for it was on this day three years ago that we celebrated their marriage at Dee Why beach.
Part of my gift was a set of 'breakfast placemats'
as a memento of their special day.
as a memento of their special day.
This blog entry features the finished items and technical details about my tricot design (Tunisian crochet) such as taming curled edges, a common issue with tricot fabric.
An introduction to this project can be found in the blog entry, "Tricot Tableware - a Special 'Tunisian' Crochet Project" (11 March 2016). Information about my choices of project, fibre and reasons for tricot are explained, along with some photos of my inspiration, Dee Why beach (New South Wales).
|A selection of colours.|
While there are not many yarn shops in my neighbourhood, I thought I would take my chances at the local branch of a large chain shop, making do with whatever they had to offer, I had faith that I could come up with a solution no matter what I found there.
I chose personal shopping because I did not want to be overwhelmed by the plethora of online choices–it would take me an eternity of indecision to find the right one–and I did not have time to waste ordering yarn that may arrive too late for my wedding deadline. I also like to inspect the yarn in person to experience the quality first hand.
I was already imagining my placemat design as I entered the shop. Often I will know exactly the type of fibre and yarn weight that I want for a project but this time I had a more open mind; my choices would be decided by availability of colours as the artistic impression was most important. I was hoping to find a DK weight cotton because it would work up fairly quickly but there was a very limited colour selection in that yarn weight and, quite frankly, they were boring neutrals and pastels. Not suitable for a bright, happy, artistic and adventurous couple.
|A selection of bright rainbow colours showing the difference between purl (blue) and plain (other colours) tricot stitches.|
Milford had just released a new colour palette in their range and they were beautifully rich rainbow colours. That was it! "Hang on, Jodie!" I thought to myself, "These are only a 3 ply weight. "They will be much thinner than planned. Maybe I will need to make double-sided, double thickness placemats; but the thin yarn will take twice as long to crochet because I will need twice as many stitches as DK to make the placemats the right size. Hmmm." (Play 'thinking music' here). The answer: work two threads together to create a thicker thread on the tricot hook!
Two threads together means two skeins at the same time. What about the budget? I needed to buy at least two skeins of each colour. Never mind, this is a special gift and any leftovers will not go to waste. The only colours I couldn't find in the Milford were the pastels: a beachy, sandy, beige or brown and a seafoam-y white. In a gift project like this, I prefer to use all the same brand of thread for consistent performance between colours (tension, shrinkage, laundering, fading etc.) but I could not do without the basic neutrals made by Sullivans and branded Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton.
Kim Guzman's "Summer's Day Placemats" pattern was a great starting point for working out dimensions and number of base chain stitches. The coloured pencils and graph paper came in handy for working out the most pleasing ratios for the strips of colour.
Coloured pencils save frogging.
A diagonal line adds a dynamic element while at the same time represents the hill and cliff at the southern end of Dee Why beach where the wedding took place. The green 'cliff top' rows finish before the blue to depict the way the horizon could still be seen from the top of the cliff. The brown strip represents the rocks on the headlands and the walking path where the beach meets the land. I am especially pleased with the way the variegated aqua/white looks like the swirling colours of the breakers.
|A finished placemat.|
It was fun to use different tricot stitches to vary the textures and evoke the feelings of sand, sea and sky. Most of the design consisted of basic tricot (also known as regular afghan stitch or Tunisian simple stitch) but I utilised the wavy texture of tricot purl stitch (Tunisian purl) for the water features which provides a three-dimensional effect of the foam washing onto the beach.
|The wavy pattern of tricot purl stitches is perfect for the 'water' features. |
The higher purl stitches add a three-dimensional quality
as if waves are breaking onto the beach.
At the top of the blue 'ocean' rows, the raised purl stitches again provide a three-dimensional quality, allowing the afghan stitch 'sky' to recede into infinity 'behind' the horizon.
|Close-up of the junction between yellow plain tricot stitches and blue purl stitches.|
Tricot is where crochet meets knitting. It involves loading stitches onto the hook as they are worked (like casting stitches onto a knitting needle) and then casting off the stitches until one loop remains on the hook again. Because the hook needs to hold so many stitches at once, tricot hooks are longer than regular hooks but if you want to try out the technique, it is possible to use a regular hook if your rows are not too long.
Tricot hooks come in different shapes and sizes. The basic straight tricot hook looks like a knitting needle with a hook instead of a point. Some have a hook on each end, like the one I used for this pattern. Others consist of a basic crochet hook with a long cord attached, ending with a 'stopper' on the end of the cord (to stop the stitches from falling off the end). Still others are like circular knitting needles (two needles joined by one cord in the middle) but they are crochet hooks instead and joined by a cord.
For specific instruction on how to work plain (afghan stitch) and purl tricot stitches (Tunisian simple and Tunisian purl stitches) have a look in my reference list below. I have always learned either from personal instruction or from printed materials so I cannot personally recommend any online tutorials. An online search for 'Tunisian crochet' should provide some reliable video tutorials.
My challenge was to create a diagonal line across the rows of coloured stripes. I used an intarsia technique where each block of colour had its own source yarn. There were no colours carried across the back of the work like fair isle and no strands incorporated into the fabric like tapestry crochet.
Intarsia is a knitting and crochet technique that is used for creating designs with blocks or patches of colour similar to the woodwork technique of the same name which creates patterns from inlaid pieces.
|Close-up of |
The challenge of the diagonal line: tricot stitch has a square pattern to it and I have seen many tricot intarsia patterns look a bit 'blocky' I was hoping to find a way to avoid any 'blocky-ness'.
The other interesting part changing from a plain to a purl stitch at the same time as changing the colour. I used my test sample to experiment with different methods and to re-acquaint myself with the stitches before I started the placemats.
|My test sample:|
handy for testing stitches and calculating correct tension.
|This picture shows how tricot fabric tends to curl at the top and bottom edges.|
Curtailing the Curl
Tricot fabric will curl up at the edges because the stitches are denser at the back than at the front, pushing the front edge forward. The logical solution is to negate that by adding stitches that are denser at the front than the back. Kim Guzman's favourite stitch for this is Tunisian reverse stitch.
She also recommends the use of natural fibres because the curl will be reduced more effectively during blocking.
Other ways to reduce the curl include the use of a larger hook than recommended for the yarn weight because that can reduce the tension and settle the curl a little.
To control the curl, I added a border of herringbone stitch sourced from Edie Eckman's Around the Corner Crochet Borders (border #26). This pattern has a sturdy woven feel to it and holds its shape nicely. The final round of crab stitch gives a neat finished edge.
|The herringbone stitch border in white|
controls the curl of the tricot edges.
The border is completed with a round of crab stitch.
I used a smaller regular hook (3.25 mm) to create stiffer fabric for the border but the thin hook handle combined with cotton (which has less give than other fibres) made it tricky to work the herringbone and crab stitches. It took a conscious effort to keep my tension loose to avoid sore fingers and hand cramps.
|The wedding date adds|
a sentimental detail.
The final detail: the wedding date!
Embroidery doesn't com easily to me. It takes a lot of concentration and care for my clumsy fingers to do a neat job and there is yet to be a sewing job where I haven't pricked my fingers or some other part of me with the point of a needle! Ouch! (Perhaps that's another good reason to prefer crochet over knitting –no sharp pointy needles.) I didn't even try to add initials because I felt my attempts to fashion curved lines would not work, plus the design was based on straight lines so curves felt out of place anyway. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
To keep it simple, the numbers were worked along the straight lines of the plain tricot stitches. The regular grid pattern of tricot makes it ideal as a base for cross stitch patterns and other embroidery.
Here's the finished product:
|The finished set of 'DY Breakfast Placemats'.|
There are a few imperfections, perhaps errors that I hadn't noticed in the throes of 'deadline fever', but that's okay because that's the charm of hand-made items and, in any case, no two waves hit the beach the same way, do they? I feel that these placemats share the qualities of the ocean with its combination of regularity and randomness.
Tricot is a suitable technique for placemats because of its thickness and even though there are different textures on the front, the reverse side is very regular and relatively even and neat.
|Reverse side of placemat.|
The use of intarsia means no messy floats, strands or other colours showing through the fabric.
The sunrise is the start of each new day and for loved ones, a wedding is the start of a new life together as a married couple.
The recipients recognised the scene immediately without need for my accompanying note (describing the design and laundering instructions). That was the best compliment.
with lots of love
May you enjoy a romantic day!
Pattern: DY Placemats designed by Jodiebodie
Date: February–June 2013
Hooks: 4.25 mm Boye anodised straight double-ended hook (tricot hook) for the body of the placemat; 3.25 mm American Boye anodised regular hook for the border.
Milford Soft 3 ply (4 ply equivalent): http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/brands/milford
Purple: colour 6788 Soft Lavender; lot 10, 35 g / 156 m
Pink: colour 4300 Soft Lipstick; lot 08, 20 g/ 90 m
Orange: colour 0116 Soft Blaze; lot 7, 31 g / 138 m
Yellow-orange: colour 1450 Soft Mandarin; lot 07, 16 g / 72 m
Blue: colour 0427 Soft Royal Blue; lot 08, 46 g / 205 m
Aqua/white variegated: colour 0740 Soft Ombre Pastel; lot 14, 16 g / 72 m
Brown: colour 7000 Soft Cinnamon; lot 4, 19 g / 85 m
Green: colour 5346 Soft Jade; lot 11, 20 g /90 m
Sullivans Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton 4 ply equivalent: www.sullivans.net, 40 Parramatta Rd, Underwood Queensland 4119 Australia; Auckland NZ; Chicago Ill. USA
Beach/sand: colour 36001 Natural; lot 2327, 2 skeins, 36 g
Seafoam/white: colour 36000 White; lot 2327, 2 skeins, 30 g
Alexander, Carol, "Help for Curling Edges on Tunisian Crochet", Crochet Connection, web site, Crochet World, Annie's Publishing, Big Sandy TX, USA, 3 September 2013: http://www.crochet-world.com/blog/?p=7335
This web site article includes a video tutorial for Tunisian Reverse Stitch.
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:
- Smith, Marcy, [Editor], Interweave Crochet magazine, Summer 2010, Vol. iv, No. 2, p. 72, interweavecrochet.com, Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, USA 2010.
- Ravelry project page: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/summers-day-placemats
- Rexroat, Toni, [Editor], 4 Free Tunisian Crochet Patterns plus Tips on Basic Tunisian Crochet Stitches and How to Tunisian Crochet, e-book, Crochet Me, web site, www.crochetme.com, Interweave, Loveland Colorado, USA 2012
Interweave, Interweave Crochet, quarterly magazine, interweavecrochet.com, Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, USA.
The stitch guide at the back of each issue usually contains information about basic Tunisian plain and purl stitches.
Jones, Rebecca, The Complete Book of Tricot, Kangaroo Press, Australia, 1991.
Knight, Erika [Editor], Basic Crochet Stitches: 250 to Crochet, Harmony Guides series, first printing, Collins & Brown, London, UK, 2008.
This book gave good examples of herringbone stitch: 'herringbone treble crochet' and 'herringbone half treble crochet' (pp. 42–43).
Manthey, Karen, Brittain, Susan & Holetz, Julie Armstrong, Crocheting for Dummies, Wiley, Hoboken NJ, USA, 2010
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.
Related Posts on Lupey Loops
"Crochet Idyll", 6 March 2013: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/crochet-idyll.html
"Tricot Tableware - a Special 'Tunisian' Crochet Project", 11 March 2016