Tag Archives: inspiration

Happy New Year

Happy New year to all, have you made any New Year resolutions?  Have they been broken already?  I decided quite a while ago that New Year Resolutions were a bit of a misnomer, we can resolve to do something at any time of year.  It is just that a new year gives (some of us) a blank slate – It cant be as bad as last year…  this year I will – loose weight…   go to the gym…   learn a new skill…  quit smoking/drinking… of course there is nothing wrong in these, just that we so often fail, and then think that we can’t start again till next year – in reality we can start again the very next day!

But of course we should know that we can do this at any time.  For example I was told that I couldn’t have an operation on my shoulder as my blood sugars were too high.  So I quit sugar (I’m not an angel – I always start with good intentions) I have maintained this – at the moment.  But I started quitting sugar on the 16th July, it is a constant battle – I love chocolate! – but if I do have a bit, I try to make sure it is small, and if I have a bad day (I check my sugar daily now) then the next day I try to be extra good.

It is the same with the business as in personal life, we can start with the greatest of intentions and then ‘life’ gets in the way, I have never understood that, life is everything we do so we are just living it!

Working at home doing something I love to do, makes the blurring of the edges of business vs life even harder.  At the end of last year I did a month of Full time teaching in Primary school.  I decided after that (a resolution of sorts) that I did not want to go back to full time teaching.  I am much happier doing a couple of days a week.  or odd days of supply.  I also decided that I needed to earn more money doing the things that I do love to do, teach crochet, and design awesome patterns that are accessible to beginners, and which use as little sewing up as possible!  I also enjoy going to wool shows to exhibit, and pass on my passion about crochet.

Waltham Abbey Wool ShowOf course at this time of year my focus is on the Waltham Abbey Wool Show.  As part of our business it is one of the best parts of the year.  Kate and I are really excited about this year being our biggest and best show yet.  Dedri Uys is opening the show and judging the competition, as well as launching her new Sophies Universe book.  We have 10 new exhibitors along with over 30 favourites.  Nine workshops, free skein winding, and a new Charity – Knit for Peace, so lots to see and do.

So I have decided to blog more regularly, post more tutorials, and lots more patterns – I have quite a few in the pipeline, I’ve just got to get busy making samples, testing and publishing the patterns.

I have also been reading more about business, how to succeed, so will be putting some of that to the test too.

I hope you will join me on the journey.

Diana

😆

Linky post

So if you are new around here I thought I would point you to some interesting and useful posts

If you are looking for help to learn how to crochet – here is information on how to start, and how to make a granny square.

granny square round 3Slip knot and crochet chain

Granny square Round 1

Granny square Round 2

Granny square Round 3 and 4

And when you are learning, a great tool are these conversion charts as US patterns are written differently to UK patterns…starting out on Ravelry… others learning to crochet…

Conversion charts and US vs UK terminology2015-08-05 16.37.41

Ravelry – what is it and how to get started!

Missenden Abbey – My recent course, and how wonderful it is to teach in such a beautiful setting

And finally some inspirational posts

all colours

I hope you enjoy this re-cap, I am over 50 posts now, and looking forward to the next 50!

 

Day out – in town!

Had a brilliant day today, with my good friend Julia, We started at Blackfriars, and walked over the bridge to the Tate, Modern, I took a few artistic photos of a sample that I have designed for Women’s weekly, so unfortunately I can’t show you pictures, it was quite a simple design, but detailed so I am very happy to have completed it.

We then went to deliver the sample – and were invited up to the office, the Blue Fin Building is lovely inside,2015-08-17 12.38.55We chatted with a couple of people who work at Women’s weekly, and then we went up to the roof garden to have a cup of coffee.  It was a gorgeous day, and the view is spectacular! 2015-08-17 12.28.25 2015-08-17 12.32.23 2015-08-17 12.35.39 2015-08-17 12.37.02-2We then decided to go to the Royal Academy – via Green Park and lunch, we went to M&S and took far too long to decide what to eat!

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Unusual coloured broccoli/cauliflower – purple, yellow and green!

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Fabulous flowers in M&S

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Soooo colourful

We got the bus to Waterloo, and the tube to Green Park, I didn’t realise that you can walk straight up from the subway into the park!  We found a lovely shady tree, ate lunch, chatted and I designed a new crochet flower block!

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We then walked along to the Burlington House which is the home of the Royal Academy of Arts.  I have been a ‘Friend of the RA for years, but don’t usually go into town that often to make best advantage of it. 2015-08-17 15.23.30

So we saw this spectacular piece of art on the entrance stairs, we wondered how it was made, as it is a stone staircase, any hoo, we walked up, then got a bit confused about which gallery to go into, and ended up going via the lift, but an alternative route as it was out of order, it meant we were accompanied all around the back parts of the academy, where the public don’t usually see.  we went through the magnificent library with really old books.

We looked around the only exhibition that was there which was Joseph Cornell – Wanderlust, an ironic title as he never travelled, it was an interesting show, but not something that appeals greatly to me – I could appreciate the skill involved in some of the pieces, and quite liked a couple of the collages, but overall it wasn’t really my ‘thing’!  The stairs piece was much more interesting to me because of all the colour!

When we come out of the exhibition, we went to go down the stairs and we couldn’t – they were removing the artwork!!  It was fascinating to see this happening, and how they were pulling and scraping off the tape, lots of people all at once, and when we came back from having a coffee in the friend’s rooms, it was completely gone.  I could say something about the transitional nature of art, but it was just really interesting!

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Really lovely relaxing day out, a bit ‘ladies who lunch’, with a great friend, lots of chatting, coffee, and a little bit of crochet!

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Pinning on Pinterest

After pinning a few more inspirational pictures on Pinterest, this week, I wondered if everyone knows about it!

Pinterest is like having a scrap book, but online.  I have two accounts that I use for different purposes.  My named one linky here is like an inspiration page, if I see something that I like on a website, I ‘pin’ the picture, and choose which board that I put it on, like having different pages on a scrap book, but ones that can have an infinite number of pictures.

Of course Pinterest also emails me with things that I might like, and while sometimes I don’t look in much detail.  but others are fascinating and can lead to some wonderful discoveries – such as the featured image above.  Which although not something I would make, looks absolutely wonderful.  and if you follow the links to the original site has a great photo tutorial (because I don’t read Russian!)

glorious colour!

Or if you see a picture you love – I still love this a few years after I pinned it, you can go back to it time and again to be inspired.

beautifully complex

It is well worth having a look, as it can be used in as many ways as a scrapbook can – Planning a wedding, home improvements, clothing, basically anything where a picture can tell the story.

(please click images above to go to original websites)

Missenden Abbey Learn to Crochet

I have just arrived at Missenden Abbey, and while I had another post ready to go for today, I just had to write about this!

When I got here and went to the Reception desk, they needed to find my room, so asked if I wanted to go to the Garden Room and have a coffee, which I did, the room is lovely, and opened onto the garden and there was home made biscuits which were delicious!

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Sitting here there is a 400 year old cedar tree to the left, absolutely beautiful.

Once I was settled in my lovely room in the Coach House, which is spacious, has a desk, a lovely view over the pond, with a fountain, and is ensuite, I went to set up my room for the course, I will be teaching in the Dahl room.

I then went to dinner – walking between the Abbey and the Coach House is this lovely view of the house…

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and some lovely flowers, all the brilliant colours just inspirational!

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Dinner was three courses, I met another Tutor who is teaching watercolours – she has been teaching here for years, and keeps coming back!  by coincidence I also met one of my students which was great to get to know her.

Overall I think this is going to be a brilliant few days, I am looking forward to teaching in this beautiful setting, and getting to know lots of new people!

Granny square blankets…

It seems that everywhere you look at the moment people are crocheting and designing blankets, and I am no exception!

So what do you think of when I say Crochet blanket – something like this?  The Multicoloured granny square blanket with a black edging was very popular in the 60’s and 70’s, and remains the image many people have when thinking about this type of blanket.

photo from hellobinturong website, custom made items, click photo for link

Don’t get me wrong, I like granny square blankets very much, I love the rhythm of the crochet, and when I have been making something complicated I love going back to these squares – I just wish they could be called something else!

The next type of granny square blanket had a white border, and sometimes the centre of the squares was changed to make a circle/flower within a square,

picture from Joanne L. Craft Passion – click on image to free pattern and tutorial!

Without a border, or with colourful borders – or random!

picture from beautiful crochet stuff

picture by adaiha on CraftStylish click image for website

Of course the other option is to make one great big granny square, I managed this quite successfully but I did have help – I used Noro Taiyo yarn, which is a gorgeous aran/chunky variegated yarn, so no colour changes, it was probably the quickest blanket I’ve made,

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My Noro Granny blanket, click to see the project in Ravelry

The other reason I love Granny squares, is the variety of colours and designs – just google images of granny square and see what you find – an explosion of colour combinations and styles.

So on the plus side they are great to cut your crochet teeth on; a repetitive pattern which turns meditative, when you are starting out they are great to practice with, to get your tension right, to be able to see if and where you are going wrong, and there are infinite variations.  On the negative side – I do get fed up with people ‘re-inventing’ the granny square – it is what it is, a brilliant versatile pattern!

Woolly crochet blanket colours decided!

After much, much experimentation, I have decided on the colours that I will be using for my multi-pattern crochet blanket.

I looove colour so I have gathered the brightest colours in the DMC Woolly range.  2015-05-31 18.42.41

  • Top row:   075, 086, 094, 051, 052, 065
  • Middle row:  077, 082, 093, 103, 055, 063,
  • Bottom row:  074, 081, 084, 102, 043, 054

broadly, 3 blues, 3 greens 3 yellow, 3 orange, 3 reds, 3 mauves, so quite matched up as far as primary and secondary colours, even though I didn’t really plan it that way!

The next stage is to start planning the design, there will be 6 different types of pattern, some of which are motif squares, and some stripes. I’m going to start with a type of square which is as easy as a granny, but a bit more solid, I’m thinking of a heart, star or flower square, and a circle to a square type.  For the stripes I want to do something with bobbles, and a spike stitch – but I am still working on the details!

I’m looking forward to starting this blanket in earnest now, so will keep you updated as the pattern develops.  what are you crocheting or knitting at the moment?

Next steps in Crochet

I have had a few customers and friends enquiring about what to do after learning the basics in Crochet, so I thought I would help you out with the next steps.

Once you have learned the basics, my recommendation is to find a great basic pattern, this could be a granny square blanket, cushion, or scarf, a ripple blanket or cushion, or similar.  by embarking on a larger project with an easy pattern, you will be able to improve your tension, and general skills, it also gives a wonderful sense of achievement when it is finished!

I would then try and improve your pattern reading skills, still picking only easy patterns.

It is 705lgetoo easy when you start to find something you love, but that is a really complicated pattern, it might look easy but there will be something that you get stuck on…although you may have the perseverance for a while, it is easy to get stuck on a particular part, and then get disheartened.  If you practice with lots of different patterns that are still simple, you will gain in confidence.  A good stitch dictionary can help you make a start, or a book with lots of different motifs at different levels (one I recommend is 200 Crochet blocks by Jan Eaton link here to my website where I have a few copies at 35% off!)  make sure you get this one with the pink cover which has UK terminology.

Once you are happy with the basics, you could experiment with different yarns, and some different techniques, which is why I developed the Next Steps course…now while you can get the basic information from my website,  I thought I should elaborate, especially as I will be running this as a 3 day Summer School at Missenden Abbey.

There are basically 5 sessions with extended project time in the last session.

Session 1: Adding texture: this is where you learn the differences between, shells, bobbles, clusters and popcorns – they all add texture in a different way.  these are all made with combinations of basic stitches like trebles and double crochets

DSC04191

Session 2:  Cables and ribs: here you will start to use post stitches, both simple back and front posts but also how to twist stitches to create brilliant cables.  I may also have a cabled cushion cover pattern ready as well as the scarf pattern, designed by me!

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Session 3:  Lace:  this can be a scary area if you are used to working in DK or Aran yarn.  We will be using two different yarns, a plain merino lace weight yarn, but also a fluffy kidsilk type with mohair, and another original pattern.Konstance

Session 4:  Tapestry Crochet:  I really like challenging people’s perception of crochet and from a distance this can easily be compared with fairisle, we work in the round on a small phone cover, but I will also have the pattern for christmas baubles available! great fun once you get your head round holding 2 colours at the same time and following a chart!

DSC04295   bird   2014-11-22 12.03.59

Session 5:  Joining and finishing: the difference between handmade (professional) and homemade.  including tips for blocking, but the main focus is on how to join motif squares, with a wide range of different styles including join as you go. (you do have to bring some squares with you to join!)

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Throughout the course we will be reading patterns, and charts, and of course I love being able to sort out any crochet questions that you may have.

Of course if you have any questions that you would like me to answer through my blog please ask below in the comments or on my facebook page!

Crochet Colour combinations

So after being really quite obsessive,  I have one mini crochet square for every colour of DMC Woolly, labelled and the ends sewn in!  The next part of the the design process, and the really fun part – deciding on colour combinations.

I have made similar types of blankets with both 15 and 12 colours.  so looking for combinations with that many different colours.

I started by making a colour circle with the closest colours to the following red/blue/yellow first – primary colours, then orange, green and purple – secondary colours being made from the primary colours, then tertiary colours, red/orange, yellow/orange, red/purple, blue/purple, and yellow/green, blue/green.colour wheel 1I love, love, love these bright colours, for a start!  I then put all the colours out within the colour wheel, don’t they look gorgeous!  a great range of colours…all as spectrumthen put the bright colours together…bright comboand make sure that I know which colours are which – bearing in mind that photos are notoriously inaccurate!  bright with tagsI then tried a vintage look…vintage comboand some pastels…pastel comboAlso labelled!

vintage with tags pastel with tagsBut… I haven’t finished playing yet!  I want to do a lot more colour combinations before making the final decisions, including neutrals and some other colour combos like strong pastels, and complimentary colours – that is from opposite sides of the colour wheel, reds/pinks and greens or blues/oranges… watch this space!

And as for putting the colours away… the spectrum thing is a wee bit of a compulsion!all coloursWhat about your colour combinations – anything you like? Let me know about it below.

A-Z of designing!

I am about to embark on a new designing project in crochet, so I thought I would post about the whole process, from start to finish, it will also help to keep me on track if I make it public from the start!

I have wanted to design a blanket for a while, I really enjoyed making a variation on  the ‘groovyghan’ (Linky to Ravelry pattern) mostly because while you get the chance to repeat and practice motifs, but not so many that you get bored with them!

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The first decision is which yarn to use, the top one in bright colours was made in New Fashion Acrylic yarn, by Woolcraft, and the second one in Stylecraft Special DK.  For this one I wanted to try a wool yarn, and I haven’t crocheted in Merino wool for I while, DMC have a relatively new range called Woolly and I got 1 ball of each colour so that I could experiment with colourways.  The box arrived a couple of days ago!  Here is how they came…2015-05-14 19.36.14

I then organised them according to the colour chart…

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Photographed them on their side so I could see all the gorgeous colours…

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Put them back in the box… (obsessive – moi? not sure what you mean!)

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Mmmmmm don’t they look loooooovely…

And finally I started to make some little crocheted squares so that I can choose my colours.  I did think of putting the yarns onto clothes pegs, (I do really like that idea) and using them to shuffle the colours, and it would probably have made the labelling easier, but I think I like the look of the crocheted fabric to start.

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So this is just the start of the process, I will post some starter sketches, and all my finished squares with some colour combos soon.  Meanwhile dream of lovely soft squishy yarn, and leave a comment below!