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Crochet Waistcoat: A Blast from the Past

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Multi-coloured crochet waistcoat

That pink was a mistake!

While tidying out a cupboard during last summer’s holiday activities, we unearthed one of my handicraft items from the late 1970s. As you can see from the illustrations it is a waistcoat made up of multi-coloured crochet motifs. I have never been a real whizz at crochet but I did manage to teach myself a few stitches all those years ago. After mastering some of the basic stitches, I looked around for an idea for a practical project to give my endeavours a focus. There are only so many coasters and tablemats that you can usefully crochet without running out of (willing?) recipients. But what next to crochet? A toilet roll cover perhaps? The idea of making squares for a larger project appealed to me, as I had previously had a go at patchwork with scraps of fabric quite successfully. I’m not sure how I ended up making a waistcoat, rather than a cushion cover or a throw for instance, but a waistcoat I did make (and subsequently frequently wore I might add).

Close-up of teh crochet motifs

Colours Galore…

When I began compiling squares, I didn’t really have a pattern or a colour scheme in mind so I simply used up whatever wool I had to hand. Then I worked out a very basic layout to create the shape of a waistcoat. I made all of the motifs from double knitting wool and I think I probably used a 3.5mm crochet hook. I really enjoyed making the squares, as it was satisfyingly quick to produce a reasonable quantity of pieces. Once I had sewed them all together, I took another colour (I do now regret the choice of pink!) and crocheted an edging of double crochet stitch all around and made strips of chain stitch for ties. I am almost sure that no two squares are identical in colour, though that wasn’t intentional. I later went on to make a sleeveless top with square motifs, but this time in planned set of (I think) three colours. This garment failed to stand the test of time, it was just too ordered and uniform. I always preferred the exuberance of the random colour mixes in my waistcoat.

This nostalgic delve into past craft activities prompted us to have a go at some crochet practice during the summer. Having done all of this crochet so long ago, when I came to look at the squares again, I had to consult Verity’s book, The Knitting and Crochet Bible to remind myself of how to do the stitches. I found it difficult to get back into the swing of it at first and to remember my double and treble stitches. However, once the little grey cells started to work, I found that the stitches began to come back to me. I started to show Verity how to make the basic stitches (double and treble) and we practiced with a few odd balls of wool. You can see from the illustration that the book is well laid out with stage by stage diagrams for the stitches. Book pages showing instructions for basic stitches

That was as far as we got last summer, so I would like to pick up a hook again and make some more of the square motifs. Ideally this would be a stepping stone to taking the crochet a stage further than I have managed previously. I don’t think I am ever going to become expert at crochet but I would like to develop more of a skill than I have now.

Watch this space for an update! Any crochet lovers out there?

Winter knitting

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My latest project is a snood, practical now the weather is getting colder. Incidentally, isn’t ‘snood’ a lovely sounding word? I like it more than ‘cowl’ or ‘scarf’. Anyway, I found some really soft wool called Flutterby, which is very fluffy and warm. It is quite chunky and knitted up very fast. I used a mix of white, brown and blue for the main part and edged it in a lemon colour. I knitted the whole thing in garter stitch as the colour and texture of the wool made it look interesting, as well as making it hard to knit cables, or anything more complicated.

Snood

Woolly winter warmth

I made it long enough to twist twice around my neck, but unfortunately it seems to have stretched somewhat and is now a bit too long. Width-wise, it has worked out nicely from twenty stitches. The texture of the wool meant that the ends frayed easily, which made it tricky to weave them in.

The edging, as I said, is in lemon coloured Flutterby and is crocheted. This is the first time I’ve tried crochet and I was very pleased with the result, apart from a couple of lumpy parts.

All in all, it makes a very cosy snood for the winter. I think I will try making another one, maybe in a lighter wool with some cables. If you know a good pattern, please drop us a line in the comment box!

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