Crochet Dreams!

Way back in March I received an email with the subject “Crochet Dreams”, this intrigued me as I also didn’t recognise the name the email came from. When I read it I realised that my friend and vintage clothes seller extraordinaire, Caroline, had recommended me and my crocheting (yet again, thanks Cazza) to a friend of hers. Laura had a vintage garment that she wanted recreated in her size. There were a few pictures of the garment with the email and it looked fairly straightforward.

But there wasn’t a pattern, just the garment to work from which is something I have never done before. Would I be able to recreate it? Laura sent me the garment and I started to examine the stitches, pattern and construction.

The original garment, it was too small to fit on my dummy!
The original garment, it was too small to fit on my dummy!

The stitch pattern was easy to work out, a two row pattern: row 1 set up row of chain loops, row 2 double treble clusters in first chain loop, 2 chains and a double crochet into the next loop and repeat. Easy. The construction of the garment was also straightforward. It was worked in one piece, starting at the bottom front, adding on chains for the arms and then working down the back. Adding on the arms caused a few head scratches but I had done something similar for one of the crocheted bikinis I have been making recently so I knew what to do.

The biggest challenge was to work out the neck shaping. I am a more confident knitter than I am a crocheter so constructing knitted garments is easy for me, I know how to shape the neck, shoulders etc but crochet is different. You can’t caste off stitches or decrease stitches in the same way that you do in knitting. I decided that I needed to work a test piece, in miniature, to get it all straight in my head. I was selling cakes at a craft fair a couple of weeks later and suffice it to say I had a lot of spare time on my hands and managed to get a lot done.

Smaller sample on the left, original on the right
Smaller sample on the left, original on the right

Then I had to work out the sizing based on Laura’s requirements, there was a lot of counting, adding, dividing and walking away from my notebook before I was happy that I had everything worked out. We then had to find the right wool and Laura wanted it in the same colour and weight as the original, a natural cream in a chunky yarn. After much searching we decided on this glorious Rowan yarn, 100% wool and natural undyed. It is a lovely wool to work with.

With everything ready and bikinis finished I started the garment a couple of weeks ago. I had a few false starts as I got the number of chain and patterns right but I was soon storming ahead. I knew it wouldn’t take too long once I got started but I knew the neck was going to slow me down. In the end it wasn’t very difficult at all. Once I got to where the neck started I completed one side first (just as you would with a knitted garment) then completed the second side and joined them back together and continued down the back. Once I had finished it I blocked it out to the correct size and crocheted the seams together with slip stitches.

As I started to add the trim I was getting very low on wool and at one point I thought I would run out but luckily I had just about enough, there was only a few inches left! I had guessed the amount of yarn almost perfectly. I had hoped that Laura and I could meet so I could hand over the finished garment in person but time was not on our side so I posted it to her earlier this week and this is what she had to say:

‘ A wonderful journey of a piece from start to finish. Sharon was great in sourcing the right yarns, swatching the stitches and making sure that throughout the crocheting everything was as I wanted to the vintage garment I used for inspiration. And the final piece is absolutely amazing and a piece I will hand down to future generations. The process of having a bespoke piece made is definitely something I will do again!’ 

The finished article
The finished article

 

Stitch close-up
Stitch close-up

A happy customer! It was a fun project to work on and has given me a lot more confidence in my crocheting and a new found love of crocheting. I am concocting all sorts of ideas as we speak!

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Bikinis, Bikinis, Bikinis

It has been a few weeks since I last posted on Cakes & Cardies and during my absence I have now been idle. As the name of the post suggests, I have been crocheting more bikinis! Gold ones, silver ones and daisy bedecked ones! They have been a lot of fun to work on so here are a few pictures of the finished articles.

Gold bikini with 56 crocheted curtain rings!
Gold bikini with 56 crocheted curtain rings!

 

The Daisy one!
The Daisy one!

 

Silver with red trimming
Silver with red trimming

 

Multicoloured, to say the least!
Multicoloured, to say the least!

 

Bits ready to assemble
Bits ready to assemble
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Crocheted Swimwear!

Just before the summer one of my friends (who runs a vintage clothes business, Frillseekers Vintage) asked me if I fancied crocheting some swimwear! It turned out that a fellow vintage clothes seller had been collecting vintage swimwear patterns and needed someone to make them up with a view to adding them to her collection. I was intrigued. Always up for something interesting in knitting/crochet I said “why not”.

I can crochet, I learned when I was at school, but I’m no expert. My grandmother was an amazing crocheter. She crocheted very intricate patterns in cotton, classic doilies, antimacassar (what a great word for a piece of cloth that protects the back/arm of a chair!) which were sold in craft shops in her native Wexford. I remember watching her crochet, she was fast and never needed to look at what she was doing or indeed at a pattern. One of the most amazing things she crocheted was my communion dress (along with gloves and a tam o’ shanter!). My mother still has it and she takes it out every so often to show it to my nieces etc and I marvel at the fact that I was very that small! It is beautiful and I loved wearing it on the day. I guess crocheting is in the blood.

A couple of weeks later Dani emailed me some of the patterns that she had been collecting and they were a treat! We decided on a fairly easy crocheted bikini from the 70s and then a one piece, also from the 70s. The bikini was fairly straightforward, the top was quick and easy to do, the bottoms were a bit more tricky but all-in-all I was happy.

I then moved on to the one piece, a very different kettle of fish! It is a black and white stripped one piece with some lace detail on the sides of the bottom. I managed to make up all the pieces and then it was time to join the front bottom to the back bottom (if you get me meaning!). It was here that the fact that these were 70s patterns as well as being American came to be a problem. I must have read the pattern a hundred times but couldn’t work it out. I would take it up determined to finish it only to put it away again in frustration. But I couldn’t let it defeat me. So I had the idea of looking at the picture of the finished article close up to see if that would help and it did! Turns out that the sides were joined together with a lace pattern. Have to say I felt a bit smug once I worked it out.

From the front
From the front

This is the finished article from the front, you can see that it wasn’t a straightforward pattern!

 

From the side
From the side
From the back
From the back

And finally, the side that gave me all the trouble!

The join that almost beat me!
The join that almost beat me!

I made one other bikini before I met Dani so she could see what I had managed to do. I was surprised to see how great they looked when they were on a real person! And so I am making some more bikinis and swimsuits and will keep you updated, abreast if you will, with the latest in crocheted swimwear,

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