Monday, 30 June 2008

Child's play

When I'm teaching, alot of people ask about patterns for childrens' clothes and presents for new babies. We all know that there is a huge mass of copy out there in the form of books and loose-leaf patterns which we can buy from so many sources that we don't even have to look up from what we're doing (a blanket in my case!!). Anyhow, I thought it might be nice to satisfy some of these questions by showing crochet creators some patterns from all those talented people on the net, including etsy and individual blogs. Rather than baffling you with lots of different ideas, I thought I'd pick a theme - clothes for a little girl and an amigurumi - and keep it simple.

Starting at the feet, here are just the cutest little booty shoes from coffeelady on etsy. They are so bright and cheerful and you can customise them in so many ways. I adore them.
Next up is the dearest capelet from leilaandben, again on etsy and underneath how about a dinky little dress from an old friend of chaincreative, Alicia Paulson. All the above patterns come as PDF format and arrive as e-mails. I love this paperless form of information and would encourage other designers to think of this for their blogs. I certainly am looking into it.

Let's top that off with another PDF pattern from another of our dear friends, fable*handmade, a sweet little hat which would do for baby too.

Bedtime is such a special time and now we can change out of our gorgeous coffeelady boots into some Hobbykroken slippers from Guro Strandskog. I've talked about Guro before in my post about the great designers in the beautiful northern countries of Europe and I'm going to be posting an interview with her in the next week. Tucked up into bed, how about a cute little cuddly friend! Tildafilur is from Sweden (see, I told you they were talented up there!!) and she has such a choice of dinky dollies but I chose Tilda the Bear.

Herbst Handmade, also on etsy has a funky monkey to keep Tilda company.

Well, I hope that's enough to keep you busy and we'll add to that little list in the future. Happy crocheting!!!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Designer interview - Gooseflesh Helle Jorgensen

As promised, in this, the first month of the Crochet Coral Reef at the Hayward Gallery London, an interview with one of the main contributors, Helle Jorgensen from Australia. Helle's blog Gooseflesh and her etsy shop, beautifully represent her work and creativity. She travels tirelessly on behalf of the crochet reef, at the same time spreading her passionate belief in the survival of our environment coupled with her ability to communicate this in her work.
I've loved reading Helle's interview, in fact all our interviewees have made me realise how wonderful the skill of crochet is for connecting to previous generations. So many were taught by older members of the family and have experience of it's influence in their growth and development.

Helle's answers on her involvement with the crochet reef are very enlightening and act as a wonderful support to our visits to it in the next few weeks. If you are able to get to it do look out for her work - and enjoy.

The pictures I've included are of Helle and Dr Daina Tomeschu with the Rubbish Vortex in the background, the Rockpool Collage at the Hayward seaweed crocheted from Marks and Spencers plastic bags and finally one of Helle's products in her etsy shop.

Thank you again, Helle, for your help in this interview. It's been a real pleasure.
Your name
Helle Jorgensen

Where you’re from
I live on the Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia. I was born in Denmark, migrated to Australia at the age of 13 years.
Blog address

Describe your various creative skills.
I use a variety of creative skills to make my pieces, e.g. drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sewing, embroidery, knitting and, of couse, crochet.

When did you start to crochet and who taught you?
My grandmother, Agnes Jorgensen, taught me to crochet as a child. Until about five years ago I hadn’t done a lot of crochet and have since taught myself the various techniques from books and the internet.

What, in your opinion, is the best thing about crochet?
In my opinion, the absolute best thing about crochet is:
-There’s only one stitch on the hook at a time.
-It’s sculptural potential because of the ability and flexibility to make all sorts of different shapes.
-I love that it’s a very old skill and that it connects us to generations of crocheters in the past.
-It’s connection to science and mathematics.
-The repetition and rhythm of crochet is akin to meditation.

The name of the blog is interesting. What was the inspiration behind it?
Gooseflesh was one of those words that just popped into my head. I came up with it as a teenager, whilst making things, and it’s stuck with me all this time. I’m not sure why. Unfortunately, it has no deep significance. I just love it’s sound and meaning.

What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?
My fascination and love of the natural world is probably the major source of inspiration for my work. I have background in biology and horticulture. Nature’s complexity and interconnectedness continuously inspires me. I live very close to the beach and go swimming, surfing or walking on the beach most days. I have a huge collection of driftwood and sponges which I plan to incorporate into my work in the future.

-Light and colour is also a continuous surprise and inspiration to me.
-My Scandinavian roots have influenced my style and sense of design.
-With experience I have come to realize that my work is an exploration of my identity.

What does Hyperbolic crochet mean to you? Tell us about the Crochet Reef.
I had been crocheting sea creatures for a while when I discovered Daina Tomeschu’s crocheted hyperbolic model. The overlapping of crochet and science/mathematics is fascinating and I have subsequently made a few hyperbolic based pieces. However, there are many other techniques, stitches and ideas I want to explore.
The hyperbolic model has brought crochet into the 21st century and inspired all sorts of people to take up crochet.

(I’m assuming you mean the IFF’s Crochet Reef).
The IFF saw my crocheted plastic bag sea creatures on Flickr a couple of years ago and invited me to exhibit with the reefs. Since then I have been commissioned to make pieces for the reef (not hyperbolic), e.g. The Rubbish Vortex. It’s been very interesting to join a large group of people to make up a reef. I have thoroughly enjoyed making new friends from all over the world. Hopefully the crochet reefs will bring attention to the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs around the world.

My technique of using plastic bag yarn to make crochet sea creatures has been adopted by the IFF. Which I see as a sign of validation of my work. I did not set out to make a political statement about the plight of the coral reefs but felt the message was inherently embedded in the medium in a subtle way. The response to using plastic bag yarn has been phenomenal and has re-vitalized the technique.

What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
Having the freedom to realize my ideas. Being true to myself. Being absorbed in the process and continuously learning new things. Using discarded and pre-loved materials pushes my boundaries.

Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
The sea creatures crocheted from plastic bag yarn. Mainly because of the embedded ecological message.

When are you most happy when you’re working?
I’m most happy whilst working when I am able to totally loose myself in what I’m doing…… Peace, with no interruptions and the ability to bring my ideas to fruition.

Thank you for chatting!

Love Bee

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Crochet workshop on the Reef

Monday 21 July saw myself and Susan Cropper from Loop at the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank, hosting a crochet workshop in support of the Crochet Coral Reef. We were set up alongside the UK Reef which, in large part, is created from the work made at the show here and by local designers inspired by the exhibition. The main exhibition by designers from around the world, which has been seen in New York and Australia, is being featured at the Hayward Gallery. Our lovely new friend at chaincreative, Helle Jorgensen, is very much a part of this exhibit and I will be posting her interview with us on Friday. Anyway, back to our efforts for the UK Reef. Susan and I arrived on Monday to a little gathering of enthusiasts which steadily grew to a respectable little crowd and we pitched in with hooks and yarn twirling to encourage the skilled and to speed teach those who were keen but not yet initiated in the dark arts of crochet!! Clusters and hyperbolics were positioned on the reef and by the end of the session we were able to draw breath and welcome the new arrivals on UK Coral Reef.

We return in four weeks time and look forward to another happy time. If any of you from Monday's visit are dropping in here at chaincreative and felt that they wanted to learn more about crochet then I would say that a set of 3 Beginners' Classes at Loop in north London with yours truly would be just dandy!!!! Alternatively, for any advise then the video tutorials at Nexstitch are the next best thing!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Folkestone Triennial

Well, I'm off to the Reef today so I thought I would share some weekend highlights from my diary and leave crochet to tomorrow. Our local seaside town, Folkestone, is playing host this year to a new and hopefully hugely successful triennial of sculpture and conceptualism. Performance and nostalgia are all part of the mix and many of the exhibits are directly linked to life in the town (for good or otherwise!!!). Our visit yesterday was accompanied by warm winds (alot of those) and sunshine which set everything off nicely. If you live in the south-east of England (or anywhere within travelling distance) then I would recommend you to pay a call.
I think some of the highlights that I enjoyed show my appreciation of shape and form and that is what chaincreative is all about.
We started our visit at a beautiful building from the Edwardian era with grand ballrooms and Disco Mechanique. The childrens' sunglasses reminded me of crochet!
Others were even more atmospheric to the town. 18 Holes were 3 beach huts built from a crazy golf course that had been deserted in the town. The Mobile Seagull Appreciation Unit speaks for itself - or for the gulls!!!
Last but not least for chaincreative was the little crochet baby bootee from Tracey Emin. These little sad reminders of childhood are in response to the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the town.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Arrivals lounge

Well, I'm back and happy to say that my holiday in Sicily was everything I'd hoped it would be. It really is such a wonderful island.
I'm not the only one to have arrived in England. The coral reef came in on a wave of promotion in the freeform crochet world and has docked at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in London for the next three months. I shall be there on Monday 23 June in the late afternoon with Susan Cropper for a workshop and would love to see friends of chaincreative there.

Obviously, the press have got wind of this new guest and have reviewed it well. I particularly like this one by the The Guardian which gives a personal story to a subject that can sometimes appear beyond some of our understanding (I told you, I think, that my math is almost non-existent!).
To kick-off chaincreative's coverage of this event I'm going to feature our interview with Helle Jorgensen who is intrinsically linked with the creation of the crochet coral reef and was in London for the launch.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Happy Holidays

Off to Sicily until 20 June so see you all after that.
Take the opportunity to read posts you've missed!!!

Designer interview - Heegeldab Marianne Seiman

Designer interview Marianne Seiman from Heegeldab
Marianne Seiman is the perfect designer interviewee for this week of freeform crochet. The crossover between the discipline (even if it sometimes seems like there's no plan) of freeform crochet and designing products is beautifully illustrated through her work and philosophy. The picture below beautifully segues into hyperbolic crochet. I was so pleased when she agreed to be interviewed as she represents the diversity and commitment that creativity inspires in designers. Thank you again, Marianne!!
Chain Creative Interview
Questions of creativity and inspiration

Your name - Marianne Seiman

Where you’re from - Estonia

Website (if you have one) – does etsy shop count? (Bee says, 'Of course!!')

Blog address -

Describe your various creative skills. – I can crochet, knit, felt, sew a bit and do some stitching. Have been also playing little with polymer clay and making jewelry.

When did you start to crochet and who taught you? - I was around 5-6 years. Don’t remember whether it was my mom or granny who taught me. But I do remember one of my first designs – a blueish green dress for a doll.

What, in your opinion, is the best thing about crochet? – it’s portability and versatility.

The name of the blog is interesting. What was the inspiration behind it? – hey, this one‘s easy – heegeldab means "crochets" in estonian (like in "she crochets")

What was the motivation to start the blog? – There are a few of them. Like
* to share interesting artworks I found while surfing the web, with my fellow estonians. There were only a few so-called craft blogs in Estonia when I started blogging 3 years back.
* to show my own work and get some feedback for it.

Along the way motivation has changed. Now I look at my blog as a place to record my creative path.

What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations? - I love texture and color. All colors. And that reflects in my work. I’m also rather curious and want to try my hand at different techniques. But I do realize that one cannot be great in too many fields. So I end up mixing my "experiments" all together, marrying thread crochet with polymer etc.
Lots of inspiration comes from other artists‘ work . Not crochet but all sort of different artforms like photography, ceramics, jewelry and textile art, the list goes on and on. When something catches my attention my brain instantly tries to "translate" it into crochet.
After the birth of my third baby 2 years back, I was mostly working on tiny things. Can’t live without creating, but don’t have a time nor patience for bigger things right now. I’m too impatient to work little by little on something big, I need instant gratification, that’s why I’ve been doing a lots of jewelry lately.

What are the most important aspects of your work to you? – The process itself is the greatest. To learn and discover something, all these little joys and "ahaa moments" what happens while creating.

Which project or piece of work are you most proud of? – The real masterpieces are still in my head and I'll have to wait a bit before they materialize!
But I do like this purse:

And these scarves:

When are you most happy when you’re working?
– I’m always happy while creating. But the best part is when I can fully dive into creating without having to have to share my attention between crafting and kids-cooking-whatever.
These moments are very rare these days, but children grow, you know, and I’m sure I’ll have a long and creative road ahead!

Thank you for chatting!

Love Bee

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Hyperbolic crochet arrives in London

As I am going to be away for the next 2 weeks I thought I better get my important posts out the way. Wednesday 11 June at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in London sees the opening of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef which I've posted about several times. My first visit on behalf of Loop will be on Monday 23 June and I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with this project which has a massive following from across the globe.

The theories behind the idea of hyperbolic crochet are mathematical and I would not even begin to try and write about it so here are the experts. The realisation that crochet has strong mathematical principles intertwined with it has a long tradition and many mathematicians have used it and other creative forms to demonstrate their projections.The Lorenz Manifold is the work of two mathematicians, Osinga and Krauskopf from the University of Bristol. The movement to extend the 'fibre arts' to demonstrate mathematical theory was gaining ground with mathematicians such as Carolyn Yackel, an assistant math professor at Mercer University in Atlanta. “Crochet, knitting and other crafts allow people to visualize, recontextualize and develop new problems and answers ". The crochet reef is just such an opportunity and here it is in London!!!

I have published quite a few examples of the reef, courtesy of such designers like Helle Jorgensen, who are involved in the exhibition but I'm going to finish with a designer from Portugal who moves it into the realm of jewellery. Maria of Kjoo sells her work on Etsy and publishes her pictures on flikr. I like the way that her work brings the idea full circle. Craft becomes theory, philosophy and returns to craft. We can all agree with that!!!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Freeform crochet

I will confess that this is an area that I have very little experience in so I'll leave it to the experts. After Friday's post on the couture of Bjork I realised that freeform crochet is a huge area of expertise for many people and worth chaincreative taking a peek at.
I mentioned a designer Ana Voog who designs vast ranges of hats and Prudence Mapstone whose blog gives a guide on how to 'scrumble' or freeform crochet. There are numerous examples of the technique on her website and she gives workshops and arctic cruises too!!!
It looks to me as if there is alot of fun to be had if the spirit moves you on this and even some serious creative impulses for some. I'll leave the last word - or image to be precise - to Nicki Hitz Edson and her Czar head-dress.