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.
STOP PRESS! We will add a small surprise free gift in with the first 20 copies of the paper pattern sold via the Janie Crow web site. We will pop these in the post regardless of where you are in the world, so if you are quick you might manage to nab a cheeky little free gift as well as a great crochet pattern!
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 found the images of the motif made in lots of lovely colour variations on Instagram - click on the images above to be taken to the feeds.
I have been doing a lot of pattern checking and writing over the last month and not so much crochet. I have not had a chance to update my blog either, other than to write a post about copyright, which you can find by following this link.
A few weeks ago we had a bit of a run of copyright infringements and I had a lot of you contact me about things you had found online that appeared to be copies of my work. So many of you are amazing at calling out people who think it is ok to share work that doesn’t belong to them and I am so grateful that you are willing to fight my corner. We had a few of you asking for clarification on copyright so I put a short blog post together that I hope helps to explain why my patterns have copyright statements.
Stylecraft have been recording a series of conversations with their Blogstars. These are available to view on their Youtube channel. A few weeks ago Catherine Bligh of Catherine's Crochet Corner and I caught up for a lovely chat about choosing colours for crochet projects. You can find the video of our Zoom conversation by following this link.
Now that the CAL project for Inside Crochet magazine is pretty much done it is nice to start thinking about some new design work. I have been invited to design an advent project for a big US yarn retailer, which is really exciting, although it does seem odd to be thinking of Christmas projects when we have not yet celebrated Easter! As soon as I have more news on this I will let you know.
The Craft Business Awards has been an active part of celebrating the key brands in the craft industry for 17 years. This year they are back and are bigger and brighter than ever before. The awards reach every area of the craft sector and are split into Reader-Voted and Elite judged categories. I was lucky enough to be voted Craft Influencer of the Year in the 2020 awards and would love it if Janie Crow could be nominated within the Best Small Business category this time.
The nomination stage of the Craft Business Awards has officially opened so if you are a fellow business owner (you have to enter a business name on the nomination form) and would like to nominate Janie Crow, or another business, for some of the awards you can find the link here.
As we are set to slowly emerge into the real world over the next few months now might be a good time to give your make up collection a spring clean ready for all those exciting social situations that we will hopefully be able to start planning.
I am not a huge fan of make up and have been wearing even less of it over the last year, but I have to admit that when I do make the effort to pop on a bit of mascara or a smudge of lipstick it definitely lifts my mood.
Over the last six months or so I have slowly been bringing my collection of creams and potions up to scratch, slowly replacing my used up cosmetics with better, greener alternatives. If you are interested in doing the same then you might want to take a look at the range of ethical products we have in stock on Janie Crow Lifestyle - I am a huge fan of the Scence deodorant, tinted lip balms and our range of Le Papier lipsticks in particular.
I thought you might also be interested in this piece about facial acupressure massage I found via City Beauty.
Facial acupressure massage is said to help release tension in your face. According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, facial massage may help delay the appearance of wrinkles, promote a tighter, suppler look and leave your skin feeling fresh and rejuvenated.
Here’s how you do it:
After washing your hands, apply a little bit of olive oil or facial oil to your fingertips.
Use your middle finger to apply soft pressure to the space between your eyebrows. Focus on your breathing and relax.
Use your index fingers to massage the area a couple of centimetres above your eyebrows, moving from the inner corners to the outer corners of your eyes.
Move your fingers past the corners of your eyes, closer to your temples and apply pressure in small circles. Continue to breathe deeply.
Use your ring fingers to massage the area above your cheekbones, just below your eyes in anti-clockwise circles.
This is a great little technique that takes just 5 minutes. It costs next to nothing and it’s a great way to calm yourself and perhaps break a stressful cycle or train of thought.
Why not give it a try this weekend?
I am really looking forward to tutoring workshops again next year and have already popped quite a few dates in my diary for 2022. I will be heading off to a couple of exciting destinations and am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to return to teach in France. Places on my workshop in the Charente-Maritime region with 'Knitting Holidays in France' are now sold out, but you can find the details of other workshops and retreats on offer by following this link.
There are still a few spaces left on the weekend knit and yoga retreat I am tutoring for Stitchtopia in November. In the lead up to Christmas I am sure this trip will provide a great opportunity to slow down for a few days and award yourself a bit of TLC. I would love it if you are able to join me. Just to be clear, I am teaching the knitting, not the yoga!
The 'join as you go' method of putting crochet motifs together is easier than it looks and makes the finishing process of a big project far quicker than if you have to crochet pieces together once they are complete.
The 'join as you go' method is used in my Fields of Gold blanket design. You can find a downloadable document that explains how to work this great technique here. It also includes a link to a Youtube video by Bella Coco that shows how to work a flat braid join.
Gemma tried this recipe that uses Swiss chard and chickpeas on the Riverford web site and said it was yummy! If I had to choose which food I would take to desert island and therefore eat for the rest of my life it would be chickpeas and so, as a huge lover of greens too, I am definitely going to give it a go.
The last 2 batches of Janie Crow hook wraps and pouches sold out super quick, so I am pleased that we now have some more hook wraps in stock!
The pouches come in a choice of fabric shades and the small pouches feature crochet flowers (made by me) in a few shades. The large pouches feature the outline of the Janie Crow birds in machine stitching and hand stitched detail. These also have an additional inside pocket. Each pouch is lined, has a smooth zip closure and includes a metal ring on the outside seam.
The hook wraps feature intricately hand stitched embroidery as well as some machine stitching and are fastened with a ribbon tie. The wraps will hold up to 15 hooks and we have also included some larger pockets for hooks with big handles or to hold some scissors or other accessories. The wraps come in a protective cotton bag within a sturdy cardboard box, so make the ideal gift for any serious crafter. Hook wraps are made from woven wool fabric and are lined with cotton fabric with a vibrant floral design.
Because of the handmade nature of the pouches and hook wraps we do not have a large stock holding. In the new batch of hook wraps we already have just thirteen left. Three of these include a new dark pink/purple crochet flower. If you want to nab one, you might need to be quick!
So, as is the norm these days, we have a pretty standard weekend plan that will include some time in the garden and a spot of baking.
Last summer Andy and I focussed our weekend efforts on sorting out the front garden so that we could use it as a driveway. For years we have left it as a rather neglected lawn so we decided to add a raised bed and dig up the grass to make room to park. We worked on the garden over the course of a few months and moved somewhere in the region of 14 tons of top soil and hardcore between us. It was hard work but it was a great way of keeping fit and we got to meet lots of our neighbours!
This year we have plans for the back garden. Andy has already built a retaining wall for one of the flower beds where the original wooden railway sleepers have rotted away. We have extended the bed to include a small vegetable patch too, which is exciting. We are also hoping to build a new shed that will link through from the summer house, along with a gazebo type structure so that there is a little bit of shelter if we want to sit outside over the summer. We are planning to do all the work ourselves again as we do not have the budget to pay anyone else to do it, but having this time to spend on the garden still feels like a real luxury, so I am really looking forward to it.
This week we had a day of remembrance in the UK to mark the first anniversary of lockdown. It was a chance to reflect on the past 12 months and to think about all those who have died or who have had their lives altered because of COVID. It does seem amazing to think that we went into this thinking it would be a short change to our everyday lives, but here we are a year on still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
‘It's hard when you miss people, but you know if you miss them, that means you were lucky. It means you had someone special in your life. Someone worth missing .’ Nikki Schiefelbein.
From Monday we are hopefully going to be able to meet up to 6 people (from 2 households) outside, so we are hoping for better weather next week. The forecast is looking really nice for the early part of the week here in North London, but a bit miserable by the time the Easter weekend comes around, which is kind of typical! The cafe's and restaurants on our local High Street are gearing up to open with tables and chairs out on the pavements. There was a hive of activity up there this morning when we did our grocery shop and it was really good to see things changing a little and businesses getting ready to open again.
So, as we head into the weekend, and hopefully into a slightly less restricted way of life next week, I hope you are all staying safe and well. My friend Teresa sent me this link to a video of Stephen West demonstrating the technique of Navajo plying. It is amazing! Take a look here - I promise it will make your Friday even better than it is already!
Sending yarn love....
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a ‘story’ that I posted yesterday where I asked if some of you would link through to an Instagram feed that had posted an image and link to a version of my Mystical Lanterns design that was in breach of my copyright because the linked web site showed a free crochet chart for the design. Thank you so much if you were one of the many people who followed the link and commented on the post. I reported the post to Instagram and it was deleted along with my story!
It is rare that I take the time to report Instagram posts, but sadly it is not rare for me to come across incidences where my designs are copied. I have reported many examples of infringement to YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook and we receive lots of messages from you guys telling us about things you have come across that appear to be a bit naughty in regard to copyright. It is wonderful to know that so many of you have ‘got my back’ and that the majority of crocheters want to protect designers like myself.
Traditionally yarn companies employed designers to come up with crochet patterns in order to sell yarn, but over the last couple of decades more and more independent designers like me, who don’t have the financial support of yarn companies, have come to the forefront of design. This is a brilliant situation that has so many positives for us all as crafters, but it also means that designers are left pretty much unprotected in cases of copyright breach.
I hope you will understand that I am not telling you any of this in order to make you feel sorry for me. I actually think that many of these copycat designs feed sales of my patterns, as crocheters tend to want to try and find the source of a design. My Persian Tiles pattern, for example, is the most copied, with Youtube videos in many languages cropping up all the time and images with charts shared within Facebook groups constantly, but it also continues to be our biggest selling pattern by far, so it has to be that a certain level of copying is actually beneficial to us.
The problem is that once an image or video of a design is shared with the accompanying word ‘free’ it instantly becomes ‘free’ on every single subsequent share. The more shares this ‘free’ design gets, the more likely it is that the design will be seen as public property and therefore will get shared in all its new incarnations as ‘free’, despite the fact that the original pattern was not!
On places like Pinterest and Youtube it is the ease and speed at which things get shared that is our biggest challenge when reporting a copyright infringement. On Pinterest we have to report every single instance where an offending image has been posted and not just the source. On YouTube we have to attempt to prove that my written pattern relates to what is being shown in the video, regardless of yarn shades or language, something that is pretty much impossible.
This morning, for example, I have been sent a link to a YouTube Channel that has over 900,000 subscribers. A video that shows the whole process for making the 3 motifs that make up my Persian Tiles design from start to finish has had nearly 14,000 views since it was posted yesterday. The video is in Spanish and at no point does it show my paper pattern, so when YouTube look at that video they are unlikely to see or understand the link between my written pattern and the video. Out of all the Persian Tiles videos on YouTube (of which there are probably hundreds if you are prepared to search) we have only ever managed to get one removed!
Yes! Just one!
I have reported this newest YouTube video and have left a message in the comments section on the offending channel. I have also sent a message via Instagram in the hope that the maker of the video will see the problem and be kind enough to remove it. In the majority of cases this is the common process we go through when attempting to get things removed – in a nutshell we have to appeal to other people’s sense of decency in the hope that they will amend their error.
In the majority of cases, when we have contacted people, they are completely unaware that they have done anything to infringe a copyright statement. Most people are apologetic and are quick to rectify their mistake. Take the yarn company Mary Maxim for example:
A few years ago, I was alerted to a design that was very similar to Mystical Lanterns. The only real difference was that the design had used a variegated yarn and had been renamed as ‘Tear Drop Blanket’. When I approached the company in regard to this they were mortified and without hesitation they offered to pay me a % for every single yarn kit they had sold using that design. This initial problem actually ended up creating a great relationship between myself and the company and I am very proud of my association with them on subsequent projects.
What really gets to me though, is experiences like the one I had on Instagram last night where no apology and no effort to rectify the mistake was made. It is like when Dolce & Gabbana used my Frida’s Flowers patterns to create a crochet skirt that featured in their Spring Summer collection in 2019 and like the lady who insisted that Mystical Lanterns was in fact designed by her mother in the 1970s!
Every example of copyright infringement gives me a little jolt of panic. Crochet designing is my livelihood, not just my hobby, and all of my designs are like my babies. They are incredibly personal to me and they represent a lot of work. Whilst I have to be assertive in protecting my designs, it is really important that I do not get consumed by this. I have to be careful not to invest too much time, effort, with all the accompanying stress, in trying to put things right, especially as there is often no positive outcome.
I once saw a comment on social media that said (in relation to the D&G copyright infringement):
‘I don’t know why everyone is getting so upset about it. It is only crochet after all!’
At the time I was really cross about this statement, but actually, when I find myself getting upset or militant about yet another copycat design or unauthorised share of an image or chart, I remind myself of it and try to take a step back from my personal involvement in what has happened. It is kind of a self-preservation thing (think Love Actually)! So if you spot copycat designs, videos or images you can help me out by sending us a link via email or via our social media channels. If you feel brave enough, it is really helpful to us if you leave a message on the site where you have found the problem – as a general rule the more comments you all make, the more likely it is that people will remove stuff.
Although it cannot be said to be true of everyone (that means you Dolce and Gabbana) I like to believe that on the whole people are honest and that many of them are so totally consumed by their need to spread the joy of the craft of crochet, that they don’t always do the best research before diving in! In all instances we need to try to be kind and keep in mind that it is only crochet after all!
Have good day!
This week I have been putting the finishing touches to a project called The Blue House Blanket. This project uses my Diego’s Flowers motif, which was a ‘left over’ from when I designed the Frida’s Flowers CAL back in 2016. Although the motif did not make it into my final design for Frida, I have always really liked it and have had it in mind to use it as the basis for another design for a long time. The pattern for the motif was released via my old blog as part of the Stylecraft Blogstar’s tour in 2017, but over the last few months Sarah and I have managed to work on a revamped version.
The pattern for the motif will be available next month, so for now I am just showing you a few sneaky peeks of how the motif could be used in different projects. Look out for more information in the March Newsletter.
As I told you last month I have also been working on a new CAL project for Inside Crochet Magazine that will be released later on in the year. I am really in love with the design of this project and I nearly burst with excitement when I opened the package of crochet pieces that my fabulous crocheter Marina sent back to me last week. As a general rule I tend to make the first prototype blanket for all my CAL projects but at the moment I simply don't have the time, so Marina very kindly took over the process of making the repeated blocks once I had designed them and written the patterns.
Opening Marina’s parcel and arranging the blocks on the floor ready for me to start the joining and edging process was almost like Christmas Day for me! I love the point of a project where pieces start to take shape and I find the technique of joining very therapeutic. I know many of you are not keen on the making up process, but I love adding edgings too and find this stage of a project the most fulfilling, especially when it is a new design. The (socially distanced) photoshoot for this project is planned for the end of March, so as soon as I have any images to show you and more information to share I will let you know.
As it is Janie Crow's tenth Birthday this year we are hoping to be able to arrange some events for later on in the year. I have written a short blog post that includes more information about our plans for this year and which also looks back to the beginning of my CAL designing journey when I ran my yearly Crochet Club. You can find the piece by following this link.
This time last year I was eagerly anticipating the release of my Fruit Garden CAL project. I was so pleased to have been able to attend Stylecraft’s photoshoot for the 2 original versions of the project at Standen House in West Sussex on a grey day of torrential rain. My train was cancelled due to a landslide on the railway line and at one point I felt like I was never going to make it to the location in time.
By the time I did arrive the rain was beating at the windows and grey clouds were looming over the house so I wondered how well the images might turn out given the lack of light. Thankfully my worries were unfounded and the shoot produced some fabulous shots thanks to the great team from Stylecraft and the help of the National Trust staff at the house.
When I look back to last February I realise what a special time it was, especially as Sarah and I managed to squeeze in a trip to Edinburgh to see the May Morris exhibition at the Dovecot Studios.
We had a couple of days of frothy coffee, indulgent cakes, scrummy dinners, a few glasses of wine and, of course, the awesome exhibition of May Morris's extraordinary work. It really was the most amazing time, especially in light of all that has happened since.
As the re-run of the Fruit Garden crochet along project, Love is Enough, has now come to an end it is time for me to move on from the project and start looking at some new design work. Despite all the madness of the outside world over the last year I will always remember the incredible response to this design. The amazing messages and emails you guys have sent us in regards to this blanket have often left Sarah and I in (mostly happy) tears and we are so honoured to have been part of your crochet journeys.
I am hugely proud of the project and am so pleased that so many of you enjoyed working through it too. For now the Fruit Garden blankets are being packed away in the hope that they will come out for some shows and events in the Autumn when I hope to also reveal a new addition to the Fruit Garden family!
Most of the images in the collages above are mine, but I have also selected some that I have found on Instagram and Facebook.
Top Left: I love the image of the Parchment & Caramel blanket on the bed of a William Morris inspired Room by Louise of Woolopolis.
Top Left: Lalo_crochet
Top Right - Digwiv
Bottom Right: La Lita Arts & Crafts
Bottom Left: Kellygreenlizzy (I love this gorgeous red and pink version)
Top Right: La Lita Arts & Crafts
Middle: Pamela Field
Bottom Left: Golbanoobaft
Janie Crow images with thanks to Leanne Jade
Stylecraft images with thanks to Standen House NT
Thank you so much for the amazing response to the pattern for my Indian Roses Blanket, which we released a few weeks ago. The design was inspired by a vintage washstand that sits in the reception area of the Green Hotel in Mysore, India. The stand features porcelain tiles that have pink roses at the centre surrounded by teal and green surface detail.
The pattern for the blanket was previously only been available within a yarn kit, but the rights to the stand-alone pattern have now reverted to me so Sarah and I have updated the pattern and our lovely graphic designer, Steph, has made a great job of laying it out in the Janie Crow style.
The pattern is available as a 12 page paper brochure or as a download copy. The pattern features step-by-step images and written instructions for the 3 motifs needed to make the blanket but please note that the pattern is written in UK and not US terms and that it does not include crochet charts.
The yarn listing in the pattern is for the original version, which was worked using West Yorkshire Spinners DK weight yarns. Some of these yarns have now been discontinued, but you will find three download yarn substitution documents for some alternative versions. Two of these new colourways use ColourLab DK yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners. I have named these ‘Aqua’ and ‘Natural’ and the third version shows a listing for Stylecraft Life DK in very similar shades to the original project. The download substitution documents are all available for free by following this link. You will need the yarn sub documents plus the original pattern to complete the project.
I have worked crochet motifs for all three of the new colourways and used the original yarn listing to estimate yarn usage for the alternative versions. Because of the process used to estimate yarn usage and given the fact that we have not remade any full-size blankets in the new colourways please allow for a little leeway on yarn use. In the yarn substitution documents I have marked the yarn shades that may be tight on usage.
I think the design would make a great stash buster as you can use any DK weight yarn you happen to have at home. I had great fun playing around with the colour sequence when I was working on the new samples and I think it would look great worked in a more random way – a little like my Mystical Lanterns design or Lucia’s Eastern Jewels version of my Persian Tiles design.
You can find the paper pattern for sale here and the download version via Ravelry here and Etsy here. You can access the free download yarn substitution documents by following this link.
It is hard to imagine that life is set to return to how it used to be for quite a while longer but it is nice to think that by the spring we might be in the mood to ditch the jersey loungewear in favour of something a little more up beat.
I have been looking at the spring trends and am really excited to see lots of lovely colour clashing, patchwork, tie dye and denim, so I will definitely be having a root through my wardrobe to see if I have anything I can customise to fit in with these trends.
You can find some great mood boards for the spring trends by following this link to Harpers Bazaar.
If you like the look of the patchwork trend too then you might be interested in following the feed of Psychic Outlaw, which I came across on Instagram this morning. The feed features images of coats and jackets all made from old patchwork quilts - I love it!
If you are looking for some online events to attend over the next month or so, why not check out those organised by TOAST. There are quite a few to choose from and you can catch up with past events by following the 'watch again' links on their site. You can find the list of their current events by following this link.
I attended a couple of virtual workshops organised by Vogue Knitting Live last weekend and really enjoyed them. The ticket price seems expensive, but you do get quite a lot of events added in with your package price. I especially enjoyed a talk by Franklin Habit on Friday evening and a great class about shaping crochet yoke sweaters with Sandra Gutierrez on Sunday.
Vogue Knitting Live are hosting monthly virtual events and you can find more information by following this link.
When we launched the Lifestyle brand back in November our aim was to bring you products and home/lifestyle related pieces that would act as a little added extra to your Janie Crow experience. Unfortunately the most recent lockdown has meant that this part of our brand has had to take a back seat while we try to keep on top of all our other jobs, however I am so chuffed to see that the Lifestyle Instagram account now has over 1000 followers, so I want to thank you all for your fab support.
The lifestyle feed is where I put more personal posts that head slightly away from my life as a crochet designer and I try to link these to wellbeing and the environment too. You can find the the Janie Crow lifestyle Instagram feed by following this link. My latest post is about the power of positivity and I have also written an accompanying blog post, which you can find here.
I have been making my own bread for quite a few years now. I make sourdough as a rule and find that organic flour works best. I recently came across Doves Farm KAMUT khorasan wholemeal flour which featured a recipe for Za'atar flatbread on the reverse side of the bag.
I tried out the recipe a few weeks ago and was so impressed that I have since made them again. They are so easy to make and so tasty to eat that I really would recommend having a try at making them. I loved this recipe so much that I left a review on the Doves Farm website!
Last weekend I made the flatbreads to accompany a Riverford recipe recommended by Gemma and it really was a great meal. You can find the recipe for the carrot masala with coconut lentils by following this link.
Stitchtopia have released further information about the new knitting and yoga workshop that I will be tutoring in November. This event is aimed at yoga enthusiasts of any level (even newbies) and classes will be adapted to suit the ability of the class.
I find that doing yoga stretches in the mornings has helped me tremendously with my (crochet and knitting related) aches and pains. I am really looking forward to this event, despite being a little disappointed that I will not have time to take part in the yoga sessions, and hope that it might appeal to you too, especially if you fancy a special 'treat to self' in the lead up to next Christmas.
We were looking forward to a bit of time in the garden this weekend as the weather forecast had us believe that we were set for some warmer and drier weather, however as the week has progressed the forecast has become a tad less positive, so we have our fingers firmly crossed that we won't get too wet!
Our weekend plans are almost always the same these days and, whilst I really miss going out and catching up with friends and family, I have grown to love our Saturday routine in particular. We spend a lot of time planning and making our evening meal, often trying recipes we have never made before and we also put 'proper' clothes on and make an effort to dress up as if we were heading out. Andy was given a cocktails book as a gift a few years ago, so he makes a different cocktail treat most weekends. Tomorrow we are set to try Negronis!
February can be such a mixture of bright, sunny, spring like weather and the dismal days of late winter, but as I said in the introduction to this newsletter, it is so good to see the first signs of spring. Hopefully we will get out for a walk to check out the snowdrops and emerging bulbs in the woods at some point over the next few days.
‘Love and Kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference’ - Helen James.
I subscribe to the COOK email newsletters and this week they featured their list of 100 acts of Random Kindness. Many of the items on the list are no doubt things that we all do anyway, but seeing the list reminded me of the importance of thinking of others and being more aware of those around us, even if we can't see them right now. This time of year, when we are more likely to spend lots of time inside, can be very isolating even at the best of times.
If you are feeling a bit low and need a bit of a crochet pick me up then email me back with a quick message telling me which Janie Crow download pattern you would like to cheer you up. Sarah and I will pick 10 emails to reply to early next week and will attach a free download copy of the pattern you have chosen. The best way to be sure of getting our emails is to save the email@example.com email address to your contacts.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever your plans, you have a great weekend and that you keep safe.
2021 is Janie Crow’s 10th Birthday, but we are still trying to work out exactly what we can do to celebrate it. We had hoped to be running some special workshops and events, but for obvious reasons we are unable to set dates for these at the moment. Our lease runs out on our studio space in September and our Landlord has decided to develop the building into apartments, so it is even more difficult for us to plan anything for the Autumn. Whilst I am sad at the prospect of leaving the studio, I am a firm believer in fate and feel that as one door closes another will open, but it does leave us rather up in the air as far as birthday party planning goes!
Last July, in between lockdowns, we spent a night at our local big hotel, West Lodge Park, so we could work out whether it would make a good venue for a special event. It is a lovely old country house, set in beautiful grounds with it’s own Arboretum and we feel that it would indeed make a great location for an event. The only problem is making the decision to commit to a booking given all the uncertainty over the forth coming months. For now we have decided not to make any plans and just see where things take us, but I am really hoping that we will all get to collide for a big show and tell style party that involves Prosecco and posh nibbles before the end of the year – let’s all keep our fingers very firmly crossed!
It was hand knit designer Debbie Abrahams who encouraged me to launch my first CAL project in 2011. Back then there were very few crochet along style projects around and Debbie was insistent that I get myself out there and create a version of her legendary ‘Mystery Blanket Club’ only using the craft of crochet instead of knitting. A decade on and I have Debbie to thank for all that my business has brought me and I am eternally grateful that she has never learnt to crochet as if she had then I may not have created a CAL club in the first place!
For four years I ran my ‘Crochet Club’ (imaginative name huh!) which involved me designing a semi mystery project, the patterns for which were split into parts and released monthly. Club members were given teaser images on which to make a decision as to whether or not to join the club and we sent out yarn packs prior to the start of the patterns being released. Members then completed the project over the course of 6 months, hopefully ending up with a finished blanket by July the same year. Membership for all the clubs was capped at around 500 and the patterns for the projects were archived afterwards.
I really enjoyed designing my first three crochet club projects. The first one was inspired by Art Deco Wurlitzer Duke Box design, my second by traditional Victorian crochet lace designs and my third one was inspired by Persian Architecture and Moroccan tiles. By the time I was designing and releasing my fourth club I felt like a musician who was struggling to write, record and release an album in record time. The workload had become huge and stressful and, as I am definitely at my least creative when the pressure is on, by the time I had four Crochet Club projects under my belt I knew it was time to start something new.
The overriding thing that I didn’t like about running the Crochet Club (besides the bonkers workload) was that it was exclusive to those who had enough money to pay for it in the first place. The only way I could work out how to make a living from running the club was to sell accompanying high end yarn packs, but as I was also on a mission to propel the craft of crochet to a higher level of skill and a larger audience I really wanted to find a way of creating a project with a much wider appeal.
In late 2014 I got chatting with Annabelle Hill, brand manager at Stylecraft Yarns, about creating a CAL project that would be free for everyone. Working in this way, where yarn packs could be sold by all retailers or crocheters could use yarns from their stash and access free patterns, was a massive gamble for me, but, whilst the fall in financial gain by working in this way was particularly scary at the time, I have never regretted my decision to put my Crochet Club to rest.
The four Crochet Club projects, which were released as CALs between 2011 and 2014, have been archived and the patterns are not available - however nicely you ask! However, if you fancy working on a project inspired by one of the CAL designs you can find the patterns for the Imogen blanket, which was inspired by my 2012 Victorian crochet themed club project, by following this link and my Persian Tiles blanket, which was inspired by the 2013 project, here.
If you were a member of my first Crochet Club in 2011 I would love it if you would get in touch, especially if you would be willing to send me some pics of your project. If you were a member of all four of my Crochet Clubs then I definitely want to hear from you.
I wonder if there are any of you who have done all ten Janie Crow CALs over the last decade? In case you are wondering how many of my CAL projects you might have completed, here is the list:
2011 - Art Deco Inspired Crochet Club
2012 - Victorian Lace Inspired Crochet Club
2013 - Moroccan Inspired Crochet Club
2014 - My 1970s Childhood Inspired Crochet Club
2015 - Lily Pond Blanket CAL
2016 - Frida’s Flowers CAL
2017 - Sunshine & Showers CAL
2017/18 - Bohemian Blooms CAL
2019 - Climbing Rose Wrap CAL
2020 - Fruit Garden CAL
I could not have predicted where my design work would take me when I set out on my first CAL adventure a decade ago. I know that I have been incredibly lucky to have had such amazing support from yarn companies and the crochet community. I simply cannot wait to get back out into the real world to touch base with you all again and hope that in 2021 you will all come along on another CAL journey with me and I look forward to telling you more about that soon.
Thank you for being fabulous!
A few years ago, I had a bit of a blip and found myself struggling to find a purpose in life. I am not sure exactly how I got to the low point in the first place or over what period of time it manifested itself, but by the time Christmas 2017 rolled around I was at a point where I knew I needed some help, although I had no idea what sort of support I should seek. In the end I sorted out some online life coaching classes and ordered some self-help books, which I read over the course of a few weeks, each day beginning to feel more and more positive.
By the time I was setting off to teach on the Knit For Peace trip to Mysore in January 2018 I was already feeling like I was beginning to rid myself of the negativity that had started to overshadow me, but it was the trip to India that consolidated my belief in the detrimental effect that negativity could have on my life and made me promise myself not to be taken so far down that route again.
The reason I am telling you this is because over the last month or so I have found myself slowly slipping down the dangerous slope of negativity. The lack of difference between lockdown days and the fact that we have no real plans to look forward to over the next few months means that I have found it really easy to focus on all that is wrong in the world rather than all that is right and I know that spending much more time on my own than I usually would has definitely led me to do a lot of over thinking.
I have a friend who lives with her mind constantly in the past. She focuses on all the things that she feels have gone wrong in her life and re-lives them in her head over and over again. It is really easy to do this kind of constant dredging up especially when we are spending so much time alone. I have definitely been falling into the trap of having those ‘why me’ and ‘its not fair’ kind of thoughts, whilst also being guilty of imagining future negative scenarios so that in the end neither the past, nor the future are looking in the slightest bit positive.
As knitters and crocheters we enjoy solitary pass times that are independent by nature so it is important that we are extra careful that we recognise when we are feeling isolated. We are living in a situation where we have so much more time to think and procrastinate, whilst also being constantly bombarded with news stories and social media feeds, many of which are negative. So, this week I have decided that enough is enough and have made a promise to myself that I will get back on a positive track. I have given myself a good talking to and have spent some time reminding myself about what it was about that trip to India and the content of those online classes and self help books that helped me sort my life out a few years ago, and which I am hoping will do so again….
There is a large lake in the University grounds near the Green Hotel in Mysore. It is a popular destination for people and wildlife alike and it is a great place for a daily stroll, so when we are lucky enough to be away with the Knit For Peace groups, we try our best to get there as often as we can. While walking one morning in January 2018, Andy and I were approached by some young adults who invited us to attend a coaching class that had been organised for the university students. The group were adamant that we should go to the meeting and so later on that day a 5 of us did!
As we were quite clearly not Indian University students we were quite a novelty in the group activities that were organised for that afternoon, but we had a fabulous time working through some positive behaviour exercises with all the students. They were so welcoming, vibrant and happy that there was no way we could have walked away from the event feeling anything less that euphoric having danced, played games and laughed with them, all the time being taught about the perils of negative thoughts and behaviour and the importance of positivity. After the workshop one of the students took us to the nearby Hindu temple, which was so peaceful and beautiful bathed in the pink sunset. It was an incredibly special afternoon, one which I will always remember as being a huge turning point for me in regards to recognising the detrimental effects of negativity.
In the book ‘How to get off your backside and live your life’ by Joyce H Campbell the author talks about how we must all steer our own ships and stop playing the blame game, ultimately taking total responsibility for our own lives. This was one of the things that the university students in India focussed on too and for me, this idea of being totally in control of our own destiny, is something that I need to remind myself about..
Last week I came across this great video by Will Smith that kind of encapsulates this is a nut shell.
Another one of the books I refer to over and over again is Stephen R Covey’s awesome ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, which talks about the positive effects of sharing and being open to others – being Proactive rather than Reactive. I have mentioned this book before and I still check in from time to time to see the video that shows Covey’s 7 habits in a simple, easy to understand way.
I think I am on the up and have managed to get myself back in a positive frame of mind, but if you are feeling down and feel in need of help don’t be afraid of looking for it. The charity Mind have been doing some really important work through lockdown and are there to help anyone who feels overwhelmed. It is normal to feel down from time to time and there is no shame in admitting, like I have, that your mental health is not always in tip top condition, but it is imperative that we recognise it and deal with it.
If you could do with a bit of a pick-me-up (and are not yet totally fed up with Zoom meetings) then you could book some online courses or events. I attended some great workshops as part of Vogue Knitting Live over the weekend and would thoroughly recommend them. I also arranged to chat to some friends for a bit and took myself off on a long walk. It is all stuff we know, but sometimes it is good to have a reminder that it is really important to get plenty of sleep, exercise and fresh air and to keep safe and be kind to ourselves as well as others...
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