Welcome to a quick catch up with Janie Crow. I hope that this email finds you well and happy wherever you are in the world!
I am never quite sure how I feel about this time of year when the end of the summer school break is in sight and thoughts start to turn towards the autumn. I love the sunshine and we have seen so little of it this year that I feel a little bit cheated, but as I said a couple of weeks ago, we finally have a lot of exciting things going on here at Janie Crow, so at least we don't have too much spare time to dwell on the lack of sunshine!
I have just seen the reveal pages that will feature in this month's copy of Inside Crochet Magazine promoting my new CAL 'Indigo Dreams' and I cannot wait for you to see them too! The wait is almost over! The CAL will run across 5 issues and the magazine will be doing a special offer for a six month subscription, both postal and digital - so do look out for that very soon.
We hope to have kits for the new CAL project by the end of the month and will let you know as soon as they are in stock. I have used Stylecraft Life DK, Highland Heathers and Batik DK to make the blanket, which was inspired by my love of Indian textiles and traditional patchwork quilt designs.
In case you missed it a few weeks ago, we have put my new book, The Fruit Garden Crochet Blanket, on the web site as a pre-sale item with the aim of despatching the books in time for the official publication date of 17th September.
The response to the book has been amazing and I am so pleased to hear that so many of you are excited about it. I am incredibly proud of it!
The pattern focus this week can only really be The Fruit Garden Blanket as we are still buzzing about finally being able to show you the new colourway and talk about the dedicated book.
With the imminent release of the book, which showcases the three original colour ways of the design, together with the new exclusive colourway, Red House, here is a visual celebration of the Fruit Garden family. You can click on the images to be taken to the web pages.
Love is Enough
Melsetter & Kelmscott Cushions
Night & Dusk
Parchment & Caramel
As a child I hated beetroot as I thought it tasted like mud and it has taken me an age to to realise just how incredibly delicious it is - now I just cannot get enough of it and use it in recipes at every opportunity!
We have been growing beetroot in the garden this year and it is abundant in all the greengrocers stores right now, so we tried out a delicious Beetroot, Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tarte Tatin recipe recently. You can see the results in this post over on the Janie Crow Lifestyle Instagram feed.
You can read more about the Janie Crow Lifestyle brand over on the website, but in short it came from our love of home and our desire to nurture ourselves, our friends and our families, whilst also being kind the the environment we live in. You will find products that we have tried out and that have the environmental credentials that fit with our beliefs along with seasonal recipes and inspiring images.
This month Facebook was abuzz with excitement as the first images of the Red House colourway of the Fruit Garden blanket were released along with the publication date of 'The Fruit Garden Blanket' book. A few of you commented that this is your favourite colourway yet!
We also joined in the celebration of Simply Crochet Magazine's Granny Square Day on Sunday 15th August. Lots of you shared images of beautiful squares with us. Sarah Haws showed us this lovely image of her Willow Squares (pattern from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton):
This was Carolina Stefania's Hollyhock motif from the Fruit Garden blanket - her favourite Granny square at the moment:
This is the Wikipedia definition of a Granny Square:
'A granny square is a piece of square fabric produced in crochet by working in rounds from the center outward. Granny squares are traditionally handmade.'
We think that lots of Janie Crow motifs count as Granny Squares - albeit not in the traditional style and we love the way that many of you use them to make a variety of great projects.
None of us can have failed to be moved by the dreadful scenes from Afghanistan over the last few weeks and some of us may already have been involved with local collections of clothes, toiletries and other essentials for refugee families who are being settled in our areas.
The online community Woolly Hugs is appealing for help to make squares for blankets to gift to these families. Click here or on the image below for further details. If anyone is able to help I'm sure they would be very appreciative.
Woolly Hugs get involved in a variety of projects, from making blankets for very poorly children in hospitals around the UK, to the Chernobyl project where blankets are gifted to children who visit the UK from the Ukraine each year, many of whom are in remission from cancer caused by the dreadful contamination from the nuclear accident back in 1986.
You can find out more about them on their website or on their Facebook page.
We are looking forward to a weekend with family and friends and I hope that whatever your plans for the next few days that you have a great couple of days too.
We always enjoy hearing from you, so if you want to get in touch simply hit reply and let us know what is on your mind.
PS: If you are looking for a few yarny bargains we still have some sale stock over on Andy's Just Knots web site here.
I am so excited to finally be able to properly share with you my new addition to The Fruit Garden blanket family in the shape of 'Red House', a brand new colourway inspired by a carpet design by William Morris and John Henry Dearle.
The Bullerswood carpet, which is known to be one of Morris's Hammersmith carpets is on display at the V&A Museum in London and you can find more information about it by following this link. There is also video about how the museum care for and renovate this precious textiles artefact here.
The V&A say:
'The Bullerswood is one of the last carpets designed by Morris himself in about 1889. Its complex design features scrolling arabesques with stylised flowers and birds and a border with repeat motifs of leaves and flowers. Though designed for practical use and wear, the carpet's cotton warp, jute weft, and woollen pile – richly coloured with a range of natural dyes – are actually extremely fragile....
This hand-knotted carpet is the first weaving of a design made by William Morris and his assistant J.H. Dearle. Two later weavings of the design were made. All of Morris & Co.'s hand-knotted carpets are called 'Hammersmiths' after the location of his London home, where they were first woven.'
I have named this colourway of the blanket 'Red House' after William & Jane Morris's first home in Bexleyheath. May Morris was born at the house and when I visited back in 2018 to attend the photoshoot for Climbing Rose Wrap I took some photos that included parts of a red and blue carpet in the hallway. It was these images that then prompted me to look the Bullerswood Carpet at the V&A.
The order of colour use for this new version is exclusive to my Fruit Garden blanket book, which you can find out more information about slightly further down this email. We have kits for the project available on a pre-sale basis at a cost of £74.50. You will need to purchase the book separately. Kits and books will be sent out from week beginning 13th September.
For the first time in ages we also have yarn packs for the Night & Dusk version of the project in stock. This colourway has been made using Stylecraft's lovely Naturals - Bamboo + Cotton yarn in a soft blue and grey mixture of shades with accents of peach, pink and soft greens.
Kits for Night & Dusk are available for immediate dispatch and cost £69.50.
I am so excited to finally be able to reveal my new book 'The Fruit Garden Crochet Blanket', which will be published on Friday 17th September.
The original patterns for this project remain available as free downloads via the Stylecraft web site, but I have now amalgamated all the motif designs needed to make this stunning heirloom blanket into a book, which also includes crochet charts, testimonials and more background information about my inspiration and design process as well as a brand new colour way of the blanket project, 'Red House', which I have already told you about above.
When putting the book together I was lucky enough to be granted permission to use images from The William Morris Society, The V&A and The National Museums of Scotland, all of whom have items in their collections by William & May Morris that inspired my design.
I am immensely proud of The Fruit Garden blanket and all that it came to represent over the course of the last 18 months, when so many people used it as a way to help them through difficult times. I have included 8 testimonials in the book from people all over the world who created their own versions of the blanket in 2020.
I hope that this book will act as a great learning tool for crocheters who want to create a blanket of their own and also as a lovely keepsake for those who may have already made one or more of the project colourways.
The book will be published on Friday 17th September and will be available via the Janie Crow web site and Stylecraft stockists. If you want to get your order in early, we have the books available on a pre-sale basis now.
All versions of the blanket use yarns from the Stylecraft range, including Life DK, Naturals – Bamboo + Cotton and the new Organic Cotton.
You can find a video of me flicking through the test print version of the book by clicking on the image above or here. The test print is spiral bound, but the final book will be perfect bound.
If you have been following my emails for the last couple of months then you will know that we are moving out of the studio at the end of September. What you might not know is that we have decided that after nearly 3 years as a separate entity to Janie Crow, Andy's Just Knots web site will merge back with Janie Crow from the end of August/early September. This will mean that some stock items from Just Knots will be available within the Lifestyle section of Janie Crow and that Just Knots will stop selling yarn and kits and will work as an eBay only stockist of hooks, needles and accessories.
We are really excited about the changes going on and see it as a really positive step. Our business has changed massively over the course of the last 2 years and downsizing Just Knots means we can give more attention to Janie Crow as the demand for my design work has grown so enormously over the last couple of years. We hope that you will see positive changes on the Janie Crow site as we start to give it a little more TLC.
In order to move from our current premises and downsize Just Knots we have decided to sell off all third party yarn packs and kits and also want to sell through all our yarn stock. Andy has put some really great reductions on items in his store and there are still a few bargains to be had. You can find the remaining reduced yarn here and kits here. Look out for more bargains over the next few weeks while we continue to sort out our stock ready for our move!
Of course I am spamming you all with a few more wedding pics! Summer and Chris had a couple of their official shots back from the photographer and the bulk of these will come through to us soon, but this week I thought I would share some of the pics from the fun snap booth that they had at the reception.
The top two images are probably self explanatory. In the third image down Andy and I are with our lovely office assistant Sue. The fourth image is of the fabulous Sarah Hazell with her husband Paul. Sarah is a huge support to me on the pattern writing and creative side of things and she also does our pattern queries. Clearly we all liked the idea of playing the little blue guitar!
At last it looks like better news in terms of yarn supplies We have been able to put yarn packs for the Eastern Jewels version of Persian Tiles and the Night & Dusk version of The Fruit Garden blanket back in stock on Janie Crow. We also have kits for the original Persian Tiles blanket project.
Most of our yarn kits are now packaged using repurposed packing as we are re-sealing the yarn bags that we receive our stock from Stylecraft in. This has meant we are using a lot fewer new plastic bags. Unfortunately our recent trials with paper and card packaging were not totally successful (especially when mail delivery companies leave parcels in wet porches are in puddles of water), so we are hoping that this is a better solution.
I have been working in collaboration with US yarn brand Mary Maxim for the last couple of years. Working with them gives customers in the US & Canada easier access to yarn kits for my designs and means that Mary Maxim are in control of creating and sending the parcels so that recipients do not incur big shipping charges and import taxes.
Last spring I designed a new version of my Persian Tiles blanket which is exclusively available via Mary Maxim. The colourway is called Sandalwood and after months of being out of stock due to yarn shortages I am pleased to say that it is back in stock - and it even has a $10 reduction on the price to celebrate! You can find Sandalwood kits by following this link. Please don't email asking for the colour listing as this is exclusive to the Mary Maxim kit.
This week Mary Maxim have released a brand new yarn pack for my Delft blanket design. You can find it by following this link. If you would rather not have a yarn kit and are interested in my paper catalogue or download patterns, then take a look at them here on the Janie Crow website. Project pages have links for download copies of my patterns via Ravelry and Etsy.
We are really excited that we will be exhibiting at Yarndale towards the end of September. We have secured a really big stand so that there is double the amount of space for us to display the blankets and projects and more room for people to move around whilst browsing and stay a little more socially distanced. We are hoping to have yarn kits, patterns, books, crochet hooks, knitting needles and accessories for sale.
We will be dedicating quite a large space on the stand to display The Fruit Garden blankets and I will be on hand to sign copies of the book and catch up with any of you who want to have a chat!
The organisers of the show have made tickets available as timed entry to ease congestion and they have provided us with lots of suggestions to make the day safer of everyone, such as the provision of hand sanitisers on the stand and the recommendation for attendees to wear face coverings.
We are really looking forward to the event after 2 years away and hope that some of you will come along too. You can find tickets and more information by following this link to the Yarndale web site.
We had a really great time in Bournemouth for our first workshop weekend in 18 months a couple of weeks ago. It was just so good to see everyone and it was amazing just how quickly it all felt very 'normal'. We have secured a date to do a crochet workshop again for June next year and will start putting plans in place for the event soon. Once the information about the event goes live I will let you know.
I am really pleased to have been nominated within the 'Most Iconic Crochet Designer' category in this year's British Knitting & Crochet awards. If you want to head over to the awards website to vote for all your favourite yarn brands, stores, designers and products then you can find the link here. The Crochet Designer award is listed under 'Miscellaneous'. Voting closes on September 24th.
At the weekend I made a carrot cake for my lovely sister in law Julie, who has been through a horrendous couple of months. I followed this recipe via BBC Good Food.
The cake was easy to make, but I was a little concerned that it might be a bit stodgy given that it didn't rise as much as I thought it should, so on Tuesday evening I made another one for us to try at home. Thankfully, whilst it is a very moist cake, it is not as dense as I feared and has actually become more and more delicious over the course of the last 3 days since I made it. I will definitely be adding it to my favourites list.
As usual we have a quiet weekend planned. Andy has made good progress on the lean to at the end of the garden and we have been busy at home having a good old clear up as we continue to make plans for a few home improvements. Our loft and garage had become dumping grounds for anything we didn't really know what to do with so we have finally sorted through about 20 years of hoarding! It has been hard work, but quite cathartic too, especially as we prepare for new horizons here at Janie Crow.
We decided to add an enclosed shed area to the lean to, which will be accessible via the summer house. This should act as a good storage space for us going forwards and we are hoping that we will also have space for a wood store and a small greenhouse as we have really enjoyed growing some vegetables and flowers from seed this year.
We are especially proud of our aubergines, which are suddenly growing like crazy. One of the plants has about 7 fruit on it and, whilst we possibly should have culled most of them in order to grow bigger specimens, I am really in love with the mini aubergines that are busy growing on the patio.
I am between crochet projects at the moment so I am looking forward to some new design work. I have a few ideas for a blanket design and want to find a new down time project too. Charlie found a great article about a group of crocheters in Malaga, Spain who grouped together to make an amazing handmade sun canopy.
You can find the article about this amazing canopy by following this link to Colossal. Here is a snippet of text from the piece:
'Beating the heat in the town of Alhaurín de la Torre, in Malaga is an art, literally. A massive patchwork of crocheted squares now blankets the main shopping corridor thanks to local crochet teacher Eva Pacheco and over a dozen students. Three years ago, the city council’s Department of the Environment decided to swap a large plastic tarp with a more eco-friendly and colorful solution. The textile tarp features colorful geometric patterns, organic shapes that radiate like stepping stones, and other symbols and colors selected by the students. Pacheco and the group of women have expanded the canopy, and it now covers an area of nearly 500 square meters.'
That is pretty much it from me this time. I leave you with this lovely article about the smily Herdwick sheep of The Lake District, which also explains the links that Beatrix Potter had to farms of the area and The National Trust.
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend...
Welcome to a quick catch up with Janie Crow. I hope that this email finds you well and happy wherever you are in the world!
I have a few things to tell you about this week, but first I want to share some images from Summer's wedding!!! We only have phone snaps at the moment, but I am showing them to EVERYONE as I am so proud of my amazing daughter and our new son-in-law!
We had the most amazing time and every aspect of the day went according to plan. Despite a dreadful forecast the weather was incredible and the rain held off, so Summer & Chris were able to get married in the pagoda in the grounds of the venue and not inside.
Even the cake behaved itself on the day, despite me battling with the butter icing in the 30 degree heat in the days leading up to the wedding!
After all the trauma of the last 18 months it was incredible to be able to get together and celebrate this very special day and we are feeling so blessed and lucky to have had everything go to plan. In the end the day went far too quickly and I wish we could do it all again. Hopefully the official photos will come soon and we can reminisce about what an amazing day it was. I am sure I will be spamming you with images for a few months more, so watch out!
I have a few other things to tell you about this week, so I hope you have a few minutes spare to catch up with all things Janie Crow....
As I mentioned in my last newsletter I'm so thrilled to have been nominated within the 'Most Iconic Crochet Designer' category in this year's British Knitting & Crochet awards. Voting is open until the 24th September so there's still plenty of time if you want to head over to the awards website to vote for all your favourite yarn brands, stores, designers and products. You can find the link here or click on the image below. The Crochet Designer award is listed under 'Miscellaneous'.
In between the wedding preparations over the last couple of weeks I have been working on the new Fruit Garden book and am really pleased with how it is coming along and cannot wait to show you a few snippets from it very soon. Hopefully I will be able to give you more information in my August Newsletter in a few weeks time.
As we prepare to leave the studio at the end of September we have been looking at putting a business plan together for the next few years. I am really excited about the prospect of a fresh start and am enjoying the process of putting some new plans in motion, one of which is to add a few more lines to the Janie Crow Lifestyle range.
We love the Della Q range of knit and crochet companions and will be slowly moving our stock from Andy's Just Knots site to the Janie Crow one as we think it will sit in the Lifestyle range really nicely.
You can find our existing stock of Della Q over on the Just Knots web site by following this link, but the real reason I am telling you about it today is because we have a new shipment of mini messenger bags arriving over the next few days. I am totally in love with the look of these bags and have already nabbed myself one, which means we will have just 8 of them to sell (2 of each in 4 shades). We have added them to the website as a pre-sale item and expect to be able to send them out next week. You can find more information by following this link or by clicking on the image above.
You can find the Makers Canvas roll top range (shown above), which are also new, by following this link.
For the last few years I have been pretty good at updating and re-releasing patterns that have previously featured in magazines, such as The Climbing Rose Wrap, but I know there are quite a few that have fallen through the net.
This week I have had a few requests for the pattern for my Dizzy cushion cover, which featured in Simply Crochet Magazine in 2017. Rather than spend lots of time revamping the pattern I have decided to release it in a slightly different format to the majority of my patterns and will include this design in my 'Studio Collection' range as a download via Ravelry.
The pattern has been written for Rowan Cotton Glace, but you could use a DK weight yarn and end up with a slightly bigger cushion by using a 3.5mm hook in place of the 3mm. It is a great stash buster!
The pattern has been technically edited, but it has not been put into my pattern writing style and it has not been laid out by a graphic designer. It is also only available in UK terms. To reflect this, the pattern will be just £1.95 as a download and will not be available as a paper pattern. You can find it by following this link.
Have you been following the progress of the amazing Letitia's Garden CAL? I think the design is totally awesome and have really enjoyed seeing images of all the crochet in progress on social media over the last week or so since it was released. You can find more information about the CAL by following this link to the Stylecraft web site.
The CAL, which launched last week comes in seven parts and will be available in three colourways and four different sizes from table runner to a blanket large enough to top a double bed.
The pattern for Letitia’s Garden is available from Rosina’s Ravelry store priced at £7.95 but it will be just £3.95 until the end of August. Rosina has also made some very helpful videos to accompany the CAL which will be added to her YouTube channel as each part of the CAL is released. The CAL will be hosted in Rosina’s Facebook group Rosina Crochets.
My Summer Palace blanket design was initially inspired by an image of a printed cushion cover I found in a magazine, but having visited the Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, near Mysore in India, a few years ago I was inspired to look at the design again and link it into my Mysore collection.
I feel that the design reflects the wonderful carved and painted wooden pillars and painted friezes found within the building, but the original version also retains its slightly Scandinavian looking design, which I originally felt echoed traditional fairisle design and would be the perfect cosy feeling winter blanket.
Look at this beautiful version in pale pinks and blues by Litotesrabbit that we came across on Instagram:
I absolutely love the effect of the blocking boards under the blanket in this image from a_stitch_in_hand. When I first saw it I thought it had somehow been made in a colour changing yarn!
I found the image above via fionabfifi on Instagram and instantly fell in love with the subtle colour palette. You can find more examples by following the related hashtag on Instagram #summerpalaceblanket
I revisited the design for a wrap version and found colours within the Baa Ram Ewe range 'Pip Colourwork' to reflect the elaborate carved and painted wooden pillars and painted friezes found within the palace. We no longer have stock of these kits, but you can use any 4ply weight yarn.
You can find a video on YouTube here that shows the stunning interior and the gardens that surround Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace and you can find the Wikipedia page about it here.
You can find the printed brochure for the pattern in UK and US terms here and the download versions via either Ravelry or Etsy.
Thank you to Rosemary Fox and Katrin Stappart for the images from the palace shown above.
If you are ever stuck for ideas for a quick and easy dessert, Gemma recommends this Bailey's Cheesecake from the BBC Good Food website. Clearly it's not a recipe for every day given the calorific content but, for a once in a while treat, it is just perfect!
In the picture from the BBC website there is cream on the top of the cake and on the side which Gemma felt was just a bit excessive, so she decorated the top of hers with Malteser buttons and some chocolate shavings with no extra cream needed to serve!
Like many cakes and desserts Gemma says the cheesecake is definitely best made the day before and left to set in the fridge overnight, so it could be a prefect sweet to make on Saturday for Sunday dinner? I think it looks really scrummy!
Following on from the question we asked recently about how many projects you have on the go at a time, we asked our Facebook followers whether they prefer to crochet on their own or get together with others for companionable hooking...
More than 300 of you entered the poll and over three quarters of those who voted said they prefer to crochet alone, or simply don't know anyone else with whom to share their hobby. Although the solitary aspect of the craft could seem a little sad, many of you made the point that it can be much harder to concentrate on complicated crochet if you are in the company of friends and that for many of you, part of the joy of crochet is that quiet time, later on in the evening, when you can relax and de-stress whilst focussing on your craft.
I have to admit that I love the mindfulness that crocheting alone can produce. When I am working on a design I find I have to take myself away from company as my work demands my full focus, but, as someone with a pretty short attention span, I tend to get fidgety when making repeated motifs so tend to do these in company, especially if they are easy to follow parts of a design.
Working in a production line way helps me get through repetitive bits too and I often save these for the weekends when Andy and I are sitting with our morning coffee having a chat, or for when the TV is on.
We've had some very hot weather recently and it got us thinking about some of the images of crochet garments that pop up on social media from time to time. My friends are always sending me links to articles that show men in jazzy knitted or crocheted shorts with captions like 'I saw this and thought of you!'
Where do you stand on woolly shorts? This article should give you some food for thought, although a couple of the images are not for the faint hearted - you have been warned!
If you've been thinking about planning a road trip (once travel is a bit less complicated of course!) then how about heading to California to visit the 'World Famous Crochet Museum'. We just love the idea of this tiny roadside shrine dedicated to the art of crochet!
Currently on display at the Helsinki Biennial 2021 is the Crochet Coral Reef. This crochet installation has been travelling the world since 2007 and was shown at the Hayward Gallery here in London in 2008. I am pretty sure the UK also has its own satellite reef which was on display at the Knitting & Stitching Show in London a few years back.
What an incredible feat of crochet skill!
f you follow my emails you will know that I am really interested in the process of yarn production and the origin of fibres, but I am also interested in where our food comes from and have tried to include some good links to sustainable brands within the Janie Crow Lifestyle section of our website.
So, with this in mind, we were interested to read about some of the research currently being done into alternatives to imported soya for use in animal feed, which is one of the hot topics right now.
The production of soya for animal feed is a known cause of deforestation in the Amazon and so any sustainable and ethically produced alternative has to be good thing. You can find out more in this article published on Wicked Leeks, the magazine produced by Riverford Organic farmers. It's great to see what's going on behind the scenes in the UK.
We are looking forward to a quiet couple of days after the whirlwind fairytale of a wedding last weekend. I will be teaching my first workshop in 18 months next weekend, so Andy and I will be staying close to home and avoiding busy places to keep ourselves safe in the lead up to that.
I have to admit that I am really looking forward to a bit of down time and am hoping to spend some time finishing off a couple of WIPS and pottering around in the garden - weather permitting!
Andy has done a really great job getting the start of the framework for our new lean-to erected against the summer house in the garden. I am starting to visualise how lovely this space is going to be and am looking forward to choosing the floor tiles and decorating our new outside space. You can find my Pinterest board for the lean-to here.
I know that a lot of people are now on their holidays or are busy having some lovely day trips. Ros Harwood sent me this image of her Blue House blanket on the beach. I love the way she has co-ordinated her breakfast to match!
The weather forecast here in the UK doesn't look all that good for the weekend, so if you are looking for something to do then you might be interested in some great tutorial videos aimed at knitters that have been put together by my friend Juliet Bernard.
The series of 10 videos will show you how to finesse your knitting skills and are available via the Beyond Knitting & Stitching Show. I think these videos could make the perfect companion for a rainy weekend, so I might well be heading over to take a look at some point over the next few days. At just £40 for all 10 workshops I think they are a bargain too!
'If you have ever wanted to try some intermediate knitting techniques to take your craft to the next level, then this class, which includes 10 sessions, will take you there. Learn intermediate techniques to improve your knitting skills including, different sock heels and toes, double knitting, brioche, continental knitting, steeking, intarsia, short row shaping, cabling without a cable needle and how to recolour a Fair isle pattern.'
My friend Jan is right to be feeling very proud of her daughter Drucilla as her 'Atelier Rococo' project, which she has worked on in conjunction with The National Gallery, has gone live. I will definitely be taking a good look at this over the weekend as there are some fabulous images and quite a lot of fascinating information about the project over on the dedicated web site and via the National Gallery site.
'Atelier Rococo (Drucilla Burrell and Magdalene Celeste) have created 15 new works inspired by paintings from the Gallery that explore themes of power in portraiture and create alternative narratives to the traditional expressions of wealth and domesticity.
For inspiration, they choose a mix of paintings that were both familiar and unfamiliar; their selection “referenced both wealth and domesticity and classical portraits.” They also selected some “purely based on outfits we wanted to recreate, being contemporary dandies!”
Whatever your plans for the next few days I hope you have a great weekend. We always enjoy hearing from you, so if you want to get in touch simply hit reply and let us know what is on your mind.
It has been a busy couple of weeks at Janie Crow HQ as we continue to sort out our stock as we prepare to move at the end of September. I had thought we were working on the packing a little early, but as the weeks seem to be flying by faster than ever I think we have timed things about right, especially as we have accumulated so much stuff over the last 5 years! You can find more information about our Grand Summer Sale lower down this email.
I have been busy finalising my advent project that I have designed for Jimmy Beans in the US. The project is now blocked and ready to be packaged up to head off to The States early next week. I have to admit it was a bit of a learning curve designing with a yarn palette chosen by someone else and having a restriction of just 20g of each shade, but in the end I am really pleased with the project and look forward to showing it to you soon.
If you don't already know about Jimmy Beans you can find them here The advent project will go on sale in September I think, but you can find all their other current knit and crochet clubs by following this link.
I am really looking forward to tutoring my first weekend workshop for more than 18 months in a few weeks time and so I have been working on the crochet project that participants will make over the course of the weekend. I have been looking back at my Frida's Flowers design and have added elements that echo my new Indigo Dreams CAL to the project. I am so looking forward to being with a group of crocheters again and hope that this will be the start of more events and workshops.
As I have told you in previous emails, I have been working on a new version of The Fruit Garden blanket. What I haven't told you before is that I have been putting together a book, which will feature all three of the existing colourways of the blanket plus this new version, which I have called Red House. The book will contain all the CAL patterns, step-by-step images and a more in depth introduction and explanation about my design journey on the project.
The patterns for the project will remain free to download via the Stylecraft web site, but the new book will include crochet charts and a few fabulous testimonials and stories put together by crocheters from all over the world who worked through the CAL last year. I am hoping the book will make a really lovely keepsake for those of you who have already completed the project and that it might also prompt you to make the new version using Stylecraft Organic Cotton DK. I am hoping that the book will be available towards the end of August. Of course I will give you more information as soon as I have it.
I have spotted a few amazing versions of Persian Tiles out in the wild over the last few weeks. You can click on the images below to be taken to the linked Instagram feeds.
I think all these blankets have been made using 4ply yarn rather than DK. When I spotted the blanket below I was blown away by the fact that there are 200 motifs in it.
You can find more Persian Tiles Inspiration by following the hashtag #persiantilesblanket. There are some truly amazing blankets on there.
am really pleased to have been nominated within the 'Most Iconic Crochet Designer' category in this year's British Knitting & Crochet awards. If you want to head over to the awards website to vote for all your favourite yarn brands, stores, designers and products then you can find the link here. The Crochet Designer award is listed under 'Miscellaneous'.
As I have said already, we have been busy sorting out the studio ready to move in September. We have lots of new plans associated with our move. One of them is to stop stocking quite so much yarn, so we have decided to sell off the majority of our huge yarn stash.
We had thought that we would have an open day in order to do this, but I am aware that it is still not safe to have quite a lot of people in enclosed spaces. If we did decide to invite people to a physical studio sale we would have to create specific time slots for people to visit, so, with this in mind, we have decided to start selling off our stock via Andy's 'Just Knots' web site for now.
It might still be that we manage to have a sale here at the studio in August, but I think we are being prudent to see how things go once we officially come out of lockdown here in England from Monday.
This week Andy has added our stock of Rowan Summerlite DK to his site. The yarn should retail at £4.50 a ball, but we have reduced it to £2.75. We also have the 4ply on offer at £2.50 a ball reduced from £3.95.
Rowan Summerlite yarns are really beautiful premium cotton and both the DK and 4ply have really good meterage per ball. I used the DK weight to make my Bohemian Blooms blanket and the 4ply to make my Wiremu shawl, which you can find more information about lower down this email.
If you go to Andy's Just Knots home page you will see that he also has a few 25g balls of Scheepjes Catona, which is available in packs of 5 balls at just £3.95 and some West Yorkshire Spinners ColourLab DK reduced from £6.50 a ball to £3.95.
What total bargains!
We wil have more offers in our next newsletter and Andy will be adding items to his web site over the next few weeks, so do keep an eye out for more amazing offers!
I really enjoy planning which projects to take away with me on holiday and tend to opt for those that are easily transportable. I think crochet is especially good for holiday makes as the projects are usually pretty compact with just a hook and a yarn cutter to pop in your handbag together with a few balls of yarn to go in your main luggage.
If you are lucky enough to be off on holiday within the next few weeks then why not take a look at my Mystical Lanterns scarf kits. We have a few left over in some lovely new colourways. You can find them here and don't forget that you can find instructions for making straight sided motifs and corner motifs for the Mystical Lanterns project over on my blog.
Last year we managed to spend some time at home rather than go away on a holiday. It was really nice to potter around in the garden and do a little bit of work on the house. I finally managed to give the kitchen a much needed coat of paint and enjoyed sourcing some new cabinets. I am hopeful that we might get some time at home this year too, so have been looking at quite a few interior feeds lately in the hope that I will feel more inspired to dig out the decorating gear!
I have been following Nathalie Lete for quite a long time and already have quite a few of her painted plates from Anthoplogie, so I really enjoyed following her progress as she decorated her home last year. I have to say that seeing her amazing hand painted murals put my efforts in the kitchen to shame so I am thinking it would be nice to do something a little more creative this year. Click on the images below to be taken to Nathalie's web site and Instagram feed.
If you are a knitter looking for a holiday project then how about checking out the Southwold Wrap by the fabulous Helen Kurtz. The project features as the Make Along project on the Stylecraft MAL Facebook group and you can find more information about this lovely project on Helen's blog.
The wrap is made using Stylecraft's gorgeous Bamboo + Cotton yarn in a couple of fabulous colour ways. I think I am in love with the blue version (shown above) and agree with Helen that the glass beads she has chosen for the project really add a fabulous finishing touch. You can find the pattern for the project on Helen's Ravelry page here.
This week I have strained my elderflower liqueur (that I showed you about 4 weeks ago) and have added the sugar syrup. I have managed to get 3 bottles out of the batch I made and these have now been put away in a cool dark place for a couple of months to mature. I was really tempted to keep one bottle out to add to a glass or 2 of Cava or Prosecco over the weekend, but I have been a really good girl and stowed it away until September. If you want to take a look at the recipe I followed you will find it here. It is now possibly a bit too late for Elderflowers here in the UK, but maybe they are still in flower somewhere in the world?
We are in full wedding preparation now as our daughter Summer and her partner Chris will finally tie the knot in just 8 days time! I will be spending the next few days making their wedding cakes and have used this recipe via the BBC Good Food web site. I have tested the recipes quite a few times over the last few months and have not had a failed cake yet, so if you are looking for a really good chocolate cake or lemon cake you need look no further.
My Dad is a keen baker, who has taken to bread and cake making since his retirement. Summer asked if he would make her Fruit Cake tier of the cake and he duly obliged! Above is an image of the cake with its marzipan layer ready and waiting for the fondant early next week. Not bad gong for an 87 year old eh! What a hero!
If you want to follow my cake making process over the next few days I will try to remember to post some images on my Janie Crow Lifestyle Instagram feed. I have to admit that I am pretty nervous about the fondant icing stage of the process, especially as the weather is due to be so warm, but I am going to take it slow and steady and will resort to butter icing if all else fails!
We have just four kits left for my Wiremu Shawl. We have two in the original colour way and two in a darker grey combination. The kits are for sale on the Just Knots website at a discounted price of £34.95 each.
The kits include 11 balls of Summerlite 4 ply in two shades and the Rowan pattern book, which includes 11 crochet designs. The individual components of the kit should retail at more than £52 so these kits are quite the bargain.
I will be tutoring a knit and crochet workshop at the amazing venue of Gladstone's Library in December. I am really looking forward to this event and hope that you might consider joining me for a few days of rest and recuperation before the festive season sets in.
The workshop has been organised by Knit For Peace and you can find more information and booking details by following this link.
I am sitting at my laptop writing this while wearing my soft yoga pants, an old sloppy Joe T shirt and my glittery silver heels in an effort to break them in a little before the wedding. I have spent the last year in my trainers and deck shoes, with the occasional pair of flip flops thrown in for good measure, so squeezing my feet into a pair of glamorous shoes has been a bit of an effort, but hopefully I have finally broken them in!
We are all in a bit of a tizzy with the thought of finally being able to socialise and celebrate the big day in a more 'normal' way and I have to admit I am finding it hard to concentrate. To help me focus I will be making a lot of lists over the weekend in the hope that I get all my wedding related jobs done. I have managed to sneak some crochet into the decoration side of things, so I still have a little bit of that to finish while waiting for cakes to cook. Sounds like a perfect weekend to me, especially as it is finally sunny here in North London.
leave you with this link to a great video made by film maker Lior Patel who filmed a flock of sheep from a drone. I am not totally sure of my viewpoint on the ethics of this huge herd of sheep but I particularly like the bits where some of them get distracted by feeding stations and other animals and then have to run like crazy to catch up with the rest of the group! There is an interview with Lior here, where he explains how he captured these amazing films.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Welcome to a quick catch up with Janie Crow. I hope that this email finds you well and happy wherever you are in the world! Here in North London the weather has been more than a bit temperamental, with lots of rain and a big drop in temperature, so we have been busy catching up with some of our indoor craft projects rather than spending time in the garden or out and about.
When I am designing I find it helps my creativity and output if I work on more than one project at a time. This way I am in less danger of getting bored or fed up. I tend to have an easy project and a harder one on the go most of the time but I have to admit that the temptation to start new things is often overwhelming and I find myself digging through my yarns for new colour palettes all the time.
The number of scrappy 'starting' samples I have here at the studio is now a bit embarrassing, so I have made a pact with myself to go back and revisit some old bits of sampling and dig around behind the settee for projects that have been sadly neglected. I always think the best part about a new project is the excitement of choosing it and then working with the first couple of colours. Personally, I find that once I am on to the third ball of yarn or the fifth repeat of a motif I start to loose momentum, but with our move from the studio increasingly imminent I really must get around to finishing some 'stuff'!
As you know, I love seeing completed projects on social media and I especially like it when crocheters have played around with their own colour palettes. A couple of weeks ago I showed you a version of my Magic Circles blanket design that was being made by Karolyn Smalls. Many of you got in touch to ask about the colourway and so I am pleased to say that Karolyn has put details of her colour choices on her Instagram feed crafts_n_cats. Her amazing blanket (shown below) is now finished and you can find more images on Karolyn's feed.
In regards to the shades used in this fabulous version of the blanket, Karolyn used an Attic 24 Meadow Yarn Pack from Woolwarehouse and added a ball of Stylecraft Special DK in both Cypress and Lime. I think I am in love....
If you follow Lucy at Attic 24 then you may have seen her collection of painted peg people made by the super talented Lyn of Silvery Paws, who is also a skilled crocheter. I have recently been following Lyn's progress as she has worked through my Mystical Lanterns blanket and have really enjoyed seeing her beautiful colour way coming together. Lyn used the new half motif pattern, which I posted on my blog a few months ago, to achieve straight sides and she has cleverly also come up with a couple of quarter motifs to achieve really neat corners.
I am not sure why it hadn't occurred to me that a quarter motif was needed, but seeing Lyn's project and her fabulous right angled motifs has prompted me to finally get around to writing out the instructions to make a quarter motif - you can find the free pattern on my blog by following this link.
If you fancy having a go at making one of my Mystical Lanterns projects, you can find the patterns in the Janie Crow web store or you can find download versions via Ravelry and Etsy. Andy has been busy putting some kits together for the scarf version of the design. He has created some really nice colourways using Coop Knits Socks Yeah! which you can find by following this link. These will be the last kits that we have for this project for quite a while (if ever!) and as we only have 21 kits in total you may need to be quick! All yarn kits are £43.50.
Over the last 18 months I have had a lot of workshops and events cancelled for obvious reasons, so it is really exciting to see some plans start to take shape for later on this year and into 2022. Arena Travel have just released the details of a cruise to Iceland that I will be tutoring next August. This trip was previously planned for this time last year and many of the original participants have moved their bookings to the new date, but I know there are still places left.
The workshop description on the web site is incorrect as it names an alternative tutor and outlines slightly different knitting techniques. I have asked Arena to update the listing to say the following:
'Our knitting expert Jane Crowfoot will offer four full day workshops on board, as well as plenty of opportunities for social knitting as we circumnavigate Iceland. Her workshops will focus on working in the round, using both stranded and fairisle knitting techniques, and beading. Jane will also show how to create and cut through a steek in your knit.
If you fancy coming along, on what promises to be a great tour, you can find more information and book by following this link.
I have always been a lover of blue and cream pottery such as Devon Blueware, Delftware and the Willow Pattern, so back in 2016 I designed a blanket with a pottery theme in mind. I am so pleased with the outcome of my Delft Blanket project and I still love the way the octagon shaped crochet motifs echo the idea of tessellating decorated plates.
When I was a child we would often visit my elderly Auntie Kit for afternoon tea and so I was used to seeing the Willow Pattern on sandwich plates and teacups. The pattern features an elaborate chinoiserie pattern that was popular towards the end of the 18th Century. Despite having an oriental style of design, pottery featuring the Willow Pattern originally came from Stoke-On-Trent in the UK, but a lot of pottery featuring the design also came from China via the East India Company. You can find a great video here that tells the story behind the pattern.
Image (C) Wollplatz
Delftware from The Netherlands, which features cream and blue designs, was in existence far earlier than its Stoke-On-Trent counterpart featuring the Willow Pattern. Delftware often features flowers and birds and is famous for it’s quality and intricate designs.
Back in 2019 we ran a colouring competition in collaboration with Stylecraft Yarns and Simply Crochet Magazine and three new versions of Delft were born! Debbie Gould, Katie Mulliner and Jackie Walker designed the Fiore, Rose Garden in Bloom and Bejewelled colourways respectively.
You can read all about the competition over on the website here. The Delft pattern has been updated to include images of the winning colourways and the free colour substitution documents can be downloaded by clicking on the images above. The pattern is available as a paper copy on the Janie Crow web site here or as a download from Ravelry or Etsy.
Over on Facebook we recently asked a question about your crocheting habits. Are you strictly a one project person or do you have lots of works in progress like me?
As you can see from the image above, the results were pretty clear. Over 550 of you voted and almost three quarters of you have at least 2 projects on the go at any one time. It was interesting to read all the comments that were made on the post. Some of you have a variety of projects on the go, varying in complexity, that you might pick up at different times. This could be, for example, a simpler project that you can work on while watching the TV or a smaller project like socks, alongside a larger one such as a blanket.
Some of you simply cannot resist the temptation when a new pattern or crochet along is released so you have projects waiting in the wings! One thing that a lot of you seemed to agree on is that there simply aren't enough hours in the day!
Gemma decided to cook up a curry feast for Father's Day on the 20th June and one of the dishes she made was this yummy fried cabbage dish. Gemma says this was definitely not the recipe to undertake on a relaxing day as she says was almost too exhausted to eat by the time it was all finished! Thankfully this recipe was oh so tasty despite all the chopping and shredding involved!
Wanting to add a few more vegetable dishes to the mix Gemma tried this dish from Dassana's Veg Recipes for something a bit different. With the addition of grated carrots and using soaked dessicated coconut instead of freshly grated, it apparently went down a storm!
We always love reading about celebrities and prominent people who enjoy a bit of crochet on the side and so this article in the Washington Post about the American Vice President Kamala Harris was good to see. She visited a yarn store called Fibre Space much to the delight of the owner, Danielle Romanetti. We particularly like the amigurumi doll of the Vice President, pictured in the article. Click on the image below to read more (you need to click on the 'read for free' tab).
There's an interesting article on CNN Style about the rise of knitting and crochet on social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. Click here or on the image below to read about 'The trend making the internet wholesome again'!
I follow an Instagram feed called 'Dudewithsign' and I love seeing the different topical placards he comes up with. The wording in the image below has been photoshopped and so is not one of his actual comments, but it did make me laugh, especially as the constant confusion between knitting and crochet drives me crazy!
I got an email this morning about the RSPB's new campaign called 'Revive Our World'. The Royal society believes that the loss of nature threatens human life as we know it and they want to put pressure onto world leaders who are negotiating last-resort targets to save nature at two global summits this year.
You can find more information about the campaign and add your name (along side mine) to the list of people willing to put pressure on the government by following this link.
I love looking at interior trends and have always been a bit of a DIY fan, so I follow quite a few home decorating themed feeds on social media. One of my favourites is Greg at manwithahammer who is busy renovating a huge ex-naval Georgian property in Devon.
Greg has recently become really interested in textiles and has a new penchant for really huge bed headboards like the examples below via Kit Kemp designs.
I have really enjoyed watching Greg make his own headboards and I feel quite inspired to have a go at making one myself, although perhaps not on quite the same scale as these shown above as it would take up almost the whole of my little bedroom!
I was really honoured when the lovely chaps at Inside Crochet magazine suggested that the Janie Crow catalogue could feature as the free gift in this month's edition. The catalogue showcases all my past designs and it was so exciting to see it wrapped up with the magazine when it arrived in the post last week!
If you are not a subscriber to the magazine and want to see a catalogue, which is full of beautiful colour images of my projects, you can find it as a free download via the homepage. A printed copy can be added to your basket at no extra cost if you are ordering from the website or for a small postage contribution without any other purchase.
With just 3 weeks until our daughter Summer hopefully gets married we have a weekend of wedding related plans, which includes a hair trial for the bride to be and suit fittings for the boys! It is really exciting to think that all the plans might come to fruition soon, so long as current restrictions are lifted. We have our fingers very tightly crossed....
With the wedding potentially on the horizon we are battening down the hatches over the next couple of weeks just to be sure that we all stay healthy, so I have lined up quite a few projects to finish off, including a design which will be the advent project for Jimmy Beans in the US and another new version of my Delft pattern.
I leave you with this sweet story about orphaned sheep in Australia that I came across via the BBC. My cousin Bev lived on a farm when we were children and I remember her nurturing poorly lambs back to good health every spring. At the time I thought it was really cute and lovely and I wished I could have a lamb too, but my uncle Pete would always remind me that Bev had in effect saved the lambs for a dinner plate in the future in his matter of fact, no nonsense farmer way! These days, (especially as I am now a vegetarian) I prefer to think that these lovely little animals are simply busy growing beautiful wool for us to use!
Whatever your plans for the next few days I hope you have a great weekend. We always enjoy hearing from you, so if you want to get in touch simply hit reply and let us know what is on your mind.
A few months ago I posted the instructions for how to make a half motif for my Mystical Lanterns design in order to achieve straight vertical sides. You can find the post here on the blog. What I didn't think about at the time is the fact that you may also want to create right angled corner motifs, so today I finally got around to sorting this out!
You will need to make 2 different corner motifs - I have referred to these as left and right throughout the following instructions:
Using your first colour choice, start by making 4ch and join with a ss to form a ring.
Left Motif Foundation Round: 4ch (counts as 1tr & 1ch), 3tr into ring, 3ch, 2tr into ring, fasten off. (6sts & 2 ch-sps)
Right Motif Foundation Round: 3ch (counts as 1tr) 1tr into ring, 3ch, 3tr into ring, 1ch, 1tr into ring, fasten off (6sts & 2 ch-sps)
Using next colour choice:
Left Motif Round 1: join yarn into ch-sp at beginning of last round by working 1ch + 2ch (counts as 1tr), 2tr into same ch-sp, 1ch, [3tr, 3ch, 3tr] into next ch-sp, 1ch, skip next tr, 1tr into final st, fasten off. (10sts & 2 ch-sps)
Right Motif Round 1: join yarn into 3rd ch made at beginning of last round by working 1ch + 3ch (counts as 1tr & 1ch), [3tr, 3ch, 3tr] into next ch-sp, 1ch, 3tr into next ch-sp, fasten off. (10sts & 2 ch-sps)
Using next colour choice:
Left Motif Round 2: join yarn into top of st made at beginning of last round by working 1ch + 5ch (counts as 1tr & 3ch), skip 1ch, 1dc into each next 2ch, 2tr into (same) st at base of 6ch, 3tr into next ch-sp, [3tr, 3dtr] into next ch-sp, dtr2tog into final ch-sp, fasten off. (15sts)
Right Motif Round 2: join yarn into ch-sp made at beginning of last round by working 1ch + 3ch, 1dtr into same ch-sp (counts as dtr2tog), [3dtr, 3tr] into next ch-sp, [3tr into next ch-sp] twice, 3ch, skip 1ch, 1dc into each next 2ch, ss into top of last tr, fasten off. (15sts)
Using next colour choice:
Left Motif Round 3: join yarn into skipped ch at motif tip by working 1ch (does not count as a st) 2dc into same skipped ch, 1dc into each next 10sts, 2dc into next st, 1dc not each next 3sts, 2dc into final st, fasten off. (19sts)
Right Motif Round 3: join yarn into top of dtr2tog made at beginning of last round by working 1ch (does not count as a st), 2dc into same st, 1dc into each next 3sts, 2dc into next st, 1dc into each next 10sts, 2dc into skipped ch at motif tip, fasten off. (19sts)
Because of the curly nature of crochet my quarter motifs do not look brilliantly right angled, but when added into a project alongside the other motifs they will pull into shape and create a great corner. Don't forget that you will need to make 2 of each.
I love seeing my projects worked in other colour ways and really enjoy following the progress of your projects on social media. Big thanks go to Lyn of Silvery Paws who brought it to my attention that I had not posted instructions for a quarter motif. Lyn created her own corner pieces for her recent Mystical Lanterns project and made a brilliant job of it!
As I write this it is tipping it down with rain here in North London after a week of amazingly warm and sunny weather. The typically temperamental British weather made me think of featuring my Sunshine and Showers design in this newsletter as it seems to be the perfect fit for this month!
My Sunshine and Showers CAL project was first released in Crochet Now Magazine in 2017. The patterns have since been published on my archived blog and you can also purchase the patterns as downloads by following this link.
The inspiration for the design was the seasonal weather here in the UK and each section of the design reflects a different seasonal theme. For example, in July and August the design was based on sunny skies and flowers, whereas in January the focus was grey snowy weather, which I represented by using crochet puff stitches.
Like all my crochet along projects I tried to design this one in a way that made it a great learning tool. It gets progressively harder so that crocheters can build their skills. All patterns include step-by-step images and detailed instructions throughout.
The blanket is made in rows, so is a sampler style and it would make a great stash buster!
The download patterns are available in 12 single pieces or as one bundle and you can find them on Ravelry, Etsy and via the Janie Crow website.
I am still waiting for confirmation of when my new CAL design 'Indigo Dreams' will be published in Inside Crochet magazine. I think the current plan is for it to be released early in the autumn. As soon as I have any more news I will let you know.
I usually try to plan my designs so that I am working about a year ahead of the release date of a new project, but the lockdown restrictions over the last year and the knock on effects of having to deal with a different workload has meant that my planning has gone out of the window! With the delay of the most recent CAL project I am a bit concerned that my project releases may end up being a bit like London buses - none for ages and then a steady stream! At least we have been a bit luckier with the yarns that are arriving at the studio over the last couple of weeks and have finally been able to make up some kits. We have Magic Circles blanket kits in Life DK in stock on Andy's Just Knots website. You can find them here.
Lots of versions of the Magic Circles design have been cropping up on Instagram lately and I just love the two images below via Lizzie Montgomery and Karolyn Smalls. Click on them to be taken to the Instagram feeds.
I have been sent a few fabulous 'out in the wild' images that I want to show you this month. Below you can see a gorgeous version of my Bohemian Blooms design, which has been made by Gera Zuydeweg using the shades from the Love Is Enough version of the Fruit Garden blanket. I think Gera has made an amazing job of this project and I love the way the orange and mustard yellow give it such a great colour pop!
Cheri Meeker sent me a couple of shots of some runners she has made using the Climbing Rose Wrap pattern and The Blue House design.
Cheri has made the Climbing Rose runner one motif narrower than my original design and I think she has done a great job combining pretty shades of teal and peach/coral when making her Blue House runner.
Are you a 'Friends' fan? If so, do you remember the one where Joey auditioned for a role as a gameshow host and the game was called Bamboozled? Well, this article has absolutely nothing to do with that and instead is about the production methods used to make bamboo yarn!
In my quick catch up email a couple of weeks ago I spoke about my desire to use more natural yarns in my forthcoming designs. Within the piece I mistakenly referred to a yarn with a bamboo content as being 'natural'. I later received an email pointing out my error, which prompted me to take another look at bamboo as a sustainable fibre.
The problem with bamboo is that although it is a natural substance in the first place, in order to make it into a fibre it has to undergo a long production process that involves lots of chemicals and energy, so it is, in fact, a manmade fibre. Manmade fibres have a bad track record and many people feel that natural is better. Micro fibres are the hot topic at the moment (rightly so) as is the amount of energy it takes to produce many yarns, but it is an absolute minefield if you start looking at things like water consumption, land use, fertilizers and the way workers (and animals) are used in the production of natural yarns too!
There is a very good article here that presents both sides of the good/bad bamboo fibre debate. It concludes by saying that bamboo yarns sourced in the right way can actually be a ‘step up from polyester and conventional cotton’, depending of course on the initial source of the bamboo.
I have to admit that my research ended up leaving me a tad 'bamboozled' as there are so many arguments for and against its use. There is another good article here that you may find interesting. Personally I think a great plus point is that bamboo is biodegradable, usually breaking down in a year or so if placed in compost (wool can take up to 5 years) and it is a fast growing crop that requires no pesticides, chemicals or fertiliser to grow. Given the amount of processing that goes into the production of so many things these days I think I err on the side of positivity as far as bamboo goes, but maybe the links within this piece will help you make up your own minds. Big thanks to Lorraine for picking me up on this in the first place...
We have managed to put together a couple of kits for Marina's 'Aladdin' cushion, which is based on my The Blue House design. You can find a link to Marina's free yarn substitution document here. A link to the kit here and a link to the original paper pattern here. You can also find the pattern as a download in my Ravelry and Etsy stores.
Marina's amazing re-working of the Blue House design uses 17 balls of Anchor Creativa 4ply plus 4 shades of Debbie Abrahams Beads. For the kit we have included one bag of beads to allow you to just use a single shade of your choice instead of 4. One bag will be enough beads for the whole cushion. The beads are an optional addition to allow you to use some from your own stash if you wish or you can choose to make it without beads. If you have never added beads to your crochet and want to find out how to so, you can find a video here.
I have been testing out some cupcake recipes lately and came across this fabulous one from Shannon Michelle. The recipe is vegan so has no eggs and uses vegan butter, something I have to admit I was pretty sceptical about, having spent years baking with butter and dairy based fats.
These cup cakes are possibly the best I have ever made. The cakes are light and fluffy and the buttercream is just so yummy! Honestly, it is far superior to buttercream made with dairy butter, which I think can be a bit greasy. I used the Flora Plant Butter which comes in paper wrapper, so is another small win in terms of waste.
I managed to make 12 large cakes from the recipe and used good quality jam in place of the fruit puree, the instructions for which looked like a bit of a faff if I am honest!
I am a total convert to these lovely little cakes and have now made two versions - one batch were raspberry and black cherry and another batch were elderflower and lemon. Both flavours were truly scrumptious!
As it is Elderflower season I started a batch of Elderflower Liquer on Monday. The Kilner jar is now stowed away in the dark for 2-4 weeks, but there is an image above of what it looked like before I packed it away in the wardrobe and you can find the recipe I used here.
I have made this liqueur before and it is so good, especially if you add a splash of it to a glass of cold Prosecco or Cava. I think it is the perfect summertime drink, but if you don't fancy making it you can buy St. Germain liqueur instead. Cheers!
I am not sure that our garden has ever had as much attention as it has had this year and it certainly shows, as there are buds and blooms bursting into life everywhere and the veg patch is decidedly rampant! It has been so good to give the garden and our little house some much needed attention this year, especially as we have been shamefully neglectful for quite a while! Below is the first progress shot of the new lean-to that Andy is adding onto the summer house at the end of the garden. Rain has stopped play for a while, but hopefully I will pop some more images in the next newsletter.
I have been looking at the interior design forecasts going into 2021 and it is no surprise that the biophilic story continues to be the biggest trend. According to Wikipedia, Biophilic design is ‘a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions’. There is a blog post on the Homes and Gardens web site here that explains this in more detail, but it basically means that the interior designers are continuing to 'bring the outside in' with the emphasis on greenery and plants.
Whilst I love my garden, I am not great with house plants and tend to stick to a vase of cut flowers every couple of weeks and some orchids, but as I think I am going to really miss the garden come the autumn I am considering investing in a few leafy houseplants.
I came across this 'Glasshouse' when doing a bit of research. The potted plant prices seem high, but when you read their 'about' statement on their website you will understand why. It sounds like a great initiative and there is more information on their blog, and anyway it seems to me that house plants are far more pricy than they used to be, so I might well invest a bit of my pocket money!
Have any of you been watching the series 'Halston' starring Ewan McGregor? We have lined it up on our watch list as I have heard it is really good and that the sets and costumes are great. Apparently McGregor was taught to pin, sew and drape fabric by costume designer Jeriana San Juan, who was moved to tears when the actor presented her with a pair of perfectly stitched trousers he had made. You can find more about Ewan's stitching journey by following this link or clicking on the image below.
A couple of weeks ago I rewatched the amazing McQueen documentary. I am a massive fan of Lee Alexander McQueen's work and of the collections produced by Sarah Burton, creative director at the fashion house, since his death a decade ago. The film always reminds me of being an art student and takes me back to my younger days when I produced my degree collection. McQueen studied at St Martins and I came across an article about the most recent graduate student fashion show on the Vogue blog last week. You can see it by following this link.
Carrying on the fashion theme, you may have seen in the news this week that a recent report revealed that a really high percentage of clothes are still being made from new plastics. You can find the report via the BBC by following this link. I haven't bought any new clothes for months, but Summer and I have made a plan to hit the shops tomorrow, so this report has certainly reminded me that I should look at the labels in any garments we might try on!
Andy has headed off to a test music festival this weekend, so Charlie and I are home alone! I had hoped that I might get to visit The Living Arts & Crafts Show at Hatfield House either this afternoon or on Sunday, but the rain seems set for the next few days, so I might have a rethink! Of course there is the comfort of the settee, the lure of the TV and a lovely little crochet project on the hook to use up some of my time, so as usual I am looking forward to the weekend, despite being a tad sad that the rain has knocked all the heads off of my glorious peonies in the garden!
I hope that wherever you are in the world and that whatever you have planned for the next few days, you have a good time and stay safe.
Welcome to a quick catch up with Janie Crow. We hope you are all keeping well and have been able to indulge in lots of crafting time. Here in North London the weather has swiftly changed from being incredibly wet to beautifully sunny and warm over the last few days so the big outdoors has become inviting again.
'And since all the loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June' Abba Woolson
One of our biggest pieces of news is that we have finally managed to put together some kits for the Night & Dusk colourway of The Fruit Garden blanket. We have just 10 yarn packs in stock and have no idea when we will be getting more, so if you want one you will probably need to be quick! Click the link here or on the image below to be taken to the web site.
If you follow my newsletters then you probably already know that we have been having trouble getting all the yarn shades in Life DK to make up the range of Janie Crow kits. Life DK has a percentage of wool, which creates a lovely drape when crocheted, so it has been a little frustrating not being able to put kits together. As stock of Special DK, which is 100% Premium Acrylic, remains healthy at Stylecraft we decided to make up some limited edition kits using this yarn instead. The shade swaps are almost identical and the yarn usage is pretty much the same too.
We have kits for The Blue House Blanket and we've also put together many other kits using Special DK including Persian Tiles, Fields of Gold, Mystical Lanterns and Delft. We've also restocked Sunshine & Showers, Lily Pond Cherry Blossom and Sussex Gardens. You can find all these kits for sale over on Andy's web site at Just Knots.
It continues to be a challenge to source yarn for kits at the moment as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still impacting on the supply chain. There's an interesting article further along in this quick update, which helps to explain some of the worldwide issues.
Looking on the bright side though, what a great opportunity we now have to do some stash diving! I think it is really exciting to discover that you have just the right yarn in your stash for a pattern you've just come across in a magazine or on the web. If you have crafty friends you could always compare stashes and maybe even have a swapping session!
As I just said, now is possibly one of the best times for knitters and crocheters to focus on stashbusting projects and Mystical Lanterns is perfect for using up yarn where you have just one ball, or many oddments of lots of different shades. The pattern is available in different versions, to make a blanket, scarf or shawl. You can find the downloadable patterns in the Janie Crow Ravelry and Etsy stores or the printed booklets by following this link.
As I mentioned in my last couple of newsletters I recently designed a vertical half motif for this pattern. I have posted this on my blog so that those of you who want to make a project with straight vertical side edges can do so. The blog post includes step-by-step images and instructions, but you will need the original pattern to make the main Mystical Lanterns motifs and the horizontal half motifs.
You can find some great ideas for colourways for this project by taking a look at the Mystical Lanterns hashtag on Instagram too. I particularly like the image below from Fifisofia.
Despite promoting our own online business we do recognise the importance of bricks and mortar yarn stockists and want to support our local yarn shops, especially now that non-essential retail has been allowed to open again.
So, if you need craft supplies and you have a local retailer, do consider supporting them if you can. If you're not sure if there is a yarn shop local to you there is a great look up tool at ukhandknitting.com.
Last month Gemma ran a poll over on the Janie Crow Facebook page to find out people's preferred yarn when it comes to crocheting blankets. 535 people voted and 59% stated they prefer using natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo or wool.
There are many factors that go into yarn choices though and some of our followers pointed this out. If, for example, you are making a blanket for a baby then soft acrylics are so easy to wash and dry that they are the ideal choice when ease of care is important. Cotton is heavier than acrylic or wool and so might make the final weight of a project too much. You can't beat real wool for warmth, but it can be itchy and some people are allergic to it. Affordability is also a factor and natural fibres tend to be more expensive. On the other hand acrylics have an environmental cost with tiny plastic micro-fibres being shed every time they are washed. Perhaps this means that blends with a percentage of natural fibres can give you the best of both worlds and are easier to care for too.
Here at Janie Crow we are planning to head more and more towards stocking natural and sustainable fibres and are so pleased to see that affordable Organic Cotton DK and Bamboo + Cotton mixes are now available via Stylecraft, who also have a new (and very exciting) 'eco' yarn on the horizon. Many other yarn companies are also becoming aware of the need to be a little more 'green' when creating yarns too, which cannot be a bad thing.
We know that you all make your yarn choices based on your own beliefs, which is why we currently try to cater for lots of different tastes, so it is really interesting to see that the outcome of the poll was quite evenly split between the want for natural and man-made fibres.
One thing to consider when choosing yarns for a home project such as a blanket is that unlike a garment it will not need repeated washing. It is likely to remain in your home for many years to come and might even be passed on as an heirloom to another family member or friend. In that way, we think that crochet blankets, made from whichever yarn you choose, could well be the exact opposite of fast fashion!
We would love to know what you think too, so please hit reply and let us know.
Gemma has been experimenting in the kitchen again this week and she has suggested this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tagine as a really quick and easy midweek make.
Gemma has a weekly veg box delivery and thinks that one of the best things about it is that it makes her far more creative in her cooking. She says that rather than being stuck in a rut of making the same meals over and over she has to be inventive to find meals to fit the veg that arrives in the box!
Here at Janie Crow we are all veg box converts and we get our deliveries from Riverford, but there are now lots of other choices of provider available. If you are lucky enough to have local market then even better!
As mentioned above, sourcing yarn to make up kits for Janie Crow projects has been (and continues to be) a challenge recently. We came across an article from The Crochet Crowd, based in Canada, which summarises some of the key issues affecting the supply of yarn to retailers across the world. The blog post is written from a North American/Canadian point of view but many of the things mentioned in the post are relevant to us here in the UK. Click here or on the image below to read more.
We also came across this article from The Crochet Society on why mindful crochet is so good for you. We don't really need any convincing though, do we?
Stepping away from anything yarny, if you fancy a bit of fun this weekend, why not have a play at the Blob Opera. It's strangely addictive!
The Janie Crow Catalogue, full of beautiful colour images of my projects, is available as a download from the homepage. A printed copy can be added to your basket at no extra cost if you are ordering from the website or for a small postage contribution without any other purchase.
Having a bank holiday on Monday has meant that I have spent all week feeling out of sync with my days. On Tuesday I thought it was Monday, but by Thursday I thought it was Friday, so I am relieved that the weekend is here yet again and I can fall into my usual routine for Saturday and Sunday! We are hoping to spend most of our weekend outside....
I think June is the very best month in the garden. Everything is springing into life and you can almost watch it grow. The planted pots are looking so pretty and our new vegetable patch is coming along nicely, even if the slugs and snails think we have planted all the seedlings out for their delight!
You may remember me telling you a few months ago that we are planning to build a wooden lean to on the summer house at the end of the garden. Well, we had big issues trying to source the wood as there seems to be a global shortage of that too, but it finally arrived about 10 days ago. Unfortunately it was soaking wet thanks to the amount of rain we have been having, so it has been left to dry out in the garage for a bit - if all goes to plan we hope to start work on our project this weekend.
I have put together a Pinterest board of images that have inspired the design of the wooden lean to. I think that Pinterest boards are such a great way of saving ideas and I use them for lots of projects to help me keep motivated. I adore our garden in the summer months as it makes us feel like we suddenly have a lovely extra room added to the house, so I am hoping that the lean to will create a good space to sit and relax on summer evenings. I hope it will look stunning with twinkly fairy lights and comfy cushions, but of course it is all dependent on our fabulous British weather!
We know we are really lucky to have a garden and be in a position where we can get out and enjoy some sunshine. I hope that wherever you are and whatever your situation you are able to take a bit of time out for rest and relaxation over the next couple of days too.
STOP PRESS! I will be tutoring a workshop in aid of Knit For Peace in December. The workshop, which will cover both hand knit and crochet techniques, will take place over 4 days within the amazing setting of Gladstone's Library, Hawarden. You can find more information and a form to register your interest by following this link. You can find the Knit For Peace web site here.
My Bohemian Blooms Blanket is a CAL project in a book! The design of the blanket was inspired by English country gardens and London’s garden squares, but the main catalyst for the design was the paintings and iconic interior designs of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. In particular their home ‘Charleston Farmhouse’ in Sussex and their fabulous painted murals at the nearby Berwick Village Church.
Rather than release the crochet along style project in the usual way - where the design is issued in pieces monthly or fortnightly – I decided to release the project in book form giving crocheters the chance to work through the blanket at their own speed. The book is laid out in a logical order so that the crochet patterns get progressively more challenging and can be worked through in a CAL type way or in a more random sequence depending on the preference of the crocheter. The patterns include step-by-step images throughout.
I have spotted quite a few Bohemian Blooms projects out in the wild over the last few months. They show how easy it is to use some of the motifs in the pattern book to create alternative projects. Click on the images below to be taken to the Instagram feeds.
The design includes crochet flower motifs, butterflies, circles and striped stitch motifs and I included an array of techniques, including beading, 3D work and bobbles. To help with crochet techniques, and in order to offer crocheters a little more guidance, I also added technique downloads to the web site. Sarah and I created accompanying video tutorials that are available on YouTube.
The Rowan yarn kits for this project are currently unavailable as many of the yarns are out of stock, but we are hoping to have kits for the two related blanket projects, Bloomsbury Gardens and Sussex Gardens, very soon - so keep an eye on the web site. The patterns are written for DK weight yarn so you could have a rummage through your stash and come up with your own colourway.
It has been a bit of an odd time at Janie Crow these last few weeks. It is still difficult to get yarn for kits and the web sites are calming down as people head back to a more 'normal' way of life, so it feels like a bit of a change is going on. This month should have been a time when we would have been busy preparing kits for the new CAL. With its release delayed slightly, I feel a little undecided about what to next so I have been enjoying a little bit of calm after the madness of the last year.
I always love the anticipation of forming new design ideas so I have been using this little bit of down time to put some mood boards together on Pinterest and flick through my books and magazines for ideas. I have become a bit obsessed with embroidery and patchwork designs and keep finding myself drawn back to them, so I think these are things that I will continue to research at over the next few months.
I have been looking at the interior trends too, which has made me want to entirely redecorate our little house! There is a great list of trends here on the Living etc web site, which includes a load of great interior pics, pretty much all of which got me itching to do something at home. One of the trends references the Bloomsbury Group's eclectic style, so it looks like even 4 years since the release of my Bohemian Blooms CAL the Charleston Farmhouse vibe is still very much on trend!
The images above and below are from the Annie Sloan Charleston collaboration. You can find more information about this on her web site here, as well as a couple of great little films of Annie talking about her association with Charleston and how inspired she is by the colours within the house. If you don't already know about the farmhouse then I urge you to take a look.
As I have said before, 2021 is our 10th Birthday year here at Janie Crow and we had hoped to host some celebration events, but with everything still a bit up in the air as far as social gatherings are concerned we have not made any definite plans, especially as we will be moving out of the studio in September. With lockdown restrictions set to change further over the next few months I would be really interested to hear what kind of things you guys might like to do. We currently have Yarndale in the diary for the end of September and The Knitting & Stitching show early October, so it would be nice to get something else added into our sparsely filled diaries!
Hit the reply button and let me know whether you would be interested in workshops or talks and demos and if so, whether you like the idea of day or weekend long events. We have a lovely luxury hotel very near here that we think would make a great venue for an event, but the delegate day rate starts at around £60/£70 a head before we consider any other costs, so it would be good to know what your ideal price point might be too.
If you missed the newsletter last month you might not know that I have designed a vertical half motif for my Mystical Lanterns pattern. The pattern instructions and images are on my blog so that those of you who want to make a project with straight vertical side edges can do so.
The blog post includes step-by-step images and instructions, but you will need the original pattern to make the main Mystical Lanterns motifs and the horizontal half motifs. I hope this will help those of you who have been asking for this half motif for the last few years!
A few weeks ago Helen Shrimpton and I got together with Juliet Bernard on Zoom to chat about crochet tension. The video is one of a series of videos where Stylecraft Blogstars discuss all things yarny and I was flattered to have the opportunity to be involved once again. If you want to see the short video, where Helen and I discuss why tension is so important and share some tips on how to get things right, simply follow this link to the Stylecraft YouTube channel.
Here at Janie Crow we have been trying to make greener choices for the last couple of years. To begin with this has been in regards to our packaging, our waste and our recycling, but we are also looking more and more at the products we choose to stock. We have started to put together a more thoughtful plan for our business going forward and are attempting to take small, slow steps towards change, whilst also trying to keep in mind what you guys actually want us to sell and promote.
According to The Sustainable Fashion Guru, Eco-guilt 'is the feeling that arises when people think about times they have not met personal or societal standards for environmental behaviour. It's the deep breath you take when you buy a plastic-wrapped sandwich for lunch. It's also the 'sting' you feel when you forget your reusable coffee mug'.
There is a good article here about the mounting pressure on consumers to make the right choices as many big companies have managed to switch the blame from themselves (as producers) to the buying public. Whilst the article is good at pointing out that not all blame should lay on the shoulders of the consumers, it doesn't really make too many valid points as to how we can actually sway the big players to make changes.
'Sustainable' seems to be the new buzz word for all ad campaigns and brand strap lines these days, with many companies trying really hard to highlight their produce as 'sustainable regardless of how unsustainable it actually is! There is a good article here (via Vogue) which talks about the need for accountability and integrity. It makes interesting reading in light of our plans here at Janie Crow and I am sure it will be of interest to you guys too.
A few years ago I came across the Cherokee story of The Two Wolves. It is a tale I remind myself of often, especially at times of doubt or worry, in order to get myself back on the right path.
As last week was mental awareness week, and because it is a great story to keep in mind anyway, I have included a link to a post here on the Clarity blog, where the story and it's many meanings are explained.
My fellow Stylecraft Blogstar Phil, of The Twisted Yarn, is the author of a great blog, which you can find here.
Phil is a talented photographer as well as being a skilled knit and crochet designer and so her blog is full of fantastic images alongside her written posts. If you already follow Phil on Instagram you will know about her love of wildlife (particularly the robins that visit her garden) and that she is a fitness fanatic who loves her job and homelife. You might also know that in August last year she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Over the last nine months, while Phil has been battling her own cancer, she has also been busy fundraising by taking on a huge virtual run. I would love it if you would head over to Phil's blog and find out more, but here is just a snippet of her latest post so that you can get an idea of the huge task she has set herself.
'I’m running 1083.8 miles (1744.2km) from Land’s End to John O’Groats. When cancer treatment has made running impossible I’ve walked, for example after surgery I shuffled one mile the first day, two miles the second day, and so on. ANYWAY, I’m doing all this in aid of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund because amongst all the hideousness of cancer, pancreatic cancer has one of the worst outcomes, and I desperately want that to change. I was lucky that my breast cancer was very treatable, but a pancreatic cancer diagnosis must be terrifying.'
Phil is an absolute star and has already smashed her fundraising target, but if you would like to support her in her mission to raise even more funds for such a deserved charity, whilst also checking out the images of her lovely robin friends and latest knit projects, then head over to The Twisted Yarn by following this link.
Marina Kelly is one of my prized test crocheters, but she is also a very talented crochet jewellery designer and I am very lucky that she has given me permission to add five necklaces from her new collection to the web site.
With lots of businesses opening their doors and more things going on in the world we thought we would be in a big hurry to get out and about a bit, but it turns out that we are not in such a rush after all as we have yet to really go anywhere more adventurous than the garden centre! Maybe it is the rotten weather and perhaps we would feel more like stepping out if the sun was shining, but for now we seem happy to stick close to home, especially at the weekends.
May is a month of birthdays in our family. My niece Helen kicked off the proceedings with her birthday on the 9th, which was also my Mum & Dad's wedding anniversary. Summer and my Dad share their birthday date on the 17th. My nephew Dan and my cousin's son Alexi both have their birthdays on the 26th and my birthday is at the end of the month, so we are hoping for some lovely family get togethers over the next few weeks. Finally!
For Andy's birthday a few weeks ago I offered to make him his choice of celebratory cake. I am not hugely adventurous when it comes to baking and tend to stick to Mary Berry's trusty Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe, so I was a bit surprised (and a tad daunted) when, quick as a flash, he asked for a Black Forest Gateau!
As a child of 70s and 80s when BFG was all the rage I was worried that my version of the cake would not live up to Andy's expectations, but in the end the cake was actually rather good and the taste of it brought back loads of happy memories. That said, I shall not be in a hurry to to make another one as attempting to stick chocolate shavings to the side of a cream coated cake cannot possibly be anyone's idea of fun!
I am very much aware that we are privileged to be in a position to plan cake making and home based leisure activities for our weekend, especially in light of the current situation in India. We have heard from a few of our friends there and the situation appears to be getting increasingly horrifying, so I include links to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) here and The British Asian Trust here if you are in a position to make a donation.
I hope that wherever you are in the world you are safe.
If you have been lucky enough to meet my wonderful friend and assistant Sarah Hazell, then you will know what a kind and lovely person she is. Sarah, and her daughter Phoebe, got their beautiful looks and fabulous personalities from Sarah's gorgeous mum, who sadly passed away on Wednesday evening.
We are all holding Sarah and her family in our thoughts and I am sure that many of you will want to join me in sending them the very best wishes at this difficult time.
Thank you all for the great response to The Blue House blanket, which I show cased here last month. It has been a real frustration for us to not be able to put yarn kits together for this project as we are still waiting for lots of shades of Life DK to come back into stock, but it has been so good to see many of you doing a bit of stash diving and creating your own colour ways of the design. You can find more information about the design lower down this email.
Last week I designed a vertical half motif for my Mystical Lanterns pattern. I have posted this on my blog so that those of you who want to make a project with straight vertical side edges can do so. The blog post includes step-by-step images and instructions, but you will need the original pattern to make the main Mystical Lanterns motifs and the horizontal half motifs. I hope this will help those of you who have been asking for this half motif for the last few years!
As you know, I love seeing my designs 'out in the wild' and so it was great to receive the image below of my Indian Roses blanket by Ros Harwood who has made the project in similar shades to the new Naturals shade listing that I released a few months ago. You can find more information about this design and the free colour substitute documents by following this link. If you look closely you can also see my Oonagh cushion cover on Ros's settee!
I tend to add 'out in the wild' project posts to my Instagram stories. I try to do this most days and it is made easier when people have used project hashtags like #persiantilesblanket for example or #janiecrow. It is always such a great tonic to see projects made in different colour palettes or layouts. This week I fell in love with this pink, peach and blue version of my Summer Palace blanket. Isn't it fab!
Click on the image below or here to be taken to Tomomi Landsman's Instagram feed where this image is posted.
Yesterday evening textile designer Lizzie Montgomery shared the image below of her version of my Magic Circles blanket on Instagram. Isn't it just a beauty? I love Lizzie's colour choices and so seeing this one as I headed off to bed really made my day!
Over the last couple of weeks I have been putting the finishing touches to a couple of big projects, one of which is the CAL blanket design that will feature in Inside Crochet magazine very soon. I am hoping to be able to attend the photo shoot for this over the next couple of weeks and am very excited by the prospect of revealing the project to you very soon. The CAL will run over 5 copies of the magazine starting in June and we hope to have yarn kits in stock in good time - as soon as I have more news on this I will let you know.
I have quite a long list of projects queuing up in my design diary, some of which will make their debut in the autumn. We have our fingers crossed that we will be exhibiting at Yarndale in September and The Knitting & Stitching show here in North London in October - it seems really strange to have a few show dates in the diary, but I am really looking forward to having the chance to exhibit again.
As an online business we have been incredibly lucky to have been able to remain open and working over the last year. Sadly the same cannot be said of ‘bricks and mortar’ stores who have all been having to cope with sporadic opening and lockdowns. As local shops start to open and the High Street starts to liven up a bit we have seen a surge in trade sales of our paper patterns, which is a great sign that things are getting back to ‘normal’. If you have a local yarn shop please try to show them support by visiting their store rather than shopping online. I think there is little that compares to the feeling of standing in a yarn store surrounded by all that fabulous colour and texture and taking a while to make great yarn choices for a project. If you want to find some stores near you, UK Handknitting have a great resource on their web site here for finding a store.
STOP PRESS! Due to a cancellation we have one space available on our crochet weekend workshop in Bournemouth in August. You can find more information by following this link.
The main hexagonal motif used in this project was originally designed to be part of my Frida’s Flowers blanket crochet along project which was released 5 years ago, however I felt it wasn’t totally right for the design, so I made an alternative piece instead. Despite its omission from the project, I love the motif and so I named it ‘Diego’s Flowers’ after Frida Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera. The pattern was originally published on my old blog as part of the Stylecraft Blogtour in 2017, but I always intended to look at the design again in order to make some bigger projects at some point.
Fast forward a few years and here we are with the updated pattern, which now also includes the instructions for a matching half motif. The colours for this project were inspired by the décor of Frida & Diego’s fabulous kitchen within their home in Mexico City ‘The Blue House’, which is now a museum. The kitchen surfaces feature bright yellow and blue ceramic tiles and the painted table and chairs that sit at the centre of the room have green and red hand painted details. The large terracotta bowls and cooking pots that are placed around the room are decorated with flashes of orange and pink - all colours that feature in the palette I have chosen for this project.
I adore the fun ‘fiesta’ feeling of this blanket and am really pleased with the outcome of it, but I also love seeing how motifs can be used to make alternative projects, so I asked ace crocheters Marina Kelly, Gemma Biggs and Sue Macdonald if they would like to come up with a couple of ideas for how to use the motifs in another project. Within this pattern we have included some images of the fabulous cushion project made by Marina and the vibrant handy bag project made by Gemma as well as the fun, stash busting mandala that Sue created. I love seeing my designs ‘out in the wild’ and I think the way Marina, Gemma and Sue have interpreted the pattern is fantastic. Hopefully you will be inspired too!
The updated pattern includes written instructions and charts and it is available in UK or US terms. The pattern has a few tweaks to the construction of the hexagonal motif, which originally featured as part of the Stylecraft Blogtour and also includes instructions for a half motif so that you can achieve a straight sided project.
Please note that the pattern includes instructions for making the motifs and shows the layout for the blanket. The bag and mandala projects were made using the motif to show how you could use it to make alternative projects. The specific patterns for the bag and the mandala are not included in the pattern, but Marina has put together a PDF document showing how she made her beautiful ‘Aladdin’ cushion cover using the motifs. You can find Marina's free guidance document by following this link.
The pattern for the Blue House is available as a 12 page paper brochure on the Janie Crow web site or as a download via Ravelry and Etsy. You can find links and more information here.
I love seeing my designs made in alternative shades. The blanket versions shown above have been made by Lex Priestly (above top right) and Chris Bourne (above bottom right).
You can find my Pinterest Board, which shows more images from Frida's house and some of Diego's amazing art work, which inspired the colours of The Blue House blanket by following this link or by clicking on the image above.
I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning as the change in light has highlighted my need to do a little bit more housework! I am not a big fan of weekly cleaning chores, but I actually enjoy a good spring clean and love seeing the results of a good declutter!
I found a nice article on the Vogue blog that suggests 9 easy ways to refresh your home for spring - you can find it by following this link or by clicking on the image above.
Marina Kelly is one of my prized test crocheters, but she is also a very talented crochet jewellery designer and I am very lucky that she has given me permission to add five necklaces from her new collection to the web site.
Gemma is so good at recommending recipes and this week she has suggested I link you guys through to this great Vegetable Moussaka recipe by Tori Avey. I am a big lover of moussaka and so this really does look super yummy!
Since we went full blown vegetarian just over a year ago I have been making a version of Moussaka using a sauce made with grated carrots in place of the mince. It doesn't sound like it would work, but it really is lovely. I use lots of grated carrot with chopped fresh mint in place of the meat and cook it up for quite a while so that the carrot goes sweet and soft. It is VERY good! There is a similar recipe to the version I make here.
Andy has been busy seeking out exciting new products for his Just Knots web site. He has found some really fabulous things, including the range of project bags, needle cases and hook wraps from Della Q.
The canvas makers bags have proved particularly popular and we have struggled to keep them in stock, but parcels are arriving weekly and we are updating the stock as often as we can.
All the bags in the Della Q range have lots of great pockets and some include a pouch with a clear side so that you can refer to your pattern without spoiling it on a journey. They also have integrated yarn guides and stitch markers and other features perfect for crafters on the move.
We have placed a pre-order for more exciting Della Q stock which will be in soon, so you may want to keep dropping by Andy's site to see what exciting things he has got!
Hopefully you didn't miss the fact that yesterday was World Earth Day. I found quite a few emails in my inbox asking me to sign petitions and take some action. If you want to do something too then you might want to take a look at a couple of the links I have included here.
‘This is not a one time thing. This is our entire future'. Greta Thunberg.
My Friend Jan sent me a link to a group called Stitches for Survival who are planning to create knitted, crocheted and stitched banners with a heart felt message to use at the COP26 climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November.
Greenpeace have released some shocking statistics on where the UK's plastic waste goes and what happens to it once it gets there. It is pretty grim reading, but the more of us who attempt to make our voices heard in regards to the Government making 'greener' choices the better! You can find more information by following this link. If we all stop buying products that are single use plastic too then we can really make a difference.
I recommend you take a look at a great blog post by the fashion company Thought, which you can find here. It is entitled Read, Listen, Watch and Follow. They say:
'Whether you’re a reader, listener or you prefer to watch a documentary, there are many different resources available that can help us learn more about how we can reduce our environmental impact. Read on as we suggest some of the books, podcasts, documentaries and people who have inspired us in our sustainable journey recently.'
If you know any young people looking for something rewarding to do, then how about getting them to take a look at The William Morris Society's new volunteer project that they revealed on their Instagram feed yesterday to coincide with Earth Day. They say:
'On this Earth Day we are excited to share with you our brand-new young volunteer project, which will be exploring William Morris’s environmental work and producing new art works to encourage local residents to lead more eco-friendly lifestyles.
We are looking for imaginative and creative 16–24-year-olds to join us for the chance to gain new skills, to work with artists exploring issues around sustainability and make new friends.'
Makes me wish I was 25 years younger!!!
The weather has been much brighter over the last 10 days and thankfully it looks like the threat of snow has gone, although I think the north of the country could still get a bit more as the temperature is not rising very quickly and we are still having quite cold mornings. We are hoping it will stay relatively nice as we are planning a family get together in the garden tomorrow afternoon. Despite the cool temperatures it has been so nice to spend time together outside.
I am planning to do some step-by-step photography for the new CAL project next week and so I was silly excited to have been able to secure an appointment to have my nails done earlier today. It feels very indulgent after more than a year with terribly neglected nails. I don’t have a hair appointment until the 1st May, so another week to wait for that - I never thought I would be so excited by the prospect of having my hair and nails done!
The garden plans are coming on nicely. Andy has built the footings for the new shed, which will link through from the summer house and we have dug over a new vegetable patch. The seedlings are all thriving in the sunshine in the conservatory, but as we are still having light frosts overnight very little has made it out into the garden except the potato tubers, which were planted last weekend.
It is Andy's birthday next week so I am thinking of doing a bit of baking on Sunday, although he has yet to decide what type of cake he would like. A couple of weeks ago I made an 8 strand plaited loaf from a Paul Hollywood recipe. I tested the plaiting out with string first as I know it's something all the contestants on The Great British Bake Off struggle with!
I enjoyed making the bread and only made a couple of small errors with the plait - it tasted pretty good too! I am wondering about making brioche this weekend but that seems a bit too scary, so it might be another simpler type of loaf instead! If you want to follow my home based triumphs and tribulations you can do so by taking a look at the Janie Crow Lifestyle Instagram feed.
So, I think that is pretty much it from me. I definitely have the Friday feeling this week, especially as we will get to spend some time with family and friends over the next few days. I have the blankets and cushions at the ready for when we sit in the garden and I am hopeful that the weather will be kind. I hope that wherever you are that you are safe and well too.
I leave you with a link to this video - you may well have seen it before, but it always makes me smile!
Sending yarny love....
A few years ago I was interviewed by Andrea and Andrew of Fruity Knitting. They came to the studio for a morning and we had a lovely time drinking tea and chatting. We have bumped into them at shows over the last few years and have kept in touch, especially as Andrea has been working through my Bohemian Blooms blanket design.
At Christmas we heard that Andrew had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, which he valiantly fought over the last 4 months. We are sad to hear of his passing earlier on this week despite his brave battle.
At this time Andrea has no idea how her beloved Fruity Knitting podcast will look in the future, but if you do want to support her at this incredibly difficult time please follow this link to the Fruity Knitting Patreon web site.
THIS IS A NEW BLOG.
YOU CAN FIND MY OLD BLOG BY FOLLOWING
Welcome to my blog. Here you will find my email newsletter archive alongside any other general musings or information about events or new pattern releases that I wish to share with you!