It's Sue Pinner's new book, "Granny Squares" and it's a cracker.
There are lots of appealing, hooky project-books out there and I find they fall into one of two categories. The first category is books that are visually appealing and make for happy browsing over a cup of tea (or three) and probably contain at least one project that will make it from the page to my hook in due course. The second category is books that are equally visually appealing and also make for happy browsing over a cup of tea (or three) but have more to them. A book in the second category will undoubtedly contain quite a number of projects that will make it from the page to my hook and in addition has the capacity to spark all sorts of avenues of creative thinking, emerging from, but not necessarily contained in the originating pages. "Granny Squares" falls fairly and squarely (sorry!) in this second category. Of the twenty projects it contains, I've counted up well over half that I can see realistically translating into my own hook and yarn activities and in addition it's set my mind in new directions and sparked a number of related but slightly different ideas.
If you follow any of Sue's blogs - she has three! - Suz Place, The 8th Gem and The Flowerbed - you won't be surprised at any of this. Ideas and happy patterns seem to fall off her hook like leaves from the trees in autumn. Granny squares but not necessarily grannies as you know them; Sparky Grannies - grannies that might or might not be squares; grannies with four sides, six sides or eight; grannies with attitude; grannies with style; grannies that become flowers and stars and anything else in between as well as patterns that aren't grannies at all!
|A couple of Sue's octagon "grannies" just made to see how they turned out!|
I've seen crocheted lampshades in blogland and elsewhere but never a bath mat, nor a deck chair cover, I've seen pillow-slips with crocheted edging but not a completely crocheted pillow-slip for a pillow to sit up in bed against, when reading or hooking - a clever twist on the simple idea of a cushion-cover but not one I'd thought of.
Whether a book falls into the second category or not is also something, I think, to do with the clarity and flexibility of the pattern instructions. Directions for a motif, used in one way, suggesting somehow all manner of other ways in which it could be used. The same thing is true of colours and yarns - the way they are written about or photographed, sometimes seems as full of creative potential as of actual creative history, while sometimes it doesn't.
Of the projects in "Granny Squares" it was the bath mat that grabbed me first. Why didn't I think of this before? It's a perfect crochet project - essentially straightforward, not too big, ambitious, or expensive, an open canvas for playing with colour and pattern, either in blocks or in a continuous piece, a fantastic way to use up oddments of cotton yarn and useful to boot. What household does not need another bath mat? The book's tantalising hexagon design sent me straight to my multi-coloured stash of Rico Creative Cotton, left over from blankets past.
And armed with a 4.5 mm hook, a little carpet of hexagons has crept forth this week in jolly Spring-like colours.
The hexagons have a lovely daisy-shaped flower in the centre, the perfected shape of which only emerges as you hook up the final edging round. I can't tell you how addictive I find it to watch the petals emerge, defined and flowery under my hook, in that final round!
|The end of round two. The petals are made but you can't see them properly yet.|
|Here they are emerging, as the final edging round is made, separating and defining each one.|
|One finished Hexagon daisy with all her petals showing!|
Not sure I liked them to begin with but as one grey-edged hexagon became two and then three and then four etc, love blossomed! Not sure now which I prefer, the vivid brights or the muted pastels-and-grey!
A third bath mat, would you believe, is also in production because Sue's suggestion made me recall the sampler squares I started making last year from the Better Homes And Gardens Knitting and Crochet book's pattern for a "Granny Square Sampler Afghan". These too were made from my stash of Rico Creative Cotton and were intended to make a picnic blanket. The idea stalled, principally because the squares were so darned complicated to hook and the instructions so tricksy to follow that I couldn't face making enough squares for a whole blanket and partly, of course, the weather last summer was so unconducive to picnics as to water down the incentive anyway. But brought out from the basket where they had slept undisturbed for almost a year, and set out on an existing bath mat, I realised that they were only a square or two away from a new destiny.
Some of the smaller squares need another round or two of edging to make all the squares the same size and we will be in business! And it doesn't matter what the British summer does - my bath mat will be used whether it rains all summer again or not!
After the bath mats, I have my eye on the hooky pillowcase and then perhaps the kitchen stool cover but who knows what else will get sparked off in the meantime?
Happy Hooking of Sparky Grannies!