A tribute to the granny square

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I’ve often wondered how the granny square was “born”.  It’s such a simple design concept yet, in my opinion forms the cornerstone of crochet.  In fact it’s so epic I believe it requires some praise.  I also often wonder how the formidable little square got its name “Granny”

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According to a 1946 article attributed to the Oregon Worsted Company, the thrifty women of early America would carefully save scraps of yarn and fibre unravelled from old sweaters and socks.  As these scraps accumulated, they were crocheted into small squares; the colours combined on the whim of the craftsman.  The squares were then sewn together to make a blanket which was both functional and colourful.  Because grandma was no longer up for manual labour, she was often the one to sew the squares together, thus they became GRANNY SQUARES.

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This colorful GRANNY SQUARE blanket was thought to resemble a Colonial-era rug, which was brought over from England, by way of the Middle East.   By the early 1800’s, the name GRANNY SQUARE AFGHAN was commonly used to describe these blankets made from multi-colored yarn.

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I just love the granny square and much of what I crochet includes this beautiful element.  The photos below are testament to how much I adore the granny square.

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At the moment I’m busy with a beautiful scarf working with the fabulous Katia Darling yarn.

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I am often amazed at how many people actually struggle to perfect the crochet granny square. I often get asked to assist with shaping the corners for example.  I found this awesome tutorial and it should form part of every crochet enthusiasts library.  Take a look  here.

Our crochet friend Brenda Grobler is busy with a wonderful CAL – I’ve decided that I’m going to join her on this challenge.  I just love her colour scheme.  Go on join Brenda and I on this journey.  Hook up on this link.

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Saving the best for last… this awesome jersey is showcased in this months Ideas Magazine. The instructions are easy and its guaranteed to be a winner in your wardrobe.

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Share your granny square creations with the Hellohart team on our Facebook page.

Happy hooking (granny squares that is)

Have a fab filled week

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Jazzing things up

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On a number of occasions I have seriously contemplated designing my own crochet patterns. After some serious introspection I’ve decided it’s definitely not for the faint hearted and given my personality I’m not quite sure I have the patience to embark on this process.  In fact I’ve resigned myself to being the type of crafter that likes to take a pattern and “jazz it up somewhat”. Bling it as my one friend Moira would say.

Having recently worked with Brenda Grobler and MoYa Yarns on a bespoke project for Ideas Magazine (which will be available in an upcoming issue of Ideas Magazine) I quickly realised that designing a pattern whether it be for crochet or knitting requires passion and a skill. It’s not simply a matter of putting pen to paper and off you go. When I spoke to Brenda yesterday I asked her to tell me in her own words what her views are on designing a crochet or knitting pattern.

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“I  have a love/hate relationship with pattern designing. Every single time, especially after a gruelling pattern, I promise myself, no more. I’m done. Only to immediately dust off the two or three new designs that’s been brewing in the back of my mind. I can’t imagine a world where I’m not creating. It’s a deep seated need. It’s part of who I am. I constantly have dozens of ideas floating in my mind somewhere, pictures are scribbled everywhere with notes attached. Let’s not fool each other. Pattern designing is difficult. There are so many variables to consider. Firstly, the yarn has to ‘talk’ to me. It’s insanely hard to create something halfway decent, if you hate working with a particular yarn. Secondly, when I design I want know that all the sizes of a particular garment will look equally well on the lady that makes the smallest size, to the lady that makes the largest size. I never, ever want someone to walk down the street, wearing one of my designs, and be laughed at. Getting that balance right, between a beautiful design, all the way to actual wearability across sizes, is probably the biggest challenge. During my career, I must have frogged more garments than the actual items I’ve completed. Challenges aside, once a pattern is finally done, and I can step back and it looks like the picture in my mind, that right there, must be one of the most awesome feelings in the world.”

I came across a wonderful online article where they list 12 key steps you should take when designing a pattern. If you are thinking of designing your own pattern, you should definitely make the effort and read the article.

So having given up my ambition to design a pattern I’ve decided to explore my creativity by jazzing up a simple design.

I used the beautiful knitted sideways garter vest pattern by purlbee (the pattern is available for free). I used the most awesome imported yarn called Gianzia Filati Torre which I bought at I Love Yarn!

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I then finished off the final design by adding 2 very effective crochet edges. I firstly used the gorgeous curved edge which can be found on Crochepedia and then the delightful little pompoms from Once Upon a Pink Moon

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That was not enough for me so I asked Cornel and Elsbeth to meet me at the awsome new coffee shop “Milk Bar” at Amatuli where they showed me how to create woolly tattoos on my garter vest.

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I was so excited and amazed at the difference this simple touch of detail made to the vest.

Dottie Angel is such an inspiration and the absolute guru of woolly tattoos. The Hellohart team just love her style and creativity.

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The only limit to jazzing up any handmade item is your very own creativity. Pinterest is such a source of inspiration. Take a look at the following great examples I found:

Why don’t you try make your own buttons. The pattern is simple

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The colourful and decorative trimming and ribbons on the inside and outside of a knitted jersey are just amazing.  And the beautiful colour combination and creative buttons on the knitted garment simply takes it to the next level

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My challenge to you this week is to take something simple and “jazz it up” to reflect your personality. I can guarantee you it will be a one of a kind special garment.

May your week be filled with much jazz and bling!

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it started with an itch

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It all started with an itch, literally. At the tender age of 47 I contracted German measles and was confined to my house for a week. What to do? What to do? What a grand opportunity to test out some of those awesome yarns tucked away in a drawer and follow those patterns I’ve been meaning to for some time.

Two projects came to mind. The first project was motivated by one ball of sock yarn I bought at the Yarn Indaba last year. I loved the combination of colours and so I looked for a pattern that would best display the gorgeous shades. I found Barb’s Koigu Ruffle scarf.

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I loved knitting this little gem and it literally took me 6 hours to finish. I can’t wait to wear it this winter. The yarn is warm cuddly and so soft and I just love the colour combination. The pattern is really easy. The toughest part were the 10 rows of 648 stitches per row. It felt like a never ending story. I timed myself: it took 20 minutes to knit one row of 648 stitches. The effort was well worth it. You can buy the pattern here!

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My other project was truly an organic process. I discovered the pattern as I progressed. I’ve had this vision in my mind for over 2 years.  It is a combination of knitting and crochet. Two of my favourite past times. I was fortunate to be given some fabulous yarn by Hester from MoYa. The yarn’s texture is fabulous and the colours are truly amazing. I decided to pair the yarn with Vinnis Serena for the ever so soft shine.

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When you combine knitting and crochet you very quickly see that the tensions are so different. This changed the shape of my cardi. Hence the curved front section with the two pointed sides. It made an interesting end product though. What rescued the shape was the inclusion of tiny granny squares all along the bottom edge.

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The Fair Isle knitted section definitely added intrigue, but once again impacted on my tension.

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The top section of the cardi was an adaptation of a pattern called Jerseyretofinde” – http://www.retofinde.com.

I believe it’s Spanish, but the photo tutorials are great. This is really a versatile pattern and I will surely make use of it again.

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I made this cardigan for a very special colleague/friend and she looks lovely in it. It’s great when one is able to bring some yarn joy into somebody else’s life.

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PS: Thought I’d tell you that I’ve teamed up with MoYa Yarn and Brenda Grobler for a very exciting make.The original photo that inspired my cardi (above) is key to this collaboration. The pattern is currently being designed by Brenda and made from an assortment of lovely MoYa yarns and will be featured in an upcoming Ideas Magazine. We’ll keep you posted on which issue it will be featured in.

Yarn blessings!

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 Ronel is the lucky recipient of the book Crochet Know How 2 or Alles Oor Hekel 2.  Congratulations Ronel you will be hearing from us soon! 

Inspiration Wednesday… MoYa Yarns

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Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

And so it happened that I introduced Magda de Lange to the Ideas Magazine team and her awesome article appeared in the March 2015 issue of the Magazine. Through this article I was introduced to the fabulous MoYa yarn. It was not long after the article appeared that I received a wonderful gift one morning, 6 balls of the fabulous yarn with compliments of the MoYa team.

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Above photos courtesy of Magda de Lange

Whilst chatting to Magda over the weekend, I got to hear about her long term special friendship with Hester, co-founder of MoYa Yarns. In our blog post “Succulent Wild Women” (SWW) we spoke about what constitutes a SWW. Well… this story is filled with succulence and truly succulent women. From a distance, Magda assisted Hester by inspiring the idea for the yarn. In the early days, Magda played an integral role in “trialing and testing” the yarn and even consulted on the colours being produced. Today Hester and Martine (mother and daughter) have a truly fabulous range of yarns available to the public and I cannot wait to get going on a new project using the fabulous MoYa yarns I was given.

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Did you know? In Celtic, the meaning of the name Moya is: Exceptional. Apt don’t you think?

Let me share the inspiring interview we did with the MoYa team…

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What inspires you?

Having lived both abroad in Dubai and various parts of Africa – where there is such a melting pot of nationalities – the everyday experiences, sights and sounds of life is what inspires us. From the vivid colours in Africa to the delicious exotic food in the Middle East – there is inspiration to be found everywhere.

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Above photos courtesy of Magda de Lange

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When did you start crafting and who taught you?

Hester: My sister taught me how to crochet. I crochet as if I am knitting. I knitted my first jersey in a chunky blue wool – I chose chunky as it was a quick knit. I loved and was very proud of my handiwork, but after the first wash it stretched to such an extent that 3… mmm…. Maybe 4 of me could fit in it.

Martine: I was thrown into the craft world when Hester started a handmade card manufacturing business when I was at university. Hester did the designing and I helped on the manufacturing side (on average the staff and myself made 20 000 cards per month), so my interest in crafting started from there, although I am very embarrassed to say that I have not taken up crocheting or knitting as yet.

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Tell me about your product …

Sui Generis – it’s one of a kind / unique in its characteristics, this is the essence of MoYa.

We pride ourselves on the fact that no 2 of our hand dyed, 100% organic cotton yarn balls are the same. We work in small dye lots, using different dyeing techniques, to create the unusual final colouring of all our ranges. Our yarn is super soft with a high twist, making it a dream to work with, both for crocheting and knitting.

We are continuously playing with colours and have a large range of funky variegated colours as part of the range.

How did it all begin?

We were already in business together – we were in the final stages of designing and developing a baby clothing and accessory line called Gingernut. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting projects, when we came across this one. The inspirational Magda de Lange planted the yarn seed for us. Hester politely dismissed the idea – knowing that it’s a lot of hard work. Martine who not having crocheted or knitted or even touched yarn, convinced Hester to take a gamble and MoYa was born.

After lots of blood, sweat, tears and yarn flying through the air – we are very proud of what we have created – loving what we do every day. We have a passion for the yarn, the colours and LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing what people create with our beloved MoYa

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?

We are seeing the world of fashion introducing crochet and knitted items to the runways all the time. In turn inspiring the younger generation to pick up the crochet hook / knitting needles to create their own fashionable items to wear as well as a huge explosion in the hand crafted, home décor scene, especially with the use of natural fibres.

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 Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

Magda de Lange (www.pigtails.blogspot.com)

Sophie Digard – her use of colours and combinations thereof are exceptional.

Tracy Krumm crochets conventional craft items such as curtains and drapes, but using steel and wire

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 Where can our readers find you?

https://www.facebook.com/moyayarns

https://instagram.com/moya_yarn/#

https://twitter.com/MoyaYarn

https://www.pinterest.com/moyayarn/

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The above gorgeous cardigan was made by Brenda Grobler using MoYa Yarn 

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What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?

Hellohart, off course! Interesting blog posts, informative and captivating.

Ideas magazine – crafts for all, love the photography of arts and crafts.

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What is your favourite craft?

Hester – Painting, drawing and crochet

Without a question the creating of our exquisite MoYa yarn

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If you had more time on your hands what would you do?

Travel, Travel and more travel

Did we mention…. Travel

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 What magazines do you buy?

Ideas, Sarie, Tuis, Conde Nast Traveller

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Would you buy a pattern, or the whole kit online?

Hester: Pattern

Martine: As a novice I would go for a kit

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 What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why

Yarn in a Barn – it was the first store to stock MoYa and give us a head start as well as a confidence boost. Hilda is always open on giving advice and support.

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Currently you can get the fabulous MoYa range…

Online:

Yarn In A Barn

Bricks & Mortar Stores:

50 Something in Vredenburg

Knitter Knatter in Brackenfell

Contact MoYa directly: moya@theculinaryemporium.co.za

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It’s a wonderful thought knowing that we are possibly all connected in some way or the other. In fact I love that idea. It’s magical to think that there is still so much opportunity out there to meet some truly extraordinary yarn enthusiasts. I for one am excited to have been introduced to the MoYa range of yarns. Looking forward to many happy projects.

If you have worked with MoYa yarn before please share your fabulous work with us on our Facebook page.

One lucky reader will receive 6 balls of MoYa yarn free.  All you need to do is post a comment on this blog in the comment space below and tell us why you believe you should be the lucky recipient.  The winner will be drawn randomly

Yarn blessings

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inspiration thursday: brenda grobler

I got a WhatsApp message two weeks ago from Cornel, who wanted to show me some really gorgeous crochet patterns for tops she wanted to buy.  Up to that point, I’d never heard of Brenda Grobler.  Well, I was amazed and intrigued all at the same time.  It’s always so refreshing to meet individuals that are energised and passionate about what they do.  I remember when I still had my décor store, how exciting it was to meet an artist who put heart and soul into their work.  When an item is made with loving care and you know that many hours have been spent perfecting the final product, there is something magic about it.  As Alan Moore said: “There is very little difference between magic and art. To me, the ultimate act of magic is to create something from nothing: It’s like when the stage magician pulls the rabbit from the hat.”

I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Brenda Grobler, as it illustrates magic in the making…

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What inspires you?

Pictures of beautiful interiors, especially French Country-style, rustic environments, the colours and textures in a Spring garden, women that escape a less than fortunate background and manage to achieve successful and happy lives, muted colours, the texture and feel of natural fibres, my children, positive people.

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some of brenda’s favourite decor pins on pinterest

When did you start crafting and who taught you?

I must have been around 5 when my mother showed me how to do a treble. With that one little stitch, dozens of coat hanger covers were made. A couple of years later, doilies were the must-have item in most homes. I made a lot of extra cash hooking up different ones and selling them to family members. My mother firmly believed that you can only learn if you try something for yourself. I basically taught myself how to read patterns and do all the other stitches.

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brenda’s own designs

Tell me about your crochet work?

I’ve done a lot of pattern design work for Saprotex, a few patterns for African Expressions and I’m currently doing a lot of work for Vinnis Colours. Apart from designing, I also teach crochet. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone master this beautiful craft. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning I get to spend time with really awesome women, helping them explore their own creativity, while teaching them the do’s and don’ts along the way. I’m so passionate about crochet, it is an absolute thrill to teach newbies and instill a love of crochet in them. That very first time when they master a stitch/pattern/block is priceless. It’s also wonderful to see that the age of my students are dropping. It’s wonderful to know that a whole new generation of crocheters are out there.

How did it all begin?

A friend of mine, Annemie, owns Die Wolnessie in Paarl. Three years ago, she badgered me to start designing and also introduced me to the Head Designer at Saprotex. After Tanya from Saprotex saw what I could do, she asked me to design for them. Up to that point I’ve always only done more décor related items. Garment making was a total new experience, but from the word go, I realised that this was ‘my thing’. I absolutely LOVE doing garments. When Vinni Nielsen from Vinnis Colours approached me at the beginning of the year to do work for her, I literally did back-flips. Her cotton yarn, Nikkim, has long been an absolute favourite of mine, so what could be better than using your fave yarn to design anything?! Vinni gives me carte blanche. I can literally do whatever I want. It’s been a fabulous year, and I’m so looking forward to our new releases around October. Our first patterns were very well received, and I can’t wait to share our new stuff.

 

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?

I honestly believe that crocheting will only continue to grow and grow. Examples of crocheted décor items are featured quite prominently in glossy décor magazines. Through teaching I’ve noticed that the ages of women wanting to learn have dropped quite substantially. These women will be the trailblazers of a future generation of crocheters. They will also demand more natural fibres. There is a definite trend of people moving away from the old traditional acrylic yarns. Big yarns will also play a bigger role as it is so very suitable to creating bulkier home décor items.


Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

I absolute adore the work Natalia Kononova does. Her design aesthetic is very similar to mine. I love her use of muted colours and clean lines.

Another favourite is Vendulka Maderska. She brings a stunning, fresh and colourful happiness to crochet. You can’t help but smile when you look at her designs.

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brenda’s own designs for elle yarns

Where can our readers find you?

My Facebook Group, Hekel Girls: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hekelgirls/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/brenda_grobler/

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What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?

Haak & Stekie (www.haak-en-stekie.blogspot.com) I adore Christelle’s writing style and I love following her crochet adventures. Le Monde De Sucrette (http://www.lemondedesucrette.com/) Her personality always shines through in her posts, it actually feel as if you’re having a cup of tea with her. I love conversational blogs, ones where the honesty and sincerity of the person shines through. Favourite mag is definitely Home Magazine. Apart from being a crochet junky, I’m a total décor/DIY ‘uberfan’. I love that they do real homes with real people.


What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why?

I don’t really have one. I buy a lot of yarn online, so the current favourite would totally depend on what they have available. If I have to choose, it would probably be Skapie.www.skapie.co.za

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Brenda has published a number of patterns and I cannot wait to see them featured in another magazine.  I always love seeing individuals reach their full potential and having a look at Brenda’s work you will see she has achieved so much.  Yet, you also know that there is so much more wonderful crochet concepts and ideas that she has up her sleeve.  I cannot wait to see what she conjures up next.

THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING US, BRENDA!

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(original post on 11 september 2014)