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    Entries in crochet (28)

    Tuesday
    Jun072016

    Get your Granny on - inspiration

    I've had a couple of days where I've been sewing & gardening. I remembered that people in 'normal' jobs take weekends off! Yesterday I was doing work-related sewing stuff for the weekly classes I teach at Kingshill House in Dursley, so I've been away from crochet for a few days. I'm back today & trying to stick to writing patterns - although I still have samples to make. I much prefer actually doing crochet to writing crochet patterns, so that's always a bit of a battle!


    I'll write more about how I'm writing the patterns in another post. Today I wanted to let you know a bit about the inspiration for the book. This book hadn't been on my radar at all. There are other ideas in my head, but they are all more complicated, and this one appeared almost fully formed. My previous post talks a bit about why it popped up.

    Although I had the basics down, I wanted something to bring the collection together - a kind of narrative for the book. Then I realised - grannies are the whole book. Granny squares have survived essentially unchanged for about as long as there has been crochet. I also had real life grannies. My paternal grandma died quite a long time ago, when I was at Uni, but my maternal Gran died 3 years ago - you can read about her here. My children have grannies. Grans & grandads are important.

    I'm always a little uncomfortable with the idea that knitting & crochet should be somehow different, better than what your granny did. How many articles do we see about 'The New Knitting' and how it's 'Not your Nanny's knitting'? My grandmothers had to knit/crochet/sew to clothe & warm their families. They would have knitted to help the war effort during the First & Second World Wars. (Interesting article here) They didn't have access to all the glorious choice of yarns that we do now. And I refuse to look down on the work they did as somehow less than the work I do now.

    I don’t want to poke fun at grannies – I want to honour them.

    That's the narrative for the book. It is absolutely happymaking, and I very much hope that all the grannies in my life would either make or wear these designs. All the projects are named after women in my family life – actual grannies or not – that I want to honour. There are more women than projects actually, so maybe I will need to do another book!

     

     

    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
    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 :)

     

     

    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
    Jan212016

    Learning crochet

    Crochet took me forever to get the hang of. Seriously, it took me about a year. I just couldn't 'see' it. I was a good knitter when I tried to learn and was used to being able to see the patterns in knitting. I was knitting a lot of fairly complex lace, and could see where I made a mistake and could generally work out a way to fix it without having to rip out hundreds of stitches to do it. So crochet should have been a doddle, right? Wrong! I couldn't see where the stiches should go, couldn't work out how many stitches I'd even done.

    I went on a workshop, and kind of managed it while the teacher was there. She was charming, a very skilled crocheter and did a good job of showing the different basic stitches and what they could be used for. But it didn't really stick. I could form the stitches but couldn't see where I should put them. It also taught me about the importance of having handouts that people can refer to after the class, and also about having a project to make so that you can continue after the class & not forget what you've learned. So I always try to design a project that will teach the key skills involved, at the skill level that the workshop is targeted for. 

    But even if it's basic, it doesn't need to be boring! So given the challenge of a beginner crochet evening class of only 2 hours, I knew that I wanted to teach chains, double crochet & treble crochet as they are the most commonly used stitches, the building blocks of all the other stitch patterns. And that whatever I made should be consistent so that as long as the students could get the first few rows done in class, they'd be able to continue at home. And so that it doesn't get too repetitive, we can take a break and make a contrast colour flower. 

    There's plenty of opportunity to customise and try things out. I'm hoping this will be a really good class project  - fingers crossed that the students like it as much as I do!