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As a child, I would get really excited by making random things that were exactly as I wanted them. This mostly manifested as bits of fabric wrapped into shoes, clothes, coats and hats and I didn't care what anyone else thought of them. I spent a lot of time playing with fabric remnants (see the bottom of this old post for proof). Both my mum and nan were avid sewists and knitters and while  I didn't have the patience for knitting, I could fashion anything with a bit of scrap fabric, a belt or two, and occasionally the odd bit of Copydex glue! The best part of four decades later, I usually work from patterns, or make up my own designs and then turn them into patterns so they can be duplicated by others. (Honestly, it's not nearly as much fun when you're trying to appeal to other people.)

When I made the Spirit of Summer Shawl (free pattern here, in collaboration with Scheepjes) I loved creating the fabric (simple and relaxing - my perfect kind of project) and had the idea to use the same stitches to make a 'grey thing'. I didn't honestly know what it would be, but it needed to start as a rectangle. Crocheting it was just for the joy of working with the super soft cotton/acrylic yarn, and not having to think.




So I carried the project around for a bit, working a few rows here and there - from the sidelines of LM's ballet class, having coffee with friends, watching TV. And then last Friday I picked it up and slung it around my neck - it felt finished! I took it to ballet and Street Dance that night, and by the time we came home it was edged and complete, apart from blocking which I still haven't done - and which would make it look much nicer and more 'finished' but it's cold and I wanted to wear it straight away.


Indeed I've worn it most days - it's small enough to fit inside my huge winter coat, or indoors where it's warmer, but my desk is in a bit of a draught. It's not really big enough to call it a wrap or a stole or a scarf. I'm not sure what it is but I love it, so I'm just calling it Spirit of Winter. 


Although I love shawl pins, this open stitch makes it possible to grab any part of the fabric and thread it through the holes. This makes it very easy to style in a lot of different ways - it's versatile for such a small thing. 


THE PARTICULARS:
What about you? Do you ever start making a 'thing' and then see what it turns into? I think I'm going to do it a bit more - purely for the joy of making. 

For the joy of Making: Spirit of Winter FO

As a child, I would get really excited by making random things that were exactly as I wanted them. This mostly manifested as bits of fabric wrapped into shoes, clothes, coats and hats and I didn't care what anyone else thought of them. I spent a lot of time playing with fabric remnants (see the bottom of this old post for proof). Both my mum and nan were avid sewists and knitters and while  I didn't have the patience for knitting, I could fashion anything with a bit of scrap fabric, a belt or two, and occasionally the odd bit of Copydex glue! The best part of four decades later, I usually work from patterns, or make up my own designs and then turn them into patterns so they can be duplicated by others. (Honestly, it's not nearly as much fun when you're trying to appeal to other people.)

When I made the Spirit of Summer Shawl (free pattern here, in collaboration with Scheepjes) I loved creating the fabric (simple and relaxing - my perfect kind of project) and had the idea to use the same stitches to make a 'grey thing'. I didn't honestly know what it would be, but it needed to start as a rectangle. Crocheting it was just for the joy of working with the super soft cotton/acrylic yarn, and not having to think.




So I carried the project around for a bit, working a few rows here and there - from the sidelines of LM's ballet class, having coffee with friends, watching TV. And then last Friday I picked it up and slung it around my neck - it felt finished! I took it to ballet and Street Dance that night, and by the time we came home it was edged and complete, apart from blocking which I still haven't done - and which would make it look much nicer and more 'finished' but it's cold and I wanted to wear it straight away.


Indeed I've worn it most days - it's small enough to fit inside my huge winter coat, or indoors where it's warmer, but my desk is in a bit of a draught. It's not really big enough to call it a wrap or a stole or a scarf. I'm not sure what it is but I love it, so I'm just calling it Spirit of Winter. 


Although I love shawl pins, this open stitch makes it possible to grab any part of the fabric and thread it through the holes. This makes it very easy to style in a lot of different ways - it's versatile for such a small thing. 


THE PARTICULARS:
What about you? Do you ever start making a 'thing' and then see what it turns into? I think I'm going to do it a bit more - purely for the joy of making. 
Currently: listening to what this stunning skein wants to become! (Fidget Lace yarn from herecards available here.)

It's been ages since I posted an update on my works in progress (WIPs). This is at least partly because I've had several commissioned designs which kept me busy with projects I couldn't share. So this month, I haven't taken on any design projects and I'm creating just for myself. It feels very satisfying. The only trouble is, I have so many things that I want to work on across multiple disciplines, that it's hard to prioritise them. 

From last week: working on affirmation cards as part of Life Book 2017
As you may have seen on Instagram and recent blog posts, I've been painting and drawing quite a lot and having so much fun (and making a huge mess). 


I've also been crocheting and even have a finished object to show you (on Friday) so now it's time to get back into some knitting... 

'Askews Me' in progress - complete with ink-stained fingers (whoops!) 

You may remember that last February I cast on Stephen West's Askews Me shawl using the scrumptious yarn I bought from EasyKnits at Unravel - in fact, this shawl was the very reason I learned Brioche knitting (and wrote a series of tutorials for beginners). I'm determined to finish it in time for the next Unravel Festival which is less than five weeks away*, and finishing it is in my Life Workbook list of 100 things to do this year. I'm looking forward to ticking it off the list as much as wearing it. 

The good news: this project is about 70% complete. 
The not-so-good news: With Brioche, I really find it easier to work both sides of the project (that makes four 'normal' rows - the two RS rows and two WS rows) between putting it down, so I don't lose track of where I am - this helps to prevent errors. As there are now so many stitches, it takes well over an hour to work both sides twice, and I haven't had uninterrupted blocks of time to do that, and it's very slow going. My goal is to finish it before the end of the month, so I'm going to need to make some time! I might have to resign myself to Netflix or Audible for a few mornings to get it done.

So what are you working on and watching or listening to? 

*If you haven't entered the Unravel ticket giveaway yet, head on over to this post

WIP Wednesday: Bursts of colour

Currently: listening to what this stunning skein wants to become! (Fidget Lace yarn from herecards available here.)

It's been ages since I posted an update on my works in progress (WIPs). This is at least partly because I've had several commissioned designs which kept me busy with projects I couldn't share. So this month, I haven't taken on any design projects and I'm creating just for myself. It feels very satisfying. The only trouble is, I have so many things that I want to work on across multiple disciplines, that it's hard to prioritise them. 

From last week: working on affirmation cards as part of Life Book 2017
As you may have seen on Instagram and recent blog posts, I've been painting and drawing quite a lot and having so much fun (and making a huge mess). 


I've also been crocheting and even have a finished object to show you (on Friday) so now it's time to get back into some knitting... 

'Askews Me' in progress - complete with ink-stained fingers (whoops!) 

You may remember that last February I cast on Stephen West's Askews Me shawl using the scrumptious yarn I bought from EasyKnits at Unravel - in fact, this shawl was the very reason I learned Brioche knitting (and wrote a series of tutorials for beginners). I'm determined to finish it in time for the next Unravel Festival which is less than five weeks away*, and finishing it is in my Life Workbook list of 100 things to do this year. I'm looking forward to ticking it off the list as much as wearing it. 

The good news: this project is about 70% complete. 
The not-so-good news: With Brioche, I really find it easier to work both sides of the project (that makes four 'normal' rows - the two RS rows and two WS rows) between putting it down, so I don't lose track of where I am - this helps to prevent errors. As there are now so many stitches, it takes well over an hour to work both sides twice, and I haven't had uninterrupted blocks of time to do that, and it's very slow going. My goal is to finish it before the end of the month, so I'm going to need to make some time! I might have to resign myself to Netflix or Audible for a few mornings to get it done.

So what are you working on and watching or listening to? 

*If you haven't entered the Unravel ticket giveaway yet, head on over to this post
Ever fancy a quick make-over project, but you're not sure you want to commit to the changes? Or maybe you're planning a party and would like to make some temporary changes? I might just have the answer! I was recently sent some Chalk Ola* premium wet wipe markers. After having fun playing around with them, I can see that they are going to be an essential addition to our craft supplies and think that you might like them too. I've put together some information, project ideas, and a few tips below. At the bottom of the post, you'll find a reader discount code which is valid on the Chalkola Arts website and on Amazon


These water-based chalk pens are non-toxic, safe for children, wash off clothes and if they have any odour, I can't smell it. (They are also acid and Xylene free.) I've been testing two different sets - 10  party colours (above) and 8 earthy colours (below).  The markers are intended for use on all hard non-porous surfaces including glass, whiteboards, mirrors, plastics, chalkboards and ceramics. They wipe off easily with a wet cloth.  


When you open the lid for the first time, there is no paint in the tip - pictured below is a black pen, you can see that the tip is still white. So you need to give the marker a good long shake (with the still lid on) and then depress the tip quickly, multiple times, until the paint appears. I like to make sure there is plenty of ink, for a more vibrant line, so I push it down a few more times before starting to write. If the nib starts to feel a bit dry, depress it again while writing (I keep a spare piece of card on hand to do this).   


We have a chalkboard wall in the children's playroom and I was a bit hesitant about using the pens on it as it's not a 'non-porous surface', so I tried a little bit on the edge and found that there wasn't a problem applying or removing the marks. If you're in doubt about any surface, it's best to test it first, just to be sure. On hard surfaces such as glass, the marks will come off if you rub a greasy finger over them, so I think of it as behaving like regular chalk once it's dry. 


I've been using these pens on our whiteboard meal planner, and even on paper which has had a gesso wash. It's worth noting that the colours do not look exactly the same on all the different surfaces - on glass, for example, the light shines through leaving an effect similar to watercolour paint. I think it looks great and this is my favourite use for these pens, being a jar addict! 


As the marks are temporary, I think this opens up lots of opportunities for decorative projects, these are just a few of my favourites, but I'm sure you'll think of plenty more!

  • Jam jar vases (as above) in seasonal colours or to match your table setting/room decor.
  • In place of using wine glass charms, or for indicating place settings at a dinner party - simply write the name on the base of the wine glasses, where the writing is unlikely to rub off.
  • If you have people with special dietary requirements, they can be used to write on the side of the bowl - we have to distinguish vegan and gluten-free food in our family, and this is a really easy and useful way to distinguish the different options (see below). 
  • Jar lanterns - children can make them too, using battery operated flameless candles.  
  • Ever fancied stained-glass windows? You can draw your own.
  • Leave important reminders for yourself or your family on the hallway mirror - they will wash off easily! 

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can use the code 20OFFSTR to get a 20% discount on all Chalk Ola products from Amazon.co.uk or the Chalkola.com website. If you do, please leave a comment and let me know what you plan to use them for!


*The pens were supplied free of charge in return for writing an honest review - all opinions are entirely my own. Amazon links are affiliate links - thank you for using them when you buy from Amazon.co.uk as this helps to support the free content on this blog. 

Show & Tell: Chalk Ola Markers

Ever fancy a quick make-over project, but you're not sure you want to commit to the changes? Or maybe you're planning a party and would like to make some temporary changes? I might just have the answer! I was recently sent some Chalk Ola* premium wet wipe markers. After having fun playing around with them, I can see that they are going to be an essential addition to our craft supplies and think that you might like them too. I've put together some information, project ideas, and a few tips below. At the bottom of the post, you'll find a reader discount code which is valid on the Chalkola Arts website and on Amazon


These water-based chalk pens are non-toxic, safe for children, wash off clothes and if they have any odour, I can't smell it. (They are also acid and Xylene free.) I've been testing two different sets - 10  party colours (above) and 8 earthy colours (below).  The markers are intended for use on all hard non-porous surfaces including glass, whiteboards, mirrors, plastics, chalkboards and ceramics. They wipe off easily with a wet cloth.  


When you open the lid for the first time, there is no paint in the tip - pictured below is a black pen, you can see that the tip is still white. So you need to give the marker a good long shake (with the still lid on) and then depress the tip quickly, multiple times, until the paint appears. I like to make sure there is plenty of ink, for a more vibrant line, so I push it down a few more times before starting to write. If the nib starts to feel a bit dry, depress it again while writing (I keep a spare piece of card on hand to do this).   


We have a chalkboard wall in the children's playroom and I was a bit hesitant about using the pens on it as it's not a 'non-porous surface', so I tried a little bit on the edge and found that there wasn't a problem applying or removing the marks. If you're in doubt about any surface, it's best to test it first, just to be sure. On hard surfaces such as glass, the marks will come off if you rub a greasy finger over them, so I think of it as behaving like regular chalk once it's dry. 


I've been using these pens on our whiteboard meal planner, and even on paper which has had a gesso wash. It's worth noting that the colours do not look exactly the same on all the different surfaces - on glass, for example, the light shines through leaving an effect similar to watercolour paint. I think it looks great and this is my favourite use for these pens, being a jar addict! 


As the marks are temporary, I think this opens up lots of opportunities for decorative projects, these are just a few of my favourites, but I'm sure you'll think of plenty more!

  • Jam jar vases (as above) in seasonal colours or to match your table setting/room decor.
  • In place of using wine glass charms, or for indicating place settings at a dinner party - simply write the name on the base of the wine glasses, where the writing is unlikely to rub off.
  • If you have people with special dietary requirements, they can be used to write on the side of the bowl - we have to distinguish vegan and gluten-free food in our family, and this is a really easy and useful way to distinguish the different options (see below). 
  • Jar lanterns - children can make them too, using battery operated flameless candles.  
  • Ever fancied stained-glass windows? You can draw your own.
  • Leave important reminders for yourself or your family on the hallway mirror - they will wash off easily! 

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can use the code 20OFFSTR to get a 20% discount on all Chalk Ola products from Amazon.co.uk or the Chalkola.com website. If you do, please leave a comment and let me know what you plan to use them for!


*The pens were supplied free of charge in return for writing an honest review - all opinions are entirely my own. Amazon links are affiliate links - thank you for using them when you buy from Amazon.co.uk as this helps to support the free content on this blog. 
With only five weeks until my favourite yarn festival starts, I am getting rather excited. Unravel means a lot to me, for various different reasons - as well as being my most 'local' show (an hour's drive), and the one that was the subject of my first EVER published blog post, it's also the place I get to meet up with (and remember) various friends I've made over the last six years of knitting and blogging. It's part yarny-extravaganza, part 'blogiversary' and part 'weekend away with the girls'. In other words, it's really very special.

I'd love for you to share it - at the bottom of this post, you'll find booking information plus a giveaway for a pair of day tickets, kindly supplied by the festival organisers.

Unravel 2017 artwork, by Stephanie Cole

Regular readers will probably know all about Unravel, but if you're new to the blog, or the festival, you might like to read 10 Tips for Unravel Festival (2015) and Evolution (2013, when I realised that my experience had gone through the stages of overwhelm, shopping-mania and friendship). There are lots of other posts here if you'd like to see previous photos (and stash enhancement) from Unravel!

So what's new for 2017?

Inspired by the glass entrance to the Maltings building, this year Unravel organisers are asking for donations of hand-made birds. Despite the name, they can be knit, crochet or felted and will be used to create a special 'Knit Aviary' exhibition. After the festival, the birds will be sold to raise funds for the charity Step by Step who work to empower local young homeless and vulnerable people - you can read more about the charity here and find full details of the Knit Aviary here


If you'd like to donate to the aviary, please feel free to send any birds to Unravel, Farnham Maltings, Bridge Square, Farnham, GU9 7QR. Include your name if you'd like it to appear on a tag with the bird. Don't have a go-to bird pattern? No problem - you'll find two free patterns on the Unravel website to get you started - a cute little blackbird by Sue Stratford and Beatrice, the Lesser Spotted Malting (above) designed by Belinda Harris-Reid. 

This year sees the return of many Unravel favourites such as Textile Garden, Coop Knits, Easy Knits, Tilly Flop and Debonnaire as well as some vendors you may not have seen unless you've been to other events. (A Yarn Story had an AMAZING selection of yarns at the Yarnporium, so I can't wait to see what is being planned!) See the full exhibitor list here

Find tickets to the Yarntelier Rosette workshop with Louisa Harding here

The teaching lineup at Unravel is always great and this year is no exception - there are various workshops running throughout the weekend with well-known designers such as Nancy Marchant, Rachel Coopey, Juju Vail, Louisa Harding and Renée Callaghan covering everything from Brioche knitting to crochet baskets. Find the details here.

Renee Callaghan aka East London Knit will be running a chunky lace shawl workshop - details here

I'll be there all day Saturday, and will be accompanied by various designer and blogger friends, maybe even a podcaster or two. As people who mainly communicate with our audiences 'virtually', it's lovely to get to have a two-way chat with followers/readers - to hear about you. That is always a major highlight so please please don't be shy - come and say hello if you see us!

The festival runs from Friday 17th February to Sunday 19th February 2017. Until February 12th you can get 'early bird' tickets (limited availability) for £7, after that the price will be £9. Workshop bookings include the entrance fee for the same day as the class. Find further details and book tickets here. The visitor information page should cover anything else you want to know.

One lucky reader can win a pair of tickets (for the day of your choice) simply by leaving a comment on this post letting me know which day you'd prefer. You MUST leave a Ravelry name, Instagram name or another way of contacting you if you win (I had to redraw other giveaways a few times for this reason). The winner will be randomly selected on Friday 27th January and you will be contacted using the method indicated. Good luck!

PS There will be more information about the festival in the coming weeks - if you're going, be sure to subscribe to the blog (in the sidebar) so you don't miss a thing! 

Unravel 2017 preview (& ticket giveaway!!!)

With only five weeks until my favourite yarn festival starts, I am getting rather excited. Unravel means a lot to me, for various different reasons - as well as being my most 'local' show (an hour's drive), and the one that was the subject of my first EVER published blog post, it's also the place I get to meet up with (and remember) various friends I've made over the last six years of knitting and blogging. It's part yarny-extravaganza, part 'blogiversary' and part 'weekend away with the girls'. In other words, it's really very special.

I'd love for you to share it - at the bottom of this post, you'll find booking information plus a giveaway for a pair of day tickets, kindly supplied by the festival organisers.

Unravel 2017 artwork, by Stephanie Cole

Regular readers will probably know all about Unravel, but if you're new to the blog, or the festival, you might like to read 10 Tips for Unravel Festival (2015) and Evolution (2013, when I realised that my experience had gone through the stages of overwhelm, shopping-mania and friendship). There are lots of other posts here if you'd like to see previous photos (and stash enhancement) from Unravel!

So what's new for 2017?

Inspired by the glass entrance to the Maltings building, this year Unravel organisers are asking for donations of hand-made birds. Despite the name, they can be knit, crochet or felted and will be used to create a special 'Knit Aviary' exhibition. After the festival, the birds will be sold to raise funds for the charity Step by Step who work to empower local young homeless and vulnerable people - you can read more about the charity here and find full details of the Knit Aviary here


If you'd like to donate to the aviary, please feel free to send any birds to Unravel, Farnham Maltings, Bridge Square, Farnham, GU9 7QR. Include your name if you'd like it to appear on a tag with the bird. Don't have a go-to bird pattern? No problem - you'll find two free patterns on the Unravel website to get you started - a cute little blackbird by Sue Stratford and Beatrice, the Lesser Spotted Malting (above) designed by Belinda Harris-Reid. 

This year sees the return of many Unravel favourites such as Textile Garden, Coop Knits, Easy Knits, Tilly Flop and Debonnaire as well as some vendors you may not have seen unless you've been to other events. (A Yarn Story had an AMAZING selection of yarns at the Yarnporium, so I can't wait to see what is being planned!) See the full exhibitor list here

Find tickets to the Yarntelier Rosette workshop with Louisa Harding here

The teaching lineup at Unravel is always great and this year is no exception - there are various workshops running throughout the weekend with well-known designers such as Nancy Marchant, Rachel Coopey, Juju Vail, Louisa Harding and Renée Callaghan covering everything from Brioche knitting to crochet baskets. Find the details here.

Renee Callaghan aka East London Knit will be running a chunky lace shawl workshop - details here

I'll be there all day Saturday, and will be accompanied by various designer and blogger friends, maybe even a podcaster or two. As people who mainly communicate with our audiences 'virtually', it's lovely to get to have a two-way chat with followers/readers - to hear about you. That is always a major highlight so please please don't be shy - come and say hello if you see us!

The festival runs from Friday 17th February to Sunday 19th February 2017. Until February 12th you can get 'early bird' tickets (limited availability) for £7, after that the price will be £9. Workshop bookings include the entrance fee for the same day as the class. Find further details and book tickets here. The visitor information page should cover anything else you want to know.

One lucky reader can win a pair of tickets (for the day of your choice) simply by leaving a comment on this post letting me know which day you'd prefer. You MUST leave a Ravelry name, Instagram name or another way of contacting you if you win (I had to redraw other giveaways a few times for this reason). The winner will be randomly selected on Friday 27th January and you will be contacted using the method indicated. Good luck!

PS There will be more information about the festival in the coming weeks - if you're going, be sure to subscribe to the blog (in the sidebar) so you don't miss a thing! 
There was no post planned for today but I couldn't wait to share this news with you because I am SO excited for my dear friend Dedri Uys. I've mentioned her here many times since we first met a couple of years ago, she is a constant source of inspiration to me - and many others - and gives so much back to her (real-life and virtual) community. Since our recent trip together, I've been waiting to tell you about her new book (find her others here*) and the story behind it. 

Let me tell you up front that this post is a great big HOORAH for Dedri who stood by her principles to achieve her dream of getting this book published while staying true to herself and her followers.


The Sophie's Universe pattern was originally published in parts, as a Crochet-along, on Dedri's website in 2015. Despite repeated requests for a printed version of the pattern from many followers who have made, or are making, the stunning heirloom blanket (there are the FOUR AND A HALF THOUSAND PROJECTS on Ravelry alone!), she had trouble getting it published because she wanted to keep the pattern available for free on her blog too. That was very important to her. 

Sign of a good friend - they will pose for you to take a photo of a picture in your
favourite colours on a restaurant wall ... while holding a matching ball of yarn! 

Publishers wouldn't entertain the idea. They wanted her to remove the free instalments so people could only make Sophie's Universe by buying the book. But that wasn't what Dedri wanted - publishing a book was about giving people an additional option, not taking away something she had already given freely, and that she'd put her heart and soul into. People asked for a physical pattern which they could carry around with their project, or as a keepsake accompaniment to finished blankets, and she wanted to make it available.

Luckily Scheepjes stepped in just over a year ago. They understood that she was committed to keeping the free version online too, and agreed to publish the book on these terms. They have been working on it ever since. With such a long and detailed pattern - including extensive supporting photos and tips - the result is a beautiful book with over 200 pages. It guides you through every single step of this advanced crochet pattern so that pretty much anyone can do it. 

The book is a paperback and stitch-bound so it lays flat when you're working, and it's printed on really nice paper (Dedri is a stationery addict, so she's happy!) and the layout and styling have all been handled by a great team including Jane Toft, former Editor-in-chief of Mollie Makes and Simple Things magazines, which might give you an idea of the production standards.

When I first 'met' Sophie, it was love! Look at those details!!! (This is the Stone Washed XL version)

I couldn't be more delighted for Dedri and for Scheepjes, especially when I heard that the initial stock of books listed on her Wool Warehouse shopfront sold out within a couple of hours. She trusted her instinct and it was right - people want to buy the book, even though the pattern is available for free. I suspect many crocheters who have enjoyed her design and finished the blanket will want to buy it to show their gratitude and respect for the huge amount of work that went into the pattern and original CAL. Plus lots of other people who like a printed pattern and haven't made it yet will want it too. Of course, I have placed my order already and have a copy on the way - not that I have time to even think about making 'Sophie' myself! 

If you want to get your hands on a copy, you can order the Sophie's Universe book from Wool Warehouse (for £16.95), where you will also find kits to complete the project in various different Scheepjes yarns. Instructions for Cotton 8, Softfun and Stone Washed XL are included in the book, and there is now also a Colour Crafter version of the kit which includes information on which colours to use/substitute. (Select from the 'Main Pack' options listed here.) It will be available from other stockists soon. 

NOTE: If the book is showing as sold out when you read this, you can sign up to be notified by email when they are re-listed - from what I understand, that won't be long! 

*Affiliate links are included throughout this post. Thank you for using them and supporting Crafts from the Cwtch. 

NEWSFLASH:: Sophie's Universe *BOOK* is now available!

There was no post planned for today but I couldn't wait to share this news with you because I am SO excited for my dear friend Dedri Uys. I've mentioned her here many times since we first met a couple of years ago, she is a constant source of inspiration to me - and many others - and gives so much back to her (real-life and virtual) community. Since our recent trip together, I've been waiting to tell you about her new book (find her others here*) and the story behind it. 

Let me tell you up front that this post is a great big HOORAH for Dedri who stood by her principles to achieve her dream of getting this book published while staying true to herself and her followers.


The Sophie's Universe pattern was originally published in parts, as a Crochet-along, on Dedri's website in 2015. Despite repeated requests for a printed version of the pattern from many followers who have made, or are making, the stunning heirloom blanket (there are the FOUR AND A HALF THOUSAND PROJECTS on Ravelry alone!), she had trouble getting it published because she wanted to keep the pattern available for free on her blog too. That was very important to her. 

Sign of a good friend - they will pose for you to take a photo of a picture in your
favourite colours on a restaurant wall ... while holding a matching ball of yarn! 

Publishers wouldn't entertain the idea. They wanted her to remove the free instalments so people could only make Sophie's Universe by buying the book. But that wasn't what Dedri wanted - publishing a book was about giving people an additional option, not taking away something she had already given freely, and that she'd put her heart and soul into. People asked for a physical pattern which they could carry around with their project, or as a keepsake accompaniment to finished blankets, and she wanted to make it available.

Luckily Scheepjes stepped in just over a year ago. They understood that she was committed to keeping the free version online too, and agreed to publish the book on these terms. They have been working on it ever since. With such a long and detailed pattern - including extensive supporting photos and tips - the result is a beautiful book with over 200 pages. It guides you through every single step of this advanced crochet pattern so that pretty much anyone can do it. 

The book is a paperback and stitch-bound so it lays flat when you're working, and it's printed on really nice paper (Dedri is a stationery addict, so she's happy!) and the layout and styling have all been handled by a great team including Jane Toft, former Editor-in-chief of Mollie Makes and Simple Things magazines, which might give you an idea of the production standards.

When I first 'met' Sophie, it was love! Look at those details!!! (This is the Stone Washed XL version)

I couldn't be more delighted for Dedri and for Scheepjes, especially when I heard that the initial stock of books listed on her Wool Warehouse shopfront sold out within a couple of hours. She trusted her instinct and it was right - people want to buy the book, even though the pattern is available for free. I suspect many crocheters who have enjoyed her design and finished the blanket will want to buy it to show their gratitude and respect for the huge amount of work that went into the pattern and original CAL. Plus lots of other people who like a printed pattern and haven't made it yet will want it too. Of course, I have placed my order already and have a copy on the way - not that I have time to even think about making 'Sophie' myself! 

If you want to get your hands on a copy, you can order the Sophie's Universe book from Wool Warehouse (for £16.95), where you will also find kits to complete the project in various different Scheepjes yarns. Instructions for Cotton 8, Softfun and Stone Washed XL are included in the book, and there is now also a Colour Crafter version of the kit which includes information on which colours to use/substitute. (Select from the 'Main Pack' options listed here.) It will be available from other stockists soon. 

NOTE: If the book is showing as sold out when you read this, you can sign up to be notified by email when they are re-listed - from what I understand, that won't be long! 

*Affiliate links are included throughout this post. Thank you for using them and supporting Crafts from the Cwtch. 
Making time for daily artistic practice is high on my list of priorities this year, for no other reason than it lights me up. On busy days, it might be something as simple as a doodle while I'm on the phone, just for the enjoyment of the doing. When there is more time, I'm following prompts from a few different online classes/groups which are encouraging me to try different things.
Don't do it for a reason or an end goal, do it because you love doing it. Follow it without knowing where it will lead. ~ Rebecca Campbell, Light is the New Black
With a creative following, I'm sure that many of you also get a joyful feeling from artistic practice, and I also know there are lots of reasons not to make time for it - let's be honest, it feels a bit indulgent in our busy lives. I'm sending this post out as a nudge to anyone who is holding back - I suspect the most common reasons are not having the skills, supplies or time, or being too busy raising a family. Those were my own excuses, but this is what I've discovered:

1. It's incredibly good fun to try new things (& get messy)

You really don't have to be 'good' at art to have fun. In fact, the less attached to the outcome you are, the more fun it is. Unlike knitting and crochet (or other crafts), if you consider the end product to be incidental to the fun of 'making', you can let rip, make a mess, and enjoy it even more. 


Working on the 'warm up' session from Life Book 2017
Historically I've enjoyed drawing people, and always wanted them to look like people, but I recently discovered the joy of mixed media art and love it. It needn't look like anything - it's just fun! With mixed media, it doesn't even matter if you don't think you can draw - you can find images and text that you like elsewhere, and turn them into something new. There's something very liberating about slapping some gel medium on the page, ripping things up and sticking them on, and then decorating over the top of it. Going back to making basic shapes with a pen is also great fun! 

2. You don't need many supplies (unless you want them)

You can enjoy making art with minimal supplies - just a pen or pencil and some paper - and it's likely that you will also have some other supplies around the house, especially if you have children. (Of course, it's also possible to go crazy with supplies, but I'm not there yet!) Little Miss has been ripping up paper bags and drawing on those, then experimenting with different pens we have around the house - including adding water to the lines to make the ink run - she got some really cool effects from this and it was good practice for not being attached to the outcome, which was unknown.

3.  It needn't take long

Even if you only have a little bit of time, you can do something fun and creative. If you'd like to be painting masterpieces, but only have time for a sketchpad doodle, the doodle is better than nothing and will probably help to scratch the itch.

These days, I always have an art journal on the go, and even when there isn't time to 'sit and create', I might put a watercolour wash or splatter a bit of paint over a blank page as a starting point for later. (If you're intimidated by a blank sheet of paper this is also a great way to get started!)

Detail from my art journal - a 5 minute session from the  Lisa Congdon Bootcamp on Creativebug*

4. It's fun to do together 

Little Miss is seven and still wants to do things with me, but she gets frustrated when I'm knitting - her knitting is much slower than mine and her concentration span isn't great when she can't see quick results. However, she is an enthusiastic artist and just loves drawing or painting side-by-side. On Sunday mornings we can often be found with the kitchen table covered in glue and paint, music playing in the background. It's a lovely way to spend an hour or two, is more productive than being sat in front of a screen, and I hope it might be a way to stay connected with her as she grows up.

First part of the Lisa Congdon Bootcamp on Creativebug* by Little Miss - follow her progress at @artbybubsy

5. It's relaxing and meditative

If you choose to let go and enjoy the process, making art - whether drawn, painted, or glued on - is very relaxing. I frequently loose all track of time and find it to be very meditative. I also find a lot of insight waiting for me in those moments, if I take a moment to listen. In these times of rushing around and constant noise, that can only be a good thing.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What is it that lights you up? Are you making the time for it in your daily life? What could you do to fit it in? 

*Affiliate. Click here to get a free month's Creativebug trial including access to ALL content (plus 30% discount at Jo-Ann in the US)! 

Five great things about making art

Making time for daily artistic practice is high on my list of priorities this year, for no other reason than it lights me up. On busy days, it might be something as simple as a doodle while I'm on the phone, just for the enjoyment of the doing. When there is more time, I'm following prompts from a few different online classes/groups which are encouraging me to try different things.
Don't do it for a reason or an end goal, do it because you love doing it. Follow it without knowing where it will lead. ~ Rebecca Campbell, Light is the New Black
With a creative following, I'm sure that many of you also get a joyful feeling from artistic practice, and I also know there are lots of reasons not to make time for it - let's be honest, it feels a bit indulgent in our busy lives. I'm sending this post out as a nudge to anyone who is holding back - I suspect the most common reasons are not having the skills, supplies or time, or being too busy raising a family. Those were my own excuses, but this is what I've discovered:

1. It's incredibly good fun to try new things (& get messy)

You really don't have to be 'good' at art to have fun. In fact, the less attached to the outcome you are, the more fun it is. Unlike knitting and crochet (or other crafts), if you consider the end product to be incidental to the fun of 'making', you can let rip, make a mess, and enjoy it even more. 


Working on the 'warm up' session from Life Book 2017
Historically I've enjoyed drawing people, and always wanted them to look like people, but I recently discovered the joy of mixed media art and love it. It needn't look like anything - it's just fun! With mixed media, it doesn't even matter if you don't think you can draw - you can find images and text that you like elsewhere, and turn them into something new. There's something very liberating about slapping some gel medium on the page, ripping things up and sticking them on, and then decorating over the top of it. Going back to making basic shapes with a pen is also great fun! 

2. You don't need many supplies (unless you want them)

You can enjoy making art with minimal supplies - just a pen or pencil and some paper - and it's likely that you will also have some other supplies around the house, especially if you have children. (Of course, it's also possible to go crazy with supplies, but I'm not there yet!) Little Miss has been ripping up paper bags and drawing on those, then experimenting with different pens we have around the house - including adding water to the lines to make the ink run - she got some really cool effects from this and it was good practice for not being attached to the outcome, which was unknown.

3.  It needn't take long

Even if you only have a little bit of time, you can do something fun and creative. If you'd like to be painting masterpieces, but only have time for a sketchpad doodle, the doodle is better than nothing and will probably help to scratch the itch.

These days, I always have an art journal on the go, and even when there isn't time to 'sit and create', I might put a watercolour wash or splatter a bit of paint over a blank page as a starting point for later. (If you're intimidated by a blank sheet of paper this is also a great way to get started!)

Detail from my art journal - a 5 minute session from the  Lisa Congdon Bootcamp on Creativebug*

4. It's fun to do together 

Little Miss is seven and still wants to do things with me, but she gets frustrated when I'm knitting - her knitting is much slower than mine and her concentration span isn't great when she can't see quick results. However, she is an enthusiastic artist and just loves drawing or painting side-by-side. On Sunday mornings we can often be found with the kitchen table covered in glue and paint, music playing in the background. It's a lovely way to spend an hour or two, is more productive than being sat in front of a screen, and I hope it might be a way to stay connected with her as she grows up.

First part of the Lisa Congdon Bootcamp on Creativebug* by Little Miss - follow her progress at @artbybubsy

5. It's relaxing and meditative

If you choose to let go and enjoy the process, making art - whether drawn, painted, or glued on - is very relaxing. I frequently loose all track of time and find it to be very meditative. I also find a lot of insight waiting for me in those moments, if I take a moment to listen. In these times of rushing around and constant noise, that can only be a good thing.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What is it that lights you up? Are you making the time for it in your daily life? What could you do to fit it in? 

*Affiliate. Click here to get a free month's Creativebug trial including access to ALL content (plus 30% discount at Jo-Ann in the US)! 

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