Writing and Testing a Crochet Pattern

One of the aspects of writing a crochet pattern is the constant niggle in the background of accuracy.

I don’t know about you, but I rely heavily on my spell checker when I’m using a keyboard, my spelling is much worse when I’m typing (and it can be a bit erratic when I’m using a pen, I must confess!)  However, that’s no help at all for typing crochet abbreviations so it’s quite a slow process.  And that’s after dreaming up the idea to begin with and then making it a second time so the pattern can be recorded.

By the time you get to the point where you make the item again from what you have written down it’s hard to judge whether you have explained yourself properly. By then you know the pattern inside out!

My latest make is a granny square cushion cover using the Planet Penny Cotton Colours with Snowdrop yarn which I backed with one of the PP fat quarters - jolly red and white spottiness.

Granny Square cushion - Planet Penny Cotton Colours

Granny square cushion - crochet pattern

cushion back for crochet pattern

I’m very happy with it, but now there is the question of the crochet pattern, and the making up instructions, and making sure it all makes sense.

What I need are some testers, and I’m trying to work out the best way to make it work.

So…

…if you are a Planet Penny customer with a Rainbow pack of yarn who would like to make a cushion, I’ll provide the pattern, the fat quarter and a ball of Snowdrop yarn in return for trying out the pattern, giving constructive criticism, and sending photos of the finished article.  How does that sound?

If you could help test the Granny Square Cushion crochet pattern I’d love to hear from you. You would need to have some crochet experience, be used to working from a pattern, have basic sewing machine skills, and be able to produce a clear photo of the finished article.

You can leave a comment, or get in touch via the contacts form with some details which will help me choose.  I need 2 or 3 people to get a good cross section.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and hearing about your crochet pattern skills!

 

Everyone Needs a Crochet Skirt Guard!

Actually, I’ve only just realised that I personally need a crochet skirt guard even though I don’t know whether one would survive many journeys down our muddy lanes!

I spotted one in Mollie Makes a few weeks back in pale, subtle colours.  Did you see it?  Definitely not mud friendly!

Crochet Skirt guard

Crochet Skirt Guard - Mollie Makes – issue 41

But it was a conversation I had with one of my Planet Penny customers which set me thinking…

(When you live on your own little Planet in cyberspace it’s such a treat to actually meet up with one of you lovely people out there!)

Debbie bought a pack of Planet Penny yarn when she visited for Open Studios and mentioned making a skirt guard as she left. I pleaded with her to send pictures of the finished piece.I love to see what people do with the yarn after it leaves me as I never seem to have time to be as adventurous as I would like with my own yarn.

My day was made yesterday when an email popped into my inbox with the most gorgeous picture, worthy of Country Living magazine!  How fabulous is this…?

Crochet Skirt Guard made with Planet Penny Cotton Colours

The unusual colour combination is stunning and it looks a real labour of love.  Debbie used a pattern from JustDo who sells her patterns on Etsy…

Crochet Skirt Guard from Just Do

Crochet Skirt Guard Pattern from JustDo on Etsy

…and had to be a bit ingenious to make it fit her own bike but it worked beautifully.  Thanks Debbie, for allowing me to share, just too good to hide away!

I’ll be back soon…x

 

A Grown-up Camera, a Digital SLR…

…ooh-er…

Yes, after umming and ahing for ages, I now have a shiny new digital SLR Camera, and I’m really quite excited about it!

It all began because I spotted fellow East Anglian and Sheepy person Penny, of Penny Lindop Designs, talking about how much she had got out of an online photographic course she had just finished.  I’ve always been slightly intimidated by ‘real’ photography and ‘proper’ cameras, with all the acronyms and numbers, lens and zooms, exposures and depth of field.  These days the automatic setting on a digital compact or the camera on a smartphone can take you a long way.  And having my little Canon IXUS 125 HS (you see, all initials and numbers!) tucked in my handbag is really handy.

However, it’s quite hard work getting the right sort of photos for Etsy, and occasionally for magazines. I end up having to do quite a lot of fiddling around in Photoshop before I’m happy with the result.

So I investigated the photographic course, read my way through the website and had a good chat with Penny about her experiences and decided it’s exactly what I need right now to get my creative juices going.  A new challenge.

You can do the course using a compact camera, but the advice is by the time you’ve got to the end you would be ready to move on so it seemed sensible to learn the ropes whilst getting used to new equipment.  And the bonus was that the recommended digital SLR camera is also a Canon, a make I’m really happy with.

I’m still a little reverential in my handling of this new and (to me) sophisticated bit of kit and it hasn’t been off automatic yet, but I love it!

It makes Higgins look extremely shiny…

Mini Dachshund…and the flowers in the garden look more beautiful than ever…

Flower Montage Digital SLR camera parcticeThe Course is aimed at Designers, Makers, Crafters and Sellers who want to photograph their products, and get to grips with styling, lighting and presentation and I’m really looking forward to learning all about it.  I’ve been having a play and just having the new camera has made such a difference already…

Planet Penny Products photo practice digital SLR camera

 I’m really looking forward to starting the course in September, it’s never too late to go back to school!

If you are interested in the course I think there are some places left, you can find out about it here at Photocraft, and do let me know if we are going to be classmates!

See you soon…x

Art Therapy Books – And the Winners Are…

Art Therapy Giveaway…Art Therapy Books - Mandalas and  Stained Glass

What a lot of wonderful comments arrived for the Art Therapy Book Giveaway review from last week! Jacqui Small Publishing had kindly offered a copy of each of these books to two lucky winners. I asked you to tell us about favourite places to relax and they all sound lovely!

Gardens and water feature strongly, several people like the beach.  Summer houses were mentioned and hammocks (the hammock under the cherry trees is my own particular haven) and craft rooms, crafty corners and sofas.  Makes you just want go off and curl up, doesn’t it?

In the end I couldn’t possible choose only two and turned to the Random Number Generator to decide, and the winners are Sarah Ellis, who chose the Mandalas book, and Janice Perkin who plumped for the Stained Glass Designs.

I really hope neither of the ladies actually need Art Therapy as it were, but find the books as relaxing and fun as I have.

I’ll be back soon…x

 

Art Therapy Colouring Books – Review and Giveaway

When I was approached the other day to review a couple of Art Therapy books I wondered if someone had been peeking in my office, because I have this picture pinned on the wall beside the monitor…

If anyone needs me I will be in my blanket fort - colouring in…and I have had a wonderful excuse to do just that with the two books which arrived a week or so back from Jacqui Small Publishing, Art Therapy Stained Glass and Art Therapy Mandalas.

Stained glass colouring book, art therapy

Art Therapy Mandala Colouring BookThere is something very relaxing about letting someone else worry about the lines and the shapes: when all you’ve got to do is think about what colour crayon to pick up next, or washing your paint brush ready to mix another shade.  And now it’s official, we’re not wasting time, we are relaxing, it’s therapy!Art Therapy Press ReleaseI’ve been scribbling away happily over the past few days and after all the worries about my mum it’s been lovely to switch off that part of my brain.  This was my favourite from the Stained Glass book…

Art Therapy Stained Glass Colouring bookI’d rather like this next design as wallpaper, wouldn’t you?…

Art Therapy book MandalasWith this one I went to town with the paints.  I may get round to finishing them but I actually rather like the colours set against the black and white.Mandala Flowers Art TherapyHaving shared my adventures on Facebook and Instagram I was not surprised to have lots of positive comments about the whole idea of colouring in.  Such positive comments in fact from both my daughter and daughter-in-law that I shall restrain myself from further scribbling so I can pass the books over to them.  As my daughter is soon to embark on Teacher Training and my D-in-L is a new mum I think they need all the relaxation they can get!

And I’m pleased to say if you feel in a need of a little Art Therapy and relaxation there is a Giveaway!  I have two more copies of these lovely books lined up to give away to the even lovelier Planet Penny readers!

All you have to do is to leave a comment telling us about your favourite place to relax and get away from it all, and which of the two books you would like to take with you.

The winners will be picked on Friday 8th August, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

(Thank you to all who took part.  The Giveaway now closed, winners to be announced very soon)

It really is the Blog Hop!

As promised, and alas somewhat belatedly, I’m carrying on the Blog Hop from Claire of Mrs Brown Makes.  Being asked particular questions really concentrates the mind, none of my usual waffling!

So here goes…

What am I working on?

This is a hard one because I’m a butterfly brain by nature, and I’ve always got a bit of a conflict going on between all the things I want to do.  At the moment I know I really need to work on some new ideas for the Planet Penny cotton yarn to add interest to my Etsy shop, but I’m also planning a fresh project for my next needlefelt workshop.  I’m also in charge of social media and the website for our local community shop…, and the window displays. Oh, and I’m also designing leaflets and flyers for Arts Desire, which is where I hold needlefelt workshops.  And there’s a book review…   Hmm, sometimes I feel I need to clone myself!

So the latest pattern for the cottons is for a hat and bag based on the granny square…

Granny square hat and bag in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

And the experiments in flat needlefelt and embroidery will culminate in a workshop on making a sketchbook cover…

needlefelt felt flowers for workshop

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Gosh, that’s a hard one.  We all like to imagine we are unique, don’t we and then when you do compare yourself to someone else, it’s generally unfavourable!  I suppose with the cotton and the patterns I accidently struck a chord somewhere.  People love rainbows, and managing to source the yarn and colours that people love was serendipitous.  The Rainbow mice too.

Rainbow mice knitted in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

I’m not very good at being serious, (it got me into a lot of trouble when I was at school) and the things I create generally end up making people smile.  When I was at Art School I was told I would ‘grow out’ of wanting to make happy stuff, I’m so glad I didn’t!

With needlefelting I do compare myself with others.  There are some amazing artists out there who make wonderfully realistic things with needlefelt and if I think about it too much I feel rather inadequate. However, I don’t actually want to make things like that myself!  I do love the process, I like turning soft fluff into firm sculpture.  When people talk to me about what I do during Open Studios the main emotions seem to be surprise… and laughter.  Nothing wrong with that!

This is the Green Man I created for this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios and you can see how he came into being on the Two Rivers Trail Blog...

Needlefelt sculpture - Green Man - English Folklore
Why do I write/create what I do?

Well, I create because I’m alive, it’s just part of me.  I’ve done it since I was old enough to hold a crayon, snip with scissors.  And as for writing, I started writing the blog when I was at a low ebb and writing about what I was doing meant I had to do something to write about.  (It was very good therapy, I recommend it!)  Now it’s second nature and it really bothers me when life gets in the way and time passes and I haven’t written anything.  And I love being part of the Blogosphere with all the interaction with the rest of the World Wide Web.

How does your writing/creating process work?

Because I’ve been writing the blog for so long I have a sort of virtual filing cabinet in the back of my head where things to write about are noted and kept, and I usually have my camera or phone with me so I can capture images which inspire me to write. I don’t usually struggle to find material to use for a blog post, it’s more the other way around, there so much stuff stored in there I can’t decide what to write about first!

As for creating, it’s really hard to say.  Sometimes when I’m needlefelting things sort of arrive when I’m not expecting them, I suppose my subconscious is working out what’s going on  because it doesn’t trust the conscious me to get it right!

And now to send you hopping off in another direction…

First up is Gina, a very talented lady who writes the ‘Fan My Flame’ blog.  You might remember the beautiful little Alice in Wonderland I bought from Gina a couple of years ago…

Alice-in-Wonderland

Gina describes herself as ‘a textile artist, machine embroiderer, teacher, passionate baker and blogger’, which is very modest considering all she does.  You’ll find out when you visit ‘Fan My Flame’, I recommend it!

Secondly is Sue, aka Mrs Micawber…

“My name is Sue Perez – alias Mrs. Micawber – and I live and crochet in Wisconsin. When not crocheting, I read, blog, cycle, take photos when cycling (for the blog), cook, and occasionally clean the house. In winter I walk (though not as often as I ought), and grumble about the weather. I’ve been known to knit, sew, bead, and quilt, but crochet is far and away my favourite craft. These agreeable activities are financed by a job outside the home, but why talk about work when there are so many more pleasant things to discuss? :)

My blog, Mr. Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, was started to while away the time when my work hours were severely cut. Through blogging, I’ve made friends all around the world, and now I can’t imagine life without it.”

Sue writes the most beautiful crochet patterns, again, well worth a visit!

I hope you enjoy hopping about in Blogland.  It’s worth working backwards too if you are looking for interesting new crafty blogs to follow…

And I’ll be back soon…x