A couple of months ago Gemma asked the question 'What does crochet mean to you?' on our Facebook page. We received lots of replies, with many contributors saying that crochet had come to mean more to them than simply being a pleasant pass-time.
We found many of the answers to be really insightful and moving. Emma asked the same question on our Instagram feed a few weeks ago. Once again we were inundated with amazing responses, so we thought it would be good to put together a short piece that encapsulates what crochet means to so many of you.
The replies we received fell broadly into 5 categories. These were mental health, relaxation, joy of creating, community spirit and heritage, with many people siting all of these things.
By far the biggest response was in regards to relaxation and the positive effect that crochet has on mental health. There were many gentle words used to describe crochet: calm, tranquil, relaxing, escapism and soothing, for example. Many people said it was their escape into 'me-time'.
There were also some very strong stories of much more intense mental health challenges and issues and at least 3 people said that crochet has saved their life. One lady said that her crochet gives her purpose to get up in the morning. There were several people who found it helped to get through the pandemic - something I have heard a lot over the last couple of years. We received stories of grief and physical challenges as well as relationship and family struggles: all from people who have used crochet as an outlet to stop their minds running away with them. There were a few good stories of physical rehabilitation after injury too. We had quite a few comments saying that you work on easy projects to keep calm and more difficult projects to help distract and focus.
Joy at Creating
Lots of responses expressed joy at colour and texture, at choosing new yarns and new projects and the feeling of achievement that crochet created. Gifting to friends, family and charities also featured heavily in the responses. No one said “this is a hobby” but plenty said it was more than that and stated that their crochet was more about lifestyle and featured in their everyday routines as a priority. Many crocheters expressed their delight at conquering tricky patterns and getting stitch counts right!
Lots of people mentioned the sense of community they feel. Emma was really touched by one lady who commented “it gives a window to this small town girl with no passport”. Lots of people mentioned community through the pandemic and there were many nice stories of friends, co-workers and YouTubers teaching people to crochet.
Lots of people mentioned being taught by a mother or grandmother who had since passed away. Many felt that crochet created a sense of connection to those who have now gone and lots of people expressed regret that they didn’t have more time or interest to learn from family members. Overwhelmingly, the feelings that are connected with learning from a family member were incredibly positive. Many people mentioned this connection and the passing down of knowledge through the generations as a 'gift'. Many responses said that they were hoping to pass along their knowledge in the hope that the craft skills continue through the generations.
There were lots of common themes within the replies we received. So many of you sited your mental health as an incentive to crochet, with lots of you saying you use it to create a space for quiet contemplation and concentration and find the repetitive, mindful process of creating stitches rhythmic and even hypnotising. Many of you used the word 'calming' in relation to the craft and said that the distraction created helps with anxiety and depression.
We had this amazing response from Gigi:
'A new family member taught me the very basics of crochet. I was interested after watching her. I am a person who likes a challenge (to a point!) so I set about watching YouTube tutorials and slowly learning. What I didn’t know was that a complete mental breakdown was headed my way.
For a good 18 months I wasn’t capable of anything creative at all. There was nothing inside of me. Time went on and I had various therapies and I wondered whether crochet would act as therapy- it is a form of mindfulness which helps with anxiety and depression. My head was always out of control. I desperately needed quiet and calm in there. So I took up my hook again to see what would happen and it worked. For me the familiar stitches were repetitive,rhythmic, hypnotising- they created calm. The harder or more intricate stitches and patterns had to wait as I couldn’t concentrate enough to follow anything but eventually my mental state began to improve and I found that following patterns and having to focus deeply gave me respite from the feelings of despair.
Over three years down the line I am much better. Now I am battling with enjoying and valuing crochet for its process. Most days my head will tell me I have no real purpose in life and I feel if I am not crocheting something that has a purpose for someone else then there is no point to it. It is a work in progress tied up into deeply held beliefs about myself. So! To cut a long story short- I agree that crochet helped to save me and continues to help me. I believe it always will.'
One of the comments we received recommended the book 'HOOKED - How crochet saved my life' by actress Sutton Foster, who says she turned to crochet as a way of coping with stress and anxiety caused by huge events in her life, such as the death of her mother and a divorce. The book dives deep into the Broadway and TV star’s poignant moments punctuated by her love for crafting and how it helped her stay sane.
There is a really good video interview with Sutton here in which she talks about how crochet has helped her to process the things that have happened in her life. I really agree with her when she says that her crochet items are a visual reminder of times in her life and it was really interesting to hear her say that the towers of crochet squares she produces help remind her that she is making progress in her healing process.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Emma for helping me put together this piece and to all those of you who have contributed to this discussion. I really hope that there might be things of interest to you here. We continue to monitor replies to the question 'What does crochet mean to you?' on our Instagram feed and there are also some more comments on the post from yesterday which quoted one of the messages. Take a look at our Instagram feed if you want to read more.
This time last week I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in the company of some of the Stylecraft Blogstars at the first 'in person' meeting for a couple of years. It was really good to catch up in the flesh and chat about all things crochet and yarn. It was a real treat to be shown the new yarns and pattern collections that Stylecraft have ready for release over the forthcoming months too.
I have had such a great week since the meeting and have been working on some new motif designs. It feels so good to finally be getting stuck into a new design and I feel like I am on a real mission to create new things. For the first time in a while I am bouncing out of bed in the morning and can't wait to get to my desk to continue my crochet! As a general rule I try to limit the amount of crochet I do in a day, because I find my hands and neck can get sore as a result of too much hunched hooking, but this week I have spent lots of time crocheting and have loved every minute of it!
At the beginning of the week I rummaged through my stash to create the outline of my first yarn palette for my new project. I get asked about choosing palettes a lot, so you might want to take a look at my Instagram post which explains my process for whittling down the colours.
A couple of weeks ago I did a shoot with Leanne and Claire so that I could have some new images for my website and patterns. It was a really hot day and we were melting by the end of it, but as usual we had a really great time and I am incredibly pleased with the images that Claire styled and Leanne shot - I call them my dream team for a reason!
In the images above you can see my Sandalwood version of Persian Tiles (which I will have some exciting news about soon) and the Tidings Wrap, which I have fallen right back in love with as a result of the shoot. The pattern for the wrap will be released as an advent CAL in December.
I am really looking forward to showing you my new colourway of Indigo Dreams very soon. Now that we have images and all the patterns have been amended to include the new colours I am getting really excited about the release of this pattern. I have been working with graphic designer, Steve, to create a lovely layout plan for the pattern. I have posted an image of what he has created above - isn't it fabulous?
We now have stock of the new print run of The Fruit Garden Blanket book, but those of you who live in the US in particular might be interested to know that I have been working with publishers Charles and James to create a copy specifically for distribution in the US and ROW market. The book will have a slightly different format, but is pretty much identical. The first print run will be 500 copies and they should hit the market within the next couple of months, so if you have a local store they might have it. Working with a new publisher and distributor will cut down on the postage costs from the UK, so I see this as a really good move.
As you know I love to see my blankets 'out in the wild' and really enjoy seeing how other crocheters interpret my designs, so it was really good to see that the guys at Toft have put a new spin on my Mystical Lanterns granny motif to create their new 'Leaf' blanket. You can find out about it here or by clicking on the image above.
I need to apologise to those of you who may have made a pre-order for the Caramel and Parchment yarn kit for my Fruit Garden blanket. We had hoped that these kits would be dispatched this week, but after a problem with sickness at the mill, and because of disruptions caused to the postal service by the hot weather, we have not been able to get all the kits dispatched. Hopefully this situation will be sorted very soon.
If you are looking for a kit we have good stock of quite a few projects at the moment. Check out the website for more information.
We are revisiting my Sunshine and Showers blanket design over the course of this year and into 2023. The CAL was released 5 years ago and features a new stitch for every month of the year, based on typical weather here in the UK. The pattern is available in parts as downloads, but we have never had videos to accompany the design, so Emma has been creating some to help anyone who wants to work through the project.
The videos for parts one, two and three are now available and you can find them on my YouTube Channel. The patterns for each part of the CAL, which are split into 12 pieces, are available for just 95p each with the 'Getting Ready' document available to download for free here. You can find more information about the project by following this link.
A few weeks ago I told you about a lovey new book by Gurinder Kaur Hatchard called 'Head To Toe Crochet'. Today I am really pleased to tell you that we have a copy of the book to give away - how great is that! To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is head over to Gurinder's Instagram feed, like her post and then tag someone in the comments. If you do the same on the Janie Crow feed then you will be put in the hat and be in with a chance to win a copy of this super cute book. You have until midnight Sunday (BST) to enter.
Gurinder is a really talented designer whose work often appears in Inside Crochet Magazine. She works under her company name of Yay For Crochet and I really recommend you take a look at her feed on Instagram too. You can find a link to order this lovely book via Gurinder's website here.
As time seems to be speeding past me these days I am already beginning to plan the workshop I will be tutoring for Knit For Peace in Mysore in January. The workshop is entitled 'Improve your knit and crochet skills' and so I will aim to teach lots of techniques, which hopefully means that participants will come away from the trip with an improved 'toolbox' of techniques to pick from in the future.
The Knit for Peace holiday in Mysore is the perfect way to discover India in comfortable surroundings and friendly company. Whatever your level of knitting or crochet, the beautiful setting of the Green Hotel will provide a starting place for a wonderful adventure. The heritage hotel was set up over 25 years ago by UK charity, the Charities Advisory Trust, to save a royal palace and a historic garden; it now provides employment to those from poor communities. Time Magazine (Asia edition) has even described it as the ‘best place in Asia to improve your karma’. The hotel gives all profits to charities in India.
On weekday mornings guests will knit and crochet, under the pergola in the prize-winning gardens. During the afternoons, and on weekends, guests have the chance to shop and sightsee - there are so many wonderful temples, palaces & wildlife to see. They can also take the opportunity to visit local charitable projects supported by the charity and the Green Hotel.
Knit for Peace distributes hundreds of thousands of knitted items to those in need at home and abroad. They also raise funds to support knitting groups in disadvantaged communities both in the UK and overseas. The price of the holiday includes a donation to the charity. You can find more information by contacting the charity via their website here. the holiday runs from 12th to 26th January and the cost of the trip includes all meals, accommodation and workshops
It has been all about cauliflower in our house these last couple of weeks - and it has been totally yummy!
This week Andy made the one pot Creamy Cauliflower Korma recipe from Happy Foodie. Made on the hob in about half an hour, it really was delicious and will definitely become a favourite!
I made Whole Roasted Cauliflower Katsu a fortnight ago and this was also delicious. The recipe comes from the same 'one pot meal' book by Happy Foodie, but you can find the recipe on line too. The roasted cauliflower recipe involved a lot of prep, but I find peeling and chopping vegetables very relaxing, so I would really recommend it as both a nice experience to prepare and a scrummy meal!
Emma has been very busy preparing videos for our YouTube channel. We now have videos for Sunshine and Showers, parts one, two and three and we also have a new video for joining Magic Circles here.
Emma has created a great technique video for Fields of Gold too, that shows how to work some of the more complex aspects of the design and in particular how to join the motifs as you go. Within the video Emma also shows how to work the two colour crochet method that Lucia used in her Fiori version of the design. You can find the video here.
Do you remember this time last year me showing you some pics from our garden of Andy starting to build a lean-to on the back of our summer house? Well, over the last few months he has been incredibly busy finishing it off and also working on other projects in the garden, so I thought I would share a couple of progress shots so that you can see where we are up to. The lean-to is not quite finished yet, but we are getting there and already enjoy the larger amount of space we have to sit in the sun!
Working on the house has used up quite a lot of our weekend time lately so we decided that this weekend we should take a break from our DIY projects. We have ended up having a bit of a change of plan and so have made a last minute decision to go to a music festival which will take place on some local playing fields pretty close to home. If you are also in North London and looking for something to do over the next 2 days, then why not take a look at the fun line up!
It will be our daughter Summer's first wedding anniversary on Sunday. I can't believe just how fast the time has sped by since she married the lovely Chris. Memories of this time last year when we were getting ready for their big day are really special and it makes me feel so proud looking back on the lovely pics. The image above of Sum, where I am fastening her Great Grandmother's necklace (old and blue) around her neck, is one of my favourites and I am hoping to find some time this weekend to go through all the pics and videos from the wedding.
I found a couple of things online that I thought I would leave you with this week. The first is a link to the Create Academy who are hosting video lessons with Annie Sloan entitled 'How to fill your home with colour', which look really great. The other thing is this fabulous music video from Florence and The Machine that I am addicted to watching.
That's it from me for another couple of weeks. I will be back with a Quick Catch Up in couple of weeks time so I look forward to being back in your inbox then. I hope you have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you will be doing.
Catch up with Janie Crow
It's a lovely afternoon here in North London. The sun is shining and the garden is calling, so I am looking forward to spending this evening outside, maybe with a glass of something cold and bubbly! I hope that wherever you are things are looking lovely too as we head into the weekend. I am here with a very quick email just to bring you up to speed with all that has been going on here at Janie Crow. We have quite a few kits in stock and I have a couple of new projects to tell you about so I hope you can spare a few minutes to catch up....
Emma has made a great video tutorial for joining my Magic Circles motifs. Making the crochet circles used in this project are easy to make, but the joining can be a little tricky so we thought a clear video might help some of you. You can find the video here.
While I am on the subject of Magic Circles, it reminds me that Victoria at Eden Cottage has put a new kit together for the scarf version, which means that she now has the choice of three lovely colourways. You can find more information by following this link.
We have seen on Instagram that lots of people are making the blanket version of this project using Attic 24's Meadow yarn pack, which you can find on the Wool Warehouse website. You can find the pattern here.
My friends at Mary Maxim have put together a lovely new colourway of my Persian Tiles blanket, which they have called Rose Garden. I collaborate with Mary Maxim in order to bring my designs to the American and Canadian markets and I am really proud of my association with them. For customers in the UK the price of postage on these kits possibly makes them too expensive to afford, but those of you in the US and Canada might be interested to know that there is currently a reduction on the kit price and a standard flat rate postage charge for domestic parcels through until 11th July.
For those of you in the UK - I know it can be frustrating not being able to source alternatives to the yarn used in some of my projects that are available on Mary Maxim, but please do not email us to ask for a yarn shade list for this project as it is not something we can provide you with. We are looking into whether or not we might be able to stock the yarns used in some of the projects that are available on the US and Canadian sites, so please be patient and look out for more information soon.
Emma has filmed the video for Part Three of my Sunshine and Showers blanket. This will go live on our YouTube channel next Friday, so make a note in your diary if you are waiting for it. You can find videos for parts one and two by following this link and you can find more information about the project here.
We have pretty much sold out of the first print run of The Fruit Garden Blanket books. We have had a new print run made, but unfortunately due to the increased costs of paper and printing we have had to up the retail price off the book to £14.95. If you want to grab one of the last copies left at the lower price of £12.95 you can do so by following this link.
If you have been waiting for Fruit Garden yarn packs we are expecting to be able to send out packs for the Love Is Enough and the Parchment and Caramel versions from July 15th - these are available to purchase on a presale basis now.
This week I have been working on a Christmas bunting design, which I will release later on in the year. It has been a bit strange crocheting a festive project when the weather has been so summery, but I have really enjoyed making a stash-busting version using lots of brightly coloured beads and fabulous 'disco' bright colours.
I know that it might be little warm for a 'woolly' crochet project, but we do have good stock levels of some our kits that you might be interested in, especially if you are beginning to plan a project for later on in the year. These include crochet along packs for Lily Pond, Climbing Rose and Sunshine and Showers. We also have good stock of kits for Mexican Diamonds in red, The Blue House and Sussex Gardens and limited stock of quite a few other projects. The easiest way to browse the kits is to follow this link.
Photos from my recent teaching trip to Finland, in particular those of the Korsnäs sweaters, were very popular on Facebook.
This is a traditional sweater from the municipality Korsnäs, close to Vaasa in Ostrobothnia, on the west coast of Finland. The design dates back to the 1870’s. These beautiful garments combine the skills of both knitting and crochet colourwork.
If you'd like to find out more, take a look at the website of the Korsnäs museum by clicking on the image below.
There has been a fascinating series on the BBC called Art That Made Us. Each episode focuses on artworks from periods of history, right back to the Dark Ages up to the 20th century. One of the episodes looks at the Industrial Revolution and includes an interesting commentary on the work of William Morris.
The series is available on BBC iPlayer for over a year so it's well worth catching up on if you have a chance.
Kathryn, creator of the Crafternoon Treats blog, has been indulging an urge to paint by creating colour swatches. We think they are fabulous and you can read all about how she went about it in her blog post from earlier this year by clicking on the image below.
My regular newsletter readers may remember this from a couple of years ago, but as it's coming up to blackberrying season I thought I'd share Gemma's blackberry vinegar recipe with you again. It makes a lovely salad dressing and more traditionally drizzled on Yorkshire Pudding.
"Blackberry vinegar is not difficult to make and only needs three ingredients: blackberries, vinegar and sugar. I like to use a raw organic cider vinegar (such as that produced by Aspalls) but any cider vinegar or wine vinegar will do just as well.
Quantities are not an exact science here but as a rough guide, a pound of blackberries will need about a pint of vinegar. The first step in the process is to put your blackberries in a dish or bowl. I use a pyrex bowl as it won’t be affected by the acidity of the vinegar. Pour on the vinegar to cover the blackberries, cover the bowl, and then leave them for around a week, stirring occasionally. The longer you leave the berries to steep in the vinegar the stronger the final flavour will be but if it's very warm it's worth popping it in the fridge to stop it turning musty.
After the steeping time is up, strain the mixture through a sieve into a jug or bowl so that you end up with just the liquid. Press the berries on the sieve as you strain them so that every last drop of juice and flavour is squeezed out. You will need to measure the liquid you end up with before pouring it into a saucepan and for every pint of liquid you will need a pound of sugar. I prefer to use unrefined sugar, simply because it less processed. Bring the liquid and sugar to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and simmer for around 15 minutes. If you get a scum forming on the top just skim it off using a metal spoon. Once simmered pour into sterilized bottles.
I use the bottles from the vinegar used in the recipe. You just need to remove the little plastic insert in the neck in order to fill them, before popping it back in and putting the lid on. Allow to mature for a few months before starting to enjoy your blackberry vinegar."
Yesterday I met up with a few friends and visited the Fashion and Textile Museum near London Bridge to see the Royal School of Needlework exhibition and specifically the Red Dress project.
We had a lovely time and if you are interested in knowing more you can find out about the exhibition and the Red Dress by following this link. You can find some images from the exhibition on my Instagram page here.
While we sat at a table outside a coffee shop prior to going into the exhibition I spotted this tiny little scene at the side of the pavement. It was the knotted sheet that first drew my eye and it made us laugh when we saw a teeny weeny escapee at the top of the sheet! You can find a piece about similar London street art by following this link.
With thanks to my pal Suraya for taking the image!
We don't have huge plans for the weekend. After all the travelling I have done lately I am happy to just be at home, pottering around. I have a busy week coming up as we will be doing a photo shoot on Monday and I will be away from Thursday next week for a couple of meetings, so I am going to make the most of some downtime with no particular plans.
I hope that whatever you have going on over the next couple of days that you have a great time and that you stay safe and well. I will be back in a fortnight with my July newsletter, so I look forward to meeting you here again in 2 weeks time. Sending yarny hugs.....
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