All the Crochet Cardigans!

Hey! Its been a while!

You can bet your bottom dollar that if I am missing I have either been knee deep in finishing up a big project or have had school holidays to contend with. In this case both!

But I am very pleased to finally be able to share with you (some of) what I have been working on:

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A book of crochet cardigans! Above is Kippen by Kat Goldin – yes this is a collaboration again for our joint business, The Crochet Project.

The book contains three patterns, each designed to be simple to make and simple to wear and to suit a wide range of body types and sizes – each cardigan is sized from baby to a UK woman’s size 26 (You can imagine the spreadsheets required to keep track of all those numbers!)

I’ll admit, we were slightly nervous about the book. We know you all love shawls and have happily come along on that journey with us (see The Shawl Project Book One and Book Two). A growing band of you have trusted us that crochet socks are now as in love as we are (see Saunders and Evesham) But crochet clothes persistently get a bad rap so we hoped that you would trust us again and believe us when we say that these are so very wearable and flattering. And preorders have exceeded all our expectations, so thank you!

The book is called Three From The Top and is available in print for £12 or as an e-book for £10. You can see lots of pretty photos and all the technical details on the Ravelry page.

We will be launching the collection at Wonderwool Wales this weekend. (23rd and 24th April 2016) If you are coming to the show, do pop by and say hello: we are in Hall 1 at stand B6. (We have a few more new lines at the show too, which I will talk more about soon.)

If you can’t make it to Wales then you can come and see the cardigans at The Sheep Shop in Cambridge on 7th May 2016 from 4pm. We will be having a little trunk show and book signing (if you’d like)

We are taking pre-orders online for the print book (which we have limited to 50 copies and are now mostly sold) until tomorrow. These first copies will be shipped out early next week. If you miss the first fifty or order after tomorrow then you will still be able to preorder but it will probably not be shipped until 5th May.

The e-book is also on pre-order and will be released on 27th April.

I shall be back with lots more details and stories behind the designs and no doubt a recap of the show after my busy weekend at Wonderwool.

Love

Joanne

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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!

 

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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!

Introducing Missed Kingfisher

I’m very pleased to day to introduce Missed Kingfisher shawl from The Shawl Project: Book Two to you. On The Crochet Project blog I have told you all about how the shawl fell as a fully formed design idea from my mind. And here I will tell you how having a fully formed design idea doesn’t necessarily make for a quick and easy design process.


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I knew exactly how the stripe pattern was going to play out. I knew how the shaping and the short rows worked. I knew the stitch pattern I wanted to use. I had the yarn sourced and wound. I grabbed a 4mm hook, the size I normally use for a 4ply shawl and started. No, too dense. 4.5mm? No too dense, 5mm? Nope! 5.5mm? No! Finally at 6mm a very shocked Joanne was happy with the fabric and the drape achieved. Through the process of so many swatches I had refined little details like the increase placements and the short row hole closing technique so it was all good. I wrote the pattern out and set too.

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As I carried on working, at about two thirds in, I became a little bit uncomfortable about how the shaping was working out, it seemed to not really want to lie flat properly. I vacillated for a day or two between “that shit will block right out!” and “this isn’t quite right.” In the end I decided to see what happened when I blocked it. It did improve things but it seemed really sloppy to produce a design, in a solid fabric particularly, that needed help to be what it was supposed to be, and even blocked I wasn’t 100% happy with the shape. So back we went to the second section and fixed what I knew the error must be. You see in the knitted versions of these shawls you do the increasing only at the ends of the rows, they all need blocking to the right shape or a hump occurs but blocking magically fixes it. Crochet is not as good at borrowing yarn from neighbouring stitches as knitting is, and there lay the problem. The design needed occasional smoothing with increases placed around the curve to allow the stubborn crochet stitches the freedom they needed to move.

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I love design realisations like this. While frustrating at the time, they push my understanding of crochet and make me a better designer. There are relatively few studies of how crochet fabric behaves and how it differs from knitting and a lot of the understanding I have is from considering carefully as I work and using these observations to inform my design practice.

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.

Print copies are now in stock and shipping in 1-2 working days.
The link for the ebook takes you directly to paypal to complete the transaction.

 

How Humphrey came to be

All this week and next we will be introducing the five shawls that make up The Shawl Project: Book Two on The Crochet Project blog.

(scroll to the bottom for details of how to buy the book)

Today is the turn of Humphrey and there is a little story behind this design. It is the story of how I did battle with a yarn and lost but don’t worry, it is a fairy tale and the ending is happy. Read on.

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Once upon a time a woman  bought a skein of yarn from her favourite local yarn shop, the skein was lustrous and beautiful and the woman didn’t quite know what to do with it, so afraid was she of not doing the yarn justice. (A common tale in the world of stashing – maybe you have such a skein?)

After some time, she returned and bought a second skein as she had made a special plan for the yarn that involved a fairytale ending. Yes, she planned an elaborate cabled panel, snaking down the spine of a shawl that would look like Rapunzel’s plaits. If she could dream it, she could do it!

But each swatch the woman made did not satisfy her; the cable was too bulky, or it didn’t sit quite right or the design melted away without enough definition, the drape wasn’t right. Almost half the first ball had been used up by now. The skein clearly did not want to be cabled.

So the woman listened to the skein and let it be lace. The first swatch afterwards came out perfectly, the design flowed out of the woman’s fingers easily and they all lived happily ever after.

THE END

And that is pretty much how it went folks. I just went looking for the failed swatches in my studio but they have mysteriously disappeared so I can’t even show you how not right they were. I do think the Rapunzel pattern might still happen in a different yarn one day. It will take me a little bit of time to come back around to the idea though I should imagine.

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But Humphrey, despite not being what I thought it would be at all, is a design I am so happy with and proud of. I love the delicate lace and the beautiful way it sits on your shoulders without slipping – this is all down to the shaping! I’m proud that I worked out the maths of the unusual Faroese construction and that I managed to distill it into something you can follow in the design notes if you’d like to design your own. I love how easy the pattern is to follow once established with very little counting and intuitive decreasing and the way you race to the finish with ever decreasing rows.

 

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And I know that this is the shawl I will be popping over my shoulders when I go to my husband’s black tie work Christmas dinner (I just need to find a suitable little black dress to offset it) or anytime I want to feel rather special.

So why Humphrey? I was going to pretend it was about the glamour of the Hollywood heydays and named for Bogart. Actually it was a silly joke that stuck in my head while I was making it:

What do you call a camel with three humps?

Humphrey!

You see the yarn is a baby camel blend and the shawl has three sections. I do not claim my humour is as sophisticated as the design!

For all the technical and construction details of the design, pop on over to this post on The Crochet Project blog.

To be able to make your own Humphrey here are the purchasing details you need:

The Shawl Project: Book Two is available to download immediately as an e-book (pdf) for £10 or pre-order in print for £12 +p&p.

Print copies will be dispatched within two weeks in the order they were bought.
The link for the ebook takes you directly to paypal to complete the transaction.

Acer – join us!

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I love a design challenge. Sometimes that means making crochet fabric do extraordinary non-crochet like things, sometimes it means getting complicated and technical but sometimes its like Acer making the very simple, very beautiful.

I decided I wanted to create a shawl design that looked complicated and beautiful but would be the ideal project for anyone who could crochet but hadn’t really ventured into the world of patterns yet. Maybe they know the stitches but so far have stuck to the classics they have been taught like ripples and granny squares or perhaps they have learnt all their crochet from youtube videos. I wanted to open up the wonderful world of patterns to these people. Maybe this describes you?

I also wanted the pattern to be something that was very beautiful and very wearable, something you could complete and pop on to admiring glances and then maybe make a second, a third and a fourth for some very special gifts.

My final requirements were that I didn’t want the outcome to be hindered too much by not matching gauge or tension (let’s fight one battle at a time, look at matching the tension once you’ve mastered following a pattern!) or by access to blocking equipment and knowledge. Blocking is the finishing stage for all crochet and knitting where you wash the finished piece and pin it to shape, in the case of Acer, this opens up the lace pattern and makes the finished piece much bigger. Acer looks marvellous unblocked, lightly blocked or aggressively blocked depending on your skill level and tools you have available.

And just to make it more open and inclusive it is written for two weights of yarn 4ply or DK but really you could make it in whatever you liked by just adjusting the hook size.

Of course for the more experienced crocheter you have a quick and fun project perfect for gifting or to make for yourself something to match an outfit at the weekend – yes it is that quick! Although its written with beginners in mind it still has the same precision and style you’d expect from The Crochet Project.

So how do you join in the fun?

Lovecrochet.com are kindly hosting the crochet-a-long (CAL) for us. For the uninitiated, a CAL is where lots of people get together, in this case online,  to make the same pattern. It’s a great way to get going with a pattern: if you get stuck there is always someone to hold your hand, if you are unsure you can ask questions and get really quick replies and you can be inspired by all the lovely yarns and finished shawls other CAL participants are sharing. We are also sharing some detailed videos and tips to help you from start to finish on their blog.

What do you need to do?

We are throwing a launch party this Wednesday at 8pm UK time (UTC+1) on the facebook group where we will be getting to know one another and sharing our plans for the CAL. Do join us!

Not on facebook? Tag #acerCAL to play along on instagram or twitter and I’ll find you!

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Beautiful photos courtesy of Kat Goldin.

Book Two is Go!

Hello!

After giving our lovely newsletter subscribers the first crack of the WIP, I am delighted to be able to tell you that you can now get your hands on The Shawl Project: Book Two!

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All this week and next we will be introducing the patterns across our three blogs, giving you a different perspective on the design in each place hopefully (like a very tiny blog tour!) Until then you can find the technical details for all the designs on Ravelry.

The book is available as an instantly downloadable e-book (pdf) which you can >> 

 

If you prefer print, pre orders are now open in our Etsy shop

Print orders will be shipped within two weeks – the little app on my phone that makes a lovely little cash register kerching noise has been trilling frequently since we opened up the preorders. Orders will be going out strictly in the order they were placed as I may not be able to ship them all in one day!

Joanne

PS: all the lovely comments you are putting on the etsy order notes are absolutely making my day! Thank you all!

Shawls!

This week is all about shawls, shawls and more shawls – we just can’t get enough of them! Over this blog, The Crochet Project Blog and Kat’s blog will be posting about all things shawl with some really exciting announcements. We’ll be talking about the launch of The Shawl Project: Book Two, introducing each pattern and talking about the Acer CAL which kick off this week.

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But the smart money is signing up to our newsletter because the newsletter people get the first heads up on how and where to buy the book! So go on. Sign up now!

Introducing the Acer Shawl

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As I teach a lot, I understand the frustration newer crocheters have. They want beautiful patterns that give stunning results but find patterns difficult to follow – its all a bit scary. After lots of conversations with people who love the look of The Shawl Project book but don’t feel confident enough to tackle them I decided to create something special for them.

We decided to team up with the lovely folks at LoveCrochet.com to bring you a pattern that is exclusive to them and will be supported by lots of tutorials on their blog and a CAL (Crochet A Long – an online group making the pattern all at the same time and helping each other through) so you can buy the pattern with confidence knowing that it is well within your capabilities. The tutorials and CAL start next month, keep tuned for more details of that here or on my facebook page and The Crochet Project facebook page.

Our intrepid testers (all confident with the stitches but not normally confident enough to tackle crochet patterns) have given us the thumbs up so we are sure you can do it too.

The pattern is available to download on love crochet now.


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Of course if you are a confident crocheter, this pattern is still for you, its nice easy making, a simple soothing rhythm over a two row repeat and as it grows side to side you can stop when you run out of yarn/get bored/run out of time. Its written for DK or 4ply but can easily be adapted to any weight and the size can easily be changed too. Its great for using up a skein of something pretty and especially wonderful with self-striping sock yarns – or use it as a scrap project for left overs. It makes perfect gifting, simple, quick but very pretty.

 

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.

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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

Catching Up

Oh dear, where does the time go. Its been two very crazy weeks since my last post. Sorry. I have tons of news though – read on!

As I write this post I’ve realised that for some reason I cannot load any new pictures up to the blog. The error message is throughly unhelpful so I shall have to investigate and get it fixed soon. In the meantime you’ll have to make do with actual words and maybe some old photos to pretty it up! I have so much to say anyway!

Since we last talked I have celebrated a whole decade of being a parent, ahem, I mean, my son’s 10th birthday. Then, almost before the candles stopped smoking I whizzed up to Edinburgh for the Yarn Festival. What a BLAST! Our stall was popular, SO busy and we met the most wonderful people. There is a lovely lovely blog post about the show which mentions and has a photo of our stall from Sol of A Crochet Journey. In the second part she talks about Shawls Project book and the class she took with me too. Her whole blog is lovely, her crochet has a wonderful aesthetic. I advise you go off an have a nose.

I am delighted to say that our book, The Shawl Project, that we took up as a show exclusive, sold out. Yes, sold out. I am beyond pleased that people like it.

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the shawls

We have now put it up on Ravelry to preorder as an e-book. It costs £10 as an e-book and it will be available from Monday (30th March 2015) if you pre-order (buy it before then) you’ll get a very generous discount code against our other patterns as a thank you.

The Shawl Project: Book One e-book £10   

Again I am astounded by the response to the e-book too. Thank you so much to everyone who has brought it already.

For those that like to be able to stroke the pages, we are setting up a way to pre-order the print book soon and anticipate it will be available towards the end of April. It will be £12 plus p&p. I’ll let you know when and where soon. If you are interested in wholesale get in touch via info at thecrochetproject dot com.

The canny amongst you may have noticed that the we are now calling it The Shawl Project: Book One – while in Scotland Kat and I had lots of time to plot and plan and there are some exciting things in the pipeline. As you can imagine, meeting so many of our customers face to face and finding out what they like and dislike has been very thought provoking. Watch this space :-)

Since I got back for Edinburgh I have been kept really really busy with some deadline knitting (a real rush for various reasons and prompted a lot of thoughts that I shall probably share soon. Consecutive days of 8 hours+ furiously knitting is not as fun as it might sound) and setting up a little etsy shop to sell the sew in care labels I had made for Edinburgh.

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The labels sold quite well at Edinburgh but the stall was almost always too busy for browsing carefully – a lot of people were sad they didn’t spot them. Never fear you can buy them here and here.

I’m also taking wholesale orders with Halfpenny Home at Alder Carr Farm in Suffolk being my very first stockist. If you’d like to stock them too, get in touch via notsogranny at gmail dot com.

They have been a massive success and some lines are getting low on stock so I’ll be re-ordering. Before I do I am running a little contest over on facebook. You can win some labels by suggesting a new line or by “liking” one of the suggestions already up. Head over there and give me your best shot – sweet or sassy?

I think that’s all the news I have for now. Next week is the Easter holidays her in the UK and I will be travelling a bit and working severely reduced hours. I may fit in a blog post but it would be unwise to promise. I still haven’t taken a day off since Edinburgh and I have a lot of I really really need a break. I have big plans for after Easter though and some nice ideas for new series and resurrections of old popular strands on the blog. If you have any thing you’d like to see me cover, do drop a request in the comments: I love hearing from you.

Speak soon.