Sunday, 25 February 2018

My top 5 tips for enjoying your crafting

In my latest podcast episode I share my top 5 tips on how to make the most of the time you have for crafting. I've seen quite a few posts from designers and bloggers who have shared that they've either fallen out of love with social media, or have lost their knitting or crochet mojo, so my tips may help if you're in a similar situation.

You can either read my blog post or listen to my audio podcast. I'd love to hear from you if you have any tips of your own to share.

1. Time
I’m a firm believer that our time is precious, and we need to make the most of the time we have. The amount of time that you have available for crafting  will always depend on your commitments in life – we’re all different and we all have different lives.
But we do have one thing in common and that’s our desire to craft. So as a starting point, you could look at your weekly life schedule and try to identify within each day if you can, how many hours you may be able to find for crafting. It may be half an hour, it may be an hour, or even more. Make a note of the daily time you have and then multiply this up by 7. So 1 hour per day = 7 hours per week, which is quite a lot of crafting time – it’s not far off a full working day, so quite a lot can be achieved in just 7 hours.
You could perhaps knit or crochet a sock – a hat – a baby item – a small toy – lots of individual motifs – the sleeve of a jumper – part of a shawl. And if you then consider that in 2 weeks you could have a complete pair of socks - a complete pair of mittens – a complete shawl - a baby set - a larger toy - then that’s quite an achievement. 

Even better is the thought that you still have 2 more weeks of the month left to make more lovely things. I think this is a really positive approach to accepting the time you have, especially if it’s quite limited.

2. Favourites

The second way to enjoy your crafting is to make sure that you always have a project on the go that uses your favourite yarn or colours. Recently, at a Trade Show in Birmingham, I feel in love with Dee Hardwicke's new designs, using Rowan Felted Tweed - it's so tactile and rustic and her designs are quite stunning, stylish and timeless. 

Most of us have lots of WIPs on the go at once (some more than others – say no more!!!) so if you’ve had  a bad day at work or are feeling stressed by the amount of stuff that needs doing – washing, cleaning, taking the kids here and there, shopping – it’s never ending isn’t it!!!!
Then what better way to end the day than to pick up your favourite yarn in your favourite colour and knit or crochet with it. It will immediately make you feel happier and the texture of your favourite yarn will make you feel comforted.
Your favourite colour will soothe your soul and hopefully reduce your stress levels. If you can find a quiet space to practice your mindful knitting or crochet too, then even better – it will really make a difference to your state of mind.
If you’re not entirely sure what your favourite colour is, then try wrapping different shades of the same colour around a cardboard gift tag and this will help you to decide which colours you feel drawn to.
You could carry around your favourite colours in your bag and if you happen to visit your local yarn shop, then you will know which colours you should buy for your next project. 

3. Being social
The third way to enjoy your crafting is to craft with others. Knitting and crochet can be somewhat solitary hobbies because you immerse yourself in your project, you need to concentrate or you may want to practise mindful knitting or crochet.
So a great way to socialise and craft too, is to go along to a local knit or crochet group where other people have the same interests.
You can make new friends and chat about what you’re making, be inspired by other people’s project, choice of colours and stitch patterns.

4. Crafting for Charity
If you're part of a knit group, you could also work on a joint project that will benefit others, such as a crafting for a local charity, or having a yarn sale to raise funds, or selling things you make to raise funds for charity. You’ll find that you’ll really look forward to meeting up and crafting together with a purpose.
I'm about to start working with some friends on a charity project called " A Kilometer of Cats and Kittens” which asks for knitted or crocheted Cats and Kittens that will be sold to raise money for Alzheimer's research,  so we’ll be able to use up our stash, knit and crochet together and help raise money for charity, so it’s good all round.

5. Being Organised
This really helps me to enjoy my crafting. If I know what I have and where to find it then I'll save a lot of time when starting a new project and also have a clear idea of what I'm planning to make. As part of my 'Use it or Lose it 2018' campaign, I've been working through my stash and clearing things out that I no longer want.

As a result, I've bagged up quite a few projects so they're ready and waiting for when the time is right to make a start on something new. It also means that I don't accidentally buy something that I already have hidden away at the depths of my stash and that I don't feel as though I'm wasting money buying things I don't really need. 

I do hope that you've found my tips useful. If you have any great tips on how to enjoy your craft, then I'd love to hear all about them - just leave a comment below or find me on social media. 

How is your #useitorloseit2018 going? Are you getting more sorted? Is your craft room more spacious yet? I have a long way to go, but we have all year, so I'm taking it steady.
If you want to join in, you can join my Ravelry group and/or use the following hashtag on twitter #useitorloseit2018 - you're all welcome. I'm really look forward to getting to know you and to seeing your makes.

You can also join me on social media and be the first to hear about new pattern releases, free patterns and offers by subscribing to my website here.
Happy Crafting, Lynne x
Here are links to things mentioned above and in my latest podcast:
Dee Hardwicke: Colourwork Knits

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Blanket Love

Over the past few years I've had the pleasure of designing a variety of knitted and crocheted blankets, all of which I've thoroughly enjoyed creating. I find it amazing how many different textures and surface patterns can be achieved by mixing up just a few simple stitches.

On Point
A couple of years ago, I designed a striped chevron blanket for Sara, owner at Black Sheep Wools, Warrington. I knitted the original blanket in Stylecraft Chunky, in a mix of Blues, Mustards, Greys and Creams and it was a lovely yarn to knit with and is soft and washable too, which is perfect for a blanket that will be well used and required regular washing.

The chevrons are created by increasing and decreasing at set points along the right side rows and the depth of each stripe varies  throughout, for added interest. 

I also made sure that I used up almost all of the yarn from each ball, in order to reduce waste. I'm not a huge fan of buying a knitting or crochet kit, only to find that half of each ball was left over, so I like to make sure that my designs make the best use of all balls that are needed.

Sara has recently re-launched my 'On Point' in her own bespoke (and rather gorgeous) colourway. I love how the bright pink pops against the lighter shades. Blanket packs are available at Black Sheep Wool's website and they're fantastic value at just £21.99 for all the yarn you need and the printed pattern (see link at end).

Mindful Knitting
The chevron pattern is repetitive and easy to remember, so it also makes a great project for Mindful Knitting. You can switch off, pick up your blanket and focus on each stitch as you knit.

The simple and repetitive stitch pattern will help you to relax your mind and body, similar to meditation. Knitting (and crochet) also help lower your blood pressure and reduce levels of stress (although I'm not so sure this is the case when you accidentally make a mistake and don't spot it for  while and then need to unravel!!!!).

But mistakes aside, 'On Point' could be your calming knitting project, especially with these lovely colours. 

Blanket Love
Blankets are always popular, whether knitted or crocheted and I sometimes wonder what we love so much about making blankets - is the repetitive nature of the pattern that we like, or the fact that we can play around with our favourite colours? Or is it because we love to snuggle up with a blanket on a cold evening?

For me - the answer is yes to all the above. We have 2 blankets currently in use and sometimes there's a scramble to grab the blankets first, so I definitely think we need a couple more and, let's face it, I have more than enough yarn in my stash!!!! This one is my husband's favourite. It's called Travis and I'm hoping to have the pattern checked and up for release very soon.

One thing I'm not very good at is being random with my blanket colours, so I prefer to plan my blankets, rather than mixing things up. I've tried a sock yarn scrap blanket, but to be honest, I really struggled with mixing the different variegated yarns. It started off quite well, but then it all became a little to noisy with so many colours clashing, so this blanket is waiting patiently in a bag ready for me to make up my mind whether to frog it or continue? 

 think the fact that I haven't picked it up once over the last 9 months answers my own question.

Use it or Lose it 2018
I'm currently working on a couple of scrap blankets for my #useitorloseit2018 campaign. One is a crochet-a-long designed by Valerie over at Agrarian Artisan. Valerie has launched her CAL for 2018 and you can read all about it here on ravelry, and if you could join in too that would be fantastic (links are below). 

Your CAL blanket would also double up for #grannyCAL18 which is running on Instagram, simply tag your photos with #grannyCAL18 to join in and hop over to Instagram to take a look at the glorious grannies that are being created.

How is your #useitorloseit2018 campaign going? Are you feeling more organised/more liberated/more in control? If you want to join in, you can join my Ravelry group and/or use the following hashtag on twitter #useitorloseit2018 - you're all welcome. I'm really look forward to getting to know you and to seeing your makes.

Click here to join the group You can also join me on social media and be the first to hear about new pattern releases, free patterns and offers by subscribing to my website here.

Happy Crafting, Lynne x