Friday, 30 January 2009

In the laboratory

I'm plotting a new idea which is always fun but does, sometimes, feel like pulling teeth!! You'll be walking along and not looking where you're going because you've got a head full of stitches and a plan brewing.
Anyway, I'm very pleased as my plan is to use some yarn that I bought at Prick Your Finger from Jamiesons of Shetland - this is a quote from their website which sets the mood - 'In the early 1890's, Robert Jamieson started up a small business in Sandness on the far west coast of the Shetland Isles. From this shop he bought, or exchanged for goods, knitwear from the local crofters. These hand-spun, handknitted garments were made from the wool of their own native sheep, every piece unique. Hats, gloves, mitts, stockings, underclothing, sweaters (known locally as 'ganseys') and in particular, the intricate Shetland lace shawls, veils and stockings, which were at the height of their popularity at the turn of the century.'
The yarns are coarser than traditional shetland yarn in order to be more durable but the yarn has such an authentic feel to it and I really liked the colours. It is great for crochet as it is 'smooth' and keeps it's shape well. Perfect for my little idea which is keeping me from walking in a straight line!!! I'm also putting some chain into the mix so you might be getting a clearer view of my plans!!! As I said, Etsy is marvellous for supplies and I've had super fun ordering different lengths of chain and charms from various companies. My favourites have been Patina Queen, Olay and Share Living. These people are scattered across the world, Turkey, USA and Hong Kong, but delivery was speedy and friendly and everything I ordered was perfect!!
That really is Chain Creative. Ha ha.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A good place to visit

I do love taking a peep at who is visiting the chaincreative studio and I wondered if you're intrigued too!! I thought I'd just list a few here and start a little roll of honour to them and many more on the side bar (take a look at the (chain)Creative Blog list on the right).
First off is Peony Designs who keeps a discreet list of so many interesting links that I love to dip in and go off into the world of virtual crochet and design.

The Kids are Alright is another happy place to go and pick up on a little design with a typical English twist.
Now, as you know, I'm a bit of a fan of all things Scandanavian and I will always give a shout for Jeanette at Fryd + Design but there are many more in the land of snow and here is Hilde at Muskrat.

Do you mind if I knit is very much a diary of one creative person's life with some beautiful work on display.
Delicious is a 'bookmarks' site that allows people to gather their favourite blogs together with tags which just adds to the fun! Just search for crochet and you'll see what I mean
Of course, there are visits from Alicia Paulson's wonderful blog, Veerle at nevousinstallezpas, Helle at gooseflesh, Marianne at heegeldab and Guro at hobbykroken. These are top friends too and they have their pride of place on the right as well.
Just to whet your appetite for more, I've found some French blogs that are fascinating even to the non-French speaker. Petite Pimprenelle has some terrific crochet as does Crochet City and Toutes a nos crochets which rounds up this little post. These were all links I found on another regular visitor from A petits pas et librement.I will add to the list as friends visit so keep your eyes firmly to the right!!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Vintage performance

Apologies if this reads a little like an advert but I wanted to let anyone interested know that I've started filling my wee shop, Bee@Home, on Etsy with PDF patterns of my own crochet designs and selections of my extensive vintage pattern collections. So if any of you are interested in creating something typical of the 1940's or 50's then there's a pattern for you!!! This number will increase throughout this and the following weeks so keep checking. The majority of the commercial patterns are from the States as they were pretty 'out there' on knitwear design in those decades. As I said on Monday, the challenge of these patterns is in the extensive use of stitches that are now rarely used so it's our duty to keep these things alive.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

This one I saw earlier

In an earlier post I wrote about A Stitch in Time by Jane Waller and it's enduring appeal. It's the only book of it's kind that collected such a diverse selection of vintage knitting and crochet patterns over a 60-70 year period. For all us vintage fans that's quite a book to have in one's library. The problem was that for a long time it had been out of print since it's publication in the 1970's. It had become a collector's piece with a price tag to match. Now, hurray, the lovely people at knitonthenet have revived this grand old lady and spruced her up with new colour shots of the patterns and it is perfect. Even better is the price you'll have to pay, about £28 direct from knitonthenet. Their introduction sums it all up beautifully, 'This book is inspirational not just to the knitter but also to the designer, collector, fashion student, dress historian, stylist and anyone in love with yesteryear.'

If you are a lover of all things vintage then the internet will really cater for your needs. crochetpatterncentral is an ever-changing and increasing collection of many of the vintage patterns out there and is worth checking regularly.

My usual port-of-call is ebay and there are several sellers there who have regular sales of vintage knitting and crochet patterns through from the 1930's to the present day. If you're beginning to want to spread your wings into more challenging patterns then you can't go far wrong with a pattern from an earlier time. The 1940's and 50's patterns use techniques and styling that is sadly missing from many of the present day fashion patterns. I really recommend a visit.

I've included a couple of images from my collection of patterns from 1940's USA. Chic!!!

As a footnote to last weeks 'rug' posting take a look at this picture. Isn't this a great way to bring the floor to you!!! And, of course, you recognise the design from last week from the wonderful Paola Lenti.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Just to remind you

Thank you for all the nice comments you leave about the blog and my creative musings. It's really terrific to know that there are people from around the globe that like to read all about crochet.
While I was pondering on the next post I was still thinking about the last and I suddenly realised that there was a great example of what I'd been talking about, and right under my nose! Vintage Crochet by Susan Cropper at Loop with, of course, many wonderful designs (and some by me!!!).

The one that I was particularly recalling was the Picnic Blanket and the lovely picture that Kristin took on the gate into our neighbouring field. Lots of nice memories and I was especially pleased with how the blanket turned out. With a central panel crocheted in fabric and outer motifs in a combination of fabric and linen yarn from Texere, this was a project that worked out really well. The book is now in it's second print-run so it seems there are many crocheters who love it too.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Please take off your shoes

I was horrified this week when I realised how many unfinished projects I've got on the back burner. I'm starting to work my way through them but then I find some gorgeous pattern or yarn and then I run off in the wrong direction again!!!

This kind of disorganisation means I've got so much yarn and I've even got it colour-sorted in an effort to kick start some action. This got me thinking how I could use it all up and still love what I've made. I've also got alot of short measures of fabric and then I really had a light-bulb moment. Rugs!!!
This got me exploring the virtual stratosphere and I found the familiar and the inspiring.

Let's start with inspiration and Paola Lenti in collaboration with Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto as collaborators she uses crochet as a design inspiration for a number of beautiful rugs. As described on bonluxat 'Crochet, produced with a wool rope, becomes a refined rug for indoor environments. Flowers and leaves are hand crocheted, assembled and sewn by hand to a support net.' and further on architonic, 'Crochet is a precious hand crocheted floral rug for indoor and outdoor. The flowers and leaves that form the rug are hand crocheted and then sewn by hand to a synthetic net backing which allows them to hold their shape and position on the floor. Crochet is produced with a wool braid for indoor use and with a Rope braid for the outdoors. Rope is a Paola Lenti’s signature material, conceived and developed to offer high performances in outdoor environments, in terms of endurance and resistance to atmospheric agents.'

I find these designs really exciting and imaginative. Their origins are very much in the craft area and this got me thinking about the homespun rather than manufactured. There's lots of inspiration to draw from and the free pattern from Blue Sky Alpacas still holds the strong simple colour palette of the designers.
To get a more log cabin feel then you can't go wrong with a bit of a tear-up and make a rag rug. There's alot of info out there and I knew that craftystylish would come to the rescue with a tutorial and I also found a really helpful resource with Vintage Chica. So grab that gigantic hook and a pair of scissors!!

If you're looking for patterns, I can only recommend the Vogue on the Go series and Felted Crochet with this beautiful rug by Simona Merchant-Dest.

Finally the Circle Motif Rug from Crochet Me: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution by Kim Werker from Interweave. I'll finish here but I think this subject is going to need some expansion so put your feet up and relax till I'm back!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New Year's plans

We're so excited at chaincreative with lots of new plans for the blog this year and the most exciting project at the moment is planning the Designer Interviews for the next few months. They're a positive flock of talented contenders lined-up for your delight and I know you'll not be surprised to learn that they're all just the nicest people. Let me give you just a sample of their kind and generous replies to my interview request.
'Oh yes we've seen you're blog, it's fantastic. We would love to answer some questions. Anything that helps spread the love of crochet.Cheers,Brigitte and Janine'

'What a lovely message you have sent me. I would be delighted to answer some questions for your wonderful blog. I'm honored that you asked. Dennice.'

'Thank you so much for your beautiful message. We are thrilled by your interview request. You have the most amazing crochet blog we have seen on the net. We can not thank you enough for this lovely opportunity. Asyegul'

To whet your appetite for this exciting event let me just let you into a sneak preview of the proposed list of crochet heroes with their beautiful creations that I've pictured (from the top of the post down)with their creations in brackets:
IrregularExpressions (fabulous Lavendula necklace)

Gitte (cute Boo pendant)

LeilaandBen (Earflap hat pattern)

Hedda Vatter (decorative felt stone necklace)

Fringe (Out-of-the-Past Capelet)

Cosy up (Camille Capelet)

Is that enough to get the creative juices flowing? I think it's going to be a very happy crochet new year!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Before you do anything in 2009

The reason I set up this blog was to keep the crochet community informed. It all started with my classes and an attempt to capture the enthusiasm I found there. I figured that if people loved crochet they'd love to read about it and extend their new-found knowledge.

I don't know if that worked out but I did find out that I really enjoyed the research and I found lots of crochet-crazees like me. It might not be the most read blog in the world but it did seem to be exactly what it says at the top. It has become a creative chain of like-minded people.

The important thing is to keep growing. If you love crochet as much as me, then check out these places for many hours of happy browsing. First off, Etsy, a terrific gathering place to buy and sell the handmade. I bought a ton of presents this year for Christmas and I was confident that what I was buying was a product of the designer. As far as crochet is concerned, apart from the many creators of crochet products, there many designers on the site who offer great pdf patterns for us to take a peek at.

Stitchdiva (one of their patterns is pictured here) is a treasury for the crocheter and knitter and I go there for any queries or info that I need. They love their crochet and there are tons of patterns on offer there and any amount of advice and help. Knitty (the lovely earring picture is at the top of our posting today) and Ravelry come into the same category. Ravelry is huge and you'll find many designers publish their ideas and patterns here. You have to submit for membership but that is a formality and once you're there then it's happy reading and discussing.

OK, that's a start on your journey and if you want to spread your wings a bit and have a good look at the chatter out in crochet land then you need to follow the chain. I find that there are a few really good general sites that I visit alot. Crochetinsider has some interesting interviews with crochet designers which will give you some idea of the process involved in design. Craft magazine is for all the craft skills but is a terrific resource for crochet ideas and links. In the same stable comes craftystylish which lets you into all sorts of crochet secrets. Last, but not least, Lion Brand yarns have free patterns and advice galore.
So now we begin another year and I'm ready with my hook to teach a few more to enjoy the skill as much as I do and to inspire more interest in its craft and design. Happy New Year!!!!!