About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Learning to crochet

I said that I'd be sticking to basic stiches until I finished knooking the baby blanket. I also said that I wouldn't talk about knooking again until then. I lied. Twice. Notice how the title of this post is about crochet, not knooking? It's still really the same subject. I cheated as well as lied. I am a very bad person. I'm sorry.

First, I found another blog devoted to knooking. As luck would have it Ronda, the author of this one, has just worked out an easier way of doing the purl stitches, for which I am very grateful. She has also been working on projects that mix knooking with crochet, something I'd been pondering as a possibility.

Seeing Ronda's designs made me want to have a go at incorporating some crochet, but also made me realise that I don't know the first thing about this craft. Time to learn how to crochet.

Rather than searching this internet I decided to consult a book, for a change. I have a rather lovely old book called, "Encyclopedia of Needlework" by Thérèse de Dillmont*, which I inherited from my grandmother. There's no sympathy for the struggling reader here: At first sight some of the designs may appear rather difficult to execute, but when the directions are accurately followed all difficulty will disappear. If you're having trouble it's because you're not following the instructions properly!

Encyclopedia of Needlework

I haven't tried using this book before, but I gave it a go and sure enough, if I followed the instructions very carefully, my work looked pretty much like the illustrations. A little more consistency would have been nice. As far as I can tell, the following two descriptions refer to the same stitchwork:
Throw the thread round the hook, pass the hook under the two halves of a stich and catch hold of the thread, draw the thread through the stitch...
Bring the thread from behind round the front of the hook, put the hook in between the stitches of the row before, make an over, bring the hook forward again with the thread...

Here's my first attempt:

First attempt at crochet.
I used an offcut of yarn that Pebble the cat had helpfully detached from the rest of the ball. This is why the piece finishes halfway through a row.

Having managed several of the stitches described in the book, I decided that the next square in the baby blanket would have to be crochet. Here it is:

Crocheted 'square' for baby blanket

It's not very clear in the picture, but there's a pattern in bobbles (pine-apple stitches) in there somewhere. There are also two types of background stitch; close to the bobbles are half trebles and around the outside is counterpane stitch. How could I resist counterpane stitch?!

As you can see, I'm not terribly good at counting the lengths of rows, mainly because I don't bother. I get to the end and think, This is about it. It turns out that this isn't a very good way of ending up with a tidy square. Never mind. I'm really quite pleased with this, overall.

Next step: Can I combine knooking with crochet without getting long threads trailing across the blanket?

*If you thought commercialism was a new phenomenon, think again. This book is full of recommendations for D.M.C yarns, having been published in 1884! I had to google that because there's no date printed in it, and found that the entire text is available online, complete with engravings.


  1. Even though it might seem counter-intuitive, I think it's actually easier to start by learning to make a granny square. When you crochet back and forth like that, you accidentally add and lose stitches. Granny squares are simpler ... and quicker :-)

  2. What's a granny square? Is that the kind that starts in the middle and spirals outwards?


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