The Simple Things
For a long time now, I’ve enjoyed the simple things in life – whether it’s a gorgeous sunrise (although those are just distant memories at the moment – I’m in the office by that time!), a walk along the river or coffee with friends.
Who stole the sun?!
I have also sensed a move towards ‘simple’ in my crafting life too. For a long time, ‘simple’ was out of my reach as I tackled complex lace, irregular cables, freeform, taught experimental/advanced techniques, wrote tutorials or tech edited and was constantly on a personal quest for the ‘next skill’ to conquer. Recently, however, I have fallen back in love with simple and realised that simple is beautiful! Infinite texture can be created with just knit and purl stitches, stocking stitch can be stunning in stripes, and single stitch patterns in crochet can be given a new lease of life with colour.
The Humble Granny
I was playing with string earlier today, thinking I really must get round to preparing samples for classes (which I have been nagging myself to do for ages!) and wondering what to do first. I decided to go right back to basics – rather than teach crochet Granny Squares, which when you break it down includes a lot of techniques to cover in a few hours – chain, slip stitch, trebles, changing colour, fastening off and weaving in – I decided to concentrate on the stitch itself and do a Granny Stripe sample instead. I had three colours of yarn that had been discarded from other projects: orange, mushroom and white, that I honestly thought I wouldn’t find a use for, but they were taunting me, pleading to be used so I combined them and was delighted with the result!
**Can you see what’s different with the image? Ohhhhhhh yes – it definitely wasn’t taken on a phone! Hurrah!**
The mushroom really makes the white pop, but seems to tone down the orange (and the shot is a pretty true representation of the colours) giving it a really autumnal but fresh feeling.
The joy of the Granny Stripe for teaching is that by starting with a long base chain (if you are working a long scarf or an infinity cowl) the student gets a feel for how to hold and tension the yarn, then (once the initial row of trebles has been worked) it it allows the student plenty of time to practise the movements of the treble crochet and really get it embedded into their Muscle Memory before tackling other stitches or stitch placement. By changing colours and watching the colour-play, it staves off boredom. Other skills are learnt too – fastening off, changing colours, weaving in, but without all the tricksy corners. More than one student has proudly (and rightly so!) presented me with five-corner squares before now. So, back to basics it is – and while it might be simple, it’s elegant in its simplicity and a perfect beginners’ project but still a joy to work for a competent crocheter too.
I am not the first to discover the joys of the humble Granny Stripe and there are lots of ‘patterns’ available online – if you do a search for Granny Stripe images, there is a plethora of images from blankets inspired by Lucy of Attic 24, who has done an amazing job of raising the profile of ‘The Granny’! Lucy has a great eye for colour, and has chosen to work her blankets in double stripes, almost forming waves of colour. In my sample above, by working just one row of each colour, the three trebles seem to make little ‘pops’ or beads instead, creating an entirely different fabric from the same stitch pattern. The variations are endless, and I shall enjoy experimenting myself and seeing what my students create too. Once the stitch pattern has been learnt, it can be used for anything – a bedspread, a bag, hat, cushion cover, lampshade, skirt and oh-so-much-more!
I think this ‘simple’ thing will keep me occupied for some time yet and when I have finished playing I hope to share the results here too. For now, however, my crochet is calling me and I must get back to it!
Until next time,
p.s. If you love the simple things too, why not share them with me here? I’d love to hear from you.