Monday, 20 February 2017

Mystical lanterns shawl by Jane Crow

After having so much fun with the Mexican blanket I decided to take another shot at a Jane Crowfoot-design. This time the Mystical Lantern shawl she designed for her label Janie Crow, available in the tantalizing colors of Jamiesons Spindrift wool. Jamieson's is a small company based on the Shetland Isles, where their yarns are sourced, spun and dyed. Jane made the shawl available in 4 color schemes: Storm (blue-grey), Aurora (turquois end purples), Monsoon (vibrant Indian colours) and Mistral (a variety of old colours). I was so happy when the box with woolies arrives, what great colours! I choose the Storm color-variation. Jamieson gave theirs wools inspiring names like Stonehenge, Highland Mist, Slate and Steel, and Rosemary. It made me long for an autumn in Scotland (where I also went in october!). The patterns of the shawl is based on a granny hexagon, but Jane made changes to come up with the curved tessellates designs.

Picture from Janie Crows' Storm shawl

The name of a repeated tessellating design like this is called an 'Ogee' pattern in Arabesque design. It took Jane a few weeks to get the design of these blocks right; initially she came up with loads of really complicated ways to create this motif, but in the end it was so simple - funny how sometimes a design process can take so long and then the outcome can be so easy to make.

The fun part of the pattern is that you choose your colors intiutive. You put all the balls in a closed bag, crab one, do your crochet, put the used ball in a new bag, and crab another one from the first bag, do your crochet and so on. So fate will determine the outcome of your shawl! If you can't let loose that way, you can always cheat by taking 4 balls from the bag and select your favorite ones for the biggest crochet-part. I didn't want  my shawl to be too dark so I cheated now and again a bit.....
After you made lots of these fun ogees you arrange them in long stripes which you crochet together in a big triangle.The triangle gets a border on the long side and ready you are. I washed my shawl carefully in Eucalan and blocked it on de Tempex plate covered with towels. The Jamison Spindrift is not a very soft wool - it looks and feels like a rural product, which is its charm also! - but after soaking it in Eucalan it is a nice, soft wool that doesn't itch.

Frida' flowerblanket finish a while ago!

I did finish Frida's Flowerblanket a while ago - in the meantime I already finished another shawl, almost finished another blanket and I started a new project. But first things first. The 'Mexican' blanket turned out very fine! It has been tested by the cat - even before it was ready - and she agreed!

First I finished all the squares and then carefully blocked them row by row on a tempex plate covered with a big towel. I made the squares soaking wet with tap water and a simple spray bottle and left it overnight to dry.I t was quiet a job, but half the work! Then all the pieces were crochet together and a small border was attached to finish it off.

It is a very colorful blanket with a real Mexican feel to it. The designer Jane Crowfoot did a great job with this fun and not all to difficult pattern!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Peace by Melvin - update

Foto: Soulmates Images (

In October Melvin and his family from Peace by Melvin-project ( went to Nepal to make little kids happy with the 300-something stuffed animals Melvin himself and lots of volunteers made. I was so happy to see the picture of this girl cuddling one of the animals I made for the project. I will cherish it! Whenever I feel a little down-and-out it will remember me of the fact that good people and skillful hands can give so much meaning. Whenever Melvin starts his new project - and I'm sure he will - I am in! 

P.S.: If you want to see a report of Melvin trip check You'll find lots of beautiful pictures and a Dutch text.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Peace by Melvin


In the southern part of my tiny country lives the cutest boy: his name is Melvin, he's 8 years old. Melvin loves stuffed animals like any other child. And like any other child he understands that the loss of a beloved stuffed animal is a tragedy. But not like any other child Melvin was devastated about the news of the earthquakes in Nepal and the very slow rebuilding process. A lot of children must have lost their stuffed animals and other toys, so Melvin came up with a plan of action. When at the breakfast table Melvin told hist parents he wanted to make stuffed animals for children in disaster areas like Nepal, the - perhaps also not like any other parent - said: 'Good idea: get to work!'

In no time Melvin and his parents and a lot of volunteers got very busy for Melvin aimed high. No less than 300 stuffed animals must be ready by october this year. Melvin made his own design: a fox with a tiny birdie in his belly pouch. A lot of kind people are willing to help with sewing, cutting, donating materials. A website was made - -, people in Nepal were contacted and the news spread by facebook, , etc. When I heard about it I immediately decided to help, for the children in Nepal, but also for Melvin. A child with such a golden heart should be treasured! I bought some cute pieces of cloth, buttons, felt, ribbons, and started sewing. The first three foxes are ready, seven more to go - and ten tiny chickens....

Monday, 27 June 2016

Frida's flower blanket - Stylecraft CAL 2016

A while ago I started with a really nice project: the Stylecraft CAL 2016 inspired on Mexican folk art and the colorful dressed worn by my  favorite Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It is a beautiful blanket filled flowers designed bij Jane Crowfoot. The designs have great names like Ring of Roses, White Cosmos, Dahlia Bud, Heart Rose and so on. And every design is accompanied with a little story about its source of inspiration and how it is linked to Frida.

Stylecraft doesn't think this project is fit for complete beginners, but is perfect for those looking to improve their skills. Well, I'm not a complete beginner, but also not a seasoned crochet star. But I made it until block 6 and I will succeed!
The blanket can be made in two color variation: above an example in
Stylecraft Classique Cotton, or in Stylecraft Special DK - the one I use
This blanket is a combination of 12 rich, intense
shades, perfect for Jane’s exquisite floral designs.

My favorite motif so far is the Heart Rose, block number 5 of the CAL. It is a rich three dimensional design. Jane Crowfoot writes the following about this rose: 'In 1939 Frida Kahlo painted a canvas that she named ‘The Two Fridas’. Frida painted it after her divorce from Diego and it shows one version of herself wearing an exposed heart, the other version of herself with a strong heart. The painting represents suffering versus strength and resilience.
When I first started working on the design for this blanket, and was therefore looking at traditional Mexican fabrics and iconography, I came across designs which featured the heart shape. The sacred heart motif is one of the most common motifs in religious Mexican folk art and, within the Catholic religion, it represents the physical heart of Jesus as a symbol of his divine love for humanity.
Trying to incorporate a heart shape into the design presented me with a problem in that the shape of it would mean the blanket design would have a de nite top and lower edge in order for the heart shape to sit in the right position. I played with heart shapes a lot, but in the end I decided it simply didn’t fit within the design. However, I realised that the shape would work perfectly as a ower petal and set about designing this piece ‘Heart Rose’. 
A variety of flowers
Every motif has such a nice explanation. It is food for thought during the work and makes working on the blocks more fun! I'll keep working on Frida's flower blanket during the next weeks and keep you posted about this great project!

Meet Jorge!

Meet Jorge!
I completely forgot to tell about Jorge, my Amigurumi Mexican-style skeleton! Jorge is finally  finished. I had a lot of fun making him! In a household full of men, crocheting girly-stuff is just not always the thing - so a skeleton combined with my love for Mexico would be ideal.  It took some time to find a great pattern, but I finally found one at CraftyDebDesigns: realistic bona fide skeleton. It's a very clear foolproof crochet pattern. Debs skeleton is really a very friendly one, very flexible and with a dropping jaw and mickey mouse-hands. For Jorge I changed those. I altered the skull, the hands and the feet to make it less bona fide, but for the rest I stuck to the pattern. I uses a crochet-hook 2 and mercerized cotton: Capri bij Katia, colour 82145 and black and DMC mercerized embroidery cotton in various colors, black and white felt to back the hands and feet, polyester stuffing and with yarn. I embellished Jorge with faux pearlbeads, sequins in silver, gold and red. That's about it.

Realistic Bona Fide Skeleton by Crafty Deb Designs
(photo from the pattern)

Feet according to mu own design
Jorge, completely relaxed.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Cute french embroidery-patterns from times bygone...

Among the haberdashery and needlework-tools my grandmother left me, I always have cherrished some cute embroidery-patterns, obviously from times-bygone, since they are folded, fumbled and worn. Mignon-series of the french firm Rouyer. By the way Mignons means cute - looking at these booklets I know why.....

The patterns consist of folded pages with alphabets, some series of numbers, small motifs and - appropriate for every child: the words ‘souvenir’, ‘vater’ and ‘mutter’. The smallest pages measure only 7.9 by 4.9 cm and belong to the Mignon-series of the french firm Alexandre Rouyer. Mignon, by the way, means cute...

The firm Rouyer was one of the three French firms that dominated the ebb
roidery-world in the nineteenth century: Sajou, N. Alexandre-Lejeunesse en Rouyer. Sajou was the most important one with a production of far over a million embroidery patterns. The firm didn’t date its product. From some we know that Sajou exhibited its product in the Palais de l’Industrie in Paris at the Exposition universelle [d’art et d’industie] in 1867, and others on similar exhibitions in for example Vienna in 1873. These exhibitions were a kind of competition and the Sajou-booklets were often rewarded with medals and praise for being ‘exquisit’ examples that affect ‘good taste in a most prosperous way’.
These fine booklets, either by Sajou or the others, are interesting in more than one way.
Not only are they a source of inspiration for nowadays embroiderer, but foremost they are tiny pieces of cultural heritage. Heritage that reveals customs and practices of daily life at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century.
As said, Sajou was the most important one. In Germany, at the beginning of the 19th century a manufacturer of engravings Ludwig Wilhelm Wittich, had the brilliant idea to print engraved grids on paper on which cross stich embroidery patterns could be painted with gouache.
Cross stitch pattern by L. Witch

 And while in Germany ‘Berlin-work became extremely popular, in Paris the 33 year old Jacques Simon Sajou opened the first needlework shop of France in 1838. And it was popular. But when important ladies like queen Marie-Amélie Ferdinand-des-deux- Sicilies  - wife of king Louis Philippe I of Orléans - bought her haberdashery at the shop business was booming. 
Two years later he opened a workshop at the Rue des Anglaises 20, organized according to the rules and regulations of its time. All employees lived permanently at the factory. The children of employees learned to read, write and calculate when they were 10 years old. And of course they got sewing lessons. Twice a week catechesis was taught and no contact with the other world was allowed. But when they left Sajou they were educated with such standards and morals that they would make perfects wives and mothers.

In no time Sajou produced 15.000 to 16.000 patterns, varying in size between 10 and 80 cm. His biggest product was an embroidery pattern with the Sorrows of Maria represented in emblems of 4 metres, designed by Eugene Hagnaüer and embroidered by madame Pessiere, which he exhibited in 1855. 
The Sorrows of Maria by Sajou, 1885
Le guide Sajou
Sajou understood as no other that he had to come up with something new to keep business flourishing. In 1849 he also participated in several magazines and after two years he started his own: Le Guide Sajou, Seul Journal Complet des Ouvrages de Dames, pour Tricot, Broderie, Filet, Tapisserie, Crochet, Frivolité, Etc., which came out monthly. After some years Sajou choose to put an end to Le Guide, but only to collaborate with ‘Le moniteur des dames et des Demoiselles’, edited in Parijs and Brussels and which therefore had a much larger distribution area. Sajou made it possible for its subscribers to come to the store every Tuesday: they could ask questions or follow lessons. Subscribers from the county could write letters and order their haberdashery. All very custom friendly and a bit shrewd. 
In 1855 Sajou employed somewhere between 200 and 300 people and published more than a million patterns. The founder dies in 1882 and the firm stays in business until 1952. How many pattern booklets were sold cannot even be guessed. Every pattern booklet by Sajou contains between three to eight alphabets. Most of them are printed in blue, at that time due to the recent invention of blueprinting with cyanotype, an easy and cheap way to make photographic copy prints. Sajou patterns in two or more colours are must more rare. 
Alphabet by Sajou
Sajou was undisputed the biggest publisher. Maison N. Alexandre-Lajeunesse, opgericht in 1862 only published two kinds of patterns: booklets with four to eight pages and hard cover manuals in which you can also find patterns. Alexandre-Lajeunesse published blue, as well as full colour patterns. 
Full colour pattern by N. Alexandre & co.
Alexandre Rouyer, the editor of my grandma’s patterns, was not as important as Sajou, but more important in the business than Alexandre-Lejeunesse. He revived the family-factury, located in the Parisien quarter Le Marais. Rouyer designed cloth, various fashion accessories and made ‘toile cirée’. In 1886 he started selling sewing machines, and next to this all, he also commenced publishing. His ‘cahier d’alphabet’, albums with crochet patterns, white work examples and tapisserie-embroidery were an immediate  hit and Rouyer became a brand to remember - not the least due to the fact that the firm was the first to use advertisements on for example the cover of the leporello books. Rouyer summed up what he sold and owned: Dessins de Broderies sur Tissu en tous genres (embroidery patterns), a workshop for lingery, a factory for lace and braid work. In  1876 he even opened a shop in haberdashery at the Rue Saint-Denis 120. Alexandre Rouyen was a busy man. After the death of Alexandre Rouyer in 1881, there were various successors, until 1909 when ‘la Maison Rouyen’ finally closed.
Envelope of the Mignon-series
The designs of Rouyer are very cute. They include, besides alphabets, small scenic designs, some fruit, floral and animal designs, but also repeating allover patterns; borders; as well as some small samplers and phrases. The patterns were mostly printed in blue, but sometimes also in brown, or even in orange, blue and brown. Mignons, from the miniature series, is the smallest series Rouyer made, the Alphabeths de broderie with 24 x 15,5 the largest.
A lot of them were reprinted, for they where very popular. The Mignonseries, for example, was reprinted until 1898 when James Weill led the company. 

Full colour embroidery pattern by Rouyer
My grandmother was born in 1902. I just don’t if her patterns are a reprint from the beginning of the 20th century, or that perhaps the materials belong to her mother. This is not unthinkable. My great grandmother was educated at a French boarding school as was ‘bon ton’ with the upper middle and upper class in those days and learned her needlework very well. She married a jeweler, who travelled a lot. Not only for fun, but also for business. I know he visited these large industrial and commerce exhibition abroad for inspiration and trade. Who knows, maybe he bought his wife a little present... 
As said, I love these old patterns `cause they are part of the family tradition. Knowing so many hands used them and made lovely things with them, simply feels good. I also, sometimes use them for some embroidery work. Since I think a lot of ladies would love them I'm working on leporello-booklet with the patterns in it, which would make a lovely present, or just a fine thing to have. I'll keep you posted when they are available.

V. Maillard, Sajou: Passion des Alphabets Anciens, 2004

V. Maillard, Rouyer, ses plus beaux motifs et alphabets anciens, 2011