Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Not on the High Street

As you may know, one of my other interests is designing for my 'shop' with a company based in the UK called notonthehighstreet. Up until this week it has been only available to buyers in this country but as from September 29 it goes international!!! If you haven't already, then please check it out as it is about the only large-scale internet provider of gifts and much more, including designer-producers like myself. It also has a very personal feel about it and doesn't have the crowds and parking problems either.
Products like these are from my little shop!

Looking forward to catching up with you all in early October! Bye for now.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Visiting old friends

I'm very excited this week as we're preparing for our trip to California to visit my old stamping-grounds (and particularly looking forward to visiting my home town of Pacific Grove, so check out the lovely picutre) and imposing on my generous brother. As always, I know in between having a wonderful time, I'll be wishing I could be staying longer. It's so gorgeous!!! This time we'll be visiting the beautiful area north of San Francisco, Point Reyes, and hoping to catch glimpses of very different wildlife to England. At the same time I'll be checking out the yarn stores so watch this space on my return..
For today, as it's going to be a zippy post, I thought I'd catch up on some old friends of chaincreative, Marianne of Heegeldab fame and Alicia Paulson from Posie gets Cosy. Both are such creative people and they're always worth keeping an eye on. Something new all the time!

Marianne is particularly prolific with her jewellery and crochet and I particularly liked her new 'poppy' designs. This necklace looks so simple but has a real power to it. Marianne's influences are rooted in the nature around her and the purse also has that wonderful fresh feel about.

Alicia has been busy with many things as her blog shows but I particularly liked the homely feel of these felted figures for Christmas. I know they're not strictly crochet but as chaincreative is going to venture into the world of felt after our return, I thought it was allowed!

Friday, 19 September 2008

When the going gets tough...

...get crocheting! Well, maybe some other things as well, but it's certainly true that when the times become difficult then creativity can bring compensations and even a way forward. Mother of invention and all that.

With these turbulent days in mind it's given me a reason to post some suggestions for the creative to do their thing and create without spending bucket loads of cash. Recycling is very much to the fore. Yarn made from newspaper is today's post!!

Green Upgrader is a site dedicated to all things of this nature and this handspun paper yarn and the plastic yarn are on their radar. The inspiration is from the artist Greet Van Tiem who also designs with the yarn. Once you've amassed your papers all you need is a spindle and the whittling among you could even make your own!!

Now, what to make with your yarn? Here's an idea from the wonderful design*sponge - a bath mat!!! The pattern and general trend directions are here and then all your household needs can be met after reading the daily news!!!

Maybe stick to the funnys and then you won't be tearful while you crochet!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

What a nice month or so to review. Travelling, designer interviews, fashion, jewels. Who could imagine that all these things include crochet? Anyway, here's a selection of the best of them and a few extra jewels to spice the mix.

1. Antwerp 2. Lion Brand patterns 3. Double Stitch fashion patterns 4. Karlita 5. Kjoo 6. Fringe Desperado cape 7. La Pomme Flowers 8. LittleLoveBlue Cat 9. Mummysam Felt Board10. Personalized Home cushion from Olive

Monday, 15 September 2008

Designer interview - Yael Falk

Last week was Jewellery week and to bring that to a close chaincreative wants to introduce a talented (aren't they all) designer who uses wire to create both sculptures and jewellery in completely unique ways. Chaincreative has been a bit of a fan for some time and we've met her before in our visit to Israel. Yael Falk is a crochet designer which fits in well with her other career as a product designer. The structural quality of crochet has been something that's long fascinated us here at chaincreative which goes a long way to explaining why we're such fans.

I was so pleased when she agreed to be interviewed and it will be lovely to find some great images of her work to support our Designer Interview for the Jewellery strand.

Chain Creative Interview
Questions of creativity and inspiration

My real name is Yael Falk, I market my hand made designs under the name YooLa .

Country of origin? Israel

You are certainly very talented in so many ways! Tell us where we can find out about your very different areas of work : www.baribua.com is my industrial design firm web site, it has a sub section for YooLa, my hand made designs.

Describe your various creative skills:

I’m very inventive, good technical capabilities, ok hands (but not super), good sense of colours, not patient (hard to believe, I know).

This is the question I love to ask!! When did you start to crochet and who taught you? My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was sixish (maybe a bit older). the first item I remember making was a dark purple and yellow rag for my dolls ….
Surprisingly it survived many years of neglect. When I started crocheting with metal a couple of years ago I was surprised to find out that my fingers still remember, apparently its like riding a bicycle, once you have it its yours for life.

When did you start to concentrate on using metal as a crochet medium and why?
On 2004 while we were on a relocation period in Switzerland I was looking for a way to keep my creativity and hands busy. I took two courses at a local jeweller, one was basic jewellery techniques and the other was manipulation of wire metals….. and the love story began.

The name of the business is interesting. What was the inspiration behind it? Yoola is actually sort of a nickname to my name Yael, and by that it reflects the personal aspect of my designs.

What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?

I assume the fact that I'm an industrial designer (and this) influences my items in regards of it being very structural and I hope rather “ clean” and clear. I adore nature structures and colour combinations and although I could not gaze at nature for hours I certainly love to use it as inspiration.

What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
I think that I could not have gotten so far without being very creative, and always exploring new materials and techniques. I love inventing, I find it hard to repeat anything, I'm always further developing... I think that without that “piece” of the puzzle I could not have found my patterns and it could not have become interesting.

Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of my pomegranates, (these were the inspirations for us too!) I feel it has been sort of a turning point into arty larger scale projects.
Here is the place to tell a secret, during the last couple of months I have been working on a series of metal crocheted lampshades. (That sounds really exciting and fascinating; we look forward to seeing those!!!)
People that find me crazy crocheting the poms stay overwhelmed with my lamps. I hope to be able to share it with you shortly.

When are you most happy when you’re working?
When I have a new idea, I love to look backwards and be able to track the process I went through getting there.

Thank you for chatting!
Thank you for inviting me to chat

Love Bee

Don't forget to keep checking for those lampshades and much more at Yoola's Etsy shop!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

It couldn't be easier

It sounds pretty pathetic, I know. I've crocheted with fabric, leather, plastic, cord but never, never with wire. I'm certainly not proud of the fact and this is going to be the year that I change that. I'm planning classes and to that end I'm organising my in-house personal training!!
I wonder if I'll be looking like these hands of Joan Dulla!

Now to begin - there are obviously groaning bookshelves of how-to guides but while I'm at the computer there are tons and tons of helpful sites. Here's a selection of a few I like the look of and some that come with recommendations.

Let's start with supplies. The raw materials are pretty easy to source but here's a word for the 'yarn'. Artistic Wire has luscious colours and choice beyond a crochet girl's dreams. For findings, I've discovered that Etsy, once again, has alot of choice and many designers have handmade items. The best of those I've explored are

Milena S and a nice list on Craftystylish (have I already said how many nice things are on Craftystylish????).

Stitch Diva, bless her heart, has tutorials and gives a warning to delicate hands and precious hooks. Best advise - don't use without alot of preparation and keep your favourite hooks for less extreme conditions!!! Steel or aluminium only!

'How to' with Wire sounds a sensible suggestion and gives some funny insights into do's and don'ts. Nice tips like 'wire stretches', 'wire shrinks' which you might not be aware of. Well, I wasn't anyway.

Craftystylish, as always, has some nice articles and also some tips on wire choice. Ooo, it doesn't sound as straightforward as buying a nice colour!!!

Craftypod gives some simple tutorials and directions on crocheting a wire flower.
Will I ever be able to aspire to the type of work you see here from Louise Hill (designer). Beautiful.

If all this makes you feel a bit lightheaded and your fingers are feeling tired just looking at all that wire then sit back and enjoy the wooly jewellery makers.
Gitte is a designer that chaincreative spotted before and we love her fresh, floral style in this daisy chain necklace. The felting technique offers texture and structure. There's nothing worse than floppy jewels!!

At the moment I'm loving Irregular Expressions on Etsy and particularly the ethnic origins of this beautiful neck-piece.

Simply for the variety of everything crochet and embellishment you cannot find a more prolific designer than Hedda Vatter from Estonia so go check out her Etsy shop. You'll find these earrings there.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Designer interview - Ne Vous Installez Pas - Veerle Maes

To finish our chaincreative Fashion Week we're going to chat to a crochet jewellery designer who uses such concentrated colours and techniques that no one project is the same. Ne Vous Installez Pas is a crochet blog with a difference. Unlike so many others, Veerle Maes takes us through the processes of her decisions with colour more than technique and how to achieve harmonious effects out of the choices we can make. It's going to be interesting to learn how she came to these methods and adapt them to our own.
Chain Creative Interview
Questions of creativity and inspiration

Hello Veerle! Please tell us about your crochet business and what the name means to us non-French speakers!!

Well, it’s not really a ‘business’ (I work full time in a public office). The name of my crafty passion is ‘ ne vous installez pas’.
I know you live in Belgium. Give us some idea of where.
I live in Gent, Belgium. Gent is a very nice historic city. Not really a metropolis, but big enough to have all the facilities an important city offers, and still small enough to feel really at home.
Tell us about the internet side of your work.
nevousinstallezpas is the website and nevousinstallezpas.veterpro.net/blog
The blog is in Dutch (because I also really like the writing itself, and this works best in my mothertongue) but I add an English summary at the end of my posts.
Both the blog and the website are beautiful and so much thought goes into them. Tell us a little about your creative skills.

I’ve been interested in textiles since I was a child (sewing and knitting cloths for my dolls e.g.). I tried several techniques the previous years: weaving, knitting (for a shop), sewing colourful babycloths (also for a shop),calligraphy,… But from the autumn of 2004 onwards, I haven’t stopped crocheting jewellery.

Why crochet!?

It's so relaxing! While I’m busy crocheting, my thoughts go everywhere they want to go. Questions get answers and plans become reality.
And it is also nice that I can start a project immediately. Crochet does not demand big preparations.
And I also like the fact that it takes some time before my jewel is finished, but not too long. Just enough to enjoy the growth of my jewel.
Crochet brings me in a perfect equilibrium .

What is the inspiration behind the name of your website/blog? I've often wondered if it's an order not to do something!!!

Ne vous installez pas’ are words of Dom Helder Camara. It means : don’t settle, don’t fall asleep, react, … For me it also means : say YES to life! Sorry, if I give at first the impression that I’m not friendly, hope everyone now understands what this expression means to me.

What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?
I’m always looking around (in real life and on the internet) for objects from al disciplines that I like. A detail from a fabric, a picture, jewellery in other materials, my mood… everything can be inspiration both for the form as for the colours of my new jewel.

What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
I consider it as very important to choose only very nice materials. I only work with silk (both threads and fabric).
And also that my crocheting is very fine (crochet hook nr. 1).
Also my combining different colours in one jewel is one of my strong points.
I myself consider my work as a fairly successful and comtemporary application of an old craft.

Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
I’m especially proud that I started to do this and continued ! I’ve been trying so many crafts without becoming really good in it. It’s the first time that I have persevered in a technique. The satisfaction is equally high.

Describe the kind of customer you are appealing to.
Almost everybody likes my work. But not everybody dares to wear it. It has nothing to do with age (both younger and older women wear my jewellery).Maybe it demands some degree of self-consciousness?
Only people who really love it, buy it. I’m aware of the fact that for customers, it’s not always easy to spend money on jewellery that’s not made of precious metals.
But, it’s like in these words, not mine, but feeling affinity for :”jewellery is not so show what you have, but to show who you are”.

When are you most happy when you’re working?
When, while I’m crocheting something, I get at the same time lots of new ideas for following projects (I’ve always a small booklet in the neighbourhood, to make sketches of new jewels).

Thank you for chatting!

Love Bee
It's funny how the more you get into this creative process the more challenges you have to throw at yourself. The mixing and coordinating of colour and the moods it provides. The finer the hook the more satisfying and delicate the work can become. The more you change your stitches the more interest and texture your work takes on. Thank you, Veerle, it's really given me food for thought.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Fashion crochet

You don't need telling that crochet is like a rash - it pops up everywhere. Couture is no exception - the designers love to showcase the 'made' arts (I'm not going to even breathe the word 'craft' here!!!).
The trouble is that you could spend all day and night looking for a comprehensive collection of the haute view of crochet. A blog that I love but, sadly, one that seems to have gone silent recently is chiq. The writers obviously love the world of fashion and crochet and you can browse to your heart's content at the versatility of it all.
Oscar de la Renta has used crochet for summer and a very nice tank-top it is. Net-a-Porter has more details.
Jean Paul Gaultier can always be depended upon to use it imaginatively in more challenging ways than just a straight-forward garment. I love the idea of the sleeve-inserts of this suit.
The area where fashion and cooperative work appears is within the community and is becoming quite a buzz concept. It's a bit of a gripe with me that the hard work of those who use their skills to make fashion clothing often don't get the credit (financial most importantly) for their work. Two businesses that have come to chaincreative's attention, both working in South America, are women's cooperatives in challenging areas.

First off is the Escama Studio that combine recycling and promoting village craftspeople by designing accessories and clothes. Their biog tells their story -

Based in San Francisco, Escama Studio works directly with two Brazilian craft cooperatives — Cia do Lacre and As Panteras do Lacre — to design and produce these sleek, modern pieces using traditional crochet techniques and recycled aluminum pull-tabs. I love their Francisca Bag. 'Industry experts warned us that we'd run out of aluminum pull-tabs and advised that we'd need to use machines to get consistent quality.
Luckily experts are sometimes wrong.
Four years and 70,000 bags later we've learned that craftswomen can do something that machines can't: make consistently beautiful bags that are at the same time very personal. We've also learned that the world's abundance of ‘junk’ offers a lot of creative potential.'

In the spirit of cooperation, they even give you some do-it-yourself instructions!!!

Using the same philosophy, Giuliana Testino (yes, Mario's sister) is aiding her community in Peru. You would not expect to hear this from a fashion designer -

"Social responsibility is voluntary; it is about going beyond the limits of what the law requires and involves an idea that it is better to be proactive toward a problem rather than reactive to a problem. By using my education and my understanding of my environment I'm capable of demonstrating a social responsibility that is a step in the right direction to bring development and education to a community-my community of Peru."

Her work also extends to organisations such as Women Together who provide funds and support to homeless and battered women and their children. This is brave work and one I'm glad to see crochet has some involvement.

Monday, 1 September 2008


It's the start of a new chaincreative term and we're already here with our uniform pin-sharp and our new cutting-wedge haircut so no fashion disasters anticipated!!! That's because we're in a well-dressed frame of mind and looking forward to the Chaincreative Fashion Week A/W 2008 (I know, it should strictly be S/S 2009 but, er, I don't care).
I'm going to put up the flags for fashion - and I don't mean anything shapeless and drapey - and say that it's time to put fit back into crochet clothes. It's difficult for us Fashy victims who want to crochet to find anything contemporary which doesn't perhaps belong in the dressing-up box. Until now that is,...
...the publishers are beginning to wise-up with wonderful books like Susan Cropper's Vintage Crochet (selling fast, I'm glad to say) and the growing interest in vintage patterns (check out the web-sites on the right column).

The big problem is that the fashion herd move swift and unpredictably so it's hard for the published material to keep relevant. That leaves the yarn manufacturers and they aren't always the most responsive. I'm going to give a qualified hurrah for a few companies here and urge you to pester them for more thoughtful and challenging designs.

I think it goes without saying that Rowan have long served us well but the number of crochet patterns is heavily out-weighed by knit. Amongst the manufacturers that I've scanned on my radar, two US yarn suppliers, Lion and Berroco have moved into view. For those outside North America this isn't a problem; patterns are either free or are often available as downloadable PDF.

Berroco have a small selection of crochet clothing and these two patterns caught my eye. A simple little vintage jacket called Iota and for the sewing bees, Nell, a cute crochet yoke for a dress.

Lion Brand yarns are really quite intriguing. Last week, as you know, I had alot of fun browsing and chatting at Prick your Finger, and Rosemary showed me a couple of designs she was working on for Lion. Now that made me wonder if they're opening their design eyes a bit wider.

This is confirmed to some extent in their fashionshow in the Spring for their Fall/Winter collection at the Craft and Hobby show which revealed their lastest designs. Very interesting. I really liked the direction they're going in. There's a comprehensive list on Craftzine and more pictures on Natalie Zee Drieu's Flikr pages. My favourites are the adaptions of interior accessory patterns, Intarsia Brocade Afghan (the jacket is at the top of the post) and Jolt of Colour Afghan. Both have been adapted into garments which are totally within one's range of skills I think.
Make One Yarn Studio have a nice little collection too and the creamy sweater is very nicely shaped. NaturallyCaron.com have this sweet Aqua Aloha Top which is our third picture of the post.
The last word can go to a book I've been eyeing up, Double Stitch, from Interweave Press. The patterns from here could keep me safely tucked up for the winter!!