Welcome to a quick catch up with Janie Crow. We hope you are all keeping well and have been able to indulge in lots of crafting time. Here in North London the weather has swiftly changed from being incredibly wet to beautifully sunny and warm over the last few days so the big outdoors has become inviting again.
'And since all the loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June' Abba Woolson
One of our biggest pieces of news is that we have finally managed to put together some kits for the Night & Dusk colourway of The Fruit Garden blanket. We have just 10 yarn packs in stock and have no idea when we will be getting more, so if you want one you will probably need to be quick! Click the link here or on the image below to be taken to the web site.
If you follow my newsletters then you probably already know that we have been having trouble getting all the yarn shades in Life DK to make up the range of Janie Crow kits. Life DK has a percentage of wool, which creates a lovely drape when crocheted, so it has been a little frustrating not being able to put kits together. As stock of Special DK, which is 100% Premium Acrylic, remains healthy at Stylecraft we decided to make up some limited edition kits using this yarn instead. The shade swaps are almost identical and the yarn usage is pretty much the same too.
We have kits for The Blue House Blanket and we've also put together many other kits using Special DK including Persian Tiles, Fields of Gold, Mystical Lanterns and Delft. We've also restocked Sunshine & Showers, Lily Pond Cherry Blossom and Sussex Gardens. You can find all these kits for sale over on Andy's web site at Just Knots.
It continues to be a challenge to source yarn for kits at the moment as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still impacting on the supply chain. There's an interesting article further along in this quick update, which helps to explain some of the worldwide issues.
Looking on the bright side though, what a great opportunity we now have to do some stash diving! I think it is really exciting to discover that you have just the right yarn in your stash for a pattern you've just come across in a magazine or on the web. If you have crafty friends you could always compare stashes and maybe even have a swapping session!
As I just said, now is possibly one of the best times for knitters and crocheters to focus on stashbusting projects and Mystical Lanterns is perfect for using up yarn where you have just one ball, or many oddments of lots of different shades. The pattern is available in different versions, to make a blanket, scarf or shawl. You can find the downloadable patterns in the Janie Crow Ravelry and Etsy stores or the printed booklets by following this link.
As I mentioned in my last couple of newsletters I recently designed a vertical half motif for this pattern. I have posted this 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.
You can find some great ideas for colourways for this project by taking a look at the Mystical Lanterns hashtag on Instagram too. I particularly like the image below from Fifisofia.
Despite promoting our own online business we do recognise the importance of bricks and mortar yarn stockists and want to support our local yarn shops, especially now that non-essential retail has been allowed to open again.
So, if you need craft supplies and you have a local retailer, do consider supporting them if you can. If you're not sure if there is a yarn shop local to you there is a great look up tool at ukhandknitting.com.
Last month Gemma ran a poll over on the Janie Crow Facebook page to find out people's preferred yarn when it comes to crocheting blankets. 535 people voted and 59% stated they prefer using natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo or wool.
There are many factors that go into yarn choices though and some of our followers pointed this out. If, for example, you are making a blanket for a baby then soft acrylics are so easy to wash and dry that they are the ideal choice when ease of care is important. Cotton is heavier than acrylic or wool and so might make the final weight of a project too much. You can't beat real wool for warmth, but it can be itchy and some people are allergic to it. Affordability is also a factor and natural fibres tend to be more expensive. On the other hand acrylics have an environmental cost with tiny plastic micro-fibres being shed every time they are washed. Perhaps this means that blends with a percentage of natural fibres can give you the best of both worlds and are easier to care for too.
Here at Janie Crow we are planning to head more and more towards stocking natural and sustainable fibres and are so pleased to see that affordable Organic Cotton DK and Bamboo + Cotton mixes are now available via Stylecraft, who also have a new (and very exciting) 'eco' yarn on the horizon. Many other yarn companies are also becoming aware of the need to be a little more 'green' when creating yarns too, which cannot be a bad thing.
We know that you all make your yarn choices based on your own beliefs, which is why we currently try to cater for lots of different tastes, so it is really interesting to see that the outcome of the poll was quite evenly split between the want for natural and man-made fibres.
One thing to consider when choosing yarns for a home project such as a blanket is that unlike a garment it will not need repeated washing. It is likely to remain in your home for many years to come and might even be passed on as an heirloom to another family member or friend. In that way, we think that crochet blankets, made from whichever yarn you choose, could well be the exact opposite of fast fashion!
We would love to know what you think too, so please hit reply and let us know.
Gemma has been experimenting in the kitchen again this week and she has suggested this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tagine as a really quick and easy midweek make.
Gemma has a weekly veg box delivery and thinks that one of the best things about it is that it makes her far more creative in her cooking. She says that rather than being stuck in a rut of making the same meals over and over she has to be inventive to find meals to fit the veg that arrives in the box!
Here at Janie Crow we are all veg box converts and we get our deliveries from Riverford, but there are now lots of other choices of provider available. If you are lucky enough to have local market then even better!
As mentioned above, sourcing yarn to make up kits for Janie Crow projects has been (and continues to be) a challenge recently. We came across an article from The Crochet Crowd, based in Canada, which summarises some of the key issues affecting the supply of yarn to retailers across the world. The blog post is written from a North American/Canadian point of view but many of the things mentioned in the post are relevant to us here in the UK. Click here or on the image below to read more.
We also came across this article from The Crochet Society on why mindful crochet is so good for you. We don't really need any convincing though, do we?
Stepping away from anything yarny, if you fancy a bit of fun this weekend, why not have a play at the Blob Opera. It's strangely addictive!
The Janie Crow Catalogue, full of beautiful colour images of my projects, is available as a download from the homepage. A printed copy can be added to your basket at no extra cost if you are ordering from the website or for a small postage contribution without any other purchase.
Having a bank holiday on Monday has meant that I have spent all week feeling out of sync with my days. On Tuesday I thought it was Monday, but by Thursday I thought it was Friday, so I am relieved that the weekend is here yet again and I can fall into my usual routine for Saturday and Sunday! We are hoping to spend most of our weekend outside....
I think June is the very best month in the garden. Everything is springing into life and you can almost watch it grow. The planted pots are looking so pretty and our new vegetable patch is coming along nicely, even if the slugs and snails think we have planted all the seedlings out for their delight!
You may remember me telling you a few months ago that we are planning to build a wooden lean to on the summer house at the end of the garden. Well, we had big issues trying to source the wood as there seems to be a global shortage of that too, but it finally arrived about 10 days ago. Unfortunately it was soaking wet thanks to the amount of rain we have been having, so it has been left to dry out in the garage for a bit - if all goes to plan we hope to start work on our project this weekend.
I have put together a Pinterest board of images that have inspired the design of the wooden lean to. I think that Pinterest boards are such a great way of saving ideas and I use them for lots of projects to help me keep motivated. I adore our garden in the summer months as it makes us feel like we suddenly have a lovely extra room added to the house, so I am hoping that the lean to will create a good space to sit and relax on summer evenings. I hope it will look stunning with twinkly fairy lights and comfy cushions, but of course it is all dependent on our fabulous British weather!
We know we are really lucky to have a garden and be in a position where we can get out and enjoy some sunshine. I hope that wherever you are and whatever your situation you are able to take a bit of time out for rest and relaxation over the next couple of days too.
STOP PRESS! I will be tutoring a workshop in aid of Knit For Peace in December. The workshop, which will cover both hand knit and crochet techniques, will take place over 4 days within the amazing setting of Gladstone's Library, Hawarden. You can find more information and a form to register your interest by following this link. You can find the Knit For Peace web site here.
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