Learning a new skill is a brilliant thing to do at any time. But especially during lockdown, it’s wonderful to take up a new craft to keep you busy while you’re stuck at home.
For me, teaching people to knit or crochet has been so difficult since the beginning of lockdown. I always like to be able to see clearly what people are doing when I’m teaching them. That way, I can help them with whatever they’re finding most challenging. Here’s one of the lessons I held in North London last year, before the pandemic hit our shores.
Of course now, with the two-metre rule, teaching like that is almost impossible. I’d been wondering about how I could carry on teaching people who were interested in learning to crochet or to knit during lockdown, and I’ve now decided to offer one-to-one lessons using Zoom!
That way you can still get individual attention and learn how to make exactly what you want! Also, I’ll be able to teach you, wherever you live! Even if you live outside of London or Thanet, where I usually teach
So although I won’t be teaching you like this…
… you’ll still have my undivided attention, just via a screen.
If you haven’t yet used Zoom, all you need is a computer or tablet and an internet connection – it’s so easy! Don’t worry, I’ll explain exactly what you need to do…
Just think what you’ll be able to make!
And what a brilliant pastime knitting and crocheting is while you’re stuck at home! I’ve been busy finishing all sorts of projects – I finally had time to crochet a blanket by Attic24 I’d been meaning to make for ages…
Just think – if you learn now, you’ll still be in time to crochet or knit some Christmas presents! So take a look at the crochet projects on my page here or decide what you’d like to learn to knit and drop me a line if you’re interested in arranging a lesson… More info here
I thought I’d add some (hopefully) helpful notes here, to explain how you can prepare each section of the Spring Bag CAL so that they’re ready for joining together eventually, then tomorrow, Part 2 of the instructions will be here…
Helpful notes 1 – Darning in the ends
As there are lots of colour changes in this pattern, guess what?! That means loads of ENDS!!!!! You’ve probably already noticed if you’ve done the first Part. And each one will need darning in, so that your work won’t unravel as soon as you begin using the bag. Make sure you leave a long enough end when you start each new colour and when you cut off the colour at the end of the round, to make it easier to darn in.
A useful technique
If you can manage it, a useful thing to do is to crochet over each new end as you go along, then at least it’s partially darned in automatically. It only works on rounds where you’re working a number of stitches in the same place though…
Here’s an example – it’s the second round. I’ve joined in my yarn and done the initial 2 chain stitches. You can see that I’ve placed the green loose end along the top of the lilac stitches on the first round.
Now, when I insert the hook through the space for the first treble, I’m also putting my hook under that loose end.
Once I finish my treble, it’s secured that end in place.
I do that again with the double treble and treble.
Here’s what it looks like on the back…
Now it’s quite secure, so I can leave the loose end at the back. To be on the safe side, I usually still darn the yarn back the opposite direction once I’ve finished the round, read on for how to do this…
Get your darning-in needle out
Once you’ve finished each piece of this CAL, it’s easier if you darn in any loose ends. That way, when you come to join the pieces together, there won’t be so many ends getting in the way.
You’ll be darning in on the back of the work so it isn’t visible on the front.
Thread that needle and look for some handy stitches that you can weave the end through… Here I’ve found some brown treble stitches to weave my pink thread through.
I put my needle through the middle of the stitches – here I’ve gone through 3 stitches.
Now I turn back the other way, miss the first stitch and thread the needle through the middle of the stitches going in the opposite direction.
This should be secure now, but you can turn and go back the other way, missing the first stitch if you prefer. Now you can trim the end off completely, safe in the knowledge that it won’t unravel.
Notes 2 – Blocking
Blocking is a step that you do to set the crocheted piece into it’s final shape. So only do this stage once you’ve finished the whole of a main square (that’ll be after Part 3 on Friday). Then block out each completed piece as it’s finished.
Get yourself a pile of towels, or fold one up so you have several layers. Using rustproof dressmaking pins (if you have rustproof ones), place your square on the towel and pin the corners so that piece is exactly a square. Don’t stretch it too much, just ease the corners slightly so that each side is straight. Now you can add a few more pins along each side.
If you have a mist spray bottle (like a plant spray), just lightly spray the square with tepid water. You don’t want to make it soaking wet, just slightly moist. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can just cover the square with a damp cloth till it’s damp. Now leave the square until it’s completely dry.
Sometimes with acrylic yarn, an extra boost is necessary. I very carefully use my steam iron. VERY IMPORTANTDO NOT TOUCH THE CROCHETED PIECE WITH THE IRON (if you do touch acrylic yarn with a hot iron, it will ‘melt’ or fuse in place, or even stick to your iron which is not what you want at all!). I hover my steam iron a couple of inches above the pinned-out crochet piece and give it a short burst of steam. Once I’ve done this to the whole piece I leave it till it’s completely dry before taking out the pins.
So now you know all about the finishing touches, you’re ready for the next few parts of the CAL.
Welcome to my spring crochet-along! As you know from my previous blog post, I’ve been designing a granny square bag. During lockdown in the UK, I’ve been finalising the pattern and now that our lockdown has been extended, I thought I’d publish it in sections, so that everyone can complete the Crochet-along with me, and have a bag by the time we’re allowed out again! If you’re an experienced crocheter and just want to head straight to the standard written pattern, head herebut if you’d like to know a bit about the bag first, or if you’re less experienced or you’d like more detailed instructions with pictures, read on…
Construction and materials
The bag is made up of two large squares, 6 smaller squares, two side strips, a long strip for the gusset and a number of small squares for the handle…
Here’s the first one I made…
You can make it in any DK yarn – I’ve done versions in Deramores Studio DK – there are some lovely bright and jewel-like colours in their range, and it’s not expensive either.
Plus you can order colour packs each containing a range of shades – perfect for this type of project – here’s one of the Deramores more muted selections.
Or how about making it in really zingy colours, like these from the Stylecraft DK range?
I’ve also made it in the gorgeous Erika Knight Gossypium cotton – so soft and in lovely, muted colours. I just happened to have a range of colours in my stash, and was pleased to finally find a use for them – this is what was left after I’d made the bag.
This is what my second version turned out like…
I eventually decided to go with a crochet hook a size smaller than I normally use for DK – 3mm – from my favourite Knitpro Waves hook set. This gave a firmer texture to the pieces, and gave the bag a bit more structure. You may find that the yarn you choose may work better with a 3.5mm hook – either is fine.
In the cotton on the smaller hook, I used six colours, with each using under 50g, though you can use as many or as few colours as you like. Even using a slightly larger hook and the Deramores DK, the project still used under 200g in total.
Making a start on the crochet-along
First of all, I’ll explain all the abbreviations that will be used in the pattern. All instructions are in UK terminology. Don’t forget, if you’d prefer just to follow the standard written instructions, I’ll be putting them uphere (they’ll be added as these posts go up).
Don’t forget, you start with a slip knot to make the first loop on your hook. See here if you’re not sure how to make one.
Also, when joining in a new colour, simply out your hook through the space or stitch indicated wrap the yarn round the hook at the back of the work, then bring the hook to the front, and work 1 chain stitch [doesn’t count as one of your stitches] to anchor the new yarn. If you can, try to work over the ends of the yarn as you join each new colour in, and there’ll be a lot fewer ends to darn in later. Now you’re ready to follow the instructions for the round.
ch = chain stitch– the basic stitch which looks exactly like its name. Just yarn over and pull through the loop – voila – one chain stitch! dc = double crochet – for this you insert your hook through the top of the stitch on the row below or through a chain space as instructed in the pattern, yarn over and bring the hook back to the front (2 loops on hook), yarn over and draw it through both loops. htr = half treble – for this you need to put the yarn over the hook before you insert it through the top of a stitch on the row below or into a space, then yarn over and bring the hook back to the front (3 loops on hook), now yarn over and draw it through all three loops at once. tr = treble – this one is slightly taller than the half treble. Put yarn over the hook, insert it though the top of a stitch or a into a space, yarn over and bring the hook back to the front (3 loops) – this time yarn over and draw it through the first 2 loops, yarn over again and draw it through the remaining 2 loops. dtr = double treble– guess what! This is even taller than the treble – yarn over the hook twice, hook through top of stitch or into space, yarn over and bring hook back to the front (4 loops on hook), yarn over and through 2 loops, yarn over and through the next 2 loops, finally yarn over and through the remaining 2 loops. Phew!
Here’s a picture so you can see the different heights of the stitches – double crochet in red, half treble in yellow, treble in dark teal and double treble in pink.
tr2tog = treble 2 together – yarn over, hook through stitch or into space and yarn over, bring hook back to front (3 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yarn over and hook through stitch or chain space as directed, bring hook back to front again (4 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through all 3 loops, leaving just one loop on hook. 3tr-cluster = 3 treble cluster– the most complicated one, but not difficult if you follow the steps. Yarn over, hook through stitch or into chain space and yarn over, bring hook back to front (3 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yarn over and hook through same stitch or chain space as before, bring hook back to front again (4 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yarn over, hook through same stitch or chain space, yarn over and bring hook back to the front again (5 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (4 loops on hook), finally yarn over and draw through all 4 loops, so you’re back to 1 loop. rem = remaining – this is easier and self explanatory. sp = space – so is this, but it could refer to a ch-sp ie a space created by one or more chain stitches on the row below, or it could be through the space between two stitches on the row below. It’ll tell you which in the pattern. ss = slip stitch– finally, slip stitch which is a useful joining stitch at the end of rows, or sometimes helps to create shapes like the petals. Just put your hook through a stitch or into a space, yarn over and bring the hook back to the front and straight through the loop on your hook.
Just a quick note, it’s useful if you know how to start using a magic circle, however if you don’t, you can work a few chain stitches and join them into a circle with a slip stitch. The magic circle works best, though, as you can tighten up the centre of the motif…
Here’s what the first round looks like with circle of 5 chain stitches to start, and with a magic circle… You can see the magic circle can be tightened up in the middle, so there is no hole.
So, let’s pick up our hooks and get going. And don’t forget, if you get stuck at any point, just get in touch with me by email on facebook or instagram or in a comment here, and I’ll try to help you.
Here we go
We’ll make a start on the main square which actually starts off as a circle! It doesn’t turn into a square untilRound 7 so today, you’ll end up with a circle. For this first part of the crochet along, we’ll just work up to Round 6, and you can make two of these circles – they don’t even have to match if you don’t want them to – that way your bag will look different depending on which side you choose to have facing outwards. Don’t forget, if you just want the pattern in normal crochet terminology, see here.
MAIN SQUARE (you’ll need to make 2 of these)
Round 1: If you don’t know how to do a magic circle, make 5 chain stitches and join them into a ring with a slip stitch.
Or start with a magic circle… Now work 4 chain stitches [this counts as a treble stitch plus 1 chain stitch].
Now working into the centre of the ring or the magic circle, whichever you’re using, work 1 treble and 1chain seven times, and join with a slip stitch to the third of the chain stitches you made at the beginning.
Fasten off this colour. You now have a circle of trebles with a space between each – almost like a wheel with 8 spokes, though the spokes will only become much more apparent after you make the next round…
Now to make the petals…
Round 2: Join the next colour of yarn into one of the one-chain spaces, and work 2 chain stitches, then in the same one-chain space work 1 treble, 1 double treble, 1 treble, and 2 chain stitches and slip stitch into the space again – you should now have one petal. Work one chain stitch. Here’s that bit broken down in pictures…
Now make a petal in the next space as before – ss, 2ch, 1tr, 1dtr, 1tr, 2ch, ss into same 1ch-sp, and finish with 1ch – repeat this 6 times more, then make one last chain and slip stitch into the initial space, right next to the first petal. You should have ended up with 8 petals. You should now also see the wheel with spokes effect! Do not fasten off here.
Round 3: Continue in the same colour and make 3 chain stitches – these now have to sit behind the petal, and then make a double crochet in the 1-chain space between this petal and the next. It may be easier if you bend the petal forwards each time so that you can see what you’re doing. Repeat this seven times more, then join with a slip stitch to the first chain you made and you should end up with 8 petals in a circle. Fasten off this colour.
(I’m actually using a different colour in the following picture and have turned the motif round after I finished the round, so that you can see where the chain stitches sit – this is the back of the motif).
Round 4: Join a new colour of yarn into one of the 3-chain spaces, and work 3 chain stitches – which counts as a treble stitch here,
now treble 2 stitches together (see the abbreviations if you don’t know how to do this),
work 2 chain stitches then a 3treble-cluster (again, instructions above in the abbreviations),
*1 chain stitch, then in next 3-chain space, work a 3tr-cluster, 2ch, 3tr-cluster. Now repeat from the * 6 times, finally finishing with 1 chain and a slip stitch to the 3rd chain you made at the beginning of the round. Fasten off.
It should look like this…
Now for two more rounds…
Round 5: Join yarn in one of the 2-chain spaces [the 2-chain space is the one between 2 treble clusters] and work 4 chain stitches [this counts as a double crochet and 3 chain stitches] , then a dc in the same space. Now a bit that you need to repeat seven times: work 2 chain, double crochet in the 1-chain sp, 2 chain, double crochet in next 2-chain space, 3 chain, double crochet in the same 2-chain space. Once you’ve done all that seven times, to finish off the round, work 2 chain, a double crochet in the 1-chain space, 2 chain, then finally join with a slip stitch to the first chain you made. Fasten off.
Round 6: Join yarn in a 3-chain space [ie one of the pointy bits] and work 1 chain [counts as a dc], a half treble, a treble, a half treble and a double crochet.
Now a bit to repeat seven times: work 2 double crochet in the next 2-chain space, and 2dc in the next 2ch-sp, in next 3-chain space, work a double crochet, a half treble, a treble, a half treble, a double crochet. After you’ve done all this 7 times work 2 double crochet in the next 2-chain space, and 2dc in the next 2ch-sp. Now join with a slip stitch to the first chain. Fasten off.
That’s it for this part. So get going with your crochet hook today! And now see here for Part 2.
And don’t forget to use the tag #springbagCAL on instagram or facebook to share your version