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 :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

it's the OMC y'all

'Sup my crochet crew! It's been a while since I've actually shown any of my crochet (going to events and yarn travels seems to be taking over my life), so here's something small I've knocked up recently.


'Oh maaaan, what's he up to now?'...well I'm just keepin it real!!! But seriously, I thought I'd make some crochet jewellery to help me 'represent'. I've found that at some of the various events I've been attending my social awkwardness can sometimes hold me back a bit, so maybe clearly advertising who I am will help me counter that and encourage people to approach me (rather than just looking like the scary guy standing in the corner).


It's made with embroidery cotton and a tiny tiny hook (0.75mm), stiffened with a PVA solution. But if this isn't your kinda thing, I've got various other projects on the go. Two of them are big projects that are gonna take me a while - especially this one:


Yep, more squares....lots of them. I'm working on another large wall hanging made out of just the first rounds of granny squares. It's kind of my 'travel' project, when I'm on the train or away for the weekend I can just take a ball of wool and hook and churn these out.

That's all for now. Peace out mutha-hookers!!! Boooooooom!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Big Knitathon Cardiff

Hi all. This Saturday myself and Emma from Lemonade Yarns teamed up to organise the Big Knitathon Cardiff in order to raise funds for the Big Issue Foundation.


I saw an advert in the Big Issue one week asking people to host these events to raise money for the foundation, and knew straight away that this is something I needed to do. I whole-heartedly believe that The Big Issue is an incredibly important and commendable organisation. I've talked to many people about 'The Issue' and it's amazing how little some people know about it, this year is the 23rd anniversary and as part of this they wrote a piece explaining and dispelling the most common myths about the organisation and sellers - if you don't know much about The Big Issue I suggest you give this article a quick peek here. Anyway, more about our knitathon.


We asked knitters and crocheters to come join us at 'Shot in the Dark' on City Road in Cardiff, to come and help us make as many squares as possible. We also encouraged any beginners to come along too and we would teach them how to get started. We had a really fun day and we had various people popping in throughout the day.


So far we've only made a small amount of money from the day, by selling a few little bits and bobs that Emma and myself had made beforehand to sell and from donations....but we anticipated this. We tried to focus our efforts on the day on getting as many squares made as possible (and as you can see we've got a fair few). The plan is that at over the next two weeks we will be sewing these squares together to make scarfs. We will be selling half of these scarfs to raise money, and the other half we will be donating to Big Issue vendors to keep them warn throughout these cold winter months. If you are interested in helping us by buying a scarf, please keep an eye on our twitters (onemancrochet twitter and lemonade yarns twitter) and we will be announcing soon how to buy them.


I want to say a massive thanks to Emma (pictured above) for helping me to organise this event, and obviously a huge thank you to all the lovely ladies that turned up to help us out on the day.

You can still help us, please click here to donate to our cause. Or at very least, buy a Big Issue from a vendor, it's a brilliant magazine and over the years it's got better and better and is a really good read. Don't be afraid to talk to your local vendors too - they're still people, the same as you and me. They're  just in a tough spot, and homelessness and vulnerability is something that can affect people from all walks of life. Thanks for reading and thanks for all your support

Monday, October 20, 2014

Knitted Textile Awards Round-Up @AllyPally

Hi blog-fans

So I'm back from big ol' London town, after showing my work at the 'UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards' at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.


I finished making another crochet t-shirt (that I'm wearing in the picture above) to wear especially to the show. I knew the show was gonna be big, but I was still surprised by the scale of it, the place is massive!!! Saying that the Textile Awards stand was in a prime location and my work was being displayed on one of the aisles so plenty of people got to see it.


The awards had (well has....you can see it all again at Harrogate in November) a great mix of work, something to cater for everybody really. I got loads of nice comments and positive feedback, mostly along the lines that everyone loved how colourful my work is. The awards are split into two, graduate and open categories. All of the ladies showing their work (yes I was the only bloke) were all super nice and friendly, and everyone's work really impressed me. Here's a slideshow of the work but you can also find out more about each of the artists over on the UKHKA website.

                       

The winners of the awards aren't announced until the Harrogate show, but either way that's not important, taking part in this show has already proved to be a very fruitful and rewarding experience. Here's me with all the other competitors (not exactly hard to spot am I)


Anyway, more about the whole event. There's so many stall's at the K&S show it's ridiculous. I had to try and be a bit restrained with my spending...but I could easily have spent hundreds in seconds if I'd wanted to. As well as all the shopping opportunities, there was also a massive amount of textile art on display. I decided I would pick one artist that impressed me the most to write about, as you could write a whole book if you wanted to write about them all. It was the embroidery work of Hanny Newton that instantly got my attention. I walked past the stall which had her work on display, and then had to go back to look again. Initially I thought it was just a load of rocks on shelves, then thought to myself, 'no that can't be right'. I went back and she explained to me that they were all made from layers and layers of felt sewn together, with bits of glass and copper weaved in.


So you may be interested in the select few items I bought from the show, well here's the usual pic of my haul:


What you can see there is some woven silk yarn, some beaded yarn, some neon twine, ring and triangle sequins, an airplane button, some jewelled ribbon, some sparkly things to stick on things (I don't really know how to describe them), some yellow cotton (that I got for £1!!!) and some more yarn. I also got this, which is a bit special -


Its a magnetic rabbit, which not only looks cool as hell but is also great for holding onto your needles during sewing projects - which is good for me as I'm always dropping them on the floor and losing them, only to find them when you sit on them at a later date.

So that's my write-up of Ally Pally. I had an amazing time and can't wait for Harrogate

Sunday, October 5, 2014

more magazines

Hi all. Just a quick post as I'm busy getting ready for the Knitting & Stitching show at Ally Pally this week. My moody bearded face has been getting all over the crochet magazines this week.


Firstly, the well known 'Inside Crochet' magazine approached me and asked me to do an interview for them as part of their 'our favourite blogger' section. They did a really good job of laying out the interview and arranging the photo's - I'm very happy with it!


And not content with being in one magazine this month, the 'Knitting and Crochet' magazine by the 'Lets Get Crafting' people also gave me a nice mention in their 'best on the web' section in their feature about male knitters/crocheters.


So big thanks to both these magazines, it's really encouraging to be asked to do this type of thing and means a lot to me. That's all for now peeps, more coming reallllllll soon.