I’m back

Half term is long over (sadly) and Jury Service is done! I had the dubious honour of making it all the way through without having to ponder any verdicts as each case collapsed before we had a chance.

There was a lot of sitting around waiting in the jury room so I got a lot of crochet done. I am almost through a cardigan for a forthcoming book and a blanket for a magazine. The crochet was most frustrating because security wouldn’t allow me to take metal hooks through the the jury room as they were apparently a security threat. I am not sure why, keys are surely as dangerous but were allowed through. Anyway, rules are rules and I was allowed to take through bamboo hooks. I’m not a massive fan of bamboo hooks, it really slowed up my progress and my wrist is still hurting a little into the middle of the following week from the strain caused by it. It did inspire me to write a post on The Crochet Project blog about how to choose the right hook for you though.

right crochet hook

 

First thing back on Monday I had a good planning chat with Kat and we are all geared up to do the work needed to get us to a very busy Spring. I can’t say too much more yet but we are very excited about it. Not least as it is a jolly good excuse to get together for a photo shoot too!

And so, I have much making and pattern writing to do. It feels strange after lots of admin and editing and other kinds of desk work to be back doing my favourite part of the job almost exclusively for the next month or so. I shall try and keep blogging to keep you up to date with what I am up to as much as the secretive nature of the design phase allows.

I’ll leave you with a little teaser of something I’ve been working on lately….

2015-11-11 15.05.27

 

PS There is also a lovely article in the most recent issue of Inside Crochet about me as a “crochet entrepreneur” (sounds awfully grown up to me!) – have a look if you get a chance.

Reverse Gear (in more ways than one)

Hi,

Over on The Crochet Project blog today I am introducing Reverse Gear – the fifth of the five shawls from The Shawl Project: Book Two. I won’t blog about the process again here as I talked about it back in June. In summary: it was blooming hard won and loved very much for that!

 

small reverse gear

 

The Shawl Project: Book Two is available to download immediately as an e-book (pdf) for £10 or order in print for £12 +p&p.
(The link for the ebook takes you directly to paypal to complete the transaction.)

And with that my life slips somewhat into reverse gear for a little while. This week is half-term for us so I have the week off to be with the children and visit my sister and nephews (always such a treat as I don’t get to see them nearly often enough), I’m then back at my desk catching up for a week before starting at least two weeks of Jury Service.

So until at least the 23rd November my out of office reply is on to warn people that emails may not be responded to in a timely manner. You aren’t supposed to work in the evenings or weekends while on Jury duty as you need to be really alert in court. I’m hoping they at least let me crochet in the waiting room between cases so I can get a little bit done.

I will be popping up here to blog I expect – we have a new pattern release so I’ll certainly want to tell you about that…

And on that cliff-hanger I shall leave you until I next get a moment to pop in!

Switzerland and the obligations of blogging

Oh dear! I bumped into a neighbour and friend yesterday who exclaimed that she was glad I was okay because she worried when she saw I hadn’t blogged yet about my trip to Switzerland. It’s okay everyone, I’m fine! Well, I am now, the week since I returned very late on Sunday night has mostly been spent on the sofa or in bed with poorly kids and poorly me at various points. Everyone is safely back to work and school now though.

So Switzerland and Swiss Wulle! The sun shone and I spent the weekend in good company of those who understand gleeful shouts when you find just the right skein of yarn. We learnt the importance of being specific when you order beer. Old friends were caught up with and new friends made, shawls and cardigans were admired and yarn was squished. The burgeoning lace weight stash was added to and I found a new favourite project bag…

swiss wulle

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Image4-6

 

Thinking of my Grandpa, Phil Greenaway,  who would have been 100 today.
Funny, wise, kind and gentle, he was originally a sign writer, then later a Royal Engineer in WW2 and cartographer for the Ordanance survey. He was also a skilled carpenter and I am lucky to own several pieces he made.

He was a real family man and loved my Nanny so much, he taught me that it is possible to love and cherish a person forever, even when she was lost to dementia at the end. A keen camper and caravanner he loved to explore and holidayed widely, always bringing back sweets for me and my sister. He was a winner of nobbly knee competitions, lover of the skin on the rice pudding and brewer of some of the most lethal and disgustingly sweet brews you could dare to try (I am told.)

My favourite memory of him is when he taught me to use the stilts he made me, by demonstating, aged 70! I’ll always remember him wearing his “Timmy” jumper – it was the colour of our cat Timmy, who always made a beeline for him in it and it was hand knit by my Nanny. (pictured below)

Image2-8
I’m grateful he lived long enough to meet my husband (his namesake, who he loved) and my eldest child. I know he’d recognise the cheeky streak in my younger two as inherited from him – some of the cautionary tales of his childhood are regularly used in this house.
Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Looking ahead

I like to make plans September to September – it just feels much more natural and sensible to flow with the school years at the moment as each brings change for me and my young family.

Last year’s word was STRENGTHEN as I wanted to make sure my business was ready for the challenges of going full-time, but I also applied it to all areas of my life. (you can see what goals I set myself here and how I did here)

This year I have all three children in school and my childfree hours shoot up from just 10.5 a week to a whopping 29! This is a massive change for me, its been 10 and a half years of being pretty much a full-time mum and four of those I have worked very part-time building up this business.

So the word I have chosen to set my goals around this year is

pace

Pace has many resonances for me this year…

A change of pace:

With my life/work balance changing dramatically this year, I want to establish a way of working and living that is healthy, works for me and my family and is sustainable in the long term to avoid burn out.

I still want to take the school holidays off (no childcare at any rate) – if there is one thing that packing your youngest off to school teaches you is that all this is fleeting and I don’t want to miss out on them. I find that school holidays off works well for my sanity and creativity anyway but I am aware of the challenge this year that it will be more of a shock because I have much more time in term time.

I don’t want to be doing cleaning and tidying on the weekends, so I need to find a way to fit that into the working day that is productive.

Aside from teaching I don’t want to work weekend and evenings, although I will always use that time for sample making because I knit and crochet to relax anyway.

And I am DETERMINED this year to make time to exercise.

Pace myself:

I think it will be a very gradual process this year; working out what pace I can comfortably work at, how much work I can take on, and setting up regular advertised office hours. I need to work out what is the correct mix for me of teaching, editing, writing and designing.

Regular pace:

I want to have a regular pattern release schedule going forward. In the past I haven’t been at all good at this but I would like to have a major project release once every six months and an individual pattern out every other month at least. I was thinking about this in terms of cooking:

one brewing, one stewing and one bubbling

that is, one that is the next idea I know I’ll work on, one that is currently in progress and one that is newly released for you all to get excited about.

I also want to apply the regular pace to blogging. I hope to start blogging more for The Crochet Project – we haven’t really done that yet but I think we should. So I need to manage two blogs, pace is important.

Set the pace:

I want the work I produce, particularly through The Crochet Project, to be held up as industry leading in terms of style and production quality. Basically I want to be a designer to watch.

I understand this is a very lofty goal and who knows if it is achievable ( and I certainly  hope noone thinks it smug) but by having this goal I will strive for the very best designing and pattern writing I can.

 

 

The year that was

This time last year I set a word for the year – I always think of September as more of a new year than January, my life at the moment is so changed by each school year that it makes much more sense.

Last year I had two boys in school and a daughter doing her pre-school year in nursery and I set the word

my word for the new term is STRENGTHEN

I used this word to encompass goals all areas of my life and I found it really helpful to keep coming back to help focus me as the year went on.

So how did I go against the goals?

Strengthen my brand

  • Consider each design and what it says about me as a designer. Is it what you’d expect from Not So Granny?

  • Continue working on improving my social media presence.

I think I have done this well this year, I have been conscious about taking on only work that suits my aesthetic and my social media followings have grown across all platforms but, much more importantly, I have a much more engaged group of followers because I have put work in to strengthen the relationships I have with my followers which is not only good for business but personally rewarding and often very inspiring.

Strengthen my pattern sales

  • I have a lot of patterns that appeared first in magazines where the rights have now returned to me, these need to be released as individual pdfs so they can bring in (largely) passive income.

  •  I need to review old patterns and make sure they are up to the standard I expect now.

  • Make sure that everything I offer in the pattern shop fits with my brand as I develop it.

  • Find new markets for these pdf patterns.

Another tick. I have re-released quite a few patterns where I felt they were a good fit for my brand. I did review all my old patterns and reworked. I didn’t however get around to launching in any new markets, I meant to get an etsy and patternfish shop up and running but I just haven’t had time.

Strengthen my skills

  • Build professional development time into my work schedule.

  • Spend time on hobbies such as dressmaking that inform my craft.

Pretty much a big flat fail :-( Time was just to squeezed for this kind of thing this year.

Strengthen my systems

  • Put in place better accounting and analysis systems that will be able to grow as my business does (envelopes of receipts and a highlighter pen on a paypal print out somehow aren’t working for me so well at tax return time and I have a lot of information I could be using to work smarter, I’m sure, if I could access it. Any recommendations for systems or software would be hugely appreciated.)

This was almost another fail then in July I hired a book-keeper – Win!!! :-) It’s stuff I can do myself but it is not enjoyable so I put it off.

Strengthen relationships

  • Spend more time being present with the children.

  • Spend more time in the evening with my husband.

  • Spend more quality time as a family.

  • Keep in better contact with extended family.

Thinking about this actually made it happen. Its too easy to sink into your phone or work through weekends and evenings but the idea of strengthen really helped me achieve this. Was I perfect? No! But I was better, much better.

Strengthen my body

  • Make time for exercise and eating right.

Strengthen sense of self

  • Make time for doing things I enjoy.

  • Meet with friends.

I was much better at the sense of self tasks and its really improved my moods over the past year than I was the body part.

You can’t win them all but I think more progress was made because of having goals and I feel really proud of what I have achieved this year.

It wouldn’t be a round up without a look at the pretties I have released this year:

work 2014-15

From left to right:

Top Row: Baudot Beanie, Bombe Cowl, Tunny Hat, Hut 8 Cardigan (all from the Bletchley Collection for Eden Cottage Yarns, photos by Victoria Magnus.)

2nd Row: Never Black and Northmoor Lock (both from The Shawl Project: Book One for The Crochet Project, photos by Kat Goldin,) Colossus Tank and Morse Code Cardigan (both from the Bletchley Collection, photo credits as before)

3rd Row: Your Mileage May Vary, Transposition, Spirographical and Cherry Pi (all from The Shawl Project: Book One)

Bottom Row: Ewelease Sun Hat (for Inside Crochet), Yen (for the knitter), Acer in 4ply and Acer in DK weight yarn (both for The Crochet Project exclusive to lovecrochet.com, photographs by Kat Goldin)

Seeing all the lovely things I have published this year has put such a smile on my face this morning. More exciting things to come in the coming year and on Thursday I will share my new word and goals with you and some news about this autumn.

Back to work

Well Summer was a real mix here. Sadly we had illness followed by bereavement in the family which made for a very busy and sad start to the summer.

But we ended on a high note with a little bit of backpacking on the trains, a mini version of what we did last year, travelling to Lyon, Argeles Sur Mer, Perpignan and Paris. Here’s a little tast of what it looked like

summer 2015

 

I can’t believe we have only been back a week! Already daydreaming about how we might find some glorious sun next year.

But Autumn holds much promise. The littlest started school today (such a mixture of happy and sad) and while she will be on half days for a little while it does mean that soon I will have more working hours. Which is a very good job as I have a jam packed schedule this Autumn! And I am ready, refreshed and itching to jump back into it all.

But more on that soon. Over the next week I will be finding my desk, sorting through long neglected emails and making a plan….

What did I miss while I was away?

And breathe…

This weekend we bundled the car full of children, tents and bedding and drove half the length of the country to meet up with my friend and business partner Kat and her lovely family.

yorkshire camping

We have been dealing with a family illness that has meant my husband has been away a lot. Some time away from it all, together as a family was just what we needed.

 

We didn’t quite realise quite how away from it we would be – a 30 minute drive to get a phone signal! But screen free bonding time was very restorative for all. Who needs screens when you have sunshine, a river to paddle in and a rope swing?

ropeswing yorkshire 2015

 

And wild flowers and waterfalls – they make everything better…

wild flowers yorkshire 2015

As you probably know, Kat is the photographer of the partnership so I hope she will also blog and you will get to see the whole beauty of where we were!

Where it’s at

Hi,

It is busy busy here. I am compiling long to do lists and scratching my head about quite when I might fit in a little sleeping! As long time readers will know, I have a young family and always strive to spend the school holidays with them. This means a dramatic reduction in working hours for about eight weeks, which in turn means that the last few weeks of term are a frantic rush of pattern writing and editing and generally trying to make sure the bulk of day to day work is tidied up before the term ends. Last week ended with a crashing realisation that I had one week less than I thought I had as my youngest’s nursery school breaks up the week before the school does. Such is life!

where its at 7 jul 2015

 

The first book of shawls has just gone into its FIFTH print run – I just cannot believe how many we have sold in less than four months, and that is on top of the success of the e-book version. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a copy and a very special thank you to everyone who has uploaded projects to Ravelry and shared their beautiful makes on social media – you have done sterling work in spreading the word and sharing the love.

The second book of shawls is coming along nicely. It is taking longer to put together than the first book as the shawls are all much bigger, each using two skeins rather than one. The ability to play with colour a little more, using two different skeins, in this book has been an interesting challenge and opened up a world of pattern and texture. I am so in love with what I have created so far and can’t wait to show you more than the sneaky glimpse above. The thrill of the planning phase is still going on. This week has been about playing with stitch patterns and learning about a new (to me) knitted shawls tradition so that I can apply the shaping to a crochet shawl for the book. I find it absolutely fascinating to research using old books and the internet so I can write about it and bring it to a new audience. The shaping is designed to help it sit well on shoulders so it is practical as well as decorative – coming from a time when shawls were day to day workwear.

What’s on your hooks or needles this week?

Right Brain Thoughts: A Morning Walk

This morning in a rare respite break from the usual mad dash to school I took myself off alone for a walk in the cool morning air. I find walking very soothing and there are pretty lanes to wander down near me.

 

morning walk

 

I took a camera to record the walk and today was spotting:

Potential and fulfilled potential – nature taking it’s time and having flowers and fruits or buds and flower on the same plant.

Texture – lots of juxtaposition of old and new, nature and manmade.

Space and Light – how they fall, big skies, morning light.

I returned in just the right frame of mind to get stuck into some writing.