Monday 20 August 2018

Granny Square Flair: A book review

Shelly Husband is no stranger to the humble granny square. In fact, she's something of a granny-meister (if such a thing were to exist).

Over the last few years, Shelley has taken this most traditional of crochet motifs and designed hundreds of beautiful versions - publishing them for free and in book collections. Her latest book, 'Granny Square Flair' is different in that not only is this her first ever print version, but all the designs are created using neutral, cream yarn. Shelly wanted her readers to be able to add their own colourways to their motifs and create truly personal projects. That said, her love of colour still pervades throughout, as she cleverly asked fellow crocheters to take a square and make it using yarns and colours of their choices. Which is how I became involved - but more on that later.

Shelley's squares in cream

'Granny Square Flair' (written in US and UK terms) features 50 patterns, varying in difficulty and complexity and is intended for a crocheter with basic skills. The beginning of the book includes everything you need to know to get started; information on choosing hooks, yarns and colours, how to read patterns and charts and a brilliant tip for creating seamless crochet!

The next section contains the patterns. Each one has a difficulty rating and a guide to how much yarn it will use. There is a photograph of the square and a chart underneath (very helpful for the visual learners out there). Alongside are the written instructions, which are clearly described and easy to follow. At the bottom of the page are the coloured versions of the squares; either made by Shelley herself or by the  group of crochet friends she asked to help. These include Dedri Uys, Julie Harrison, Mandy O'Sullivan, Marianne Dekkers-Roos, Sandra Eng and many more - oh and me, too!

I chose the 'Bloem' pattern (p.64) to work on and decided straight away that I would supersize mine using Stylecraft Special XL in Cream, Duck Egg, Sage, Petrol and Graphite. And wowsers!! It worked out brilliantly! It would make THE perfect blanket and with squares this big, would be a pretty quick project too. I found the pattern easy to follow and had no difficulty understanding the instructions. It's rather nice, isn't it?!


After the patterns, you can find the project section, where Shelley has 11 new designs to make with the motifs. There are blankets and wraps, cushions and coasters - a great selection of stylish and modern pieces and there are tips and advice for designing your own projects, including how to choose patterns and layout and how to calculate the amount of yarn you will need.

Melbourne Wrap

Blues Sampler Blanket

And so, I would like to congratulate Shelley on a truly fabulous book - her fresh, modern designs will inspire many crocheters to make their own beautiful creations.

You can find 'Granny Square Flair' here (UK) or here (US).
Shelley's website, with details of all her other books is here.

As a thank you for being part of Shelley's Crochet team, I received a copy of her book to review. 
All views this blog post are my own.

Enjoy your week,
Sarah xx

Wednesday 8 August 2018

A Very Little Llama

Inspired by everything llama at the moment, I realised that one of my previous patterns could be easily adapted to fit the bill...

You may remember The Very Little Giraffe (a random teacher gift my daughter asked me to make)? Well it struck me that the shaping was pretty llama-esque and with a little tinkering around with the ear placement, and the addition of a blanket and tassels, a llama it could be ...

It's the perfect small project for using up all those odds and ends of yarn - hooray!!

A Very Little Llama Pattern (UK)

(For US, dc is the same as sc and dc2tog is the same as sc2tog).

ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch
dc = double crochet
dc2tog = double crochet 2 together**
sts = stitches
**to make the dc2tog stitch using the invisible decrease method:
Insert hook into the front loop of the first stitch.
Insert hook into the front loop of the second stitch (3 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull yarn through the first two loops (2 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through both loops.

You will need:
Yarn and hook of your choice (any weight yarn and hook to match will work)
I used a 3mm hook and small amounts of Rico Ricorumi in Beige (55), Tangerine (26), Wine Red (29) and Fuchsia (14)
Toy stuffing
Black / brown embroidery thread for nose and eyes
Stitchmarker - mark the first st of each round

Stuff as you go.
In Beige:
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook (6 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 dc in each st around. (12 sts)
Rnds 3 - 4: 1dc in each st around.
Rnd 5: (1dc, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (18 sts)
Rnds 6 - 8: 1dc in each st around.
Rnd 9: (1dc, dc2tog) repeat around. (12 sts)

Stitch eyes and nose.

Rnd 10: dc2tog around. (6 sts)

Fasten off and sew closed.

Ears (make 2)
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: (1dc, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (9 sts)
Fasten off. Sew to head

Neck, body and legs
(Leave long tail at beginning for stitching to head and stuff as you go)
Ch 6, join with sl st to first ch.

Rnd 1: 1ch (doesn't count as st), 1dc in each st. (6 sts) 
Now in continuous rounds
Rnds 2 - 5: 1dc in each st.
Rnd 6: *1dc, 2dc in next st; rep from *, 2dc. (8 sts)
Rnd 7: 2dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * three times, 3dc. (11 sts)
Rnd 8: 3dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * four times, 4dc. (15 sts)
Rnd 9: 4dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * six times, 5dc. (21 sts)
Rnds 10 - 13: 1dc in each st.

Front leg
Rnd 14: 1dc, dc2tog, dc 4, then cross to the other side (see pic) and 4dc back to stitchmarker. (10 sts)

Pictures from Giraffe Pattern

Rnd 15: dc2tog around. (5 sts).
Fasten off and sew closed.

Back leg
Rnd 14a: 1dc in each st around. (10 sts)
Rnd 15a: dc2tog around. (5 sts).

Fasten off and sew closed. 
Stitch between the legs to close the hole.
Stitch head to body.

Make a knot in the yarn and stitch it into place. Separate the strands to create the tail.

In Tangerine
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: *2dc in first st, 2dc in next st, 1dc; rep from *.  (10 sts)
Rnd 3: In Fuchsia, 1dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 3dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 2dc. (14 sts)
Rnd 4: In Red, 2dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 5dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 3dc. (18 sts)
Fasten off, but leave a long tail for stitching in place

Make a chain long enough to fit around the muzzle and join with sl st. Make another chain to fit around back of head and join with sl st to other side. Stitch in place.

To finish:
Add tassels of yarn to tips of ears and sides of muzzle. Add pompoms or any other decorations you like.

And that's it!
Enjoy your teeny llama,

Sarah xx