I am not a crocheter by nature or by training, but I do find crochet very soothing in a way that knitting is not for me. Because I can practically knit in my sleep I have to be doing something else while I’m knitting, either watching a film, listening to an engaging programme on the radio, or chatting to a member of my family. However, crochet requires my constant attention and focus and so is a more absorbing and mindful activity for me. I find the rhythmic and repetitive nature of the hooking process quite hypnotic, and it’s therefore one of the few activities that really make me ‘switch off’.
Being lucky enough to be surrounded by yarn of multiple colours, I have simply craved for a long time to make a granny squares blanket, using all the delicious ten colours from my Chunky range. But I have had to be patient to see this project finished, as it has taken me the best part of a year! This is because knitting calls on my time more urgently, more persuasively and more effectively (probably because I need to knit to generate income). However, I have made the most of snippets of time to crochet in between activities. One of the great things about crochet is that it is far more portable than knitting. My crochet hook and various balls of half used yarn came with me to Cornwall and Suffolk last summer, travelled with me on the train down to London, accompanied me on taxi runs for my children which required waiting time in the car. After repeating the squares numerous times, I could finish one in fifteen minutes, so it was a perfect occupation for those ten minute windows of time that inevitably crop up when you’ve been asked to pick someone up at 5pm and they don’t emerge until 5.15pm. Crochet has also therefore kept me calm and less likely to get irritable, as I am naturally a very impatient person and find it particularly irksome waiting for my children, as they seem to have little sense of the value of my time compared to theirs!
As I do not write crochet patterns, I am letting you have this one for free in the form of a series of three video tutorials (scroll to the bottom of this post), accompanied by a schematic chart for a colour scheme, a list of materials, and a few tips for completing your blanket. Of course, you can vary the colour combinations or schematic as you wish, but I thought I would let you know exactly what I did, so that if you like the results you can make your own. The videos are also up on my YouTube Channel.
As a special bonus for all you lovely crocheters out there reading this, I have put together some Granny Squares Blanket Yarn Packs of 10 x 100g balls, one of each ten Chunky colours, which you can buy here for only £64, saving 20% off the price of buying the yarn separately (normally £80 for 1kg). You will need two packs to complete the blanket (2kg in all!) but maybe you'll want to buy one pack at a time to spread the cost. I hope this helps someway towards getting your blanket started.
6.5mm crochet hook
Darning needle for sewing up
Each square uses approximately 15g of Libby Summers Chunky and to make a blanket you will make 96 squares.
3g of this is for the first round, 5g of this is for the second round and 7g of this is for the third round.
For the colour combination that I did, you will need the following 2 x 100g balls of each of the ten colours in the range
2 x 007 City Lights
2 x 100 Elderflower Cream
2 x 008 Alleyway Shadows
2 x 009 Evening Horizon
2 x 010 Congestion Red
2 x 011 Apple Blossom
2 x 661 Asphalt Grey
2 x 207 Stamford Stone
2 x 860 Clear Skies
2 x 434 Misty Day
Each square measures approximately 12cm wide and 12cm high
Approximately 144cm high x 96cm wide
Follow the videos below to learn to make a granny square, if you don't know how. This particular design uses the treble stitch, but there are other ways of making granny squares using other stitches and other configurations. Follow the schematic below to get the same colour scheme as I used and to ensure you have enough yarn. By all means make up your own colour scheme, but bear in mind that you may need to purchase more yarn.
I decided to sew my squares together using a simple overstitch in 434 Misty Day. You shouldn’t need to buy extra of your sewing up colour, as long as it’s not 007 City Lights or 100 Elderflower Cream, as these two colours are used the most in the blanket. You may choose to join your squares using a crochet stitch. This can tend to create a raised edges running vertically and horizontally through the blanket, which I don’t really like the look of, which is why I chose to sew it together. Its a matter of personal choice, however.
Arguably the best hour of my week is spent at my daughter's school, Copthill School, running a knitting club for Year 4 - Year 6 children. I approached the Headmaster two terms ago to start the club, and my timing was, for a change, impeccable, as he was just getting interested in alpacas, being about to add a trio of these beautiful animals to school's ever growing animal population. With ambitions of spinning and producing yarn from their very own animals, he was keen to get the children started on making things yarnie, and so the knitting club was created.
The club started off with twelve members, and it was a bit of a challenge getting them all started on my own as the first stages of knitting are frustrating, time intensive for the teacher and slow! However, I was impressed at how the children applied themselves and persevered with the craft. There are now ten devoted members of the club and many of them have their own knitting bags housing several WIPs! It has been fantastic to see how they have picked the skills up so quickly and eagerly, and made so many lovely things already. It is a real personal treat to see what they have made at home each week. Some weeks, I have been joined by a member of staff with her spinning wheel, and the children have had a go at spinning their own yarn from fleece, which they have thoroughly enjoyed.
Now we are getting ready for a group project; our very first knitting stall at the school Summer Fete in June, which is very exciting. This came about for two reasons. The output of the group has increased, and so we are in need of more knitting wool to keep our club going. The children are also enjoying making things for others, and are keen to share their skills and their creativity. So I mooted the idea of taking a stall at the Summer Fete. The children immediately jumped at the idea, and it has been great to see them working together as a team to plan for the event. They have decided on a number of projects and items to make and sell, set pricing, and targets for production, as well as deciding amongst themselves who will make what, to ensure they end up with an appropriate number of each item. They have also decided between them what they will do with the money they take; half will go towards buying new materials for the group and half will go to their chosen charity. They also have plans to offer mini knitting lessons for a fee on the day. They have done this all with very little input from me, which just goes to show what super kids they are and what a fantastic school they go to!
So, I have been tasked with designing some patterns for the Fete. This week I designed mug warmers and tea light covers, and I am sharing these patterns with you here, as they are so simple and easy to make but very effective. I hope that some of you might be be inspired to start a club at your local school, run a stall for charity or something else entirely! Watch this space for more free patterns at a later date too.
15g Aran weight yarn (I used 100% Shetland yarn)
Pair 4.5mm needles
The mug warmer can be adjusted to fit the circumference of your mug, but you will need a bit more yarn if it is bigger than the one used here. The one I used has a 23cm [9in] circumference and a height of 10cm [4in] .
7cm high (this is the width of your work) and 23cm [9in] circumference (the length of your work).
18 sts and 32 rows to 10cm [4in] measured over garter stitch using 4.5mm needles. The stitch count is more important that the row count here, as the pattern requires you to measure your work rather than telling you how many rows to knit.
Cast on 12 sts.
Work in garter stitch (ie. knit every row) until work measures 23cm [9in] or the measured circumference of your mug. Cast off.
Sew the cast on and cast off edge together just at one corner. Sew the button in place on the other corner of one end. Using a spare piece of yarn, create a loop at the other end, fastening off carefully so it doesn't come undone.
Tea Light Holder Covers
5g 4 ply weight yarn (I used Manos Serena)
Pair 4.5mm needles
The tea light holder cover can be adjusted to fit the circumference of your tea light holder, but you will need a bit more yarn if it is bigger than the one used here. The one I used has a 23cm [9in] circumference and a height of 10cm [4in]. Mine is tapered, and I measured it in the middle, at the slightly narrower part, as the yarn will stretch and you don't want the cover to be too loose as it will just fall down.
7cm high (this is the width of your work) and 23cm [9in] circumference (the length of your work).
18 sts and 32 rows to 10cm [4in] measured over pattern using 4.5mm needles. The stitch count is more important that the row count here, as the pattern requires you to measure your work rather than telling you how many rows to knit.
Cast on 10 sts.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: Knit, wrapping the yarn TWICE around the needle for every stitch.
Row 4: Knit, dropping the extra wrap as you do so (ie. don't knit into both wraps or knit every wrap).
Repeat 4 row pattern until work measures 23cm [9in] or the measured circumference of your tea light holder. Cast off.
Sew the cast on and cast off edges together. If you like, you can stick the cover to the tea light holder using double sided tape.
Sometimes you're making something where both sides will be visible, and you really don't want to spoil the integrity of your fabric one little bit, even with the neatest sewing in of ends ever seen.
Well, there is a way.
This works best with singles yarns. I've not widely experimented to adapt to a highly twisted yarn, but I expect there are ways and means, and if anyone has any tips, please share them in the comments section.
This is just a simple technique which only takes a few minutes and your knitting will look as if you have worked from one ball continuously all the way through.
Step 1: Work up to the point where you have approximately 5cm of yarn left. It doesn't matter if this is in the middle of a row - in fact, it's better if it is!
Step 2: Take your new ball and lay it side by side with the last 5cm of the old ball.
Step 3: Separate the strands of both sections of yarn without breaking the fibres.
Step 4: Gently work the fibres from both balls together by holding them between your index finger and thumb and gently twist them and squish them together, working in the same direction as the natural twist of the yarn. Even with a singles yarn, the fibres will tend to slant in one direction, so try and identify this before your start working the fibres together.
Step 5: Continue in this way until the yarns are integrated and the join is pretty much invisible to the naked eye. Test the join by tugging GENTLY - not too much as a singles yarn breaks easily anyway! A little bit of instability is ok, as when the yarn is worked, the knots tied by the stitches will firm up the join.
Step 6: Continue with your pattern and enjoy the seamless join!
This tutorial explains how to work the edging for the cushions from the Sojourn Pattern booklet #11 using the simple two double pointed needle method. There may sometimes be a slight gap or seam between the stitches on the back. However, this doesn’t matter at all in this pattern, as you will be sewing the i-cord onto the edge of your cushion, and so concealing this. Bear in mind that 6 sts is the maximum you can use to create an i-cord using this method.
You need two 6.5mm double pointed needles and a small amount of Libby Summers' Chunky.
Step 1: Cast on 6 sts using 6mm dpns.
Step 2: Knit the first row. Do not turn work
Step 3: Slide sts to the other end of needle.
Step 4: Knit the next row, pulling the yarn tightly across the back of sts to close the gap between one side of the knitting and the other side.
Step 7: Repeat steps 3 - 4 until i-cord is desired length. Cast off.
This tutorial is based on the baby sock pattern in the Berwyn’s Adventures Collection #07, which is written to be knitted on either dpns or on one circular needle using the magic loop method. I recommend a fairly long circular needle, maybe 100cm, so that you have plenty of wiggle space for moving stitches around. This tutorial shows you step by step how to work the magic loop method from casting on to the end of the heel. It assumes a good understanding of the basics of knitting. You might find the tutorial confusing to read unless you are actually following the pattern at the same time!
To start off, you will need a circular 4mm needle, 50g of Libby Summers Fine Aran and the Berwyn's Adventures pattern booklet.
Step 1: Cast on the number of sts stated in the pattern for your chosen size.
Step 2: Divide the sts evenly between the two ends of your circular needle, taking care not to twist the stitches at their base as you do so.
Step 3: Join to work in rounds, taking care not to twist work. Do this by moving the sts closest to the ball of yarn onto the flexible section of the needle, and then start to knit the sts from the rigid end of the needle, making sure they are all facing the same way with the base of the stitches all facing downwards. Pull the yarn tight against the first stitch so you don’t get a break between rows.
Step 5: Knit across all the sts on rigid section of needle, and then move these sts down onto the flexible section of needle. Move the sts from flexible section of needle up onto the other rigid end of needle, so you can work them next....
Step 6: MB. Work the next set of sts to complete the round and place your marker to show where each round begins. Pop it on the RH side of needle and slide it down to sit with the sts on flexible section. This photo shows your work after you have done this and are just about to start the next round.
Step 7: Work rounds 1 - 13 in this way, following the instructions given for the moss stitch edging on rounds 5 - 8.
Step 8: Round 13: K7 (7, 8, 8), turn. The photo shows work turned to the wrong side.
Step 9: The heel flap requires you to work 11 (11, 13, 13) sts, so isolate the extra sts needed to complete this round from the sts left on your flexible needle, and move them onto the rigid section of the needle to join the 7 (7, 8, 8) sts worked before you turned. This photo shows the 7 sts on the right hand side of the flexible needle and the four extra stitches isolated on the left hand side of the flexible needle just before sliding them down to join the 7 sts already worked.
Step 10: You can then put the marker aside and complete the heel flap as directed.
Step 11: Complete the heel as directed, leaving you with 6 (6, 8, 8) sts.
Step 12: Shows the position of your work just before picking up the stitches for the gusset.
Step 12: Picking up the stitches for the gusset
Step 13: Push the stitches you have just picked up down onto the flexible section of the needle to allow you to knit across the 12 (12, 14, 16) sts which were previously left on the felxible section of the needle, now pushed up onto the rigid section.
Step 14: Pick up and knit stitches along the other side of heel flap as directed.
Step 15: Knit across 3 of the 6 (6, 8, 8) sts left when you previously completed the heel flap (see photo from Step 11).
Step 16: Place marker for new beginning of round, so round begins midway across the heel.
Step 17: Work five rounds of shaping as directed to complete the heel and then you are ready to knit the foot.
I've got a lot on my plate at the moment, both with work and home life, and to try and relax and breathe out, baking is the filling in my work/home sandwich. On Saturday, I made a cake to take to my cousins house on Sunday. The recipe is adapted from an old one I scribbled down years ago in my favourite recipes book, and I've forgotten where it came from originally. Last time I made it, I didn't have enough ground almonds, so substituted some flour, and we all agreed it was delicious, so it has no become another recipe in its own right.
As the cake was for Sunday, I wanted to bake something for now, and it was a case of flicking through recipe books to work out what I had the ingredients for. I came across a recipe for 'Friands' which, as far as I can tell are light and fluffy versions of muffins. Of course, I had to adapt the recipe, ahem, to accommodate the actual amounts of ingredients I had, so in the process I invented another new recipe. My version also has chocolate chips in.
The friands use a whopping seven egg whites, so I set about creating a citrus curd recipe that would use seven egg yolks. I wanted it to be just lemon curd, but only had two lemons left after the lemon cake, so it had to be a mix of oranges and lemons.
Here are the recipes. I hope you enjoy them!
Libby's Luscious Lemon Cake
200g ground almonds
100g plain flour
4 medium eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
grated zest of one unwaxed lemon and juice of half of lemon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
25g caster sugar
Libby's Luscious Lemon Cake
Chocolate Chip Friands
Chocolate Chip Friands
Finely grated zest and juice of two large lemons and 1 orange
250g caster sugar
125g butter, cut into small cubes
7 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Large clean jar
The results of an afternoon of baking
Welcome to Week 3 of Knit Camp!
This week, we are releasing my hot water bottle pattern, and teaching increasing, seams and sewing up and blocking. This hot water bottle cover will be sure to keep you warm during the rest of camp!
My aim in designing the hot water bottle was to create a striking design which would also maximise a new knitter's opportunities for practising all the skills that Knit Camp is teaching. The pattern includes different stitch patterns, and needs both increasing and decreasing skills, practise at measuring your knitting, and a lot of seaming (you may not thank me for that - but its excellent practice).
To use this tutorial, you will also need the pattern, included in the Knit Camp Kit, and printed below. The pattern is divided up into three stitch patterns, which are listed separately to make it clear when you move from one to the next, but just keep the knitting continuous between them.
Patterned Hot Water Bottle
To fit 1 litre size hot water bottle meas 16cm wide and 28cm high.
50g ball Libby Summers Fine Aran in Lima (Shade 101)
5mm knitting needles
RS right side
skpo slip one st, knit one st, pass slipped st over
M1 make one st by picking up loop in row below and knitting into the back of it
sl 1p slip one st purlwise
k2tog knit 2 sts tog
kfb knit into front and back of st (thus making one extra stitch)
kfbf knit into front, back and front again (thus making two extra stitches)
LH left hand
RH right hand
18 sts and 24 rows in stocking stitch to 10cm/4in using 5mm needles (or size needed to achieve tension)
Front (make 1)
Cast on 24 sts.
Row 1: Kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1. 26 sts
Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: As row 1. 28 sts
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: Knit.
Purl 5 rows.
Knit 5 rows.
Purl 5 rows.
Row 21 (RS): *P4, k4; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.
Row 22: *K4, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.
Rows 23-24: As Rows 21- 22.
Row 25: *K4, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.
Row 26: *P4, k4; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.
Rows 27-28: As Rows 25-26.
Rows 29-44: As Rows 21-28.
Knit 5 rows.
Row 50 (WS): P1, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1, p1.
Row 51: K.
Row 52: As Row 1.
Row 53: K2tog, k to last 2 sts, k2togtbl. 26 sts
Row 54: *K1, p4; to last st, k1.
Row 55: As Row 53. 24 sts
Row 56: *P4, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.
Row 57: As Row 53. 22 sts
Row 58: P3, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, p3.
Row 59: As Row 53. 20 sts
Row 60: P2, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 3 sts, k1, p2.
Row 61: Knit.
Rep last 2 rows until work measures 18cm from beginning of Pattern 3, ending with a WS row (as row 60).
Row 1 (RS): K1, M1, k to last st, M1, k1. 22 sts
Row 2: P3, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, p3.
Row 3: As Row 1. 24 sts
Row 4: *P4, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p4.
Row 5: As Row 1. 26 sts
Row 6: *K1, p4; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 7: As Row 1. 28 sts
Row 8: P1, *k1, p4; rep from * to last 2 sts, k1, p1.
Knit 5 rows.
Work as for Front until end of Pattern 2. Knit one extra row, then cast off.
With right side facing you, fold top section (pattern 3) of front over so that right sides are together and five rows of garter stitch just before the beginning of top section match up with six rows of garter stitch at the end of front.
With wrong side facing you, place back piece on top of front piece, making sure that cast off edge of back piece comes above the six rows of garter stitch at end of front piece. Pin in place. Sew pieces together using back stitch, leaving flap opening. Turn right side out.
Practising Stitch Patterns
I. Garter Stitch
Garter stitch can be created with either the knit or the purl stitch, and this pattern combines both in sequence to give plenty of practice for both stitches.
2. Basket Stitch
A common stitch, which has many uses in design, and is a great way to practise alternating between knit and purl on one row. Beginners sometimes struggle with remembering to take the yarn back before knitting and forward before purling, and it can take practise to do this without wrapping the yarn around the needle as you do so.
3. Seed Rib or Broken Stocking Stitch
This stitch has different names. Usually it is done by knitting on the RS, and purling on the wrong side, with knit stitches evenly space along the purl row, which will appear as 'purl' stitches on the RS to break up the st st appearance. Good practice, without being as tiring as the traditional rib stitch. Using this stitch in the top section of the hot water bottle pulls the tension in a little, but not as much as a rib stitch would, so it is ideal for a section where a narrower tension is needed.
A hot water bottle pattern usually requires some shaping (not always!) and this pattern uses two techniques for increasing and two techniques for decreasing, which will equip you with most of the skills you need to tackle most patterns involving shaping. Don't worry if this sounds daunting, as the tutorial below takes you through each one step by step.
Often, increases and decreases will be written one or two stitches in from the edge of work. This makes sewing up easier, and draws attention to the increase or decrease, which can add to the design. However, in this pattern, where there is a lot of pattern and texture, the decrease is best hidden in the selvedge, so that is why I have written the decreases and increases in the first and second stitches of the row.
When I designed the hot water bottle, I took photos as I went along, as I thought it might be helpful for new knitters trying out the pattern to see exactly what the knitting should look like at each stage. So, here is a step by step guide through the pattern. I hope its helpful. I have not gone through blocking and sewing up in lots of detail as Joanne and Kat will be exploring that later in the week, but I hope that what I have given you here will be enough to complete the design, for those of you who want to get cracking as soon as possible!
A: Row 3: Kfb....
The photo shows knitting into the back of the stitch after having already knitted into the front
B: Row 6
The photo shows work after just as you are about to start Row 6 with WS facing (where instructions say ‘Purl 5 rows’)
C: Row 11
About to start Row 11 with RS facing (where instructions say ‘Knit 5 rows’)
D: Row 16
About to start Row 16 with WS facing (where instructions say ‘Purl 5 rows’ for the second time)
E: Row 21
About to start Row 21 with RS facing
This is the beginning of Pattern 2
F: Row 29
About to start Row 29 with RS facing
1st 8 rows of Pattern 2 completed
G: Row 45
About to start Row 45 (where pattern says ‘K5 rows’ in Pattern 2 section)
H: Row 50
RS view when you are about to start Pattern 3 (Row 50)
The knitting needle is facing the wrong way. You will need to turn knitting round to knit row 50.
J: Row 53
Pattern 3 (k2tog) (1)
1st stage of k2tog - insert needle into 2 sts instead of 1 st
K: Row 53
Pattern 3 (k2tog) (2)
2nd stage of K2tog - yarn round needle (yrn)
L: Row 53
Pattern 3 (k2tog) (3)
3rd stage of k2tog - bring yarn through loops of both stitches
M: Row 53
Pattern 3 (k2tog) (4)
4th stage of k2tog - slip 2 stitches off left hand needle
N: End of Row 53
Pattern 3 k2togtbl (1)
Do this in the same way as k2tog, BUT at first stage, insert needle into the BACK of the loops instead of the front
P: End of Row 53
Pattern 3 k2togtbl (2)
2nd stage of k2togtbl - yarn round needle (yrn)
Q: End of Row 53
Pattern 3 k2togtbl (3)
3rd stage of k2togtbl - Pull yarn through loops of both stitches
R: End of Row 53
RS view at end of Row 10 of Pattern 3 before turning work to begin Row 11
T: Row 1 of Increase Section (1)
1st stage of M1 - picking up loop between 1st and 2nd stitch, placing it on left hand needle
U: Row 1 of Increase Section (2)
2nd stage of M1 - knitting into the back of the loop
V: Row 1 of Increase Section (3)
3rd stage of M1 - yarn round needle in usual way and slip stitch off left hand needle
W: RS view of work after Row 8 of Increase Section
If you used the kfb method of increasing in this section, then the 'purl' stitch that it creates on the RS side of work would be confused with the purl stitch of the pattern. This is why the M1 method is used here.
X: WS view of work when casting off
Casting off is done on the WS as the 'purl' stitch of the garter edge will then be closer to the cast off edge, which looks neater in this design.
Z: Blocking your work before sewing up
Place work on ironing board with RS facing you. Pin in place as shown. Spray with water and leave until dry (about 2 hours). Remove work from ironing board. Do not iron!
Making Up (1)
With RS facing you, fold top section (pattern 3) of front cover over so that right sides are together and five rows of garter stitch just before the beginning of top section match up with six rows of garter stitch at the end of front
With WS facing you, place back piece on top of front piece, making sure that cast off edge of back piece comes above the six rows of garter stitch at end of front piece.
Pin in place.
Making Up (2)
Sew pieces together using back stitch, leaving flap opening. When you have sewn all the way round, remove pins and turn work right side out.
Knit Camp is now in full swing, and today's tutorial, up on Kat's blog, is for casting on. I have written two different cast on methods for you, so you can choose which one to try, or try both! The cable method is most similar to the knit stitch, so is good preparation for that, but can be tricky for complete beginners. If you are a complete beginner, you might prefer to try the thumb method, as this is really quite easy to tackle. The only drawback with this one is that the first row can end up a little loopy if you're not careful. All I would say is, try try and try again, and don't expect your first attempts to be perfect. I love this quote by Aristotle: "The best way for a student to get out of difficulty is to go through it."
Before I became a knitwear designer, I was a violin teacher for more than a decade, and I thought I would try and apply some lateral thinking to see what I could squeeze out of my experiences as a music teacher to try and help the campers learning to knit.
Today, we will start with looking at 'Practice'.
Practice - the most common thing that springs to mind about practice is the much mis-quoted saying 'practice makes perfect'. However, only perfect practice makes perfect! Here are some tip for practising, which can as easily be applied to knitting as to music
There are many more things I could write about practice, but these principles will hopefully get you thinking for now, and help with the first tutorial. Don't forget to join the facebook page for help when you get stuck, and for sharing your progress and photos of your work.
Happy casting on!
I'm crazy about yarn, Scotland, food, my husband and my three girls, and I live in a perpetual state of organised chaos. Some just call it creativity.