The weather here has been pretty dismal over the last few days and at times it has even seemed a little autumnal, with lots of rain. Despite the fact that the garden is grateful for the water, the lack of warmth up here in the studio has got me hoping that some brighter weather will appear over the weekend and into next week. Fingers crossed!
I have a few bits to tell you about this week and you can find more information about what we have been chatting about on social media lower down this email. I have also added links to quite a few projects. We have a price increase coming at the beginning of August (that's next week!) in line with the rise in the trade prices of yarn, so now might be a good time to grab a kit or two in time for the autumn. We have good stock of quite a few of our kits including our best sellers - Sandalwood and Eastern Jewels.
I hope this quick catch up email finds you well, that you are all safe and sound and that you have a few minutes spare to catch up with all things Janie Crow.
Emma and I have been seeing quite a lot of posts on social media that talk about Christmas in July so we started wondering whether any of our southern hemisphere friends take part in any Christmas in July events. Emma created a post on Instagram this week that I thought I would share here - would love to know what you think:
We have seen this phrase plenty of times this year, but mostly relating to lovely crafts rather than gatherings or celebrations, but we understand that lots of people arrange parties and gatherings to celebrate together in colder weather. We would love to hear about any that you might be involved in!
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, when our summer gets a bit steamy, the thought of cooler months to come, and invoking that with a little dip into a festive project, might be just what you fancy, or maybe you're just a person who is wonderfully organised and likes to start Christmas prep nice and early. We know lots of lovely people like that too.
So what other benefits are there to get a bit festive a wee bit early? Well, apart from anything else, many of the Christmas Decoration patterns are brilliant for using up leftovers. You could make little stockings to create an advent calendar or tree decorations - they’re a great size to pop little daily treats in!
Following our recent post about the new versions of Mystical Lanterns, perhaps you love the project but don't want to commit to a full blanket: festive solution ahoy! Make a row of the motifs, fill in with half and side motifs (here is the link the blog posts to show you how), add the edging and some little bells and voila - a sumptuous and dare we say, all year round bunting!
We wondered if we could get festive in the summer months and it took about 5 seconds to realise that yes, we absolutely could! Crocheting small and pretty things is completely appropriate isn't it, whatever the time of year.
Following on from our festive post, we are still casting glances in the direction of Christmas and within Wednesdays Instagram post we wondered if any of you were planning to make and gift a larger project this year?
Once summer has been packed away and autumn arrives, it seems moments before we are rushing around trying to fit in all the things we had planned during those times when we had the luxury of the long months stretching ahead of us. Christmas really does seem to hurtle towards us at lightning speed every year, mostly catching us out totally unawares!
With that in mind, if you’re one of the very kind souls who have chosen to make and gift a blanket to a loved one, it might be an excellent time to start! Blankets can take many months to complete, especially since we generally have such a lot of “life” we have to take care of before we can sit down with hook and yarn. We love a Christmas Eve cast on project but imagine a “comfortably finished by Halloween” one feels just as amazing!
We’ve included some of our favourite photos here to give you some inspiration and you can of course have a browse on the website. Every year we have the best intentions, perhaps this year will be the one they come to fruition!
There never seems to be enough time does there? I think that is why, when we receive a handmade gift, it’s so incredibly generous and touching: the gift itself is wonderful, but it’s the time that has been gifted with it that’s so valuable and humbling. The hours of work that went into it – the maker chose to spend those hours on us. Those are the things that make handmade things so very precious.
After some scorching weather in June, July has turned into a month of much more variable weather and so over on Facebook Gemma turned the spotlight on the Sunshine & Showers blanket, which was originally released as a crochet along back in 2016. This isn't a blanket that we often see different colour schemes for but we thought you might like to see Stephanie Davison's version as it's so unusual and effective in its use of fewer colours than the original.
We also took a look back at another crochet along, the Climbing Rose Wrap. This originally appeared over 4 issues of Inside Crochet during 2019 and was inspired by the William Morris fabric design 'The Strawberry Thief' along with the 'Molly Blue' design by Fryetts Fabrics, which perfectly encapsulated the colour palette I wanted to use.
Some of my CAL designs have taken me months to design and make, whilst others, have been quite quick. The design for the Climbing Rose Wrap was a really speedy one once I set to crocheting and I really enjoyed interpreting elements of Morris’s fabric design in my crochet. The flowers within the original design are not easy to identify exactly, so I looked at traditional Victorian garden flowers and used these as the basis for my motifs, hence the fact that they are called Day Lily, Rambling Rose and Anemone.
Here's Becky Rolfe modelling her wrap.
Margaret MCCauley made a square version.
Thank you, as always, for sharing your photos with us. We do look at them all and so enjoy seeing your colourways and interpretations of the designs.
As we're in the thick of courgette season we thought we'd show you this lovely Greek recipe combining courgettes, orzo, feta and lemon. We tested the recipe we found here out on Sarah while she was with us last week for step-by-step photography for my new book.
It was really tasty, but a little gloopy thanks to the starch from the pasta, so I really recommend using a higher end brand of orzo or part cooking it to remove some of the starch before hand.
If you do a search for recipes that use courgettes with pasta and feta you will find a lot! The recipe we used was really lovely and lemony but I have since found another that uses fresh thyme - something I really love, so I will definitely be giving this one a go too. You can find the recipe by following this link or by clicking on the image above.
We have shared this before, but we have been reminded about it again over the last couple of weeks. This wonderful little animation on YouTube is called Lost & Found. It really had us on the edge of our seats!
A crochet dinosaur is desperate to save the love of his life and makes the ultimate sacrifice! Apparently the film was shortlisted for an Oscar in 2019 and you can also watch a behind the scenes video here.
After a weekend of teaching and a busy time doing step-by-step photography for my new book last week I really struggled to get out of bed most days this week and could quite happily have sneaked back to the bedroom for a quick nap! But, as usual, there have been a long list of things that needed to be done, so I am really looking forward to a little bit of downtime over the weekend. We are going away for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary and I am planning which crochet projects to take with me so that I can grab some of that all important crochet time.
I still treasure my crochet time and see it as a bit of a reward in the evening - a way to clear my mind and mull over the events of the day. I use my crochet as a tool to look after myself. I think the maths and continuous counting helps my little grey cells and the complexity of my designs keeps my brain problem solving and concentrating. The rhythmic action of my hook helps to keep me calm and relaxed.
July has been World Self Care Month. An event that promotes the importance of maintaining our own health and that of those around us. Self Care month is about empowering people to be active agents in their own healthcare and I definitely feel that my crochet plays a part in my own well being.
I would love to know if your crochet helps you feel the same way and what other practices you have created to help look after your own well being.
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.
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.
We have re-stocked kits for the Fiori blanket. 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 change in palette moves the project from the sunny French inspired field of sunflowers and poppies to a meadow of Italian wildflowers and flashes of glorious sunsets and cheerful window-boxes. Lucia's colour choices are always absolutely glorious: look out on our website for Primavera and Eastern Jewels, her beautiful versions of Frida's Flowers and Persian Tiles respectively.
It is constantly inspiring and joyful to see you apply your own colours to my designs and to witness the change of mood your own interpretations bring. Never stop experimenting! Also, as always, this is a fantastic stash busting project too and 'scrappy' is just as beautiful as meticulously planned
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.
When we were sat at Bordeaux airport waiting for our return flight from the workshop trip to France last year it occurred to us that we were very close to Morocco, so after this month's workshop we made a little detour in order to spend a few days in Marrakech before we headed home.
It is an incredible city with colour and inspiration around every corner. I have hundreds of photos from our tours and am totally in love with it!
There are painted doors, ceilings and panels - an abundance of inspiration in these alone, so when mixed with mosaics, carvings and textiles you can imagine what a sensory overload it is! There is surface pattern absolutely everywhere in Marrakech, even in our Riad where my crochet flowers looked so perfect left on the top of the dresser with the tiled floor below.
10 years ago, in 2013, I designed a crochet along project inspired by a series of tiles I saw on display at the V&A museum here in London. The design was only available for members of the CAL group that year but I had so many requests to release a pattern for something similar that I used a particular star style tile as the catalyst for the design. The resulting pattern was Persian Tiles which I released in 2015.
When I was in Marrakech last week I saw many fabulous examples of Moroccan tile design and am already so inspired by my trip. I am considering putting together yet another colourway of the Persian Tiles design based on the shades I saw there. Let me know what you think. Can you stand to see yet another version of the design using shades inspired by Moroccan tiles?
I released the Bohemian Blooms Blanket book back in 2017 and it has since been to reprint a couple of times. We have just received our newest reprint, so the book is back on the website for sale. You can find it by following this link.
How are you enjoying the Spirit of Flora CAL? We are absolutely loving the growing numbers of posts at the #spiritofflora tag on Instagram.
It's incredible to see the groups of blocks together as well - they look magnificent and because the team here at Janie Crow are slightly weird and a little bit nerdy, we have been wondering how many cumulative hours of work and metres of yarn have been used so far on this project. If only there was a way to know for sure! For now we'll make the educated guess of a gazillion of each!
We have had quite a lot of people asking about how to access the cal patterns. You can find subscription offers via Inside Crochet Magazine and you can also purchase back copies. The CAL runs in magazine numbers 154 to 164 so we are only half way through - plenty of time left to get involved!
I would love it if you are able to do a bit of stash diving to create your project but we have starter packs, which contains a ball of each of the shades I have used for my blanket, back in stock.
Working crochet in a freeform way - with no pattern or technical guidance from anyone else - is a really freeing way of creating a fabulously unique crochet fabric. It is incredibly mindful and great fun to do and (as usual with a crochet technique) it is totally addictive.
I first came across this crochet artfrom via the work of Prudence Mapstone @freeformprudence and I follow quite a few freeform artists here on Instagram these days with one of my favourites being José Dammers @Josedammers who creates the most beautiful crochet pieces. José’s work focusses on the human face, sometimes abstracted and often decorated with flowers and crochet scrumbles, and always photographed in such an inspiring way.
If you have never worked in a freeform way before and want some more information or tutorials you can find lots of information and videos on line. Do take a look at José’s feed on Instagram and follow the link to her online courses. Her work is a total joy!
Being away in France and then in Morocco means that we have been treated to some really lovely meals over the last few weeks. If I am honest it has been a bit of a trial having to think about food preparation this week, so I don't have a definitive recipe to offer to you.
That said, we have been having quite a lot of salad based meals - always extra nice when the weather is good. One of our favourite combinations, which we discovered a few years ago, is a salad made of water melon, feta cheese and mint. It really is delicious. I am not sure you really need a recipe for this - but you will get the idea by following this link.
Another great salad is the pairing of creamy blue cheese with pears and we love the rustic Italian salad (great for using up left over bread) called Panzanella - you can find a recipe here.
We will be exhibiting at The Festival of Quilts in August. We are really looking forward to the show, especially as it is one we have not done before. We hope to see you there - you can find tickets and information by following this link.
The weather has turned a bit cold and wet today and I am feeling a little chilly here in the summer house, which is a bit of a shock after the last few weeks of warm weather. I am heading off to the coast with a group of my girlfriends this weekend, so I might need to replace the sun tops and suncream I have packed in my bag with a brolly and some more sensible shoes!
Next week is set to be ultra busy here, with a step-by-step photo shoot for my new book taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. Sarah is coming to stay for a few days to help me, so I am really looking forward to that. I will try to remember to post some images on Instagram, so keep a look out.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you have planned that you will have a great weekend and that you stay safe.
I really enjoy tutoring workshops, but I have decided that I will be cutting down on the number that I do over the next few years due to my workload and my desire to spend more of my free time at home and with my family. Workshops involve a lot of preparation and time away from home and it has become increasingly difficult for me to juggle this alongside my design commitments in particular, so it is likely that beyond next year my diary will include fewer workshops.
I get asked about my workshop and event schedule often so I thought this would be a good time to give you the heads up on what I have planned for the next few months and into next year.
The most imminent workshop for me is Stitch Yourself Happy - Crochet and Yoga, which will take place in just a couple of weeks time. You do not need any yoga experience as this can be tailored to all abilities. The weekend event, which will be hosted by Arena Travel, will be split up into 4 sessions - 2 yoga sessions with Molly and 2 crochet sessions with me - so that you can enjoy a really relaxing time away.
There are still a few places available on this workshop where I will be tutoring beaded crochet techniques. The weekend event runs from the 21st to the 23rd July and you can find more information by following this link.
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Looking towards the Autumn I am really looking forward to tutoring at the Woolly Away event which will take place on the 21st and 22nd October. You can find more information about the weekend retreat, where Jeanette Sloan, Diana Bensted and Deb Cunningham will also be tutoring by following this link.
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At the end of November Debbie Abrahams and I will be tutoring our annual Festive Workshop in Bournemouth. The places on this workshop have not been released for sale yet and places tend to go incredibly quickly. To be in with a chance of nabbing a spot it is a good idea to join the Inspired Minds mailing list as notification of the places going live are sent out to this mailing list first before it is advertised elsewhere. You can find information about the workshop, such as dates and itinerary, by following this link and here is a link to the homepage where you can sign up to be notified of the date that the places are set to go live.
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For 2024 I am looking forward to tutoring a 6 day long workshop in West Yorkshire. This is a brand new workshop destination with a fabulous itinerary which I have worked alongside Arena Travel, The Knitting and Crochet Guild and Stylecraft yarns to create.
On this retreat, you will visit the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, a treasure trove of textile wonders, housed in a former mill in Slaithwaite – a village also home to Stylecraft Yarns, where you will have a behind the scenes tour of the mill. The trip also includes mill tours of British Wool in Bradford and their fabulous West Yorkshire Spinners yarn company. There will also be the opportunity for some local sightseeing as we spend some time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire Village. This workshop tour only went live on the Arena website a couple of days ago and 2 thirds of the places have now sold, so you might need to make a quick decision on this one! You can find more information by following this link.
Peru has the longest continuous history of textile production in the world, going back almost 10,000 years. Invented long before pottery and just as humans started agriculture, Peruvian fibre manipulation began with simple spun fibres but by 500 AD this rudimentary craft had developed into complex techniques.
I am really excited by the prospect of an incredible trip to Peru, a country that has a rich history of intricate knitting traditions, on my workshop itinerary for next year. On our travels we’ll explore the processes involved in the production of textiles, including the most characteristic garment, the *chullo*, a knitted hat with an earflap and a calendar waistband that depicts the annual cycles of ritual and agricultural life, and we'll meet local artisans whose traditions have been passed down through the centuries.
When we think of Peru we imagine bright colours of lush vegetation, foliage and flowers and the incredible surface pattern of costumes, jewellery and artwork, as well as the breathtaking scenery and archaeological sites. I am sure this will be a truly inspirational trip and I am really looking forward to all that we will see and experience on this journey of a lifetime. You can find more information by following this link. Please note that the web page shows Carol Meldrum as tutor, but if you click on the July dates for more information you will be presented with the trip I will be tutoring.
You can find the information about all 3 of the events I am tutoring for Arena Travel by following this link.
As well as tutoring workshops I have dates in my diary for yarn shows and events that I will be attending over the next few months. I love shows and really look forward to chatting to fellow yarny folk, so I hope you will be able to come and say hello at one of the following events:
In August we will have stand at The NEC in Birmingham as we will be exhibiting at The Festival of Quilts for the first time.
In September we will once again be exhibiting at the wonderful Yarndale show - one of our favourite shows and a perfect destination for crochet fanatics!
In October I will be on the Stylecraft stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show here in North London.
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