May 1st, 2020
Hello there and welcome to The Crochet Circle Podcast and the show notes for Episode 54 – Simple, Soothing Stitches.
My name is Fay and this is my audio and video podcast for those that love fibre crafts, particularly crochet. It’s a community for people that like to support their fellow humans regardless of race, gender, sexuality, ability, size or age. I hope you feel the welcome embrace and love of the Crochet Clan. Come on in and stay awhile.
In this episode, I cover General Update; Old Dog New Tricks; Final Destination; Designs on Progress; Quick News Beats and Big Up.
This podcast is sponsored by my online crafting company, Provenance Craft Co.
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1 – General Update
I know that globally, we are all on different states of stay at home/lockdown. However, the reality is most likely a little like eat, sleep, distance repeat. I’m used to working from home and probably only go at a handful of times a week anyway. I’m a bit of an introvert, so although I am very happy in my little home bubble, I am starting to miss my people. It would have been Wonderwool Wales this weekend. It’s easily my favourite show of the year. I get to catch up with lots of my yarn buddies, many of which I won’t have seen since the end of September. It’s a chance to check-in and hug your friends. So, I’m missing all of that.
I can only imagine that if you are a social butterfly this must be really tough for you.
I know that many of you are being directly affected by the virus and have family members that are ill or have sadly died. I am sending tender love and hugs.
2 – Old Dog New Tricks
This month’s top Crochet Clan tip is from Caroline (Soltra on Ravelry). Her tip is to regularly push yourself to try something new with crafting. It could be a new technique, a new type of craft, just something that keeps pushing you forward. Caroline references the fact that when she learned to do Tunisian Crochet, she made blanket after blanket and sickened herself by only doing blankets for 18 months. It was only when she joined in with a Tunisian CAL that was all about skill-building that she really moved on with her Tunisian crochet skills and has worked her way through 13+ projects.
It’s really easy to stick to what you know and feels comfortable. And I know that I have called this episode Simple Soothing Stitches because I don’t currently have the mental capacity to work on really complicated things, but new techniques and skills don’t have to be complicated.
I don’t know how many times I have told myself “oh, I’m not good enough to try that technique out yet”. It’s folly to think that way because you are just holding yourself back. Dive in, if it works first time – great, if it needs a bit of extra practice then that’s also great because you are really getting to grips with the new thing. If it doesn’t work then maybe it’s not for you. Often, that’s my favourite outcome because I can cross it off my list and move onto the next technique. You will never see me do crocheted cables. I hated doing it. It’s just not for me, but because I now know that, I’m never swayed to those projects and I let something else pique my interest instead.
3 – Final Destination
Let me introduce you to Heulwen. It’s a laceweight shawl using Garthenor wool (link) and is in this month’s Inside Crochet (Issue 125 (link)). Heulwen means sunshine in Welsh which is very apt given the design and that Garthenor is a Welsh-based wool company.
The entire thing weighs about 120g and although it’s lightweight, it’s nice and cosy.
Image text: Image 1 - An undyed grey, Shetland wool shawl is displayed along with a wooden fence post with bright yellow oilseed rape flowers and woodland in the field behind and cow parsley in bloom in the verge in front. The shell has details of the sun in the same yellow as the oilseed rape. A semi-circle for the sun with beams of yellow coming off in fan stitches. Image 2 - a close up of the shawl showing how fine the lace wool is with the yellow fan/sunbeam details. Oilseed rape flowers and a blueish sky are visible behind.
John Arbon Textiles Exmoor Sock 4 ply, 50g/200m, Mackerel Sky (link).
John Arbon Textiles Knit By Numbers DK, 100g/250m, KBN111 (link).
John Arbon Textiles Harvest Hues light Aran/worsted, 100g/200m, Bracken (link).
Gathernor Number 5, Chunky, 100g/70-100m, Pewter Jacob (link).
Image description: Four different versions of Positivity Spiral Cowl lying over each other. L-R is an undyed Jacob, chunky version in a Pewter Grey, Then a rusty orange Aran weight version, an aquamarine 4 ply version and a long thin DK version in lovely dirty mustard colour.
I have one more to do and then I can update the pattern giving options for a wider range of yarn weights. If you have already bought Positivity Spiral, as soon as it has been updated, you will receive a new copy with all of the weights on it.
I also set myself a design challenge last month to get a design, knit and publish a pattern inside of seven days. I managed it by the skin of my teeth and it was intense! I created a stranded colourwork knitted hat called the Coho Beanie (link to Ravelry, link to my website, link to Etsy). I also used it as a chance to document my design process, the tools I use and the amount of time that is involved. If you are interested in seeing that process, head over to my design Instagram account @faydhdesigns (link) and look for the videos.
I used John Arbon Textiles Yarnadlic 25g/83m Minis (link) in colours Indigo Dust, Of my Hand, Woman in Blue and Ordinary Joe for the four-colour blue version and Harmonium, English Sparrows and Ordinary Joe for the three-colour green version.
Image description: Image 1 - me with my long brown hair down looking back over my shoulder beside a large pool of water. I am wearing the M/L, four-coloured, knitted Coho Beanie which ranges from dark teal through to a warm cream and has feature scallops in stranded colourwork.
Image 2 - The five different size version of the hat laid out on a large mossy trunk, surrounded by nettles. L-R they go from L/XL adult (green), M/L (teals), S (teals), XS/Child (teals) and toddler (green) sizes. The green version is three-colours, ranging from a mid-forest green to bright spring green to the same warm cream. Some of the hats have pom-poms on them.
Me being me, I knitted it up in five different sizes, so it’s available from toddlers up to a L/XL adult.
So whilst I haven’t yet managed to whittle any wood – that’s my challenge for this weekend – I have managed to sew my first ever garment. I managed to get some organic cotton from Fabworks (link) and used the Elise Tee from Fine Motor Skills (link) which is a free sewing pattern. I really enjoyed this as a first attempt and I’m happy to be wearing it as I record. I even regraded the pattern to make it a little bigger because it only goes from S-L. Plop! There I go down the sewing rabbit hole.
My Nana used to sew all of her own clothes. Don’t think tea dresses, think fine tailoring pinstripe suits with satin and chiffon blouses. Elaine Dashper was a woman with very defined tastes and standards! I am hoping I have inherited some of her sewing DNA.
4 – Designs in Progress
I have almost finished my Scrapvent Blanket. Lots of work has gone into this month because although I am trying to set myself challenges to keep focussed, I am also really drawn to simple soothing stitches. I just don’t want my crochet time to be challenging too and the blanket has been perfect for that.
Image description: Cream background with my Scrapvent Blanket coming in from the right having been artistically 'dumped'. It has a cream border and 24 different stripes (6 rows per colour stripe) ranging from peachy creams to mustard, greens, teals and finally, dark plummy purple.
Why not head to your stash and see if you have 24 x 20g leftovers or minis in 4 ply and 100g for a border? Get them bagged up and put away for 1st December 2020.
I’m so pleased with the way that the blanket is coming together. There are a couple in there that I maybe would swap out in hindsight, but as soon as I attached the border, it really helped to bring the whole piece together. For me, it was well worth pulling together the 24 colour sequence. Even if I did think I was drunk when I added the acid green in that I now rather like!
This will be finished next month, with a pattern to follow shortly.
I was working on a laceweight version of Positivity Spiral with Organically Farmed Merino, 50g/650m, natural white (link) but I just can’t do it. It’s too fine and I’m not enjoying it. Given what I said in Old Dog New Tricks, I definitely know that cobweb lace is a step too far for me.
I know that I keep on saying I don’t like laceweight, but clearly I must like it a little bit because I keep on going back to it.
So, my alternative laceweight version of Positivity Spiral is in Garthenor’s Number 1 laceweight in Smoke, which is undyed Shetland, 50g/350 (link).
Image description: Image 1 - cream background with a cake of fine undyed, grey laceweight wool to the top left and a bundle of barely started crocheted rounds in the middle. A pink metal crochet hook lyes to the right. Image 2 - School green background with a photo of Jonny and Sally from Garthenor Organic. Jonny with his arm around his Mum, Sally, as they stand in front of Niagara Falls.
5 – Feeding the Habit
I am a very fortunate person. I had three parcels turn up from lovely Crochet Clan folk. Each parcel arrived just when I needed a little boost!
I received some beautiful seaweed yarn and skeins of hemp from Rachael. She has also requested that I do a bit of a feature on vegan yarns. I have one planned and have lots of yarns to go through but don’t quite know when I’m going to get to it – someday!
Three skeins of hemp yarn in an acid green, rusty brown/orange a dark lavender blue/purple lye diagi=onally beside a card with a crocheted hexagon and cake of seaweed yarn.
Rica sent me through loads of German marzipan ( I even let Matthew have some) and yarn from her global travels. So, I now have yarns from Germany, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru and Bolivia in my stash. I need to spend some proper time looking at the construction of the wools to see if there are differences from country to country.
Image description: cream background with lots of different yarns from around the world. Fluffy blue mohair from India, perfectly spun pecahy brown wool from Bolivia, loosely spun green wool from Iran. The different plying methods from different countries is evident.
Claudia also sent loads of marzipan from Germany. If you have never tried marzipan with calvados, you are missing out! I have a new favourite. My parcel from Claudia was full of all sorts of lovely goodies including some amazing art yarn which I think I am going to make into a cushion, using the mustard coloured buttons that she popped in the parcel.
Image description: A large hank of art yarn that goes from thick to thin and ranges from sky blue to bring green and a slurry green /brown.
I can’t show you any marzipan because we have eaten it all! Nom, nom, nom.
Given that I was buying design wool from Garthenor, I also treated myself to a little set of 10g mini skeins from their little shop update. Often small companies have small updates that go out to newsletter subscribers first. That’s what Garthenor and RiverKnits do. John Arbon Textiles do their Mill Membership for special access. It’s definitely worth subscribing to your favourite small businesses.
Image description: Five mini skeins fo wool, each bound in the centre with a kraft paper label. The skeins are different types of wool and move from light grey/brown through to a dark chocolate, peaty colour.
6 – Quick News Beats
1 - Global Hook Up – The May hook ups are on:
Saturday 23rd at 8pm BST and Sunday 24th at 9am BST.
The meeting ID number is 475-047-5819 and you will need to join via Zoom which you can do here: https://www.zoom.us/join
If you are joining on your phone or tablet you will likely need to download the software in advance. If you are joining from a PC or Mac, you can join via the link above. Everyone needs to use the same ID number to get into the session.
7 – J’adore
Going back to the premise of simple and soothing, I have been going back to gardening and growing more of our own food. The current pandemic has given me a bit of a jolt to look again at my environmental impact and what is important to me.
My plan is to grow and make even more of our own food (we already do a fair bit) and to really work towards a handmade capsule wardrobe.
I don’t think I’m the only one using this strange time to reassess what they want from this one life.
I have also been looking backwards through “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden. It’s an illustrated nature journal, documenting what Edith saw in the English countryside month by month. I grew up with this book and bought my own second-hand copy at the beginning of the year. Every month, I go to it and look at Edith’s writing and illustrations for that month. One of May’s mottoes is “Shear your sheep in May and shear them all away”.
Image description: The book is open at pages for May with beautiful handwriting on the left page and a delicate illustration of May flowers on the right.
I‘m basically taking pleasure from the simple things. I hope you are too.
I’ll be back on 5th June.
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