Let’s catch up!

I’ve been away a while. Sorry.

Life has rather got in the way and left little chance or inclination to blog. Much of what has stolen my attention is either not my story to tell or not one I wish to. I was utterly shaken by the EU referendum result – I think this will be wave after wave of sadness for me as the sorry tale unfolds but I am going to try not to let it affect me as much as the initial shock did.

But it has not all been doom and gloom while I’ve been away. There have been lots of interesting and exciting things happening.

letscatchup

I went to the wonderful Ickworth Wool Fair with my lovely friend Alice. Much yarn squishing was done.

I turned 40! Great fun, not feeling old in the slightest. I was thoroughly spoilt with loads of wonderful presents: a LOT of gin which I am diligently working my way through, some beautiful jewelry and the most perfect bike ever.

(And no, I did not complete my 40 by 40. I did do quite a lot and I might revisit it at some point but by the end I would have been doing them just for the sake of it and that didn’t feel right.)

I released, Contour, my best selling pattern ever! Pretty wow! I could not believe it. Kat and I kept texting each other on release day “have you seen how many?!” And so many people are making it which is really exciting. (it is available to buy here as a pdf or here in print if you are interested)

I met the wonderful Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch for a day of coffees and fabric shopping in London and Louise Tilbrook for a day of coffees and fabric shopping at Burwash Manor. (see a trend here!?) both meet ups were very fun and inspiring.

I’ve been sewing again inspired as always by the Great British Sewing Bee.

I got featured in a national daily newspaper!! (I am totally going to get a t-shirt made with “something of a local knitting superstar” on the front and “limitless patience” on the back. Best review ever! :-)

I’ve worked on at least five new designs since I last spoke to you. One will be released over the summer and most of the rest will be in our next book.

I’ve been keeping The Crochet Project blog fun with updates and new tutorials.

And finally, I have just got back from the most amazing retreat in a little cabin in the woods. We chatted, we shared amazing food, we shot beautiful images of out crochet for the next book. Kate of a playful day tells the story so beautifully that I think I will just send you over there for a read…

At the moment I am trying to work out how and what to blog over here. Most tutorial and release announcements will be put on The Crochet Project blog, I am on instagram a fair bit sharing life snippets. I am thinking that a blog redesign is in order to enable me to share instagram posts here too and perhaps explore some of the things I am thinking about here. With plenty of redirects over to my work with The Crochet Project.

What do you think? What would you like to see here?

 

 

A drive by posting

Lots of little things to tell you but no time to do it in – isn’t that always the way? So here we go with a quick fire update as I fly between different pieces of work and various responsibilities.
easter collage

Top Row: I had a wonderful Easter holiday with the children including a visit to Bristol to see my sister  and her family, making mosiacs with my wonderful friend Terry (this was my six year old’s handiwork!) and a visit to the zoo with my parents. (I took each of their first selfies but I’m not allowed to post them – whats a selfie for if not to brandish around the web?!)

Middle Row: I got my mugs back from my wonderful day learning to throw pottery at Rachel Dormor’s studio. I am so so pleased with the results. I had no experience of ceramics at all and had never thrown on a wheel. This is a big 40by40 tick!

Bottom Row: I dyed my hair purple (another 40by40 project) but it didn’t take very well despite the ends being bleached to white (also a 40by40 tick – can you tell time is running short?!) so I chopped it all off. I’ve been busy getting all my project bags nicely labelled up with my sew in labels (you have to practice what you preach!) and I have two new designs in the shop too – already proving popular.

This week I am catching up on emails and getting the files tidied up to do the second print run of The Shawl Project book. We found a couple of small errors in the first print run. If you got a copy at Edinburgh then please email me (notsogranny at gmail dot com) and I will send you a printable errata slip. If you have the e-book an update will be published very soon and you will automatically recieve it. Kat and I are really sorry this has happened, we write and check our patterns very carefully but mistakes still slip though.

Talking of The Shawl Project – if you fancy making a shawl or scarf or any neckwear really then Sarah over at Crafts from the Cwtch has a fab make-a-long for both knitters and crocheters. Quite a few people are going to make something from the book and we are offering a discount on the ebook for people joining in. Follow the link to read an interview with me and grab the code (valid until 1st May 2015).

I’m also working quietly away on my next release – I’ve already fallen in love with it. (hint: stash a sweaters worth of Eden Cottage Yarn Milburn 4ply in your favourite colour!)

I am practically living at The Sheep Shop in the next fortnight or so! Do come and visit me there and learn something amazing…

10-1pm Saturday 18th April Vintage Crochet Edgings £25
– its a lovely class where we learn some pretty trims and edgings you can use to jazz up knitting, crochet or just make on their own to trim shelves, jars, pillow cases – anything really! You need to know the basic stitches but even relative beginners can enjoy it. There are four places left on this one.

1.45-4.45 Saturday 18th April Granny Squares and Beyond £25
If you are quick you can bag the last spot on this very perennially popular class and start the habit so next winter you can snuggle under a blanket you made. Who knows, you might even finish in time to picnic on it this summer!

6.30-7.30 Tuesday 21st April – Blocking Masterclass £5
Learn how to make your knitting and crochet look as perfect as it does in the books and magazines. Loads of tips and tricks and get 10% off blocking equipment on the night. Last few places.

May 2nd is yarn shop day and I will be going along to give a talk – details to be announced soon.

If you want to come along to any of these things please contact the shop on 01223 311268.

Anyway, back to the email grindstone!

Joanne

 

It takes a community to make a steek: A knitting journey

steek before

 

This Easter weekend I cut my first steek (cutting your knitting for those that don’t know). Its something I’ve wanted to do for a while – its on my 40 by 40 list of challenges and it just felt like a rite of passage as a knitter. But it made me think a lot about my journey as a knitter and how the online community I am part of has shaped it.

Up until about 2009, I was a lone wolf knitter. I could knit pretty well but within a pretty limited repertoire. If  I wanted to make something I would go into a yarn shop, flick through the pattern leaflets and choose one, buy the yarn and needles and get going. Sometimes I’d get a book out of the library or improvise something using a stitch dictionary (covering all needle arts) borrowed from my Mum. If I couldn’t find anything like the pattern I wanted I would work out how to make it. I didn’t really know anyone else who knitted.

When I wanted to learn to crochet in 2009 I got a book out of the library and taught myself. It was around the same time that  I discovered that you could also find patterns online – quite a few of them! I was still a lone wolf but now with a lot more access to patterns. A lot more.

As I explored the patterns I found online I started to realise that there were a lot of skills I didn’t have. People were doing things with odd needles on cords, with needles that had two ends and all sorts! Crazy and very intriguing. I began digging around on forums to find more and getting chatting to other knitters.

I can’t remember how or where but I found out somehow about the work of Barbara Walker and her top-down knitting method. I asked for it for my birthday and as I unwrapped it my husband was very excited to find out if the pages were actually gold plated it had cost him so much! Suddenly I was knitting in the round and designing complicated sweaters for myself in knitting and crochet.

Then I began blogging, thanks to a real life craft enthusiast friend, and started designing and my online community swelled and grew some more and the knitters and designers in it were doing more – inventing their own constructions, exploring the history of knitting, reinventing and reinvigorating traditional techniques that might otherwise have been lost (and even cutting their knitting!) – and I ran to keep up. I learnt more skills in the first two years of designing than in any other two years of my life (although the first two years of motherhood runs a close second!) Almost all of those skills was learnt either from the online knitting community, from the rich and varied written tutorials and youtube videos or from books that I discovered online.

So back to the steek. It  just would not have happened without the internet knitting community. I first heard about steeking online. I used a method of knitting the sweater (bottom up in the round with a raglan yoke) from books that I was recommended online and brought some of them online. The yarn was from my wonderful inspiring LYS, The Sheep Shop, where the knitting community of Cambridge thrives and is fed. The instructions are from a wonderful book Stranded Knitting by Ann Kingstone. Ann became a friend online and she is wise and kind and generous and I feel so proud to know her. I would not have attempted to cut my knitting had I not known it was from such an authority on the subject. She even told me of the tradition of having a stiff drink before your first steek (well I am not one to argue with tradition!) I was cheered along on instagram as I prepared to cut and congratulated there afterwards.

And as if by magic a sweater becomes a cardigan and a traditional skill that might have been lost within a few more generations is now a skill in my arsenal.

steek after

So this wonderful knitting community has spurred me to greater heights. Taking me from a lone wolf knitter who had no fear but didn’t know what existed out there in the wider knitting world, through the circular knitting epiphany on a design journey to a fully actualized knitter who can steek without crying!

Thank you community. You are generous and kind and inspiring. Thank you!

————————————————————————————————

This post was inspired by the Love your blog challenge from aplayfulday.com – a wonderful series of prompts to revitalise your blogging habits. This week’s prompt was ‘Interactions and community’ I decided to experiment with a longer writing style than I normally adopt – almost an essay.

There is no pattern or plans for a pattern for this sweater. You can read my making notes here.

Disclosure: I was sent Stranded Knitting by Ann Kingstone for free but with no obligation to review. Thoughts and views are my own.

40 by 40 Update

Today is my half birthday. No, no need to get me a cake, really. Oh just a small one then, gluten free please.

But seriously this means I am just 18 months away from my 40th birthday and I set myself a challenge a while ago to do some things before I reach it.

Time for a long overdue catch up on my progress.

  1. Go blond.  –
    INCOMPLETE I have tried, I really tried but without hairdresser intervention I suspect it won’t happen!2014-08-15 15.35.31
  2. Create a Random Act of Kindness installation (inspired by A year without Supermarkets)
    DONE! I did this. It was a ton of fun. I printed some really awful puns and made it so they could be easily torn off the sheet and put the header “these are tearable puns” I put them up on trees and got my husband to put them up in his office. It raised a few smiles, especially mine.2014-01-21 15.32.09
  3. Drive a rally car.
    NOT ATTEMPTED  not yet. I’d forgotten about this one!
  4. Make a lampshade.
    INCOMPLETE not yet but I do have the kit and the material.
  5. Complete a Go-Ape course.
    DONE. We did this while we were travelling in Corsica. LOVED IT!
  6. Yarn bomb something in the village.
    DONE. We yarnbombed a bike for the tour de france and displayed it in the village charity shop.
  7. Make a dessert from my Desserts by Pierre Hermes book.
    NOT ATTEMPTED.
  8. Drive a Segway around a forest.
    NOT ATTEMPTED.
  9. Cook a dinner from Larousse Gastronomique
    NOT ATTEMPTED.
  10. Make a mug (from clay, on a wheel, glaze it, fire it.)
    INCOMPLETE – the class is booked!
  11. Draft a dress pattern, make and wear it.
    INCOMPLETE – I’m building up to this with making a dress, redrafting an existing skirt pattern. I will recreate a favourite dress I think and I have plans.
  12. Run a mile in 8 minutes.
    INCOMPLETE – I went out to start this one and ran a time of 8.20, thought oh this will be easy and never went out to practice anymore!
  13. Wear my hair plated in corn rows.
    NOT ATTEMPTED. But I am getting pretty good at braiding my hair.
  14. Take the family to a festival.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  15. Ride my bike into Cambridge.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  16. Design a business logo.
    DONE. I didn’t make a traditional logo but I changed my font around and shot the blog header which I also use on business cards. I think that counts.
  17. Weave a willow basket.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  18. Sing Karaoke.
    NOT ATTEMPTED – and it terrifies me!
  19. Reupholster dining room chairs.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  20. Raise £500 for charity.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  21. Watch a sunset on the west coast.
    DONE. We ate dinner as the sun went down over nothing but expanse of water on the west coast of Corsica this year. Bliss2014-08-19 20.18.51
  22. Knit something with yarn I have spun myself.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  23. Make my own wine.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  24. Have a pattern published in a US magazine.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  25. Have an article published.
    INCOMPLETE – its done but not yet published!
  26. Make a notebook (make paper, bind book.)
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  27. Dye my hair a crazy colour (teal/purple? maybe just a stripe!)
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  28. Make a meal entirely from foraged food.
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  29. Invent/unvent a crochet stitch.
    DONE – but I do need to blog it. I used a stitch that I’ve never seen before to make the cuffs on the Dorothea Pocket Jumper. I’ll blog in detail when I release it for individual sale.
  30. Visit the V&A
    DONE – went with Vicki Brown when we met in London for Blogtacular. I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would :-(
  31. Dye a skein of yarn
    DONE – with the lovely Nicola and Lynne. Such a great day!
  32. Set up a website with a shop to sell my designs
    DONE – you are here!
  33. Make a photobook for the baby photos
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  34. Cut a steek
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  35. Have a screen free weekend
    DONE. A whole bank holiday in fact. It was fab.
  36. Produce a knitted collection
    DONE – its out on 10th December. That’s all I can say for now but sign up for the Eden Cottage Yarn mailing list if you want first news on it.
  37. Design and make a papercut
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  38. Visit the Tate Modern
    NOT ATTEMPTED
  39. Design a garment with a construction I haven’t used before.
    DONE – I suspect I hadn’t designed with seamless set in sleeves and the Dorothea pocket jumper has those. I also designed the Vanna cardigan with sideways construction and modified drop sleeves. SO its a definite tick
  40. Have a birthday party in a hired hall.
    NOT ATTEMPTED – I suspect this will be my 40th!

So I think I’m fairly on track to get this done. It feels like I’ve made progress and I’ll get there.

A yarn bombed bike

The Tour de France is coming to Cambridge this summer. It is fair to say that a lot of us are a lot excited about it. I am no sports fan but even I can see that this will be quite a spectacle (and I read that they have lorries go around before races throwing free stuff)

The needleworkers of Cambridge have been quietly working away producing hundreds of jerseys to make bright bunting to line the streets of Cambridge at the start line. If you are can knit, crochet or sew then do get involved. All the details are here at the #CamBuntingTdF blog.

I run the crafts at my local MOPS group, the sessions are only an hour and a half once a fortnight and we have a fairly packed schedule but we wanted to be involved. Not that many of the group are confident at sewing, knitting or crochet and we also wanted the children to get involved so we decided that yarn bombing a bike would be a great way to join in.

bike bomb 1

One of the ladies had a bike in bad repair and the group had been gifted a very large box of assorted* yarn. So we took the bike to bits and cleaned it up a little bit. Ladies who could knit or crochet made strips of yarn, those that couldn’t wrapped the bike with strands of yarn or sewed together old swatches of mine.

bikebomb2 bikebomb3

 

The kids got involved making pom poms or getting well tangled up.

By the time the meeting was finished we had made a lot of progress but there was still a lot to do to finish. Luckily my wonderful friend Nicola volunteered her house and provided us with refreshment and childminding services while Abi (who kindly gave up her afternoon plans) and I cracked on. By school pick up time we were done and here it is in all its glory**.

bikebomb4

And here is my favourite bit, the handlebars with plaited streamers and pom poms galore! Yes, I’ll admit we may have got finished a little earlier if we hadn’t got a little pom pom crazy – can you blame us?!

bikebomb5

The bike will be on display in our village charity bookstore from 19th May for a week or two to promote the Tour and the bunting, after that it will head off to Cambridge to join its colourful yarn covered friends.

And I’ve just realised that this ticks off number 6 on my 40 by 40 challenge. Go me! I think there are a couple of unblogged other ticks to catch up on soon but I do need to get a wriggle on and tick some more off as I only have two years and 19 days left.

*deemed not nice enough to knit with by this yarn snob!

** apologies the photos aren’t up to much it was so dark today but I needed to get this blogged before I go away to Blogtacular for the weekend. I shall come back full of blogging fervour I’m sure!

 

40 by 40 the full list!

  1. Go blond.
  2. Create a Random Act of Kindness installation (inspired by A year without Supermarkets)
  3. Drive a rally car.
  4. Make a lampshade.
  5. Complete a Go-Ape course.
  6. Yarn bomb something in the village.
  7. Make a dessert from my Desserts by Pierre Hermes book.
  8. Drive a Segway around a forest.
  9. Cook a dinner from Larousse Gastronomique
  10. Make a mug (from clay, on a wheel, glaze it, fire it.)
  11. Draft a dress pattern, make and wear it.
  12. Run a mile in 8 minutes.
  13. Wear my hair plated in corn rows.
  14. Take the family to a festival.
  15. Ride my bike into Cambridge.
  16. Design a business logo.
  17. Weave a willow basket.
  18. Sing Karaoke.
  19. Reupholster dining room chairs.
  20. Raise £500 for charity.
  21. Watch a sunset on the west coast.
  22. Knit something with yarn I have spun myself.
  23. Make my own wine.
  24. Have a pattern published in a US magazine.
  25. Have an article published.
  26. Make a notebook (make paper, bind book.)
  27. Dye my hair a crazy colour (teal/purple? maybe just a stripe!)
  28. Make a meal entirely from foraged food.
  29. Invent/unvent a crochet stitch.
  30. Visit the V&A
  31. Dye a skein of yarn
  32. Set up a website with a shop to sell my designs
  33. Make a photobook for the baby photos
  34. Cut a steek
  35. Have a screen free weekend
  36. Produce a knitted collection
  37. Design and make a papercut
  38. Visit the Tate Modern
  39. Design a garment with a construction I haven’t used before.
  40. Have a birthday party in a hired hall.
    So there we have it. The challenge is set. 40 things to achieve and do by 27th May 2016.
    Where shall I start?

40by40: The list so far

Thank you so much for all the great ideas you have given me. I am not quite at the 40 mark with ideas but steady progress is being made. Here, as promised, is the list so far:

  1. Go blond.
  2. Create a Random Act of Kindness installation (inspired by A year without Supermarkets)
  3. Drive a rally car.
  4. Make a lampshade.
  5. Complete a Go-Ape course.
  6. Yarn bomb something in the village.
  7. Make a dessert from my Desserts by Pierre Hermes book.
  8. Drive a Segway around a forest.
  9. Cook a dinner from Larousse Gastronomique
  10. Make a mug (from clay, on a wheel, glaze it, fire it.)
  11. Draft a dress pattern, make and wear it.
  12. Run a mile in 8 minutes.
  13. Wear my hair plated in corn rows.
  14. Take the family to a festival.
  15. Ride my bike into Cambridge.
  16. Design a business logo.
  17. Weave a willow basket.
  18. Sing Karaoke.
  19. Reupholster dining room chairs.
  20. Raise £500 for charity.
  21. Watch a sunset on the west coast.
  22. Knit something with yarn I have spun myself.
  23. Make my own wine.
  24. Have a pattern published in a US magazine.
  25. Have an article published.
  26. Make a notebook (make paper, bind book.)
  27. Dye my hair a crazy colour (teal/purple? maybe just a stripe!)
  28. Make a meal entirely from foraged food.
More ideas please!
And all offers of help in achieving these goals is gratefully received – it would be wonderful to link up with other bloggers as part of this challenge.

37 things I have already done

Hi,
I’ve had some really great conversations on twitter and email and lovely comments on my first 40 by 40 post,  (asking for ideas) I mentioned that I had been lucky and had a life so far with lots of adventure and opportunity. A lot of the suggestions I have had I have already been lucky enough to do. So for fun and so you can learn a little more about me, here is a very random list of 37 of the more unusual or surprising things I have done in the 37 years I have been on this planet…

  1. Learnt how to silversmith
  2. Owned a home at tender age of 20
  3. Prepared sushi
  4. Swum in a lake
  5. Passed the St John Ambulance first aid course
  6. Won a poetry competition
  7. Danced on a podium
  8. Eaten in a 2 Michelin star restaurant
  9. Been interviewed in a magazine (Inside Crochet)
  10. Had toxic erythema and toxic erythema nodosum – strange and unusual skin diseases, not so fun but very unusual – the doctor was delighted to see a case! :-S
  11. Learnt how to hand engrave
  12. Driven a mobile library bus (yes one of those HUGE ones! For about 8 months I was a mobile librarian) 
  13. Been on a round the world trip
  14. Sewn a dress
  15. Grown three of the most beautiful children I know :-) 
  16. Edited our village magazine
  17. Lived in Paris (for a year)
  18. Passed a set of accounting exams (ATT)
  19. Been white water rafting 
  20. Been in a glowworm cave
  21. Made our wedding rings
  22. Watched a Shakespeare play in the grounds of a mansion
  23. Had a recorded labour time of just 28 minutes (3rd baby was a flyer!)
  24. Ridden all the fast rides and no others at a theme park.
  25. Been to Reading Festival
  26. Been on Surprise Surprise (in a crowd shot – Cilla came to our school)
  27. Bathed in hot water springs
  28. Had a design on the cover of a magazine
  29. Swum with a horse 
  30. Run 10k
  31. Spent nearly the whole of a festival in the lost children’s tent.
  32. Climbed a tree
  33. Held a tarantula
  34. Gained a software testing qualification (ISEB)
  35. Had GCSE Maths assignment published in a teaching journal as a shining example of a 20/20 project
  36. Had two (supposedly temporary) tattoos
  37. Taught myself to crochet (okay you won’t be surprised that I know how to crochet but not everyone knows that I am self taught)