Monday, 23 September 2013

Granny square SOS

This month, Inside Crochet has a distinctly granny theme, with a good proportion of the patterns inspired by the humble granny square. In honour of that, I thought I would share my tutorial for repairing granny squares. We have all done it - chopped off our ends at the centre of our granny square, thinking that we have probably worked over the end enough to trap it in. Then, some months later, you notice that the square is unravelling from the centre out. As with the blanket I had assembled for my nephew Austin at my sister's baby shower, which I talked about in my last post.

Above you can see the square that became unravelled in Austin's blanket. The good thing about this granny, and traditional granny motifs, is that they are usually made of a different colour each round so you can easily see distinct rows and it makes it easier to repair. It also means that if you cannot salvage enough of that first round of yarn to make the same round again, you can simply substitute another yarn in a different shade and it will not look out of place.

To begin, run a 'life line' along the round above the broken round; the round the unravelled yarn runs through. You can do this by threading a yarn needle and passing it through the round, or by pulling a thread through each group of stitches with a small crochet hook, as I am doing above.
If you are a fan of lace knitting, you may be familiar with a lifeline - a thread used to 'save' or mark a number of stitches -  but it isn't often used in crochet, as you usually only have one stitch on your hook at one time. A lifeline is run through stitches to allow you to pull back to that point without dropping stitches. The yarn or thread you use for this should be finer than the yarn used in the project, for ease of passing through and to limit stitch distortion. It should also be smooth, so you can pull it out easily when it is no longer needed. Finally, it should also be a contrasting colour so that you can see it easily. Therefore, any kind of strong, fine, cotton crochet thread is perfect for a lifeline, I am using a DMC Petra thread for the lifeline shown.
Once your lifeline is in place, you can safely unravel the broken round without fear of the entire motif disintegrating.

Now, starting at the treble group to the right of a set of two corner trebles groups, thread the working yarn you will be using to recreate the first round clockwise around the stitches of the round that the lifeline is holding. Pull a little through to work the first stitches, but make sure that you are working the first stitches with the shorter end of the thread and that the long/ball end is at the end of the round. (Note: I have only threaded the bright orange yarn of that first round left to right through the first corner treble groups worked to pinpoint the groups you should be working with first).

With the short end of yarn, begin the first round again, as for a regular granny square, making the ring, then working the first three treble group into the ring. Pull up on the last loop on your hook, making it longer, then remove your hook from the loop.

Insert the hook through all the stitches of the next two three treble groups at the corner, from left to right, then insert your hook back through the original loop from the first round, and pull that loop back through the two three trebles groups. You may need to now pull on the yarn to make that loop the correct size - it shouldn't be too big.

Work a three treble group into the ring of the first round, then pull up on the final loop, remove the hook from the loop and repeat the same process for each corner. As with a regular granny square round, join with a slip stitch to the first stitch and your repair should be complete! This technique was revolutionary to me when I first learned it, I hope you enjoy it too.

I am aware that this technique can be very confusing and fiddly to work so I am preparing a video tutorial - will post it ASAP! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Knitting Baby Shower

As I am putting up a post on repairing a granny square inspired by the blanket we made at my sister's baby shower, here is a reposting of said baby shower from 2010 - the baby is now 3 years old!

Gemma is a beautiful, blooming mother-to-be; she is eight months pregnant and hanot knitted since she was a child, like most of the ladies at Gemma's baby shower at the weekend. I turned up at Gemma's with a bag full of vintage needles and crochet hooks, pretty, baby friendly yarn in mummy-friendly colours and a whole stack of vintage china and afternoon tea.

 The sandwiches were elegant fingers with fillings such as delicious smoked salmon and the cakes were buttered scones with cream, a victoria sponge and chocolate fairy cakes.
We also had a big pitcher of Pimms and lemonade, as we had wanted to make use of the stunning garden. However, after a perfectly pleasant month, Saturday was a wash out, as bank holidays in May often are! Nevermind, it did not deter the spirits of the makers and you really don't need the sunshine to enjoy fully the merits of a glass of Pimms!!

With bellies full and festivities begun, I proceeded to re-teach all these lovely ladies how to knit and crochet small squares with the aim of beginning a baby blanket for the cot of Gemma's new addition. She does not yet know the sex of the baby, so we chose a rainbow of colours to create a pretty patchwork piece which will look stunning in the baby's nursery.

 After a busy hour of knitting, the first square was proudly completed by our auntie Susie (below) and after that they came thick and fast. By the end of the afternoon, we had fourteen squares completed, with the faster knitters finding time to finish two. We also left some yarn with some of the makers to take to people who could not make it, so I am anticipating a few more colourful bits of knitting and crochet to arrive in the post over the next few days. When all the squares are complete, I will sew them all together beautifully and post them back to Gemma in blanket form in time for the new arrival. Good luck with the birth in July, Gemma, I will hurry with the finishing so you have it in time!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Book Launch

Last week, I attended the launch party of new knitting book, The Knit Parade, written by Rebecca Rymsza of Where's Me Jumper. Like the company, which makes bespoke knitwear, it was a really fun launch and The Knit Parade is a fantastically fun book. It is great to see a 'young' knitting book, with a contemporary and humorous edge and plenty of original and complex intarsia motifs, something I specialised in on my MA. I love the use of pompoms in the styling - one of my favourite things - and the way that the sweaters are unisex; they are shown on both male and female models.

 The launch party had plenty of poms in attendance, and just about everything was knitted, including the walls and 'dance floor'. I was also quite taken with the drinks selection, provided by Brittains Vodka. I am not a big drinker, or a vodka fan, but boy is that stuff good! We sampled quite a few flavours, just in the name of research of course, and the Black Forest flavour was my personal retro favourite.
Oh, and did I mention the disco heads...all a bit 80s school disco, which took me back! This book allows you to knit your own version of a Where's me Jumper jumper, with a smaller price tag, if you are an intarsia lover, go get it!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

M is for...

My friend Cheryl knitted this gorgeous, bright bunting as a birthday present for my Millie and we love it! Cheryl makes knitted items to order over at her lovely shop The Purly Queen, do go take a look. We had such fun taking these pictures, and Millie of course couldn't stand the bunting being centre stage...

As I mentioned, it is Millie's birthday this weekend and we are throwing her an Alice in Wonderland party as she is obsessed with anything Alice since seeing her big cousin Taylor as a card in a school play. I am off to make bunting and aprons and things, will post more about it later in the week.

Oh dear, take a look at that fringe I stupidly tried to cut while Millie was bouncing on the bed....