End of an era

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After blogging here at notsogranny.com (and before that notsogranny.blogspot.com) for five years I’ve come to the conclusion that a blog here isn’t working for me.

Life and my business has changed a lot since I started and I am finding I have not a lot to say here on my personal blog. The kids are older and don’t want to be talked about to strangers, I don’t want to share personal life and the majority of the work I can talk about relates to The Crochet Project so it makes more sense to talk about it over there. The site is overdue a makeover, needs a new host and needs some major adjustments doing if I were to continue. I looked at the costs involved and decided it was time to retire this space.

Never fear, I’m not disappearing from the internet. I will still post on instagram, twitter and facebook as notsogranny. I’m blogging a lot over at thecrochetproject.com and I am moving all the useful content from here to there. If you try and visit notsogranny.com in the future you’ll land on a page there with all my contact details and biography.

So this will be my last post.

Thank you so much to all of you who have read, commented and encouraged me in the last five years here. I’ve appreciated every single click. I hope you’ll follow me to new online homes.

Joanne

In a spin

Well, its been a little while since I last blogged. January and the first part of February have passed in a fit of busy.

I’ve been doing a lot of work crochet (two book deadlines and a variety of commissions) and whenever I put the hook down I had a quick spin. I’ve got to the fun stage of spinning where I kind of know what I’m supposed to be doing, can manage to make my hands do it most of the time and am having fun experimenting. So far I have spun about 200g worth.

This picture shows two I spun and one I’m trying out for review:

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The grey green yarn is the first spinning I did. Its probably knittable but has a few “interesting characteristics” My second lot of spinning I forgot to photograph because it was a gift for Kat but I think it came out rather well and the stuff on the bobbin is a batt from Spin City than I have managed to spin really nice and fine and chain plyed to preserve some of the colour repeats. (get me, I almost sound like I know what I’m doing!?)

The pink yarn is not spun by me (One day I might be able to achieve that but not yet!) It is a trial skein of Tamar, a new yarn being released by Blacker Yarn that will be released on 3rd of March. Its a lovely rustic feeling yarn but it has really lovely drape. I’ve been having a play and will almost certainly release a design in it later in the year. I was particularly pleased with the way I wound it. A lovely blog reader, Christine, got in touch to explain the method her Nanny used to use to wind a centre pull ball without any equipment and I had to give it a go. A little more practice and I shall do a little tutorial I think.

I took a lovely business trip up to Scotland where we shot the photos for not one but two books! The first book is with the printers as we speak and will launch at Unravel on 19th February. I’m so in love with the beautiful pieces and the way Kat has captured them on film. You can take a look at all the patterns in the look book below.

We had a new member on team “The Crochet Project” this time. My mum has joined the gang as Chief Executive Officer of Literary Excellence. (She is a super doopa proof reader!) Welcome Lin and thank you for sorting our errant apostrophes, homonym errors and run on sentences (amongst other mistakes.)

I shall be at Unravel for the weekend helping launch the book and teach a class on Textured Crochet (there are still a few spots left) at just £30 for a three hour class including festival entry its a bit of a bargain.

So yes I’ve been busy. What have you been up to?

Introducing Saunders

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Today I released a new pattern through The Crochet Project. We are breaking the recent mould a little bit by virtue of not being a shawl and not being 4ply! You can find out all about the pattern over on The Crochet Project blog but I wanted to tell you a little about the background to the pattern here and how it came to be.

I teach pretty regularly at The Sheep Shop in Cambridge and I have an absolutely lovely group of ladies who attend classes regularly. They have all been on pretty much every single crochet class I teach and as soon as a new class is listed, they generally book it out. I love this because I get to see some friendly faces when I teach and have watched them all grow in skill and confidence over the past few years. But I began to think I had unleashed a monster when they began to demand a crochet sock class. You see, I am not a fan of crochet socks. Or rather, I should say, I wasn’t a fan. I found crochet socks pretty stiff and unyielding, not particularly comfortable to wear. I knew you could make them work if you made them quite lacy as it was easier to get the stretch in this way but none of the group are particular fans of lace. Anyway, they wore me down and after a few requests I agreed to work on a crochet sock class for them.

Because I have a great interest in what crochet can and can’t do and how that compares to knitting I had some ideas about how I might be able to make a design that really worked. The trick was to find a unisex pattern that allowed some of the stitches to lie vertical and some to lie horizontal to replicate the two way stretch that knitting will give. It took quite a few attempts. Hook size it turned out was really important to get the various elements of the design to work well – cuffs needed to be worked on a very small hook to give some elasticity by keeping the yarn tightly wound, the main stitch pattern needed to be worked loosely to allow the stretch to happen and the heel and toe ,w orked in palin doubles needed to be somewhere between to stretch but not to wear out tooo quickly. I think there were about five completely failed protoypes and then the pattern went through another couple of iterations before I was truly happy with it. I started making the samples for the class.

In the same week I finalised the class design, Kat and I had a phone call to set the direction of The Crochet Project for the next few months and she said she thought we should release a sock pattern soon. Lucky timing! “Well actually I have something I am really really happy with, almost ready to go” said I.

I’m really happy with the final result, Kat has taken some beautiful pictures to illustrate the pattern, as always. I learnt a lot in making them and am happy to be able to share that hard won process with you so that you can create well fitting crochet socks for your whole family (and friends and neighbours!) Yes – I think this will be a very hard working pattern in your library, whether you want a quick gift for grandpa or a new born baby gift. Warm toes for all I say!

You can purchase the pdf pattern for immediate download for £4.

 

Yarndale 2015

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Our stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2015

I am very very excited. This weekend (26th and 27th September) I will be having a stall at Yarndale in Skipton with my crochet partner in crime Kat Goldin. Its going to be a wonderful weekend of catching up, meeting our wonderful customers and launching our new book.

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We will be at stand 21 – that is TWENTY ONE!! You can download a map of the site here- so do come over and say hello if you are going to Yarndale.

As well as the new book we will have copies of book one, all our individual patterns, hooks (with our special try before you buy service – so why not find your perfect hook!), crochet notions, and lots of samples for you to squish on the stall.

For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to be coming and are keen to get our new book – why not sign up to our brand new mailing list to be the first to hear when and how to get the print copies and e-book.

And just to tempt you, I’ll leave you with a picture of all of the shawls in Book Two…

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…but you can be sure that I will be back here to introduce all the shawls individually before our general release!

 

You tease

So its been a bit quiet on the blog lately. Sorry.

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But just to reassure you that I am working very hard on a very big and exciting thing that will launch next month. If. It. Kills. Me.

An unscheduled blog break

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Hello, hello hello.

Apologies for the lack of posts last week. My computer decided to break as a result of some tax return software I had to install. “Tax doesn’t have to be taxing” – how I could swing for the person who came up with that tagline!

So now I am left to catch up with a weeks worth of work and find and reinstall all the little things that I lost in the factory reset. Blog posts may be thin on the ground this week too!

I shall return when I have wrestled the workload down to manageable proportions!

Till then….

Right Brain Thoughts 3

Another week and things have progressed on the admin front to the point where I no longer feel overwhelmed by it and I can therefore allow the creativity back round to play.

So what will be keeping my fingers busy and my creative thoughts occupied in the next week?

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1: I’ll be knitting away on the comforting stocking stitch of my second quadratic. (And crossing my fingers I have enough yarn to complete it.)

2: This gorgeous skein from Eden Cottage Yarns (light wasn’t good enough to capture the full beauty) is being transformed into the final piece for the next launch for The Crochet Project. Its a motif based design so a little out of my comfort zone but I think I have it cracked.

3: My Mum and Dad managed to find me a fabulous stitch dictionary (that I don’t already own!!) for Christmas. I shall be spending time flicking through and maybe doing a little swatching and playing.

4: Another brilliant present from Mum and Dad. This book is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to having a good read this week. I’m already very drawn to a pair of socks with drawstring and twined stitches (new one on me!) I love a good knitting adventure and this book looks technique and history rich. An adventure from the comfort of my sofa – even better in a cold and very windy January.

 

What are you up to?

Festivals!

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

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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!

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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?

Fallen at the last furlong

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Today the kids are back in school and  I was supposed to be back at my desk; tackling the backlog of emails, catching up with social media and blogging, doing the dreaded tax returns.

But I have succumbed to the results of all the merry and am feeling distinctly unmerry.

I should have known really as I was the only one who didn’t get the bug over the break, I thought I had escaped but I was actually just back of the queue. If it goes the way of the others I shall feel shocking today then better tomorrow or the next. I imagine though that if I try to ignore it I shall make it last a full month. So I shall be doing the sensible thing today and taking to the sofa with my garter stitch shawl and an unchallenging movie or two whilst sipping on lemsips in the hopes I can kick this one in to touch pretty quickly.

Sorry if you are waiting on an email from me – but sending it today, it wouldn’t reliably make much sense.

Sniff sniff and upside down smiles.

Introducing The Bletchley Collection

After months of secret squirreling away I am so so pleased to be able to share with you my collection for Eden Cottage Yarns, The Bletchley Collection.

This is the first full collection for both Eden Cottage and myself and I couldn’t be prouder of it.  The range has been created for the beautiful and affordable mill dyed range that Victoria has developed, Milburn. Its a stunning 4ply yarn with 85% Blue Faced Leicester and 15% silk, its a joy to knit with and soft yet very resilient in wear. My aim was to create a supremely wearable collection of six pieces with a vintage theme but a modern feel.

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The beautiful Milburn yarn range

I’ll quickly introduce the theme and each of the pieces today but follow up with a more in depth blog post for each – do check back for them over the next week or so.

The Bletchley Collection takes the work of the WWII code breakers based at Bletchley Park. The six piece collection explores themes of codes and the machinery they used to encode and break them and looks into the lives of the women who served there.

The six piece collection comprises:

Tunny: a crochet hat with colourwork.

Find out more

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Tunny

Baudot: a knitted hat with coded lace.

Find out more

Baudot

Baudot

Bombe: a knitted seamless colourwork cowl.

Find out more

Bombe

Bombe

Hut 8: a knitted seamless top-down cardigan.

Find out more

Hut 8

Hut 8

Colossus: a knitted seamless cabled vest.

Find out more

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Colossus

Morse Code: a crochet top down seamless cardigan.

Find out more

 

 

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Morse Code

The patterns are also available as an e-book with additional essays about the inspiration and the yarn.

The patterns are available to buy now as individual PDF downloads, as an e-book and as individual paper patterns. Later the collection will be released as a book (expected March 2015) To order paper copies or pre-order the printed book please go to www.edencottageyarns.co.uk

Without wishing to be too Oscar speech about it all, a collection like this doesn’t come together on its own so I have lots of people I’d like to thank for their help. Thanks to my sample knitter Alice for helping out when the 4ply got the better of me. Massive thanks to the team at Bletchley Park who so kindly allowed us to hold the photo shoot on site. Thanks to Rachel Atkinson for the excellent technical editing. Thanks to Claire Devine for the beautiful layout. Thanks to Allison for launch advice.  Thanks to Katie for loaning me some extra wardrobe choices for the shoot. Thanks to Phil for the numerous times you took the kids out to let me get on with making and writing. And most of all, thank you so so much to Victoria, David and Jo, the Eden Cottage Yarn team for being so excellent, supportive and taking such stunning photographs.

All photographs copyright Eden Cottage Yarns.