I was away teaching a couple of workshops at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington last week and did a meet and greet event on the shop floor too, which was just lovely! This week I have been getting ready for a residential workshop in France which I will be tutoring next week, so it has been all about prepping and teaching for me over the last couple of weeks.
I have also been working on the the final chapter of my new book, which will be called 'The Perfect Crochet Finish' and Sarah and I have been organising the samples needed for the photography, so it has been busy, busy, busy!
I have some exciting things to tell you about this week including some brand new colourways of my Mystical Lanterns blanket and shawl design, so I hope you can spare five minutes to catch up with all things Janie Crow!
The name of a repeated tessellating design, like the one I have used in the Mystical Lanterns blanket, is called an ‘Ogee’ pattern in Arabesque design. It took me a few weeks to get the design of these blocks right; initially I came up with lots of complicated ways to create this motif, but in the end, it was so simple – funny how sometimes a design process can take so long, and the outcome can be so easy to make!
The Mystical Lanterns blanket is an incredibly popular pattern, so almost a decade after it was first released, we felt it was time to give it a bit of an update. We have created some new colourways and layouts using the Stylecraft range of yarns. We have created one version using Naturals Bamboo + Cotton that we have called Beatrix, another using Special DK named Avice, and a third using ReCreate DK and Highland Heathers DK that we have called Orcadia.
The colour palette for the Beatrix version was chosen by Stylecraft Brand Manager, Annabelle Hill, who owns a painting of the walled garden at Waterperry Gardens that inspired her choices. Annabelle once lived near the gardens and visited a couple of times a month with her children when they were small. Annabelle says it is the most magical place that was founded by two women, Beatrix Havergal and her partner Avice Sanders in the 1930s.
The yarn used in this colour way is Stylecraft Naturals Bamboo + Cotton. The Avice version is very similar in colour but uses Special DK.
The colour palette for this version was chosen by me and was inspired by a visit to St Magnus’s Cathedral and the Italian Chapel in Orkney, Scotland. The Cathedral is built from rich red bricks, and it features the most incredible tiled floor within its interior with intricate patterns in shades of red, brown, and yellow. The Italian Chapel is also a real treat with a lovely interior and pretty hand painted windows, which bathe the chapel in blue, yellow and pink colours when the sun shines.
You can find a free downloadable document that shows the yarn use for all 3 colourways on the website by following this link. We have kits available to order on the website with a dispatch date of next Monday, but please support your local Stylecraft stockist if you have one as many of them will also be selling the kits. You can find a list of stockists here.
Andy calls my Persian Tiles design ‘the gift that keeps giving’ and it never ceases to amaze me just how much joy the design has brought to crocheters over the last 8 years since its release in 2015. Lucia of @luciasfigtree created her Eastern Jewels version of the blanket a few years after the release of my original colour way and since then it has opened the design up to so many unique colour ways and a myriad of versions.
Kayla from @authentic.artroom recently posted a video of her (more than double sized) Eastern Jewels blanket on TikTok and it has been viewed over 6 million times. Her fantastic videos show the individual motifs in close up and really focus on the beauty of Lucia’s colour choices too so I recommend you take a look.
We are hoping to restock the kits for the blanket along with those for the original colour way over the next few days. We also hope to have kits for the Sandalwood version back in stock again soon. If you want to make Persian Tiles Eastern Jewels using yarn from your stash, or by purchasing individual balls of yarn rather than using a kit you can use the pattern alongside Lucia’s yarn substitution document to help guide you through.
We have added a 'NOTIFY ME' option to our web site recently which enables you to be alerted by email when items come back into stock. We think this will be particularly helpful for those of you on the look out for kits, so do head over to the website and take a look. Having things on wish lists means we can also get a better idea of the amount of stock we need to order, so do make use of this handy tool.
My Fruit Garden crochet along was inspired by the intricate embroidery work of William Morris’s daughter May. The patterns are written for four colour ways. The third one we released is called Love is Enough after the nine line poem written by William in 1897.
The poem conveys the message that love is enough in the face of darkness and that in a world with lots of hardships and depression, the power of love and companionship will help us see the light and face things together.
Despite the poem being written almost 130 years ago I think the message within it stands the test of time and remains poignant and relevant:
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass'd over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
I used the Tudor Rose motif from the Spirit of Flora CAL as the basis for one of my workshops at Black Sheep Wools last week. It was so exciting to see how the motif worked in lots of different colourways.
We continue to enjoy seeing your progress on the Spirit of Flora CAL motifs, but this month we thought we'd have a look through the CAL group on Facebook to find some of your versions of the Maker's Bag, constructed using your selections of the motifs that have been published so far.
Ursula Kesek has made this beautiful version (shown below) using the Marlborough and Chelsea motifs.
Just look at these colours on Rina Levi Celikel's bag below. Isn't it just stunning!
Here's Sarah C Reaser's version of the bag. We love the styling!
Luce Bergeret has opted for citrus colours for her bag. We love the bright, summery feel.
Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful photos! Look out for the next motif, 'Gillow' (one of my favourites) which will be published in Inside Crochet Magazine next week.
Over on the Facebook page Gemma has been taking a look back at The Fruit Garden blanket timeline, beginning in 2020 with the Caramel & Parchment and Night & Dark versions, through to the Love is Enough CAL re-run and then the publication of the book, including the new Red House version of the blanket.
Many of you shared your stories of the original CAL with us, along with photos of your incredible versions of the blanket. We've picked out a few to share with you here.
Kate Byers - a prizewinner!
Tamara Faurot has made 11 versions of the blanket but the one shown above is the one she kept for herself. She dyed the yarn herself, so this truly is one of a kind.
Joyce Shipp made her version in the Stylecraft Naturals Bamboo & Cotton yarn but in her own colourway. She is currently working on her eighth!
We love Lorraine Wiseman's blue colourway.
What has been clear from the comments on the posts is that many of you are still working on Fruit Garden projects and many more are wanting to make the blanket but feel it might be too tricky for them. So, we thought it would be a good time to remind you that there are supporting videos for all aspects of the blanket over on the Janie Crow YouTube channel here. There is a playlist with all the Fruit Garden videos together in one place and many people have said how useful they were so we hope they might encourage you to have a go if you have been wondering about making a start on the project.
This week's recipe recommendation comes from Sarah and it's the wonderfully summery dessert, Almond Pavlovas, with meringue and fresh summer berries. If you have been growing strawberries in your garden this recipe would be a great one to use them in. We're getting a good crop so far this year, they are definitely enjoying the warm dry weather!
After seeing Justin Bieber with his Persian Tiles blanket we are always wondering where the next unusual place for a Janie Crow design to turn up will be. This week one of our eagle eyed followers on Facebook spotted Mystical Lanterns in a cross stitch kit!
Have you been watching the current series of the Great British Sewing Bee? In episode four the Made to Measure challenge involved the sewers sourcing second hand crochet blankets and then using them to create a new outfit. This episode has generated some interesting discussions. Some viewers found it uncomfortable viewing to watch the blankets being cut up, knowing how much time will have gone into making them. In this article from Prima there are a few opposing views. Where do you stand on this?
If you're an Instagram user you can take a look at the Great British Sewing Bee's channel here for some tips on sewing with crochet.
Then over on YouTube The Woolpatch have published their latest 'All Gathered Up' video where they discuss some of the techniques used during the episode. Click on the image below to watch.
Lucia of Lucia's Fig Tree has recently been working on a new colourway of a project designed by Abi at Get Your Hook On. The result is the most amazing 'St Kilda' blanket that features adorable puffins and fish. You can find more information by clicking on the images or by following this link to Lucia's website.
We are heading off to France today and so will be in the sunshine of the Charentes Maritimes region this weekend. We have packed our swimming costumes so are hoping to have a day by the pool in the sunshine and some crochet in the shade on Saturday. On Sunday I will be introducing the workshop group to the project and guiding them through their crochet techniques as we head into next week. We will be focusing on making some crochet flowers, so look out for some images on Instagram if you're interested in seeing what the group achieve.
The weather forecast in the UK is looking good again this weekend so I imagine many of you will be making the most of the sunshine here too, but if you are looking for some movie recommendations so that you can sit and crochet in front of the TV I recommend 'Everything, everywhere, all at once' and 'The Whale'. I watched both films a few weeks ago when Andy was away. Both good in different ways. The Whale is pretty brutal and not at all light hearted so be warned. I can totally see what both of theses movies were Oscar winners.
I hope that whatever you have planned this weekend you stay safe and well. Remember to slap on the sun cream if you are out and about and make sure you keep hydrated and enjoy plenty of ice cream too - it would be rude not to!
Crocheted flowers are pretty much my favourite thing to make and I adore adding beads into my work too, so the Gertrude cushion project was a real joy to design and make. I wanted to create a vintage feel and chose my yarn shades accordingly. I think the little lime green beads provide a lovely pop of colour on the leaves of the dainty crochet blooms.
I adored the velvet smocked cushions that my Auntie Muriel had on her bed when I was a child in the 1970s. I used to love running my fingers over the velvet pile and found the smocked stitching fascinating. The cushions were just so enticing and luxurious that I remember thinking that I would definitely have some on my bed when I was old enough! I have previously recreated the style of these cushions in a knit design I called Madeleine, which was published in my book ‘Homespun Vintage’, but I have always wanted to create a crochet version too.
When working on the Muriel cushion project I decided to add pretty bobbles instead of smocked style stitching to make a simple accompaniment to my Gertrude cushion, which features pretty flowers and beads. I have always struggled with the way crochet worked in the round can look like it has a ‘scar’ running through it, so my challenge for this project was to design something that would hide the way slip stitches appear without having to fasten off yarns at the end of every round.
The paper brochure copy of the Gertrude Cushion is available in UK and US terms in our store here. You can download it via Ravelry or Etsy.
The pattern for the round Muriel Cushion is a free download. You can find the UK version here, and the US version here.
The patterns for both the cushions were previously published in issue 147 of Inside Crochet Magazine. Thanks to the magazine and Mavric photography for the lovely images.
It has been great to see your interpretations of the Chelsea Motif from the Spirit of Flora CAL on social media platforms lately. There are so many beautiful colour combinations and we are just LOVING the layouts we're seeing with all your completed blocks.
We still have some Persian Tiles kits in stock in the Sandalwood colour way. Sandalwood is widely-considered to be the national scent of India, with most families burning the natural extract in their homes. The most expensive sandalwoods are harvested when the trees are around 60 years old. The older the tree, the stronger, more powerful and long-lasting the beautiful fragrance. It is one of my favourite smells!
Emma Ball also used this version of Persian Tiles to create some lovely crochet accessories - bags and hook rolls and stitch markers and all sorts. I think the velvet cushions continue to be my favourite!
We still have kits for our revamped Fiori blanket in stock. Fiori is a collaborative project between myself and Lucia Dunn of @luciasfigtree. The original design is Fields of Gold and the new colour palette was chosen by Lucia, using a trip to her home in the Dolomites, Italy as inspiration.
The original kit used a limited edition yarn, but because of this we struggled to keep up with the demand for kits for this beautiful project. This newer version uses 16 shades of Stylecraft yarn instead and is as colourful as you’d expect from a palette where Lucia is involved!
The kits are available on the website and include all the yarn you need for the project, the printed Fields of Gold pattern, a printed yarn substitution brochure and a Janie Crow sew in label. Lucia also has the yarn substitution document available on her website, so do go and have a visit there if you would rather not get a kit.
It was my long term dream to have a large studio space for Janie Crow and so, when that dream became a reality 7 years ago, I was so incredibly excited to move my crochet paraphernalia away from home and into a separate space.
Our lease on the studio ended 18 months ago and, with soaring energy costs and lack of suitable local properties available, we made the decision to move the business back home. At the time I was sad to leave our studio, but now that I am home and working from my own little space in the summer house at the end of the garden I couldn’t be happier.
The space I have is small and cosy and everything I need is within easy reach. My precious books, my (many) bags of yarn and all my bits and bobs have a home and, as my work space takes up less than a third of the summer house, we don't actually feel like we have lost any home space. The IKEA shelves make a great divider and mean that my little studio is private and easily hidden when we are using the summer house as, well, a summer house!
Some of my prized possessions are in here. My knitted moth by Max Alexander @maxsworld, my huge Klimt book and my diddy knitted fairisle sweater, nestled next to the little blue crochet lobster made by my lovely pal Jo @spannerworks all make me really happy alongside the little curated piles of yarn and baskets of WIPS.
There is nothing grand about my space. At times it can feel bit crammed and during the winter it is quite hard to keep it warm, but it ticks pretty much all my boxes and it is conducive to my creativity, especially as I have a great view of the garden which is particularly glorious during the summer months.
I’ve made a reel so you can come on a virtual tour of my summerhouse with me if you’d like! You can find it on Instagram.
I turned 54 a fortnight ago and (if I am honest), the prospect of yet another birthday took me down a bit of a ribbit hole emotionally, mostly because it scares me just how fast the time is flying past me. Over the last couple of weeks, and after giving myself a good talking to, I have made some new plans and am slowly rediscovering my crojo and settling back down to normality.
I have been flicking through some of my resource books and am always drawn to Indian textiles for inspiration. Picking out balls of yarn to make a new colour palette is a process that always makes me feel good, so for now I am happy to just have a pile of lovely yarn on my desk regardless of whether or not a new crochet project will transpire. It might be that I simply end up recolouring an existing project or make some samples that will never actually become a ‘proper’ project - either way I am sure that the simple process of crocheting will bring some joy.
Emma and I have been talking a lot recently about the impact various life situations have on how we crochet. What really stokes the creativity, what stifles it, the soothing balm of sitting down with hook and yarn.
One of the things we really hit upon was the use of crochet as our 'reward' for getting through a tough day. Genuinely being able to focus the mind at a future point in time knowing the feeling of peace, security and quiet contemplation will come. I know many of you recognise this feeling all too well. There are some big things happening in the JC team at the moment, with our lovely Emma in particular navigating some incredibly difficult circumstances, and crochet, in its constant, steady, peaceful way is there; sitting alongside, providing the thread of comfort in normality so needed when things are anything but normal.
Through some tricky times it’s become clear that it is not always the conclusion of a large project that is needed. It is often, the process itself. Choosing yarn, trying colour combinations, finding a “one sitting” something that will be an end unto itself. At these times, slowing everything down and bringing the focus right in to now, can work wonders to reset the mind. Being content with whatever you may have chosen to make at that time, just one beautiful motif, is a lovely way to think about crochet.
Perhaps it is the repetition of the same stitch or colour or block over again that brings your particular comfort. Or perhaps the reward to you looks like starting something completely new with a new colour pallete. Does it matter? Of course we are big fans of blankets and larger projects but we are also completely supportive to the “400 WIPS on the go” crocheters! We get it completely!
So, from now on, no guilt for unfinished projects. You started a new one for a reason. Be happy and well with whatever brings you joy!
I will be in store at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington next Wednesday morning for a little meet and greet event.
I will be on the shop floor on June 14th and I would love to catch up with as many of you as can make it. You can drop in and show me your latest project or come along and ask for some advice or even decide on a new project surrounded by lots of lovely squishy yarn and inspiration.
The event is free to attend and it takes place between 10am and 12.30pm and you can find more information on the Black Sheep Wools @blacksheepwools Facebook page.
There are still some places left on my Stitch Yourself Happy - Crochet & Yoga workshop in July. Numerous studies have shown that crafting is just as beneficial for your personal wellbeing and mental health as Pilates, yoga and mindfulness are for both physical and mental health. Over the course of this weekend I will be tutoring beaded crochet workshops and, if you come along, you will get to do some lovely relaxing yoga too!
Beaded crochet is a beautifully effective technique that is much simpler than you imagine. There is no need to learn any new stitches, the beads are just added into your crochet at certain stages of the stitch to create a really lovely effect. Participants will need to know how to work crochet basic crochet stitches and how to read a crochet pattern.
I have been waiting so patiently for the peonies to bloom in the garden and now that we have a glut of them I couldn't be happier - the flowers are just so beautiful!
One of our plants had in the region of 30 flowers and as the lavender and roses are also in full bloom I really do think June is the best month in the garden.
Last weekend I made a yummy pasta, egg and cheese bake from The River Cottage 'Veg Everyday' recipe book.
This is one of my favourite recipe books and I have made this one a couple of times. This time I swapped the Cheddar cheese for Stilton and served it with some Focaccia and a lovely fresh salad.
The recipe is a bit long winded, especially as it involves whisking egg whites, but it is definitely worth the hard work. You can find a review of the recipe by following this link. Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall calls this recipe a Spouffle - such a great word! I think I might be ready to progress to a proper cheese soufflé next time!
I am home alone for the next few days as Andy has been away at a music festival since Wednesday and Charlie flew off for an exciting holiday to the Far East yesterday. It always takes me a couple of days to get used to being on my own and I wander around a bit lost for the first day, but it soon becomes second nature to potter about on my lonesome - and at least the house stays beautifully tidy!
The weather is set to be really warm this weekend so I am planning to meet my friend Sally for supper tomorrow and I will probably spend the rest of my weekend in the garden. I have the workshop project that I will be tutoring in France in a few weeks time to complete and have a bit of prep to do for the events at Black Sheep Wools next week, so there will definitely be a spot of crochet involved in my weekend too.
image courtesy of @woollychic
image courtesy of @woollychic
My friend Helen Ingram of Woolly Chic is organising another one of her lovely Summer Craft Parties at the Lavender Fields in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I am disappointed that the date of her party (June 30th) clashes with my workshop trip to France but I hope to be able to go next year. If you are interested in going along to this lovely event you can find more information on Helen's website here.
I was introduced to UPPERCASE magazine by my friend Jo recently. The publication is aimed at 'the creative and curious inspired by craft, design, typography and illustration'. Published since 2009, the magazine has an enthusiastic and loyal readership of designers, illustrators, craftspeople, creative entrepreneurs and paper lovers around the world. With high quality production values and a unique design aesthetic, the content of each issue is 'eclectic and inspiring'. You can find more information about UPPERCASE by following this link.
My friend Jan sent me a link to this article about May Morris. It is an easy to read piece that focuses on May's personal life more than her professional one. I recommend it.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you have planned that you will have a great weekend and that you stay safe.
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