Today is officially 'Never Give Up Day' - yes really! Today is about not just reaching our goals but working towards them. We often get messages from people who want to learn to crochet but have found it too hard so have given up. As adults there is an expectation that we will pick things up relatively quickly and in relation to crochet this is especially the case if someone already knits.
Participants can book on day long ‘Learn To Crochet’ workshops in the belief that they will come away from it being able to do so, but if we wanted to learn to play the piano we would not expect to do so over the course of one day, or even just a few weeks. We would expect to spend many years practicing before we would consider ourselves a true pianist, so why is there an expectation that learning a craft should be quick and easy?
When I learnt to crochet it was a slow process, one that took weeks and weeks of continuous practice, but I knew instantly that it was a craft that I could interpret my design ideas through and so I was determined to master it.
Another frequent comment we get is 'I'd love to be able to do this but it's too advanced'. Again we say, go for it! Learning crochet - or taking a step into more advanced patterns - is completely safe. Mostly it's in the privacy of our own homes that we experiment with hook and yarn. Go ahead, make mistakes and make lots of them! Please don't give up on crochet!
'You'll never get bored when you try something new. There's really no limit to what you can do.'
The Festival of Quilts was such an inspirational and vibrant show. The quilts on display were jaw droppingly amazing and we felt very privileged to be there chatting with lots of fabulous visitors. It was so exciting to meet new crocheters and people who were unaware of my work. I spoke to so many people about the positive benefits of our beloved craft that I have spent the last couple of weeks recovering my voice and catching up with some sleep!
Garden Coverlet - Marion Howard Spring 1975/6
I have been a fan of the work of legendary knitwear designers Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably for many years so I was incredibly flattered that they complimented my work and my use of colour when I bumped into them for a very speedy chat at the show.
I often look at patchwork blankets for inspiration for my work and am aware of many traditional designs, but it was a real joy to see more contemporary art quilts at the show. Honestly the skill level was just amazing and the number of quilts on show was flabbergasting. Definitely a great show to add to your diary to visit next year!
I have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to build my business, quite literally from the kitchen table, to the successful brand it is today. I love my job and still adore designing with crochet and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who supports me by crocheting my designs. Regardless of how my business has grown over the years, it is still incredibly upsetting when my designs are copied and used by others to make a profit.
Back in 2019 Dolce and Gabbana copied motifs from both my Frida's Flowers CAL and the Lily Pond blanket and more recently two companies have been promoting cardigans that use my Mystical Lanterns blanket motif without recognition that the original design is mine.
ast week I called out these companies - @tach_clothing and @w.ivana.ok over on Instagram - not for my own financial gain but for recognition of where the crochet designs came from in the first place. My designs take me a long time to create and many of you have invested in my brand by purchasing patterns, kits or by following me on social media, so why should companies who have no connection to me be able to ignore my intellectual property and create garments using my designs? Surely it’s more fun and rewarding to design your own crochet than copy that which belongs to others?
I have since heard back from the team at Ivana who have apologised for the copy and have added a reference to me on their social media posts. Like many others they said they found tutorial images on Pinterest that labelled the design as 'free' but also admitted they should have been more careful to follow up on where the pattern came from in the first place.
I recently did a search on YouTube for videos that show how to make Mystical Lanterns for free and immediately found more than 30 that quickly added up to a viewing figure of more than 430k. These videos (the creators of which receive a payment from YouTube per view) are also in breach of my copyright and cause a pattern to be perpetually shared as free
If you are making crochet projects to sell using my designs please be kind enough to acknowledge the design as mine as failure to do so is in breach of my copyright statement. I am happy for home crafters to use the patterns to make small numbers of projects to sell, but doing so on a larger scale, like these companies have done, is not allowed.
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.
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.
With Festival of Quilts done and dusted, our next event will be Yarndale towards the end of September. You can find more information here.
The current crochet block for my Sprit of Flora CAL has been published in issue 160 of Inside Crochet Magazine and I have named the motif 'Evelyn' after William De Morgan's wife who was a revered artist in her own right. Her most famous work ‘Flora’ was based on Botticelli’s painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ which resides in the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence, where the De Morgan’s spent much of their time. Both paintings feature pink flowers and lots of green foliage, so I used these elements as inspiration for this motif.
Image with thanks to the De Morgan Collection
Evelyn’s art often had biblical references and her studies of the human form are really skilful, and perhaps the most beautiful is her depiction of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers and the season of spring.
I am incredibly lucky to have had the blessing of the De Morgan Foundation to use some of their images including that of the portrait of Flora, in which I see something new every time I look at it! Zoom in and look at all the different types of flowers you can see, the birds hiding in the Loquat bush and the exquisite decoration and folds of Flora's robe. The scroll at the bottom is in Italian and the translation is as follows:
I come from Florence and I am Flora.
That city takes its name from flowers,
Among flowers I was born and now I take a new home,
In the mountains of Scotland I shall reside.
Welcome me and may my treasure,
Be dear to you amid the northern mists.
I especially love how the spring blooms are falling from Flora's hand and are gathering all around and under her feet. There are so many different types and they are beautifully rendered by Evelyn. I love this painting so much!
We did the first photoshoot for the project at The Emery Walker House in Hammersmith and I was so excited to see original De Morgan tiles in the fireplace - if you look at the image above you can see them under the mantel piece.
One of the things I have enjoyed most about this CAL is seeing the various colourways people are making. For each published motif I have made a couple more in the same colour palette but have used them in alternate orders - even using the same palette they look completely different! I hope you enjoy this month's flower and that the story behind the inspiration adds a little extra food for thought.
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.
The inspiration for this project came from the work of artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, in particular, their murals in Berwick Church and the home they shared, Charleston Farmhouse. Grant and Bell were part of the Bloomsbury Group of influential artists, writers, philosophers and intellects who chose to work and study together in the Bloomsbury district of London in the first half of the 20th Century.
Originally designed to be an heirloom piece using luxury yarns, we have already reworked the layout and created a version called 'Bloomsbury Garden' using Stylecraft yarns. In addition, Emma May of @pippin_poppycock created a beautiful version which she has allowed us to share - this version is called 'Sussex Garden'.
We are currently working on a new version using the original layout of the blanket using some of the newer yarns from the Stylecraft range and will publish some images and the list of the yarns used in the Autumn.
The book for this blanket and accompanying (free) YouTube videos give great, clear instructions and are a fabulous way to expand your crochet skills if you're ready for more of a challenge.
Crochet retreat alert! Have you heard of Stitchtopia? If not then you may wish to look them up! They create wonderful crafting holidays and retreats for crocheters (and knitters, and quilters and textile lovers of all kinds!) with Arena Travel - a company I have worked with for the last couple of decades!!!
One of their most popular retreats - The Stitchtopia Festival - is back in March 2024 and is a brilliant weekend with access to workshops from 8 different experts - including me! I shall be teaching beaded flowers and also how to achieve the perfect crochet finish.
There are plenty of other workshops to choose from including knitting techniques with Anna Nikipirowicz and quilting and sewing too. It's a lovely weekend and loads of fun. You can follow this link to view the details of the weekend event, which will take place in March next year, and you can also have a look at some of the other workshop trips on offer, including a rather spectacular Knitting Traditions of Peru holiday next year!
I am cutting back on workshops and events next year to make time for more design work. The remaining places on the Peru trip and those on the Stitchtopia weekend are pretty much the only dates I have on offer for next year other than the Festive Workshop I alway run with Debbie Abrahams in November.
We love showcasing talented textile designers on our Instagram feed and tend to focus on crochet, but last week we wanted to promote the incredible work of hand knit designer Dee Hardwicke, because we just love her use of colour and pretty style.
Dee is a designer and knitter with a rich and diverse portfolio steeped in the artisan traditions of the Arts & Crafts Movement, and is inspired by her love of Britain's ever-changing landscapes, parks and cottage gardens. Dee says she loves 'translating my sketches and watercolours into gorgeous, nature-inspired knits and colourwork motifs, which can be used and treasured for years to come.
She also says ‘there's something incredibly special about the way that knitting combines art, craft and practicality but most of all I love the way that knitting weaves all of us and our stories together.’
If you haven’t come across Dee’s work before then we urge you to take a look. If you are not a knitter then you might want to look at her tableware, stationery and mat designs too.
We think it's impossible to look at Dee's instagram page without smiling - it is just the most glorious riot of colour and the desk photos are just delicious - you might need to set aside a full cup of tea time for a browse!
This Celery and Mushroom Roast is a recipe that Sarah's lovely mum used to make for dinner back in the 1970s. The recipe has become a firm favourite in Sarah's family ever since and when Andy and I tried it a few weeks ago we instantly agreed that it was one of those deliciously easy recipes that we should all have in our repertoire, so I am really happy that Sarah agreed that I could share it with you.
Sarah is not sure where her mum found the recipe as she copied the handwritten recipe into her own collection.
Celery and Mushroom Roast
1 medium sized head of celery
125g cheddar cheese
50g breadcrumbs or dried biscuit
Wash the celery and chop into small pieces. Cook in the butter in a saucepan for 20 minutes. Chop the mushrooms and add to the celery and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, Marmite and seasoning.
Place the mixture in a greased baking dish and bake in a moderate oven, (Sarah usually uses 180 degrees), for 45 mins.
Leave to stand for about 10 mins before serving. Yum!
I am often asked about my home. I think people imagine it is filled floor to ceiling with blankets and yarn, but in fact we only have a couple of blankets in the living room (Sandalwood & Royal Garden) and most of my crochet stuff is kept in the studio - apart from the obligatory yarn stash at the side of the sofa of course!
It has been such a busy year, with so many work commitments, that I have struggled to feel connected to my home. We have become a bit lazy with food prep, housework and maintenance and so I have been feeling decidedly out of love with my little bungalow, but as the pressure of deadlines is lifting and I have a little more free time, I am beginning to feel that urge to sort out my surroundings.
Here are a few shots taken in the house a few days ago. I have a version of The Spirit of Flora CAL on the settee as I have been working on it and we have a couple of the Emma Ball cushions on the bed.
A few years ago I started a Janie Crow Lifestyle feed on Instagram, but have badly neglected it over the last year. As I feel my life opening up to the joys of being at home again I hope to post on it more often - you can find it by following @janiecrowlifestyle
As the weather starts to become a little more autumnal I wonder if my newly found desire to sort out my home is a nesting instinct - maybe its part of getting ready for the winter when the garden becomes more of a no go area and the house becomes our sanctuary.
Sarah and her husband Paul are coming to stay with us this weekend so we are really looking forward to spending some time with them. The weather looks set to be relatively fine, so we are hoping to spend some time in the garden and taking some local walks as well as popping into town to see some sights on Sunday. I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you have planned, that you will have a great weekend and that all is good in your world.
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