Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What chaincreative loved about 2008

So much has happened on chaincreative this year and as it draws to it's close I thought it would be fun to just take a long look back.
Great crochet blogs are such a treat to find and I found some gems. From Belgium there were our friends Karlita and Veerle with their blogs. Chaincreative travelled virtual-style to Belgium to check out their home turf and found a very inspiring buzz happening there. Veerle gave us a real insight into her technique and we count her as a real friend to this blog. The Voyages strand was so much fun to research and write and after Belgium we went to Portugal and Israel. Both countries have a long tradition of crochet and some exciting talent is out there for us to enjoy. From Portugal comes Maria with
her wonderful work on Etsy under the name kjoo. Her work is stunning and constantly changing.
Another great artist is from Israel. Yael is a designer in metal and this really allows us to see the versatility of crochet. Her work on Etsy is under the name of Yoola and we've done a great profile of her work and inspirations on the Visual Arts strand.
Well, this is just a taster of what's available for you to browse in the comfort of your home from chaincreative. A few more choices on Friday I think and then planning meetings for 2009.
Have a very wonderful beginning to this coming year and look forward to your visit in 2009.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Happy happy holidays

Wishing all the readers of chaincreative a restful and craft-filled Christmas and on into 2009. I think that next year is going to see an explosion of design and creativity as we look to our own skills to get us through any mess the others have made. When large department stores report that the sewing and knitting accessories have been the best performing sections of the season, and when Loop has been filled with clamouring customers frantically buying yarn and patterns for Christmas gifts, then I know we're onto a winner.

After Christmas I'm going to look back at some of the best and the rest of chaincreative's 2008.

Have a wonderful time!!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Distressed or de-stressed

It's that time of year again when it seems the only option is to be rushing about trying to remember all the things you need to do that day. I love being busy but some times think it can get a bit crazeeee. Anyway, at the moment I'm listening to Frank Sinatra (don't ask but it's a Christmas number ''ll be home for Christmas'and this, his 93rd birthday!! It's pretty atmospheric), snuggled up against the frosty morning (very pretty) and writing about...felt. The pictures above are by the danish felting artist Yvonne Bavman, which makes you understand how versatile the medium is.

There's alot of talented accessory designers around and alot of their work is in felt. Last week at Loop there were quite a few customers in asking about suitable yarns to use for felting. Animal fibres are the obvious answer and the more the better. 70% pure animal fibre seems to be the accepted rule, with man-made taking some of the 'power' away from the distressing of the fibre. Machine washable also affects performance as it's been pre-shrunk.

This all got me thinking about posting about the topic so I did some research and this is the result of my findings.
Well, if one starts at the best place, the beginning, you can start with 'rovings' the base component of yarn, the unspun wool. You can buy this on Etsy and just checking out my post on Etsy yarns gives some names to choose from. Then follow these simple instructions. Of course, you're most interested in felting crochet so some further instructions might be useful!

Looking for yarn is half the fun and I won't go on at length, but I did find these rovings on Etsy that I loved for their colour palette. From Vanda Souza, these are beautifully packaged and really whet the appetite.

Once you feel confident that you know what to do and you have researched your materials then maybe some inspiration wouldn't go amiss. I love these gorgeously quirky critters from Sebold's Originals.

A pattern might be useful. Now, this is where Etsy is sooo useful. Lots and lots of patterns are available as PDFs. I'm going to zip through my faves. thebirdsandbees have lots of patterns and this mouse is so cute. little projects cater for the accessory lover, and this satchel bag fits the bill. knotsocute has loads of (cute) patterns and I love these children's slippers.

Well, is that enough to be going on with? I think so. I hope you're all busy preparing lovely gifts and enjoying the run-up to whatever holidays you may be having.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Designer Interview - Brie Read of Roman Sock

This designer interview is a real pleasure as Brie certainly says alot of home truths about the wonders of crochet and it's ability to make us feel good about ourselves and what we're making.
I love the fact that no animal is safe from her amigurumi and it illustrates that anything is possible to create with crochet. This sets me to thinking that it can be adapted to other disciplines and architecture springs to mind. In the New Year I'm hoping to take a look at this.
Anyway, here's Brie and her interview and her gallery of 'friends'. Enjoy!!!
Chain Creative Interview
Questions of creativity and inspiration

Your name: Brie Read
Name of your business: Roman Sock
Where you’re from: I am from all over! My mother is Dutch/Indonesian my father is a Londoner and I have lived in 15 different countries. I currently live in Scotland
Blog address: Roman Sock

(and don't forget your Flikr page!!!)
Describe your various creative skills: I have always loved making things and as a child I was much happier with a bag of flour (for glue) some old boxes and some aluminium foil, than any toy money could buy.
I have to thank my mum for putting up with all sorts of hideous creations! And to my dad who still wears a silk painted tie I made him.
However, I never found my niche. I loved sculpture and colour but I am not a very good painter so eventually I gave up being creative and worked on my career. That was until I found crochet.

Why do you love crochet? Because it is ultimately completely flexible, and you have the ability to create what is in your minds eye. I love the textures, shapes and dimensions you can make, but most of all the warmth of using yarn. I adore the way crochet can be completely unstructured it feels like knitting’s more daring cousin.

What is the inspiration behind the name of your website/blog? Tell us a bit about it. I called my blog Roman Sock, because a roman sock was the first thing ever crocheted. I love ancient history particularly the Romans so it just seemed to fit. Although I think it may have caused a lot of confusion as many people seem to think I am an actual person called Roman Sock.
What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?
I try not to look at other amigurumi out there as I think it is so easy to inadvertently copy someone’s idea. Instead I like watching nature programs and often use flickr to search for cute pictures of animals. I also try to solve problems with my crochet, so if I need a bag, or a pen holder, or a yarn holder, or anything else, I try and think of a way I could make it in crochet instead of buying it.
What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
Being original, it is really important to me that I keep making things that break my own boundaries and keep people guessing. I would like people to be able to tell my work apart from other peoples.
Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
This one is a bit of a tie, I love my meerkats but I am also very proud of my recent pass the piggies game. I like the piggy game because it really has a function, it something to be used not just to sit on a shelf collecting dust.
I like my meerkats because I feel they brought something a bit different to traditional amigurumi.

Describe the kind of customer you are appealing to.
I don’t sell my patterns because I want as many people as possible to enjoy them. One day I would love to publish a book so hopefully if people like my patterns one day they might buy the book.
When are you most happy when you’re working?
I love that instant crochetfication feeling, so I would say at the end of a small project that has turned out even better than I planned. It’s a
rare but wonderful feeling!

Thank you for chatting, Brie!

Thank you!

Love Bee
Wasn't that great!!? I know that many of you are fans of Roman Sock and have linked over to her site. I'm sure many more will after reading this.

Sunday, 30 November 2008


It's that time of year again when everything ends up in a pile of paper hankerchieves, a box of aspirin and a flu diagnosis. No crochet or blogging for me. Just browsing the internet for funny pictures of people sneezing (see above!!) and trying not to complain too loudly.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Isn't Etsy great

I've been buying Christmas presents on Etsy - I think it's great if you can source really unique gifts and support designer-producers at the same time. There so much talent out there and Etsy is a wonderful home for many of them. I'd be dishonest if I didn't say that it's all wonderful, but at least there is the choice and a home for everything. I love browsing the 'Handpicked' range every day which is a personal choice of an Etsier and it certainly opens the treasure-chest!

As you can see, I've set up my own shop there, Bee@Home, and it's been a wonderfully simple process. So...if you are a designer and haven't taken a peek at the process of establishing yourself there, then hurry, hurry and get over there!!!

My fave raves at the moment are -

Little Black Rabbit (Vintage Tin Charm)

Oktak (mini-frame pouch)

Quixotic Cards (Winter Wonderland Reindeer)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Decorating the holidays

I must be feeling a bit Christmasy as today's post is all about decoration. The reason probably is that I'm busy sewing and knitting and crocheting orders and, as this doesn't allow so much time for the blog, I want to catch the mood while I can.

The posts are a short but sweet and this one is for all those who want to keep it 'real' and create their own decorations. I'm increasingly meeting people who are being really creative this Christmas and making many of their presents. I'm sure it's because of our new economic situation but I hope the feeling will last long after the bankers have left the building.
First off are the autumn leaves from Craftystylish which may have a November feel about them but with a little adaption could be made to suit Noel. I love Craftystylish for all it's ideas so pop over and see what creativity you could get up to.More in the spirit is fablehandmade and her bunting. Of course, Jenn is an old friend of chaincreative and she catches the vibe of folk Christmas' so nicely with this pattern.
Little creatures and figures are such a feature of many decorations and you only have to go to Etsy and tap in crochet christmas decoration patterns to find a wealth of them. Rudolphs, angels and Christmasy cartoon people. Anyhow, let's keep it simple with this little pattern from Owlishly which keeps it simple and not too sweet.
Truly feeling a bit of the tinsel tingle now so let's finish with a dusting of snow with these snowflake patterns from Australia, not a country I immediately associate with snow!! These are starched.
If you go to Flikr and go to starch crochet you'll find tons of examples of decorations that have been stiffened to attention!!

The picture at the top of the post is from my favourite blog, Fryd+design and the lovely Jeanette. The images are constantly inspiring.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

In the jungle

I started with my first Saturday of 'work' at Loop which was so much fun. It was super-busy and alot of the people coming in were saying that they're really fired up to make their own Christmas presents this year. It's almost becoming a cult!
It's such a great way of showing that you care and, at the same time, having a little fun for yourself in the making. Crochet, of course, is such a whizzy way to get things made fast and these little guys are a lovely way to make someone tiny (or even bigger) very happy indeed.

Amigurumi seems to be the most popular way to create your own little toys and I'm not going to disagree. What I'm looking for is something different.
I love Roman Sock for finding great ideas and patterns. The site is the brainchild of a very talented crocheter from Scotland. Glasgow to be precise, and every pattern is beautifully and humourously represented. My super-favourite that we can all try our hand at is her meerkats and there is a pdf for you to download. She also has many other adorable critters and this fennec fox above is particularly lush. Pattern please!!!
Deep in the forest something stirs. Look what I found!!! PlanetJune is the creation of another UK native now living in North America. She has really created some cute amigurumi characters which, similar to Roman Sock, take an altogether quirky look at the skill. AfriAmi look simple and fun to make and you can purchase the patterns from the site.

Last but far from least is tildafilur from Etsy who I've featured before. All her patterns are available and they are adorable. Winter was never so fun as making the skiing polar bear!!!

Friday, 7 November 2008

A Toy Taster

Just to start with a cute little character to start off our Christmas ideas list. Gourmet crochet is a buy-online pattern service and they have some neat projects to get you going. I'll be featuring lots of ideas in the coming weeks but let this be the entree to a perfect meal! Just go to Dolls and take a peek.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Don't worry, be happy

It seems that the air is filled with concerned voices and fearfulness. I know it sounds superficial but sometimes you have to go back to basics to get your confidence back.

All of this made me think that Christmas this year should be an opportunity for investing more time (not money) in creating gifts that have more meaning and value because they have a personal creativity. I'm not alone. There are books being published every day and discussions in every paper and I spotted this article by the Sunday Times writer, India Knight. Her book, The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less pretty much tells us what our mothers knew best. It's about time we learned some lessons from it. I've just completed another well-attended beginners' course of crochet classes and I can tell in my own little field that there's a hunger to pick up some long-forgotten skills. Learning was never so fun and potentially so profitable.
The internet is a-buzzin' with ideas and projects and I'll be looking at a few in the next few weeks. Before then, I wanted to alert you to a nice publication from the States (good luck to all of them today, by the way) which you may, or may not, already know about.
Craft: magazine is choc-full of ideas and projects and lots of crochet. I love this hanging decoration from Emilie Friday.
A digital version is available which is useful for international customers. There is an excellent blog which picks up on the magazine and it's contributors and it gives hours and hours of happy browsing. In addition, if you want to really enter the digital age, there are podcasts of patterns and projects. For more ideas there is a Flikr Craft: pool which features finished projects and work in progress. I love this one from Feltroterapia. There isn't much crochet there so...

...get to work!!!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Etsy yarns

Well, today's post is easy. Yarns, and lots of them. Etsy is a wonderful source of produce from designer's around the world. It's a treasure chest of beautiful and eclectic things and hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns are one of the items I love to browse through. I know you can do your own browsing but sometimes it's nice to have your attention drawn somewhere you haven't looked before.
Just type in 'handspun yarn' and away you go. After a little sorting out, you'll be spoiled for choice. Surprisingly, alot of the sellers also crochet. Hmm, the two must go together.
I thought I'd feature some of my personal favourites but go there yourself and dip in.
The first I've chosen is from the UK called Alchemy Fibre Arts and is based in the north of England where alot of the inspiration comes. I love many
of the heathery, heathy tones of the yarns and particularly this yarn called...Heath!!! I'm a great fan of fine yarns and this is the one for me. I'm going to include a little of it's description to whet your appetite. 'I have spun this 2 ply yarn from a mixture of fibres to give stunning subtle tones & textures. The fibres used are a base of British fine wool and merino blended with alpaca angora,mohair,kid mohair, wensleydale wool and a touch of linen.'
Pigeonroof studios has a small but perfect little collection. My personal favourite is this russet yarn. They also sell rovings, the base for all spinning, and I think the piece at the top of the post is particularly luscious.

Guttersnipe is my next port of call and what great names for yarns. Makes each one so personal and even more colourful. I've chosen Your Father's Tartan and I'll leave you to create your own impressions from that!!

To finish, let's go to Snowberry and Lime which has a unique selection including this gorgeous vegan yarn with pearls woven in. Divine.
There is no excuse now that the nights are drawing in and winter is a long, long time to wait till summer.
It's going to be a busy time to.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Fryd + Design

Just back from Jeanette's beautiful blog and she's done it again. Another beautiful image AND crochet. Double hurray. Just had to share it with you!!!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Ideas and dreams

I'm sending you on a journey to Norway again. Two designers who I've often mentioned before are perfect resources for inspiration and ideas and with the granny theme in mind I thought a reminder of their talent would not go amiss.
Guro at Hobbykroken, has been a chaincreative friend for some time and we've posted before about her blog. I spotted a sweet little idea she had come up with for using some squares she'd made and I thought you might agree with me.
The next person is Jeanette from Fryd+Design. Jeanette is a graphic designer by trade but really is just an all-round talented person and crochets as well!! I love to dip into the blog and soak up the beautiful atmosphere that her pictures evoke and I'm not alone. Just recently her home has been featured in a number of interior publications. The picture at the top of the post is her beautiful home. Go to her blog and you'll find out why she's admired and why she loves her craft.

Well, I think this post will wind up the 'granny' theme that we've been running this month. Next month will be felting time and, with Christmas just around the corner, gifts and toys.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Motifs and a pattern

The Japanese craft books are the greatest discovery I've made and I'm always seeking out new ones to add to my collection. At the moment my favourite is an Ondori book (ISBN978-4-277-17217-2) whose title I, sadly, cannot translate! Anyway, from the cover you can see why I mention it as it's full of nice 'granny motif' projects made beautiful by the careful choice of colours. I buy the books from Saucy Louise who has both a store of her own and an Etsy shop. If you're looking specifically for motif patterns she's got a several books. Another way to resource these wonderful books and magazines is through various web-sites and blogs. The two most useful I've found are Japan Craft Journal and Crafting Japanese.

I've also had a few requests for the pattern for the shirt-dress from my 1970 book 'Make It Crochet'. With great pleasure I'll post it for you here!!! Happy crochet!