CALS: WE’RE IN IT TO­GETHER

A cro­chet-along is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to learn some new skills, en­counter like-minded crafters and end up with some­thing beau­ti­ful. What’s not to love?

Simply Crochet - - CONTENTS -

What is it about a cro­chet-along that’s so im­pos­si­ble to re­sist? Whether it’s the sus­pense of a de­sign be­ing un­veiled piece by piece, or the plea­sure of some cro­chet ca­ma­raderie, we’re sim­ply smit­ten!

In this is­sue we launch our brand new cro­chet-along (af­fec­tion­ately known as CAL), with a twist! The Sim­ply Cro­chet Hook ’n’ Learn chal­lenges you to sam­ple a new stitch ev­ery month for the next 12 months, and then mas­ter that stitch by us­ing it to com­plete the next square in your blan­ket.

HONINGYOURTECHNIQUE

Lucy Croft is the creative mind be­hind our clever stitches Hook ’n’ Learn. “We re­ceived so much pos­i­tive feed­back on the sub­scribers’ CAL in 2016, mostly from peo­ple who had loved the chal­lenge of learn­ing new stitches and tech­niques that they’d not come across be­fore,” she says. “We had the idea to take it back to ba­sics and do a CAL blan­ket that ex­plored some of the more usual, widely known stitch pat­terns in cro­chet.”

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Scheep­jes, it of­fers the op­tion of two dif­fer­ent, but equally gor­geous, Scheep­jes yarns: a lux­u­ri­ous Stone Washed XL DK and a cheaper but bril­liantly vi­brant Colour Crafter DK. It’s up to you which yarn you choose, as we’ll in­clude in­struc­tions for each of the pat­terns we re­lease.

“We’re brand­ing this a Hook ’n’ Learn, as you’ll def­i­nitely come away with a good reper­toire of tech­niques,” says ed­i­tor Sara Hunt­ing­ton. “The em­pha­sis is on learn­ing, with each is­sue of the mag­a­zine for the next 12 is­sues of­fer­ing a new stitch project. It’s easy enough for any skill level.” As you cro­chet a square each month, us­ing a dif­fer­ent cro­chet stitch, you’ll con­sol­i­date your new skills, while cre­at­ing a gor­geous blan­ket in lus­cious jewel-like colours.

As the crux of the Hook ’n’ Learn is all about hon­ing tech­niques, there’ll be plenty of sup­port to help you along, in­clud­ing a ded­i­cated Face­book page at www.face­book. com/groups/hookn­learn, and monthly Yar­niver­sity YouTube tu­to­ri­als led by Lou Barnes. We’ll also be en­cour­ag­ing you to post your Sim­ply Cro­chet Hook ’n’ Learn pics to Face­book and In­sta­gram with the hash­tag #SChookn­learn. To make things even sim­pler, yarn packs are avail­able from Wool Ware­house, Black Sheep Wools and De­r­amores.

“In each of the blocks I’ve used stitch pat­terns made up of a com­bi­na­tion of sim­ple cro­chet stitches, but when they come to­gether they cre­ate some fab­u­lous pat­terns and tex­tures,” says Lucy. “There are some re­ally vi­brant colours in the Scheep­jes pal­ettes so I wanted to de­sign a blan­ket that would re­ally show­case them.” The pat­tern will be re­vealed over 12 is­sues, start­ing with this one. “For the 13th is­sue in the run, we’ll guide you through sewing the blan­ket squares to­gether into your beau­ti­ful fin­ished blan­ket,” says Sara.

“I love the thought of ev­ery­one learn­ing some­thing to­gether, while be­ing part of some­thing so fun!” she adds.

Our Hook ’n’ Learn blan­ket will fea­ture an abun­dance of de­li­cious stitches for you to get to grips with, in­clud­ing bas­ketweave stitch, waf­fle stitch and ca­ble stitch, “all of which use cro­chet post stitches to cre­ate three re­ally quite dif­fer­ent tex­tures,” Lucy ex­plains. “I’m hop­ing that by learn­ing the ba­sic pat­terns of th­ese stitches, read­ers will go on to ex­per­i­ment with more un­usual tex­tures and pat­terns in their cro­chet.”

“I love the thought of ev­ery­one learn­ing to­gether.”

DESIGNERSBEHINDTHECALS

At Sim­ply Cro­chet we’re fans of all kinds of CALs, so we were thrilled when the de­sign­ers be­hind a few of our favourites were happy to take a few mo­ments to share what goes on be­hind the scenes of a suc­cess­ful CAL.

Jane Crowfoot (www.janiecrow.co.uk) has long been known as the CAL queen. Her lat­est CAL is the Bo­hemian Blooms Cro­chet Blan­ket.

“I wanted to de­sign a high-end cro­chet project us­ing de­sign in­spi­ra­tions in­clud­ing Charleston Farm­house in East Sus­sex and the artists within the Blooms­bury Group as the cat­a­lyst,” she ex­plains. “The project, which has echoes of an English Coun­try Gar­den theme, uses yarns from the Rowan range and has what I hope is a painterly qual­ity. Tech­niques in­volved in­clude colour­work, beading and 3D tex­tu­ral work.”

Jane re­leased her first CAL in 2011. “CALs re­ally ap­peal to me be­cause they break big projects up into bite-size pieces – I get bored eas­ily with re­peated cro­chet blocks,” she says. “I de­signed my first one on the ad­vice of my friend, hand knit de­signer Deb­bie Abra­hams, who runs her own mys­tery blan­ket project and was def­i­nitely a pi­o­neer­ing force in re­la­tion to th­ese kind of projects.”

San­dra Paul (www.cher­ry­heart.co.uk) ran her first CAL through­out Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2015. She de­signed her Spice of Life blan­ket when Black Sheep Wools ap­proached her about launch­ing a CAL. “I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to do it on my own,” she ad­mits. “Now that I’ve done it and seen how much fun it can be, I’m re­ally glad they did. As it seemed to go down quite well, we de­cided we wanted to do an­other.”

The first CAL Dedri Uys (www.lookat wha­ti­made.net) par­tic­i­pated in was the Block a Week CAL, hosted by Kim­berly Slifer, in 2014. “It was the first time I’d seen a CAL, although I re­alise that they’d been around for a while,” she says. “I was very ex­cited about cro­chet­ing along with thou­sands of peo­ple from all over the world. When it be­came ap­par­ent that many peo­ple join­ing in were be­gin­ners and were find­ing it hard to un­der­stand the more com­plex in­struc­tions, Kim­berly asked me if I’d be will­ing to do photo tu­to­ri­als for the trick­ier parts, pro­vided that we got per­mis­sion from the de­sign­ers. I agreed and went from sim­ply fol­low­ing a CAL to post­ing weekly photo tu­to­ri­als.”

“CALs break big projects up into bite­size pieces.”

Dedri be­gan de­sign­ing her pop­u­lar So­phie’s Uni­verse blan­ket around the same time. “At the same time, Scheep­jes ap­proached me about work­ing with them. I couldn’t be­lieve my luck. To­gether, we launched the So­phie’s Uni­verse CAL, which started al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the Block a Week CAL, and I haven’t looked back since!”

CALCHALLENGES

Nat­u­rally, the big­gest work­load as­so­ci­ated with a CAL such as th­ese is down to the vol­ume of par­tic­i­pants.

“Be­cause of the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing part, it can be hard keep­ing on top of pat­tern queries and so on,” Jane says. “Face­book groups and YouTube didn’t re­ally ex­ist as they do now when I did my first CAL years ago, but they have now made this as­pect far eas­ier to man­age.”

The ef­fort of keep­ing it all go­ing can be ex­haust­ing, if sat­is­fy­ing.

“There’s an aw­ful lot of work that goes into a CAL; not just pre­par­ing ev­ery­thing be­fore­hand but while it’s go­ing on too,” San­dra says. “It makes for some in­tense

weeks, es­pe­cially when it comes to keep­ing up with ev­ery­thing on all the var­i­ous so­cial plat­forms, but it’s good fun. I’ll prob­a­bly give my­self a lit­tle bit of time off when it’s done!”

Be­ing present enough is the big­gest chal­lenge for Dedri. “When I host a CAL, I want to be as re­spon­sive as pos­si­ble,” she says. “I love see­ing ev­ery­one’s cre­ations, but there’s just no way that one per­son can see, and com­ment on, each and ev­ery photo or post shared about it. I al­ways feel bad about the ones I miss – I worry that some­one will think I don’t like their progress be­cause I haven’t seen their pho­tos to com­ment on. On top of that there is the time it takes to re­spond, in as much de­tail as pos­si­ble, to peo­ple who are strug­gling and need help.”

The oc­ca­sional neg­a­tive com­ments are par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to deal with. “I do what I do be­cause I want to spread joy,” says Dedri. “When peo­ple re­pay my hours of work with neg­a­tiv­ity, it’s quite hard to han­dle.”

De­spite this risk, so­cial me­dia is cru­cial to the suc­cess of a CAL. “It’s mas­sively im­por­tant!” ex­claims Jane. “Rav­elry was the fore­run­ner to Face­book groups and In­sta­gram posts, but I think YouTube has re­ally had a huge ef­fect. We’ve just started our own chan­nel and have help videos on there for my cur­rent CAL.”

ACROCHETCOMMUNITY

The mass of par­tic­i­pants is top of our de­sign­ers’ list of things to love about CALs.

“By work­ing through a CAL project, cro­cheters are not only given the chance to learn new tech­niques and in­crease their skills, but in many cases they can also en­gage in on­line dis­cus­sions. They can form new friend­ships by work­ing along­side oth­ers in vir­tual groups via per­sonal blogs and so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Face­book and In­sta­gram,” says Jane.

Dedri agrees. “You get to meet so many new peo­ple. You get to see them grow in con­fi­dence and flour­ish. You get to be a part of their jour­ney, es­pe­cially when they tell you their story. There’s an amaz­ing sense of ca­ma­raderie in most CALs that I’ve par­tic­i­pated in, and I know many peo­ple who have forged life-long friend­ships by par­tic­i­pat­ing in CALs to­gether.”

A pos­i­tive re­sponse from the cro­chet com­mu­nity helps our CAL de­sign­ers through all the hard work.

“It’s been amaz­ing – far bet­ter than I would have ever dreamed it could be,” San­dra says. “So many peo­ple are ex­cited to be a part of it and are join­ing in. There are even peo­ple that are plan­ning on mak­ing two, three or more blan­kets, which is just great.”

LASTINGBENEFITS

Aside from the plea­sures of learn­ing new cro­chet tech­niques while cre­at­ing some­thing beau­ti­ful, there are plenty of other de­lights to be had from tak­ing part in, and run­ning, a CAL.

“The thing I re­ally like the best about the craft of cro­chet in gen­eral is hear­ing the sto­ries that peo­ple at­tach to their projects,” Jane says, “Peo­ple tell me about how the CALs have helped them through dif­fi­cult times emo­tion­ally, or as a tool for giv­ing up smok­ing or get­ting over an op­er­a­tion. I love that blan­kets in par­tic­u­lar are seen as a re­ally nice gift to give some­one with their as­so­ci­a­tion with warmth and love, so de­sign­ing blan­ket CAL projects is some­thing that I’m sure I will con­tinue to en­joy.”

Lucy is re­ally ex­cited about the idea of the Sim­ply Cro­chet Hook ’n’ Learn in­tro­duc­ing read­ers to new pos­si­bil­i­ties. “There are so many in­tri­cate and var­ied ways to use cro­chet, but so of­ten we all fall back on the usual dou­ble and tre­ble cro­chet stitches to make sim­ple projects,” she says. “I’m a big fan of a sim­ple rip­ple stitch blan­ket but some­times it’s nice to chal­lenge our­selves a lit­tle and have a go at more com­pli­cated stitch pat­terns. This blan­ket is a fan­tas­tic way to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent stitches. It’s made me think about what I can use them for in my next de­signs.”

As a de­signer, Lucy is look­ing for­ward to see­ing some va­ri­ety once read­ers start shar­ing their makes. “I think one of the most sat­is­fy­ing things is see­ing read­ers who are proud to show off their ver­sions of my de­signs,” she en­thuses. “I love that it’s so easy to keep track of progress with In­sta­gram and Face­book and even though it’s a long way off, I can’t wait to see the fin­ished blan­kets.” Writ­ten by Judy Dar­ley

You’ll find the pat­tern for our first Hook ’n’ Learn blan­ket square on page 47.

Jane Crowfoot’s lat­est CAL project is this cosily retro Bo­hemian Blooms Cro­chet Blan­ket.

A cro­chet-along is a great way of shar­ing your cro­chet­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers.

The first CAL Dedri Uys par­tic­i­pated in was the Block a Week CAL, which re­sulted in this beauty.

San­dra Paul’s sec­ond CAL was the A Spicier Life blan­ket, which took off in Au­gust 2017.

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