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    Entries in book (8)

    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.......

    Monday
    Feb082016

    Going underground

    All Photos credit Juju Vail for The London Craft Guide

    If you're a UK knitter you may have heard of the Great London Yarn Crawl, organised by my friends Rachel & Alli. Having run the yarn crawl for a couple of years, they decided that they would be in the perfect position to write a crafty guide to London. There are loads of great yarn, fabric & haberdashery shops in the city and soon you'll be able to find out where they are & lots more.

    I can't wait to see the book. There are 9 patterns from different designers - mostly knitting, 2 sewing, and I have a little bit of crochet in mine too. From a photo posted to Instagram, it looks like the book will also have mini craft crawls too. I know (as a non-Londoner) I will be trying those out as there are so many interesting bits of London I haven't visited, and this gives me the perfect excuse.

    I kept my bag simple - there are no tricky techniques or difficult to get hold of materials and the zip is as simple as it can be. I used 3 fat quarters of Liberty fabric - as it's such a famous London brand - but I had loads of fabric left. There is a matching purse, and both the purse & bag are small enough that you could hand sew them if you wanted to. I did an interview which is on the yarn in the city blog here, so I won't repeat myself. But I really like this pattern, and am thrilled to see the photos. The book will be launched at Unravel, Farnham Maltings (19th-21st Feb 2016). I'll be going on the Saturday - I might see you there?

     

     

    Thursday
    Jun112015

    Beginner Crochet Blog Hop #Crochetconfessions

    I've been tagged by Sarah from Craftsfromthecwtch blog to join in the beginner crochet blog hop.

    I've taught lots of people to crochet and have been lucky enough to see that moment where everything 'clicks' into place for lots of students. It doesn't click for everyone straight away though, and I definitely fell into the non-clicking category for ages. A really long time. About a year to be honest!

    I went on a crochet workshop back in 2010. I was a good knitter, but had never even picked up a hook before. I kind of got the hang of making the stitches on the day, but it didn't stick. I tried a few times over the next months to get to grips with it, but I couldn't tell where my hook should go or where I'd gone wrong. A friend sat down & showed me how to do a granny square and it started to make a little more sense. But I knew that I needed to get my teeth into a project to really get to grips with it. Then I saw the Groovyghan pattern & decided that I would make a blanket. And I did!  

    This was when crochet clicked. That was at the start of 2011, and I haven't stopped since. The blanket looks a little shabby now, but it has been used & used, machine washed & used again. It's still one of my favourite things. So while I started off as a #crochetfail, persistance and blind refusal to accept the facts led to a definite #crochetwin.

    As part of this blog hop I've been gifted an e-copy of Sarah Shrimpton's new book The Beginners Guide to Crochet. I struggled to learn crochet from a book, but this one is a pretty good bet. It has clear illustrations with simple explanations, and builds on skills in a very logical way. The projects are achievable, and I think it's a great introduction to crochet. It is available from Stitch Craft Create as a print book, and also as an eBook if you prefer! And if you need to stock up on anything, check out Sarah's curated crochet page

    I'd love to hear about your learning experiences - was yours a win? xx

     

    Saturday
    Aug302014

    Sewlicious by Kate Hexell book review

    Every now & then I go through the library online & order the new sewing/knitting/crochet books that they have in stock. One of those was Sewlicious by Kate Haxell

    I haven't come across the author before, and the front cover didn't get me very excited. It's pretty, but a little self consciously 'distressed' and vintagey. The cover project is a pretty collar, in muted neutrals with decorative shell buttons. Interesting ways to sew the buttons on when you have a close look, but it's all a little safe and not really very me. I was not expecting to be AT ALL excited by the projects in the book. I was unsurprised when I saw the introduction had a patchwork dog coat  picture. Poor dog. And the apron (I actually like and use aprons) was a rather mumsy length and very 70's print fabrics in browns with creams & orange. Fabulous giant rickrack trim, but not something to set my heart fluttering. But then I got to the projects - and all my preconceptions were blown away. I <3 this book! The second project in the book is a doll - but what a doll! The Tattooed lady doll is distinctly burlesque & foxy. Using patterned Toile do Jouy fabric to give a tattooed look is so simple & so clever. I don't even like dolls but still want to make this one!

    The very next project is a Geektastic quilt based on a fibonacci sequence. By this point I'm in heaven. I don't do patchwork or quilting - but the clever mix of simple squares & an appliqued spiral of circles makes my geeky heart happy. By the time I got to the next project, Dead Flowery, I was reaching for my sewing machine. I haven't seen free motion machine embroidery like this before - and it does it for me completely. A flowery fabric with a scribbly skull stitched onto it? Yes please! I drew the pattern onto my fabric by holding the template up against a window, and launched into stitching. It took a bit of trial and error to get the hang of using my sewing machine to scribble, but I really enjoyed it. Instead of making the skull into a picture, I made mine into a project bag where it is currently holding my Alafoss lopayesa sweater-in-progress.

    I've never really quite got excited about decorative stitching. I did enjoy making reverse applique flames for my boys' gym competition leotards a few years ago,  but that was because I knew they would stand out and work really well with the music - Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson, they knew it from Guitar Hero 3! But something about the projects in this book clicked with me. I've used ideas from 2 other projects in this book to decorate a plain fabric for the bag making workshop I'm running in November, and I love how it looks. I think it's the mix of solid satin stitch & scribbly freemotion embroidery. Anyway, I'm looking at applied decorations in a totally different way :)

    The 2nd chapter is 'Under Canvas' and again there were projects to appeal. I loved the Do away with damp picnic mat which mixes floral fabrics, tartan, pieces of an old cabled sweater and granny squares. Oilcloth backing provides water resistance, and the mix of fabric & crochet is just brilliant. I've also make the hot water bottle cover. Somehow it never occured to me that the cover doesn't actually need to follow the shape of the actual hot water bottle. Doh! The mix of fleece & faux fur is super snuggly. I used some really good quality dense fake fur, which feels amazing but was a bit of a pig to sew.

    There are more chapters, and more projects but I won't go on. You probably won't be surprised to hear that I bought the book. I thought it would be good for students to look through when I teach my next sewing class, which is a 10 week course at Kingshill House in Dursley staring this September. This course is full, but there will be another one starting in the new year. I like the different aesthetic of this book to lots of other sewing book which are rather more flowery in their preferences. The instructions seem pretty clear - to be honest I didn't pay too much attention other than for the free motion stuff as I put in zips etc pretty often. But if you are looking for a sewing book that appeals to the less flowery - you could do much worse than this one! 

    Friday
    Oct112013

    Stranded Knits by Ann Kingstone

    Have you come across Ann Kingstone before? She's a designer that I really admire. Her patterns are meticulously thought out and she has a very distinct style - especially in her colourwork designs. I've met Ann a couple of times now, and she is charming. She also really knows her stuff. The first time I met her was the only time I have taken a knitting class, and her steeking workshop was excellent. For those who don't know, steeking is the term for deliberately cutting through your knitting. It's about the only technique in knitting that is undo-able. The thought of it is scary, the act.... a little liberating actually!

    This book is focussed entirely on stranded colourwork knits - also known as Fairisle - where you knit with two different colours, and strand the colour not in use behind the stitches until it is needed. 

    The book is a combination of techniques and patterns. The patterns are lovely. Made with modern seamless techniques (and some do involve steeking!) there is something to appeal to everyone. My personal favourite is William:

    Just adorable! I NEED it in my wardrobe!

    The patterns include a cosy men's cardigan, two patterns for children, some accessories, 5 sweaters & 2 cardigans for women. The colours used range from bold

     

    to more subtle:

    and the colourwork ranges from simple

    to complex and varied

    But the biggest reason to buy the book (in my opinion) is the techniques section. From tips on how to hold the yarn to avoid tangling, to blocking tips, to steeking, spit splicing, short rows and more, this is now my go-to book for clear illustrations & directions. I have used spit slicing for years, but this is a different, more precise (and better) way to do it. My previously haphazard approach to catching the floats has been refined into a consistent method that means the contrast colour doesn't show at the front. 

    Of course with any book, the pictures are great - but how are the instructions? I made the Pleiades Hat to try the book out - and I'll show you how it turned out in the next post. 

    You can see all the patterns here on Ravelry. All the photos are taken by Verity Britton.

    Would I buy Stranded Knits? Yes. Absolutely. And so should you!! It's available through Rowan stockists - their yarn is used throughout the book. If you have a local yarn shop that stocks Rowan yarns - go and get it there! If not, it should be available in John Lewis stores, or you can buy online at Laughing Hens, McA, Baa Ram Ewe. The price is £17.50. If you are not a knitter, but you love one -  christmas is coming up and this would be a lovely present. Just saying!