A beginning of something furry. Again!



Hello from the rainy Brno! I hope you are doing well, and your life is full of harmony and peace at the moment. I cannot say the same about myself. We have started a huge roof reconstruction a week ago, and it will take much longer than expected. So basically, we have no ceiling in the upper floor, and we all stay in a small room downstairs: me, my husband, our kid a dog. Cozy, but a bit chaotic 😊 The picture below illustrates the craziness of my current life very well...

I am writing this not to complain, as everything feels surprisingly good, except of the fact we cannot do laundries in a normal way. And no guests for a while. But the worst is that all my yarn and almost all my craft tools are prisoned in the bedroom upstairs, and I have no access to them. My colorful yarn is sadly looking at me from the locked shelves behind the glass doors, and I can only wonder when I will be back to my normal designing mode again. 

But the good news is that I managed to save a few furry skeins to continue working on something exciting! This project was started several months ago, but in all the summer rush I didn’t have enough mental space to finish it. But probably the right time has come. 

I am using Scheepjes Furry Tales (again! Check my latest Mont Blanc Jacket design), in happy baby colors – 985 Little Pig, 983 Tinkerbell, 988 Aladdin and 978 Cinderella. Those are the same colors which were used in my Furry Squares Blanket. And I am working on a new blanket again! 

This time I am crocheting hexagons with fur and trust me – I have found a very easy stitch pattern to make them almost mindlessly. 

I hope the blanket will turn out just like I imagine it. Stay tuned. More news will come next week 😊 

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Mont Blanc Jacket: a new furry adventure



Although I design clothing from time to time, I (almost) do not follow fashion trends. Usually, I am doing what I like myself, and hope other people will like my creations, too. But probably no one will argue that some designs, shapes, textures and even colors are timeless and look modern regardless of what is trending right now. And fur is one of them.


When I was a teenager, I made a cardigan for myself. It was knitted with a V-neck and them I added a fur collar and cuffs with loopy crochet stitches. It was a very loved piece of clothing. And when Scheepjes Furry Tales yarn was first introduced, I immediately thought of that cardigan. And got an idea to recreate it again, this time in crochet. Because Furry Tales is a fur yarn, there was no need to crochet loops. So, here it is! My Mont Blanc Jacket! 

The pattern is available on Ravelry HERE and Etsy HERE with a 25% off through Monday, September 13th, 2021. You do no need to apply any codes, as the price you see has been discounted already. 

Fur is quite a thick yarn and to accommodate its gauge I decided to go for Scheepjes Stone Washed XL for the body (Aran weight). 

Cinderella shade (Furry Tales) perfectly matches with Smokey Quartz color of Stone Washed XL. Both yarns have a wide range of colors, and you can only think of how many combinations it is possible to create. With either close match, or big contrast. 

You can find both yarns in local Scheepjes shops, or via online retailers: Wool Warehouse* (UK, international shipping), Caro's Atelier* (NL, Europe), Taemombo* (US and Canada), Yarn Addicted (US only).

Mont Blanc Jacket is designed to fit with 4 – 8in (10-20 cm) of positive ease at the bust and 2 ¼ - 3in (6 – 8 cm) of positive ease at the upper arm. The jacket is worked seamlessly from top down. First the yoke with raglan increases is worked in rows to separation for body and sleeves with shaping V-neck at the same time. The lower body is worked in rows to bottom. Sleeves are worked top down and furry cuffs are added at the bottom. The length of the body and sleeves is easily adjustable.  

There are two details I love about this jacket. First is a cute pleat at the back. I was dying to try it in crochet for ages, and finally Mont Blanc Jacket seemed like a perfect piece to incorporate it. 

The pleat is worked at the back in a very simple way at the same time as the rest of the yoke. And when the yoke is finished, the pleat is sewn in place by hand. This detail is optional, and you can complete your jacket without it.

And another detail is invisible pockets! You can hardly see them on the front, as there are no seams. The pockets have a lining which is attached to the lower body as you go. Again, you can omit the pockets if you do not like them.

The pattern for Mont Blanc Jacket contains helpful video tutorials which will guide you through every step, beginning with foundation cord and finishing with the collar. Please, note that there are no progress pictures in the pattern. 

By the way, in case you hesitate about crocheting with fur yarn, I have come up with a super simple method which makes crochet with fur easy and fast. You will not have to try and see (or feel) the stitches, as you will work into large enough chain-spaces. Crochet with fur has never been so relaxing and satisfying! 

The Mont Blanc Jacket comes in 9 (!) sizes to fit the bust 32-48in. Finished bust circumference (when bands are closed): 89.5 (93.5: 99.5: 104.5: 111) (114.5: 122: 133.5: 141) cm / 35¼ (36¾: 39¼: 41¼: 43½) (45¼: 48: 52½: 55½) in. 

Have a look at the fantastic pieces completed by our testers’ team: Taylor O'Shea, Jenna Bowers, Sarah Fabbri, Macarena Marskell, Esther Schippers, Laura Jackson and Lisa Marlow.


The pattern for Mont Blanc Jacket is available on Ravelry HERE and Etsy HERE with a 25% off through Monday, September 13th, 2021. Enjoy! :)

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A Walker in the City Scarf: planned color pooling



There was a boom of color pooling in crochet a few years ago. You could see those designs literally everywhere online, and I was dying to try this technique myself. I never got a chance, but the idea was still sitting at my desk. When Scheepjes introduced their brand-new Downtown yarn earlier this year, I felt like that was the right moment. I was still not very sure if this yarn is suitable for color-pooling. So, I tried, and it worked! 

Add this pattern to your Ravelry Queue

Color pooling, which is also called planned yarn pooling, is a specific technique for working with variegated yarns to create a specific color-based effect in crochet design. The technique requires the use of variegated yarn that has a short repeating sequence of colors. 

If you have not heard about crochet color pooling before, please search online, and you will come up with tons of search results about basics of this technique. There are also lots of video tutorials about how to do it. In this blog post, I will just explain how I made my own scarf, without going deep into the theory of the technique. 

Originally, planned pooling used moss stitch (or linen stitch), for yarns with shorter color repeats. Scheepjes Downtown is a self-striping yarn with fairly long color repeats, so to achieve the diamond effect with a linen stitch, you would need a really long foundation chain, and it would become longer even than the king-sized throw. 

But there is another stitch which also works perfectly for color pooling, and it’s a so-called Granny stitch (yes, the same one we use for basic granny squares). I learned this method of planned color pooling from Sarah of Repeat Crafter Me, and I used it for my A Walker In The City Scarf. 

With granny method, we use clusters of 3dc instead of single crochet stitches (US terms are used in this tutorial throughout). And the diamonds in the stitch pattern are much bigger. As already mentioned, the length of the color repeats in the Downtown yarn are fairly long: approx. 6m each. It means that even with the granny stitch you can come up with a different number of clusters depending on the hook size you choose, and a specific gauge you can obtain. Please, follow the steps below to figure out your own gauge and to complete the scarf. 


DOWNTOWN SCARF 

Materials:

  • Scheepjes Downtown (75% wool, 25% nylon; 50g/200m, fingering weight) 

409 City Shopper x 6 balls

  • Lining (optional): Scheepjes Metropolis (75% wool, 25% nylon; 50g/200m, fingering weight) 

008 Beirut x 4 balls

  • 3mm crochet hook
  • 3.5mm needles
  • Yarn needle to weave in tails and sew top part and lining together

You can find Downtown yarn in your local Scheepjes shop, or via online retailers: Wool Warehouse* (UK, international shipping), Caro's Atelier* (NL, Europe), Taemombo (US & Canada).


Gauge 

20 clusters per one color repeat (you might also obtain 18-19 clusters, which will result in a shorter length of the scarf) 

Measurements 

35cm x 190cm / 14in x 75in 

Pattern notes

The Walker in the City Scarf is worked in planned color pooling technique with granny clusters (3dc worked into a space between two clusters from a previous row).  The top with diamonds is worked with Scheepjes Downtown yarn in rows back and forth. The lining (optional) is knitted with Scheepjes Metropolis yarn in the same size as the top. Then top and lining are sewn together using a yarn needle and mattress stitch.

INSTRUCTIONS 

Step 1. Make a gauge swatch

You need a gauge swatch to see how many clusters fit into one color repeat. Use instructions below, which will be at the same time your instructions for the entire scarf (except of number of chains to begin): 

Row 1. To begin, ch38, 1dc in third ch from hook, *skip 2 ch, 3dc in next ch; rep from * to last 2 ch, skip 2 ch, 1dc to end, turn. 

Row 2. Ch2 (counts as first dc), 2dc in sp before next cluster, *skip 3dc, 3dc in next sp between two clusters; rep from * to end working last 3dc in sp before last dc from prev row, turn. Make sure the clusters are started and finished with the same color, and transition between colors does not appear in the middle of the clusters. Adjust the tension, if needed. 

Row 3. Ch3 (counts as first dc), *skip 3dc, 3dc in next sp between two clusters; rep from * to last 3 dc, skip 2 dc, 1dc to end, turn. 

Rep Rows 2-3 two more times. At this point you should have used two full color repeats, and now you need to count how many clusters fit in one repeat. Please, note that single dc in the beginning and end of some rows do not count as a cluster. So, you only need to count the groups of 3dc. Some clusters will be worked with a transition section between two color repeats. You can count them towards one repeat. 

You might get a different number of clusters per different colors, but you should choose just one number, stick to it, and apply it to all color repeats in the pattern. 


For example, I have got 20 clusters, and Laura of Taemombo had 18 per color repeat. You might also get 19 clusters. Just make sure the stitches are tight enough (and neat). 

Step 2. Make a foundation chain

Now, when you know how many clusters will be made with one color repeat, you can make a foundation chain. I suggest that you make a foundation chain with contrast color to save color sequences. 

I chose solid blue Metropolis for my scarf. The same color I used for the knitted lining. You will need at least 360 chains to begin (and you can adjust this number as you go). 

Step 3. Find the middle of the first color repeat in a ball

After your foundation chain is finished, unwind the Downtown ball to find the first transition between two colors. Continue unwinding the ball to find the end of the color repeat. Then find a middle of this repeat and make a slip knot of a transition and start making the first dc of Row 1 into the first foundation chain. Make sure to begin into the same chain as the foundation tail. Then it will be easier to add more chains if needed, or unravel the unwanted chains on the other end, after finishing row 1. 


 Step 4. Begin with granny clusters

UPDATE: Some colorways of Scheepjes Downtown yarn have 6 colors, and some of them have 10 colors per ball. To make ALL colorways work for pooling, start with middle of one color, complete FIVE full color repeats, and finish with 1/2 of next color. The last color will be either the same as beginning of Row 1 (in case you have 6 repeats in your ball), or a different color (for 10 repeats).

Row 1. Work 1dc in first ch, *skip 2 ch, 3dc in next ch; rep from * using ½ of color repeat for the beginning, FIVE next full color repeats, and ½ color repeat for the end, then skip 2 ch, work 1dc to end, turn. Make sure you work ½ of clusters in one color in the beginning and end of the first row. So basically, you will begin with ½ of one color, then you will make 5 total color repeats and finish with ½ of the same (or different) color as in the beginning. 

If your gauge is 20 clusters per repeat, you will have 10 clusters in one color in the beginning and end of the first row. For odd number of clusters, you will get one cluster more on one end. So, for 19 clusters, you will have 9 and 10 clusters in the one color on both sides of the scarf. 

Step 5. Continue with granny clusters 

Repeat Rows 2-3 for the gauge swatch until your scarf reaches the desired width. Count the clusters in each color well. You should have the same number in each color repeat throughout. 

Please, note that in Downtown yarn, some repeats are slightly longer than the others. So, you might need to crochet a bit looser or tighter in some colors to get the same number of repeats. For example, if you are coming to the end of the color repeat and get 21 clusters instead of 20 (your gauge), you will need to unravel a few clusters and remake them with a looser gauge. And vice versa, if you get 19 clusters instead of 20, it means you need to unravel and rework them tighter to save yarn for one additional cluster. 

The clusters worked with transition sections between the colors, can be counted towards the previous or next color sequence. 

 

Tips & Tricks 

Adding new balls of yarn 

When one ball of yarn is over, we need to add another one and keep the same color scheme at the same time. You will need to unwind to the same color you stopped with, and at the same time before joining a new ball you should estimate how much more yarn in the same color will be needed to finish the number of clusters as per gauge. 

So, if you have already made 6 clusters with previous ball, you need to add new ball in such a way, that you have enough yarn to finish 14 more clusters in same color (if our gauge is 20 clusters). 

What is important here is to check if the colors in a new ball run in the same direction as in the previous ball. Sometimes it can happen, that the balls are winded differently, and instead of, say, yellow-green-orange sequence, we get orange-green-yellow sequence. In this case, the entire ball should be rewound by hand. 

Knots 

Yarn industry accepts a certain number of knots in a ball. For variegated yarns, and especially for color pooling, it might become a headache, as we need the colors to flow continuously. 

Usually, the knot breaks the color repeat, and we need to unwind more to find a new start of the same color. Please do not throw the unwound parts of yarn away but keep them instead, as you might need them to restore parts of the color sequences while adding a new ball of yarn, or while repairing another knot in the next balls. 

When fixing the knots, always check if next colors flow in the same direction. If not, rewind the rest of the ball by hand. 

Lining (optional) 

You might keep the Downtown scarf with just one patterned layer, or you can add lining for extra warmth and a fancy touch. I used 4 skeins of Scheepjes Metropolis in solid color for mine and knitted it using 3.5 mm needles. 

Before starting the lining, block your top part to estimate final measurements. Then make a gauge swatch with yarn for lining and estimate how many stitches you need to cast on for lining. My gauge for knitted lining width was 21 sts per 10cm/4in. And my top crochet part was 35cm/14in. 

I used this simple formula to calculate the number of stitches I needed for the lining: 

  • 21 sts (gauge) x 35cm (scarf’s width)/10cm = 73.5 sts

For inches the formula will be similar: 

  • 21 sts (gauge) x 14in (scarf’s width)/4in = 73.5 sts 

I cast on 75 sts for lining.

Finishing 

Block top part and lining to the same measurements and sew them together using the same yarn as for lining and yarn needle (with a mattress stitch). 

And here is a beautiful version of the Walker in the City Scarf made by Laura of Taemombo. She used a Scheepejs Downtown in the shade Leafy Surbub (6 skeins), and Scheepjes Sweetheart in color 07 (2 skeins, 6mm needles). Laura had 18 clusters for one color repeat, and her finished scarf measures approx. 33cm x 175 cm/13 x 69in.

 

Hope you enjoy this tutorial!

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Celestia Blanket: with Love to Mosaic Crochet



It has been long since we talked about mosaic crochet (check my latest Ocean Time Mandala pattern), and here is a new pattern again! Well, technically Celestia Blanket is not a new one, as it was released as a CAL in a Crochet Now magazine back in 2020. But now it is available as a stand-alone pattern.
This crochet pattern was exclusively designed for Crochet NOW magazine
photo credit: Practical Publishing

The pattern is available via website HERE and Ravelry HERE.
 
You might think I am a bit obsessed with mosaic crochet, and you will be right. When Jenny, an editor for Crochet Now magazine, approached me three years ago with an idea of designing a CAL for them, I knew it would have meant to be something mosaic. Why? Because the technique is so simple, and the finished fabric is so very effective. Every single time.

Celestia blanket is about hexagon motifs, each with a new mosaic stitch pattern. I’ve been experimenting with different shapes and hexies is one of my favourite, too. So, Celestia is a mix of several loves of mine which met together in one blanket.

photo credit: @evakobz


We decided to bring the blanket in two colourways – both with Scheepjes yarns. The original version was designed with 100% premium acrylic Colour Crafter yarn, and we used gentle pastel shades together with bright icy white.

To be honest, in the beginning I was a bit sceptical about this color scheme, as pinks and baby blues are absolutely out of my comfort designing zone. But when all motifs were finished and joined together, I fell in love! And so fell in love ALL my friends who saw the blanket before it was shipped to a publisher. It looks very soft, and gentle, and fragile. A true Celestia look, whatever it means :)

photo credit: @evakobz


For the second colorway I was asked me to pick yarn and colors myself, and because I am a big fan of Scheepjes Metropolis, I chose this yarn. In dramatic graphite gray for the main color and rainbow splash for a contrast. 

photo credit: @evakobz


This sample was a bit of a challenge, as I didn’t make it myself. Several lovely ladies kindly agreed to help me test the pattern, each of them made motifs with one contrast color, and Jenny joined them and added a tiny lace border. So I haven’t seen the finished blanket until the very end. I was hoping the colors would play together nicely, but the final result turned out even better than I expected! Love it, too.

photo credit: @evakobz

Despite difference in weight (DK for Colour Crafter and fingering for Metropolis), I decided to use the same hook size (4 mm) and gauge for both blankets. And they are exactly the same size – approx. 125 cm x 165 cm.

Mosaic crochet uses very basic crochet stitches, but sometimes their placement might be tricky. Celestia blanket pattern comes with full row-by-row written instructions and charts. If you want additional support while working on Celestia, be sure to join my Facebook group.

photo credit: @evakobz

As already mentioned, Celestia blanket was exclusively designed for Crochet Now magazine, and now it is also available as a stand-alone pattern via website HERE and Ravelry HERE
 
Please, note, that instructions are only in English with either US or UK crochet terms. You will receive an e-book with row-by-row written text and the charts. I have also created several video tutorials explaining how to read the crochet chart, how to work from the chart with the yarn and hook and how to the motifs into a finished blanket.

Scheepjes Colour Crafter version
Photo credit: Practical Publishing

There are still some ready kits available for the Celestia Blanket. If you want to purchase on, I would be very grateful if you use one of the links below. They are affiliate and I might be compensated with a tiny amount from each sale while you will not pay anything extra: Wool Warehouse (UK, international shipping), Taemombo (US & Canada).
 
photo credit: @evakobz

Because international shipping is still limited at the moment with COVID restrictions, please, also check with your local Scheepjes stockists to see if they carry yarns and colors. Find a complete list of materials below.

Colour Crafter* version:

7x Barneveld (1005)
2x Texel (1019)
2x Den Bosch (1241)
2x Coevorden (1823)
1x Assen (1065)
1x Wolvega (1099)

Metropolis* version:

11x Miami (069)
3x Marseille (019)
3x Lima (055)
3x Abu Dhabi (032)
2x Quebec (077)
2x Tehran (036)


Can’t wait to see your beautiful creations! If you share them online, please use hashtag #Celestiablanket and #designedbylillabjorn.

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Brioche crochet: masterclass



Brioche is a big thing in the knitting world. If you make a quick search, you will find lots of garments, shawls, and accessories with intricate curved stitch patterns. There is a complete concept of doing brioche in knitting. You have exact rules of how to place the stitches, change colors, make increases, and shape the lines. Crochet does not have all those possibilities, yet there are still some means and techniques to achieve the brioche look. 


Introduction to Brioche crochet 

The Wikipedia defines brioche knitting like “a family of knitting patterns involving tucked stitches, i.e., yarn overs that are knitted together with a slipped stitch from the previous row. Such stitches may also be made by knitting into the row below (equivalent to the slipped stitch) and dropping the stitch above (equivalent to the yarn over). The tucked stitches may form a second layer of knitting in front of the first layer, resembling an array of arches or (seen upside-down) of fish scales.” 

And apparently, we can achieve the same effect in crochet. 

I have been developing brioche crochet for several years now. I have started with an overlay mandala is just two colors to imitate the brioche look. Then a few other projects were designed for working in the rounds and rows with chain-spaces. For a so-called airy version of brioche.

Here are examples of my brioche work: Brioche Waves blanket (and cowl), Coral Story Blanket, Alma Sweater, Helios Mandala. And Graphite Mandala is an example of a thick brioche (or, overlay version). All these patterns are available with 25% off through Monday, June 28th, 2021. Please use code BRIOCHE at the check-out.

And you can purchase a masterclass for Brioche crochet from Patterns by Lilla Bjorn website HERE. The e-book includes ready-to-print information from this blog post with extended video tutorial on how to work brioche crochet in rows (and change colors), a complete pattern for the Brioche chair pad (see picture below) with step-by-step pictures and video tutorial for the first six rounds. And additionally, you will receive patterns for the Brioche Heart and Brioche Infinity pillow. All in one printable file without the ads.

Characteristics of Brioche Crochet 

Like knitting, brioche crochet is in fact a ribbing made with front post stitches and chains. Usually, we work with just two colors using one color per round. The rounds can be worked either on the right side, or with alternation of right and wrong sides to prevent stitches from leaning. If the pattern uses rounds on the wrong side, we should work back post stitches instead of front post ones. 

The first two rows or rounds in brioche crochet are usually worked with double crochet (dc – US terms). And on the third row/round we start working with front/back post stitches. Here are two videos showing two set-up rows and how to work front/back post stitches in brioche crochet (I say rounds in the video - sorry, too excited :)

The stitch pattern appears on the right side (so we only see the front post stitches on the right side). And the wrong side appears to be striped with just chain spaces. 

Because the fabric consists of two layers, it is quite thick. That is the reason why fine and soft yarns are recommended for brioche crochet, together with a bigger hook than you would normally use for this yarn. And because we work with a larger hook, the yarn should have a bit of a natural fluff to fill the holes. Alternatively, you can use two different yarns with the same weight, one of which has fluff. 

In my brioche work I am using the following Scheepjes yarns: Our Tribe, Metropolis (with two solid shades or in combination with Spirit). 

The front post stitches are always worked on the right side in front of chains and around of stitches of the same color below (unless otherwise instructed). So basically, we are building long curved cables. 

Special stitches and abbreviations (US crochet terms) 

To achieve an intricate brioche stitch pattern, we need to build increases and decreases. An increase is usually worked as two front post stitches around the same stitch below – with ch2-between: (FPdc, ch2, FPdc) around the next stitch. Here is a video showing an increase.

Those two front post stitches form a V-shape. And on the next round, a brioche double crochet (brdc) is worked into this V. Brdc is a regular dc placed into a ch2-space from two rounds below in front of the chains from the previous round. Here is a video showing how to work brdc.

In some places, two brdc with ch2 worked into the same V will form an increase as well. 

And decreases in brioche crochet are usually front post double or treble two together crochet stitches (FPdc2tog or FPtr2tog). They are always worked around two stitches of the same color below, and the stitch of different color between them is skipped. Here is a video showing a decrease.

Try your hand in brioche crochet with these three patterns: Brioche heart, Brioche infinity pillow and Brioche chair pad which is exclusively available as a part of an e-book via Patterns by Lilla Bjorn website HERE. This ready-to-print e-book includes all three patterns and a complete masterclass on brioche crochet from this blog post, without ads. You will also receive a link to a video on how to work brioche crochet in rows and change the colors, and also a video tutorial for the first six rounds of the Brioche chair pad. 

Hope you enjoy!

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