverse of tree-hugging would look like). I love the idea of being loved and embraced by Nature. It’s a feeling that I often sense during hiking.

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©Laina Briedis

There’s a kind of fairy-tale, childlike quality to her photographs, which tranports you to this place in your distant memory. A time when you knew in your heart that animals could talk and the wind on your face would make you want to run down the hill and make that hidden cubby-house under the trees.

Each of her beautiful images tells a story and if it sounds like one of yours, well, you can head to her etsy shop and order prints online.

Time for me to meet my daughter outside for a leaf fight. She’s gonna get it!!!

PS: I have ordered prints through Laina’s etsy shop before and she’s an abolute delight. She’s happy to do custom listings for you and she’s super efficient. I only have sweet words to say about Laina.

My first doily!

My first doily by Queenandfox
My first doily, a photo by Queenandfox on Flickr.

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on lately. I’m going to visit a friend in Daylesford (lovely town located northwest of Melbourne) in a couple of weeks. And since I have not seen her for a while, I thought I’d better not arrive empty-handed. So, I decided I would make her something with my little hands, something to remember me by. I’m only halfway through, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’ve never tried making a doily before and I think it will become addictive.

My grandmother, Yvonne, used to make so many of them, but her work was much finer of course. Her doilies were usually made with a beautiful lacy edging and she would make intricate embroidered flowers in the middle. I wish I had been more interested when I was young. Unfortunately, my grandma passed away a few years ago, but luckily she did pass on some of her skills to Mum, which is a great comfort.

So, it’s kind of nice to be making something my grandma would have approved of, even though I am using a different technique. I have used a yarn that’s half acrylic and half cotton called Gelato (couldn’t resist the ice-cream reference) and a 2 mm crochet hook. I have also got a dark blue, almost navy and a light brown, almost cream, which I will use for the edging. I might even make a second one and mix colours a bit.

If you are interested, I’ve followed a fantastic pattern which I found in Le Monde de Sucrette again. As you can see, if you keep going making squares, you could make a table-runner out of them. She’s so clever and her drawings are really user-friendly, an absolute life-saver!

Let me know if you have a go at making this one. Enjoy!

Do Lectures – or how to change the world while freezing your butt!

I’ve heard about David Hieatt while reading Dumbo feather and I’m glad I did. He’s my kind of hero!

This chap has been around the traps a fair bit: he’s an entrepreneur, a designer, makes sustainable jeans manufactured in Wales with his wife, Clare – he’s an ideas man. I’m completely fascinated by his latest project, the Do Lectures, which he also organises with his wife.

Basically, every year, David and Clare invite a bunch of awesome creative people to talk about what they do. This takes place in a pretty remote part of West Wales in Fforest over a weekend during which people get to camp, eat together, share ideas and get inspired by the journeys others have taken. It’s a bit like a festival of ideas, a magical haven for doers. Now, the background of the talkers can be really varied: there’s people that are into ingenuous ideas to protect the environment, people that are into poetry, bicycles, micro-lending, natural births or even knitting!

Or, there could be someone talking about their passion of making traditional sourdough bread, such as Tom Herbert from England. I’ve watched his video and let me tell you, even though I had never baked a loaf of bread in my life, I was instantly determined to master this ancient skill.

His enthusiasm was so infectious that I did end up making my own sourdough starter a few days later and I now regularly bake a nice crusty loaf at the weekend. So, this offers an insight into how powerful the Do Lectures can be… and I didn’t even make the trip to Wales!

What I like about David Hieatt’s philosophy is that, according to him, it’s never too late to do what you really love doing. In fact, the Do Lectures are so motivational, it turns out that some UK companies have stopped sending their staff there because they end up losing them as a result. Attendees will often quit their job to do what interests them most and usually work for themselves.

So, if you too are in need of a change, if you think you are ready to jump into the next phase of your life, then you might find yourself deep in the Welsh countryside, freezing your butt off… but glowing inside.

Here’s some information about Do lectures or what to do if you know someone you’d like to nominate as a presenter. Apparently, there’s now another event taking place in California in September 2013, for the freezing-averse.

I’ve got a secret, a secret, a secret!

Harmony wool by Queenandfox
Harmony wool, a photo by Queenandfox on Flickr.

The great thing about crochet is that you can treat your loved ones with something made with your imagination and busy fingers. Something that comes straight from the heart.

I’m in a great state of anticipation at the moment because I have just spotted the perfect wool (see above) for my best friend, Julie. She has a special birthday coming up and I’m going to surprise her. She happens to spend a bit of time on her bike going to work and has just lost the mittens that I bought her last year. And, we can’t have her going around freezing her fingers, besides we need to keep her looking swift and stylish! So, I am going to replace them for her using a pattern I have followed before to make some for my daughter. Here they are:

Fingerless gloves by Queenandfox
Fingerless gloves, a photo by Queenandfox on Flickr.

These mittens were an absolute hit with my daughter Lana. She wears them all the time! And I made them using multicoloured yarn that Mum brought from France, which happens to be the very yarn which Mum had used to teach Lana how to do her first knit stitch. So, it always brings great memories to my mind whenever Lana wears these. It was a Christmas holiday that definitely ended up stitching the three generations together. The bond was already there, but learning how to knit and crochet from Mum made those ties even stronger somehow.

Anyhow, I’m thrilled with the tones of this new Harmony wool I picked up for Julie and with a name like this I had to get it for her. She is a bit of a pocket rocket, so hopefully this zen-ish name will soothe her somewhat.

More pics to follow, hopefully soon!