Quick catch up with Janie Crow
!We had a fabulous time at Wonderwool in Wales last weekend and it was so lovely to meet so many of you on the stand over the course of the show. As I spend so much of my time working like a hermit at the end of the garden it is always so good to be out in the big wild world and chat to you guys!
We have quite a lot going on here at the moment, with a few new things on the horizon, so I hope you have a few minutes to spare to catch up with all things Janie Crow!
I have designed a crochet along project pretty much every year since 2011. Sometimes there have been longer gaps between releases, with not every CAL emerging from my hook exactly a year after the last one before, but never the less, I have released 12 CAL projects in 12 years.
When I think back to my first CAL design I can see that the way I work and the expectation of what crocheters want has changed dramatically over the years. Back then my patterns had a few step by step images and were accompanied by a blog post or two, but there was no pressure to make videos, include charted instructions, translate into more than one language, or to create technique documents to help along the way.
The added extras that accompany my CAL designs these days all have a place and are essential to the enjoyment and accomplishment of the crocheters who choose to work through them. I wouldn’t change my process or wish there was less work involved as I enjoy all the aspects involved.
As regular followers of this newsletter will probably know, I have been working on a new CAL design since the end of February but, after weeks of trying to make my motifs into a cohesive project, I decided last week that it is time to step back from the project for a little while to rethink.
I am not sure what it is that is blocking this design from coming off my hook. It could be the pressure of the timescale, or of the expectation after the success of recent CALs. It could be that Spirit of Flora is still too new (and beautiful) for me to walk away just yet, or it could be that the crochet samples I have completed want to become stand alone blanket or shawl projects rather than a CAL. Having ideas for smaller items, rather than a CAL has felt very liberating and I am excited by what might come off my hook as the weeks progress.
I am asked about the schedule for new design work all the time as so many of you speed through my designs, but I know that there are also many of you who work at a slower pace or want to revisit existing designs. For those of you who like to plan your projects - on the horizon we will be releasing information about the Fiori version of Fields of Gold (shown below) and have been working on a revamp of Mystical Lanterns. Both these projects should be out in the wild within the next month. My Gertrude and Muriel cushion covers are also likely to be released over the summer. As we head into the Autumn I hope there will be some new design work as well as a new colour way for Indigo Dreams that has been created by Lucia of Lucia's Fig Tree.
As we head into 2024 the permission to release the patterns for the Spirit of Flora blanket will start to return to me so we will make plans for how to release this. We have not made any decisions about this yet so please be patient!
If you are looking for a project to get your hook into before next year I am really pleased to say that we finally have some kist in stock! After, what feels like a really long time, yarns are starting to come back into stock in amounts that mean we can make kits, so if you are looking for a project do head over to the store and take a look through what we have.
We made up kits for the Magic Circles Scarf (shown above) using the beautiful Eden Cottage Milburn DK to take to Wonderwool last weekend and we still have some of these left in stock. You can find them by following this link.
We also have kits for the Sandalwood version of Persian Tiles, which you can find here.
I was looking through my diary from 2020 and realised that it is 3 years to the day today since we released the first set of patterns for The Fruit Garden CAL, which was inspired by the incredible embroidery design of Arts and Crafts designer May Morris.
Daughter to William and Jane Morris, May was a gifted artist and technician. She travelled the world giving inspirational talks and presentations and was passionate about creating recognition of the skill level needed to create intricate embroidery. She was an incredibly accomplished woman, especially given the era within which she lived and worked.
After my visit to May’s home, Kelmscott Manor, where I saw many of her beautiful embroideries, I knew immediately that I wanted to create a design using her work and ended up focusing on The Melsetter Hangings, embroideries that were designed by May and stitched by her and her close friend Theodosia Middlemore somewhere between 1890 and 1900. The hangings feature birds, flowers, plants and central fruit trees on an embroidered trellis background.
Over the course of the 3 years since its release, I have been so honoured to see the way The Fruit Garden blanket project has been embraced around the world and I am incredibly proud of the fact that so many crocheters joined together, albeit virtually, to create their own heirloom pieces during unprecedented times. I feel this is an amazing testament to the skills and inclusivity of the crafting community and crocheters in particular.
Blankets are by nature a love token. A blanket is a symbol of comfort and warmth and, if you also consider the fact that every stitch is lovingly made by hand, then you know that you are creating something extra special.
I have been looking back through our posts on Instagram from the last year and realised that it has been almost a year since we hit 50k followers, which means that our following has almost doubled in the space of year. How amazing is that!
Having Emma on board to help me with Instagram and Youtube over the last 12 months has been fabulous and I am really grateful to her for getting me organised so that between us we can post beautiful content more often. I think we have created a really lovely space on our feed where we can share our passion for our craft and what goes on in the world around us as we happily hook!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get to 100k followers in time for the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May. I know this is a tall order, but I am thinking that If we were to manage to get another 5k followers over the next 4 weeks we could celebrate with an extra special free download pattern that would be available to our Instagram followers over the Bank Holiday weekend.
If you dont already follow our feed, or you do follow us and would like to get your friends involved, (or you simply want to get your hands on an exclusive free pattern), why not help us get to 100k by following us or inviting your instagram friends to follow us too.
Last Saturday was World Earth Day so I took the opportunity to use the suggested Earth Day Pantone pallet, called 'Be a Force of Nature', to create a version of my 'Flower for Alice' Granny Square. I designed the motif for Granny Square day in last year in honour of my Nanna Martin who was recycling yarn to create crocheted granny squares back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Working within the craft industry it is impossible to ignore the pressure to create projects in a more sustainable way and to ensure that the legacy of my designs is not detrimental to the planet. The rise in download pattern sales means we are using less paper in our business than ever before and are thus not having to use printing inks and their associated chemicals and incur the carbon footprint of postage either, but creating larger items like blankets presents a real dilemma for me.
This is partly because the cost of making them in natural fibres is often prohibitive and because they are not always logical in terms of washing and repetitive use. Of course there are other considerations too: provenance of the wool itself and the ethical and environmental impacts of its production.
Ultimately, I have had to placate myself by accepting that the production of man-made fibres does pose a threat to our environment but this is balanced to some extent by with the fact that blankets are not fast fashion. I know how many of you gift the wonderful blankets you make and that the recipients invariably would not dream of discarding these treasured items and so they are passed on, treasured and become heirloom pieces.
And yet, as a consumer, I try so hard to make the right choices but still often wonder whether we are as careful about the items we buy regularly (packets of crisps, nuts, pasta, milk cartons etc) as we are in regards to yarn. A difficult balancing act when we are as passionate about our creativity as we are! I would love to hear what you think...
Our lovely Gemma is a fabulous crochet tutor and over the last few months she has been working with a group of newbie crocheters to guide them though the Sunshine and Showers blanket. Gem sent me the image above this week to show me how the group got on. How amazing to see all those talented ladies with their blankets!
In the latest issue of Inside Crochet Magazine the Marlborough motif for Spirit of Flora ventured out into the world along with some exciting extras! William DeMorgan designed quite a lot of tiles that he called Marlborough, mostly featuring either blue or yellow flowers with a leafy background. For the Spirit of Flora project, I wanted to design a few flower motifs surrounded by a nice border. These motifs would work well sat on the outside edges of your project and would also look really effective as repeated blocks.
You can also find the pattern for the very gorgeous Dana bag in this month's magazine. Using 2 blocks from the Spirit of Flora design, the sky's the limit on this - you can make loads of combinations throughout the project if you fancy! Making this bag is also a lovely way to "go rogue" if you want to see some alternate colours to your chosen palette. You know how sometimes you make a block and love it and want to make it in every colour? Well here is your excuse!
We've also put together the free download for the plain blocks I have designed to accompany the project and you can find them on my website here. I designed these with my love of quilts in mind: a plainer block to calm down the "busy" blocks if you want to create a little space between them.
These gorgeous velvet cushions are the latest addition to the Janie Crow and Emma Ball collaboration. The cushion covers are double sided and there are four designs available, as you can see in the images below. They can be purchased as a complete cushion or the cover only.
Gemma's says her household is trying to focus on a gradual reduction of sugar consumption, but it's not an easy task when you have all inherited the family sweet tooth!
Being on the lookout for lower sugar versions of some favourite recipes, Gemma thinks this lower sugar carrot cake by Mary Berry looks like a good one to try. The recipe uses Agave syrup and Maple syrup rather than more highly refined sugars and the carrots will keep it lovely and moist so it's bound to be yummy!
In the Crowfoot household it is Andy's Birthday this weekend so I will be making a cake too! I always ask what type of cake he would like, knowing full well that he will say chocolate, and this year is no different. I tend to make a really fudgy chocolate cake using this recipe and so will probably do the same one again. The recipe freaks me out a little bit, because the batter is particularly runny before it goes in the oven, but so far the cake has always turned out great!
Have you ever tried Tunisian crochet? A new book by knit and crochet designer Anna Nikipirowicz has just been published by Search Press. The Tunisian Crochet Stitch Dictionary details 150 stitches, with step-by-step photos, charts and swatches to guide you along the way.
Gemma says she will be snapping up a copy as she's been turning her attention to this area of crochet recently! You can find out more about Anna's work here or by clicking on the image above.
NEW! We launched our first catalogue in 2020 and have updated it this year to include our up to date range of crochet and knit projects. Click on the image above to be taken to the download catalogue. Print copies are coming soon!
I have had a deadline for a chapter of my new book this week so I have been spending a lot of time at my desk, often working into the evenings too, so I am really looking forward to a few days off over the weekend.
As it is Andy's birthday on Sunday we are heading into town this afternoon to see the Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Tate, followed by some food and cheeky drink in Borough Market. Saturday and Sunday we will be sticking close to home doing family things and hoping that we might get to venture into the garden. It has been so cold and wet here this spring that we have hardly made it out there so far this year, which is incredibly frustrating as it looks so good and the grass is in desperate need of a cut!
It is nice to think that we have an extra day off this weekend due to the bank holiday on Monday. I am hoping to find time to do some crochet as I have some ideas for beaded edgings that I want to try out, so Monday might just be the perfect day for that! I hope you have fun whatever your plans!
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