The 'Garden Vine Necklace'

I love a project I can have done and dusted in a weekend, don't you? That's the task I set myself this weekend. Armed with a few Swarovski crystals, a couple of silver charms and a small ball of Wensleydale yarn that I handspun (it was a practice piece but wasn't really enough to make anything significant with) I put together a plan.

I've loved those beautiful Sophie Digard necklaces for so long, but they are way out of my price range, especially for the amount of times I wear jewellery. And to be honest, as much as I like them, I prefer something a little more dainty and delicate. So, I got busy.


I threaded over 150 beads onto the yarn which was a fiddly job, then a silver charm on each end.

After an afternoon of crocheting I finally had my beautiful necklace finished. I quick soak in Eucalan and a block and it was complete (yes I even blocked this as it DOES make a difference, especially to those tiny crochet'd leaves and how the whole necklace drapes!)

Here it is on 'Lady May' (my model).

And a close up...

I'm very happy with the result! The beads and add a nice weight to the necklace which combined with the softness of the wool feels very luxurious. The charms at each end read 'inspire' and 'luck' and being silver they too add weight to keep the necklace firmly in place.


Bavarian Crochet

I've had Bavarian Crochet on my list of projects for a while, but I've been waiting for the right yarn to come along to use with it. 
Here is a link to some Pinterest Inspiration on Bavarian Crochet.

*Enter Scheepjes StoneWashed XL yarn*
The Star of this show!
Finally I had THE yarn to try out this stitch.

Although this yarn is 70% cotton, because of the unique way it is spun, it means that this chunky yarn is surprisingly light weight. 

Using colours (starting at the top and moving clockwise) Lemon Quartz, Crystal Quartz, Green Agate, Amazonite, Garnet and Moon Stone in the middle, I started making the first round of flowers.


There are lots of tutorials and helpful websites around that go into great details about how to create Bavarian crochet. You can find some here , here and here if you are interested in having a go. 

I'm usually a fine yarn kind of person, so using a 5.5mm hook meant my project literally grew in front of my eyes!

Joining the 2 round squares is pretty easy using a 'Join As You Go' method (here is a good tutorial of how to join)

I'm not completely finished yet, but I'm getting there (rather quickly!). Hopefully soon I can share my finished project with you.


Creative Blog Hop

I've been invited by a good friend of mine, Maria from 50 shades of 4ply blog, to join in the wonderful blog hop of creative blogs. To take part I need to answer 4 simple questions, then pass you on to two of my creative friends. 

So, sit back, take a moment to read my blog post, then feel free to explore Maria's blog and the people previously on the blog hop. Next week (also on Monday) the fabulous Wink  (from A Creative Being Blog) and the talented Kirsten (from the Haak Maar Raak blog) will be answering the same 4 questions before passing you on to two of their creative friends.



Question 1. What am I working on at the moment?

LOTS! I'm the kind of person who always has several projects on the go at any one time. I like to have a simple project, one that I can sit and do in front of the tv without needing much thought. I also like to have a good challenge, one I will work on when I have the house to myself and no distractions. Then, I'll have varying shades of difficulty and attention requiring projects in-between to suit my mood of the day.

Currently, I have a shawl I am making from some beautiful baby alpaca / silk mix yarn (lace weight) hand dyed in sapphire blue. Another project I'm working on that is almost complete is a blanket where I am using my new love, Scheepjeswol Stone Washed yarns

I'm also working on a few projects for a book at the moment, which unfortunately I can't share right now...but soon!

Question 2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm a bit of a 'details person', I have a tendency with designs to find one element and explore it to it's limits.... to an almost obsessive point! A while ago I became obsessed with creating ombre effects, which led me to creating this blanket using 2 strands of a fine lace weight yarn and changing colours every round....yip, I'm a gluten for punishment! 

I can be equally fixated on a stitch, a pattern repeat, or an overall design. My current obsession is with variegated yarns. This started when I made my Crofter Blanket and still hasn't run it's full course yet!

Recently I made this scarf with a single ball of variegated yarn, Scheepjeswol Invicta Colour & grey/cream Invicta Extra Yarns for the backgrounds to the coloured flowers.

In general, most of my 'obsessions' are about colour, shading, combinations of colour etc. I love how I can take the simplest of patterns, crochet them in an endless array of colour combinations and they can often look like completely different patterns each time. 

3. Why do I create what I do?

To keep my sanity! I find crochet relaxing and soothing. When life is busy around me or stressful,  I often turn to the rhythmic movement of my hook and yarn. Creating is an integral part of who I am, it's an expression of myself and a visual representation of the things that inspire me and the beauty I see in the world around me. I do like my creations to be practical, useable objects. I think beauty is not only about something looking great, but being functional and fit for purpose.

4. How does my creative process work?

Firstly, I'm inspired. It may be by an object which I see, photograph and file away on my phone for future reference. Inspiration may also hit when I see a colour combination I like or a texture I wish to recreate.

Then the fun of finding the right combination of stitch, colour and pattern begins. It's a carefully balanced formula. If one element is slightly out, the whole thing fails.

The next step usually involves lining up all my yarns, ordering them, stroking them, feeling the textures, reordering, substituting yarns, photographing different sequences of colours of yarn so I can remember the orders. I often leave yarns out on my kitchen table and keep walking past them and rearranging them. This can go on for days until I'm absolutely happy with them.

At this point I pick up my hook and start to crochet. 

When the item is complete (and usually a couple of stages along the way!) I block. I'm an obsessive blocker! 

Finally, I style and photograph my finished item. 

So, thats all from me, follow the blog hop next week with Kirsten and Wink!


The Market Shopper

Last week my Market Shopper pattern was featured in the latest issue of Mollie Makes Magazine (issue 42). It's a roomy summer bag, perfect not only for my morning visits to the farmer's market, but also doubles as a great beach bag.

It has a drawstring top (which you can't see very well in the magazine photos) that makes it a little more secure when holding any valuables. 

I'm posting a few pics I took myself which show it in a little more detail.


 I used my all time favourite crochet yarn, Cotton8 (amazingly soft, pure cotton that comes in an astonishing number of colours!) from Scheepjeswol. Scheepjeswol yarns are widely available in the Benelux and available exclusively through Deramores in the UK (also with worldwide shipping).


The Crofter Blanket

This update is well overdue as my Crofter blanket was actually completed a long time ago, I've just never got around to sharing. 

Remember my Crofter yarn purchase  (made by Sirdar) and inspiration which I blogged about  here ?

I loved working with this yarn and it opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities with variegated yarns. Hooking up each square had added excitement as the colours came together to make each square like a uniquely coloured piece of art.

The final project came together quite quickly. A very simple crochet'd square combined with variegated yarns seems to be a winning combination!



Styling Photos : Part 1

I've been asked to write a blog post on how you can achieve better 'styled' photos of your crafts for Instagram and general online networking using only your iPhone (or other camera phone). So, I decided to show you several steps using a hank of beautiful alpaca yarn I recently purchased.  All photos were taken and edited on my iPhone. 
This photo is something I see a lot online. You get home from a days shopping eager to share your latest buys. It's often late in the day when the photo is taken, so usually the product is placed under an artificial light to get a better shot.
The artificial lighting casts all kinds of nasty shadows and an overall yellow cast onto the photo.
So, lets be patient and wait until the following day to take the photo in the exact same spot, but with all artificial lights switched off. 
This produces a much more realistic colour and gets rid of some of those nasty shadows. The yarn is where I left it, tipped out of the shopping bag on to my table. 
For my next step I have cleared the area around the item I wish to photograph. I've got rid of all the other items that were sitting on my table causing distraction. This makes the yarn the focus of my photo.
Already, in just a couple of steps my yarn photo is looking so much better! But, we can do even better :)
In this photo I moved my phone a little closer to the yarn to make the yarn fill the frame of the camera. This produces a good, clear photo of my yarn, but it lacks a little style don't you think?
For my next photo I searched the house for a small container that complimented the colours of my yarn. I took the photo (as with all the other photos) from directly above. However, because of the angle, you can't actually see that much of the lovely container.
So, I moved my phone more to a 45* angle so that part of the side of the container can be seen, showing off the beautiful complimentary colours.
Next I added a piece of old washed wood which also picks up on the colours of the yarn and container as a background to my photo. You could use anything you have available, a piece of patterned paper, a piece of fabric, a scarf etc.
I've also edited for the first time using the Snapseed app. I boosted the saturation and contrast a little. The whole set up was still on my table, which has a large window behind. Now I am starting to get a big variation in the lighting & shadows because of the window behind and because I am now photographing at a 45* angle.
For this photo, I picked up the whole set up and moved it into a shady spot, away from the window. Now I am getting a much more even light across the whole photo. This photo is now very useable. However, I decided to just back up my phone a little to give a bit more space in the frame on the bottom right of the photo so that I could introduce a new element. I added 3 pebbles, again picking up soft tones from the yarn.
All in all, this took me less than a couple of minutes to go from this to this!
Below, I've produced a little bullet point guide to help you when taking your photos. After a while this does become second nature and will help you make your photos more beautiful. Let me know if you try this out and I'd love to see your 'before and after' attempts!
  1. Turn off all artificial lights
  2. Move to a well lit but completely shaded spot
  3. Clear the area of additional clutter
  4. Fill the frame
  5. Consider using a container and/or complimentary props
  6. Change the angle if necessary
  7. Add a complimentary or contrasting background
  8. Boost saturation and contrast in a photo editing app