Monday, 1 February 2016

Happy Tenth Birthday

It is a very special day today. One of my beautiful nephews (I have four, all equally as gorgeous!) has a momentous birthday. Today he turns ten. It is extra momentous to me as it made me realise that it is ten years since I was commissioned to write my first book, Easy Baby Knits. How do I know this? Because little Finley, who is not so little today, was a beautiful baby model for it. Only six months old at the time of the photoshoot and with the brightest smile you have ever seen. All the people at the shoot commented on what a happy baby he was and said that the old adage 'Never Work with Children...' definitely didn't apply to him! Hence, there is quite a lot of him in the book!
Anyway, in a lovely coincidence, nine years after it was finally released in 2007, Easy Baby Knits has just excitingly been reprinted with a fresh new cover. And guess who the new cover model is? My gorgeous Finley. Happy Birthday beautiful boy and thank you my lovely for being the smiliest model I ever did see.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Baby Shower

Last weekend I had the pleasure of bringing the knit into a beautiful baby shower for one of my oldest and best friends. It reminded me that I never posted about this gorgeous, summery baby shower of another childhood friend and as the weather is so bloomin' cold at the moment, it is the perfect time to draw a little warmth from the sunshine in these pictures!
My beautiful sister made the amazing cakes and threw the party to surprise her best friend, Dominique. One of the things I so loved about bringing this blanket together is that for the first time since I have been making baby shower blankets the baby's dad also knit a square. He knit as a child, and as dad to four boys (the bump is the fourth!) getting back into it is a great example to set. Knitting and crochet are categorically not reserved just for women, but some of the comments I get these days seem to suggest that a lot of folk now believe that is true, so anything that goes against that stereotype is fabulous. Anyway, before I get too high on my horse, I have to say that I love how this blanket turned out.

The colours chosen were bright, so I made some floral granny squares to make use of the gorgeous shades. The squares were also all really different sizes, so I decided to work a crochet granny edge around each of the squares - both knit and crochet - to make it easier to join them and I love the final effect! Gorgeous Rocco - the babe born shortly after this shower - is now one (look how behind I am at this posting lark!) and hopefully still using his beautiful blankie.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Resolutions


I am probably giving myself too many resolutions to achieve this year, but one I really want to try to keep is to take time out to read more. Reading used to be my biggest passion and how I unwound. Knitting and crochet became my go-to relaxation activity many years ago now and I want to redress the balance somewhat. Therefore, one of my newest designs for Inside Crochet - a bookmark - is hopefully going to be put to good use! It is in issue 73, out now in all good newsagents with a glorious granny cluster cardigan by Catherine Waterfield on the front cover, that I hope I eventually get the time to make for myself! 
If you don't usually read Inside Crochet, do go and search out this issue - I love so many of the projects inside this month, the colours and textures are beautiful, so it's well worth a flick through.
Bookmark images by Leanne Jade Photography

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2015


As you can see if you read my post Healing Crafts, it has been a bit of an odd year healthwise for me, but I have still managed to squeeze in quite a bit, workwise! Here are some highlights, in order that the pictures appear.
This year marked ten years of freelancing and the event which reminded me of this was the Loop tenth birthday celebrations. I was the first Loopette and it was an honour for Susan to ask me to contribute to the book Loops 10 which she published to mark the occasion. I designed the Sweetie Pie Capelet and I will do a proper post to talk more about it all very soon.
One of my favourite and most 'liked' patterns of 2015, Ava boxy sweater from Inside Crochet 62. (My first task for 2016 is to get all my patterns updated in my Ravelry and Love Knitting shops!)
My littlun now fits into most of the patterns I made for my books Knitting for Children and Crochet for Children, so she wore them a lot this year, which made me very proud, as she just loves them, and a lot of them I made when I was pregnant with her, so it has been a long wait to use them! Here is one of our favourite projects - the Mouse Mitts from Knitting for Children.
I also discovered my first book, Easy Baby Knits is being reissued early 2016! More about that soon.
Nymph is a crochet pattern I designed for Yarn Stories, a UK based yarn company spinning yarns in the UK,  a fact that makes me love their yarn even more!
Last year I worked on my first book in quite a few years and I have to say I love the way it has turned out. Not seen a hard copy yet but I shall let you know as soon as it arrives! It is a modern crochet book for beginners inspired by Scandi style. (It's just so me!)
I  really enjoyed the people I have met and classes I taught at City Lit last year - this is from the first ever Giant Knits class that I have taught which was great fun! Next up are knitting and then crochet classes for improvers over the next couple of months - check out the details here.
Last up are two more of the projects I designed for Inside Crochet - the cute little Apple amigurumi and a versatile daisy chain necklace/garland.
I also went to Yarndale for the first time, which was fabulous! I am definitely going again this year - will I see you there?
Here's hoping 2016 is as productive with less of the negative side. I am starting the year off having to fix a hole in my hallway ceiling from a leak, but am trying to remain positive and look after myself - lots of calming knitting and crochet for all the new babies coming to friends and family this year are keeping me stress-free so far!
Happy 2016 everyone.
Images by Kristen Perers, Lucy Williams, Claire Montgomerie, Cico Publishing, Yarn Stories, Parragon Books, Claire Montgomerie, Kirsten Mavric.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A New Look

So, you may have noticed that the blog is beginning to change...what do you think of my brand spanking new logo? It was designed for me by a very good friend who blogs over at The Bungaloo, where she has previewed the logos, too. She is a designer with a great eye, quirky style and is a genius with fonts, while she knows me well, so I knew I wanted to work with her on it. She came up with this beauty - I love the linear quality and the use of yarn within the text, while the colours are just so me. Hopefully we shall be working together more on the look of the blog and other, larger projects next year, so stay tuned!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

healing crafts



Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but I have finally had to make the admission to myself (which you may have already gathered yourself from my previous sporadic posting!) that I am a blogger of very good intentions but a lack of time to actually dedicate to posting! I don’t want to make excuses, but since my last post, added to all the regular work and life stuff, there have been other reasons for my lack of presence.

Looking back at my last post, all the way back in March, it feels like such a short time ago, but in that few months so much has changed for us. I don’t usually talk about personal things on this blog. I try to keep to the yarny stuff. I find that comes more easily to me. But recently there seem to be a lot of stories on the web about craft as a powerful healer and I have found crafting (and talking) has helped me through a hard time this year.

Recently I had a lovely chat with the gorgeous sisters behind the yarn company Millamia, which is experiencing its own transitional year in many ways and it made me think once more about my experiences this year and was the motivation for writing them down here. When I wrote that last post in March I was in the middle of writing a new book (due out next year) and I was making a soft, pretty granny blanket for it using the gorgeously squishy Millamia Aran weight.  When I began making the blanket it was a daily reminder of the impending exciting, positive changes I had to look forward to this year. I enjoyed working on that blanket so much, the yarn is a pleasure to work with and the colours are so calming. As anyone who follows me on Pinterest or Instagram will know, the greyscale and pop of warm ochre is one of my all time favourite colourways!

In the week following that last March post, two things happened – I got very ill and we moved home. Not just to a new house, but a new county. I have always lived in and around London, but this confirmed big city gal has overcome her vertigo and moved (slightly) north! Away from friends and family for a new adventure. Despite my initial worries, I am finding that I enjoy the slower pace of life, the serenity of the surrounding countryside and the large network of families who surround us. The most joyous thing is seeing my daughter play in our street with her new friends, which she never did in the city.


The blanket, meanwhile, became something different – it was a symbol of the hopefulness I had felt before that fateful week and a soothing project I needed to work through to help myself heal. I needed to finish that project before anything else. It needed ‘closure’. As I worked, I posted a picture on Instagram, my little reach out to the world. I mused about how many different, conflicting emotions could be captured in a project, entwined in the rhythmical knotting of one long piece of thread. I thought I was being cryptic enough to protect my own privacy, but a good friend insisted that we meet to talk. I was moved to tears. The healing had begun. I am now looking forward to hopefully having that blanket returned to me once the book is published as a tangible reminder of all I have been through this year, in the hope I will never forget the myriad of important emotions I experienced. Much like a Crochet Mood Blanket, it is more powerful than even a diary from the time could have been, when I couldn’t phrase all the things I needed to say, pick out the important stuff from all the thoughts rushing through my head.

I know that the way I have used crafting in my life to work through problems is not unique. I have heard many similar stories to mine over my years working with yarn, especially when I worked in Loop. Our ancestors knew all about yarn, crafts and their healing, commemorative properties, about the love that can be shared through one piece of fabric. I have discovered, from my own experiences teaching textiles, that groups of people crafting talk about things they would not usually share with strangers, a phenomenon that I have read people have utilised in therapeutic ways. I feel almost like an online crafting, creative community has also aided my own healing and I want to say thank you to all the people who have generously shared their own stories directly with me, or indirectly through sharing with the Internet at large. You have been a great help.

Normal service will continue shortly. Hopefully with a new-look blog and a rejuvenated approach. In my time away I have been planning more tutorials, free patterns and content that I hope you will find useful. I am now starting the process of teaching my little one to knit, which I shall also share here to aid you with teaching your own little ones. I am hoping she will enjoy it and use it as a tool for relaxation, creativity, healing – whatever she wishes. Perhaps she will even think fondly of the craft as a link to me, in the way that I feel I have a link to my own mother, and even my great grandmother and the generations further back that I have no knowledge of who passed down these skills. These are the things I love about yarn crafts. The things I am endlessly interested in. I hope you are too. I will never tire of talking about them, and want to encourage this talking, crafting and perhaps even healing.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

new issue

Cover, image by Lucy Williams, cowl Emma Varnam


New issue alert! 
Issue 63 of Inside Crochet is out now and it's a corker this month! I love the cover image for this issue, taken by Lucy Williams, which features a beautiful cowl by Emma Varnam.


Rooster by Shannen Nicole Chua, Image Claire Montgomerie
The Rooster on the cover is a project perfect for Easter, designed by the very talented Shannen from Sweet n' Cute Creations and made by me for my littlun - that's her little hands in this picture. She loves him, he now has a new home in her doll's house! 


Eggs by Nicki Trench Image by Claire Montgomerie

Talking of Easter, there are some very cute eggs to make with the pattern in Nicki Trench's column this month, which the littlun has also taken to playing with - in the basket they are pictured in above. I think this will be a popular egg hunt on Easter Sunday this year, mixing the crochet and chocolate eggs up so that she doesn't get a tummy ache!
Folk Art Jewels by Esme Crick, Image Lucy Williams, Model Frankie Moore, styling Claire Montgomerie
One of my favourite shots in the magazine this issue is the above Folk Art Jewels shot, project by Esme Crick. I do SO love that ring (and yet another of the littlun's fave things to play with!) and I am particularly enamoured with a breton stripe, red lip combo. So wish I could get away with a casual red lip every day...
Hirst blanket by Loopsan, image by Claire Montgmerie

Finally, there are tonnes of projects I adore this month, but this blanket is going to be so popular with our readers this spring, what a perfect new baby present or lap blanket. San Bee of Loopsan has a great eye, I adore every pattern she submits to the magazine. When she submitted this idea, I instantly saw it in the colours of a Damien Hirst spot picture, so I sent her some yarn in a selection of gorgeous hues, and she picked out the perfect selection to produce this little stunner. I am going to make one as soon as I have time - it is great for using up scraps, just buy yourself a base white or cream yarn and have fun with colours from your stash! 
Don't miss this amazing issue - there is also the final part of a gorgeous blanket CAL and a basic broomstick crochet tutorial amongst tonnes of other great stuff, even if I do say so myself...!