Crocheted flowers are pretty much my favourite thing to make and I adore adding beads into my work too, so the Gertrude cushion project was a real joy to design and make. I wanted to create a vintage feel and chose my yarn shades accordingly. I think the little lime green beads provide a lovely pop of colour on the leaves of the dainty crochet blooms.
I adored the velvet smocked cushions that my Auntie Muriel had on her bed when I was a child in the 1970s. I used to love running my fingers over the velvet pile and found the smocked stitching fascinating. The cushions were just so enticing and luxurious that I remember thinking that I would definitely have some on my bed when I was old enough! I have previously recreated the style of these cushions in a knit design I called Madeleine, which was published in my book ‘Homespun Vintage’, but I have always wanted to create a crochet version too.
When working on the Muriel cushion project I decided to add pretty bobbles instead of smocked style stitching to make a simple accompaniment to my Gertrude cushion, which features pretty flowers and beads. I have always struggled with the way crochet worked in the round can look like it has a ‘scar’ running through it, so my challenge for this project was to design something that would hide the way slip stitches appear without having to fasten off yarns at the end of every round.
The paper brochure copy of the Gertrude Cushion is available in UK and US terms in our store here. You can download it via Ravelry or Etsy.
The pattern for the round Muriel Cushion is a free download. You can find the UK version here, and the US version here.
The patterns for both the cushions were previously published in issue 147 of Inside Crochet Magazine. Thanks to the magazine and Mavric photography for the lovely images.
The name of a repeated tessellating design, like the one I have used in the Mystical Lanterns blanket, is called an ‘Ogee’ pattern in Arabesque design. It took me a few weeks to get the design of these blocks right; initially I came up with lots of complicated ways to create this motif, but in the end, it was so simple – funny how sometimes a design process can take so long, and the outcome can be so easy to make!
The Mystical Lanterns blanket is an incredibly popular pattern, so almost a decade after it was first released, we felt it was time to give it a bit of an update. We have created some new colourways and layouts using the Stylecraft range of yarns. We have created one version using Naturals Bamboo + Cotton that we have called Beatrix, another using Special DK named Avice, and a third using ReCreate DK and Highland Heathers DK that we have called Orcadia.
The colour palette for the Beatrix version was chosen by Stylecraft Brand Manager, Annabelle Hill, who owns a painting of the walled garden at Waterperry Gardens that inspired her choices. Annabelle once lived near the gardens and visited a couple of times a month with her children when they were small. Annabelle says it is the most magical place that was founded by two women, Beatrix Havergal and her partner Avice Sanders in the 1930s.
The yarn used in this colour way is Stylecraft Naturals Bamboo + Cotton. The Avice version is very similar in colour but uses Special DK.
The colour palette for this version was chosen by me and was inspired by a visit to St Magnus’s Cathedral and the Italian Chapel in Orkney, Scotland. The Cathedral is built from rich red bricks, and it features the most incredible tiled floor within its interior with intricate patterns in shades of red, brown, and yellow. The Italian Chapel is also a real treat with a lovely interior and pretty hand painted windows, which bathe the chapel in blue, yellow and pink colours when the sun shines.
You can find a free downloadable document that shows the yarn use for all 3 colourways on the website by following this link. We have kits available to order on the website with a dispatch date of next Monday, but please support your local Stylecraft stockist if you have one as many of them will also be selling the kits. You can find a list of stockists here.
We have re-stocked kits for the Fiori blanket. Fiori is a collaborative project between myself and Lucia Dunn of @luciasfigtree. The original design is Fields of Gold and the new colour palette was chosen by Lucia, using a trip to her home in the Dolomites, Italy as inspiration.
The original kit used a limited edition yarn, but because of this we struggled to keep up with the demand for kits for this beautiful project. This newer version uses 16 shades of Stylecraft yarn instead and is as colourful as you’d expect from a palette where Lucia is involved!
The change in palette moves the project from the sunny French inspired field of sunflowers and poppies to a meadow of Italian wildflowers and flashes of glorious sunsets and cheerful window-boxes. Lucia's colour choices are always absolutely glorious: look out on our website for Primavera and Eastern Jewels, her beautiful versions of Frida's Flowers and Persian Tiles respectively.
It is constantly inspiring and joyful to see you apply your own colours to my designs and to witness the change of mood your own interpretations bring. Never stop experimenting! Also, as always, this is a fantastic stash busting project too and 'scrappy' is just as beautiful as meticulously planned
The kits are available on the website and include all the yarn you need for the project, the printed Fields of Gold pattern, a printed yarn substitution brochure and a Janie Crow sew in label. Lucia also has the yarn substitution document available on her website, so do go and have a visit there if you would rather not get a kit.
When we were sat at Bordeaux airport waiting for our return flight from the workshop trip to France last year it occurred to us that we were very close to Morocco, so after this month's workshop we made a little detour in order to spend a few days in Marrakech before we headed home.
It is an incredible city with colour and inspiration around every corner. I have hundreds of photos from our tours and am totally in love with it!
There are painted doors, ceilings and panels - an abundance of inspiration in these alone, so when mixed with mosaics, carvings and textiles you can imagine what a sensory overload it is! There is surface pattern absolutely everywhere in Marrakech, even in our Riad where my crochet flowers looked so perfect left on the top of the dresser with the tiled floor below.
10 years ago, in 2013, I designed a crochet along project inspired by a series of tiles I saw on display at the V&A museum here in London. The design was only available for members of the CAL group that year but I had so many requests to release a pattern for something similar that I used a particular star style tile as the catalyst for the design. The resulting pattern was Persian Tiles which I released in 2015.
When I was in Marrakech last week I saw many fabulous examples of Moroccan tile design and am already so inspired by my trip. I am considering putting together yet another colourway of the Persian Tiles design based on the shades I saw there. Let me know what you think. Can you stand to see yet another version of the design using shades inspired by Moroccan tiles?
I released the Bohemian Blooms Blanket book back in 2017 and it has since been to reprint a couple of times. We have just received our newest reprint, so the book is back on the website for sale. You can find it by following this link.
How are you enjoying the Spirit of Flora CAL? We are absolutely loving the growing numbers of posts at the #spiritofflora tag on Instagram.
It's incredible to see the groups of blocks together as well - they look magnificent and because the team here at Janie Crow are slightly weird and a little bit nerdy, we have been wondering how many cumulative hours of work and metres of yarn have been used so far on this project. If only there was a way to know for sure! For now we'll make the educated guess of a gazillion of each!
We have had quite a lot of people asking about how to access the cal patterns. You can find subscription offers via Inside Crochet Magazine and you can also purchase back copies. The CAL runs in magazine numbers 154 to 164 so we are only half way through - plenty of time left to get involved!
I would love it if you are able to do a bit of stash diving to create your project but we have starter packs, which contains a ball of each of the shades I have used for my blanket, back in stock.
Working crochet in a freeform way - with no pattern or technical guidance from anyone else - is a really freeing way of creating a fabulously unique crochet fabric. It is incredibly mindful and great fun to do and (as usual with a crochet technique) it is totally addictive.
I first came across this crochet artfrom via the work of Prudence Mapstone @freeformprudence and I follow quite a few freeform artists here on Instagram these days with one of my favourites being José Dammers @Josedammers who creates the most beautiful crochet pieces. José’s work focusses on the human face, sometimes abstracted and often decorated with flowers and crochet scrumbles, and always photographed in such an inspiring way.
If you have never worked in a freeform way before and want some more information or tutorials you can find lots of information and videos on line. Do take a look at José’s feed on Instagram and follow the link to her online courses. Her work is a total joy!
Being away in France and then in Morocco means that we have been treated to some really lovely meals over the last few weeks. If I am honest it has been a bit of a trial having to think about food preparation this week, so I don't have a definitive recipe to offer to you.
That said, we have been having quite a lot of salad based meals - always extra nice when the weather is good. One of our favourite combinations, which we discovered a few years ago, is a salad made of water melon, feta cheese and mint. It really is delicious. I am not sure you really need a recipe for this - but you will get the idea by following this link.
Another great salad is the pairing of creamy blue cheese with pears and we love the rustic Italian salad (great for using up left over bread) called Panzanella - you can find a recipe here.
We will be exhibiting at The Festival of Quilts in August. We are really looking forward to the show, especially as it is one we have not done before. We hope to see you there - you can find tickets and information by following this link.
The weather has turned a bit cold and wet today and I am feeling a little chilly here in the summer house, which is a bit of a shock after the last few weeks of warm weather. I am heading off to the coast with a group of my girlfriends this weekend, so I might need to replace the sun tops and suncream I have packed in my bag with a brolly and some more sensible shoes!
Next week is set to be ultra busy here, with a step-by-step photo shoot for my new book taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. Sarah is coming to stay for a few days to help me, so I am really looking forward to that. I will try to remember to post some images on Instagram, so keep a look out.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you have planned that you will have a great weekend and that you stay safe.
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