Friday, 19 February 2016

Playing with my Tiles-WIP

Instead of completing my own Winter Blanket, or my boy's Summer Throw, or any of the 5/6/7 various shawls/cowls/tryouts currently on the hook elsewhere in the house, I have been playing around on Moldiv, mosaic'ing my new Tiles Blanket WIP...oh ja, another new one :-D

There's been quite a few posts by Ons Hekel members the last couple of weeks, of beautiful tile floors, and similar comes by on Instagram almost on a daily basis (oh my soul, Anneke alerted me to THIS: I Have This Thing With Floors)and even on my dusty, sadly neglected Pinterest board there were tiles, mosaics, floors, I snapped to attention and declared it Time To Crochet A Tile Floor and luckily there's enough stash, I didn't even have to buy more.

I looked at many, many photos - on Ons Hekel, on IG, on my Pinterest, on Pinterest in general, in magazines (it's a dark vortex, I tell ya) and then just printed these two to come up with a basis for colour choices. I didn't even try to come up with exact matches, but I thought something lacy-ish would work. Quickly it was a mad rush through through possible patterns, and goodness knows, there's enough books here and in the end I decided on Jan Eaton's Croydon Square, yeehaaa which is working fine!  (Although the well-known Rustic Lace Square should work beautifully, as well as the Sorbet & Lace Square).

Match this.  Colourwise.  And cross fingers it will work out. 

I started out with 6 or 7 colours in different sequences  and combinations - believe me, I hooked and frogged and hooked and frogged this square so many times, discarding and adding and simplifying until I ended up with four colours.

Here's my yarn (and an unblocked square):

Mist (light blue), Pepper (greenish grey), Ivory (white) and Ruby (red)

All four of these colours have been tried out in all possible positions, but this one looked best:

This be the tile

Blocking acrylic is at best not a real option, but I did block it on a frame and steamed it quite thoroughly, relaxing those strands and getting it more or less flat and square.

And then I wondered "but will it work???", hence the above mosaic, and since it prove to be a hit on Ons Hekel, I took that same mosaic'd photo and mosaic'd it further to see a possible blanket...

Aaaah...gotta love cellphone apps!

Does it look like a tiled floor?

So this will be my blankie, albeit it a bit smaller.  I'll be making a lapghan to donate again to the Maak 'n Verskil group (Make A Difference) who distributes blankets to the elderly, children, disabled or general people in need. 

Edge.  What edging should I use?

But first, at least 29 more squares.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Get this book - Hooked on Mandalas/Mandalas to Crochet

I was whining a bit today, and contemplating how to justify the purchase of yet another crochet book, when I already have a good twenty or so on the shelf and a WIP list of a mile.  So I went back to the bookstore, for a Proper Second Look, after yesterday's Quick First Browse ... and before I knew, I was already in the coffee shop (WIP to hand) and reading it like a novel.

Behold - Hooked on Mandalas by Haafner Linnsen:
(this is the South African title.  In the UK and US it was published as "Mandalas to Crochet"

I was testing another mandala - beautiful - and that's my Ilona Heritage Hook from Yarn in a Barn :-)
And my cappo got cold

Doilies and mandalas have had a tremendous increase in popularity over the last couple of years. it is being coloured in and crocheted and turned into rugs and is currently the topic of a large project #MandalasforMarinke, by Kathryn Vercillo in remembrance of crochet blogger Wink.  This book ties in perfectly with the current trend.

If you crochet and you are online, you know about Haafner, author of the blog By Haafner, she of the beautiful retro pastel colours, the popcorn blanket and the doilie installations on the wall.  Thirty of those doilies have now made it into this utterly beautiful book.

Haafner was trained in cultural history and art and this is evident in her introduction where she gives a short background to her crochet approach as well as the history and origin of mandalas.  

The books starts off with a very useful "Before you begin" section.  This includes doubles pages of 

* Yarns*
 Comparing the same pattern in different yarns and hook sizes with the photos in 50% of actual size and the hooks at full size. How useful is that?

*Colour me happy*
Some advice on colour schemes and combinations, again comparing different versions of the same pattern.

*Read this first*
DO.  Because that's what grabbed me. This section covers some tips on starting, joining and reading the charts, including that only a section of each chart is coloured - meaning that you don't have to keep your wits together as the Where You Are in this only need to focus on the coloured section that makes up the main motif, while against the context of the whole circle.  Clever!

*How to crochet the perfect mandala*
Starting seamlessly and joining invisibly. Increasing rows and how to keep your circles flat. Blocking.

*Crochet refresher course*
A couple of pages with very clear illustrations on the basics of crochet stitches, how to make those front and double posts, and, so useful: standing stitches, joining with a needle, and weaving in ends...clever tips to make starts, joins and ends invisible. 

By now I was sold, but then the colour photos started.  Beautiful, clear pictures of her work.
I want to make all the mandalas. Okay, I probably won't, but I could see placemats, hot pads, a rug or two, cushion covers ...(and that was before I got to the project pages).

I see a protea, or a pebble dropping in a pond

Each pattern stands alone with a large, clear photo and the diagram and instructions on a white page with no embellishments or distractions (very important, book authors and layout artists!). On the pattern page you'll find a sentence or two about the pattern, a recommended hook size and final size (I assume when done with DK according to the yarns used).  

After the pattern section, Haafner included five beautiful border patterns that could suit each of the mandalas in the book.

The Grace border which I'm immediately going to use on a beanie!

 And as a bonus - some projects to make with your mandala.  Choose from a boho bag, hotpad, tablemat, summer scarf, flowery lap blanket, rug and a hexagon blanket.

The book ends with a list of symbols and abbreviations, as well as a comparison between UK and US stitches.

This is Haafner's first book and I really hope for another.  It is pretty, well laid out, the patterns are written clearly and simply and the look is crisp and clean.  I love it, easily bought it and happily recommend it.

Also find Haafner on Instagram and Ravelry.

Hooked on Mandalas is a Quarto book, published by Struik Lifestyle  2016 with ISBN 978-1-43230-657-1

So how did I justify it?
I love books.  I have a lot of them.  I read and re-read them. 
 And one day, when the bookshelves really spill over, I'll clear out and again donate some to the library.  But first I want to make all the mandalas :-D