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!
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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!