Janie's Friday Feature
Welcome to this week's Friday Feature Newsletter - the Janie Crow equivalent of a Sunday supplement magazine....
I remember as a child how painful the lead up to Christmas could be in regards to wondering whether it was ever going to really happen - days felt like weeks and weeks like months as I wished and wished for Santa to get a move on! These days however, my life is the exact opposite and I am now constantly wishing that the pace of life would slow down and let me take a breather... I know I am not alone in this wish, but hope that you are managing to enjoy the lead up to the Festive period.
So here I am finally with another Friday feature - This week I have written a short piece about the art of Freeform crochet. I hope you will enjoy it.
Free your mind - free your crochet!
I looked up the word 'freeform' in the dictionary and it is defined as 'not conforming to a regular or formal structure or shape' and in regards to crochet this is a perfectly apt description as, not only is the practice of freeform crochet unconformist in that you don't follow a pattern, but the shapes created in the process are also (mostly) irregular and asymmetrical.
When I teach freeform crochet workshops the thing that most participants struggle with initially is the fact that I do not provide them with any patterns - it seems that the prospect of sitting and crocheting without a single piece of written instruction to refer to is incredibly daunting. I completely understand that - as crocheters we have spent a lot of time mastering the skill of reading and understanding pattern instructions, so to suddenly be without a point of reference can put us immediately out of our comfort zone.
I start my workshop with an exercise on blindly choosing yarns - I tend to pile a load of yarns up at the centre of the table and suggest that participants choose in a totally ramdon way - again this is something outside of our usual practice - indeed, for many of us it is the process of choosing the shades that brings much satisfaction.
Within the structure of the Friday Feature newsletters Sarah has written some great articles on mindfulness and I think this is something that freeform crochet has a close relationship with. When I teach this method I suggest that people completely empty their minds of what they are aiming to achieve before they start the process of working some crochet. This can be scary, but honestly it is fabulous to see what people achieve. To illustrate what I mean better, have a go at this short exercise:
Find a selection of crochet hook sizes and have them at the ready.
Go through your stash and pick out a selection of yarns - don't think about the colours, textures or weights you are picking and try not to analyse your choice.
Put the yarns on a table in front of you and when you are ready close your eyes and pick a yarn from your pile.
Quickly choose the hook size that you think matches the weight of the yarn and begin to make a chain - make as many or as few chain as you want, then slip stitch to make a ring.
Once you have a ring, using any combination or stitch heights, start to fill the ring up with stitches - you might start with trebles, or double trebles, you might decide to add in some areas of chain or turn mid way. Don't crochet with the same colour for too long, simply pick up another yarn and start working - you do not need to finish the round or row in the same shade and can dip in and out of using any yarn weight with whatever size hook you fancy.
What you are trying to ultimately achieve is a way of working without thinking or making decisions - you may think this goes against what I said about the relationship between freeform crochet and mindfulness in that I have just pretty much suggested that you should work in a mindless way, but what you are attempting to achieve within the framework of this exercise is a focus on the act of crocheting rather than a focus on the end result.
The pieces of crochet made when working in a freeform way have become known as 'scumbles'. This is a term used by Prudence Mapstone, a designer who many consider to be a pioneer of this technique - you can find her web site by following this link.
You can see in the image of an example of Prudence's freeform crochet above that colour and texture play a big role in her work and that fashion yarns such as eyelash and bucle fibres can create a real impact when used in a freeform way. I am sure you can also see that Prudence clearly makes decisons about the end result she is aiming for early on in the process of crocheting rather than working in a mindless way like I suggest, but this is because she has already honed the skill of working in a freeform way and is looking to create items that she can showcase.
The thing about freeform crochet is that you create someting that isn't replicable, so attempting to copy someone else's freeform scumble pattern for example goes completely against the whole point. You will find lots of tutorials on Youtube, but most urge you to follow their pattern or their way of working, whereas I am urging you to play with your crochet.
Why not use some time this weekend with a hook and some yarn and simply have a play! Don't have in mind something you want to make or an end result, just sit and enjoy the process of crocheting with an empty mind.....
We mentioned in this week's regular newsletter on Tuesday that we are in the stages of building 2 new web sites. We are now aiming to have one of them up and running by the end of this week or early next week so long as everything goes to plan!
Please be aware that due to the potential switch over this week the web site may go down for a while. We hope this will not be for very long, but please be patient with us if you are trying to browse the site this week. We will send another mail-out just to warn when the change over is happening.
We are introducing 2 new web sites in order to make our business clearer, more customer friendly and easier to understand. Both web sites will continue to be managed by us and both will sit under the same 'umbrella'. The new retail web site, which launches this week will be called Just Knots (our prototype log is shown above) and Jane's brand web site will continue to use the Janie Crow name.
Because of new laws introduced earlier on this year we have to make a clear definition between the mailing lists for the 2 new web sites, so when the Janie Crow brand web site is relaunched in Janaury it will send to a new mailing list rather than this one. If you want to continue to receive the Friday Feature newsletters and any other information relevant to me and my designs, then you need to sign up to a new mailing list.
If you follow this link or click on the bird image above you will be able to sign up. We will add this link to this newsletter every week until the new Janie Crow web site is up and running. Until then the Friday Feature Newsletter will continue to come from this mailing list.
It's nearly the weekend!
We have been so busy with shows and events this autumn that we have almost forgotten how to use our leisure time, so we are hoping to remind ourselves of what life can be like outside of the realms of Janie Crow by getting to grips with some Christmas preparations this weekend.
I am wondering if it is too early to put up the tree - what do you think? I am always eager to get it out and decorated and they say that statistically people who put their tree up early tend to be within the happier percentage of the population, so perhaps this year would be a good one to test out this theory?
Whatever your plans I wish you a happy weekend!
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