Tuesday, September 9, 2014

onemancrochet @ The Makery

Well as I said, it was a busy weekend. After the Bristol Wool Fair on the Saturday, it was off to Bath on the Sunday to 'The Makery'

The lovely Kate at the Makery had asked me to come along to one of their open days and give a talk about blogging and being a crochet artist. I've written about The Makery before as part of my Bath yarn travels, but this time I got a chance to see the whole building rather than just the shop.

There's a surprising amount of space where they host various workshops, and the place was bustling all day. The whole place is beautifully decorated and the shop has a brilliant range of craft supplies. But what makes The Makery truly amazing, is Kate and the staff - you couldn't ask for a nicer and friendlier group of ladies, and they made me feel relaxed and welcome from the moment I got there.

So about the talk. I brought a load of my crochet creations for people to see, and this also gave people some content to ask questions about. I was very nervous about the talk beforehand, but everyone that was there was really encouraging. By the time I got to talking about crochet art I was feeling a lot more relaxed and I think the group could tell, so people started engaging more and asking more questions - I even managed to get a few laughs.

Overall it was a great day, and well worth doing. I met some amazing people that were really positive about my work, and as nervous as I was about public speaking, I left feeling accomplished and proud of myself.

That's all for now, I've got a busy couple of weeks coming up (not long till the handmade fair), but I'm sure I can find time for crochet!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

yarn travels: bristol wool fair

Its been a busy weekend. I hopped just over the water (well, got the train) to the first 'Bristol Wool Fair'

It was a nice day out for us wool fans. There were four main marquees full of all things woolly, loads to see and of course....loads to buy.

The first thing I came across was 'Gertie the Sheep', a project in which visitors could contribute crochet and knitted flowers. The lovely Vicky Harrison from the paper village craft shop in Bristol was busy assembling it, but made time to have a good ol' chat with me (if you ever get a chance to go to their shop, you should go - its awesome!).

As well as all the wool stalls, there was also a good amount of things to see - this badger being one of my favourites, I love a good badger!! Unfortunately I forgot to grab a card of who made this. They were selling kits which were tempting, but I didn't get on too well with felting last time I tried - a bit too stabby!

This bird (don't ask me what it is - I'm no ornithologist) was some work by textile artist Ruth Packham that was on display, She had quite a lot of work and various birds on show.

Of course a wool fair isn't a wool fair without.....well, wool obviously. There was loads of stalls with loads of different types available. Of course, me being me, I was attracted by all the colourful stuff.

One of the things I love most about these sort of events, is the fact that as you walk around you can see people doing all sorts of crafts. There was loads of looming, felting, spinning, knitting and crocheting going on, and people are always happy to talk to you about their craft if you are interested in learning more.

This stall grabbed my attention, it had loads of wool bowls by ceramic artist Emily Cross. I've seen a lot of wool bowls before but the glazes and finishes to these were particularly gorgeous. If you're unfamiliar with wool bowls, its basically something you can put your ball of wool in, and you put the yarn through the break in the bowl - this means the the ball spins in the bowl and comes out smoothly and doesn't roll about your floor. Of course, by the fact that I'm rambling on about this, you've probably guessed that I bought one.

I really liked this one for the fact that it had had some lace pressed into the glaze, and was (in my opinion) a reasonable price. I couldn't go to a wool fair without buying wool though - more for the ever expanding stash!

So, those were the highlights of my day out at the wool fair. There were a few other things worth mentioning...there was a beer tent serving Butcombe, which is one of my favourite ales (I just had the one, it was only 2 in the afternoon after all). There was also sheep shearing and sheepdog displays, and plenty of workshops going on. I also got recognised and had a lovely conversation with knitting and crochet designer Sara Huntington. All in all a brilliant day out, and lets hope the Bristol Wool Fair continues.

I'll leave you with a picture of some ducks (part of the sheepdog display).....I love ducks too!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

is he ready?...we wonder to ourselves....

....perhaps he's ready? Well another reason I've been quiet recently (well online anyway, I've been shouting my mouth off at my usual rate in real life), is because I'm a very busy boy at the moment. Things kinda went a little bit crazy over the last month and I've got a lot organised, So I figured maybe it was time to let you all know, as you may be interested in attending some of these things.

Firstly, Next weekends all booked up already. On the 5th, 6th and 7th of September I'll be hopping over the water to go to the first Bristol Wool Fair. I'll be there on the Saturday to check it all out and of course I'll write a yarn travels post about it on my return. If you Brizzle people see me there feel free to come and say hello and experience my social awkwardness.

On Sunday 7th, its back on the train, just down the road to the lovely city of Bath. I'm going there because those lovely ladies at The Makery asked me to come and do a talk and Q&A session on blogging and being a crochet artist. I must confess I'm a little bit nervous about doing some public speaking as it's been a while, but I'm sure it'll be ok. At the time of writing this there's only 4 places left to be booked here, so I figured I'd post about it just in case I have any Bath based followers. Again, I'll do a write-up about it and put some pics up.

Well this post is a bit text heavy isn't it, I'll break it up by showing you a photo of one of my current projects, another t-shirt but this time in super crazy coloured yarn. Keep on reading though, there's more to come.

So, Septembers already busy, given that I'll also be going to the The Handmade Fair in the big city of London later in the month, and of course I'll be checking out the wool shops while I'm there too.

But then what about after that? Well here's the big news. I've been shortlisted and am a finalist in the UKHKA Open Category 2014 Knitted Textile Awards. This means I'll be showing my work at The Knitting and Stitching Shows in London & Harrogate. The London show is at Alexandra Palace and runs from the 8th-12th October, and the Harrogate show is at the HIC and runs from the 20th-23rd November.

So yeah, busy busy busy, and there's more (but that will have to wait - can't really talk about that at the moment). Hope this post proves interesting for some of you, and who knows, maybe our paths will cross shortly in the future. That's all for now - I've got some crochet to do!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

we are the sea

Hello blog-fans. I've been a bit quiet recently haven't I? Well, it's that time of year again, time for the annual Shambala festival. 'Oh dear, what kind of strange costume has he gone and made now?', I hear you mumble to yourselves with baited breath.........well here you go!

'What in the world is that supposed to be?' - I imagine you saying. Well the theme this year (I know, we normally don't take any notice of themes) was 'the Seas of Shambala'. So I decided to make not one but two costumes that were kind of abstract interpretations of the sea.

So here's the explanation. The sequined robes represent a wave, and shimmered when we danced (which we did a lot). The balls on top represent the foam on the break of a wave (all crocheted of course). And the veils over our faces - well that's just to tie the two in together, that and to keep us anonymous while we were wandering around talking drunken nonsense.

I designed the costumes so that we could see out, but it was quite hard for people to see our eyes as the balls and veils kind of covered them - that and a lot of blue glittery makeup. It was such fun wearing the costumes, and needless to say we freaked out a fair share of people.

When it started getting darker and when we were in the music tents, it appeared that we became even more anonymous. We danced around people mimicking the oceans, making swooshing noises and generally going a little bit insane....I'll blame that on the fact that we drank far far far too much rum (and don't follow my example - we've had decades of practice).

The reception we got from the general public was mixed as always, from the 'wow that's amazing', to the 'what the hell are you guys supposed to be?'. Shambala is a very family friendly festival so there's a lot of kids about during the day, generally they were pretty terrified of us....which I suppose is fair enough.

I did learn a few things from making this costume. Firstly, two costumes will take double the time as one costume - don't know why I didn't think of that before. Secondly, I should stay away from sewing machines. I made the robes myself, the fabric was a nightmare to sew with, and I also managed to break not one but two sewing machines in the process. But, we had fun, so I think it was worth it.

Those of you that read my column in 'Simply Crochet' magazine about festivals might be thinking of the annual gift that I give out to a random stranger. This year it was this little fishy (and another blue one so my mate could take part and give one out too). I gave mine out to a random lady whilst we were dancing in one of the music tents. She didn't seem to quite understand at first and even came back to find me and to say thank you again.

Anyway, we had a brilliant festival and had so much fun. I'll end this post with a picture of me and my drinking buddy getting our costumes ready and when we were still half-way sober. Hope you've enjoyed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the amazing Kaffe Fasset

Right, so what you wanna do is....get your ass over to Bath, get on the free shuttle bus to the 'American Museum in Britain', and go see the amazing Kaffe Fassett exhibition!!!

As me and 'the lovely wife' had a few days off work around my birthday, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to go see this exhibition by one of my biggest idols.

The American museum is a grand building on the top of a hill with amazing views over Bath. It has beautiful gardens, very interesting exhibitions about everyday life throughout american history, as well as a stunning collection of Navajo & Native American rugs and blankets. So with all that it's a great place to visit - but we were there for Kaffe, so let's get on with it. There are a lot of pictures so I'll try and whizz through it.

As soon as you enter the grounds, the first thing you will spot is some good ol' yarn-bombing, and who doesn't like a bit of that? But it gets bigger and better...

....They've only gone and covered the whole tree outside the Kaffe exhibition centre!!! This must have taken ages to put up, and I suspect must have involved a crane or cherry picker or something to get them up so high.

It was all so colourful before you'd even entered the building. This was just a snippet of what was under the tree. Anyway, lets get in and see the exhibition.

This was by far my favourite piece of the exhibition. I love his work for his combination of shapes and use of colours - something that is very important in my own work. The fringing on this piece is really the genius to this shawl in my opinion, it takes what is already an amazing piece of knitting and really makes it pop.

The exhibition is full of amazing garments, shawls and sweaters. What is particularly great about this exhibition is the way they have arranged it into sections of colour, making it a really interesting experience.

These button hats instantly got my wife's attention, there were a load of them in a glass cabinet. Such a simple idea, but done so effectively.

Of course there was a lot of quilting as well, as that is a big part of his work. I'm no expert when it comes to sewing, but I challenge anyone not to be impressed with these! They are done so accurately and with such detail.

In fact all of the quilting completely blew my mind! A lot of the pieces like this one kinda mess with your eyes and draw you in - which is exactly what I like to see when going to galleries/exhibitions.

In conclusion, this is a bloody amazing exhibition. It's the sort of exhibition where I think everyone could find something they like, regardless of whether they are interested in crafts or not. There's so much to see and I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone. The exhibition runs until the 2nd of November so you've still got plenty of time. Oh yeah, there was also a wall of quotes from Kaffe taken from his various books throughout the years, so I'll end this post with one of those.....it seemed very apt and put a huge smile on my face.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

out in the woods

Hello all. Summer is here so that means only one thing...time to go camping! Me and my mate packed our bags, went to the woods and pitched up my tipi tent. But you know, woodland camping can be a dangerous folly, you have to keep an eye out for the local wildlife! You never know when you might come across......

.....a shifty looking lion! People say that lions don't exist in the UK, but they're everywhere.They're just always up to no good and scarper the moment they get spotted.

Seriously though, this little fella was made for my friends new baby. She has a safari themed nursery so it seemed appropriate. As for him looking so shifty, well that's just my style. Anyway, more about camping...

Even though it's the middle of summer, it still decided to rain on us for the majority of the weekend. Luckily we're experienced campers and don't let a bit of rain stop us. We set up a tarpaulin amongst the trees to keep us dry and sat out with a massive fire to keep us warm. But what's this got to do with crochet you may be asking.....

....well did you see what I was sitting on there? I crocheted myself my own camping stool. With a bit of shoddy woodwork, a bit of canvas fabric and some nice tapestry crochet, I ended up with a great little seat.

It did the job, although maybe needed to be a bit sturdier - as I've said before woodwork isn't my strong point. I made this in the week before I went camping, so it came together pretty quick. I also made a crochet hammock to suspend between trees, but due to the constant rain I didn't really get the opportunity to put it up - oh well, maybe next time. And finally......

I also did a bit of good ol' whittling and made this very unique crochet hook. Whether I'll ever use it is another question, but who doesn't love a bit of whittling!

So overall, weather = bad, camping = good, crochet = great!!!