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    Thursday
    May192016

    Granny square love

    It's funny, how sometimes something is just a bit meh, and other times it's all you think about!

    Crochet granny squares have always been my most popular class by miles. Maybe because I spent so much time teaching them, I was not especially bothered about them.

    But I decided to take a break from teaching the class, and stressful things happened and my creativity reduced. One day I thought about just why granny squares are so popular, and I picked up my hook. A couple of granny squares later my creative brain started pinging. And an almost fully fledged book idea appeared in my head, entirely by itself.

    Granny squares? Really? They are such a cliche!

    But more & more I felt that I might be onto something. I had a chat with some friends (including the lovely and very helpful Joanne of Not So Granny & half of The Crochet Project - thanks!) and I started to play around with some of my extensive stash. And the things I made were good. We were going through the annual stress with county over our son's education - but even more so this time as he is 16 and that's the time that is most likely to trigger a school move. We also had to go through the process of applying for PIP (Personal independence payment) on his behalf, which anyone who has done it knows is a horrible process. But the simplicity of granny squares, the repetitive stitches, the feel of good yarn, the interplay of colours, all worked their magic. No deadlines. Crochet as therapy. And ideas kept coming.

    And so there will be a book. A physical, printed, self published book. I prefer physical books for crafts - useful to have electronic patterns so I can print out and scribble on them - but on the whole I prefer books. The patterns will also be available as pdfs so people who prefer e-patterns don't need to worry! I'm tweaking the patterns I've already made, and I've planned the missing designs. All accessories, no blankets. Simple, stylish, easy to wear accessories, all of them based on granny squares & using that construction. Some are not square - there are triangles and hexagons too - but if you can make a granny square you can make these.

    I need to find out how much the tech editing, photography & printing will cost, and I am planning a modest Kickstarter campaign to help to fund those, but mostly to gauge how many books I will need to print in the first* run. I don't want to impose a deadline on myself, but I do want to get it done reasonably soon. Ideally I want to have the book ready for sale this autumn.

    Here's one of the hats blocking - I love the simplicity of the stitches & shape that showcase the pretty yarn so well. I will tell you more about the inspiration and the narrative of the book later. I'm so happy with it!

    *assuming I sell some & don't end up using a pile of self published books as a night table or something.......

    Wednesday
    May042016

    Me Made May - Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co

    Are you taking part in Me Made May? I haven't made a formal pledge, but I tend to wear home made clothes pretty often anyway.

    I am pretty pleased with how this wearable practise skirt came out. I found the pattern at a charity shop a week or so ago, already cut in a size L, so I didn't make any alterations for this version other than adding premade piping to the pocket openings (which you can't see on this photo), and I think I'll make it again. It's very easy to wear and more flattering than most elasticated waist skirt patterns, as it's only elasticated at the back - the front has a flat waistband with a lightly gathered front panel. Pattern is the Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co. They are the adult version of Oliver & S who make gorgeous kid's patterns - worth checking out if you haven't come across them. What's especially good is the range of decent boy patterns - boys are often rather left out when it comes to cute practical kids patterns.

    The instructions for the skirt were very clearly written, although I didn't really have to pay much attention to them. If you wanted an even easier sew, you could simply skip the pockets - just draw the pattern line staight across the pocket indent & skip the pocket pieces. I used a really small amount of fabic - less than a metre, but it was wider than quilting cotton - so it's a good one for using up fabric that's not got enough yardage for more complex skirts. I used a different gathering method than the pattern suggested - I did a line of zig zag stitching over a piece of cord, then took out the cord & stitches after sewing the gathers in place. The skirt isn't lined, but that's not a problem as I can just wear a slip underneath if I'm wearing tights, and in the summer I don't want a lined skirt anyway. Although this fabric is way more see through than I realised, so I might need to wear one anyway!

     

    Wednesday
    Apr272016

    Keeping it simple

    I've fallen out of the habit of blogging, as is pretty obvious on here! I will get back to it, but in the meantime I post much more regularily on Instagram. It's quick and easy; I use the camera on my phone rather than having to use my proper camera - which needs the battery charging & I can't find the charger - uploading images, editing them down to a reasonable size, and loading them onto the website. And I'm all about simplicity at the moment.

    There are lots of complicated things going on at home, to do with our oldest son, whether the local education authority will let him stay at his school post-16, claiming disability allowance & doing the attendant paperwork & interviews and stuff like that. So my head in full of complexity and I'm finding (once again) that crafts are my perfect outlet. 

    I bought an old loom ages ago and have been scared of it since. So I decided to just try it, use leftover yarns & see if I could make a simple scarf. As you can see, I did! And the potential of weaving is so exciting. Especially when considered alongside handspun yarns, with all their character. My spinning mojo is back - I'll be showing you more on the blog soon. I've been learning new skills, and went on a Quilt Routes workshop last saturday. I'm so in love with my little piece of machine sewn artwork, and can't wait to do more.

     

    The focus on simplicity has spilled over to work too. I had always planned to do self published work this year, with a couple of book ideas in my head that needed refining. Then an idea popped into being all by itself and wouldn't go away. So unexpectedly, granny squares have become my focus, and I'm about half way though the designs for a book! With such a clear focus, I can't go haring off, getting distracted by other ideas. I'm being very disciplined about the designs, and it turns out I'm falling back in love with granny squares. The designs are not all actually square, but they all come from that construction & I'm loving it. Happy days :)

     

     

    Saturday
    Apr022016

    Autism Awareness 2016

    And here we are, all of a sudden it's April & World Autism Awareness day is upon us. I don't know about you, but it's taken me by surprise. I've been so busy dealing with the bureaucracy  & stress caused by our second post-16 education & health care plan review, that I haven't considered an autism awareness blog post. 

    It's our second EHCP post-16 review. For the same child. As Matt has been an academic year ahead of himself he started post-16 at his school this academic year. However, as he is chronologically 16 this academic year, we are going through it again. And harder. This is the change for County to put him into a cheaper academic placement for the next 2 years. We were ambushed in January at his annual review, with the county representative claiming that he was failing academically as he hasn't yet achieved a C grade at English GCSE. I was so taken aback I somehow forgot to point out that he shouldn't have actually taken any GCSEs yet, and yet he already has 2 grade Cs. How is that failing? Grrrr. 

    Anyway, there is a bigger chance than ever this year that he will be taken out of his residential school and moved to a more local provision. It will be interesting to see how important the pupil's views are in comparison to budget.

    Yesterday, we got a letter through from ATOS, who administer assessments for disability benefits (PIP). I had to complete a 40 page form for Matt over the christmas period, get it back to them just after New Year & have heard not a single peep since. Until yesterday, telling us we had a meeting in 6 days time at our house. That doesn't give us much time to prepare. Although, I suppose it's good that it is happening during the school holidays when he is actually here. They are coming to our house, rather than us going to them, which is not the norm as far as I am aware. Or maybe it is for 16 year olds? Who knows. 

    Luckily for us, autism awareness is rising. There's more on the TV about autism/aspergers. So maybe we will be dealing with someone who has an idea what it is. 

    There are a couple of things on British TV at the moment that are highlighting autism. The A word on BBC1 is a drama about a fairly dysfunctional family who find out that their 5 yr old son has autism. I have some reservations about this programme. I am quite glad they are not asking the boy actor to fully embrace an autistic meltdown, but it does make meltdowns look like temper tantrums. However, it's probably not reasonable to expect a child actor to bang his head against the floor/wall till it bruises, or to scream loud & long enough to lose his voice. Or to thrash around blindly without any care for injury to himself or others. So I can accept the compromises they have made. But they need to have considerably more humour in the show. Autism families tend to have an appreciation for black humour! 

    I am however really enjoying Employable Me on BBC2. Only around 15% OF PEOPLE IN THE UK WITH AUTISM ARE IN FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT. They have dealt with Tourettes & Autism Spectrum conditions very well so far and have shown a pretty balanced view of the difficulties as well as the strengths of the people featured. I really hope it opens employer's eyes to the benefits of considering neurologically diverse employees (in loyalty quite apart from anything else). If you haven't watched it, you should! I had no idea that Tourettes could suddenly affect you as an adult - which happened to one of the two people featured in the first show. The other person on the first show is a man with autism in his 30s who has never had a job. I defy anyone to watch this without rooting for him, and caring desperately what happens. So if you are in the UK, would you take the time to watch it? Catch it on iplayer, enjoy & learn.

    And to lighten things up, how about a quick reprive of Special Needs Ryan? Yes? Your wish is my command!

     

    Sunday
    Feb282016

    Unravel 2016

    Last weekend me and my friend Gilly (Tickety-b) went to Unravel. We missed last year, and it was lovely to be back again. We met up with Sarah (Crafts from the Cwtch) and later Joanne (Not so granny - after she had finished teaching) and had a grand time going round all the stalls, chatting with the vendors & bumping into friends. 

    I made sure to visit Rachel & Alli of Yarn in the City and was excited to pick up my copy of the London Craft Guide. It's a great size book - perfect for popping in your bag, and there's a whole lot of stuff packed in. It's made me want to have a couple of solo days in London so I can do my own mini yarn crawls!

    I had fun at Spin City's stand, and had a lovely evening chatting with Louise & her Mum along with lots of other knitty folks that evening. I didn't buy any yarn, but I did get lots of spinning supplies.

    You might have spotted a copy of Crochet Yeah! in there too - and I've already started a project from it. Joanne & Kat are a great team, and I love what they have done with The Crochet Project

    Another highlight was catching up with Amanda Perkins and seeing her crochet blankets on display as a collection. Spectacular, and definitely a good argument that crochet can be both practical and art at the same time.

    If you went, I hope you had fun. I met too many new people to name check everyone, but that's one of my favourite things about yarn festivals - all the amazing people I've got to know! What's your favourite thing?