Friday, 12 December 2014

Inca-spiration Crochet Table Mats

I used this photo in my last post, and pointed out that there was a little something up in the top right corner there:

So here’s what that is :)

We bought these new bedside cabinets a few weeks ago. Made from recycled/reclaimed wood, and with louvre effect fronts, we thought they looked just right for us.

We didn't drink that whisky! I've had the bottle since my mum brought it home from a work social club. I normally have it full of marbles and use it as a door stop :)

Adam asked me to make him a mat of some kind to put on top of his cabinet to protect the surface – he wanted it very natural looking, so we bought some jute string for me to have a go with. I tried a bit, but the jute was too harsh on my fingers and they got really sore, while the string itself wasn’t hooking up the way I had wanted, so the project went on the back-burner.

Then inspiration struck! I had wanted to make something Inca-inspired ever since seeing the amazing textiles on our trip in South America (I still haven’t finished writing about that – I’m rubbish!!) and this seemed like an opportunity to do that.

I wanted a natural colour for the background, so I had to add to my cotton stash and I found Patons Cotton Blend (50% cotton, 50% acrylic) in colour Natural at Lincraft.

I picked some colours from my cotton stash (which I haven’t used much - I must rectify that!) to make the pattern. I didn’t go for Inca inspired colours, instead choosing fresh citrus colours for a more modern look. 

They are, L-R, another Patons, this one was 100% cotton in Nectarine. The other two are Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Sunflower and Soft Lime. I received them from Stylecraft back in April (at the bottom of this postwhen I sent them a couple of my makes as an audition of sorts to be a crochet pattern tester (I was accepted, but unfortunately I didn’t get any work until shortly before moving to Australia, so I had to say no to that one as I didn’t want to run out of time and therefore let them down!)

These different cottons have a slightly different size and different textures – really good stitch definition but a little firmer thread in the Patons, and lovely softness but still good definition in the Stylecraft. While the textures may become more similar if they are washed (I don’t know though, I haven’t washed them yet!) the thickness will obviously not become the same, so I would recommend using the same yarn if you want an even result. Stylecraft have an orange in this range, Seville, which might work, plus an Ivory for a more natural colour.

If you prefer Patons, they have Apple which looks like it would be a nice green colour, and Yellow and Pale Yellow which are, well… yellows… which might be nice – you’d need to see them in the flesh though to see which colours worked best, as colours viewed on the computer can be quite different! These are just suggestions based on what I could see via Deramores.

Anyhoo… Back to the project ;)
Next up was to make the actual design. I was going to use tapestry crochet for this project. I learned this technique almost by accident when I began crocheting – I had learned how to add new yarn when I ran out during a row of UK Treble Crochet:

you basically stitch over the new yarn for a little bit before you run out, then when you are near the end of the old yarn, you hook up a stitch as normal. Then you do the first yarn over and take 2 loops off with the old yarn. Then for the second yarn over you use the new yarn. 2 loops off, then be very careful to adjust the tension of both yarns, before you hook the next stitch with the new yarn, stitching over the old yarn to secure the end.

It’s quite simple once you’ve done it a couple of times, and if you leave a bit of the ends free then you can worry less about the tension as you go, because you can adjust it once the ends are more secure, then darn the ends in properly to make them fully secure.

When I had too little yarn left in any one colour to finish off the border for a cushion cover, I used this same technique to alternate colours for the final round. I was really pleased with this effect, and only recently discovered via Little Woollie that this was actually tapestry crochet! You can see the projects I’m talking about here.  

With the colours picked out, I now made a pattern to use these colours (obviously you could make the pattern first and then pick colours to suit!)

It would have been easier if I had made the pattern with colours corresponding to the yarn colours, but for some reason I didn’t do this and it did cause me a little confusion at one point when I lost focus, so I ended up deviating from the pattern for the centre portion. Shhh though – no one knows! ;)

The dots down the right hand side were to show each colour required for that row. I also numbered the rows and stitches to make it easier when hooking – I recommend doing this! The lines down the sides are for repeats, as originally I was going to do a row with a repeating pattern. I decided to keep it simple though, as this was my first go at real tapestry crochet.

So do you want to see the results?

Here you go, the finished article! 

Not yet blocked - I need to buy some stuff so I can block...

I was really pleased with it, I mean this time I had made something that was completely my own design, and it can even be used here in this tropical heat!

The only thing that bothered me was that the cotton was a bit firmer to work with, meaning that there were bigger gaps between the stitches than when I hook with wool or acrylic yarn. This meant you could see the carried thread between the stitches, and I didn’t like that.

Still, 2 cabinets require 2 of these hey?

So I made another, this time working out how to leave the un-needed thread behind in the row when I got to the Natural background, and then how to pick up the colours in the right place to work the pattern again on the next row.

This had the advantage of not using up so much lovely coloured yarn, so it will go further, as well as not showing through. It had the disadvantage that the density of the fabric is different in the middle to on the background. I’m still really chuffed with it though, and I can see how by carrying the thread you can use its tension to dense-up the stitches and hide other threads that you are carrying.

I can also see that a pattern with more ‘pattern’ and less ‘background’ would improve the overall density of the fabric. Trying to minimise the number of colours on each row would also reduce the amount of yarn you are carrying each time, so maybe I will simplify future designs and see how that goes :)

They look pretty similar in the photos though, so here’s proof that I did make 2 of them :)

I think they look pretty good!

Now, about that lampshade…

No comments:

Post a Comment