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.
It has been great to see your interpretations of the Chelsea Motif from the Spirit of Flora CAL on social media platforms lately. There are so many beautiful colour combinations and we are just LOVING the layouts we're seeing with all your completed blocks.
We still have some Persian Tiles kits in stock in the Sandalwood colour way. Sandalwood is widely-considered to be the national scent of India, with most families burning the natural extract in their homes. The most expensive sandalwoods are harvested when the trees are around 60 years old. The older the tree, the stronger, more powerful and long-lasting the beautiful fragrance. It is one of my favourite smells!
Emma Ball also used this version of Persian Tiles to create some lovely crochet accessories - bags and hook rolls and stitch markers and all sorts. I think the velvet cushions continue to be my favourite!
We still have kits for our revamped Fiori blanket in stock. 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 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.
It was my long term dream to have a large studio space for Janie Crow and so, when that dream became a reality 7 years ago, I was so incredibly excited to move my crochet paraphernalia away from home and into a separate space.
Our lease on the studio ended 18 months ago and, with soaring energy costs and lack of suitable local properties available, we made the decision to move the business back home. At the time I was sad to leave our studio, but now that I am home and working from my own little space in the summer house at the end of the garden I couldn’t be happier.
The space I have is small and cosy and everything I need is within easy reach. My precious books, my (many) bags of yarn and all my bits and bobs have a home and, as my work space takes up less than a third of the summer house, we don't actually feel like we have lost any home space. The IKEA shelves make a great divider and mean that my little studio is private and easily hidden when we are using the summer house as, well, a summer house!
Some of my prized possessions are in here. My knitted moth by Max Alexander @maxsworld, my huge Klimt book and my diddy knitted fairisle sweater, nestled next to the little blue crochet lobster made by my lovely pal Jo @spannerworks all make me really happy alongside the little curated piles of yarn and baskets of WIPS.
There is nothing grand about my space. At times it can feel bit crammed and during the winter it is quite hard to keep it warm, but it ticks pretty much all my boxes and it is conducive to my creativity, especially as I have a great view of the garden which is particularly glorious during the summer months.
I’ve made a reel so you can come on a virtual tour of my summerhouse with me if you’d like! You can find it on Instagram.
I turned 54 a fortnight ago and (if I am honest), the prospect of yet another birthday took me down a bit of a ribbit hole emotionally, mostly because it scares me just how fast the time is flying past me. Over the last couple of weeks, and after giving myself a good talking to, I have made some new plans and am slowly rediscovering my crojo and settling back down to normality.
I have been flicking through some of my resource books and am always drawn to Indian textiles for inspiration. Picking out balls of yarn to make a new colour palette is a process that always makes me feel good, so for now I am happy to just have a pile of lovely yarn on my desk regardless of whether or not a new crochet project will transpire. It might be that I simply end up recolouring an existing project or make some samples that will never actually become a ‘proper’ project - either way I am sure that the simple process of crocheting will bring some joy.
Emma and I have been talking a lot recently about the impact various life situations have on how we crochet. What really stokes the creativity, what stifles it, the soothing balm of sitting down with hook and yarn.
One of the things we really hit upon was the use of crochet as our 'reward' for getting through a tough day. Genuinely being able to focus the mind at a future point in time knowing the feeling of peace, security and quiet contemplation will come. I know many of you recognise this feeling all too well. There are some big things happening in the JC team at the moment, with our lovely Emma in particular navigating some incredibly difficult circumstances, and crochet, in its constant, steady, peaceful way is there; sitting alongside, providing the thread of comfort in normality so needed when things are anything but normal.
Through some tricky times it’s become clear that it is not always the conclusion of a large project that is needed. It is often, the process itself. Choosing yarn, trying colour combinations, finding a “one sitting” something that will be an end unto itself. At these times, slowing everything down and bringing the focus right in to now, can work wonders to reset the mind. Being content with whatever you may have chosen to make at that time, just one beautiful motif, is a lovely way to think about crochet.
Perhaps it is the repetition of the same stitch or colour or block over again that brings your particular comfort. Or perhaps the reward to you looks like starting something completely new with a new colour pallete. Does it matter? Of course we are big fans of blankets and larger projects but we are also completely supportive to the “400 WIPS on the go” crocheters! We get it completely!
So, from now on, no guilt for unfinished projects. You started a new one for a reason. Be happy and well with whatever brings you joy!
I will be in store at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington next Wednesday morning for a little meet and greet event.
I will be on the shop floor on June 14th and I would love to catch up with as many of you as can make it. You can drop in and show me your latest project or come along and ask for some advice or even decide on a new project surrounded by lots of lovely squishy yarn and inspiration.
The event is free to attend and it takes place between 10am and 12.30pm and you can find more information on the Black Sheep Wools @blacksheepwools Facebook page.
There are still some places left on my Stitch Yourself Happy - Crochet & Yoga workshop in July. Numerous studies have shown that crafting is just as beneficial for your personal wellbeing and mental health as Pilates, yoga and mindfulness are for both physical and mental health. Over the course of this weekend I will be tutoring beaded crochet workshops and, if you come along, you will get to do some lovely relaxing yoga too!
Beaded crochet is a beautifully effective technique that is much simpler than you imagine. There is no need to learn any new stitches, the beads are just added into your crochet at certain stages of the stitch to create a really lovely effect. Participants will need to know how to work crochet basic crochet stitches and how to read a crochet pattern.
I have been waiting so patiently for the peonies to bloom in the garden and now that we have a glut of them I couldn't be happier - the flowers are just so beautiful!
One of our plants had in the region of 30 flowers and as the lavender and roses are also in full bloom I really do think June is the best month in the garden.
Last weekend I made a yummy pasta, egg and cheese bake from The River Cottage 'Veg Everyday' recipe book.
This is one of my favourite recipe books and I have made this one a couple of times. This time I swapped the Cheddar cheese for Stilton and served it with some Focaccia and a lovely fresh salad.
The recipe is a bit long winded, especially as it involves whisking egg whites, but it is definitely worth the hard work. You can find a review of the recipe by following this link. Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall calls this recipe a Spouffle - such a great word! I think I might be ready to progress to a proper cheese soufflé next time!
I am home alone for the next few days as Andy has been away at a music festival since Wednesday and Charlie flew off for an exciting holiday to the Far East yesterday. It always takes me a couple of days to get used to being on my own and I wander around a bit lost for the first day, but it soon becomes second nature to potter about on my lonesome - and at least the house stays beautifully tidy!
The weather is set to be really warm this weekend so I am planning to meet my friend Sally for supper tomorrow and I will probably spend the rest of my weekend in the garden. I have the workshop project that I will be tutoring in France in a few weeks time to complete and have a bit of prep to do for the events at Black Sheep Wools next week, so there will definitely be a spot of crochet involved in my weekend too.
image courtesy of @woollychic
image courtesy of @woollychic
My friend Helen Ingram of Woolly Chic is organising another one of her lovely Summer Craft Parties at the Lavender Fields in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I am disappointed that the date of her party (June 30th) clashes with my workshop trip to France but I hope to be able to go next year. If you are interested in going along to this lovely event you can find more information on Helen's website here.
I was introduced to UPPERCASE magazine by my friend Jo recently. The publication is aimed at 'the creative and curious inspired by craft, design, typography and illustration'. Published since 2009, the magazine has an enthusiastic and loyal readership of designers, illustrators, craftspeople, creative entrepreneurs and paper lovers around the world. With high quality production values and a unique design aesthetic, the content of each issue is 'eclectic and inspiring'. You can find more information about UPPERCASE by following this link.
My friend Jan sent me a link to this article about May Morris. It is an easy to read piece that focuses on May's personal life more than her professional one. I recommend it.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you have planned that you will have a great weekend and that you stay safe.
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Welcome to my blog. Here you will find my email newsletter archive alongside any other general musings or information about events or new pattern releases that I wish to share with you!