Issue 2: Woodland Whimsy is Here

 

This issue is inspired by woodlands so wrap up warm in your finest crochet and take a walk with us into deep dark forests and dappled glades.

As usual, you can expect garments and accessories from your favourite crochet designers with gorgeous details using interesting crochet techniques to create the most wearable pieces on the market. Expect lots of texture, beautiful drape and rich saturated tones.

We think you are going to love the collection so much that, for the first time, we are offering all the patterns as an e-book at a fantastic discount.

All our patterns have been thoroughly edited and written in our trademark simple style in your choice of UK or US standard terminology so whether you are a beginner or more experienced, whichever side of the Atlantic you are on. 

Tweet us @TheCrochetProj or follow us on Facebook and tell us what you think about Issue 2 or join us in our Ravelry group for a crochet a long!

Joanne and Kat

Introducing Aruancaria Cardigan (plus short rows help)

Today, we are looking at the design the Aruacaria Cardigan  by Kat Goldin.

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In almost every design, I start with the photo I want to take of the design forefront in my mind. How will it look? What angles will I photograph the details from? What colour and shape will I use? Not to say that things don't change as I go, but I am definitely a product person in the "process versus product" design discussion.

I knew I wanted a teal green for the cardigan, to add some darker colours to the palette for the rest of the designs. The yarn is Sublime Cashmere, Silk Merino DK.  I just found out the other day it is being discontinued *sob* but the baby version will continue *yay!*. I really love this yarn - it has great stitch definition, drape and twist to make really lovely wearable garments that you want to put on and feel special in. It isn't cheap, but from experience the silk and twist of this yarn help it wear really well, and I think that is crucial when making a garment...as it takes so much time to make, it is worth it to ensure it will last.

The original design had a cabled collar on the edge. However, to achieve the feminine shaping we were aiming for, a flowing cabled shawl collar proved difficult to get right. After many failed swatching attempts (and even dreams about how the design might work),  it was back to the drawing board...or rather the well-thumbed stitch dictionary.

I have written elsewhere about how important I find stitch dictionaries to my work.  I simply could not live without them. However, it still often takes a ton of work to get from chart in a book to a workable stitch for a pattern - there are so many considerations - gauge, increases, round vs flat. I recently found a great stitch I was desperate to use for a cardigan, only to realise it really can only work in the round, and hard as I tried, steeking wasn't going to work for a full cardi. But, all that aside, stitch dictionaries are invaluable.

In looking through, I found a pattern that I had actually earmarked for something else, but it looked so like a peacock, I simply couldn't let it go (the original name  of the cardigan was Peacock in the Garden). It was doubly ideal, because it was worked from the edging out in rows. This meant I could work it all the way from bottom front edge, up around the neck and down to the other bottom front edge in one piece, which is really ideal for the drapey shawl collar I was after.

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The construction of the sweater is a seamless, set-in shoulder, adapted from Barbara Walker (with help from Joanne Scrace). It starts at the neckline, with the back worked on one side of the foundation chain, then the front pieces worked on the other side of the chain, then joined at the underarm. While it doesn't work well for every garment, a seamless construction fits in well with the ethos of The Crochet Project - with its emphasis of lots of drape and flow. As the design uses short row shaping at the back and in the shoulders, I needed a main stitch that would hide the gaps and also have a right side that wasn't too different from the wrong side. I chose to use angled crochet, which works well to hide the gaps short rows can sometimes leave, and its back and front of the stitch are virtually indistinguishable.

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Short rows add 3 dimensional shaping to garments, but can be tricky if you've never come across this before, it can be tricky.  I have written a wee tutorial to help.

Because I'd never made a seamless set in sleeved cardigan before, I actually wrote and graded the pattern as I made it - not really the best practice when designing (it usually involves less ripping if you plan it out first), but I simply couldn't picture how it would all come together. I only had a week from starting the cardigan to finishing the design for the photoshoot, so I really had to move on it and this approach, while intensive, did mean I was finished in 7.5 days!!

In the end, I have to say I am very pleased with the results.  It is easily my favourite design to date, as I just love how it all came together, and it made the model VERY happy when she got to keep it as a thank you!!

(The pattern is available on Ravelry: buy now. You can also read more about and see the rest of the designs in The Crochet Project here)

 

Introducing Aquilegia

Jacqui  

 

Aquilegia {aq·ui·le·gi·a}

This beautiful hat was designed by the talented Jacqui Harding (known as curvyjax around the web)

Jacqui says:

"Many crochet hats are brightly coloured, holey and tightly fitted. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to try something different. And I was so pleased with the result.

Aqueligia is the botanical name for the group of flowers known as Granny's Bonnets. The hat is soft, drapey, gathered at the crown & has interesting textures throughout. The fit is softer than a beanie, but with less volume than a tam.  It's also very easy to adjust the size/degree of slouchiness to suit you & the yarn you are using. The sample was made in Artesano alpaca dk which is soft & drapey & co-operative!

The construction is not one that I've seen anywhere before. It's crocheted from the bobbles up, then the brim is added after. The unusual bobbles & the linked stitches give it an intermediate rating, but actually nothing is difficult, just unfamiliar. It whizzes along once you get going."

It certainly does - Jacqui made herself a second hat in a cream colour and this is the first time she has ever made a new item from one of her designs rather than wait for the sample to come back.

 

Joanne can also be found sporting one too! As soon as she finished tech editing the pattern she knew she wanted to make one. Her's uses a beautiful variegated yarn (Manos Silk Blend) that works wonderfully with the linked stitch pattern. The colours blend really well so it is a handy pattern to have for those difficult variegated skeins that we all stash from time to time. As you can see Joanne made hers slouchier.

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Joanne says:

" I went for a super slouchy beanie as I wanted a boho look that will work well with a jacket in spring and snuggled up under a crochet blanket in the evenings on a campsite this summer."

Variegated or solid tones - what will your Aquilegia look like?

This is the first in a regular series introducing fully all the beautiful patterns in the series.

 

The Crochet Project is Now on Ravelry

jax updated

(Aquilegia Hat by Jackie Harding in Artesano DK)

Just a very quick note to say that all of our patterns are now live on Ravelry! (And we are killing it on the Hot Right Now chart!) We will (hopefully) be syncing in the cart system on the website with the Ravelry one very soon!

In the meanwhile, some of our designers have been blogging about their designs, have you seen?

(click the images to be taken through to the posts)

We have a winner

Thank you so much to everyone who supported The Crochet Project this weekend by sharing our photos on facebook, sending us lovely tweets and kind comments on our blog post. We were overwhelmed with the positive response to our collection - Thank You. Everyone who bought a pattern in this launch weekend was entered into a draw to win the entire collection. I am pleased to announce that our winner is Clare De Than.

Congratulations Clare - the patterns have been emailed to you - I hope you enjoy them.

Spring is here!

It doesn't matter what the weather looks like outside, spring is definitely here!

We are thrilled to be able to unveil our beautiful first collection of patterns.

The theme for Spring Summer '13 is Botanics and the inspired designs in an array of soft subtle colours are sure to chase the last of those winter blues away. All the patterns have been carefully designed to be a joy to make and wear.

You can flick through the look book for the collection or head straight to our pattern page to see them.

To celebrate the launch, all patterns bought this weekend will be entered into a draw to win the entire collection.

Which pattern is going to brighten your day?

The Photoshoot: Behind the Scenes

We are swiftly approaching the launch of the first edition of The Crochet Project. Every day, the tweets and emails between Joanne and I get closer and closer to fever pitched and I think its fair to say we actually can not wait to launch. And this weekend we got one step closer to the launch - the photoshoot!!

Kerstin and I headed out to local folly The Pineapple to shoot the 10 piece collection.

I have collected such a rag tag assortment of props - old baskets, trugs, tea cups, tins...I am always on the look out for props for shoots and if anyone had glanced in the back of the car this weekend, they would have found:

- a rusty Raleigh bicycle

- a yellow bird cage

- 2 full tea services

- a silver tea pot

- 7 dozen tulips (I bought out the town of Alloa's entire stock of pink and purple tulips)

- 3 cameras

- 5 lenses

- shoot kit that contains - shawl pin, bobby pins, saftey pins, straight pins, washi tape, wardrobe tape, lint brush, lip gloss, hair brush and scissors.

- 9 balls of yarn in assorted colours

- 4 pairs of shoes

- 7-8 outfit options

- 10 samples

Kerstin was a sport, changing in the doorway of the Pineapple, while I played lookout for walkers.  It was very cold and it is a Spring collection, so she did spend a fair amount of time shivering!!

However, we managed to get some lovely shots for the collection!  Would you like a sneak peek??

I can't give away much more than that...other than to say this will be the free pattern in the collection...

Have I mentioned we can't wait to launch??!?

11 days and counting!!

The language of flowers

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Our theme for Spring/Summer 13 is Botanics. Whilst our design inspirations were based on aesthetics our Victorian ancestors may have read a whole lot more into it...

I have a strong interest in the language of flowers as I my Great, great, great, great (we are uncertain but think its 4 or 5 removes) aunt was Kate Greenaway. Kate Greenaway was a famous Victorian illustrator who is most famous for popularising a style of dress for children. Her sketches influenced a range produced by Liberty of London that was favoured by the artistic and liberal set called "the souls".

Her most enduring illustrations though were for a book called "Language of Flowers" which lists in exhausting detail the meaning of each flower (including 34 types of rose!) A simple bouquet from an admirer was a secret code to discover the true intent. A posy given to a friend could give words of encouragement or be a veiled insult. In such an outwardly polite society posies could be used to say the unsayable. For example*:

A Victorian lady separated from her paramour can be grateful if she gets this tussie-mussie; bluebells for constancy, patience dock for patience and rosemary for remembrance. However, alarm bells would be ringing if the bouquet contains lavendar for distrust and pasque flower for you have no claims - the wedding is probably off!

Equally a friend on hearing about your errant lover could be kind and send a bouquet containing hawthorn, hazel and oak leaves for hope, reconciliation and bravery.

My favourite meanings are the rather saucy "if you love me, you will find out" for the Maiden Blush rose and the wild tansy which means "I declare war against you" which brings to mind images of pistols at dawn duelling.

And I am not sure how I would have felt had I been sent Mignionette which has the rather backhanded complement "your qualities surpass your charms"

I hope you enjoyed this little look at the lost art of floriography (as it was known) but please don't read too much into the collection when it launches in March!

Language of Flowers in available on Project Gutenberg all images are sourced from the project.

* Please note I am no gardener and no doubt these posies would have been impossible to put together as they probably flower at completely different times of year!

 

Crochet and Drape

Here at The Crochet Project, we think that crochet gets a bad rap - seen as the "cutesy" alternative to knitting.  Brooches - yes. Cushions - definitely. Blankets - oh yes. But garments? Well, we are here to reveal the secret of making awesome crochet garments...drape.

Drape is the way in which any fabric flows.  Because of the way in which a crochet fabric is constructed, it can lend itself to stiffer fabric than knitting.  This is great for things like bowls, baskets and amigurumi, but isn't as useful when constructing a sweater. Improving the drape of your crochet will go a long way to making garments that fit and are a pleasure to wear.

When you are looking at crochet and drape - you are aiming for a fabric where the stitches move with some independence from each other.  In making things like crochet dolls or bowls, you don't want the stitches to move much - this helps the item retain its form, but with garments, the element of flow is crucial.

In order to achieve this movement you need to consider 3 things:

- Gauge

- Materials

- Stitch

 

Gauge:

Without a doubt, gauge is the most critical element when creating a flowing crochet fabric. To achieve drape, stitches need to be able move, so if they are all packed tightly together, you will create a stiffer fabric. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows one can measure in 10x10cm/ 4x4inches.

Ignore what the ball bands tell you.  Its not uncommon to have to go up 1 or 2 hook sizes to achieve a lovely drapey fabric - no matter what stitch you are using.  If you are trying to make something with a nice flowing drape...SWATCH.  Try a couple of different hook sizes with your yarn and see how it changes.

 

Materials:

Another critical factor in drape is the yarn you are using.  Silk, bamboo and alpaca fibers will create more drape in a garment than cotton or 100% wool. Lower twist yarns tend to be drapier than higher twist yarns. If you are looking to make something with lovely drape, starting with a yarn with a high silk content is a great first step.

However - while a silk yarn will have more drape than a cotton one at the same gauge, its still important to consider your gauge when you are working.

 

Stitches:

Finally, don't forget the importance of the stitches you are using.  In crochet, taller stitches and stitch patterns that have chains in them will have more drape than just solid single crochet.  The height and the chains allow the stitches to move more indpendently of each other.

Drape is always key to our design briefs to ensure the most wearable accessories and garments. Our designers have considered all of the above so you don't have to.

 

Spring/ Summer 2013: Botanicals

the crochet project swatch chart

From the outset with The Crochet Project, we knew we wanted to create a cohesive collection of designs. We wanted the patterns and samples to set a scene and flow together in much the same way as a fashion collection works together.

Our theme for the first edition is Botanics...inspired strongly by feminine design, botanical drawings, flowers and plants.  This is a comfortable realm for crochet - lace, shells and vintage design often go hand in hand with the hook.  Where we wanted to push designers was on the idea of wear-ability - an element often lacking from much of crochet design.

Our colour pallet is muted, with pops of dark blue and green. As the designs begin to arrive for the photoshoot, we couldn't be more excited about the upcoming collection.

Head over to our pinterest board to see more of what inspired the collection.

Hello!

There has been a lot of lovely chatter and excitement on twitter and facebook from our teasing updates about what we have been planning. We are now delighted to be able to share with you a few details.

Everyone loves a granny square afghan right? Sure – they are beautiful and, if pinterest is anything to go by, seeing a massive resurgence in popularity. Modern, popular crafting magazines such as Mollie Makes have made crochet cool again, shaking off some of the images of the nasty acrylic 70s crochet craze. However it hasn’t translated into wearable crochet so much. So far...

The knitting resurgence is perhaps more advanced and there are many beautiful collections and magazines with very professional photography, styling and layouts with attention to true quality in the pattern writing.

The lack of nice wearable crochet patterns started both of us on the design route and we both passionately believe that crochet can and should be used to make beautiful garments and accessories that fit and flatter. We both love timeless designs but enjoy keeping up with fashion. Kat is more attracted to whimsy and Joanne to a vintage look. We both bemoaned the lack of good outlets for marketing our designs.

We had really enjoyed working together on Kat’s book and proved we made a good team with our contrasting but complementary skills: Kat is a master of layout and photography and Joanne tech edits and gets upset about misplaced commas. We know lots of other fantastic designers who might like a place to showcase their best designs (and be paid fairly for them) We have contacts at the best yarn companies who might be prepared to sponsor us. So in a flurry of “could we?” “can we?” “how will it work?” emails and texts to one another  we began to plan. And so The Crochet Project was born.

Our first collection will be releasing in the next few months (we hope sometime in March) and you can expect great things:

  • Beautiful designs from some of your favourite crochet and knitting designers – they have really pulled out all the stops for this first issue.
  • Fantastic yarns – not a scratchy mud-brown acrylic in sight. We believe that knitters shouldn’t have all the fun when it comes to the very best yarns on the market. All our designs feature beautiful yarns with natural fibres.
  • Quality, consistent patterns – Taking the best practices from crochet patterns and knitting patterns, they will be easy to understand and follow. They will all be thoroughly checked so you can be confident in buying them.

The theme for our first collection is Botanicals – expect lots of nature inspired designs; beautiful drape, classic styling with pretty feminine detailing. The designs are all perfect for Spring and Summer layering. The colour palette is muted with soft creams, oysters, taupes, sagey greens, grey lilacs and soft pinks balanced with peacock greens and navy.

At the moment the designs are being worked on by the designers and will be arriving with us soon. We hope to be able to share little sneak peeks with you over the next few weeks before launch. So pop back and see us or sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Kat and Joanne

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