A Blog Post About Me…….

For want of a better title, this post is my story.

Me

This has come about because I admitted recently on Instagram and Facebook, that I picked up a crochet hook for the first time only four years ago.

It gave rise to a few kind comments along the lines of “How can that be?” “ I can’t believe you’ve only been crocheting for four years”. That sort of thing.

Well guys, it’s not even four years. It will be four years in a couple of months time. Admittedly it has been an intense four years, both in teaching myself the crochet techniques, and producing a blanket a month for the first two years. Twenty four blankets did give me some experience.

Anyway, my story……

I’m 67. Four years ago my mother was 90. She was a lady of many talents. When she was young she had a bright future ahead, possibly studying French and English at university, but at the age of 14 in 1940, the war intruded on her life plans. Instead of staying on at school, she left and joined the Fire Service in Glasgow, during the bombings. It seemed the only thing to do. After the war and without any exam qualifications, she went to a local secretarial college. Her typing and shorthand skills put her top of the class, and in demand by a number of employers. She met my father in the insurance company she started working for, when he spotted her as the brightest and bonniest spark in the typing pool.

Marriage and children ( my sister and I) followed, and as a perfect ‘50s housewife, she threw herself into homemaking.

My mother in the light coloured hat, and yes that’s me in the pram.

Cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, patch working, embroidering – she was accomplished at everything she turned her hand to. We were clothed in pretty handmade dresses and skirts, with hand knitted sweaters and cardigans. She became famous around our small town for the toffee apples she made in the hundreds for the local children at Halloween. Her baking skills were legendary. The tins in the cupboard were always kept topped up with sponges, cookies and tray bakes.

When we grew up and were off her hands, she turned her new found free time to the most exquisite embroideries and cross stitch. No chart or pattern was too complicated for her and the stitchery was perfect.

An example of her embroidery skills.

Now here is where I come in. From a very early age, my favourite pastime was to sit with a sketch pad and pencils. I also learned to knit, do embroidery and even, I have to admit, crochet although that was reluctantly, and never got further than one awful brown waistcoat.

My single minded obsession from primary school onwards was to go to Art College, despite protestations from teachers who felt I should go to university and study something ‘worthwhile’, and from my father who thought I should do what every young lady should do, that is leave school, get a nice job in an office until I got married and had children, and then become a proper little housewife, just like his good lady wife.

My determination won though, and in 1971 I headed off to Art College to specialise in Printed Textile Design and Embroidery.

In my five years there, I learned to design and print fabric, draw and paint, and most importantly learn as much as possible about every aspect of embroidery and textile arts. My mother was so pleased, and became my biggest supporter.

By the way, from that early age in primary school, I had realised the importance that colour had in my life. It has shaped all my creative thoughts since then and fills my head with ideas every day.

Anyway, after college I moved into teaching – Secondary schools for art in general, adult education centres as a tutor and latterly my own classes for embroidery. I’ve given talks and weekend schools all over the country and thoroughly enjoyed the job of inspiring people to be creative when often they were inhibited by lack of confidence.

Nowhere at this point did crochet make an appearance.

There were a number of years after college when I was working on my own textile art pieces, exhibiting with my college peers who had formed a group to promote our work through galleries, and things were going well. My mother came along to all the private views, offering help and advice.

The top picture is an early canvas embroidery. This is a later one. You can see that my interest in colour and geometric pattern translates easily to crochet.

Then in 1989, with my ownchildren now at school, I started my little craft business. Blessed with the same work ethic I had witnessed in my mother, I put my heart and soul, not to mention every waking hour, into growing this business, so that after a few years my husband, also an art teacher was able to leave a job he wasn’t happy in and become my business partner. We both worked extremely hard as the children were growing up. The business, (which was designing and self publishing greeting cards), continued to grow. The children thrived in an environment where their parents were at home all the time. We worked from home for thirty years and the business became really quite successful. My own textile art and embroidery was put on the back burner.

Anyway, still no crochet. When does that come in?

What I’m trying to do is paint you a picture of what has led me to where I am today. Crochet has become my means of expression now, but why not embroidery?

Well, back to four years ago, and my 90 year old mother. After my father died twenty years before, she had lived a very independent life, happily surrounded by her embroidery and garden.

She moved closer to us and inevitably her advancing years began to impact on her health. Her brain remained as sharp as a tack, but her eyesight wasn’t so good and her hands developed a tremor. Frustrated that she couldn’t maintain her exacting standards, she gave up her embroidery.

It saddened me to see her sit with idle hands, so I came up with the idea of getting some yarn and a hook to see if crochet was something she might still be able to do.

I had no idea whether it would be easy for her to do, but thought it was worth a try.

However, my heart broke when I gave her the yarn, and saw a fleeting look of fear cross her face. She knew she wasn’t going to manage, but at the same time it upset her to think I might be disappointed.

Instinctively, I knew not to push it. The yarn and hook lay on the table beside her chair for a week or two and then disappeared. No more was said about it.

Just before her 90th birthday, she fell and fractured her hip and the subsequent decline was prolonged, painful and awful to watch. It felt so wrong that someone whose life had brought so much love and happiness to her extended family, should be suffering so much.

Four years ago in October, her pain finally came to an end.

Then came the difficult task for every grown up child, clearing a house full of memories. My sister and I shared that task.

One day I opened a chest of drawers and found the yarn and hook. Unknown to me, she had attempted some crochet, just to please me. She had only managed one round of a granny square. The stitches were uneven and lopsided, and she probably gave up in disgust.

It completely and utterly broke my heart.

The decision was simple after that. I had spent several hours of my day, every day for the last year of her life, to be with her in hospital and then the care home. I was left with these hours, empty. The business had evolved around them, so I thought I would try to learn some crochet in these hours, in memory of my mother.

I would later come to imagine that this had been her last parting gift to me. I can’t explain why the passion started so suddenly and completely, but after an initial terrible attempt at a doll blanket, which we will hastily skim over, there was a hunger to learn everything I could. My skills of patience and precision learned from my embroidery years, my continuing obsession with colour, and the strong work ethic acquired from running the business, meant that I started to live and breathe crochet.

The first proper blanket, made for my granddaughter.

And one or two others.

As I’ve already said, the first two years saw a blanket produced every month. The criteria around that was to learn a new technique or style with each one. I worked (and still do) into the wee small hours of every morning , and in the still of the night when I put my latest blanket up on the wall to study it from a distance, my mother is there with me to encourage and support. I’m not a fanciful person at all, but I do know that I’m closer to her at that time than any other, and my greatest sadness is that she never knew during her lifetime that I would become a crocheter.

So now you have my story. I am a textile designer, embroiderer, colourist, teacher, and business woman. Also a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother.

And every single one of these skills and attributes have led me to able to produce the crochet blankets and patterns I do now.

My heart and soul goes into every one, and maybe a little of my mother’s heart too.

The Spots n Stripes Blanket

Hello again,

Away back in 2018, at the height of my love affair with Stylecraft Batik, I made three blankets one after the other, in this wonderful water colour effect yarn.

The third one, my actual favourite, is this one – SpotsnStripes. It has taken me a while, but due to increasing demand I decided to write up a pattern for it. That meant making a second one, of course so I could photograph the different stages and gauge the amount of yarn used.

The theme of spots and stripes is a real favourite of mine. You just need to look in my wardrobe at the number of stripey t shirts and spotty scarves to realise that!

And those Batik colours are so gorgeous. I deliberately went random, pairing colours that would not immediately be considered good companions but the result is lively and fresh, all tempered and controlled by the lovely deep border of inky blue Indigo.

The pattern uses just three very basic crochet stitches plus my very own joining method so is within the scope of all crochet abilities. There is added eye candy in the form of crocheted “buttons” which give a cute finish to an already quirky blanket!

I have a couple of video tutorials as well to help you along the way. Firstly, the tutorial for the Side to Side Slip Stitch Join, which can be seen in an earlier post on this blog, and then a little video I’ve made explaining how I go about attaching the buttons to the blanket.

It can be seen here. https://youtu.be/L-0Ag9T9wkE

Finally, the most important part – the pattern.

It is available to purchase here, in my Etsy shop –

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/830048138/spots-n-stripes-blanket-crochet-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_1

Happy crocheting!

Vintage Florals Blanket

I’m so pleased to have been able to write up this pattern for publication, once more retrospectively.

Some of you will already know it as the Sister Blanket 2, and indeed will have followed my scratchy instructions on Instagram from a few months ago, to make your own version.

However, after quite a number of new followers started asking if there was a pattern, I thought I’d give it a go, and also give it a more descriptive name. I think it deserves that!

It’s a whole different ball game trying to write a pattern by looking at the finished article, rather than taking notes during a work in progress.

Firstly, I’ve had to “guess” the yarn quantities, so I hope I’m somewhere near right! I’ve tweaked the pattern just a little and I think everything is hunky dory, but I’ll rely on you, dear readers to shout out if you come across a mistake.

It’s a big blanket, big enough to cover the top of a double bed, but also a generous wrap for cosy sofa nights.

I loved working with the colours, so soft and pretty. Pinks are a colour I’m drawn to, but always in conjunction with other shades, and I have a lot in my yarn stash which I love to look at and admire, but which rarely get a look in when I’m crocheting. This is their time now.

Anyway, after a good number of days glued to my computer screen, and ending up that horrible dry eye syndrome, I can finally put it to bed and click “ publish”.

The pattern is available to purchase

HERE on Etsy

and I’ve added in the pattern for the Little Gem Blanket too, as an extra, since both blankets share the same origin. So you get two for the price of one!

Lastly, I put a little video tutorial on Instagram when I made the blanket a few months ago. It’s for one of the flower granny squares, and I’m happy to share it again on here for you. (Video has no sound)

So, that’s another blanket done and dusted. The next one is going to be a little bit different, and it is on my hook right now.

Thank you for reading, trying my patterns and giving me feedback. It is all so appreciated.

Happy crocheting! x

Beach Walk Blanket

Over the past few months, I’ve been walking every day on a beautiful and quiet beach only a few minutes’ walk from my home.

Each day the colours, sights and sounds are different. Sometimes calm and sunny – sometimes grey, overcast and wild. But always beautiful.

I’ve been capturing the moments on camera and sharing them on social media, as a small way to help us all get through these difficult times.

Some of the photographs, particularly of the pebbles washed up on the high Spring tides, inspired me with their many colours hidden amongst the stones – surprising mauves, terracottas, slate blues, oranges – little flashes of colour among the greys.

I decided to design a blanket with the theme of these colours and the Beach Walk Blanket was born.

I’m so happy with the result – a fairly large blanket with at first glance a colour palette of greys and cream, but with glimpses of all these other amazing colours popping out when you look more closely.

The pattern itself is not complicated, combinations of granny squares and granny stripes in different sizes, working from the centre outwards.

The colour palette is definitely the star in this blanket, and in order to get just the right shades, I worked between four different yarn brands. They are all the same weight and type, and blend well together. What’s more they are machine washable and don’t need blocking, perfect for a blanket.

Yarns used were Stylecraft Special DK, Stylecraft Batik, Deramores Studio DK and Scheepjes Colour Crafter.

The pattern is now available on Etsy for instant download, and if you are quick off the mark before the end of June 2020, there is an automatic discount of 30% by clicking on the link below.

Beach Walk Blanket Instant Pattern Download

Happy crocheting!

PS IMPORTANT UPDATE – A couple of errors fave been flagged up in the pattern. Firstly, one of the yarn colours is missing from the list. It’s one ball of Stylecraft Special DK in Mustard (sorry!)

Also, a typo in the grid of colours for the granny squares in Section 1 has meant that a couple of the squares have been duplicated, when they should all be different.

The grid below is the correct one –

Grid of colours for granny squares in Section 1

May Blossom Blanket Video Tutorials

Here are four little video tutorials to go along with the pattern for the May Blossom and Autumn Gold Blankets ( see my last two posts).

I hope they will help to explain some of the processes for you, although they are not at all difficult. I just found it easier to talk about them than write them down.

So, that is all you need now to create one or both of the blankets. I hope you enjoy making them, and I’d love to hear how you get on.

Happy crocheting!

Continue reading May Blossom Blanket Video Tutorials

May Blossom and Autumn Gold Blankets

I’ve updated this post to tell you that the pattern for the May Blossom and Autumn Gold blankets, which I put on here in April, has had a complete makeover.

The original pattern had been saved on a rubbishy pdf reader which caused the file to do silly things and run to over 60 pages, and although it was a free pattern, it certainly used up a whole lot of precious paper stocks!

I’ve now taken the time to sort that out, and after a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears have managed to produce an altogether neater and more user friendly document.

There are a couple of more photos as well.

The pattern is now available to purchase here

 

I know that a lot of you have already made this pattern and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your results posted on Instagram.

It has apparently been a godsend for a lot of people who were isolated or stuck at home during the recent lockdown. So many of you have told me how it has kept you occupied and sane at a time of uncertainty and worry. That makes me feel as if I’ve done something useful with my time – thank you so much.

I hope this pattern will continue to engage people as we slowly emerge from the crisis and become a favourite for a long time to come.

And meanwhile, there is another one in the pipeline!

Autumn Gold and May Blossom Blankets

Hello all,

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook will know that I’ve been working on two blankets over the past few months, and they seem to have struck a chord with a lot of you, so much so that I promised I would try to produce a pattern for them to share.

That is still a work in progress, but hopefully soon I’ll have it ready. Let’s just say I have PLENTY of time to work on it in these strange weeks and months ahead.

However, perhaps it might be a good idea now, to publish the list of yarn colours I’m using, so that you can stock up ahead of time. Both blankets follow the same actual pattern, so you can choose whichever of the two colour ranges you want.

When I made the first blanket, the Autumn Gold one, I wasn’t thinking about publishing a pattern, so I went my merry old way, picking yarn colours from all over my stash and mixing different yarn brands as well, if one brand didn’t quite have the right shade.

That’s the way I tend to work – using the yarns in my collection like paints, a little of something here, a dash of something there. I think that makes my blankets come alive but it does mean that pattern writing becomes, shall I say “interesting”!

Now when I made a start on the second one, the May Blossom Blanket it was with writing a pattern in mind, so I have been strict with myself and kept all the colours to one brand. How good was that!

Of course, these colours are suggestions. If you have something in your stash which is almost the same as one of those listed, by all means use it, but remember all the yarns I’ve used are 100% acrylic in DK, apart that is, from the Stylecraft Batik in the Autumn Gold Blanket. It is an 80%/20% mix of acrylic and wool, but works in very well with the other acrylics. I wouldn’t recommend mixing some acrylic with some 100% wool yarns, as their washing instructions are different, as well as the handle.

So I’ll start with AUTUMN GOLD BLANKET

Autumn Gold Blanket

Stylecraft Batik in: BISCUIT – 5 x 50g balls. OLD GOLD – 2 balls. CREAM and PISTACHIO – 1 ball each.

Stylecraft Special DK in: MOCHA – 2 x 100g balls, 1 ball each WALNUT, CAMEL, MUSTARD, KHAKI, CYPRESS (oops missed that out in the pic), COPPER, TOMATO, SPICE, LIME, BUTTERMILK, PISTACHIO, MEADOW, CREAM

Deramores Studio DK in: GREEN TEA and BUTTERSCOTCH – 2 x 100g balls of each colour.

And next the MAY BLOSSOM BLANKET

May Blossom Blanket

All Stylecraft Special DK: 2 balls each of LINCOLN, DUCK EGG, PISTACHIO, SAGE and MEADOW. 1 each of: POWDER, FONDANT, POMEGRANATE, WISTERIA, LAVENDER, VIOLET, STORM BLUE, SHERBERT, CLOUD BLUE, CREAM, BUTTERMILK, SAFFRON, MUSTARD, LIME, CYPRESS, ASPEN and LEMON (not in pic).

This looks like a LOT of colours, and it’s likely you will not use up a whole ball of many of them, but I was going for a floral effect of little spring flowers appearing through the fresh greens, so I wanted a range of different pretty colours. You may well have some already in your stash and if you have less than a full ball of a colour that should be OK.

Now, all I need to do is press on and get the second blanket finished, photographed and a pattern written! As I said, lucky I’m not going anywhere in the foreseeable future!!

See you later…..

Side to Side Slip Stitch Join

Hi everyone

I’ve been asked by a number of people who have seen my latest blanket on Instagram about the join I’m using.

To my knowledge it isn’t a regular join, but one that I made up myself. I devised it for a blanket I was making in 2017, and really the liked the effect it gave for being such a simple stitch. I searched on Google, Facebook, Pinterest etc to see if I could find it by someone else, but drew a blank.

Update – I’ve since found three other people on youtube who claim ownership of this stitch by way of their youtube video tutorials. The interesting thing is though – their tutorials all appeared a few weeks after this tutorial on my blog! Funny that, isn’t it?

So I’m now convinced that this stitch is my baby!

And I’ll I’ll happily take credit for it and call it Side to Side Slip Stitch join by Woolthreadpaint! If you want to share it anywhere, please go ahead, but I would ask you to credit me as the designer.

So – Side to Side Slip Stitch Join by Marion of Woolthreadpaint…….

And here is the video tutorial. Enjoy!

The Shandon Blanket

The story

This little blanket has been crocheted twice. The first time was last year when I had just discovered this lovely yarn, Stylecraft Batik and had plunged into blanket making with the naive enthusiasm of a rookie crocheter.

There were three different blankets which I made with this yarn, one crocheted after another, and this one was the middle one. The first I kept for myself, the third I gave to my sister and the middle, this one went to my son and daughter in law. So I’ve got another two I can share with you at a future date!)

Son and Daughter in law have recently moved into a lovely new home in the pretty Shandon Conservation Area of Edinburgh, and hence the name – the Shandon Blanket!

What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of interest shown in this little blanket when I posted it on Instagram. I was very flattered and thrilled with the lovely comments and took on board the requests from several people asking for information about how it was done.

So, feeling the burden of “impostor syndrome” ( who the hell do I think I am – a crochet expert? Well no, absolutely not!) I’ve tried to put together a guide to what I did.

What I do feel confident in though, is using colour. My background is in textile design and embroidery, and colour has been a main feature of my working life. All 45 years of it!!

So I think the use of colour has been the main attraction in this blanket – the pattern itself is easy peasy. I wanted to create a blanket with an apparent random colour selection, where the juxtaposition of colours is often surprising, sometimes challenging but where everything blends together as a whole.

Of course it is not at all random. Each colour has had to be chosen with surrounding colours in mind to make sure the balance is right.

I mean, truly random selection ( pulling the first yarn out of the bag that comes to hand) might have meant a square in the middle that was all in say, cool colours – blues and greens. That would upset the balance. Does that make sense?.

The Process

In order to refresh my memory I decided to make a second blanket, in exactly the same colours and try to photograph the steps along the way.

That proved to be just as much fun as the first one, and is already firing up my brain to think about new Shandon blankets in different colour ways……

Let me say here that I personally compare making a crochet blanket with painting a picture. I like to see it growing organically, so colours are chosen as I go along. I start with a collection of colours I intend to use, but don’t have plans beforehand as to where they will go.

I joined the middle squares as I went along for example, rather than making a pile of circles first then joining them. That way it seemed easier to blend the colours.

The same went for the solid granny square border. I worked the first square, attached it with the “join as you go” method and then continued along the edge, one square at a time. I know some of you with mathematical brains might want to create a pile of squares first in a methodical way, and that’s absolutely fine. Go for it.

My pictures are not brilliant – they were not taken in a professional way – some were on a table, some on the floor and some on my lap – but hopefully they will be enough to point you in the right direction.

It has taken me about three weeks of crocheting in the evenings to complete the blanket but there have been a few interruptions with weekends away etc so it could have been finished sooner.

The Stats

The blanket measures 100cm x 100cm (39ins x 39ins). This makes it ideal as a sofa throw, as you can see. The sofa in the picture is a three seater.

It has been crocheted in Stylecraft Batik DK yarn. This is a 20% wool/ 80% acrylic mix with a soft handle, and is machine washable at 30 degrees. It comes in 20 shades and I have used 18 of them.I purchased mine from Wool Warehouse who will ship worldwide, but there are many online yarn stores who stock it.

The colours I used are:

BISCUIT – 2 balls

GRAPHITE – 2 balls

OLIVE – 2 balls

SILVER – 2 balls

and 1 ball each of OLD GOLD, CORAL, CHERRY, RASPBERRY, HEATHER, PLUM, SAGE, TEAL, PISTACHIO, VIOLET, STORM, ROSE, MINT and LUPIN.

You will have some of each colour left over, but hey that means more projects, right?

I used a 4mm crochet hook.

Once finished, I put it through a 30 degree machine wash and it came out flat as a pancake and looking lovely.

A note about the final shell border – I wanted something quite colourful around the edge, but didn’t think I’d have enough of any one shade left to go all the way round.

Inspiration happened to be right beside me in the shape of this cushion ( Christmas gift from hubby a few years ago)As you can see, there is an edging of three scallops each of a variety of colours. Hey, that would work, and it meant that even small scraps of colours could be used! So that is how the border came to be.

And finally yes you’ve guessed, there were a LOT of ends to sew in. Now that’s not a problem for me as I happen to like sewing them in. It might seem a daunting task, but a coffee or something stronger and a Netflix series ( I’m steadily working my way through Friends at the moment because believe it or not I didn’t see it first time round!) and hey presto the ends are taken care of before you know it!

Now (at last) the Pattern

I’ve saved it in pdf form in case you want to download and print it off.

And it can be found HERE:

Shandon Blanket

Happy crocheting, and please please use the hashtag #shandonblanket to share your progress on Instagram. I’d love to see little Shandon blankets appearing all over the world!