Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Hemp Doily

For some time I have been thinking that I fancied crocheting a doily. I feel like I’ve aged about 20 years just by saying that, which is what has put me off doing it so far.  But there are so many patterns that look so intricate, and I love the idea of tackling something a little more complicated than I’ve done so far. So occasionally I search for crochet doilies, using various adjectives such as ‘modern’, ‘colourful’ etc. in the hope of finding something I think I could make without feeling like I was a 1950s housewife.

Then: Success!!  I stumbled across this lovely bright doily at The Green Dragonfly. I really liked the design, but I was lacking essential supplies – like crochet cotton to actually make it with!  Not to be put off so easily, I decided to see how it would work out with something a bit different: crafter’s hemp.  I had most of a spool of 1mm crafter’s hemp leftover from making macramé bracelets. It was in variegated natural colours, which I thought would give a nice effect, so I had a play around with it… 

I experimented with a couple of different sized hooks, and found that for this a 4mm hook worked best.

I had a little difficulty concentrating on the pattern, but I found that referring back and forth between the written pattern and the actual photo really helped, as I could use the picture to get myself straight if I was confused. (I also found that talking myself through the order and number of stitches helped – good job I was alone!) I should also mention here that the pattern is written with US terminology, so the US double crochet is equivalent to UK treble etc. If you are unsure, terminology conversion can be found here.

The hemp wasn’t the easiest to work with. It’s very stiff, so if you want to have a go it’s best to work it a little first to unstiffen the wax finish it has – though not too much, as you don’t want to fray the cord. I also found that the stiffness varied with the colour variation, making an even tension difficult to achieve, but working the cord first did help with this.

The doily was really great to make, and as the rounds increased with my tea growing colder and the sun going down, I got more and more excited to see how it would look finished. Unfortunately disaster struck early in the last round when I ran out of cord, but here the problematic stiffness of the cord actually helped out as it meant the work could retain its shape despite not having a nice decorative finishing round.

Once I’d finished crocheting it was very crumpled and sorry looking, and I had no idea if blocking would work or not, but I was delighted to find that it did. After pinning it out I sprayed it until it was quite damp – damper than I would have done for wool, but not so that it was soggy. Then I just left it overnight to dry out and checked it the next day.

Before blocking (please excuse the photo - the light had gone by this point but I was too impatient to delay blocking!)
After blocking

The finished product with the hemp cord is a little stiff, but I don’t think this matters as I will only be using it for flat surfaces anyway, and I think that it will work out great for future projects like little crocheted bowls…

And of course now I have the perfect excuse to shop for more supplies, as I will need to make an actual finished doily. And maybe some more for presents. And now that I think of it I also have some lovely lampwork beads in the shape of strawberries – threaded onto the 5 chains of the final round and the doily becomes a pretty jug cover ready for Pimms in the summer... Ooh, the possibilities!  

N.B. that's not dust - it's just 'noise' from taking the pic in low light!

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