Price and Venue Changes

shawl crochet pattern


Hilo Shawl – my most popular pdf pattern (photo credit : Britt Spring for Inside Crochet)


Due to the upcoming EU VAT changes I have to make a couple of changes to my online pattern sales business. Thankfully Ravelry have partnered with LoveKnitting who will deal with the cross border VAT. Its brilliant news that means I can keep this side of the business going but naturally paying the VAT and the increased commission associated with it mean I need to raise my prices a little.

The new laws come into effect on 1st of January so I will be the making changes ahead of time (so I get to enjoy Christmas and New Year!)

From 18th December my prices will increase slightly to £3 for simple accessories and £4 for garments, shawls and more complex accessories.

With immediate effect I am closing my Craftsy pattern store as they have not made the neccesary changes needed. You’ll still be able to buy my patterns direct from this website, from my Ravelry shop or from

I think these prices still represent great value for money – around the price of a posh coffee for hours of knitting or crochet pleasure. But if you were thinking of purchasing its a good idea to grab it now before the price change!


Festive Feelings

I HATE thinking about Christmas too early but, when you have a brand new Christmas Crochet class to prepare for, sometimes needs must.

Last year at The Sheep Shop in Cambridge I ran three Christmas Crochet classes and each was an absolute joy. Booked for the tail end of November and the first weekend in December, it marked the start of the participants Christmas celebrations and we all enjoyed mince pies, lots of tea and a lovely chat about how we were all spending Christmas. Bliss.

Last year we made my Quick Picot Snowflake, Granny Baubles, Scandinavian Hearts and Amigurumi Baubles.

Projects from Christmas Crochet class 2013

Projects from Christmas Crochet class 2013

I’m hoping that this year will be the same lovely experience and I have prepared three brand-new, not-available-anywhere-else  patterns for the class. Would you like a sneak preview?

First up, a pretty little three round crochet snowflake. It has bobbles and picots – both these things make my heart sing something a bit Christmassy!

Christmas snowflake ornament

Am I allowed to have favourites? If so, then I think its this cute little stocking ornament with pretty spike stitch pattern. Look you can even put little sweets in it and hang it on the tree!

christmas stocking ornament

And in case your Christmas needs a bit of added bling, here is a little beaded Christmas tree ornament with ruffles and chained tinsel.

Crochet Christmas tree ornament

I decided to stick to three patterns this year as the range of techniques we are covering is pretty astounding for a three hour class: Clusters, picots, amigurumi, colour changing, turning a short row heel, spike stitches, working ruffles, beading. Don’t worry it will be all made to feel like the easiest thing in the world!

If you are local (or fancy combining a class with a Christmas Shopping weekend in Cambridge – the shop is just across the road from a brand new travel lodge) why not join us?

Classes cost £25 per person and are running on Saturday 29th and Saturday 6th December. To book, give Sarah a call on 01223 311268 or email her

I’ve also got some spaces remaining on a few other classes this year (price, contact and booking info as above):

Granny Squares and Beyond – Saturday 8th November, 1.45 – 4.45pm

Learn how to hook the crochet standard and make beautiful blankets. Take a look at this stunning example made by a former student on the class.

Textured Crochet – Saturday 22nd November, 10am – 1pm

A fun class where we make a wash cloth sampler to explore all the crochet stitches that add texture to your work, the usual suspects and some of the rarer ones too.

African Flowers – Saturday 29th November, 10am – 1pm

Popularised by Heidi Bear we learn how to make the African flower motif and half motif to make beautiful colourful projects.

Hope to see you in class!

PS: I am sad to say that several chocolate eclairs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

TIDKT: How to say No (and still leave the door open for future work)

saying no


Last week I looked at why its okay to say No to freelance work. This week I wanted to talk about how to do it. How to say No.

As a side note, before I dive into the topic, I wanted to tell you about a lovely lovely email I received this week from Judith Brand telling me that she loved the TIDKT posts and reading them had given her the information she needed and some courage to submit her first design. It was accepted and published – by Pom Pom Quarterly no less (one of the most competitive magazines in the industry!) The design is utterly beautiful and I am sure this is the first of many designs we will see from Judith. I am so pleased to have helped someone get started.

Anyway, back to the topic of saying No!

To keep things simple I’ve assumed its a making commission for a magazine but it applies to anyone commissioning work; websites, yarn clubs, yarn companies, yarn sellers etc and a variety of types of work; writing, designing, photographing and editing.

General rules for saying No (without losing the option of future work):

  • Keep it nice – although you may want to tell them where to stick their poxy job, this is a small industry so don’t blot your copy book. You also don’t know the background to the offer so there is no point in ranting and raving.
  • Keep it professional – see above!
  • Keep it honest – its best to give a concise factual reason – that way they may be able to change something if they really want to work with you.
  • No need to say sorry – you aren’t doing anything wrong in turning work down.

Lets look at a nice way to say No to each of the reasons we identified last week that we couldn’t take the work:

1/The timing isn’t right for you:

Dear Kathy,

Thanks for your email about submitting to Wonderful Crochet. Unfortunately I am fully booked with work until mid January so would be unable to meet the December deadlines you mentioned.
I hope you’ll bear me in mind for future projects.

Best wishes

This reply lets them know that you are interested in working with them but that you are busy (in demand!), you take deadlines seriously and you are professional enough not to overbook yourself. These are all good traits in a designer and normally when I’ve sent out an email like this the editor has got in touch with work offers that are further out.

2/the terms and conditions aren’t right for you:

Dear Susan,

Thanks for the email about submitting to All About Crochet. I noticed in the submission guidelines that the magazine retains all rights to the pattern and keeps the sample. Unless this is open to negotiation then I feel unable to submit at this time as I need the additional income from republishing my designs for my business to be successful.

Best wishes

It may be that some of the terms are open to negotiation and this reply will allow them to open those talks. Often it is a take it or leave it offer but at least you’ve let them know which terms you have difficulty with and briefly why which may inform their future policy (you never know, we can only hope)

3/the pay isn’t enough:

Dear Sally,

Thank you for your email accepting my design submission. Unfortunately the fee of £130 is not enough for me to carry out this work. Because of the innovative shaping technique I’ve used I estimate that the design time alone will be 6 hours and sample making costs are likely to be around £80. Unless there is flexibility in the fee I need to say No.

Best Wishes

Sometimes there simply won’t be anymore money available, magazines are working to tight budgets too. But sometimes just laying out the facts in this manner will alert the editor that the money is off and more can be found. When commissioning, editors are working through tens of designs at a time and use quick reckoning to price the work, maybe they like it enough to pay what it is really worth. Mention why its different or more expensive to produce the idea.

If you are asked to produce a design for “exposure” please feel free to lay it on the line a little more

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for asking me to create a design for your website. For the type of design you are talking about I would normally charge around £300 for an all rights release, which essentially is what I would be providing. I don’t feel, at this time, that the exposure your website can provide makes this a financially viable project for me to take on.

Best wishes


4/ it doesn’t fit your brand:

Dear Laura,

Thanks for the email about designing novelty tea cosies. I don’t feel that I am best suited to take on this assignment as my design work is primarily garments and accessories with classic shaping with inspiration for nature and the world around me.

Best Wishes

Next time she is thinking of commissioning garments she might just think of you. This reply lets them know what you are about and that you take the aesthetic and artistic side of your career seriously.

5/ you just don’t want to:

This one is a bit tougher to find an honest reply to. Perhaps its time to be a bit more honest with yourself and work out which of the other reasons are actually the one?


I don’t feel its ethical to say no just as a bargaining tool (YMMV) and I only say no if I am actually turning the work down. (That said, I have been persuaded sometimes to take it when the editor has returned with a counter offer.) I always try and make sure that the no I am sending informs the future relationship I’d like to have with them and tells them a little more about me and my business in the hopes that a relationship that works for both parties can come out of it.

Head here for other posts in the Things I Didn’t Know Tuesdays series about getting started in the designing business.

Now we’ve covered the nice ways to say no, I’d love to hear your funniest responses to flat out awful offers!

Hill Top Hat CAL

I’m really excited to tell you that I had a really positive response to the idea of running a CAL for my Hill Top Hat.



The very wonderful Crochet Camp group have agreed to host it in their facebook group for me.

For those that don’t know, a CAL is a Crochet-ALong where everyone makes the same pattern at the same time so that they can chat as they go, hold each others (virtual) hands, wave virtual pom poms. Its a really fun thing to be a part of and there will be small prizes too.

If you have never followed a pattern or made a hat before this is a great opportunity to have a go with a whole crowd of people, including me, the designer, willing to help you out if you get a bit stuck.

We’ll be starting the CAL on 3rd of November to give everyone a chance to get hold of the pattern and find the right yarn. The pattern is in Issue 10 of Simply Crochet if you have back issues lying around or you can buy it direct. There is a discount code available specially for people taking part in the CAL, which you will see when you sign up.

If you’d like to take part in the CAL head on over to the Crochet Camp page  and ask to join the group. After you are accepted there is a pinned post at the top about the CAL, sign up there. The group is so lovely and friendly, if you love crochet then you’ll love the group.

Hope to see some of you lovelyblog  readers joining in.


So what do you do when you have a design all ready to re-release and you get the crushing news that the yarn its made in is discontinued?

crochet cardigan A Walk in the Woods

Sadly the wonderfully squishy Artesano British wool that I made A Walk in the Woods Cardigan in is no more. I absolutely love this cardigan and have worn it so much so I couldn’t not release it as a PDF (which I possibly would have done if it was a design I wasn’t as fond of) So a substitute had to be found. Here is the process I went through to ensure the substitute would work well.

1/ Select a possible new yarn. Here I had to consider lots of things:

  • the weight, chunky is not all made alike and some chunkies are much heavier than others. I was looking for yarns that had the same ball band tension as the discontinued yarn.
  • the fibre and spin: Artesano was a very woolly, rustic feeling pure wool.
  • the colour range it has: can I make a like for like swap for all three colours? This is much harder than it sounds, especially in chunky weight.

With these three things in mind I began to look in shops, at festivals and online and found only one good contender so I ordered a ball ready for stage two.

2/ Swatching (yes I know you all think I’m obsessed, but its crucial!) It isn’t practical to make a whole new sweater so I wanted to make a really large swatch to assess the following:

  • Can I get the right tension?
  • Does the swatch drape and move in the same way as the original?
  • Does the fabric feel similar to the touch after washing?

The large swatch is crucial for step 3 in the process.

3/Work out the required yardage accurately. I did this in two ways to make sure:

  • first I took the yardage of the old skeins and weight used for each size (from the original spreadsheet) to calculate the old yardage used. I then took the yardage from the new skeins and calculated how much this would weigh in the new yarn to find out many skeins are required for each size.
  • secondly I checked (using the very large swatch) that it weighed stitch for stitch what I expected it to based on these calculations (phew spot on!)

Because I’m suggesting this as an official substitution I need to get all of these things really spot on so people can be confident making it in the new yarn.

A Walk in the Woods cardigan is now available to download as a pdf. 

 (or you can visit the pattern page here.)

I bought the yarn from If you haven’t used them before then use this link to get yourself 15% off and free shipping (I’ll also get a discount – so its win win)

Photo is copyright of Britt Spring and with permission of Inside Crochet where it first appeared.

#makeitwearit camping style

knitwear to take camping

If you thought we were balmy taking three small kids back packing I will confirm that status by telling you that we still have camping trips to do this year. We are lucky they are predicting a bit of an Indian summer here in the UK but we didn’t know this when we planned it!

Camping in a tent in the autumn can still be wonderful but it does get very chilly in the evenings, at night oh and in the mornings… A lovely bit of properly woolly knitwear is just the ticket, here is what I will be packing.

knitwear to take camping


1/ An ear warmer is perfect for sleeping in as you keep warm but don’t get too hot. This is Enid by Ann Kingstone from her wonderful book, Stranded Knits*, a resource I return to again and again. This version is knit in Naked Wools.

2/My A Walk in the Woods crochet cardigan is so warm and easy to wear. It originally appeared in Inside Crochet but I plan to release it as an individual pdf in the next few weeks. Its knit in the now (sadly) discontinued Artesano British Wool Chunky, I need to find a suitable alternative before I republish.

3/Vanna (from Crochet Gifts 4) is another super warm cardigan. Its made in Libby Summers Fine Aran so its very light to wear too. She has some lush new colours this season, I’m tempted to work up another one!

4/Super warm socks, these were knit using the Foot Ovens recipe from YarnHarlot using ROwan Cocoon. YOu can imagine just how snuggley these are.

5/ A well loved granny square blanket, you can sit on it, you can throw it over your shoulders or over your bed. Essential! These was made in King Cole Riot which did all the colour changes for me (I’m not daft and I don’t like weaving in too much!)

6/You need a hat, not only does it keep your head warm but it is an excellent way of disguising camp bed head in the morning (think mad kinks rather than soft sexy waves!) This is Gnarled Bark that I made for The Crochet Project. Its made in Jeanette Sloan Baby Alpaca Silk 4ply.


*I was sent this book for the purposes of review, opinions are my own.


This weekend I headed down to London to be part of the first (of many hopefully) blogtacular conference.


I was actually the very first ticket buyer – as soon as Kat told me about what her and Kat where planning I knew I wanted to go. That pair are an absolute power house together and I knew that if they could dream it they could do it. I am pleased to say, I wasn’t wrong.

I roomed up with my crochet buddy Vicki Brown and we headed down together. This is us arriving at the venue (almost on time after a few *ahem* detours!)

Arriving at blogtacular


The first evening we had a drinks and mingle with book signings. I *may* have come over a little bit of a fan girl meeting Tilly Walnes. I bought a copy of her lovely new book, which she signed for me, and complemented me on my finished (just in time) Coco dress – she was wearing a Coco top.

blogtacular with tilly



Joy Cho kicked off the event with her amazingly inspiring keynote speech. It was a great taste of the day to come as the Saturday was jam packed full of amazing speakers and practical sessions.

I really enjoyed the hands on styling session with Ellie Tennant where we got to play with lots of props to create beautifully styled images. I whipped my top off (don’t worry dear readers I had a dress on underneath) so I could have a play with styling close up knitwear shots. Here is one of my attempts.

carolyn top close-up


I also learnt a huge amount about using social media more effectively which I am buzzed about putting into practice.

The event was really perfect in every way. I got to meet lots of other wonderful bloggers, the organisation all went smoothly, the food was really nice, the speakers were knowledgeable and inspiring and the goody bag was awesome! This is my total show haul including the two books I bought (everything else was in the goody bags – how lucky were we?!)

blogtacular haul

Lots of super lovely goodies. The exclusive Zeena screenprint bag has already been put to use as a project bag and I am wearing the hello badge from Tigerlilly Quinn today. The planner from lollipop is being used right now to plan my weeks work including finally being a proper serious blogger and planning my posts!

I’ve come away from the event brim full of new ideas but also having had head space to consolidate a lot of previous ideas. I feel I know where I want to go and have been given a lot of tools and advice to help me get there. I feel very optimistic for the blog and the business.

If you are feeling gutted that you couldn’t attend then sign up to the blogtacular mailing list because you will be able to buy a virtual ticket soon and see films of all of the sessions. I believe that the first few UK based purchasers of virtual tickets will even be sent one of the goody bags so you will want to get in there first!

I’ll leave you with a few of the most personally inspiring quotes from the event.

Do something that scares you – Joy Cho

Lawyers, doctors, plumbers, accountants dom’t work for free so why should you? – Anne Ditmeyer

Blogging and sharing your creativity, challenges you to become the person you are meant to be. – Natalie Lu

Hands up who is going next year! Me!

Look what came in the post…

… my very own complimentary copy of the magazine that contains my first published pattern
…and here is the two page spread of my work.

…and look at the ‘in the next issue” page

The jumper in the large picture is my design and they are plugging the interview they did with me!
Don’t worry I’ll still be your friend now I’m famous :-D
oh and the Ravelry page for Something Blue is here in case you’d like to go over and favourite it or if you make the garter to load up your project.


My garter design that will be in Inside Crochet issue 29 is being previewed here
There may be a little bit of squeeing going on!

Happy Joanne

Beautiful bright coloured, super soft yarn
Spangly new knit pro circular needles

a very happy me.
That is all.