Amigurumi Design Contest Entry

So graceful...

Well, here she is at last - Annaliese the Amazing Acrobat! At least she tries to be an acrobat, but she usually ends up tripping over her own legs and tumbles into a heap on the floor...

The competition theme for this year was "circus", and my contribution is a colourful ostrich character. I had plans to do a couple of other ami's, but in the end other work took precedence. There's been so many entries this year - all of them are wonderful - but even if Annaliese doesn't win a place, I'll more than likely still write the pattern up and release it myself.

Good luck everyone! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the entries!

My First Roundup Feature!

So I had a quick squint at the metrics for my site, and there was a huge spike in the stats yesterday. Having no idea what could have caused it, I'm really excited to see one of my free patterns appear on a pattern roundup at About.com's Crochet Section!

I really do need to get better photos of the wreath; I was quite new to using a DSLR when I took the original shots and the contrast is just awful, which does the finished thing no justice at all.

In other news, I have another pattern lined up for publication. It's a kitchen-themed item for Happily Hooked magazine, and will be in the February 2016 issue. I've also (finally) gotten myself a dressmakers form. Before I moved to Orkney, I had an old rusty adjustable model that worked fine for basic drafting, but was completely unsuitable for photography. I decided not to bring it with me, so I've not had one for a few years. Since I was given an online voucher for my birthday a week ago, I decided to spend it on something practical and while I couldn't afford a new adjustable model, the fixed-size one I got will work quite well for now. I'm currently working on a basic summer top in Sirdar Beachcomber, which I hope to have finished soon.

Skeletons and Sneak Peeks

I've had my Merlin Tree Hitchhiker spinning wheel for a few months now, but I hadn't gotten 'round to customising it despite sketching out a few ideas. The space on the wheel was like a new sketchbook - I never want to make the first mark in case I hate it and then I feel like the entire sketchbook needs to be written off. Only, a wheel isn't a sketchbook. You can't just rip a page out if you don't like it.

Last week I finally dismantled it and started working on decorating the wheel. Initially I wanted to do a Danse Macabre design, with skeletons spinning on wheels and drop spindles, but I went for a skeletal goat that runs around when I treadle. It's a good indicator for knowing if I'm treadling clockwise or anti-clockwise!

I used a Posca marker pen to outline the pencil work. Because I didn't seal the wood first, it's bled a little, but overall it's turned out pretty well. The subject is probably a little morbid for spinning but hey, it's a goat so it's kind of relevant. Not that I've spun any goat yet, but it's on my wishlist.

Two other things I want so share; first is a sneak peek of one of my entries for the design contest over at Amigurumi Patterns. I've still to set up a proper photo shoot for it, so for now all you're getting is a shot of its fluffy butt. The second is my Little Wave Purse pattern in print! The latest issue of Inside Crochet came out yesterday and the photos of my purse look fantastic.

purse.png

The Cost of Crafting

Hmm...

Hmm...

One aspect of crochet and knitting design that's become more and more evident as I've moved onto professional pattern drafting is the cost of crafting. Both crochet and knitting are often seen as "cheap" hobbies - the needles and hooks themselves don't cost too much to begin with. In fact, my first set of both came from various charity shops, and even now I still buy second hand tools when I can. At 10p a pair of needles, I can't complain too much about the cost of my past times, even if I have invested in a set of interchangeable Hiya-Hiya needles and Denise crochet hooks. Two of my spinning wheels are second-hand, and I use locally sourced fleeces as much as possible. Long story short - I manage to find ways to spend as little as possible to ensure I'm never in the red when it comes to fibre crafts.

When designing a pattern, the single most important factor for me is overall cost, even if I don't need to supply the materials myself. If I have an idea for a colour palette and yarn weight, it's easier for me to go and look at what yarns would be suitable for the project, but if the ideal yarn costs £6.50 for 50g of yarn and I need at least 600g to ensure I have enough for the overall length, that's £78 to make a single item. Sure, going for the yarn at £6.50 a ball might produce a beautiful garment, but the cost to make it is high for something, that for many, is a hobby. Of course, there's nothing stopping someone from substituting the recommended yarn for something a bit more special, but when it comes to designing a pattern and working out what yarn to use, my main aim is to make patterns that are affordable for all.

New Host and Exciting Things

Pumpkibun pattern is available through Ravelry

Pumpkibun pattern is available through Ravelry

Well finally it's here - the new design of my site! I found that Blogger just wasn't working for my anymore. It was fine for the occasional update, but I didn't feel invested in the content or layout. As I've got a couple of projects in the works just now, I wanted to create a cleaner, easier to navigate site with dedicated spaces for galleries, projects, a blog and most importantly - categorised patterns. My first pattern for sale is currently available through my Ravelry shop and is free to download until the 22nd of October as a Halloween promotion.

Upcoming Pattern Publication

I'm excited to announce that one of my patterns will be appearing in the upcoming issue of Inside Crochet! It's been a process of creating and editing that's stretched over a couple of months, but I'm beyond happy to see one of my patterns in print. The learning curve has been massive; I have quite severe dyscalculia which makes measuring and counting stitches very difficult. Crochet and knitting help in that they are repetitive and are visual so I can see and feel progress in my hands, rather than trying to retain numbers in my head in an abstract way that I can't visualise or understand. Writing down numbers doesn't necessarily work either; I often dial incorrect phone numbers, read the wrong date on a calendar or diary and subsequently end up missing appointments. One of the worst aspects of having difficulties with numbers is being unable to plan measurements on paper. Often I have to make several prototypes of one object, rather than plan it out and have to make only a couple of amendments.

Because of this, working out written patterns for my crochet and knitting can be very challenging. When I'm creating an original pattern, I keep comprehensive notes as I go. As soon as I've finished the first version of the piece, I then make another using my first set of notes, marking anything that doesn't add up. All of this comes after sketching out what I want the finished item to look like, complete with rough dimensions and a swatch so I can calculate yarn quantities. For someone with dyscalculia, the entire process of creating an original piece of crochet or knitting comes with extra challenges. But not working on crochet and knitting does have a negative impact on my everyday abilities with numbers. When I go through a period of neglecting crochet and knitting in favor of spinning, I find that I'm less able to approach a task that involves numbers, even if it's something as simple as reading a bus timetable. Working with yarn is one of the few activities I do where I don't feel overwhelmed by numbers and sequences, so creating original patterns and items means a lot more to me than simply seeing something in print - it's proof that I can break through my number blindness and create something that can be shared and enjoyed by others. So please look out for my pattern in issue 71 of Inside Crochet and share your own version of it with me!

Working on the Baa-ble hat while I was at Shetland Wool Week

Working on the Baa-ble hat while I was at Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip up to Shetland to attend Shetland Wool Week. Although I've lived on Orkney for just over four years, I hadn't travelled up so when I found out about Shetland Wool Week, it seemed to be the perfect excuse to finally book a trip.

I visited Jamieson and Smiths in Lerwick and bought the yarn for this year's pattern, the Baa-ble hat, and managed to knit it up in just over a night. I also ended up getting a set of shade cards and some cobweb weight yarn. I'm planning on making a crochet shawl in the style of traditional Shetland lace with the cobweb yarn, but I also took a class on how to spin for lace and want to spin some of my own yarn up in cobweb weight. It'll take forever though, so that's why I went for some pre-made in the meantime!

The trip to Shetland was planned a bit late in the day for getting onto a lot of the courses I was interested in, but I spent some of my time there at the museum in Lerwick, and also visited Jarlshof at Sumburgh. After reading the excavation report numerous times, it was great to finally see it in the flesh. I've started planning for next year's Shetland Wool Week already, so fingers crossed that I'll get to see even more archaeology while I'm there!