My Bohemian Blooms Blanket is a CAL project in a book! The design of the blanket was inspired by English country gardens and London’s garden squares, but the main catalyst for the design was the paintings and iconic interior designs of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. In particular their home ‘Charleston Farmhouse’ in Sussex and their fabulous painted murals at the nearby Berwick Village Church.
Rather than release the crochet along style project in the usual way - where the design is issued in pieces monthly or fortnightly – I decided to release the project in book form giving crocheters the chance to work through the blanket at their own speed. The book is laid out in a logical order so that the crochet patterns get progressively more challenging and can be worked through in a CAL type way or in a more random sequence depending on the preference of the crocheter. The patterns include step-by-step images throughout.
I have spotted quite a few Bohemian Blooms projects out in the wild over the last few months. They show how easy it is to use some of the motifs in the pattern book to create alternative projects. Click on the images below to be taken to the Instagram feeds.
The design includes crochet flower motifs, butterflies, circles and striped stitch motifs and I included an array of techniques, including beading, 3D work and bobbles. To help with crochet techniques, and in order to offer crocheters a little more guidance, I also added technique downloads to the web site. Sarah and I created accompanying video tutorials that are available on YouTube.
The Rowan yarn kits for this project are currently unavailable as many of the yarns are out of stock, but we are hoping to have kits for the two related blanket projects, Bloomsbury Gardens and Sussex Gardens, very soon - so keep an eye on the web site. The patterns are written for DK weight yarn so you could have a rummage through your stash and come up with your own colourway.
It has been a bit of an odd time at Janie Crow these last few weeks. It is still difficult to get yarn for kits and the web sites are calming down as people head back to a more 'normal' way of life, so it feels like a bit of a change is going on. This month should have been a time when we would have been busy preparing kits for the new CAL. With its release delayed slightly, I feel a little undecided about what to next so I have been enjoying a little bit of calm after the madness of the last year.
I always love the anticipation of forming new design ideas so I have been using this little bit of down time to put some mood boards together on Pinterest and flick through my books and magazines for ideas. I have become a bit obsessed with embroidery and patchwork designs and keep finding myself drawn back to them, so I think these are things that I will continue to research at over the next few months.
I have been looking at the interior trends too, which has made me want to entirely redecorate our little house! There is a great list of trends here on the Living etc web site, which includes a load of great interior pics, pretty much all of which got me itching to do something at home. One of the trends references the Bloomsbury Group's eclectic style, so it looks like even 4 years since the release of my Bohemian Blooms CAL the Charleston Farmhouse vibe is still very much on trend!
The images above and below are from the Annie Sloan Charleston collaboration. You can find more information about this on her web site here, as well as a couple of great little films of Annie talking about her association with Charleston and how inspired she is by the colours within the house. If you don't already know about the farmhouse then I urge you to take a look.
As I have said before, 2021 is our 10th Birthday year here at Janie Crow and we had hoped to host some celebration events, but with everything still a bit up in the air as far as social gatherings are concerned we have not made any definite plans, especially as we will be moving out of the studio in September. With lockdown restrictions set to change further over the next few months I would be really interested to hear what kind of things you guys might like to do. We currently have Yarndale in the diary for the end of September and The Knitting & Stitching show early October, so it would be nice to get something else added into our sparsely filled diaries!
Hit the reply button and let me know whether you would be interested in workshops or talks and demos and if so, whether you like the idea of day or weekend long events. We have a lovely luxury hotel very near here that we think would make a great venue for an event, but the delegate day rate starts at around £60/£70 a head before we consider any other costs, so it would be good to know what your ideal price point might be too.
If you missed the newsletter last month you might not know that I have designed a vertical half motif for my Mystical Lanterns pattern. The pattern instructions and images are on my blog so that those of you who want to make a project with straight vertical side edges can do so.
The blog post includes step-by-step images and instructions, but you will need the original pattern to make the main Mystical Lanterns motifs and the horizontal half motifs. I hope this will help those of you who have been asking for this half motif for the last few years!
A few weeks ago Helen Shrimpton and I got together with Juliet Bernard on Zoom to chat about crochet tension. The video is one of a series of videos where Stylecraft Blogstars discuss all things yarny and I was flattered to have the opportunity to be involved once again. If you want to see the short video, where Helen and I discuss why tension is so important and share some tips on how to get things right, simply follow this link to the Stylecraft YouTube channel.
Here at Janie Crow we have been trying to make greener choices for the last couple of years. To begin with this has been in regards to our packaging, our waste and our recycling, but we are also looking more and more at the products we choose to stock. We have started to put together a more thoughtful plan for our business going forward and are attempting to take small, slow steps towards change, whilst also trying to keep in mind what you guys actually want us to sell and promote.
According to The Sustainable Fashion Guru, Eco-guilt 'is the feeling that arises when people think about times they have not met personal or societal standards for environmental behaviour. It's the deep breath you take when you buy a plastic-wrapped sandwich for lunch. It's also the 'sting' you feel when you forget your reusable coffee mug'.
There is a good article here about the mounting pressure on consumers to make the right choices as many big companies have managed to switch the blame from themselves (as producers) to the buying public. Whilst the article is good at pointing out that not all blame should lay on the shoulders of the consumers, it doesn't really make too many valid points as to how we can actually sway the big players to make changes.
'Sustainable' seems to be the new buzz word for all ad campaigns and brand strap lines these days, with many companies trying really hard to highlight their produce as 'sustainable regardless of how unsustainable it actually is! There is a good article here (via Vogue) which talks about the need for accountability and integrity. It makes interesting reading in light of our plans here at Janie Crow and I am sure it will be of interest to you guys too.
A few years ago I came across the Cherokee story of The Two Wolves. It is a tale I remind myself of often, especially at times of doubt or worry, in order to get myself back on the right path.
As last week was mental awareness week, and because it is a great story to keep in mind anyway, I have included a link to a post here on the Clarity blog, where the story and it's many meanings are explained.
My fellow Stylecraft Blogstar Phil, of The Twisted Yarn, is the author of a great blog, which you can find here.
Phil is a talented photographer as well as being a skilled knit and crochet designer and so her blog is full of fantastic images alongside her written posts. If you already follow Phil on Instagram you will know about her love of wildlife (particularly the robins that visit her garden) and that she is a fitness fanatic who loves her job and homelife. You might also know that in August last year she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Over the last nine months, while Phil has been battling her own cancer, she has also been busy fundraising by taking on a huge virtual run. I would love it if you would head over to Phil's blog and find out more, but here is just a snippet of her latest post so that you can get an idea of the huge task she has set herself.
'I’m running 1083.8 miles (1744.2km) from Land’s End to John O’Groats. When cancer treatment has made running impossible I’ve walked, for example after surgery I shuffled one mile the first day, two miles the second day, and so on. ANYWAY, I’m doing all this in aid of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund because amongst all the hideousness of cancer, pancreatic cancer has one of the worst outcomes, and I desperately want that to change. I was lucky that my breast cancer was very treatable, but a pancreatic cancer diagnosis must be terrifying.'
Phil is an absolute star and has already smashed her fundraising target, but if you would like to support her in her mission to raise even more funds for such a deserved charity, whilst also checking out the images of her lovely robin friends and latest knit projects, then head over to The Twisted Yarn by following this link.
Marina Kelly is one of my prized test crocheters, but she is also a very talented crochet jewellery designer and I am very lucky that she has given me permission to add five necklaces from her new collection to the web site.
With lots of businesses opening their doors and more things going on in the world we thought we would be in a big hurry to get out and about a bit, but it turns out that we are not in such a rush after all as we have yet to really go anywhere more adventurous than the garden centre! Maybe it is the rotten weather and perhaps we would feel more like stepping out if the sun was shining, but for now we seem happy to stick close to home, especially at the weekends.
May is a month of birthdays in our family. My niece Helen kicked off the proceedings with her birthday on the 9th, which was also my Mum & Dad's wedding anniversary. Summer and my Dad share their birthday date on the 17th. My nephew Dan and my cousin's son Alexi both have their birthdays on the 26th and my birthday is at the end of the month, so we are hoping for some lovely family get togethers over the next few weeks. Finally!
For Andy's birthday a few weeks ago I offered to make him his choice of celebratory cake. I am not hugely adventurous when it comes to baking and tend to stick to Mary Berry's trusty Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe, so I was a bit surprised (and a tad daunted) when, quick as a flash, he asked for a Black Forest Gateau!
As a child of 70s and 80s when BFG was all the rage I was worried that my version of the cake would not live up to Andy's expectations, but in the end the cake was actually rather good and the taste of it brought back loads of happy memories. That said, I shall not be in a hurry to to make another one as attempting to stick chocolate shavings to the side of a cream coated cake cannot possibly be anyone's idea of fun!
I am very much aware that we are privileged to be in a position to plan cake making and home based leisure activities for our weekend, especially in light of the current situation in India. We have heard from a few of our friends there and the situation appears to be getting increasingly horrifying, so I include links to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) here and The British Asian Trust here if you are in a position to make a donation.
I hope that wherever you are in the world you are safe.
If you have been lucky enough to meet my wonderful friend and assistant Sarah Hazell, then you will know what a kind and lovely person she is. Sarah, and her daughter Phoebe, got their beautiful looks and fabulous personalities from Sarah's gorgeous mum, who sadly passed away on Wednesday evening.
We are all holding Sarah and her family in our thoughts and I am sure that many of you will want to join me in sending them the very best wishes at this difficult time.
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