Tempting

yarnwinder

 

It seems hard to believe but this simple piece of machinery is a temptress to children. Not a single one of mine can resist a few quick spins of the handle whenever they come in to my studio (they are mostly banned but sent it for kisses goodnight from time to time)

Save thousands on toys and gadgets – this £20 ballwinder will keep children happy for hours*!

*presumably provided it is strictly off-limits.

Mummy, are you famous?

DSC_0260

Having nice photos of yourself is a plus of being a bit crochet famous! :-) (photo by Victoria Magnus for Eden Cottage Yarns)

Yesterday I was listening to myself on the a playful day podcast where I am being interviewed with Kat about The Crochet Project and our creative inspiration, collaboration and our upcoming plans.  One of the kids wandered in and recognised my voice and asked if that meant I was famous, obviously I told them “yeah, pretty famous!” jokingly followed by “maybe a little bit crochet famous – but that’s not like being a pop star.”

But I do feel pretty special to be interviewed by Kate and quite overawed by the previous guests she has had in the slot: Hannah Fettig, Ysolda and Bristol Ivy to name a few – all bona fide knitting celebrities and designers I respect and admire. Anyway, go have a listen, we slipped in a few secret plan announcements and I don’t sound like too much of a dork (go me!)

Another thing making me feel pretty darn famous right now is being whisked off to Switzerland to teach: international crochet jet set elite, thats me! Yes, I will be teaching at Swiss Wulle in Zug, this October. I have never been to a non-UK yarn festival so I am very excited. I will be teaching in English (my French and German are way too sketchy to be able to speak confidently) but luckily working in Cambridge has given me a fair bit of practice of teaching to people who do not have English as their first language (forcing myself to slow down, define crochet specific terms well and avoid colloquialisms mostly.) I’ll be teaching Crochet Shawls and Making Crochet Wearable. Flights are still looking fairly cheap to Zurich if you fancy a yarny city break in the most eye poppingly beautiful town.

And while we are on the announcements: Kat and I will be having a stall at Yarndale this September 26th and 27th in Skipton and we will be launching The Shawl Project Book Two there. I hope I will get to meet lots of you at the show, I know it is a very popular one to attend, particularly among crocheters. Do let me know if you are going.

Book Two is starting to come together, the design I talked about here that gave me so much trouble is sat behind me blocking now and I am head over heels in love with it. All written up, all charted and  ready for editing. It was worth every single scribbled out chart, scrapped instructions and ripped out swatch. Design two is also nearing completion having been much less problematic to develop: the fifth swatch was a charm! You will be pleased to hear that it is no less lovely for it’s lack of anguish in the design process. I cannot wait to show off these designs! Or to start swatching for the next, its like an addiction…

 

 

 

Blogtacular 2015

As I sat on the train on my way to Blogtacular, I took a quiet five minutes to take a look through my notes from last year’s event. I’d been very methodical and reviewed notes from the sessions, adding action points. It was suddenly very clear to me that much of my success this past year has been down to ideas sparked at Blogtacular 14 and wrapped up, in part, into my year plan I made in September. A very good way to start the event, I began to wonder what inspiration I would get this year and how it will help grow my business.

I was rooming again with my good friend Vicki, who is also one of my very favourite crochet designers and bloggers and, heck, people!

me and vic

Meeting up with her is always lots of fun and having a chance to catch up and have a little industry gossip as well as news of her lovely family is always a treat.

The speakers at Blogtacular are very carefully chosen and were wonderful and inspiring again. My stand out talks this year were the opening keynote from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge about embracing change which inspired me and The Bare Bones of Photography by Kat Molesworth which taught me so much.

This year there seemed to be more to do outside of the talks too (and more time to do it in) I made a necklace, sent a letter to my future self and pitched to brands, got advice on styling at the creative genius bar as well as taking time out to chat to other attendees and sit and have a quiet crochet.

The goody bags were so awesome and bursting at the seams I can’t even show you it all so here are my very favourite bits…

goodies

(notebook from baggage reclaim, exclusive 3 month trial diary from lollipop, badge that reads “crafting is in my blood” from andsmile and a cute fox zippy pouch from Anorak)

…but we were also spoilt with books, magazines, cards and sweets from sponsors.

We finished the day with a lovely craft party sponsored by Pinterest and held at the beautiful West Elm store. A lovely chance to mingle and try out a few different crafts.

So what did I take away from this conference? I am not sure yet. But you can bet that I will take the time to digest all I learnt and make action points from my notes because that is where the real value comes in.

Thanks so much to the Blogtacular team and their wonderful sponsors for hosting such a great event. And I was able to make a little tribute to you all out of more of my lovely goodies…

blogtacular 2015

(Thank you card from Jennie Maizels, Bloggers poster from the lovely drawer, well done pennant from planes workshop, blogtacular wristband, models own!)

 

How I rocked it

Thank you so much for all the kind feedback about my packing post, here and on social media. I am glad it is a useful thing to see – I don’t get away ever so much but I shall try and remember to blog the capsule each time I do.

I thought you might like to see how I put the outfits together over the three days and my thoughts on the packing.

 

fri night

Friday I arrived (sadly too late for the planned dinner but in time to grab a bite with my good friend and room mate Vicki in a pub near the hotel)

It was hot and humid as hell on the train, streets and especially in the hotel room. The wide legged trousers and vest top kept me cool and the transposition shawl finished off the look and I felt smart. Worn with flat sat day sandals.

On the Saturday day it was a little cooler and more comfortable. I wore Alyssium cardigan and the Transposition shawl with a long grey skirt and black vest with flat sandals. I was glad I chose the vest as the day quickly warmed up it was really hot in the venue and the Alyssium cardie stayed in my bag all day. It was nice and comfortable for all the walking we did.

On the Saturday Night I glammed it up a bit for the Pintacular craft party, breaking out a summer dress and heels with Cherry Pi shawl. I am so pleased these work well together as the yarn was chosen especially to make something glamorous to team with these lovely little shoes.

 

sat night

On the way home I wore the wide legged trousers, grey t-shirt, Alyssium cardigan and flats (but failed to get a picture, I was a bit tired by then!)

So what didn’t I wear? Only two t-shirts (I had packed a variety in case the weather was a bit cooler) and my knitting needle bracelet – I forgot to put it on :-( I’m not good with dress jewelry! Pretty good packing I think. I am very glad that I didn’t assume I would be able to wear the skirt as a dress in the evening. Even not pulling it tight over my hips it was still far too stretched to stay up as a dress after a days wear – I do wonder if it will be even okay to wear as a dress with that little elasticity/memory in the fabric. I am not sure I could pull off a wardrobe malfunction of that magnitude!

Packing and blogging this has made me think about how I wear handmade and how I use key basic pieces to set my handmade off to its best advantage.

Tomorrow I shall tell you all about the wonderful time I had wearing these lovely clothes at the truly fabulous Blogtacular. An extra day to digest it all will lead to a more coherent post I hope.

 

 

Handmade capsule packing

This weekend I am leaving the children in the very capable hands of my husband and heading to the big smoke for a weekend of fun, learning and creativity at Blogtacular.

The weather forecast is especially British this weekend, it could be very hot or very not hot, maybe rain, maybe not so I need to take a variety of things that can layer and be worn in different ways. I am travelling by train and tube  so only want to take a small overnight bag but because I am networking it is really important (to me and maybe my business) that each outfit centres around something handmade.  I want to look good at the different events because its instagram heaven at blogtacular!

I thought I’d take you through how I packed for the event and afterwards (if I remember to take them!) I will show you how the outfits went together from what I took.

When I capsule pack I like to stick to colour schemes so that everything goes with everything else. I chose grey and black this time which will be livened up by turquoise or red crochet shawls.

capsule

 

The handmade items I am taking:

Alyssium cardigan – its pretty, its light and it goes with everything here.

Cherry Pi shawl, adds a pop of red to any of the possible outfits.

Transpostion shawl, as above but a turquoise pop.

What I am paring it with:

Summer dress – not sure I’ll wear it, if I do it will be to the craft party.

4 t-shirts in shades of grey and black: a vest, a low cut tee, a regular tee, a long sleeve tee.

Long grey skirt from Gap that can also be worn as a dress.

A knitting needle bracelet – I don’t wear much jewellry but this sums up my personality and will really go nicely if I am wearing transpostion.

Wide legged black patterneed  trousers – a new purchase that I’m a little unsure about but think I like. I am vaguely expecting a call from 1992 asking for their trousers back! :-) They are very comfy though and, I hope, quite  elegant.

Super comfy but pretty flats and a pair of heels that were made for paring with cherry pi.

(My mum reads this and I know she might be worrying – Mum its okay there are undies and pyjamas packed too, just not pictured!)

I think this gives me quite an array of possible outfits. I am super excited about the conference now!

Do you have a system for packing for weekends away?

When it doesn’t flow

As mentioned before I was having a hard time during May, lots of work and not enough time. I was spending evenings and free time sat at my computer rather than making.

Its only natural that life and business will have peaks and troughs and I am very accepting of them and am learning to be kind to myself and give myself permission to take some time off or let some things slide a little bit.

I think this time I really realised what a difficult time I have being creative and doing creative problem solving when I am in these ruts. Not just not having enough time to do it but when I try I hit a brick wall.

This pretty swatch has been taunting and giving me grief for about a fortnight.

problem swatch

 

the swatch itself was pretty easy to pin down and get the basic pattern just so. It is utterly charming and will make a very pretty element in my planned shawl but it came with some complications:

– I wanted a complementary but plainer pattern to pair with it.

– Both have to be reversible – different but equally beautiful on rightside and wrongside.

– I then want it to segue into a small amount of lace edging.

– It is worked over a 7stitches plus 1 and is a four row repeat and needs to be increased evenly.

– It is not the easiest pattern to chart so playing around with it on paper was tricky too.

Of course, these complications are entirely of my own making. I find and adapt a pretty pattern and I could just apply that to a straight scarf but I had a very strong vision for the piece in my head and anything less felt like a bad compromise.

I fought and fought with the pattern on and off through the period of intense work and made no progress. After two days rest? Yep, you guessed it; I cracked it first time. It took about 4 hours work to pin down how to make it work but it was all progress and felt fun and interesting rather than frustrating and painful as it had before.

The moral of the story? Creative problem solving is a big part of my work and I cannot do it when I am tired and run down. If I want to produce my best work I need to be kind to myself.

This shawl will probably end up being one of my favourites and I hope when I wear it, it will remind me of this. Be kind to yourself.

 

 

This post was inspired in part by discussions with Kate of  aplayfulday.com and links into her discussions on #creative_identity

Me Made May 15: a retrospective

So here we are in June. Since my last post I have had a lovely break from work – we celebrated my birthday and went camping for a few days. I feel much refreshed and my creativity and problem solving abilities have returned (hooray, I rather need them!)

As you may have read or seen on social media, I took part in the Me Made May challenge and set myself the task of wearing something handmade every single day in May and to complete a new wearable for myself (this also doubled as taking part in the Crafts from the Cwtch makealong)

Well I am pleased to say I did it and here is a little collage of some of the best outfits

mmmay15

And here is the beautiful shawl I finished

dissent

It is made from Lotus tibetan cloud, which is soft as kittens and amazing to wear. It has already been pressed into much service. I love it.

The purpose of the makealong was to learn something new so I challenged myself to learn how the short row shaping for these multi coloured shawls works. You may well expect to find this expanded upon and written about for the second book in the Shawl Project series but I couldn’t possibly comment. (to paraphrase FU from House of Cards)

So what did I learn during Me Made May?

  • I have plenty to wear, I didn’t struggle at all. If I banned shawls next time then it might be a bit tougher.
  • I actively enjoy choosing the handmade first and building an outfit around it. It made me consider my store bought wardrobe more than my handmade, how it needed to evolve into more plain basics that allow my handmades to do the talking. I am not much of a shopper nowadays so this will be a slow progress but as things wear out and need replacement I will be thinking about it.
  • I get selfie fatigue. Taking a picture of your outfit everyday is draining and I had to give myself a few breaks. There were plenty of times when wearing handmade meant a cosy cardigan (Vanna and Walk in the Woods) and scruffy jeans with hair scraped back. I think that is perfectly reasonable and I love that my handmade wardrobe  is such a continual comfort to me but neither do I particularly want to record it and share it on the internet.
  • I love love love Hut8. there is not an outfit that that cardigan doesn’t go with!
  • If there is a gap in my wardrobe then it is for a going out top – I often wear Carolyn out but its now time to rotate that for everyday more.
  • I have a bit of a shawl obsession. I think this is okay.

Did you take part or enjoy watching the #mmmay15 hashtag? What did you learn?

Me Made May 2015

outfit 14 May 14Hi,

Its nearly May – that time of year where social media gets filled with people sporting their wonderful handmade items. Brain child of Zoe at So Zo What Do You Know blog  the challenge takes place for the duration of May and encourages everyone to wear their handmade and upcycled clothing.

As you probably, guessed I am pretty passionate about making to wear so I am really excited to be joining in the fun.

I joined in part of last year (I didn’t find out about it until mid-month when the hashtags kept appearing) and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the prompt to get wearing. I found it a really useful way to spot gaps in my handmade wardrobe, celebrate my favourite pieces and learn to love some others.

Here is my pledge:

‘I, Joanne of notsogranny.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2015 and complete a new item to wear’

If you’d like to make yours you can sign up here. Everyone chooses their own level of challenge from wearing an entirely handmade outfit to including handmade in 2 outfits a week. As long as it challenges you its all good.

I’ll be blogging the challenge and posting photos on twitter, instagram and facebook with the hashtag #mmmay15 and my own hashtag #makeitwearit

Exciting!

Right Brain Thoughts on a sunny April day

I have a rare working day at the end of the week – booked to try and plough through the backlog acquired during the easter holidays, getting through some admin (accounts) chores and making a start on a big new editing project that I didn’t quite expect to come in. My mind is fairly busy on the left side with the mundane, technical and practical but I’m making room for some joy, colour and creativity in this post.

24 april thoughts

 

1. These two beauties are planned for the Crafts from the Cwtch make-a-long starting next week. Are you going to be joining in? I’m plannign on making a Dissent by Lisa Mutch. the aim of the make-a-long is to push your crafting to the next level, whatever that may be and it is for knitting and crochet. I chose this pattern because I want to explore short row shaping a little more in preparation for my next crochet book. Quite a few people will be making something from (my)  The Shawl Project book and there is a little offer code on Sarah’s blog.

2. This is knitting for a magazine so I can’t say too much about it what it will be but I wanted to add it to show you how it knits up. I have to admit my heart sank when I recieved the yarn. Its Noro Kibou in Col 22. On the face of it, it’s all the things I don’t like to knit with: thick and thin, cotton (blended with silk and wool at least to redeem it!), madly variegated. But I have surprised myself and I really like the finished effect and its looking even better on a larger scale. Also it keeps treatig me with bold flashers of my favourite jewel shades but toned down with the neutral, almost grey base colour. The finished effect reminds me of an impressionist painting. So I guess the message of the day is don’t judge a yarn in the skein.

3. This weekend we plan to start adding some mad colour and fun into our boring garden with a climbing wall up the side of the garage for the children to play on. The masonry drill bit is going on and A&E is on speed dial!

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