What on Earth is Image Overlay Crochet / IOC / Petranese?

Many of the Black Sheep Crochet projects, for example all Wrapped in Jamie squares, many Heirloom squares and some Afghan squares, are designed in ‘Image Overlay Crochet’ aka ‘IOC’ aka ‘Petranese’.

But what on earth does that mean?

Let’s have a look.

(Traditional) Overlay Crochet 'vs' Image Overlay Crochet

(Traditonal) Overlay Crochet

In (traditional) overlay crochet, the background as well as the foreground layer is worked as a ‘closed’ layer. A pattern is created by using different, sometimes alternating, colours for each round and working a repeat of specific stitches, mostly double or treble crochet, in or around stitches of the same colour from previous rounds. This creates (in most or all parts) a very dense, two-layered project.

Lilla Björn/Tatsiana Kupryianchyk, for example, is well known for her stunning Overlay Crochet designs.

Here is my version of her Graphite Mandala, made with Makr’s 8ply Cotton yarn with a 3.5mm hook in black and white:

Isn’t it amazing what Tatsiana comes up with? And they are not that hard to make either, because there are lots of repeats. 

Image Overlay Crochet

Image Overlay Crochet in comparison means that there are usually two distinctively different layers of stitches:

1: a background layer, which is plain, flat and often shows through, and

2: an image layer, which is in the forefront and where we ‘paint’ a dimensional picture or ‘write stories in yarn’.

The background layer is generally made up of single crochet stitches. Some single crochet stitches are worked in the back loops only, meaning the front loop stays free. 

This free front loop can be used to ‘anchor’ a long stitch that will be made in a later round (i.e. treble or double treble) to create the image or the pattern on top of the background. 

Image overlay crochet projects therefore look more ‘delicate’ and are more ‘drape-y’ and less dense than traditional overlay crochet.

 

Picture above: draft design for an early ‘Claire’ – not yet released

Notice the two layers – background and picture layer. the latter could be quite dense and intense or very sparse with lots of room around a ‘picture’ to breathe. 

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Colourwork

Working with colour is admittedly easier in traditional overlay, because you work with only one colour at a time per round, working with only a few different stitches around stitches of the same colour from a previous round. 

In comparison, colourwork in Image Overlay Crochet is done using either (preferably) tapestry technique (working over the other strand(s) of yarn) or stranded/Fair Isle technique (the other, non-working, colour is carried behind the work).

This makes traditional overlay crochet more suitable for beginners than Image Overlay Crochet in terms of colourwork. However, those who invest the time to work with two or even more colours create a true masterpiece with stunning results.

Below are only a limited number of some pretty impressive designs of Wrapped in Jamie projects made using different colours. Many more examples for colourwork and colour ways can be found in the Gallery.

An interesting side effect:

Depending on the use of colour/colour changes, specific elements of the pattern can be emphasised, as shown below.

Carola Vuori has used two colours for her royal version of the Season 1 squares with Claire in the middle

In this sample by Vikki Mills she used blocks of colours to accentuate the ‘stages’ of the pattern development.

 

Lesley Hahn has gone full out, using every colour of her square borders in her Claire Square.

The dedication in each of these samples is absolutely commendable. Because I have been (on purpose) holding back on colour suggestions for squares and borders, let alone using different colours within the squares, these crafters have even more impressed with their ability to anticipate the different outcomes of their colour choices and applications. Well done to all three here and in the gallery or the facebook group.

‘Petranese’ - Image Overlay Crochet Terminology

When I started to write down the patterns for the Wrapped in Jamie CAL designs, there was no existing easy system that I knew of to describe the positioning of these kinds of overlay stitches. I have therefore created a special way of abbreviating the special stitches, using the familiar abbreviations along with mathematical symbols and numbers to make the descriptions shorter. 

One of my Facebook Wrapped in Jamie CAL clan members invented the term ‘Petranese’ for this specific Image Overlay Crochet terminology and it was quickly adopted by everyone. It became a commonly known description for the system, so I kept the name in order to distinguish that this is my specific style of writing IOC terminology. However, the aim is to use this system globally, which is why the official reference will be “IOC” terminology from here on. 

At first glance, IOC may look complicated but it really is not.

You will most likely already know most of the stitches used and I will explain how to read the IOC abbreviations in the documents below. Once you get used to the abbreviations, you will find them easy to read and to follow, giving you a lot of information that otherwise would have to be described in a lengthy and wordy manner. I hope you find this system as useful as thousands of users so far.

Prerequisites

While there is a lot of support in form of photo and video tutorials with and other resources for each pattern, you should have at least some basic knowledge about crochet. 

Please make sure that you are familiar with the table contents below:

Crochet Terminology, Abbreviations and Punctuation

st/stsstitch / stitches
ch/chschain / chains; ch1 – make 1 chain, ch2 – make 2 chains…
ch-spchain space – a space that is created by making several chs in a row
lp/lpsloop / loops
yoyarn over – make a loop around the hook or grab the yarn with your hook
FLOfront loop only – sts made in the front loop only of the indicated st
BLOback loop only – sts made in the back loop only of the indicated st
fpfront post st – followed by the kind of stitch that will be made around a stitch from a previous round
bpback post st – followed by the kind of stitch that will be made around a stitch from a previous round
RSright side of the work
WSwrong side of the work
‘x’ sc / dcwork 1 sc / dc in each of the next ‘x’ stitches
[ ]square brackets indicate hard-core repeats for 1 side of the square, consisting of multiple instructions
( )bold parenthesis indicate lower level repeats (i.e. (2 sc, sc in BLO) ) OR a group of sts that will be worked into the same st or sp (i.e. (sc, ch2, sc) into the corner sp)
()normal weight parenthesis indicates a group of sts that will be worked into the same st or sp (i.e. (sc, ch2, sc) into the corner sp)
*asterisks indicate notes / tips / alternatives within the written pattern OR hardcore repeats for 1 side in the photo tutorials

Basic Stitches Abbreviation

ssslip stitchinsert hook into indicated st, yo, pull through the loop, then pull through the loop on the hook
scsingle crochetinsert hook into indicated st, yo, pull through (2 loops on the hook), yo and pull through both loops on the hook
hdchalf double crochetyo (2 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st, yo and pull through (3 loops on hook), yo and pull through all 3 loops on the hook
dcdouble crochetyo (2 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st, yo and pull through (3 loops on hook), yo and pull through 2 loops
(2 loops on hook), yo and pull through both loops on the hook
htrhalf treble crochetyo twice (3 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st, yo and pull through (4 loops on hook), yo and pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yo and pull through all 3 loops on the hook
trtreble crochetyo twice (3 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st or loop, yo and pull through (4 loops on hook), yo and pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yo and pull through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yo and pull through both loops on the hook
hdtrhalf double treble crochetyo 3 times (4 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st,
yo and pull through (5 loops on hook), (yo and pull through 2 loops) twice (4 / 3 loops on hook), yo and pull through all 3 loops on the hook
dtrdouble treble crochetyo 3 times (4 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st, yo and pull through (5 loops on hook), (yo and pull through 2 loops) 3 times (4 / 3 / 2 loops on hook), yo and pull through both loops on the hook
trtrtriple treble crochetyo 4 times (5 loops on hook), insert hook into indicated st, yo and pull through (6 loops on hook), (yo and pull through 2 loops) 4 times (5 / 4 / 3 / 2 loops on hook), yo and pull through both loops on the hook
FLOfront loop onlysts made in the front loop only of indicated st
BLOback loop onlysts made in the back loop only of indicated st
fpfront post stfollowed by the kind of stitch that will be made around a stitch from a previous round in the front of the work
bpback post st followed by the kind of stitch that will be made around a stitch from a previous round in the back of the work
“x” sc“x” single crochetmeans: work 1 sc in each of the next “x” stitches; 
“x” dc“x” double crochetmeans work 1 dc in each of the next stitches “x” stitches; 

Getting started with IOC

Think of IOC is a kind of shorthand for the crochet community, just like the commonly known crochet abbreviations (sc, dc, tr…), only a slight bit more ‘complete’.

The added extra information that makes IOC more complete has evolved from the necessity of stitch placement descriptions and information on how to work certain special stitches used in Image Overlay Crochet, which go beyond the commonly known and required terms and their abbreviations used in other crochet forms. 

Our aim using the IOC terminology is to keep it ‘simple‘, unified and easy to translate into other languages. The less we need to replace in the description, the easier the terminology can be used in translations.

In order to maintain the integrity of the IOC system, we would like to ensure a standard (in engineering we would call this ‘norms’) for using the terminology, just like the standards provided by the Craft Yarn Council for crochet and knitting. Therefore we offer the documents explaining the basics, together stitches, anchoring, charting, and visuals to everyone for free.

A detailed overview of the new IOC documents  with download links is available here.

Please note that these documents will constantly be updated and some of them will only be released with the begin of the Wrapped in Jamie CAL Season 2 squares. 

They will cover

1 – Basics and Stitch Abbreviations
2 – Together Stitches and Anchoring
3 – IOC Charting
4 – Visuals

For those who want to dive a bit deeper, we offer Masterclasses via Zoom or a similar app or in-person workshops. 

Masterclass only documents include:

5 – Simple Stitches Library
6 – Complex Stitches Library

You can find an overview and detailed Masterclass info here

Masterclasses cover the same topics as the documents with some bonuses:

  • extra depth about the topics (outlined here)
  • option to ask specific questions
  • additional handouts
  • exclusive sample swatch design for each masterclass to practise the class’s content
  • Stitch Library cards
  • designer only tools
  • virtual IOC designer/tester/editor/charter retreat
plus an extra Masterclass – IOC Mastery with content specifically for designers and a IOC Colourwork Masterclass.
 
 

Level Up - Becoming an IOC Tester, Editor, Charter or Designer

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  • Are you comfortable with IOC terminology but you find it fascinating and want to learn more and dive deeper?
  • Have you ever dreamt or thought of becoming a crochet designer but didn’t know where to start?
  • Got an eagle eye for details, a desire for conformity, maybe a bit of OCD (in a good way), outstanding grammar knowledge and the determination to edit a pattern towards excellence?

If any of the above applies to you, you bring the perfect pre-requisite to become a founding member of IOC community where testers, editors, charters and designer come together to support and look out for each other to enrich the crochet world with beautiful and intricate patterns that are well written to tell the story of a special person, movie or book character in yarn.

Please join our special Facebook group Image Overlay Crochet (IOC) Designers and Makers Community if you want to be kept updated about new workshops and masterclasses for IOC.

Did you know that I offer 20% off my product and pattern collections exclusively to my VIP Black Sheep Crochet Flock members?

You can sign up for my newsletter here to get your INSTANT discount code.

I don’t spam or anything gross like that!