Friday, 11 March 2016

Tricot Tableware - a Special 'Tunisian' Crochet Project



Crochet in progress on a long double-ended tricot hook is laid out on a beach towel next to a crocheted bag. The scene is a sandy beach looking across the water which has no surf, just gentle foam lapping at the shoreline.
Blissful crochet on the beach.
More beach weather this week:  34°C today with 37°C forecast across the working week. Why not continue the beach theme?  Especially after Kwokkie Doll donned her 'Bondi Bikini'!

Back in 2013, I designed a very personal and special tricot* project which had a few extra challenges and learning opportunities.




There was a glimpse of this project in its early stages in an earlier blog post ("Crochet Idyll"). If you want to go and have a quick look, I will wait here until you return...can you guess what it might be?

A closer view of the previous photograph: crochet in progress on a long double-ended tricot hook is laid out on a beach towel next to a crocheted bag. The scene is a sandy beach looking across the water which has no surf, just gentle foam lapping at the shoreline.
Brighton–Seacliff beach, South Australia.

It was part of a wedding gift for a couple who loved the beach so much that they proposed and got married there! 

A wedding scene in blue, white and pink.  The deep blue ocean and clear blue sky is the backdrop to wedding decorations of jam jar posies suspended on white ribbons, hanging from a white trestle frame. A bridal bouquet in pink and white is on the left hand side with a horizontal spread of white tulle across the bottom. A wooden-framed wire mesh fence sits between the trestle and the ocean view.
The wedding overlooked the ocean
I wanted to make something that would be useful in married life but what do you make a couple who have been living together for years and have their household set up already? Something with sentiment, that's what.


The newlyweds are both artists so I knew any artistic efforts of mine would be appreciated. I decided to make something unique and personal that can also be a keepsake of their wedding day and my inspiration was the beach–their favourite beach: Dee Why, New South Wales. 

View of Dee Why beach from across the bay. Clifftop vegetation is in the foreground. The sandy beach and vegetated dunes are towards the left of the photograph. Moving towards the right, the beach ends as the coastline rises to become grass-topped rocky cliffs.
The northern end of Dee Why beach, New South Wales

Dee Why has a long sandy surfing beach with a lagoon and conservation area to the north, a rocky headland to the south and a surf club in the middle! 

From top to bottom: pale blue sky, deeper blue ocean, white breakers with surfers behind them waiting for a break. To the left of the white breakers, a surfer has caught a wave. The thin line of white foam touches the shoreline where four adults and a child are waiting on the beach.
Dee Why is a popular surfing beach.
This is the view in front of the surf club.
The wedding took place at a grassy reserve which is cut into, and sits atop, rocky cliffs with a stunning outlook of the Dee Why beach and the beautiful blue of the vast Pacific Ocean.

The foreground is the sandy beach which curves around to the right hand side of the picture and then returns in the distance to create a cove. The far side of the cove  has an ocean pool built into the rocks. On the shore behind it is a building with public facilities and the built up area of Dee Why.  There are residential homes and apartments built on the hill behind tall Norfolk Island pine trees.
The southern end of Dee Why beach.
There is an ocean pool for safer swimming.
Can you see the greenery on a rise behind the pool?
A short walk beyond it will take you up a steep hill
to a grassy reserve atop a cliff where the wedding took place.

A lawned reserve with picnic tables and park benches is surrounded by sandstone cliffs. The white shapes in the bottom left hand corner are chairs set up to cater for the wedding guests.
The grassy reserve cut into the cliff-face.
This picture was taken before the wedding when the chairs etc.
(bottom-left corner) were being set up.



A view from the clifftop reserve overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are light brown rocks protruding through the lawn.  A wooden-framed wire mesh fence marks the edge of the cliff. On the right hand side is a white wooden trestle used to suspend posies of flowers as wedding decorations.
Decorations were simple: recycled jam jars, filled with posies,
suspended by white ribbon from a white, wooden stand.
A small wood and wire fence was the only thing separating us from the awesome Pacific Ocean and the rocky cliff-face below.






Project Criteria

It had to be:

  • practical so it can be appreciated regularly and not a source of useless clutter in the couple's small home
  • small in size so it is easy to post (in case my travel plans cancelled due to health issues)
  • personalised to their style
  • able to be used as a keepsake and memento of this special time in their lives

What kind of item fits that criteria?  I pondered and pondered … 

… until I came across Kim Guzman's "Summer's Day Placemats" pattern in Interweave Crochet's Summer 2010 edition.  A set of placemats is perfect!  


Design Considerations


The artistic couple have an interest in 'pop art' so I wanted to incorporate modern styling with blocks of bright, solid colour.

Plainly, the beach is a very important place in the lives of the happy couple so I created a scene from Dee Why beach, their playground and home turf, to remind them of their romantic proposal on the sand and their beautiful wedding ceremony.

A view of Dee Why beach looking towards the north end of the beach.  Beyond the foreground vegetation one can see the curve of the sandy beach on the left and the waves breaking on the right. The northern headland in the distance is made of grass-topped rocky cliffs..
Northern end of Dee Why beach.
The sandy dunes protect the lagoon behind them which is a sanctuary for wildlife and an important breeding ground for many bird species. The lagoon has an outlet to the ocean at the northern end of the beach.


Critical questions about the placemats:
  • What size will they be?
  • How many will I make?
  • What should the fibre content be?
  • Which crochet techniques and methods will be best?
  • How much time do I have to complete them?
The placemats needed to be big enough to accommodate a plate with cutlery on either side.  I compared the sizes of placemats that I use in my own home and the sizes of placemats in various crochet and knitting patterns to get an idea of a suitable size.

I wanted to make at least two placemats; maybe add a third one in a smaller size or different shape for their fur baby cat.  If time allowed, it would have been nice to have four placemats to give, either as spares, or in case new family members were to come along!
A wooden bowl full of 50 gram skeins of 4 ply cotton sits on a white crocheted granny stitch table cloth.
I used a combination of 4 ply cottons:
Milford Soft Knitting & Crochet Cotton
and
Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton


 

I chose 100% cotton–easy to launder and able to withstand the heat of oven dishes.  Heavier cotton would be nice and thick but 4 ply cotton would allow a finer level of detail in the stitches.  The most available cotton with the largest colour range was a 4 ply which became my final choice.

For a thick placemat, I considered using thicker cotton or making a double-sided mat (2 layers) but I really like the sturdy texture of tricot* and, with Kim Guzman's "Summer's Day Placemats" to inspire me–she uses tricot stitches with a double-ended hook–my decision was settled.

Tricot stitches work up relatively quickly once you get into the rhythm. I especially love the speedy reverse pass because it makes me feel like a crochet whizperfect for meeting a wedding deadline.

 
Design Process


Jodiebodie's design notes and references are scattered across the table.
Time to create!
A plethora of notes, scribbles and design ideas.















I hadn't been to Dee Why since I was a small child. Online search tools found recent photographs of  the beach and local area and these were invaluable. You can see them compiled in my notes (above) for reference.

A sample of the colours and stitches of these placemats. Left-right: royal blue purl stitches, then afghan stitches in golden yellow, orange, hot pink and lavender.
These are the colours of sunrise at Dee Why.
I love the solid brights with their passionate depths of colour.


My final design represents sunrise at Dee Why.  I could have created plain stripes of afghan stitch and be done simply and easily but
I wanted the placemats to be more than just coloured stripes–they needed to express the particular features of Dee Why.

A long sample of tricot fabric with different stitches. A double-ended hook lies on the right hand side, the ball of cotton on the left on top of the test swatch.
A test swatch is a great way to try out
different stitches and experiment with design ideas.
It is also a useful tool for finding the right tension
and making gauge calculations.


This was accomplished with different tricot stitches and I relished the technical challenge of featuring a diagonal line across the horizontal bands.

It was a great process of learning and discovery.  The technical details deserve a blog post of their own and I will post that soon. Until then, enjoy the photos which document my progress … 

The reverse side of the test swatch. The double-ended hook is at the top and the ball of cotton is next to the sample.
Stitch selection is also important for the reverse side.
I wanted the placemats to have an even texture underneath.

The first (bottom) rows of a placemat. A black stitch marker keeps the work-in-progress from unravelling. The right hand side is worked in green. The stripes from the bottom to top are brown, beige and white.
Getting started: the bottom edge is already curling up.
This is normal for tricot fabric because there is more bulk at
the back of the stitches than in the front.
Not to worry–the curling issue will be sorted later.


A placemat in progress worked from bottom to top. Stripes from the bottom up: brown, beige, white and variegated white/aqua. The right hand ends of each stripe are all worked in green.  The two current balls of cotton in variegated white/aqua and green are at top right. A black stitch marker on the top right hand edge of the mat keeps the work from unravelling.
Further along: using an intarsia method to manage colours
and loving the 'beachy' feel of this scheme.



Two matching placemats in progress. The right one is resting on a yellow cushion, the left one is resting on a blue cloth. The right one has a black stitch marker on the top left edge and a bobbin of hot pink cotton on the bottom right edge.  The tip of a purple hook can be seen below the yellow cushion and bobbin.
Crocheting the placemats concurrently to maintain consistency
in size and tension so they will match.
I don't want a placemat version of 'second sock syndrome'! 


Looking across a placemat from bottom (foreground) to the top (distance) the colours are brown, beige, white, variegated white/aqua, royal blue, golden yellow, orange, hot pink and lavender.
Using colour and texture to evoke images of sunrise over water.
The placemats are waiting to be bordered and embellished


Can you see the waves breaking on the sand
in these placemats?


The whole idea was to make a set of 'breakfast placemats' so wherever the married couple find themselves in the world, they can relive their morning surf and strolls together at Dee Why.

Dee Why beach in New South Wales sees the sun rise.
Brighton–Seacliff beach in South Australia sees the sun set.

I will finish this post where it began: at Brighton–Seacliff beach.

Sunset over water: deep blue water in the foreground. The horizon  is met by pink, orange and yellow clouds which clear to a darkening blue sky at the top of the photo
Sunset at Brighton–Seacliff beach, South Australia


Night-night!



*Glossary


'Tricot' is a term used by Australians to describe crochet based on 'Afghan stitch' and also known as 'Tunisian' crochet in other parts of the world.  The older generations tend to call it 'tricot' and the younger internet-surfing generations tend to use 'Tunisian'–a reflection of United States dominance on the web, perhaps?  All that matters is that we all know what we are talking about and that's the form of crochet that uses a tool that looks like a long knitting needle with a crochet hook on the end instead of a point.  I am curious about how the terms became adopted, especially since 'tricot' is a French word which means 'knitting'.

 

References



Crochet

Manthey, Karen, Brittain, Susan & Holetz, Julie Armstrong, Crocheting for Dummies, Wiley, Hoboken NJ, USA, 2010

Eckman, Edie, Around the Corner Crochet Borders (150 colourful, creative, crocheted edgings with charts & instructions for turning the corner perfectly every time), Storey Publishing, North Adams MA, USA, 2010.

Guzman, Kim, crochet designer: www.crochetkim.com

Guzman, Kim, "Summer's Day Placemats", crochet pattern, published in:

Knight, Erika [Editor], Basic Crochet Stitches: 250 to Crochet, Harmony Guides series, first printing, Collins & Brown, London, UK, 2008.

Patons, Woolcraft, vintage booklet, no date, Australia, c. 1978.

Turner, Pauline, How to Crochet (the definitive crochet course complete with step-by-step techniques, stitch libraries and projects for your home and family), Collins & Brown, London, 2001.

Dee Why Beach 

Beachsafe, Surf Life Saving Australia: https://beachsafe.org.au/beach/nsw314B

Google Images: https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=604&q=dee+why+beach&oq=Dee+Why&gs_l=img.1.0.0l10.3126.5693.0.8980.7.6.0.1.1.0.269.990.2-4.4.0....0...1ac.1.64.img..2.5.993.HnjqKUr4GEo

Surf Cam, Coastalwatch: http://www.coastalwatch.com/surf-cams-surf-reports/nsw/dee-why

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dee_Why

 

Related Posts on Lupey Loops


"AKA Amigurumi Apparel: Bondi Bikini", 11 February 2016: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/aka-amigurumi-apparel-bondi-bikini.html

"Crochet Idyll", 6 March 2013: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/crochet-idyll.html

8 comments:

  1. That is such a lovely gift Jodie. It will be special, not just because you have taken the time to make it for them but you have also put so much thought and care into it :-)

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    Replies
    1. A special gift for people who are very very special to me. :-)

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  2. Dear Jodie, I am back in blogland after a very long break because of health problems. I am so sorry that I didn't reply on your mail telling me that you nominated me for a Sunshine Award. But I didn't read it, I just ignored my blog completely. Now that I am better again, I am curious what you have been doing meanwhile. You are making such a thoughtful and beautiful wedding gift, that's just wonderful. I haven't tried tunisian crochet but I like it a lot. One day I will try it, as well but you need a special needle, don't you? I hope that you are feeling well, Viola

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    1. Welcome back, Viola! I had missed you and your blog but when it comes to your health, you need to do what is necessary. Thank you for letting me know what had happened and I am so glad you are feeling better again. You will have quite a bit of blogreading to do now, won't you? hehe.

      I have been very well lately - it is such a nice change!

      Triot/Tunisian crochet needs a hook that is the same diameter all the way along - no changes with thumbrests etc. For items with short rows, a standard sized straight hook will do - I have bamboo ones with no thumbrests. For items with longer rows, a hook as long as a knitting needle is better. They can have a hook on one end and knob on the other end, or they can have a hook on each end. I used a double-ended hook for the placemats. There are hooks that have a cord on the end of the hook so you can make even longer rows. Circular hooks (like circular knitting needles) have a cord in between two hooks. They can also be used. Why don't you try using a basic hook to try it out before purchasing a specialist tricot hook? Tricot hooks can be expensive - you want to make sure you like it before making the investment.

      Have fun xxx

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  3. Oh my, I really need to return to Australia! I am so jealous of the beaches and all the time you get to spent there!

    Is the Tunisian crochet hard to learn? I really like the look of your projects with the technique but so far I haven't dared to start something with the technique...

    Take care
    Anne
    Crochet Between Worlds

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    1. Hi Anne! I am sorry for teasing you with the beach photos! I was planning to collate some photos of different beaches to inspire my friends in the northern hemisphere as they come into the warmer seasons. Maybe that would be too cruel?
      The basic afghan stitch is not hard to learn but it takes a bit of practice to find the right tension. A common beginner's error is to be too tight with the tension. The type of hook can make a difference too. Just like when working in slip stitch, different shaped heads can make life easier or harder in tricot/Tunisian.
      It truly is a blending of crochet and knitting techniques.
      The afghan stitch (Tunisian simple stitch) creates a square grid pattern on its fabric which makes it good for embellishing with cross stitch or other embroidery. It can also be used for entrelac techniqes. I first learned to do afghan stitch from the book "Crochet for Dummies" by Karen Manthey et al. The publication details are in my reference list above.
      You can make something very simple like a bookmark with a standard sized crochet hook as long as the crochet hook is the same diameter all the way along because the stitches get loaded onto the hook (like on a knitting needles) and then cast off again.
      Have fun experimenting. I hope you will share your efforts on Crochet Between Two Worlds.
      I hope that when you do return to Australia, we can meet on a beach somewhere! :-) xxx

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  4. Hi Jodie!

    I admit I have also been getting behind on all my blog reading. Instead I concentrated on making things and just got absorbed into that! Now I got lots to share, so started blogging more again.

    Wow, I was blown away about your design process and how lovely the finished placemats look like! What a beautiful gift.

    I also haven't ventured into Tunisian crochet yet, I'm just too busy for now.

    I posted about some free crochet patterns, one of them expires today, so hop over quickly...

    Love,
    Ingrid xx
    Myfunkycrochet.blogspot.be

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    1. Hi Ingrid!
      I'm always happy to see your return to the blogosphere and thank you for keeping in touch.
      Your reaction to my design process means a lot to me - it is nice to have that side of the project appreciated. People often underestimate the time and energy that goes into an original design. I still need to get that pattern into a form suitable for publishing.
      Your free crochet patterns sound exciting but I may have missed the boat, having been away for the past week.
      I'm keen to see what you have been making, as always, so will visit your blog shortly.
      Cheers xxx

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