Sunday, May 3, 2015

Outlaw Craft Fair Bristol

hey hey hey. Well strictly this is more 'craft travels' than my usual 'yarn travels', but hey it's all good! here's my write-up of Outlaw Craft Fair Bristol


I only heard about this event recently but straight away knew it would be the sort of thing I'd love...and I wasn't disappointed. On entering it was nice to see quite so many stalls. The word 'Artisan' is certainly apt at this event, these stallholders are all pro's!


I couldn't help but notice that although every stall was full of quality goods, much of it was along the lines of jewellery and homewares - which isn't a bad thing, I'm on a bit of a jewellery kick at the moment anyway. What I'm trying to say is it's not your regular craft fair where you can pick up some yarn, fabric and those sort of things, it's a bit more specialist (although they did have a supplier zone - albeit a bit small).


The first person to bring outlaw craft fair to my attention was one of my twitter friends and fellow Cardiffian Helen of nellys treasures. It's always great to meet fellow crafty people in person. She had a great stall setup with a wide range of goods, and we had an awesome chat about yarn-bombing, tattoo's and festivals - the girl's got style!


As well as all the stalls (more about that in a min), there was also plenty of workshops and demo's to attend. Most of the workshops I was interested in were already sold out by the time I got there, so I decided to check out the 'Get inky! Printing with Rollers and Stencils' demo by Sophie-Rae of Bristol-based the art troupe. I was actually surprised by quite how inspiring this demo was, although she was very quickly covering techniques, she addressed many points that really got you thinking of how you could achieve different results. I definitely want to give it a go soon - so clearly a good demo, anything that leaves you actually wanting to go out and try something new is clearly a success.

Anyway, onto the stalls and their content. You know I said I was on a bit of a jewellery kick, well I wasn't kidding, I bought loads here!!! Here's some of my faves (as well as my purchases)


The first thing I want to show you is the work of this guy - www.sstutter.co.uk. It's laser cut acrylic jewellery, and I have to say it's some of the best I've ever seen!!!


In particular I think this massive gold lion is absolutely amazing, but it was a little out of my price range (although in my opinion not undeservedly so, quality costs!).


I bought one of his slightly smaller pieces in the end, this awesome geometric fox. Seriously I was so impressed with this guys work!!!


Next is the work of Stephanie Duckett Ceramics. I do love a good bit of ceramics, and these pieces were especially nice. She also had some really unique hanging plant holders, but the necklaces were what I was really after.


I went for this simple orange envelope style necklace in the end, and even though it's ceramics (which you may think might feel odd when worn as jewellery), it's actually the perfect weight and size.


Next is the work of Rhea Clements. This lady is absolutely nailing this style of ringed jewellery (much like that tutorial I wrote recently). All her pieces are so perfectly and neatly done. It was very interesting seeing how she had her own style to this approach, and has some wonderful pieces where the rings are only half covered. For me though I just had to purchase one of these off her -


It's a little light bulb shaped glass pendant with some embroidery thread inside, a perfect little 'break in case of craft emergency' piece - but of course I could never break something so awesome!


These cat badges were the work of ladybirdlikes....and you all know how much I love cats. Now I gotta fess up here, I did make a purchase and I think it was from the same stall - but I'm not 100% sure, so apologies to the makers if I've got it wrong, but I think these little pieces of awesomeness were a part of her stall too -


Little ceramic animal necklaces!!! And there was practically a whole zoo of them too! I was very torn between which one to pick, the pig? the lion? the unicorn? the t-rex?


In the end I went for this little bunny (mostly cos it reminded me of the rabbit episode of 'Father Ted' so when that popped into my head I just had to buy it).

Nearly done now. Finally I want to show you some pieces I got from baku forest studios. Firstly I got this cool little badge which is actually an old coin that she's somehow added this cool geometric front to (don't ask me how)


And I also got this clear x-ray necklace of a cat (the little mouse in it's stomach was what sold it to me)


So all in all, a pretty excellent day out! Needless to say I won't need to buy any jewellery for a while. Although you've obviously missed this Bristol event now, the Outlaw shows can be found in a range of locations across the south-west and Cornwall, so if you want to tke a trip to the next one you can find out more about their next events here

That's all for now, peace out peeps!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

yarn travels: wonderwool 2015

Wonderwool has come and gone again, and despite the fact that I have more wool than some sort of wool collecting woolly thing, I couldn't resist heading to the ol' showground to add to my stash!

It's the third year that I've attended, so a lot of the stalls I had already seen in previous years (not that that's a complaint - it's all quality). So with that in mind I figured I'd show you more of the arty side of the show. There's normally at least one piece of large scale work on show, and this year was no different with this massive knitted gingerbread house.


This mammoth amount of work was done by Alison Murray (and her helpers). I thought that this piece worked particularly well as there were so many objects and little touches that made the whole thing come together.


The house was covered inside and out with various cakes and sweets (as you'd expect of a gingerbread house), but they really added a good punch of colour. This year we were treated to not one but two huge knitted artworks, the second being this 'cardigan for Cardigan'.


Knitted by the people of Cardigan, as well as by visitors to this Welsh town, this cardigan was huge. Again it's the small details that can make a piece like this. I personally like the happy little man waving from his tractor, and the lovely wife found the mermaid pretty funny.

But as well as the large works that catch your eye, there are also some smaller stalls displaying work by various groups and guilds. The bright colours being used by the 'Carmarthen School of Art' students work drew me in.


In general I always enjoy Wonderwool, because as well as all the wool and shopping there's always plenty of things to see as well as buy. There was the usual mass of looms and spinning wheels being demonstrated. And of course there's always the animals to see too - the sheep, the angora rabbits, and those naughty naughty alpaca's!!!


And now we get to the point where I show you my haul. I didn't go mad this year, I tried to only get things that will be practical for projects I have in mind...even if that is a lot of projects. I got some bargain multi-coloured hanks, a few little small hanks off the fivemoons peeps, and a pack of 'tropical heat' colour scheme wool from those brilliant guys at www.easyknits.co.uk.


I also got a few extra bits and bobs. The handmade beads (as well as the pot) were from a stall selling African wares. The beads are made from recycled materials (in this case a poster), and are from a non-profit organisation that supports women in Botswana and South Africa that care for orphaned children (you can find out more at www.mothersforall.com). I also got some new knitpro stitch markers and some plastic rings (for more jewellery making). Finally I also got this necklace (bottom right), which is a silver crochet hook made by my friend Becca aka Alterknitive (who I met at the knitting and stitching show). She had set up a really nice stall selling her shawl pins and jewellery and it was really nice to catch up (if you would like to see more of her work check out her Etsy shop here.


So that's my Wonderwool 2015 round up. Lots of wool and lots of fun..........oh and of course the handmade scotch eggs people were there again, so I'll leave you with a pic of me cramming some eggy meaty goodness into my mouth!


peace out y'all

Friday, April 3, 2015

crochet necklace tutorial & other stuff

Hey there world, I'll start of with the usual....been a while hasn't it? Much like my last post, no I haven't given up crocheting and crafting, I've just had a lot of very difficult personal stuff going on...things have been incredibly tough but I'm throwing myself into my crochet and trying to keep myself busy.

Anyway, enough of that - I guess you wanna see what I've been up to. Well I'm still working on my collection of huge crochet artworks. They're taking a long time but it's going well. I'm hoping to have them completed and ready to show in galleries by summer, I just need to get my head down and finish them off (as well as doing a ton of sewing/assembly which I've just been putting off). I don't wanna give too much away while they're still work in progress, so I'll just let you see this cryptic photo of my big stack of colourful crochet.


Part of the problem with my progress on this project is that I keep getting distracted. I keep starting new projects and not finishing others. I realised the other day I have 5 projects on the go at the moment - which I'm not happy about as it just makes me feel like I'm not getting anywhere. I have been trying to make some smaller things recently just so I can actually finish them and feel like I've achieved something.


I recently got a new phone (well I say new, what I actually mean is my friend got a new phone and gave me his old one - I'm far too tight to spend money on such things!). So of course this meant I got to make a new phone cover/cosy for it. I made it with a 2.5mm hook and some 'My First Regia' sock yarn, so the stitches are nice and tight.

I've also gone on a bit of a jewellery kick at the moment too. I've got a fair bit of jewellery making bit's and bob's but I rarely get around to actually making anything with it. After all, there's always some crochet that takes precedent.


But the other day I randomly decided it was time to make some necklaces. This first one I made was very simple, it's just some chain and a plastic set square/right angle ruler. And where did I get such a thing...out of a christmas cracker, I've been holding onto 3 of these bad boys since xmas with the intention of turning them into jewellery.


You have to be a bit careful making this sort of thing, the first two ended up with breakages as I drilled the holes which the chain attaches to a bit too close to the edges, meaning the plastic split. As well as being a cool little accessory, it also means you've always got a ruler to hand and can measure 90 degree angles....you know, like you do on a daily basis!

That's great and all, but it's not crochet! Well, maybe you'll like the second necklace I made.


This necklace again was very easy to make. So easy in fact, I figured maybe you'd like a short tutorial on how to make one for yourself. Not convinced? Maybe a close-up will help persuade you.


This really is very simple, you just need a bit of time and patience. It's basically one long loop that you wrap around three times so that it appears that there's multiple chains. Don't moan at me if it's not a great tutorial, I made it on the fly and am just writing this from memory, All stitches are in UK TERMINOLOGY!!! So first things first, you will need the following:


1.5mm crochet hook
Various colours of embroidery thread.
14 x 16mm plastic bone rings (you can pick them up at good DIY/craft stores)
roughly 42 inches metal jewellery chain (just over a metre)
28 x 5mm metal split rings
metal cutting pliers/snips
needle nose pliers
scissors
tape measure/ruler (if your tape measure is in the shape of a cat then you get bonus points)
a sewing needle big enough for sewing in thread ends (I used wool needles)

Step 1: Attach embroidery thread to crochet hook. Insert hook through plastic bone ring and create a slip stitch so thread is attached to the ring. Ch 1, 30dc around ring (putting hook through ring, yarn over, pull back through ring, yarn over, pull through both loops). Ss into 1st dc and fasten off. Sew in ends. Repeat step one until you have 14 rings.

Step 2: Using the metal cutting pliers, cut the jewellery chain into 14 x 3 inch lengths. Using your needle nose pliers, bend/manipulate the metal split rings so that you have an opening that you can attach one end of a 3 inch chain to, as well as threading the split ring through one of the stitches of a crochet ring. Once you have done this use the needle nose pliers to close the split ring back up again.

Step 3: At the opposite end of the chain, again attach a split ring, attach the next crochet ring to this split ring, then close up the split ring.

Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all 14 crochet rings are attached by chains, making sure that the 2 split rings attached to each crochet ring are at opposite ends. To finish necklace continue one last time connecting a chain between the first and last crochet ring.

It's probably sensible to add a clasp in the middle of the final chain to make it easier for you to take on/off, but I couldn't be bothered. If you want to use larger rings, just simply do more dc stitches until you have enough to cover the rings.


There you go, I said it was simple.....maybe shoddy would be a better word for that tutorial. Don't worry though, I have plans to bring you more (and better) patterns soon....I just thought I should at least try and put something out there. That's all for now, peace out!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'm still here

Hello world, apologies for my absence. I've had a lot going on with the non-crochet side of life recently, but I've still been crafting as usual. I thought you may like to see some of my latest makes...so I'll start off with the standard moody one man crochet pose.


This is a hoodie I decided to customise recently. It's all about the bling don't you know! I got out my sewing machine (which behaved for once!) and just kinda free-styled it.


I created the triangle and diamond shapes using multi-couloured thread, and added stripes of ribbons and fabrics, as well as some shiny jewels and sparkly triangles.


And finally I added a few badges I've acquired recently, and topped it off by replacing the plain white hood cord with a colourful crocheted one. I think it went ok. Me and sewing are not natural bedfellows but this was relatively stress free, and it's certainly a bit more interesting now!

So what else have I been up to? Well, I also made this super-cute sleepy little fox...


The pattern is from this months Inside Crochet magazine (Issue 62). It can be made into a travel pillow or alternatively a draught excluder like shown above.


You've probably worked out that this was some more tech editing that I did, but it's also a very late xmas present for one of my friends. I like foxes.......and badgers.......and otters!!!

And there's more. Washi tape seems to be exploding a bit at the moment, which is fine by me as I'm a sucker for it. But I seem to have really got into hoarding tape (as well as wool) recently, especially the new range of patterned duck tape available. I never know what I'm going to do with it, but I know I'd much rather have some neon pink duck tape for fixing things rather than plain black.


Talking of hoarding, the wool stash is still huge and growing constantly. I recently stocked up on my acrylic yarns so I've got loads of colours to work with, and this of course meant I had to find space for it in the shelves....or in the hamper....or in the plastic bags...or in the baskets!


Anyway, I'm rambling on. I have been crocheting like crazy, I just don't have a lot to show for it yet. I'm still working on two huge arty crochet projects (much like the one I showed in London/Harrogate). I've got a lot done, just got to finish making all of the pieces and then there'll be a ton of sewing to do. I'll just give you a teaser picture to give you an idea.


So that's all for now. I've got a lot of plans and a lot of crochet to do...I just need more time, there's never enough time! Oh well, one day I'll have my shack in the forest where squirrels live in my beard, I eat nothing but berries, and crochet all day long.

Laters!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

end of the year catch-up

Hi all. Well, this year has been huge for me! There's been the Knitted Textile Awards and writing for Simply Crochet magazine, but the astute of you may also have noticed that the 'about me' section to the right has changed slightly. I've recently started doing technical editing for Inside Crochet magazine. This was something I was really excited about, as it plays to my strengths of having an eye for detail and being a bit of a perfectionist about things. My first job was on the pattern for these cute little heart boxes in this months Inside Crochet magazine (Issue 61).


A massive thanks goes out to Clare (the Inside Crochet Editor) for giving me the opportunity to do this work, and it all came from meeting her at the Knitted Textile Awards.

Although I now work freelance for both of the main UK crochet magazines, I don't want to appear to be taking sides (I just like to have my fingers in a lot of pies...they're pie-licious). I have also just finished making a pair of slipper-socks for my dad for xmas from a pattern out of this months Simply Crochet magazine (Issue 26).


The pattern is by Simone Francis and uses 3 treble clusters normally used with granny squares. I normally just make stuff up myself nowadays but I really enjoyed using this pattern, it's nice and simple and easy to follow.


I dadded them up (if that's not a word it should be) by using more muted colours, and made them 'man-size' by upping the hook size and using Aran weight yarn. I have made a couple of other crochet xmas presents, but I can't post them at the moment as the recipients might see them early (not an issue with my dad).

So, on to other projects of note. I finally got around to sewing together all of the squares into scarves from the 'Big Knitathon' we did. I sold some of them to my colleagues at work, and the rest I gave out to Big Issue vendors in Cardiff (and I gave one to a guy in Bristol too).


With the money we raised on the day, together with the selling of the scarves, we raised a total of £70 for the Big Issue Foundation. Big thanks to everyone that contributed and extra thanks to Natasja King (the blogger known as crochetime) who sent me some spare squares she had to add to the cause. I went round Cardiff one lunchtime with the scarves, some hats and some sandwiches to give out to the vendors. Every vendor that I talked to was very appreciative and very friendly, but there was one guy in particular that really left a mark on me. I had bought the Big Issue from him earlier in the week, I was amazed that he recognised me and he gratefully took a hat from me as he already had a scarf. But then a few days later I was walking home from town, we had just walked past each other with your usual 'alright mate' comments, but then he obviously remembered me and stopped and asked to talk to me. He said that he wanted to thank me properly for giving him the hat, he gave me a big hug and then told me 'money's what puts food in my belly, but people like you feed my soul'. I choked up at him saying this, after all it was just a hat but it meant so much to him, we then had a big chat where he was incredibly open about his situation and his problems. I know I've written a fair bit about the Big Issue already, but it's really affected me by doing this fundraising. Please support your local vendors, especially at this time of year, they're outside in the cold all day - and remember, it's working not begging. Just buying the magazine, bringing them a tea or coffee, or simply saying hello can go a massive way to helping with their lives and brightening up their day.

So anyway, that's enough for now. I just want to say a massive thanks to the editors at Simply Crochet and Inside Crochet, Emma from Lemonade Yarns, all the other mags and websites that have mentioned/done features on me, UKHKA, The Makery, Lyndsey Mayhew (you really gave me a boost in self confidence and the kick in the ass I needed), everyone I've met or talked to at Craft events, and of course to all my fans and readers. You've all helped make this year amazing. And as for next year, well nothing is set in stone yet, but believe me when I say 2015 is gonna be even bigger. I've got a lot of plans - there will be more patterns (finally), more art, and more weirdness.

peace out y'all, and have a merry fishmas and a happy new beer!!! x



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Knitted Textile Awards Round-Up @ Harrogate

Hi there. I've been busy, sooooo busy that it's taken me two whole weeks to get around to writing this (bad blogger). But as you know, I was a finalist in the Knitted Textile Awards at the Knitting & Stitching shows. After Ally Pally, the next show was at the HIC in Harrogate - here's my round-up


I'd never been to Harrogate before, so this was a bit of an adventure for me and the lovely wife. We had a great time there, we ate at loads of nice restaurants and had a great time at the show. The textile awards had a bit more space at Harrogate, which was nice as it meant I could actually hang around my work and talk to people about it without feeling like I was getting in everybody's way.


The awards were a great success, I think our location of being at the end of one of the isles in the first hall meant that a lot of people naturally gravitated towards our work. I seemed to spend the whole time talking to people, and 98% of people were incredibly positive and kind about my work (the 2% who weren't still amused me, the best comment I overheard was that my work was 'like a punch in the face').


One major highlight for me was getting to chat to one of my 'fans'. The lovely Amanda (aka amjaylou) who was been a follower of my blog for ages came and found me as she knew I was there. She completely caught me off guard when she handed me a present she had made for me - a crocheted xmas tree decoration. Big shout out and huge thanks to Amanda, and go check her blog too, she's a very talented crocheter!

Anyway, so I guess you want to know more about the awards results. On the first night of the show the winners were announced in the large auditorium (which included some free wine and mince pies - score!). Unfortunately I didn't come in the top three, but I was very happy for all the winners as everyone's work was amazing.


First Place in the Open Category went to Nicky Barfoot and her Knitted Dogs heads (which she does from photo's of peoples dogs on commission)


Second Place in the Open Category went to Heather Drage and her Knitted Bear (pictured with her partner)


And third place went to Oksana Dymyd with her beautiful knitted cushions


The Graduate Category was won by the wonderful Camille Hardwick


More information on the winners and all the other finalists work can be found on the UKHKA website. So now that that's dealt with, let me tell you more about the show in general.


The show had a lot of the same vendors and stalls as it did at Ally Pally (with a few exceptions), so needless to say it was a challenge to restrain myself from spending too much money on lovely yarns. But there was a couple of stalls in particular that I think deserve a mention.


I'd seen (and purchased) from this stall at Ally Pally, but their selection of Ribbons, Sequins, Jewell's and Beads are so beautiful that I got drawn in by them again like a moth to a flame.They are Aarti J Trims and as well as their selection their staff were all lovely too.


The other stall of note was the African Fabric shop. I absolutely love African fabrics and textiles, so this stall is exactly my sort of thing. I have told myself I'm not allowed to buy any more fabric as I have loads and me and my sewing machine aren't getting on. But I did buy some really interesting beads from them....interesting beads you say - hell yeah, they're carved out of washed up flip flops!!!

So what else is their to say....oh yeah - workshops. Whereas I didn't really have time to take part in any in London, I booked a couple to do whilst I was in Harrogate. The first one I did was hand weaving with 'The British Tapestry Group'.


I didn't get a whole lot made in the time I had in the workshop, but it certainly taught me the basics of hand weaving and I really enjoyed it. I'll definitely be doing some more of it when I get a free moment.

The other workshop I went to was 'Making a protest banner' with Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective.


I went to listen to a talk Sarah did on Craftivism at a craft fair in Cardiff a few months ago. I'm sure she won't mind me admitting I was very skeptical. I do believe in their cause and messages, but at the end of the day - I'm very cynical and struggle to see what many forms of activism actually achieves in the long run. At the talk Sarah was very understanding of my opinions and cynicism, and she answered my questions and debated with me beautifully. The talk left me thinking a lot about the subject, and in a lot of ways she'd opened me up to thinking a bit differently, so we decided to go to her workshop. Again at the workshop she talked very eloquently about the subject, encouraging us to talk and think about what messages we want to convey and how best to do it. It was a really fun workshop, Sarah is a lovely (and very busy) lady who I believe is really making waves in the craft world - and I wish her all the best with her cause.

So they are the highlights of the Harrogate show, I had a fabulous time taking part, and it was extremely worthwhile and cemented my belief that being a crochet artist can be my future. A huge thanks goes out to UKHKA, Twisted Thread, all the other finalists, and to everyone came and talked to me and complimented my work.

Peace out world :)