Found – two more sampler pages.

More samples. The thread on these two seems smaller, so I’m assuming it was not the same crocheter as my other post. These use a lot of the commercial trims that were available in the early 1900s, like a picot strip that is _maybe_ 1/8″ wide as shown on the top right column of the partially finished page. You have to look really close (click on the picture to enlarge) to see that the “rims” of those wheels are actually not crocheted but strips of trim. To the left of that one, the lozenge-shaped areas are not crocheted, but commercial trim that is the base for the crochet work. Below that, tiny rick rack is used! I’m wondering if they came up with the designs themselves or used a commercial pattern. I’ve seen a couple of rick rack books but nothing that uses all the other trims so effectively.

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Excuse My Interruption…..

I’m about finished with the “frame” for the baby blanket, but in trying to do some cleaning up in my office (aka the dining room with no table) I found this set of sampler pages that came from eBay years ago. There’s no date and no name, but some crocheter decades ago (maybe 100 years!) copied them from someone else’s work or possibly one of the scarce pattern books of that time. I can’t speak for other crocheters, but the old books and the old work pull at me in a way no modern work could. Modern is not bad, but it doesn’t tell me a story the way these pieces do. That could be because back in the 1960s my grandmother gave me a 1915 Royal Society crochet leaflet with her notes in it from when she crocheted the yokes to a couple of nightgowns for her sister-in-law, my great-aunt Argent who married in 1916. It never even occurred to me that there were avid crocheters and pattern books back then; my grandmother probably was more of a seamstress than a crocheter anyway.

As you can see, they are tacked to solid color fabric.  What you can’t see is that only 1/2 the fabric is used for the samples, and the other 1/2 doesn’t have anything on it.  They seem to be like large pages of a fabric book, so maybe the plan was to eventually sew them together for a sampler album which would have pages larger than standard book pages.  The fabric has been stamped with what looks like tapework patterns (Battenburg?) on one fabric and large flower patterns on the other.  Waste not, want not!  The thread is at least size 30, if not smaller, and many of the designs were crocheted onto commercial insertion laces.  Note the piece at the center bottom of the bottom left photo; that is tiny, tiny rick-rack that in arranged in circles and crocheted together!

I wish these were my grandmother’s work.  But I can still pretend.

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Diary of a Project – part 2

Smile for the camera!

The filet center of the blanket is now finished, although it looks more like a “big, fat rose” than a long-stemmed beauty! Other than the problem between my brain and the new stitches I encountered, it went well. I had to ignore my brain saying “2 ch, 1 dc” make a space and just follow the chart exactly; on some rows it was a surprise when the stitch count worked out! Since it was 44 spaces wide and 61 rows tall, I expected it to end up taller than wide, and it is but not very much. Seems like I forgot to take into account that (at least for me) 2 strands of soft thread worked together has a lot more of a yarn behavior than ordinary thread; yarn has a lot more spring and will stretch while being worked but relax when it’s left alone again.

But we’ll work with what we have, because I’m not frogging now! I’m almost finished with a row of sc around the piece to give me some “real” stitches to work into; it also gives me a chance to see how I need to adjust the stitches and the first decision was alternating 2sc and 3sc in the ends of the rows instead of 3 sc in each end. Previous experience has taught me that 3 stitches in the ends of the rows can result in a ripple effect along the side of the piece because of too many stitches on the side. It definitely looks better this way, and I think the weight of the border will sort of block out any remaining ripple. The top and bottom have 3 sc in each space, and the corners have 3sc in each. After the sc row is finished, I’m considering maybe a few rows of checkerboard will look good as a sort of frame for the rose. I’m afraid that if I do solid dc all around it will start to ruffle, and open blocks might draw up the sides of the border.

One other trick that I (and a lot of other crocheters) use is to place a marker on every 10th row of the piece, because I know I’m going to lose my count and have to count back. I also took a red pen and drew a line between every 5th and 6th row even though there was one marking every 10th line.

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Diary of a Project

This started all in my head, so it seems like a good idea to share the process. I’m a “by the pattern” kind of crocheter who likes the actual zen of crocheting rather than the creative process, so it’s not like me to get a little wild and crazy and dream up my own pattern. However, life has a way of changing one’s perspective, and after the last few rough years (loss of family members, cancer scare, closing my shop) I’m starting to slow down and start using up some of my huge stash that is a combination of my stash, my late mother’s stash, and shop stash. But having the yarn before the pattern takes more thought than choosing a pattern and then purchasing the yarn, soooo…. this week it is a baby blanket.

It started with a baby blanket found on a photo website, just 4 crocheted blocks sewn together. They looked like something I would enjoy, and I liked the idea of just 4 large blocks and a fancy edging and you’re done. Sort of a nice break from the never-ending border of a thread bedspread where each row is taking about 3 hours to finish, not to mention sitting with the whole thing in your lap! The bedspread is part of my self-named Heirloom Crochet Project – more about that at another time.

The blanket was a great idea but too bedspread-y and not baby-ish enough because it was made with size 10 thread. Plus I wanted it to be soft for a baby. I have a large stash of Clea bought on eBay years ago that I don’t use for doilies much because it is too soft for my taste, but maybe I could use 2 strands of Clea and what ended up being a size 1 hook. Tested that and liked it; it will probably be even softer when run through the dryer with a damp cloth. So now I’m set – I just need the pattern. We were discussing rose patterns on the Thread Addicts Yahoo group this week, and I saw a filet pattern that really appealed to me, a single long-stemmed rose in filet. Great! Now let’s see where it goes from there.

So far: I crocheted a few rows and the picture center is going to be about 20″ wide. Not bad, but I will add a few rows around it to “frame up” the center, maybe in alternating open and closed filet blocks. The original picture has 5-dc popcorns which presented a problem because they are both front-worked and back-worked popcorns and don’t want to lean the same way on the front. That might be okay for a picture done in size 10 thread, because you can pin and block and starch to your heart’s content. But this blanket won’t be starched, so I decided to leave off the popcorns and substitute plain blocks for the popcorns. It won’t have the frame of the popcorns, but we’ll see how that affects the finished look. The next night (I’m working on this while watching a British TV series on computer), when I get to about row 10 there are some totally different stitches that I’ve never seen in filet. How cool, I’m learning something new! This time it’s making a block with only 1 dc in the center of the block instead of 2 dc, and for the one missing you substitute a chain. This makes the block next to it seem a little wider. I like it! Then a few rows later, the blocks and spaces don’t add up no matter how many times I add up, check stitches, frog what I’ve done….. After getting the chart up to my nose, I notice that some of the open blocks are narrower than others. Turns out that I should have read the stitch legend first, because there is such a thing as a narrow block. Working over 2 open/closed blocks, you will “ch 1, sk st, dc” instead of the usual ch 2, sk 2 st, dc of a normal open block. Do it 3 times over the next 2 blocks. That gives you an open look but it’s closer together. The big problem for me is keeping up with those counts!

The picture shows what I finished last night.  Next time I will take a closer picture.  Also shown are the plastic storage bowls I’m using to keep the 2 balls of thread from becoming tangled and my GREAT new 27″ computer monitor.  And my elf doily birthday gift from my crochet buddy Diane, a PK design made with tatting thread!

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Kicking and screaming!

I feel like a newborn who is thinking “Hey, I liked where I was!”  But the only real way to fly is to get off the ground, so here goes.  First a few words of introduction and since this blog is crochet related I’ll stick to that.  I was introduced to crocheting at the age of twelve, after watching my mother crochet all my life and pestering her to teach me.  This was before the age of everything-electronic, so there were no distractions that would make me lose interest quickly.  Crocheting “took” with me immediately, and after that a hook and ball of thread were my constant companions.

Thanks to my husband, I opened a small needlework shop across the driveway from our country home in 1982 to serve the crocheters in my area.  It didn’t take long before the shop was enlarged once and then again (all by my husband), to accommodate more crocheting and the craft supplies I added for the youth groups in our area – school, scouts, and church.  I was putting together individual craft kits to make it easier for the leaders of those groups.  Then in 1996 we got on the internet, and I realized that many crocheters thought that the only crochet patterns available were the few that they found at the chain stores.  But I knew differently!  At that time, Leisure Arts had almost 1,000 crochet titles in print, and I had them all.  So with my husband’s blessing I set up a small and very basic web site selling all those crochet titles from various publishers that were in my shop.  If it looked like a title was about to be discontinued, I bought more stock.  And more stock.  Then came the Elizabeth Hiddleson acquisition – more about that in another blog.

The walk-in shop was closed back in 2007 after 25 years, but the web site will be here as long as I can fill orders.  Nothing gives me more crochet-pleasure than a customer thanking me, saying they thought they would never find “that” pattern again.  I think in another life I would have been a reference librarian.  Hopefully this blog will add to the fun of your crocheting experiences.

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