In July I began this adventure know as A Year of Projects. The premise is to choose a goal (or several as the case may be) that you wish to achieve over the course of one year and then track your progress with blog posts. Support and camaraderie are found in the Ravely group Come Blog-A-Long where participates share their posts and chat about their successes (and failures) in various threads.
It seemed an intriguing way to bring some structure to my otherwise random crafting, plus many of my blogging buddies participated last year and had a really good time. I had the advantage of their experience when I put together my list of goals. The main point taken to not be too lofty in what I think I'm capable of accomplishing.
Now that we've just begun our second quarter of activity it seems that a progress report is in order. Let's take a look!
What I've Done
What I'm Doing Next
What I Still Have (Want) To Do
What do you think? Does it seem manageable? Giving it careful consideration I remain optimistic that I'll be able to accomplish everything between now and June. I imagine that my biggest hindrance will be getting involved in projects that aren't on the list. In hindsight I realize that I should have chosen a sweater from Dora's book instead of starting the Marlo cardigan, but I like Marlo and I don't want to abandon her - or frog all the progress I've made!
There you have it! One quarter down, three to go! I'm having a great time working on my goals and seeing the progress that my friends are making. You can check out what they've been up to here.
After the Square
I've covered a lot of ground since I began learning about the world of granny squares. I started with the history of crochet and granny in Part I, then experimented with variations of the "classic" pattern in Part II. I played with color and learned some basic theory in Part III. Things really blossomed when I 'grew' a garden of flowers in Part IV. I tried my hand at designing squares by creating two patterns - The Pinwheel & Pop-Corn Flower and Clusters to Classic. The flowers and squares inspired me to go even further with a secret project that is nearly ready for it's big reveal. So what's next? That's easy. It's time to meet the Motifs!
When I was making flowers for Part IV, I came to the realization that all granny squares are motifs, but not all motifs are granny squares. In my mind that makes them all part of the same family. I imagine that the square, circle, hexagon, triangle, heart, flower, leaf etc. are all cousins. They share the family characteristic of being a distinctive and recurring form, shape, figure, etc., in a design, as in a painting or on wallpaper (my dictionary definition of motif).
In the crochet world motifs are worked individually. They can be used as embellishments or appliques to add flair to anything from lampshades to flip-flops. They can be connected to each other with the 'join-as-you-go' technique that's often used in scarves, blankets and afghans. Or a batch of motifs can be sewn together to form anything from sweaters and ponchos to wrist warmers, cowls, accessories for the home or even as part of a yarn bombing attack! With a bit of ingenuity anything can be fashioned from motifs.
Exploring the Many Varieties of Motifs
To guide me in my shapely quest I turned to an outstanding book called Beyond the Square - Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman. In this inspiring publication there are 144 patterns in five categories - Circles, Hexagons, Triangles, Squares and Other Unexpected Shapes. This spiral bound book (yeah!) has excellent pictures, clearly written patterns and diagrams for each unique design. I decided to choose two from each category (except squares!). It was a tough decision because there are so many cool motifs. I looked for examples that showed open work and lots of close tight stitching in each shape. I changed my mind multiple times throughout the process and of course ended up making more than I set out too! There is so much variety here that I understand why so many people have challenged themselves to make all of them!
The only thing that is missing from this book is how to connect the shapes. Initially I wasn't looking for that kind of information. But, as my pile of motifs grew I began to wonder what I was going to do with them. I must not be the only person to ask this question because while I was looking for another book to help me I found that Edie has a new book coming out called Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes; Includes 101 New Motif Designs! It's set to be released on October 23rd and I know it's on my Christmas wish list!! Now here's a look at motifs I made.
My husband picked #10 because he thought it looked like a sea anemone! It was interesting to make. Not hard, just lots of chain stitches and working in back loops. I included the shot of the backside to show how much of the Carrot yarn I really used. It's a puffy motif rising about 3/4 of an inch into the air! We like it so much that it's hanging out on the coffee table!
Motifs #8 and #4 are my open or lacy choices. Motif #8 looks more like a star than a circle to me. The stitches around the center that look like picots are really chain 3's worked over a skipped stitch. This was a very quick motif and I can imagine a group of them connected at the points to make a scarf or wrap. Motif #4 is a circle of cluster stitches. I'm not crazy about the colors (that's why I switched for the others!) but I do like it's overall look and I like making the clusters!
Motif #60 was a blast to make! It's simple stitches (sc, dc and ch), but you make the corner chain loops as you go and on the final round you weave them together to get that great raised interlocking loop effect. Not hard, but a really interesting technique! Motif #62 was one of the trickier ones in the group. I think because you did something completely different in each round, and that means paying close attention to your work! Overall I find it pleasing to the eye.
The hexagons feel closest to the square to me. I think that might be because they seem easier to connect to make a large piece like an afghan. Both of these were simple to make and I understand why so many people are drawn to them. Looking at #37 I just noticed a daisy in the light blue!
Unexpected Shapes - Hearts
I enjoyed the challenge of making these unique shapes. Because they are not symmetrical in the way that I am used to it was fascinating to watch the shapes develop. Motif #143 at the top of the page was also fun and challenging. I can envision a scarf made from a row of interlocking rings in a rainbow mix of colors with the border done in either black or white!
I have to say that I love making motifs. Much more so today than when I started this grand adventure! Making each of these individual works of art has increased my repertoire of stitches, strengthened my ability to decode and decipher patterns and improved my overall crochet technique. While weaving in ends is still not my favorite thing I no longer dread the task and actually have become quite deft at securing those little devils! Each round presents a new set of instructions and I am intrigued with the way stitches work together to create different effects. Ruffly, woven, traditional, open, lacy, bumpy, smooth anything is possible! I still have no idea what I am going to do with ever expanding collection of motifs. For the time being I am content to collect them in a basket in the living room where I can admire them anytime I want!!
Thanks so much for coming by and spending part of your day with me!
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Clusters to Classic
Skill: Advanced Beginner
Yarn: Peaches & Cream Cotton in Candy (A), White (B) and Bright Pink (C)
Hook: US H/8 - 5.00 MM
Finished Size: 5 3/4" x 5 3/4" (unblocked)
Stitches Used: ch, sc, dc, dc2tog, dc3tog, sl st (all stitches are US terms)
Dc2tog: Yo, insert in next st/sp, yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook (2 loops remain on hook), yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook (3 loops remain), yo, pull through all 3 loops on hook to complete cluster.
Dc3tog: Yo, insert in next st/sp, yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook (2 loops remain on hook), yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook (3 loops remain), yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook (4 loops remain), yo, pull through all 4 loops on hook to complete cluster.
With A, ch 6, join with sl st in first ch to make ring.
Rnd 1: With A, ch 1, 8 sc in ring, join with sl st to first sc.
Rnd 2: With A, ch 3, dc2tog in first sc (count as dc3tog), (ch 1, dc3tog in nxt sc) 7 times, ch 1, sl st in top of first cluster to join. Fasten off A.
Rnd 3: Join B in any ch 1 sp, ch 3 (count as dc), 2 dc in same sp, ch 2, (3 dc, ch 2) in each ch 1 sp around, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3. Fasten off B.
Rnd 4: Join B in any ch 2 sp, ch 3 (count as dc), 4 dc in same sp, ch 1, *5dc in nxt ch 2 sp, ch 3**, 5 dc in nxt ch 2 sp, ch 1, rep from * 2 times and from * to ** once more, join with sl st in top of beg ch 3. Fasten off B.
Rnd 5: Join C in any ch 3 sp, ch 3 (count as dc), (1 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same sp, *ch 2, 1 sc in 3rd dc of 5 dc group, ch 2, 1 sc in nxt ch 1 sp, ch 2, 1 sc in 3rd dc of 5 dc group, ch 2**, (2dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in nxt ch 3 sp, rep from * 2 times and from * to ** once more, join with sl st to top of beg ch 3.
Rnd 6: With C, ch 1 starting in same st, *1 sc in each of nxt 2 dc, (2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc) in nxt ch 2 sp, 1 sc in each of nxt 2 dc, [2 sc in nxt ch 2 sp, 1 sc in nxt sc] 3 times, 2 sc in nxt ch 2 sp, rep from * around, join with sl st to first sc.
Rnd 7: With C, ch 1, stating in same st, [1 sc in each sc, (2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc) in each ch 2 sp] around, join with sl st to first sc. Fasten off C.
Weave in ends. Block if desired.
I am so excited to share these new patterns with you! The response has been fantastic and I can't wait for one of you to give them a test run and let me know how it goes. I took notes as I was working, and hopefully did a fair job of transferring them into a pattern that you can work with. If something isn't right, or you have a suggestion that makes it easier to understand, please let me know. Pattern writing is tricky and I can always benefit from another set of eyes!!
I took the weekend off of the computer to concentrate on my hook work, and I'm thrilled with the progress that I made. Both with writing new patterns and on the next installment of the Granny Square Project - which really go together.
Here is a sneak peak at my craft journal and some of the notes that went into coming up with the pansy design that is the feature of my next project. The classic granny is a sample of the accent squares that accompany the pansies.
It's setting up to be a productive week. This morning brought the crisp tingle of fall, and the prospect of wrapping myself in a new shawl and finally being able to enjoy the cardigan I finished at the beginning of summer has me energized and ready to go!
I'm including today's post as part of the fun on Come Blog-a-long and A Year of Projects. It's not the next "official" installment of the GSP, but it was definitely inspired by it and in my book that counts!! Click on over and see what good stuff my bloggy buddies have been up to!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful;
Eleanor couldn't resist getting in on the action and showing her support!
Her colors tell of the fall to come. In New England you always find a cannon in the town common. I'm not sure why, but it's a bit of history to enjoy.
Back to the station to wait for the bus to take us home. We really had fun taking pictures and enjoying the morning together. It's amazing how much history and art surrounds us when you slow down and take a look.
This wheelchair and crutches sculpture on the common (in Greenfield, MA) caught our eye.
It was created by James Kitchen on commission for the Stavros Center for Independent Living to make a statement about freedom for people with disabilities.
Old Glory and Eleanor both blowing in the warm summer breeze!
A shady bench was a welcome break for John and Eleanor (and me too!)
Once we're home, it's flower time! I was hoping to have Part IV of the Granny Square Project finished. As it turns out, this installment is much more about "doing" than research and that just takes more time!
I'm sure it's going to be worth it! Please look for it later in the week.
If you haven't seen it yet there are links to Parts I, II and III in my sidebar.
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Can you imagine if our world was devoid of color? A black and white existence? In the movie Pleasantville the main characters find themselves trapped in a black and white TV show set in the seemingly idyllic 1950’s. It’s only when they begin to experience raw emotions and raise questions about what lies beyond what they know that we see color brighten, enhance and expand their world.
I made these squares to demonstrate different ways to create harmony. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the purple, orange and green, but the wheel doesn’t lie, and in fact it has grown on me! In addition to the themes the wheel generates, nature is an outstanding source for telling us what colors go together. A walk in the woods, a sunrise or sunset, plants and animals - they all offer us suggestions for making the most of our colors. When you think about it, nature is the true source of our color - sun reflecting through drops of water to create a rainbow, and dyes made from plants are at the root of all we enjoy today!
Early Centuries: Man creates handwork for practical purposes using materials like strands of woven fiber, cords or strips of cloth. Hunters and fishermen make knotted fishnets, openwork cooking utensils, knotted game bags and animal traps. Handwork is expanded to include decorations for ceremonial costumes, religious rites, celebrations, marriages and funerals.
1500s: European royalty and the wealthy lavish themselves in lace made with a needle and/or bobbin.
Some believe that in Italy Nuns are doing a form of crochet called “nun’s work” or “nun’s lace” making textiles for the church.
1700s: It is accepted by many that crochet developed from a type of Chinese needlework; an ancient form of embroidery that reached Europe in the 1700s and became known as Tambour. By the end of the 1700s Tambour evolves into what the French call “crochet in the air”. (“Croche” is Middle French for hook).
Early 1800s: Crochet becomes “the poor man’s lace” and experiences a surge in popularity thanks to Mlle. Riego de la Branchardiere who turns old style needle and bobbin patterns into crochet patterns. In 1824 the first pattern is published and Mlle. de la Branchardiere joins in publishing many pattern books making them available to legions of women. One of her books, Knitting, Crochet and Netting with 12 Illustrations originally published in 1846 is available today as a free e-book, as is The Ladies Work-Book.
1845-1850: Irish workers (men, women and children) are organized into crochet cooperatives during the potato famine making fine lace for the wealthy. They rely on the earnings to survive and emigrate from Ireland.
1845-1859: Two million Irish immigrate to America (four million by 1890) bringing with them their vast experience with crochet. American women who are already adept at spinning, weaving, knitting and quilting add crochet to their repertoire.
1897: A pattern called “Patchwork Square” is printed in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, published by The Weldon Company of London. The description indicates that it is good way to use up scrap and leftover bits of yarn which can then be sewn together into an afghan, rug or baby blanket. A look at the picture shows what we know today as the Traditional Granny Square!!
It is my belief that creative women were already making grannies, but this has come to be accepted (by many) as the first time we see the pattern in print.
Up to this time we see many patterns for lace accents, lamp mats and shades, doilies, antimacassars and even bird cage covers! But, crochet is changing, and it’s no longer just the poor man’s lace. As we enter the 1900s – 1930 we see women crocheting afghans, slumber rugs, travel rugs, sleigh rugs, tea cozies and water bottle covers, as well as the now standard dishcloths and potholders. In The Handbook of Wool Knitting and Crochet (also available as a free e-book), originally published in 1918 you'll find a well rounded selection of these patterns.
Following the stock market crash in 1929 and the resulting economic depression, resources and goods are limited and women are forced to find new and creative ways to meet the needs of their families. Old and worn sweaters are ripped apart and the yarn is steamed for reuse. Every bit of fiber is saved, and it is here that we see the matriarch (Granny) leading the way and turning the otherwise useless bit and scraps into squares to be stitched together making blankets and other necessary items for her family. We don’t know who coined the name Granny Square, but we do know that what was once made out of necessity is made today because of its timeless versatility and style.
The granny square has come so far that you can find them in the Smithsonian Museum, in the afghan that graced the back of the couch on the sit-com Rosanne (1988 – 1997). They can even be found in high fashion making their way down the catwalks as designers Henry Holland and Christopher Kane made them the focal point of their collections last year.
I venture to say that the granny square is an iconic symbol of crochet. Most everyone (of a certain age) had a granny square afghan, or knew a family member or friend who did. Ask anyone what crochet is and I bet they’ll think of a granny square – even if they don’t know what it’s called. I once had a knitter friend tell me that until she met me and saw all the things I made, when she thought of crochet she only thought of the granny square!
When I asked for your help in choosing my next project I had no idea what I was getting into! As I started looking at patterns I realized how diverse and plentiful they are. However, the history of crochet and in turn the granny is vague at best. Through interviews, books and reputable websites I’ve created this timeline. I’ve done my best to present accurate, factual information. Any mistakes or misinterpretations are mine.
I'm Robin and this is
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