I know that this time of year can be difficult for many. What can seem like incessant grey days and dark evenings can be demoralising, but I also find January a really positive month as I make plans for the new year and look forward to the spring.
I tend to make the same resolutions every year - to get fit and be a little less indulgent when it comes to food! Some years I manage it and other years I don't, but I usually manage to reign things in during the first couple of months of the year, only to let everything go to pot come the autumn! This year I have vowed to make some long lasting changes and not let my good work fall by the way side.
This year I am determined to build good habits for my mind and body that will become the foundations of my life going forwards. We are finally settling into our new routine after moving out of the studio and I am really enjoying working from home and have adapted quickly to my new surroundings in the summer house studio this week. Being at home more over the last few months has made me realise that I have prioritised work over many other important aspects of my life for too long, so I have been enjoying a slower pace of life focusing on family and the house a little more, as well as my fitness and mindfulness.
I have been working on a couple of new cushion designs that will be released in Inside Crochet Magazine in the spring and have been putting everything into place for a revamped design to feature as the Stylecraft Make Along project for February. I have also started to think about some other new designs and a recolour for an existing project. So I guess there is quite a lot to have to look forward to.
Next week will see the release of the 4th part of my Indigo Dreams CAL via Inside Crochet Magazine issue 144. If you are following the crochet along then I hope you will enjoy making the motif which is possibly my favourite within the project - my little Love Heart Granny Square.
Unfortunately we have no new kits in stock at the moment as we are still waiting for some shades to come into Stylecraft, but we still have kits for those I have featured here over the last couple of months. They are Sunshine and Showers, Lily Pond, Eastern Jewels and Fruit Garden Night & Dusk and Red House colourways.
It was really lovely to have a proper break from work over Christmas. For the first time in more than 6 years we closed the websites for the festive period and it was really good not to feel the pull of work during our break. However, because we decided not to check any emails over the holiday, we were blissfully unaware that the firstname.lastname@example.org email address had become blocked by some really large emails that had been sent in.
As a result of this some people who emailed over the 12 day period may have received a mailbox full notification. If you were one of these people and you still require some help please email again so that we can deal with your query.
We really love hearing from you and I especially love to see your 'out in the wild' images of projects you have completed, but if you do want to send images please can you make sure they are not too big before you send them. It seems that a weeks worth of emails with multiple large attachments obliterates our inbox!
Looking at colour trends has been a big feature of this week as Brand Manager of Stylecraft Annabelle Hill and I have been discussing the palette for the Naturals ReCReate yarn, which is my current favourite. This yarn is 100% recycled and, with 350 meters of yarn per 100g ball, it would be perfect to use in my blanket designs - I am really excited that the colour palette is going to grow.
In the lead up to Christmas we managed to get quite a few little jobs done around the house and I finally managed to sort out a small studio space in the summer house at the end of the garden. It is so peaceful up here and I am really enjoying my little private work space. Andy built the summer house about 10 years ago and the children have always used it as a good space to entertain their friends, but now that they are grown up we felt it was time that the space was updated. In the images above you can see the main part of the summer house and my little space behind the storage unit. Can you spot my William Morris Kelmscott curtains on the right hand side?
Now that the summer house is more or less sorted we have turned our attention to the bedrooms in our little bungalow as they are badly run need of some TLC. I have been looking at the interior trends and love the fact that purple, blue and pink are making a big come back. The image above from Home Textile has me really inspired, but I think our rooms might be a little small for such bold colours.
I found a great site that shows the trends in home colour here and I took a look at the Dulux paint website for a bit more inspiration. The Dulux colour of the year is a lovely soft blue called Bright Skies and there are some lovely images of this shade in rooms alongside a lovely accompanying palette. I really like soft, slightly muddy shades as a background to bright colours and think that muted yellows, greens and blues are perfect. As it stands at the moment I am considering Golden Cookie and Calming Meadow for a touch of colour in two of the bedrooms, but no doubt I will procrastinate on this a while longer before making a decision.
What do you guys like to eat for breakfast? I am a porridge fan in the winter months and an overnight oats fan in the summer time, but every now and then Andy will make some homemade granola, which is so super tasty it disappears in no time!
Andy uses a recipe from The Happy Pear recipe book. It is cooked in the oven for about 20 minutes to make it all lovely and golden and crispy. You can find a similar, 5 minute speedy version by following this link.
Over the last few years we have been more and more aware of buying products that do not include plastic packaging and breakfast cereals is one of the items that we regularly buy plastic free with ease. When buying oats we opt for Quaker as they come in cardboard packaging and nothing more. We don't buy the instant pots or sachets, just the rolled oats that take no time at all to turn into tasty porridge. Quaker Oats are sourced from the UK and processed in Scotland.
We have also buy Weetabix as these are packed in paper and not cellophane like many supermarket own brands - they are tastier too and are made in Northamptonshire, so it is a win win! You can find out more about the sustainability of the Weetabix brand here.
We are very lucky to have local refill shop where we can get nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Many people think that the refill style shops are expensive, but we recently did a price check comparing the items we bought in the refill shop with those in Sainbury's. The refill shop worked out significantly cheaper - the biggest difference was on pine nuts where the Sainsbury's brand were £1 more expensive per 100g than our local store.
If you are interested in finding out more about refill stores you can find a list of those in the UK by following this link. Our local store is not listed here, so it is not brilliantly up to date, but hopefully you will find something close to you by doing a Google search.
Andy and I met up with our friend knitwear designer Debbie Abrahams and her husband Steve just before Christmas for an overnight stay in Market Harborough.
I haven't visited the town before and really liked it, especially as they had a crocheted Christmas Tree by the Church! The tree was created by local crocheters to raise funds for South Leicestershire Home-Start. Isn't it fab!
My friend Teresa sent this link to these fabulous crochet 'Pigs in Blankets' designed by A Good Right Hook. I know it is way early to be preparing for next Christmas, but I wanted to share them here because they are just so darn cute - and cruelty free obviously!
January is a traditionally a month where many of us give up things that are considered bad for us such as drinking and smoking for example, with campaigns such as Dry January as well as those that aim to encourage us to take up a healthy hobby or get out and about more.
As I have already said, I find January a good time to give up a few things for a bit and so this year we have decided to take part in Veganuary. Not because it is our aim to give up dairy and eggs completely (we are already vegetarian), but because we want to cut down a little on the cheese in particular and make a few small changes in order to get used to more recipes that are dairy free.
Our son Charlie suffers from lots of dairy related allergies, so we have already seen some big changes to his wellbeing now that cheese is no longer on the menu. We have been having lovely creamy oat milk delivered by the milkman for the last couple of years and are total converts to this and the one produced by Glebe Farm, which is a British produced oat milk unlike the market leader 'Oatly' which is produced in Sweden. Sadly we are yet to discover a good vegan cheese, so if any of you have a suggestion of a good brand or what to eat in its place that would be good!
There is a Chinese proverb that I am trying to keep in mind this month - it goes like this:
"The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones".
If you are looking to make some small changes to any part of your life in order to achieve long term results, then you might be interested in a book I have just started reading. It is called 'Atomic Habits; Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results' and you can find a link to it here.
We will be exhibiting at Waltham Abbey Wool show on Sunday and would love to see you there. The organisers of the show, Diana and Kate, have put in lots of arrangements so that exhibitors and visitors alike can keep safe. Tickets are for timed entry and you can find more information here.
It is my lovely Mum's 80th Birthday tomorrow so we are planning to have lunch together. My brother and his daughter have tested positive for Covid this week so we have our fingers crossed that we can all get together to celebrate Mum's big birthday the following weekend. Happy Birthday Mum!
Charlie introduced me to the work of Faig Ahmed this week. Ahmed designs deconstructed rugs and carpets like the one in the image above. I think his work is amazing and you can find out more about his work by following this link.
I put some hyacinth bulbs in water a few weeks before Christmas and kept them in the dark until New Year's day, when I brought them out and popped them on the window sill. Checking in on my bulbs daily and watching them grow has been a delight over the last few weeks, especially as their scent is filling up the kitchen day after day. As you can see from the image I have a couple of bulbs still left to flower and am particularly looking forward to seeing what colours the small one on the left will produce.
Now that I am working from home and have a little more spare time I have been posting to my Janie Crow Lifestyle Instagram account a little more often so, if you want to catch up with me between my newsletters, you can find my feed here. We also have some plans for my Janie Crow feed, where I post images and information about my work, as I have badly neglected it lately.
I leave you with a link to sports commentator Andrew Cotter's YouTube account. I discovered his videos, which feature his beautiful dogs Olive and Mabel, recently and I keep popping back to watch another video. This one is really good!
Have a lovely weekend
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