This week it has been my turn to reveal a crochet project designed for the Stylecraft Blogstars Garden Party Collection. My design is for a pretty beaded bunting, which I have called 'Julie's Bunting' in memory of Andy's amazing sister who lost her courageous battle against bowel cancer in January.
Julie loved a party and was great at organising food, music and a dance floor at the drop of a hat. She liked nothing more than a family get together and a good old boogie! Julie was a big fan of bunting and was great at sorting out the decorations, with fabric and paper flags always taking centre stage!
My bunting features a pretty layered flower at the centre with three little crochet leaves. I have used some delicate pastel shades (including a lovely soft shade of yellow -Julie's favourite colour) from the Stylecraft Naturals - Bamboo + Cotton yarn range and silver beads, which sit at the tip of picots made within the lacy edging. I have used a ribbon threaded through the top edge of the flags to hang them up and you can make 9 pennants from the yarn amounts given in the pattern, which will create a length of approximately 2.6m of bunting.
The pattern is available as a download via Etsy and Ravelry or as a paper version via the website. The pattern is £6.95 and we will donate just over 25% of the sale price (£1.75) to Bowel Cancer UK for every copy sold, whether you choose paper or a download.
I think the bunting would make a really lovely decoration for a wedding reception or a christening if made in the pastel shades I have chosen, but I think it would also look fabulous in some bright, fun shades for a birthday party or to decorate a child's room. The project is a great stash buster too - I hope you like it!
'Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly,
kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and
never regret anything that makes you smile.'
I love my garden and spend a huge amount of time pottering around in it this time of year. I am sure you can tell that I am a big fan of flowers as they feature in almost all of my designs, so when the team from Inside Crochet approached me about designing for their Cottage Garden inspired issue of the magazine I jumped at the chance and created two pretty floral inspired cushions.
My Gertrude cushion features small beaded crochet flowers made into lacy hexagons that are then joined to create the cushion cover. The cushion is named after British horticulturalist, garden designer, craftswoman, artist and photographer Gertrude Jekyll, who created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the US. The flower motif used in the Gertrude cushion cover can also be used as a brooch or pin design as in the image below.
Once I had created my floral cushion I felt that it needed a partner and so I designed a round cushion with a bobble edge to compliment it and make a lovely set. When I was a child my Auntie Muriel had some of those lovely pleated edge round velvet cushions on her bed. I loved stroking the velvet pile and adored the smocking on them.
I have already attempted to replicate the cushion in knitting, creating my Madeleine cushions in my book 'Homespun Vintage' and so I felt it was time to do a simplified crochet version using bobbles on the edge. My round cushion is called Muriel after my Auntie.
The patterns for the two cushions currently feature in Inside Crochet Magazine issue 147, which is called Cottage Garden.
We will be revisiting my Sunshine and Showers blanket design over the course of this year and into 2023. The CAL was released 5 years ago and features a new stitch for every month of the year, based on typical weather here in the UK. The pattern is available in parts as downloads, but we have never had videos to accompany the design, so my lovely new assistant Emma is in the process of creating some to help anyone who wants to work through the project.
You can find a new introductory video about the CAL on my YouTube Channel, where we have also created a playlist so that each new video can be loaded onto there as it is released. Part One, which features the techniques used in the patterns for May, is available now and the video for Part Two will be on YouTube in a couple of weeks time.
The patterns for each part of the CAL, which are split into 12 pieces, are available for just 95p each with the 'Getting Ready' document available to download for free here. You can find more information about the project by following this link.
Just under a fortnight ago I returned from an amazing trip to Iceland where I was tutoring some workshops with a group of lovely knitters as part of the Arena Travel, Stitchtopia holidays. We had the most amazing time and I have some fabulous memories of the trip, but since I got home I have been struggling to catch up with my workload and also had a couple of technical mishaps which have meant that I only just feel like I am getting up to speed now. Apologies that these things led to me being a little under the radar this last week or so. Hopefully normal service has resumed now and that I will be up to speed for the next couple of weeks before I head off to Finland for my next workshop adventure!
As I said already, the trip to Iceland really was an amazing one. The ladies in the knitting group were great fun and they all bonded beautifully and got on with their projects with gusto. I designed a cushion project for the group, which I am thinking of naming Glorious Bolette after the ship we sailed on. I encouraged them to make changes to the pattern to come up with their own projects.
A few of the group made draw string bags and Melli made a wonderful duffle bag using a little extra yarn that she purchased in Iceland and draw strings made from Scottish rune thong necklaces that she found in Orkney - it even had an Icelandic button!
A few of the ladies made cowls. You can see Trish's one in the image above with a lovely crochet edge. I will be releasing the pattern for the design, which used Rowan Yarn's gorgeous Alpaca Soft DK, later on in the year.
Whilst we were away we managed to find some fabulous yarn stores, including Folklore Yarns in Belfast, which was a total joy to visit. One of the highlights of the trip (in regards to yarn anyway) was a visit to Hespa natural dye studio and the group really loved Garni Gangi in Akureyi too.
A couple of days before I headed off to Iceland I made another appearance on Yarn Lane TV. The show focused on my Fruit Garden blanket and I showed how to make a layered flower and join crochet pieces together. You can find the video of the show by following this link.
So that's quite a lot of news about what is going on for me, but I want to use this opportunity to showcase the work of a friend of mine who makes the most lovely crochet things for babies and toddlers. If you like making things for little ones I urge you to take a look at Gurinder Kaur Hatchard's new book 'Head To Toe Crochet', which is just the cutest thing!
Gurinder is a really talented designer whose work often appears in Inside Crochet Magazine. She works under her company name of Yay For Crochet and I really recommend you take a look at her feed on Instagram too. You can find a link to pre-order this lovely book via Gurinder's website here.
I cannot believe just how quickly the weeks and months are flying by. I feel like I am only just getting into the swing of 2022 and already I am starting to put dates in my diary for next year, something that always feels a little scary as I try not to plan too far ahead. However, there are some things in life that need to be organised well in advance such as trips and holidays, so I suppose it should not be surprising that dates for next year are already booking up.
In very exciting news I have been asked to return to Mysore, India to tutor a workshop for Knit For Peace in January 2023. I have tutored 3 of the workshops at The fabulous Green Hotel on previous occasions and love it there, so I am very excited about the prospect of the trip happening again after what will be a 3 year break. If you would like to join me in India for this amazing trip you can register your interest via the Knit For Peace website, which you can find here.
I have also committed to teach a crochet workshop in France in June next year. Despite this trip being more than a year away, the workshop is already fully booked, but you can find more information about the other workshops on offer and possibly join a waiting list should anyone cancel by following this link.
Having been away for the last couple of weeks I have done very little cooking or baking. It was Summer's birthday on the 17th so I made my first Victoria sponge of the year. British raspberries and strawberries with some fresh whipped cream are one of my favourite things!
As I think I have told you before I always use Mary Berry's Victoria sponge recipe - but add an extra egg to make it even lighter!
We are looking forward to a day in the garden with family tomorrow afternoon, so Andy is planning to make a favourite recipe of ours. It is an upside down Mediterranean style tart, which Jamie Oliver calls a 'Reverse Puff Pastry Pizza'. The recipe features in the book called 'Veg', which we use a lot as a guide for making yummy veggie meals. You can find a video showing the recipe here. Andy uses Feta in place of Mozzarella and it is so good!
The response to our recent fundraising campaign in aid of UNHCR was fantastic, with so many of you purchasing my Fields of Gold blanket design. The motifs that make up the project are put together using the 'join as you go' method so we thought it would be a good idea to create a video that shows you how to do this.
Emma has created a great technique video that shows how to work some of the more complex aspects of the design and in particular how to join the motifs as you go. Within the video Emma also shows how to work the two colour crochet method that Lucia used in her Fiori version of the design. You can find the video here.
Along with almost 200,000 other people in the UK, we took part in The Big Plastic Count last week. The survey aims to analyse just how much plastic waste we are creating within the nations households in order to show the Government that it is time to commit to reducing single use plastic and ban selling our waste to other countries. Andy and I think we are pretty good at seeking out products that are plastic free. We have our milk delivered and do not buy pre-made meals etc, but there are still plenty of items that are almost impossible to source without plastic packaging such as cheese, crisps and vegetable oil and it has shocked me to see just how many bits of plastic we accumulated in a week. Needless to say, we are on a new mission to cut our plastic waste even further as we head into the summer!
Yesterday I took part in a Zoom call with members of the Crochet Guild of Australia. We had a lovely chat and I felt really honoured to have been invited to be interviewed. Thank you to all of you who attended the call. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
The nomination stage of the annual Knit and Crochet Awards is now open. You can nominate your favourite yarn brand, store or designer by following this link to the dedicated Let's Knit website. Of course I would love it if you were able to take the time to nominate me and Janie Crow!
We are heading out to visit the Kehinde Wiley exhibition at The National Gallery this evening and tomorrow I have booked a family trip to our local Go Ape Tree Top Adventure to celebrate my birthday which is on Monday. I am trying really hard not to over think this at the moment as I am terrified of heights, but as I head into my mid 50s I am getting a little braver, so I am hoping I won't bottle it at the last minute, especially when it comes to hurtling down the zip wire!
If you are looking for something to do over the next few days and are in the Edinburgh area you could check out the William Morris 'Art of Wallpaper' exhibition at Dovecote Studios. I would love to see this show, but it is too far for me, so if any of you do go, please let me know what it is like.
Here in London it is the Chelsea Flower Show's last day tomorrow. I have never visited the show and would love to go in the future. I have seen lots of images online and have been hearing about this year's event in interviews on the radio. You can find a great post that shows all the gardens in this year's show by following this link. I particularly like the Morris and Co Garden and the Stitchers Garden, which celebrates Fine Cell Work, a charity teaching prisoners needlework. Visitors will see into the garden through a ‘cell’ – this simple structure is made of steel, with the contemporary woven willow panels replicating the dimensions of their prison space.
A few weeks ago I came across this lovely animated video called Oscars - lost and found. The videos was featured in a COOK email and it tells the story of two crocheted stuffed animals, a fox and a dinosaur, who love and care for each other, living together in a sushi restaurant after hours. In a twist of fate fox is in danger of drowning, so it is up to dinosaur to save the day. In the rescue effort, dinosaur hits a snag and must make a difficult decision to save fox's life. Make sure you have the tissues ready, as this is a real tear jerker! If you are interested in the way the video was made you can find a behind the scenes video here.
Well, that's it from me for another couple of weeks. I look forward to being back in your inbox in a couple of weeks time. Don't forget - if you want to get in touch just hit reply. Have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you have planned.
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