Thursday, 30 April 2009

Nice touches

It's happened again! I've been purchasing Japanese craft books again!! This time the offending book is a lovely felting book with lots of ideas for my felt workshops in the summer.

Etsy is wonderful for the number of businesses in Japan who supply books, fabric and notions that all have that wonderful delicacy that is so typical of many Japanese products. I find that the delivery is fantastic from Japan to the UK. That's a long way and anything I order seems to arrive super-quick.

This week, however, came with an extra, and really beautiful surprise! Everything I've received so far from different suppliers comes beautifully wrapped with lovely little thoughtful touches. A ribbon here, a special bag there but the book I ordered this week came with a very special present. My own orgami swan. Neatly tucked in a wee envelope with Miss Bee on the front. Fabulous. I was completely charmed. Could we start a trend? Surely it could certainly cheer the world up as much as it did me.

Here's a list of my favourite sellers on Etsy for Japanese products -
The orgami bird and felt book came from Rocobee
Now you can see why it's a bit of an obsession of mine. Have fun browsing!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Message Monday

Last week on chaincreative was a bit like Grand Central Station with visitors from toutes a nos crochets who brought alot of new friends to my little blog. Hmm, very chaincreative! It's so lovely to have feedback and new input to the whole crochet thing. What is also nice is that the friends return and last week also brought some established friends of chaincreative into the studio.
First off is Guro from Hobbykroken (please check out the adorable little vest she's made for her little boy. Aw, cute!!). Guro has long been a blog friend and being Norwegian she knows all about the fabulous blogs from there. One particular one that she drew my attention to is Pickles and their gorgeous Nordic light pendant. The best bit is that they have provided a free pattern for it. That's the generosity of crocheters, I'd say! I love the very Scandanavian chic of it!

At the same time as all this, I've been scheming over my jewellery workshops that I'm running at my 'home in the country' for all my London crochet students. I really enjoy this cooking process that goes into a workshop. Planning projects is so much fun and I like to draw in any contacts I might have made and call on their expertise.

Two such friends are Maria from kjoo and Yael from yoola. Both are firm friends of chaincreative and you would know them both from Designer Interviews and many mentions in the past. I had contacted both for information and, as often happens, they were more than generous with their advise and direction. I thought I'd pass on some of their words of wisdom to you in order to complete the chain.

This first from Maria:

'Some tips about crochet jewelry: First of all, chose the best cotton thread possible, always mercerized cotton thread, or some organic threads, the pick gorgeous colors. This will make all the difference! Then I like to make the crochet as tight as possible, even it takes the double of the time to accomplish the work. It will make the item looks more three dimensional because the good quality mercerized thread plus the very tight "knots" will give the crochet a very "strong body", will make the item more heavy so will fit better.'

Now from Yael on her lovely blog, Design with a crochet hook, you'll find that we agonize constantly about our craft.

'Some people say that because I use a crochet hook it should be called crocheted, others say that although I use a crochet hook it should be called knitting.I needles say that some were VERY confident about which term should be used. I kept apologizing that I wasn't an English speaker, as if it wasn't clear.... and that maybe they were right. To be honest it wouldn't have been anymore easier in Hebrew, my mother tongue, or maybe it would have been because in Hebrew you use the same verb for both techniques =(SRIGA). But I think that all of this in the past now, yesterday while I was discussing this issue with a very experienced lady both with crochet and with knitting we came to term that actually I was working on an invisible spool.... I immediately fell in love with this term and decided to adopt it, I wonder how it will be accepted. I hope it will be clear that it is NOT real spool knitting (personally I don't really like spools, especially with metal). I would love to hear what you think.'

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Attention crochet

I have found a fantastic blog called single crochet and in-keeping with the theme this week, it's French!!! I wanted you all to go there as it's fantastique and will give alot of people inspiration and pleasure I hope. More later I'm sure.

I found single crochet through another adorable blog, sissi et loulou, which lifts the spirits with it's jolly colours and light and just check out that skirt. I adore it!!

A bientot!

Monday, 20 April 2009

And another thing

Just one last word from the French!! This is such a cute idea for a bolero and you really could pick it up and run with it. Think of as many motifs as you can and adapt the pattern to suit.
We're back at Grannymania (you have to scroll down 3 posts to where I'm talking about) and there's more than just crazy granmothers who would wear this little number. It obviously started life as a Japanese pattern and you know I adore them.

I will pass you over to Granny and she in turn will redirect you to Talons Aiguilles. If you're not too savvy with the diagrams and ask sweetly, then there is a pdf pattern available. Maybe, if I'm feeling focused enough I'll post a quicky guide to diagram reading. I swear by them but I know alot of people are a wee bit scared of their squiggly little legs.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Bonjour, mes amis!!

Give a big chaincreative welcome to all the French friends who have arrived from Toutes a nos crochets. Across the language barrier, crochet jumps over the divide!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Something for the weekend

I love the French blogs that are listed on the right. My French is diabolical but I can understand enough and you can definitely pick up the enthusiasm despite the language gulf.
My travels without a suitcase brought me back to Toutes a nos crochets and I found this scarf project with links that brought me to a very nice step-by-step guide which I thought might interest you.

As well as Toutes a nos crochets, the scarf project has many French fans and different incarnations.
Heres Hier peut-etre with the pattern used as bracelet.
Then Adeltrala has made a choker.
She even posts a schematic pattern.

The best method is the one where you can look and learn and this one is available on Grannymania! What a fabulous name. Just what it says on the tin!!
Using the schematic pattern and the pictures gives you some idea without having to resort to the dictionary if you must. I just loved the way the motifs switch-backed onto each other.
A very nice way to create something on a sunny day.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Designer interview - Without Seams

Well, I think it's about time for another Designer Interview. I've got a few bubbling in the stove and this one's baked!!! I love these interviews as they just keep giving! I'm so reassured when I learn the many ways that people come to crochet and how holistic it often is. Learning whilst awaiting for a baby - what a wonderful image. I also love the idea of adaptability that Michelle describes of her patterns and stitches. That is an aspect I particularly appreciate of crochet, it's general adaptability and ability to be changed. Anyway, enjoy the interview and hurry to this interesting and thoughtful blog. The patterns are beautifully written and the designs are very tempting. Chevron Lace Cardigan

Chain Creative Interview Questions of creativity and inspiration

The creative mind behind Without Seams!
Michelle, describe your various creative skills.
Knitting, crochet and I also enjoy dyeing and spinning.
When did you start to crochet and who taught you?

Eva's Shawl

My mother tried to teach me as a child but I couldn't get beyond crocheting a chain. I finally learnt when I was overdue with my second child. My mother-in-law was staying with me, and we both decided to learn from a book to pass the time whilst waiting for my second daughter to arrive.
The name of the business is interesting. What was the inspiration behind it?
My blog name Without Seams comes from my love of knitting and crocheting seamlessly in the round.
What influences your style and output? What are your inspirations?
One of the big influences in my crochet design is Elizabeth Zimmermann - even though she didn't crochet.

I am influenced both by her interesting, and often seamless construction techniques, and also by her concept of writing recipes rather than row by row instructions. There is usually some adaptable element to my designs, they can either be worked with different yarn weights or the size of the finished project can be varied to suit the intended recipient.
What are the most important aspects of your work to you?
I try to make my designs simple but adaptable so that whoever tries the pattern can add their own touches to make their project their own. I try to use simple pattern stitches, which hopefully do not require too much concentration.
Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
Probably Eva's shawl - this is one of my most popular designs, and I love seeing different variations of it.

Eva's Shawl

When are you most happy when you’re working?
When I am trying out a new idea and it actually works out!

Thank you for chatting!

Love Bee

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Italian Earthquake and how crochet can help

Although I don't want to downplay the enormity of this, I never thought that crochet could be mentioned in the same sentence as the telling of the stories of survivors from the terrible devastion in Abruzzo, Italy. My heart goes out to those trying to make sense of it all and tremendous respect to the nonna of ninety plus who resorted to her crochet in a time of crisis. How many times have I (and many others, I guess) said how relaxing I find it but never could I have imagined that it could also be a protection of sorts from a horrifying situation. May she have a speedy recovery with her crochet and her life! Here are two reports on the story from The Australian and Italy Mag.
A 98-YEAR-OLD woman was pulled from the rubble of L'Aquila last night, 30 hours after an earthquake devastated the historic Italian town.
The rescue came as the death toll in Italy's deadliest earthquake in nearly 30 years rose to 207 and left tens of thousands sheltering in makeshift camps.
Maria D'Antuono told the ANSA news agency she whiled away the time by "doing crochet". Sky TG24 said the woman was in good condition.
A 98-year-old grandmother rescued 30 hours after Monday's earthquake in Abruzzo said she had whiled away the time ''crocheting'' amid the rubble.
Firemen on Tuesday morning found Maria D'Antuoni waiting in her bed surrounded by fallen plaster in the small village of Tempera.
D'Antuoni ate some crackers and told television crews ''at least let me comb my hair'' as they waited for an interview.
''What did I do all this time? I was working, I was crocheting,'' she said.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Love Summer

The wind still has a bite in it but summer is around the corner so it's important to forward-plan!!!

Making a dress might be a thought - time to figure out patterns and then get the darn thing made!

I was immediately put in mind for this idea by the fashion section of the Sunday Observer last week. Stella McCartney often champions the craft industry by including knitwear and crochet and I love the dress/tunic at the top of the post.
Filet crochet is an area that is a little neglected in the pattern books and it is nice to see it brought right into style.

In my collection of vintage patterns I rustled up a great publication from 1976, McCall's Summer Crochet and I thought a pattern for the blog might get the ball rolling.
I was a bit spoiled for choice as there alot of filet patterns but instead I went for a hoodie (no jokes here please) which could look stunning as a stand-alone dress.

If you try it out then let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Secret Spring

Happy Spring to all of us in the Northern Hemisphere. The light is brighter, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming.
Here is a beautiful spray of cherry blossom from Suili. The secret is...they're crocheted!!!!!