Tag Archives: wool

Rainbow Project Bag CAL

Had to get on the Blog today as I am really excited about a design I created for Women’s Weekly, the Rainbow Project Bag, being featured as a Mini CAL (Crochet along) on Facebook!

You can follow the link here Rainbow Project Bag CAL. It is a closed group, but I am an admin on the page so can add peeps, I will also be keeping up with the questions.

I didn’t manage to take many photos of this project, but I have dug out my original samples, and the yarn that was used, and will be making the square again.

The Rainbow bag is a cube shape, with 4 sides made from the motif square and a double crochet square base, which are all crocheted together.  Then a border is made around the top of the bag, and the handle grows from the border.

The motif square looks tricky but isn’t really as it  is essentially a 5 row repeat.  there is a twist, in that the bobble row is worked from the wrong side so that they pop out and look – well bobbly!

I am also really excited to see other peoples take on this bag.  At the moment it is only available as a pack from the knitting network – please note I am not receiving any credit for the affiliate links!

*Updated to say that the pattern is available on its own, from the knitting network here

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

😆

Am I a crochet designer?

I have been thinking about this for a while, and when I introduce myself at meetings and other places, what my job title is…am I a crochet designer?

I teach – Primary school Supply, but also crochet classes and workshops, at Missenden Abbey, Ally Pally, Olympia and Woman’s Weekly.

I write and design courses and workshops for crochet

I design patterns – this year for Women’s Weekly, DMC, Inside Crochet, Lets Knit and King Cole.

I write – this blog

I preach – I have been visiting different churches this year.

I have an online shop.

I am one of the two organisers of the Waltham Abbey Wool Show.

Since I had to design some business cards this week, I had to make a decision… Crochet Designer, Blogger and Teacher, kinda sums it all up,

I love the excitement of designing, I love receiving a brief and then some yarn, and turning it into something gorgeous, or starting from an idea/lovely yarn, to produce something that inspires me! I don’t mind the writing of the pattern, once I get started (procrastination is something I always work hard to defeat!) but quite like some of the technical work!

Sometimes I wonder about the designer bit, but I have been published in lots of magazines, and two yarn companies, so I can’t be that bad!  Or is this the typical British way of self depreciating what we do?  This year I have designed – A rug in chunky cotton, A blanket in aran weight merino, A rainbow granny square blanket, A motif cushion cover, a top and cardigan in 4ply cotton, A pair of rag dolls, a motif square bag. A cotton baby blanket, a tunisian crochet jacket and I am also planning an easter rabbit (I know sooooo early) a set of quirky amigurumi soft toys, a cardigan, a crochet along blanket, and some small amigurumi toys.  Phew!!

I love teaching crochet, it is always exciting to start a course, not knowing how it will proceed, whether people will pick up thing easily, or whether they will need a bit more help, I have also been told that I have a lot of patience and positivity when I’m teaching.

And the blogging part – I procrastinate faaaarrrr tooooo much, when I get down to it l love writing about what I do!  I love to share knowledge, give readers hints and tips, and share my passion.

so maybe my linked in profile sums it up better – Crochet Ambassador!

Summer crochet – catch up

Many people give up the yarn arts over the summer, not so the (ever so slightly) obsessed of  us, and so now is the time that we start thinking about autumn and winter knits and crochet.

Personally there is no time when I don’t crochet, and I have made a lot of cotton items over the past couple of months.  I can only give hints here until they are published, but I have designed a cardigan and top in King Cole Giza cotton, a rangoli rug for DMC in Natura XL, and baby blanket for Woman’s weekly in DMC Natura Medium.giza-top-pink-eml 2016-06-21-13-14-362016-08-15-15-42-47

The ladies in our knitting and crochet groups also keep knitting and crocheting over the summer and here are some of their projects

Trish is still going strong on blankets… this made in babette type squares sewn together – cleverly using a load of 4ply she was gifted with – two strands together, gives a lovely tweedy effect on some of the squares (the photo was taken in the Angel Pub so not the best!)

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Estella, has been quietly working away and has suddenly produced this gorgeous shell stitch blanket, with a really interesting colour effect…

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Finally Gwen, who knitted this baby blanket, then gave it a super ribbon edge – really nice for baby!

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For me there is always the opportunity for some Crochet out doors!

My Hubby and I went to see our son ride very quickly (over 170mph in places!) on his motorbike – around Snetterton Race track, you can see the pits where we were stationed!  Sunny day, smell of fuel and burning tyres, what’s not to enjoy?!

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This is a very famous place – where my Hubby swam along the river with a couple of hundred others – I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet for a while.

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Here he is swimming in the river – he is far left of the picture taking a breath…

2016-08-14-11-44-49And this is a picture from the position that made this place famous – have you guessed where it is yet?

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Constable country – Flatford Mill is where the Hay-wain was painted!

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Although I like this photo better, just something about the plants, the bench (and I love an arched window) is very inviting!

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I am looking forward now to the Autumn/Winter season, with several shows, workshops to plan and deliver and  a few more patterns I am working on that I can sell myself… watch this space…

Missenden Abbey – Crochet for all course

So I have had a bit of a blogging break, but I have been very busy this year so far planning courses and workshops, designing for a range of magazines, and yarn companies!  I have also been doing some supply teaching at a lovely school in Enfield.

I hope to be around quite a bit during the summer, and completing some designs that I have had on the hook for a very long time!

I am also teaching again at Missenden Abbey.  I am currently re-writing my course so that it is even more appropriate for mixed ability!  It will be based on the basics (?!), but I have designed my own squares for the ripple pattern, and 3D flower centre, with extra little hints and tips along the way.Ripple pattern for Crochet for All CourseIf you have never picked up a crochet hook before, if you have some experience, maybe with lots of questions, or want to know some tips to make your crochet look more professional, This is the course for you!

It is running from Wednesday 17th, 9am – 5pm, Thursday 9am – 5pm and Friday 19th August 9am – 3pm, with wonderful lunches, and breaks with homemade biscuits and cake!  (The crochet is great too!)

If you would like to know what goes on at Missenden abbey, have a look at this post from last years Learn to Crochet course.  This is the link for more details about the course.  I look forward to seeing you!

 

Knitting and Stitching show – workshops

I love the Ally Pally show (Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching Show) and for the first time I will be running Learning Curve workshops, and a demo.

I received an email today, and it showed that over half my workshops are booked, and we still have 6 weeks to go!

If you are interested in learning some new crochet techniques this is a list of the courses2014-11-22 12.03.59

Weds 11.45 – Tapestry Crochet Bauble – a special pattern I designed using 2 colour tapestry crochet, we will be working in the round, using a chart to guide us.

 

Diana Bensted Broomstick Lace Crochet Scarf

 

Thursday 10.30 – Broomstick Lace Crochet scarf, a great technique using a knitting needle to create large loops which you then crochet off the needle, a very distinctive pattern.

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Saturday 3.30 -Tunisian Mug cozy – an easy stitch pattern made in Tunisian crochet, try either basket work stitch, or a honeycomb stitch (my personal favourite)

Diana Bensted Crochet Cable Cushion

 

Sunday 10.30 – Crochet Cable Cushion – a 2 hour workshop where we really get to grips with crochet cables using post stitches, using an original pattern.

 

All the one hour workshops cost just £12, with all materials and worksheets provided.  The two hour cable workshop is £20

A freebie is my demo in the Stitch by Stitch space which is all about Amigurumi!

I look forward to seeing you there, look out for a future post on how to get the most out of visiting a large knitting show.

Sneak peek!

So today I was completing the beginners crochet project, and as I want to write this up, I thought you might like a sneak peek – do you like the colours?  There were one of two that I wasn’t sure about, but now I see them altogether, especially in the ripple, I am loving it!

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More details in a future post…

 

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!

 

The secret to professional results

So how do we achieve professional looking results from our crochet or knitting?  You really do have to follow all the guidelines!  There are no shortcuts… I know you didn’t want to hear that did you!

To start with if you are making a garment you really should make a gauge/tension swatch.  and especially if you are changing the yarn, even two double knits can crochet/knit in a very different way, then if you change the content of the yarn – eg from acrylic to wool or merino, they stretch in different ways.

You should learn how to sew up your items properly, mattress stitch is your friend!  whenever I have taught it, people think its almost magical the way that you cannot see the seam from the right side.  Although my USP (Unique Selling Point) as far as designing goes is to reduce the amount of time you spend finishing off the pattern – If once you have fastened off and sewn in the last end the garment-toy-item is finished it is waaaay more satisfying than having to then sew or crochet together many little pieces.

And finally you really should learn to block your items.  This is not step by step instructions, but just a gentle introduction!2015-02-11 10.29.32     2015-08-15 18.32.32I am showing you lots of examples here mainly of thread work like doilies, or lace which is equally fine, but it really is remarkable the difference when you do block.

2015-05-09 22.47.36   2015-05-09 22.51.50So what should you block? – anything that is flat! You cannot block toys/3D objects (as you stuff them the stitches are formed into their final shape, but garments, blankets, scarves/shawls, all have their differing methods.

DSC03558      DSC03565 Blocking just means that you use water in some form (washing, moistening or steaming) to re-align the stitches, making them as even as possible, and form the item into a good shape and correct size. DSC03573

You might wash the item (I do this most of the time as I find it the most reliable) You can steam the item, and then you can shape it – this might be a light blocking in the case of a garment which you shape to the correct size with your hands and leave it to dry flat.  It might be a stronger blocking like a lace scarf, which after you have crocheted might be quite a scrumpled up mess, but once wetted and stretched out with pins and/or wires, shows what a beauty it can become.  Or in the case of something like a blanket, you may wash it in the machine (on a slow wool wash) then fold and ease it into a good shape.

This is just an outline of how to block, there are many great websites that go into far more detail – one of them that I found recently is the Shibaguyz they have some brilliant technique postings – this link is to their blocking page.  So go for it, and have a professional looking piece

30 hours in the day please!

This is just a quickie!  I love Dr. Seuss books, and have found out that he is eminently quotable!  There are several that I love, but this seemed appropriate, as I have tooooooo many things to do!

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

because there are not enough hours in the day when you have a crochet deadline, something that has to be done, and cannot be rushed!

More news tomorrow!