Friday, 30 May 2008

Voyage to the unknown

Following on from Wednesday's post on the Northern blogs, here's some more travels in the top half of the globe. Kate, a great ex-student of mine, drew my attention to the wonders of Bjork's crochet costumes and their origins. Perfect for a crochet blog like chaincreative - a use of a craft in artistic perspectives.
In 2007, Bjork designed her tour promoting the album Volta using freeform crochet for her visual representation, the costumes being designed by the Icelandic Love Corporation. The link for Volta is to the dedicated site and is choc-full of images for the album. The artists responsible for the design are three women based in Reykjavik, Sigrun, Joni and Eirun (my apologies to their last names but I was sure I would spell them wrong!). If you visit their website you'll see just how wide-ranging their artistic skills are.
All this brings me to the massive country called Freeform Crochet - there be dragons!!! - which I have to confess is Terra Incognita to me. On Monday I plan to post the findings of my first journey there and feature two exponents of the art, Anna Voog and Prudence Mapstone

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Magnetic north

I've seen Thai women crocheting in Koh Samui and admired wedding gifts of intricate bedspreads to a Portugese bride. Until I'm told otherwise, the largest collection of crocheters on the net are collected in the atmospheric northern hemisphere. Cool light and cooler winters. There must be alot of good designing time up there!!!
I'm now in contact with quite a few of these designers and I'm very excited to invite them here to chaincreative. They'll be returning in the Designer Interview slot but until then here is an introduction to 'our friends from the north'.
The first is no stranger to chaincreative and we've featured her before, so there's little need for introductions. Fryd + design is the brainchild of Norwegian Jeanette Lunde and is written in English so is accessible to many countries. Although not specifically a crochet blog (there aren't many of us anyway!!!) I love her emotion that she brings to observing her world and her approach to craft and design. The little touches she gives to her creations and observations are so charming and she's such a sweetheart that chaincreative is happy to have her as a friend!

Next to visit is Guro Strandskog from Hobbykroken which is a mix of Norwegian and English so no problems there on translations. As with Fryd + design, Guro creates such a gorgeous ambience that completely transports you to a cool, clear world. I love it. Both Jeanette at Fryd and Guro here at Hobbykroken take beautiful pictures of their work and Guro's also appears on flikr so you can enjoy in full there. She has patterns for some of her creations and is certainly prolific in many creative fields. Beautiful jewelery too.
From Estonia comes Marianne at heegeldab and she too is a mother and designer. Her work can be seen both on her blog and at etsy and blows you away with it's range and depth. You'll love all the examples of her work on her flikr photostream. Again beautifully shot, the signature coolness and clear colours gives just the right feel. Again the blog is translated in English and there is so much to learn from all our northern girls about how crochet and design go together so beautifully that visiting them is a pleasure you can return to again and again.

Last, but not least, is Hedda Vatter, also from Estonia. I haven't been in direct contact with her yet so I can't give a brief resume. Suffice to say, her design is certainly a chaincreative favourite. She has a shop at etsy full of delicious things and is a lesson in how to turn a craft into objects of desire.

Monday, 26 May 2008

A Stitch in Time and Jane Waller

Today is a holiday in the UK so I'm going to be a little bit lazy and post some info rather than patterns for your enjoyment. Mind you, this info comes with a gilded lining as there is just a chance that a lost treasure might be returning in an accessible (cheaper!!!) form.

For many, the definitive collection of 20th century knitting and crochet patterns was A Stitch in Time by Jane Waller. Published in the 1970's it contained 336 pages of patterns spanning the period of the 20's to the 40's and all for the price of £8.50. Sadly, I had to pay a ten times that amount for my copy 3 years ago and at the moment you would have to do the same. E-bay, Amazon - they all tell the same story. This is an extremely collectible book and with good reason. The patterns are published in their origingal form, with a small selection made up for the book in contemporary representations. The man's swimming suit is divine!!! The crochet patterns are outnumbered by the knitting but their are some gems and I particularly love the 'Wool Lace Party "Pretties"'.

Now the good news. There are plans afoot to republish this classic from knitonthenet with a publication date planned for September of this year. The author, Jane Waller, is a prolific writer and has many publications to her name. Like me, she's fascinated by her collection of vintage patterns which she tells about in an interview with knitonthenet. To spike your interest in the wonderful design and creations of this period, you can trawl the e-waves through the links in my pattern links.

Buying patterns on e-bay is also a sinch and I have a number of sellers who regularly have fabulous patterns in their auctions. Buying in the US market affords greater choice and the design of post-war America was wonderful. They really got Paris!!!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Designer interview - fable*handmade Jennifer Fletcher

Today's post is a new departure for chaincreative. An occasional series of designer interview that will hopefully give insights into the inspiration and motivations of the designers we feature on the blog. As a designer and teacher, I know how interesting and enlightening it is to hear how others approach their work and fulfill their potential.

So!!! Big fanfare!! The first

Chain Creative Interview
Questions of creativity and inspiration
Your name
Jennifer Fletcher
Where you’re from
California, USA
Blog address
Describe your various creative skills.
Designing crochet patterns, sewing, painting, drawing, sculpting, jewelry making, costume design
I love the name of the website and blog! What was the inspiration behind them?
Fairytales have influenced me, creatively and as a person, for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved a good story or fable, one with magic and wonder. I hope that is reflected in my work.
What was the motivation to start the business?
Despite whatever job I had or whatever was happening in my life, I was always making things. A lot of the time I was making gifts for friends and they were always urging me to sell my work.
What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?
Fairytales as I said before, along with myths, legends and other related things. I also love children’s books, literature, nature, fashion, artists like Dulac and Rackham…there’s definitely a theme!
What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
Thoughtfulness. I really want to create things that are unique, that have my “stamp” on them. I’m not interested in cranking out stuff just because I think they would sell. I think I appeal to a specific niche and that’s a good thing to me.
Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
Hmmm…it’s hard to narrow things down but as far as crochet is concerned, I think the Sweet Magnolia Scarflette is still one of my favorites. It’s the design that kind of started the whole business. When I created it, I had never heard of a crocheted magnolia or a flower scarf that was as intricate and dimensional as this one. So, I guess I’m proud I came up with it!
When are you most happy when you’re working?
I’m an idea machine. I mean, they are literally falling out of my ears at all times and I spend a lot of energy trying to stuff them back in. I sometimes wish I could clone myself so I can bring a lot of my ideas to life! But like they say, ideas are a dime a dozen and little is more satisfying than creating something in real life. And then getting a response – I love it so when people tell me how much they adore my patterns – and unsolicited! Well, I guess that’s a very roundabout way of saying there isn’t just one thing I love about doing my own thing.
Thank you so much Jenn for your time to answer our questions. We love your work and look forward to featuring you again in the near future!
I was really pushed to know which pictures to feature from Jenn's flikr photostream but the ones I chose, I think, sum up her style.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Jessica Polka and the dynamics of crochet

I have featured Jessica in an earlier post and am a huge fan of her skill. We've been chatting through the e-waves and she has kindly given me permission to publish her designs for her Sculptural Crochet Primer. It may sound like something out of the classroom but is anything but, and really serves as a visual example as to how to set up your own designs. She's definitely telling the truth when she says that crochet needs to be seen in it's 'enormous sculptural potential'. That's hefty words but so challenging to all us crochet crazies! Jessica also points the way to another area that we've dealt with at chaincreative; Hyperbolic Crochet! Now, I'm going to confess, this isn't somewhere I've been before but I'm now beginning to get the idea. If you are into the math of the concept then the Institute of Figuring is the place for you with an interview with the main personalities involved. If you're more into the look of the thing then check out the Institute's gallery of crochet models.
Let's return to Jessica for the final words today. I love her cabinet of crochet elements which is rather like something Darwin might have had on his travels!!! If you want to learn about her skills and philosophy then hop over to her blog, Wunderkammer, her own 'cabinet of curiousity'. If you're feeling even more adventurous then go to her etsy pages where you can purchase patterns for a Gentleman Prawn or jellyfish and many more salty friends.
Thank you Jessica!!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Little red Corvette

I'm just sooo spoiled for choice with projects and news to bring you that I was really wondering what to post today - where to begin?? Then I remembered that it's Pattern Monday and that this project has been in the front of my mind for some time. Now that summer is almost here and outdoor living might actually be a reality, I thought these dinky driving gloves were just the thing! Kalurah has a great blog whiletheyplay and an etsy shop where she sells crochet items and, for our purposes today, patterns!!! Her vintage-style fingerless driving gloves are just perfect for jumping in that car and driving the length of the Riviera.

The gorgeous gloves in the larger picture are her Romantic Fingerless Gloves and, as with all the patterns, comes as a 3-page PDF for the grand old sum of $5. For anyone that hasn't, buying on etsy is easy-peasy if you have Paypal and is a great way of connecting with designer-craftpersons. I hope to connect up with while they play in the near future, but until then it's hooks, yarn and a Fiat Spider for me.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Ravelry and flikr

Finding crochet through the internet is quite a time-consuming exercise. As with most things, there is a wealth of material and it would be impossible to follow the trail of breadcrumbs through the wood. It's certainly fun to run along the links from blog to website and back but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day. If you're in a hurry there are a couple of places - after you've visited chaincreative! - where you can browse the many and various. A relatively new friend for me is Ravelry where I've just had my application accepted. Let me explain if you're a new kid to Ravelry's block. The main content is community comment, pattern, advice and ideas on all aspects of knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning and, I suppose, anything else you can do with wool. The forum was set up after much frustration at not finding concise information on patterns and yarns on the web and now here is a site that is almost all-singing and all-dancing. It is huge and I know that some blog types are concerned that it will replace the independent blogger as more and more use Ravelry as their main method of communication. We shall see. Anyway, chaincreative is hanging in here!! If you're not one already, becoming a member requires you to submit your e-mail and then, about a week later, you'll receive your green light and then off you go.

Another place for the curious is flikr which is 'almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world'! That's some claim!!! It's a huge archive of pictures (many free for public use) of designers and civilians. The picture I've featured today is from the photostream of a designer I plan to discuss on chaincreative very soon, MarianneS. If you follow the link you'll get a clear example of just what I'm talking about, and at the same time see some very inspiring crochet work. How great is that??

Let me just say, however, that I don't think anything beats a concise and edited website where the info out there is sorted for you without any effort on your part. Hurray chaincreative. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

May Collection on Chaincreative

As with last month, here is a selection of some of the wonderful people and designs that have been featured here on chaincreative. In addition, I've chosen some of the fabulous items on etsy which I hope will spark your interest. I just love the scent of summer that comes from these choices. Here comes the sun!!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Babette blanket

This blanket has become a bit iconic since Interweave magazine published the pattern way back in Spring 2006. Skim the web and you'll find no end to the comments and suggestions made about this beautiful piece of work. And a piece of work it is. It's no granny-square blanket and that's why it has become such a star. The squares may appear randomly spread but, in fact, have to follow a fairly strict grid. It may be ideal for using up scrips and scraps but the most successful will have as much thought put into colour as there is in the putting together. Obviously, finding a copy of the original pattern in print form may pose a challenge but online there are sources. knittingdaily has a downloadable PDF for $6 which is the official link for Interweave magazine. The image I've chosen is from the flikr pool of pictures by australianoveranalyzer as she has caught the spirit of the pattern. Have a look at all the babette stream as it's absolutely fascinating to see the different takes on the idea. Another source of information and idea-sharing can be found on Ravelry (I'll be posting about the 'knit and crochet community' soon). As you may already know, you have to join (very easy process) but once accepted (takes about a week) you can dip into the huge bran-tub of voices and comments on there.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Japanese pattern books on Etsy

Imagine the excitement when this package arrived all the way from Japan! Three neat pattern books with fabulous photography, worthy of any style mag. Even if you didn't want to make anything, they would still be a pleasure to flick through.

But, hey, that just isn't the case. You want to make everything, and in those colours, those yarns, everything!! Bags, scarves, throws, slippers, the list is endless. Instructions are in Japanese, but with clear symbol diagrams, pictures and images, so completely multi-lingual.

I bought these from SaucyLouise's Shop on Etsy. Lou Eytalis may be saucy, but she certainly is efficient and the books arrived in double-quick time. The books she lists on Etsy are her current collection but you can also check her web-shop for the full list and for those she has listed but which are sold out. She will try and source books for you as well, which is great as I still haven't worked out how to 'break into' Amazon Japan! Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Another great designer for chaincreative to shout about - Jen at Fable Handmade Goods - who has sent us into squeaks of delight when we saw her meadow handbag pattern. Jen's design odyssey started much like my own in sewing and scrummaging through scrap bags and ending discovering the potential of crochet, and now she 'dreams of fabric and yarn and vintage buttons'.

All the patterns are listed on her website and
sit so nicely together as a collection. Ooo, I really do love that meadow bag though. That might have to be a purchase, I think!!! Patterns are sooo reasonable at $6 (payable online) but if you want to dip your toes into the pattern shallows then there are freebies too. These designers are always generous I find. Hurrah!! I particularly love the passionflower handbag and the colours are divine.

As with many of these designers, Fable* has an Etsy shop where you can also buy the patterns, so there's no excuse!

As you can tell I'm really enthusiastic about all these creative people I feature and Fable* is no exception. Jen also has a wonderful blog, The Fabled Needle, which is an excellent resource for news and tips on just about any handmade activity!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Hyperbolic Crochet Reef comes to London

The Coral Reef is set to develop right here in London and many of you may be in a position to come along. As you can see, Loop is going to be represented on certain nights and I shall be there and would love to meet up with as many of you as possible. The details are listed below and you can check further what is happening on the link. As you may remember I featured the wonderful work of Helle Jorgensen who has been involved with the project in New York. It really is a global phenomena and we're so lucky to have it appearing here in the UK.

Southbank Workshops, Sunley Pavilion, Monday evenings, 5.30-7pm

June 16 Prick Your Finger: Rachael and Louise

June 23 Loop: Bee Clinch

June 30 Prick Your Finger: Rachael and Louise

July 7 Fabrications: Barley Massey

July 14 I Knit: Gerard

July 21 Loop: Bee Clinch

July 28 I Knit: Gerard

Ah-yi - designer and creator

Ah-yi is the name her family use and the name she uses for her eclectic blog. Postings vary from pictures of her travels in Southern
California to delicate projects with yarn and textiles. I love her simple, spare style and when I discovered the following project, I instantly wanted to pass it on to chaincreative. Although she is an architectural designer by trade, her first love is textile design which she channels in so many ways. A couple of projects I spotted were her work on varying scarves. So far, so normal, you might think but the scarves she's referring to are anything but. The first is inspired by everlasting sprout and is perfect for our new and improved weather! The second is another Japanese inspired project and ah-yi has kindly given permission to publish the instructions so you can get cracking yourself. Now I know it's not strictly crochet but I so loved the simplicity of the idea that I persuaded myself it's a close relative.I'm going to repeat all the instructions ah-yi gives so that you have the complete picture both in words and images.
'The yarn I used here is blue sky alpacas "Bulky Naturals", I used one skein.(45 yards). The color is silver mink. ( these look very nice too). The length of the finished product is 6'4" and the width is 2'-1/4". First, cutthe yarns to the desired length. I had 12 of 10' long yarns. 2 of them as a group and tie them together like the photo shown below.**( it could be 14 of 8' long yarns or 16 of 7' long yarns. you will have shorter but wider scarf.) so you will have six group of them. Tie them to the clothes hanger. Follow the instruction here. I quickly did some sketches here. I hope this is helpful.I hung my hanger to my book shelf structure so I can sit on my chair. The Ikea book shelve I have happens to have the steel rod structure so I can easily adjust the height I want. I also tried to hang it to the bath room's towel hanger but then I could not adjust the height. It's a bit painful to stand for a couple hours. Also you need a clean floor space for the excess yarns. remember they are 10' long yarns!I think I was inspired by those back strap loom which attached to wood trunk and human body. It reminds me that I doesn't hold the yarns well. I just don't have a surface can nail on and also bigger enough for those 10' long yarns.I think I'm going to keep this scarf with me this time although you can simply use my clothes hanger to finish this project.No. 8 is the end condition. You need to always adjust the shape of the scarves. Pull them tight!! but not overly; try to do some swatches before you did a real project. To check the texture, color and get used to the braiding patter. Also you will know what kind of the tension you need. This is the swatch I used the irregular shape yarns so you can see that it got various width.
Here is the original illustrations from the book. You will notice that actually the yarns are fixed by the nails. you also can do this way. I tried this at the very beginning . I used foam core and pins but it failed. The pins doesn't hold the yarns well. I just don't have a surface can nail and also bigger enough for those 10' long yarns.
I think I'm going to keep this scarf with me this time although it's almost spring here now!! ( I always ended up not keeping/owning any of the scarves I made.)
Please feel free to ask me any questions. I may miss some details. I think you will find you own way to do it just like what I did.Happy
braiding!! friends!* It took time to make the scarf, do all the sketches and write this post if you are going to use any of the photos or contents then please ask my permission.'Thank you, ah-yi!!! I used your words and pictures (with a few tweeks here and there). Thank you again!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Monday Holidays

What a difference a few days make for us lucky holiday folk. It's Monday holiday time here in the UK and what a splendid one it has been. Here are a few pictures of what's been going on and what I've been up to - the cat has just been a spectator!
Coming up this week on chaincreative -interesting craft creations from Southern California artist, ah yi - wonderful design and ideas from Fabled Handmade -last, but not least, more ideas from Etsy.
Have a wonderful week!!

Welcome back, Alicia

Alicia has very kindly allowed me to publish some of her pictures to support this post so now you can appreciate her skill and dip into some of her creativity yourself. Like many other designers out there, Alicia publishes patterns for us to enjoy and purchase, and so is perfect for our Pattern Monday here on chaincreative.
On rosylittlethings Alicia taps into a strong memory of mine as a child. Being an only, I seemed to have many spare hours just playing around with needles and pins, making my own clothes, knitting and, lately, crochet! As Alicia says, she 'dreams in calico and crochet hooks', and now that my daughter is studying fashion design, I'm back to those days too.
I adore her ice-cream pink 'Snowbunny Hat' and the crispy-crunchy blue of her 'Cecily Baby Cardigan'.
If you're a frequent visitor to Loop in London, then you'll see some of her work on display and, of course, she is there for all of us to enjoy in Vintage Crochet by Susan Cropper (you'll even find some patterns of yours truly!).

Friday, 2 May 2008

Loop yarn salon

Two posts today as there seemed to be oodles to say. As you may already know, I take crochet classes for crochet beginners and improvers at the wonderful yarn store in north London, Loop. I've been really priveleged to be involved with the classes there and this blog is a direct result of that. I wanted to extend all the inspiration and ideas I've gained to others who share in the enjoyment and expression I get from crochet. It may seem a bit rarefied but there is a growing interest out there. Loop is a wonderful haven and resource for the increasing interest we seem to be having with yarn. Lovely Susan who owns the store is as passionate as I am at creating a vibe and environment that inspires us to create and make. The shop is a real expression of that passion and is unbelievably well-stocked with both 'traditional' and the more exotic yarns that are on offer today. Whitewashed walls and delicate colours go to make this a really pleasurable place to be. Long may it flourish. All the staff are incredibly knowledgable and are creators in their own right. Everyone is able to comment on the yarns and help you out with queries. That's so unusual today and proves that creativity can be nurtured. Sadly, if you don't live in or near London then this gem is a bit unattainable but here are some pictures to give a flavour and maybe you should start booking your ticket here! Luckily, there is an online shop too.

Fryd + Design

Jeanette Lunde is a new friend to chaincreative and we're so pleased to welcome her visits to our crochet home. Her blog, Fryd + Design is a haven of genuine Scandanavian creativity and design which I absolutely love. I've always admired the clear and uncluttered view of colour and object that comes from the northern hemisphere and how it translates to our slightly warmer world. Just peek into her world on the web and find crisp duck-egg blues, tiny special details on hand sewn dresses and, yes, crochet. It's very special to find crochet used as a way of adding texture to a child's dress and making it something different and pretty.As with Alicia Paulson, who we featured on Wednesday (pictures coming soon), Jeanette's photography is crystal-sharp and beautifully shown on her blog. Really refreshing, we'll visit her again soon.