Unravel 2016

Oh what a blast! I had just the best time at Unravel this year.

I taught, I launched a book, I met friends old and new and generally had a lovely time. Okay, okay! I also shopped!

Here is the stash photo:

unravel goodies

 

I kind of felt I had been rather restrained until I got it all out to photograph. In my defence it is not all for me.

So pictured we have anticlockwise from bottom left

Ombre big boy cakes in Heather by Easy Knits – this will be a design for The Crochet Project sometime, most likely a shawl as I’ve been longing to design an ombre one..

Two skeins of Whistlebare Yeaving bell – again for a shawl (probably) for The Crochet Project - I clearly have not got the shawl thing quite out of my system – and the gleam you get on these yarns I just kept thinking about how awesome Kat would be at capturing it on the photographs.

A braid for spinning from Spin City – aren’t the colours so pretty?

Three skeins of Coop Knits Sock Yeah yarn – for a giveaway, keep your eyes peeled on The Crochet Project blog and social media for this coming soon. Rachel of Coop Knits tells me that these colours for the Malvern cowl have been selling well so I suspect some of you at least will have this in your queue.

Tiny Tails in Nougat on Coffee by Easy Knits for a friend’s birthday gift.

And a beautiful crochet tea towel (background) by the lovely Tilly Flop – (I am so pleased she has started selling a crochet one, I already have the knitted version up above my desk to remind me to get on with the admin so I can get to the fun bits!)

Teaching at the festival was wonderful – I met some truly lovely crocheters and the Farnham Malting’s staff looked after me very well.

Huge Thank you to Sarah of Crafts for The Cwtch for organising me over the weekend and sharing so many laughs (and giving such a glowing recommendation of our new book!) I am not going to even try and name check everyone I had fun with – you are too numerous and I will inevitably forget and offend someone!

The book launch for Crochet Yeah! (read more about it here and check out the amazing blog redesign Kat is just finishing up!) went really well – thank you so much to everyone who has bought a copy. It was such a hit, I had to order a new print run on the day we launched!

I’ve come away from the festival feeling inspired and creatively energised if a little physically and mentally tired. The kids are back at school now after a lovely half term and inset day and I am back at my desk catching up.

 

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

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…

 

 

 

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

 

Shiny new classes

Sarah and I have been brainstorming lately in order to bring you the very best exciting new classes at the Sheep Shop this summer term.

So, without further ado, (maybe a small drumroll….) here they are:

Freeform Crochet – Saturday 16th May, 10-1pm, £25

In this class we’ll be exploring shaping techniques, both flat and 3D, that free you from patterns and allow you to create anything your mind can imagine. You can apply these tools to anything from art, to motifs to clothing and accessories.

 

crochet art

Examples of free form crochet from my students.

Crochet Shawls Day, Saturday 18th July, 10am-4pm, £55 (including book)

A whole day of getting to grips with one or more of the shawl shapes from my upcoming book. Whether you have never made a shawl before or you want to be guided through designing your own there is something for every level on this class.

 

teeny shawls pic

A sneak preview of the 6 shawls from the book – Photo by Kat Goldin.

Knitting Surgery, Saturday 4th July, 10am-1pm, £25.

Have you ever finished a garment and realised it’s too short, too long or too tight on the underarm? Want to learn how to get more life out of knits for children? Do you have worn patches that need repairing? Got a sweater that is beautiful but that just doesn’t fit? In this class we will cover how to modify knits after they are finished by knitting and grafting in new sections.It is make do and mend at its finest!

As well as these new classes I’ll also be running some old favourites again this summer:

Beginners crochet, 28th March OR Saturday June 20th, 1.45pm, 4.45pm. £25 – our ever popular beginners class, get started with a new hobby, the easy way.

Vintage Crochet Edgings, Saturday 18th April, 10am-1pm, £25 –  this class sold out at Unravel 2015

Crochet Granny Squares and Beyond, Saturday 18th April, 1.45pm, 4.45pm. £25 – always a favourite, get that blanket on the go ready for next winter (or maybe summer picnics if you work quickly!)

How to follow crochet patterns, written and charted, Saturday 16th May, 1.45pm, 4.45pm. £25 – such an important skill!

Made to Measure, Saturday June 20th, 10am – 1pm, £25 – I think this is one of my favourite classes for changing peoples knitting and crochet lives!

First Steps in Lace Knitting, Saturday 4th July, 1.45pm, 4.45pm. £25 – master the beauty of lace.

 

If you are near to Cambridge, you are in luck. But if you aren’t, why not consider taking a class around a weekend break – our beautiful city is at its best in the spring and summer. The Sheep Shop is just a short stroll from a travelodge, which is also  very convenient for town.

There are more details about all of these classes on The Sheep Shop website and to book any of these classes please call the shop on 01223 311268.

Festivals!

Oh this year is getting exciting already! I am lined up to teach at two yarn festivals this year.

unravel-2015-image-for-website

The beautiful Unravel 2015 artwork by Emma Block

The first show of the year is Unravel 2015 at Farnham Maltings on February 20th to 22nd. I’ve been trying to get to Unravel for the past three years but each time events have conspired against me so I am very excited to be attending and honoured to join the fantastic line up of workshops.

I’ll be teaching Vintage Crochet Edgings which is a great class suitable for everyone apart from complete beginners. We look at several traditional crochet lace traditions and how to apply them to various projects to liven up your home and your wardrobe. The cost of the class is £30 including day entry to the show (bargain!)

You can read more details and sign up here.

Lots of my favourite yarnies will be exhibiting and I’m hatching plans to meet up with various internet friends to catch up and meet some of them in real life for the first time. Its going to be yarnie heaven!

eyf

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2015

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement, less than a month later I shall be at the other end of the UK at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival on 15th and 16th March. Not only am I teaching but I will also be running a stall for the very first time.

Kat and I were invited to host a stall for The Crochet Project and run a class each as the feedback from the last show is that lots of people wanted more crochet at the show.  Its our first yarn show (although Kat has done the Glasgow Country Living fair a couple of times) so we are quite nervous. We’ll have lots of samples for you to drawl over and stroke, patterns to buy, a small selection of kits and a wide variety of hooks for you to try and buy. And! And! And! We will be launching our new collection – I don’t want to spoil the surprise but its fantastic, you should get excited about it!

Do come by and see us if you are at the show. Or why not take a class with us?

Kat will be teaching Crochet for Knitters which shows you all the ways that wielding a hook can improve your knitting prowess, from easily repairing mistakes and dropped stitches to decorative edgings and finishing techniques. Equally suitable for crocheters and those who’ve never held a hook before in their lives! Its a 3 hour class on the Saturday afternoon and costs £47 including a day ticket or £53 including a weekend ticket. At the time of writing there are only 3 places left so you might want to hurry over and book!

On the Sunday afternoon I’ll be taking an in depth look at crochet fabric and its construction in my class Making Crochet Wearable. If you’ve ever wondered why people think of crochet as stiff and for homewares or always lacy, decorative (and too holey to wear) this is the class for you. We look at which stitches and patterns are best for making garments and how to make crochet fabric that drapes beautifully and fabric with elasticity. And you get a chance to see me at my most passionate – geeking off about crochet technicalities! (now is that a selling point or will it put people off I wonder!?) The three hour class is £47 including a day ticket or £53 including a weekend ticket and it also only has 3 places left. Go book now if you are interested!

Again I’m excited because Kat and I will get to spend some time together (YAY!) and we will be rubbing shoulders with the kniteratti – the class and vendor list is a veritable who’s who!

I’d love to know if you will be going to either show. What are you most looking forward to? And if you are coming to Edinburgh do you have any special requests for crochet related stock?

Little details

Now the project is finished I’m able to step back and enjoy it, or rather step in and enjoy the small fun details everyone has put into their big pieces. Here are some of my favourites.

one in six detailsIf you haven’t seen it the exhibition dates and some more pictures are here

Beyond Expectations

You know when you start a project and it seems just crazy, near impossible? And then all of a sudden its done and there are tears in your eyes because you the work you see is just beyond your wildest expectations and you feel proud and happy? Well that. Just that.

I started teaching a group of volunteers back in January, they had a wide range of previous experiences and many of them had never held a crochet hook before. We had to teach them with a yarn that was not ideal for learning with in any sense*, the project went through a series of set backs and changed course a little because of it. But we achieved the aim which was to highlight how common mental illness is and encourage people to look after their mental wellbeing. New friendships have formed and everyone has learnt so much from one another.

Our original inspiration was the paper cutting artists Rob Ryan and Pablo Lehman and it is amazing how many people have spotted the influence in our work.

Here is a little montage of some of the pieces and the crafters behind them.

crochet art

 

I hope you will be able to come and see the work in person at one of the venues listed below. Once we have done the full tour I will post full pics of each panel but it would be nice to keep some surprises for visitors.

7th June East of England Well-Being Show, Newmarket

14th June Covent Garden Street Party, Cambridge.

12-13th July Unwind, Brighton (pending confirmation)

26-27th July Fibres East, Bedford

After the tour ends Sarah will display as many as she can at the Sheep Shop before they go to their final home. We are still looking for a final home for them but we are talking to mental health care providers as we’d love it to end up on a ward or waiting room wall to inspire and uplift.

I would like to thank our wonderful sponsors Cambridge County Council Community Learning, Beats Learning, Deramores and King Cole. Without you it would not have been possible.

 

* if you want to know what makes a good yarn for learning then read this post

The end game

I am sad and excited at the same time. The community crochet art project I have been working on since January is about to come to fruition. We have just one more making session left.

mental wellbeing 1

The project has been beset by problems. It was originally intended to be part of a RHS Chelsea garden display, the charity then decided they couldn’t afford to go to Chelsea. Then the charity went into liquidation. I feel so thankful that our kind supporters King Cole, Deramores and Cambridge County Council didn’t waiver in their support, that Beats Learning stepped in to administer the project and that the volunteers believed in the project enough to stick with it through all the problems. I couldn’t be more proud of the results.

Carol, a crochet beginner in January, assembles her panel

Carol, a crochet beginner in January, assembles her panel

Last weeks session was absolutely buzzing as people saw the end in sight and all the hard work was beginning to come together. The project has been about creatively recording tips for mental well being which has allowed the group to focus on the small things that lift us up. The group has such a wonderful sense of community and as friendships form and strengthen I can’t help feeling that this, project has been self fulfilling in helping the mental well being of all of the participants in some way.

A group of crochet beginners (who doubted they would ever be able to make a letter at the start) finishing their panel.

A group of crochet beginners (who doubted they would ever be able to make a letter at the start) finishing their panel.

So many in the group have shared with me how their involvement in this project has helped them in small and not so small ways and their plans to continue to crochet and continue to meet up. This lifts me up.

If you’d like to come and see the work it will be on display at the following places:

7th June East of England Well-Being Show, Newmarket

14th June Covent Garden Street Party, Cambridge.

12-13th July Unwind, Brighton (pending confirmation)

26-27th July Fibres East, Bedford

After the tour ends Sarah will display as many as she can at the Sheep Shop before they go to their final home. We are still looking for a final home for them but we are talking to mental health care providers as we’d love it to end up on a ward or waiting room wall to inspire and uplift.

Rolling with the punches

Rolling with the punches…

Its been a pretty horrid day today.

Today I had to tell my lovely crochet group and my wonderful yarn sponsors Deramores and King Cole that the crochet we have been doing won’t be going to the Chelsea Flower Show.

Squeaky Gate didn’t get some funding that they had been relying on and without they can’t afford the huge costs that a garden at Chelsea entails. It’s very sad but in the scheme of all things austerity it isn’t the worst cut I know.

The crochet art that we have been making is very beautiful.

crochet art 14 1
The theme of the work, mental health awareness and tips for well being, is so important. We have a huge amount of latent creativity surfacing and some truly wonderful designs are being formed. As with the Botanic Garden project last year, every member of the group is gaining such a lot from their involvement we can’t stop now just because the garden it was due to be displayed in is no more.
So at the moment we have works of crochet art in progress with no home to go to. But we are going to take heed of the letters the beginners have been working on and…

…dream big!

I will be pestering every yarn show and gallery space to let us show our work with them because I am determined to give this project the public forum it so deserves.

Our project will be ready from May so if you can think of the perfect venue, or have any contacts you think might help us then please get in touch and help me save the day.