Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Cwtch-speak: "Trial Sausage"

If you have ever cooked on a BBQ you may recognise the point at which the fire is not really ready (too much flame, not enough white coals), but you really want to get on and cook something. In our family this is the point at which a "trial sausage" is deployed. A sausage is placed on the BBQ, and we know it will probably end up blackened on the outside before it's cooked inside - in short, it will be inedible - yet still we cook it, because to wait seems interminable. The trial sausage has a purpose other than being eaten, it's function is to fill time and get us to the point at which the fire is ready. 

Our make-along starts on Friday (May 1st) and I can't wait... there's a trial "sausage"...
Spun Gold
The pattern is Spun Gold by Kat Goldin - a brand new release (and complete curve-ball, as I'd already decided to start with another) which is available at a 20% discount using the code CFTCMAKEALONG. I'm practicing the pattern with some old Noro I have laying around, and, to follow the metaphor, it's not intended to be 'edible' but it's helping to fill the time while I decide which pattern and yarn I'll start with on Friday. 

The design is perfectly simple and very beginner-friendly, although I still feel like I'm reading a foreign language. (I'm not fluent in written crochet - I prefer charts - and already had to rip it out once when I realised I was using a "US dc" and not a "UK dc" as required.) The very point of the make-along, and the reason I'm making a crochet shawl instead of knitting, is to try something new and it already feels good. If you want to join us the info you need is all here

Note: If a trial sausage is left on the BBQ for long enough, it may be ok for the dog to eat - he doesn't mind that it's not perfectly cooked. I'm not yet sure how much more of this I'll make, who knows... 
Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Have you seen....?

Today, a selection of things from my growing list of things to tell you about....

1. Wink's new book Boho Crochet is now on general release (I even spotted it in my tiny village library!). I was very lucky to have a hand-delivered (early) copy back in February and love it.  
The patterns are from a select group of designers including Wink, who is contributing editor, and are based on traditional folk designs but the designs are anything but old-fashioned. As you might expect from Wink, the projects, yarns and photography are all completely gorgeous. I'll publish a more detailed review in another post, but had to mention it before our Make-along begins as Wink's Dancing Hearts wrap is one of the patterns and is another great option for those wanting to make a crochet shawl - it's stunning. Wink wore another version of this to Unravel (different colourway) and was frequently stopped and asked about it.

EDIT: Wink has set it up so that if participants want to purchase this as an individual pattern from Ravelry, the CFTCMAKEALONG code will work!! Thanks, Wink! 
Pattern: Dancing Hearts Wrap / Photo Credit: A Creative Being

2. The Knitters Toolbox iphone app by Amy Herzog is now available on iTunes. It's priced at £3.99 in the UK, which makes it one of the more expensive apps, but I'm sure it will come in really useful when customising projects or designing from scratch. I've just downloaded it and I'll let you know what I think. This short video gives a quick overview in the meantime. 

3. Last week on our Ravelry group, I announced that Helen Stewart is offering Make-along participants a discount on three of her gorgeous knitted shawl patterns. Use the code CFTCMAKEALONG to get 20% off these beauties. 
Pattern: Pebble Beach Shawlette / Photo Credit: Helen Stewart

Pattern: Fireflies Rising / Photo Credit: Helen Stewart

Pattern: Radiance / Photo Credit: Helen Stewart
4. The Make-along starts on May 1st - that's this coming Friday, you still have time to join us - so I'll be back soon with a few banners you can download to use on your blog/social media accounts, and a preview of some of the prizes that will be up for grabs! If you can't wait to chat about it, come on over for the group discussion - we are showing our yarns and pattern choices. 
Sunday, 26 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: Help with techniques

A key part of the Make-along is to knit or crochet a shawl which will help to expand your skills. For some this means switching to the 'non-dominant' craft and for others, this will include trying new techniques. Most good knitting patterns will include instructions for stitches that are not commonly used, or which may be new to the intended audience (based on the skill-level).
UntitledHere is a list of helpful tips and links I've been compiling, based on different conversations and questions on the Ravelry group or social media. A few of the links will take you to my tutorials and others are to free content from Craftsy* and Creativebug*. A couple of more complex "paid" options are also listed, and this is clearly stated.
  • Managing multiple-balls of yarn. If you're trying stripes or colourwork, you may like this very simple technique for keeping your yarn balls separate. I took the picture while knitting two-at-a-time socks, but the method is suitable for any project where you're using more than one ball of yarn at a time. Using centre-pull balls also helps.
  • Garter Tab Cast On - one of my own photo tutorials for a technique which is commonly used for shawls as it gives a nice neat start to a top-down centre-out project. 
  • Blocking your finished item, whether knit or crochet, will make a world of difference. You can find the basics on my Introduction to Blocking post. (There is a detailed "paid" class with expert Kate Atherley which is on sale at the time of writing this post).
  • If you're an iphone user there is a useful (paid) app called KnittingHelp Video Reference. When I was learning to knit, this was my go-to resource whenever I needed to check how to work any of the stitches listed in a pattern. It takes up quite a bit of space on your device, but can be accessed offline and the videos cover both 'English' and 'Continental' knitting ('throwing' and 'picking') for the different stitches and techniques.
Hopefully, this list covers most of the things people have been asking about already. If you're considering a new technique and could do with some help or would like to know where you can find guidance, feel free to hop on over to the CftC Community Group and leave your question or comment there. As well as it being a lovely helpful group with lots of experience, I'll  see what I can find.

*I am an affiliate of both, because I enjoy their high-quality content and expert instructors. I am very happy to recommend them both as I spend my own time and money with them. You can read more about this here
Thursday, 23 April 2015

Calling All 'Bag Ladies' - An Interview with Jordana Paige

I have been looking for a new 'knitting bag'. Well, when I say knitting bag, what I really mean is a nice handbag which is also good for carrying knitting... plus all the other things I need. And so began a journey which has resulted in (virtually) meeting  a very inspiring woman,  a new affiliation* for the blog and a generous discount for any readers also wanting to go on a shopping spree. Her name is synonymous with two of my favourite things - knitting and handbags. I hope you will enjoy finding out more about Jordana Paige, and reading her advice to aspiring designers. 

I'm delighted to have you on the blog. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you tell us how you got started in business?
I was eighteen years old and in my first year of college. I had picked up knitting in high school. This was the early 2000's when everyone and her mother (mine included) was knitting. I wanted a knitting bag that looked like a nice handbag, but had pockets for organizing a project, tools and daily items inside. I couldn't find what I wanted. I realized that with the popularity of knitting, I probably wasn't the only knitter wanting a more stylish and functional option. I pitched the idea to my parents and got to work figuring out how to get the first bag made.

What were the biggest challenges for you in the early days?
Everything was a challenge! I had zero experience in every category so I was learning every piece of running a business - sourcing, manufacturing, customer service, finances, website, marketing - you name it. Plus, I was going to school and working a part-time job.

Sourcing and getting the manufacturing done was the biggest challenge though. Without the product in my hands, I didn't have much of a business. I was originally going to make the bags myself. After a year of trying to source materials, not being able to meet the large minimum orders and not being taken seriously as a young woman, I decided to research manufacturing. 

That was scary and full of its own challenges. I didn't know how to sketch a tech drawing. I didn't know much about materials, costs, the manufacturing process or what elements to avoid or include in a good handbag design. The learning curve was steep.

How has this changed over the years?
The challenges still abound, but everything I listed above is now much easier. I didn't learn everything at once. I learned through my experiences and developed myself as a designer and business owner by tackling each new challenge head on.

One of the businesswomen I enjoy following is Marie Forleo. Her mantra is "everything is figureoutable." And it is. You just have to want to figure it out.

Where do you get your inspiration for new designs?
I design from the inside out. I usually start with how I want the bag to function - how it will be used in a day and what it will carry. This dictates the size. I consider both how I personally use handbags and also what customers tell me. From there I play with shapes - combining elements and details I've seen in other designs with my personal aesthetic. It all comes back to function though. If I start on a design that doesn't make sense for how the bag would be used, I start over.

You call yourself a solo-preneur - what does a typical day look like for you now?
My tasks each day vary, so I can't say there's really a typical day. I usually start with answering customer emails. Some days I work on creating content for my blog and analyzing website traffic, other days I'm scheduling social media posts and contacting bloggers for collaborations. Some of my favorite days are spent taking photos for the blog and social media. I no longer live in the same city as my warehouse so a few days a week I drive an hour to ship orders and sneak in some rock climbing with a friend. There's variety in the work. That's what I love so much.

Do you get much time to knit?
Not really, but right now it's by choice. After years of being on deadline to knit samples and write patterns, the relaxing, enjoyable part of knitting faded for me. I still love the craft, but it's not my nightly ritual like it used to be. When I do knit, it's what I call brainless knitting. I'm not keeping notes to turn it into a pattern to sell. I'm knitting a pre-written pattern that I don't have to pay much attention to as I go. That brings the relaxation element back for me.

What is next for Jordana Paige, personally and as 'a brand'?
Personally, this year is a big one for me. I just got engaged (yay!). I will be moving from California to Michigan to be with my fiance in May. It's a lot of change, planning and coordinating happening all at once.

As for the brand, I'm working to expand my target by offering handbags designed for all women, not only knitters. The handbag industry is highly competitive. The new direction is pushing and challenging me like when I started the business. 

Finally, what would you say to someone with aspirations to be a designer? Do you have any advice?
If it's your passion, always be designing. The more you design, the better you'll become. It takes a lot of "bleh" work before you really find your style and voice. I look back on some of the things I designed early on and cringe. I'm sure ten years from now I could look back and think the same of today's work. That's to be expected. The more you pump out, the better you will become. Everything takes practice.

You can find Jordana's knitting designs on Ravelry. She also has a great blog and a Facebook groupIf you'd like to get your hands on any of her gorgeous handbags, she is offering 20% discount to Crafts from the Cwtch readers, until 15th June 2015. Simply use the code CWTCH at checkout. (International shipping options are available.)

*Affiliate links are included in this post. Find more about affiliate links & blog sponsorship here. 
Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: Crochet Part 2 and more discounts

With just over a week until the start of the Make-along, things are looking pretty good here - I have yarn,  know I'll be crocheting my shawl (I haven't followed a crochet shawl pattern before - that's my challenge) and I've narrowed the selection down to just two of the designs posted here. The plan is to swatch both and see which I'd prefer to make.

My yarn is a skein of squishy merino which has been specially hand-dyed for the make-along by The Captain and Lovely.  The photos really don't do justice to the dapples of yellow and pink and the delicate shades of green, but I tried my best to capture them. If you missed the details of this yarn offer, you can find them here

If you're still not sure what to make, I have more crochet temptation today for you. All are available with a 20% discount, using the code CFTCMAKEALONG, until the end of the month. Be sure to "add to cart" in order to apply the discount.

Pattern: Alchemilla by Kat Goldin / Photo Credit: Kat Goldin

Pattern: Dappled Glade by Alice Leadbeter / Photo Credit: Kat Goldin

Pattern: Melas by Jacqui Harding / Photo Credit: Kat Goldin

Pattern: Siblyback by Anniken Allis / Photo Credit: Kat Goldin

Pattern: Silene by Joanne Scrace / Photo Credit: Kat Goldin

Pattern: Hilo by Joanne Scrace / Photo Credit: Britt Spring

#cftcmakealongIf that isn't enough to tempt you, I've also just announced three more fab knitting patterns on sale to participants from Helen Stewart, plus an exclusive discount from Jordana Paige - knitting and handbags (affiliate link) over on the CftC Community Ravelry group. We are also chatting about patterns and yarn and getting to know one another. Please don't be shy, we'd love to have you join us.

There is a growing list of things I wanted to tell you about, but haven't had the time for - I'll be back soon with some of those. Stay tuned! 
Monday, 20 April 2015

Embracing the "Ugly" - #LoveYourBlog week 3

Today's prompt for the Love Your Blog Challenge is "Ugly". Had I not already written about it, this post would most certainly have been about the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi which is evident in many of my photographs, like the one below - a 'weed' with a dark blemish, and a hair (or fibre?) on it. 
It is these very "imperfect" aspects which make me like this picture. Although they may be considered ugly by some, they make it much more interesting to me. Was the hair left by a passing animal or human? Or is it something that flew in on the breeze? Where did it come from? Is the black mark the first sign of natural decay, or a scar left by something?  I like that you can tell which direction the sun is coming from and I wonder if the flower will open more or change direction much as the sun moves.

I had been thinking about all of these things when I came across Lisa Congdon's Doodling Manifesto again. I'd read it before, but while thinking about the concept of ugliness and imperfection, I saw that it's not just applicable to doodling but also to blogging, creating, designing and any other aspect of life. Here are some key points which really stood out
- You are the boss of your art" [substitute 'art' with: blog, crafting, designs, life, etc.... ] - you get to do what inspires YOU. 
- Imperfection Rules. Embrace the imperfections.
- Everything you draw [write, make, do] is part of your journey, in Lisa's words
Everything you draw (even the stuff you don’t like) is part of your journey. It’s important to remember that even when you want to rip something out of your sketchbook because it is SO UGLY (and even if you do, and you can), the exercise of “making mistakes” or pushing something on the page too far when you should have just left it alone (sound familiar?) is all part of the journey of making art (regardless if you are a doodler or a professional artist). We learn & grow from those experiences. It’s important to learn to embrace the ugly, the mistakes, the “that looked so good until I added that color” moments. It’s all part of your path.
I can relate to this on so many levels, not just in my sketchbook but in my blog posts, in my knitting, when planning designs and even in things I do with the children. Yes, I'm really starting to embrace the ugly,  and it turns out that it's not so "ugly" at all. How about you? 
Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: Knitting Patterns (and more discounts)

**Enabling alert!!!** Last week, after launching the Make-along for Knitters AND Crocheters, I shared some great crochet shawl patterns from Joanne Scrace, so today I have a selection of five gorgeous knitting patterns for your consideration.  These shawls are all from designers I'm loving at the moment, and what's more, they have generously offered a discount to Make-along participants. Click the images or the links below them to visit the relevant Ravelry page. To apply the code, add the pattern(s) to your basket (don't click 'buy now').

Before I show you the designs, here's a little reminder of 'the rules' for the make-along which starts on May 1st. The project you pick is up to you but should have three key elements:
1.  It can be knit, crochet or a combination of both
2. It should be a 'transitional' item - suitable for the changing seasons where you are
3. It should involve something new for you - a technique you haven't tried, difficulty level, your non-dominant craft or maybe you'd like to design it yourself. Whatever you choose it should stretch your skills in some way. With that in mind, here are this week's suggestions...

I know that I'm not the only one to have a crush on Aisling, the new shawl from Lete's Knits. The code CFTCMAKEALONG will get you a 20% discount off this stunning two-skein design.
Pattern: Aisling by Justyna Lorkowska /  Photo Credit: Marcin Duca

Regular readers will know that Truly Myrtle is one of my favourite blogs and I was so happy when Libby started publishing her designs. All three of Libby's shawl patterns are being included in the Make-along discount - use the code CFTCMAKEALONG to get 20% off until the end of May!  
Pattern: Darling Dotty by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle
Pattern: Settler Shawl by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle
Pattern: Antipodes by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle

Anthony Casalena is an up-and-coming designer who has been wowing my Instagram feed lately with his long crescents of garter stitch, texture and colour. When I suggested his patterns on our Ravelry group, he popped in to say that he is offering a 15% discount with the code MADMAY15, if anyone would like to use it to purchase individual patterns from his collection. This is my favourite - you will find others on Ravelry
Pattern: Baridee by Anthony Casalena / Photo Credit: acaselena_crafted

When you've decided on the pattern (or even if you're not quiet sure yet) you'll probably need some new yarn - it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?

Charlotte from The Captain and Lovely has hand dyed a special batch of her 100% organic merino for Make-along participants - the colourway is called Sea Breeze and it has been dyed with a subtle variation so it won't overpower the design you've chosen. This super-squishy yarn comes in 100g / 330m skeins, and is available exclusively (with a 20% discount already applied) here.

Note that this discount will also apply to standard colourways, or if you'd like your merino to be custom dyed. To purchase any other colour, email Charlotte, quoting 'CFTCMAKEALONG' and she will issue a special invoice.

There will be more crochet patterns and yarn (and discounts) next Tuesday. In the meantime, check out the CftC Communtity group on Ravelry for more chat, pattern discussions, and early notification of special offers - it's the perfect excuse to stop lurking and join us! 
Monday, 13 April 2015

#LoveYourBlog week 2 : Beginnings

This week's 'Love Your Blog' prompt is 'Beginnings'. I already wrote all about how Crafts from the Cwtch began on A Playful Day Blog, so I won't repeat that here - please pop on over to read it if you're interested to find out more about that, as well as some tips for "loving" your blog. 

Following the beginning of the challenge last week, various things have happened as a direct result. Today's post is a bit of a round-up:
* New relationships. I probably managed to read about half of the posts from the first prompt, which is pretty good considering it's the Spring holiday and I've been busy with the children. I had a great time and found some new blogs to follow (also re-discovered a few I'd lost touch with over the last few years - they have been added to Bloglovin') .
Crafts from the Cwtch
*New Commenting Protocol. I got a little frustrated by some of the posts where I was really engaged by the writing but couldn't easily comment. Sometimes I didn't realise this until I'd taken a long time to reply. It made me go back to double-check my own settings. I had disabled the verification process a couple of years ago, but I've now relaxed it further so that anyone can comment easily (I've changed the settings for moderating the comments to counter-balance this).

* New Community. After reading so many posts from crocheters, on Tuesday I announced that the planned 'knitalong' would become a 'shawl make-along' for knitters and crocheters. Did you miss the announcement? Find it here. I am so excited to have long-time followers commenting and joining in for the first time as a result of this little change, as well as many new followers on the blog, and on social media. Welcome!
New Yarn
I got yarn to start a new design too... but that's more of an aside! 

* New Name. The Ravelry group for our knitalongs also changed, and has now become the "Crafts from the Cwtch Community" group - we're chatting about the make-along on there right now if you care to join us.

* New Support. Response to the 'make-along' announcement has been fabulous. As well as enthusiastic participants planning their projects, lots of lovely sponsors and designers have come forward to offer support. I already posted some crochet inspiration, and there will be another post of knitting pattern inspiration as well as some exclusive discounts tomorrow - sssshhhh, there may be a sneak preview for members of the Ravelry group. (If you missed 'The Shawl Project' review and discount, you can find it here!)

So it's been quite a week, and I definitely feel a new rush of enthusiasm and love for the blog and the community around it. Thanks to everyone who has joined in and left a comment or offer of support - you are awesome. I'd love to hear if anything exciting has begun for you in the last week, please leave an easier-than-ever comment! 
Thursday, 9 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: The Shawl Project

An important element of the forthcoming shawl 'Make-along' is trying something new. I've already knitted a lot of shawls but a crochet shawl - which I have yet to try - has been on my mind since I spoke to Joanne Scrace about The Shawl Project at Unravel.  
I'll back up a little here for anyone who doesn't follow Joanne (Not So Granny) already - The Shawl Project Book One is a new collection of patterns which she recently published with Kat Goldin. Through The Crochet Project, this talented pair have been working to change the perception of crochet, bringing it up to date and making it more wearable. The book continues this tradition, but with something extra. 

In addition to six designs - each constructed in a different way - the second section is a guide to designing your own shawl using the same construction methods. The book also contains great advice on choosing the right yarn, achieving beautiful drape, how to swatch (yes, that again!) and how to block your finished item and care for it for years to come. In short, it's fab! I caught up with Joanne this week, and asked her a few more questions about the book. You can read her responses below, where you'll also find an exclusive discount code for Make-along participants. 

Here are the shawls, all designed by Joanne to be beginner-friendly single-skein projects...
Cherry Pi by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Never Black by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Northmoor Lock by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Spirographical by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Transposition by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
You Mileage May Vary by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
I love the patterns and the 'design your own' aspects of TSP, what was the inspiration behind it?
Back in summer last year I became mildly obsessed with crochet shawls. I was wearing Hilo and Silene to death and getting so many lovely comments. I knew that I wanted to explore crochet shawls and learn how to shape them. When I began looking into different shaping methods I found that the information was relatively sparse for knitters and almost non-existent for crocheters (because of different stitch heights we have to understand the shaping more deeply for it to work). So basically, I wrote the book I wanted to buy. 

When you were writing the book, who did you think would buy it? Was your prediction right? (I ask this as you seemed surprised when the print copy sold out so quickly. )
I was pretty afraid that no-one would but I hoped that it would sell to people who wanted to start creating their own designs and also to people who wanted to make some crochet shawls. 
I've been bowled over by the reaction to the book. Its selling to everyone from designers, as a resource, to novice crocheters, using the patterns as a progressive way to build their skills. - I love this aspect of the book that it will take you the whole way through your crochet journey.

As well as the community aspect of the 'make-along' I'd really like people to take the opportunity to try something different - this is the reason I'm going to try a crochet shawl and I'm hoping other "knitters" might try too. What are your top tips for making a gorgeous crochet shawl? 
- Choose some beautiful yarn - each shawl uses just 100g of 4ply/fingering. Using a quality, slightly drapey yarn will make even the simplest stitches sing.
- Practice the stitch before you start. Its much less frustrating to learn the stitch pattern over 40 sts than over 200!
- Pick the shawl you want to wear - I find this gives me better motivation for finishing than picking one because its the right difficulty level. 
- If you are a novice crocheter I recommend Northmoor Lock, Your Mileage May Vary or Spirographical. Cherry Pi and Transposition are not too much more difficult but will require a little more concentration and knowledge. Never Black is the trickiest because its such a large repeat.
- Block it when you finish - just like knitting, crochet shawls need a jolly good block to look their very best.

Finally, when can we expect 'Book Two'? 
Its in the planning stages and you can expect some beautiful shawls with a more autumnal feel and some new constructions explored. Its slated for Autumn 2015.

As I mentioned, the first print run sold out in a single weekend but don't worry, you can download the ebook right now from Ravelry if you can't wait for a hard copy (which should be available in May). Even better, participants of the Make-along can get 20% off using the code CFTCMAKEALONG - it can also be used for the other shawls linked in the interview and can be used more than once. 

I have some other great shawl patterns from designers offering a discount for our make-along (both knit and crochet) to share with you in the next week or so, and will also be announcing some generous giveaway prizes. Stay tuned here and on the (renamed) CftC Community Ravelry group so you don't miss a thing! 
Wednesday, 8 April 2015

All change - "Knitters" and "Crocheters" Unite!!

My hands have been fairly idle over the holidays (if you discount the cooking, driving kids around etc...) and it's given my brain some time to think about the annual Spring "knitalong". Of the various kals I've hosted so far, my personal favourite was the 'Next Step Sock Knitalong'. I loved that one in particular because it gave knitters of all levels the chance to participate and to expand their skills - with the help of others in the group where necessary. For our new knitalong I was specifically looking for a Shawl / scarf project - something that would suit the transitional weather in either hemisphere - but finding one pattern that will suit a wide range of skills and experience isn't easy, so I started looking at 'pattern collections' - the 'Pick-A-Boo Kal' was very popular and resulted in some truly awesome finished projects, some more complicated than others.

While all of these things were going through my mind, the first #LoveYourBlog challenge posts popped up all over the internet, on the subject of "Interactions and Community" (see mine here). Reading various posts and comment threads one theme kept appearing - crocheters said they sometimes feel that they are on the outside, looking in at all the knitters. I was quite astounded to read this! Several of my own favourite bloggers are primarily crocheters, so I see a lot of crochet. As I can do both (but prefer knitting - I am much more proficient at it) I really hadn't ever considered that people who only crochet might feel this way. Yet it came up various times on the posts and comments I read and made me stop to re-consider plans for the 'Knitalong'. The whole point of a knitalong is to foster community and work together. I started to rethink things... 

Imagine if people could join in to knit and crochet, or both! Imagine if we could make shawls, in whichever way we prefer, but while all seeking to stretch our skills together! New knitters and crocheters could use patterns to develop their skills, more experienced crafters could try new techniques or more complicated stitch patterns. And imagine if some of the knitters wanted to try crochet and vice versa! What if we could do this? Wouldn't it be awesome? 
So I'm proposing that we scratch the 'knitalong' in favour of a 'make-along' (is there a more snappy name?). It will start on May 1st  - that's the Bank holiday weekend here in the UK - so there is plenty of time to get your yarn and pattern ready. The aim will be to make a transitional shawl/neck accessory using a technique or construction method which is new to you. Feel free to interpret that however you want. Over the next few weeks, I'll post pictures and link to pattern ideas and yarn inspiration, which we can also share on the Ravelry group I'm sure we'll end up inspiring each other and having a lot of fun!

What do you think? Are you up for this? Please let me know with a comment here, via social media (Instagram, Facebook or Twitter) or email. I've also started a new thread on the Ravelry group which is a perfect place to link up to pattern suggestions. Hope to see you there!   

Monday, 6 April 2015

Interactions and Community - #LoveYourBlog week 1

A Playful Day
As I mentioned last week, I'll be joining in with the Love Your Blog challenge each week in April. The challenge is part of a bigger project called An Inspired 2015 and you can read all about both at A Playful Day, where Kate is posting weekly themes/prompts and link-ups for the blog-along. If you're a new blogger looking for some help getting started, a lapsed-blogger who has fallen out of love (or routine) with your blog, or anything in between, this challenge is suitable for you!  

This week's prompt is Interactions and Community. When I first saw it, the timing felt perfect as I'd just got back from my day with the "Instagrannies" - a group of crafters from Instagram.  

It had started quietly with introductions and chatter which was mostly limited to our projects, crafts, blogs, mutual acquaintances and such. At first we sat around the table working on our own projects and most of our talk was polite and 'on topic'. By lunchtime we had started sharing stories about our selves and our families. The common experience of being women, mothers, and humans of a broadly similar age became more evident and we opened up, laughing and discussing our lives with one another. Barriers began to drop. By the afternoon we were having riotous conversations which are not for discussion here (what goes on at Instagrannies stays at Instagrannies!) - the only thing suitable for sharing with you is this a picture of a very handsome actor and an equally lovely alpaca... 
I didn't manage much knitting after lunch -  we were all too busy chatting and laughing and I left with an aching face. On the drive home, I started thinking about the very real community of crafters in my life as a result of my presence here on the blog and via social media (Instagram is the "place" I enjoy the most). It was the first time I'd met almost all of these women but I left feeling I'd spent the day with new friends and am sure I'll be meeting up with many - if not all - again. This experience isn't limited to the women I met last Saturday - it's been happening for the last four years, and much of it began right here with comments from regular readers, and by joining in with blog link-ups. 

Two years ago I wrote about a personal evolution - my annual trip to Unravel knitting festival had been less about yarn than people - this is an evolution which has continued (to the point of inviting people-I-wanted-to-get-to-know to come to dinner at this year's Unravel). Several people I count as true friends would not have come into my life without knitting, blogging and all that has come from it. Four years ago I existed in two very distinct worlds with very little overlap. Over time the balance has shifted considerably. The graphic isn't a scientific representation, but I think you'll get the gist...
I believe that something happens when you connect with people over a common interest (and that could really be anything - my "Tribe" just happen to be yarn crafters). It is the first step towards dropping your guard, sharing yourself and connecting with others. 

So how does this relate to loving your blog? Well, I believe that if you write honestly and can find your voice - regardless of what it is you write about - you'll attract readers who relate to what you're saying. How will you know? They will start to interact. It's important to note that it may not necessarily be on the blog post itself - it may spill into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or wherever your people feel most comfortable. (It may also depend on your spam settings - you can read my thoughts on that, and on commenting, here.) 

If you take the time to write a blog you're probably doing it because you have something you want to say (even if you're not exactly sure what it is you want to say). It is a time-consuming activity, and posting regularly takes commitment so if your words are unread (or appear to be) it can feel like a wasted effort. This is why interaction and community - having a two-way conversation - are essential to truly finding your blog 'love'.

Throughout April I'm looking forward to reading as many of the other 'Love Your Blog' posts as I can, to finding new voices that resonate with me, and to interacting with the community Kate has drawn together through A Playful Day. For anyone visiting for the first time, don't be shy - if you've enjoyed this post, please leave a comment... and come back again. 

If you'd like to join the Crafts from the Cwtch "community" you may like to say hello on Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter although I'm not there very often). EDITED: after reading other posts, the Spring Knitalong has been ditched in favour of a 'make-along' for knitters and crocheters and it would be lovely to have some new friends on board. Details are here -
Saturday, 4 April 2015

FO: Simple Statement Necklace - using only knots!

Knotted statement necklace.
There are days when all I want is a mindlessly simple 'FO fix'.  Given that I've had little time for any of my own crafts this week, it was with relief that I spotted some Boodles textile yarn for just £3.99 a cone at our local TK Maxx. I knew exactly what to do with it. First up, a knotted necklace from a tutorial I'd seen on Creativebug earlier this week (while Little Miss was picking some crafts to try). It really is as simple as knotting the yarn. Here's an 'in progress' shot...
Knotted statement necklace.
As I rarely follow instructions very closely, I improvised a little by making two strands and knotting them together for a slightly different look which I think will look great on a white t-shirt this summer - unfortunately Polly (my 'model') was already wearing blue today.
Knotted statement necklace.
There is a LOT of yarn left - I have more plans for that!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
DISCLAIMER: Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.

Hello and welcome. If it's your first visit you may like to start with my most popular tips & tutorials, or the patterns. You can read more about me on the 'Hello' page and you may also like the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah

Never miss a post

Sew a Sailor Top with Fancy Tiger Crafts on Creativebug Pattern Drafting Course with Cal Patch Online Sewing Class
Cath Kidston (UK) Handbags Designed by a Knitter. Shop now.
Thank you for visiting these links. Further sponsor opportunities and details on affiliates are here.


As seen in...

Knit Now 50 Knit Now Cover 48 Let's Knit issue 80 Simply Knitting issue 115
Feel free to link to this blog, but please do not use any of my images without permission. Powered by Blogger.
Crafty Blogs
(based on today's UK hits only)