I’m a big fan of Jane Crowfoot, indeed it was her crochet designs that encouraged me to get busy with a hook and learn the craft. Jane has now teamed up with yarn company Stylecraft to launch a blanket crochet-along (CAL) starting on 7th April. I caught up with Jane to find out more…
RA: Hi Jane, how are things? Are you all set up and ready for the start of the CAL?
JC: I’m so excited about this project Rachel and I am really looking forward to the first set of patterns for the CAL being published next week. I have a blog post to write in preparation and will be blogging about the project the whole way through. The response so far has been incredible so I am really happy right now!
RA: How did the project with Stylecraft come about and can you explain a little bit more about how the CAL will work?
JC: In the past I have worked on my own Crochet Club projects. The clubs have always been successful, but the workload has been huge and I decided that this year I wanted to do something aimed at a new group of crocheters. Stylecraft are the brand that I think really understand the crochet market in the UK and their yarns are affordable and good quality. Independent designers have a tendency to design with high-end yarn brands, and I really wanted to see if it was possible to create great designs at a fraction of the cost to customers.
Stylecraft have been incredibly supportive of me and have been so lovely to work with. They have done my pattern checking, layouts and all the final photography and they have been hard at work making sure crocheters know about the project. The great thing about this CAL is that the patterns are free! The patterns will be downloadable from the Stylecraft web site every 2 weeks starting on the 7th April – there are 8 sets of patterns in total so the project could be complete by mid-July.
RA: The blanket CAL is not a mystery, indeed we are having a peek at some of the final blanket images today, and can clearly see the Lily Pond influence. What made you settle on this particular theme and how did you go about taking an initial idea through to final publication?
JC: When I start working on a design the first thing I do is make a mood board. The botanical theme is really big for 2015 so this was my starting point when looking at the colour palette. I didn’t really plan to create a blanket with a lily pond theme, but as I worked on the first few flower pieces they started to remind me of Monet’s lily pond paintings so I decided to go down this route.
RA: How is the blanket constructed – is it in one piece or various motifs and knowing how good your tutorials are, will there be any to accompany the CAL?
JC: The blanket motifs are either square (worked in the round) or rectangular (worked in rows) and the project can be put together in stages along the way. I took photos on my little camera as I worked through each of the pieces, so there are step-by-step images to help and I have also included some of the unusual techniques or stitches as photo tutorials – these will either be in the patterns or on my blog.
RA: It is through a number of your other blanket patterns that I have learned new crochet techniques. What can crocheters expect to learn along the way and how does the pattern develop?
JC: I have aimed this project at beginners who know their basic stitches and have tried to keep the construction relatively simple. The project starts easy and gets harder as the weeks go by. I try to write my patterns in a slightly more long-winded fashion than traditional crochet patterns and Stylecraft have stuck to my style of pattern writing, so hopefully the patterns should be easy to work through even for beginners.
There aren’t a huge number of techniques involved, I think the hardest technique is making alternative shade bobbles (bobbles!), and I have included step-by-step images for working through this.
RA: Any advice or warm-up exercises you can recommend for newer crocheters so they can get some practice in before the CAL kicks off?
JC: The focus of the first set of patterns is basic stitches – UK double crochet, treble crochet, half treble and double treble. I wanted the first pattern to focus on keeping stitch counts correct and changing yarn shades so they are pretty simple.
I would advise that people with less crochet experience practice their basic stitches and get to grips with some terminology. They may want to start by working a couple of tension squares so that they can be sure their project will come out correct – more information about this is on my blog.
RA: The recommended yarn is Stylecraft Life DK– how can we get hold of the yarn used in the blanket…I think demand has been pretty high and what if anyone can’t track down the suggested yarn or colours?
JC: The demand for the yarn has far exceeded our expectations and it is now pretty hard to find any of the Life DK in the shades I have used. When planning a project like this it would be great to have a crystal ball! Stylecraft planned their stock holding logically, but we couldn’t have predicted just how huge the demand for yarn would be. Life DK is currently expected back into stock with them in May.
Many retailers have a Special DK alternative for sale, but I think this is also now difficult to find. I did see a kit put together using the Cotton DK, but I am little concerned that this doesn’t contain enough yarn in a few of the shades as the meterage per ball is different (I think there is a difference of nearly 100 meters per ball). I advise people to be careful if sourcing an alternative yarn – the key is to find the same weight of yarn that achieves the same tension and has the same lengths. We have Life DK kits on back order on our website and expect to dispatch these mid-May, plus our kits come with a Janie Crow sew-in label and extra, bonus download pattern.
RA: Thank you so much Jane for taking time to have a chat and all the best with the CAL!
JC: Thank you Rachel – pleasure as always!
The Lily Pond kit is available on a back order basis from Jane Crowfoot’s website ‘Janie Crow’ priced at £42. The exclusive kit contains a sew-in project label and gives access to a free download crochet bag pattern which will be great for using up all the left over bits of yarn – the label and pattern are not available elsewhere. Of course you can use yarn from your stash or a suitable alternative, for more information on yarns, techniques and Jane’s inspiration and design process don’t forget to visit her blog or follow on Facebook.
The pattern instalments will be available to download for free from the Stylecraft website from Tuesday 7th April but there is an introduction and basic information download available now. I’ll be crocheting-along on Twitter where you can find me as knittingtastic and I’ll do my best to remember to use the hashtag #stylecraftCAL on any posts so we can all help each other along!
Images copyright Jane Crowfoot and Stylecraft and used here with permission.
Disclaimer: I have not received any form of payment monetary or otherwise for this post – it’s purely from a fangirl and crochet-along point of view.