Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Beady eye

The table is covered with my 'homework' for the Jewellery Workshop in a few weeks. Beads, thread, hooks all tumbled out ready for action. I'm really excited about the opportunities the planned day has created to get acquainted with skills that I think will be new for everyone. I must say, bead crochet is not an area I've explored to date but I'm beginning to realise it isn't something you tackle lightly. You need sharp eyes and oodles of patience but once you've started (and re-started several times!) it's really rewarding.I've gone to several sources for advise and patterns and I'll pass them on to you. First off came from Mknze Designs, A Bead Crochet Primer. The PDF costs $9 but is the clearest description I've found on the net.
I really think if you're starting out, you need a pattern. The principles and pattern layout is such a different ballpark for a crocheter and a clear pattern is such a help. Need for Beads is where I turned to for a large selection of patterns. Be careful, however, that, if you're a beginner, you choose wisely and don't get over-ambitious. Once you get all your materials and get started you soon realise that your over-confidence has led you into a real maze and starting simple means you're more likely to succeed.
I searched on the net for beads but decided that, although there are hundreds of suppliers, nothing beat actually handling the supplies before I bought them. Luckily, I live near London so went to The Bead Shop in Tower Street which supposedly has 'the finest bead shopping experience in Europe'! I was very happy with my purchases I must say. However, you can buy online too. Now I just have to find the time to really get cracking. That's something you can't buy!!!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

New workshops with Bee

The summer workshops are beginning to take shape nicely and I've decided to add some new dates for those of you who perhaps wanted to try out a new skill but couldn't make the earlier workshops. I do need at least 4 people to run a class.

The jewellery workshop will comprise 3 projects; a bead crochet bracelet, a wire crochet pair of earrings and a starched crochet medallion. (5 hrs £65). The felt workshop will also be made up of 3 projects; dry needle-felting, wet felting and a small crochet project. (5 hrs £45)

All the workshops will take place here in Kent (1 hr 30 min from London, all main rail and road links) and include lunch and materials.

The dates:

Jewellery - Saturday 22 August and Saturday 12 September 12 - 5pm

Felt - Saturday 5 September and Saturday 19 September 12 - 5pm (there is still one place for Saturday 1 August).

Obviously I'm still happy to arrange some private classes by appointment, so if you want to refresh the creaky crochet joints then please get in touch.

At Loop there is an Improvers crochet class on Saturday 20 June 12 - 5pm.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Designer interview - Knotsewcute Kim and Tara

I'm a big fan of many things. You know that!!! I'm a big fan of talent with crochet. Promoting it, using it to develop and inspire. Just being downright enterprising. That's alot to be fantastic with!!! The names behind Knotsewcute are pretty fantastic and they've been so kind as to give some of their time to a fantastic interview for chaincreative. They even let you have a piece of their cleverness through their PDF patterns available in their Etsy shop. I know you'll want to visit there when you've read their revealing interview. Enjoy!

Your names?

Crochet designers - Kim Miller and Tara Schreyer.
Where are you from?

The interior of beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

Describe your various creative skills

Kim: As a mom of 4 I am always looking for ways to cut corners without sacrificing quality and style. As such I have done a bit of everything from sewing to furniture refinishing, but my passion is crocheting and designing.

Tara: My grandmothers were very creative women and they would often share their newest interest with me, so I think I've tried my hand at almost every craft out there. I can't say that I've been great at all of them but it was fun creating just the same. I was completely obsessed with cross-stitch for quite some time, but soon realized that I could never complete all the patterns that I had accumulated. While I do bring it out from time to time, I have found that crocheting fits the best with my busy life as a mother of two little ones and satisfies my creative side.

I love the name. What's the story behind it?

When we researched names on the internet we were overwhelmed by the volume of Etsy shops. All of the nice whimsical names we thought up were already taken. In order to come up with something original we jokingly said that we will have to call our shop “NOT SO CUTE”. We changed up the spelling and it just seemed to stick.

When did you start to crochet and who taught you?

Kim: About 14 years ago, I was going through a divorce and I wanted something positive to focus on so I asked my aunt to teach me to crochet.

Tara: My grandmother taught me to crochet as a young girl. My very first completed project was a afghan that I did in grade school.

What was the inspiration behind developing your interest in crocheting?

Kim: I have always had a lot of creative energy, but it wasn't until I learned to crochet that I found my medium.

Tara: When I first saw felted items and learned that they were created by knitting or crocheting with wool, I was inspired and realized as I started creating that the possibilities were endless. Felting added a whole new dimension to an already favorite hobby. Crocheting with other materials also has me intrigued and I just might try my hand at it in the future.

What influences your style and our output, and what are your inspirations?

For both of us our family has been our biggest inspiration and support. We found that our kids are 100% honest about our creations : )

There's two of you! Do you divide the work or is it joint inspiration?

We both love having a partnership as it is someone to share the load with and bounce ideas off of, yet at the same time we are still able to express our own individuality. We both have different talents and experiences that we bring to the shop, and we've shared many good laughs over mistakes that are best left unsaid.

What are the most important aspects of your work?

To create practical designs that fit into our modern, busy lives. Also, by creating patterns, we are able to give people the opportunity to continually create for their loved ones without much expense.

Which project or piece of work are you most proud of?

Kim: For me it is always the ones that I struggled the most with. I've learned that mistakes are not disasters but rather they are opportunities for new ideas and growth. With that said, the projects that I'm most proud of are my Elegant Evening Shawl and the Simply Felted Ladies Slippers. With both of these patterns I went through a lot of trials before I came up with a fabric and design that captured my vision.

Tara: I've always been drawn to simple things. By that I mean, simple lines, color, and design. So I would have to say the Felted Baby Slip-ons are my favorite creation.
Describe your favourite working space.

The studio that we saw in Fiber Trends Magazine :) We can dream!

Thanks again, Bee, for this opportunity!

Your friends,Kim and Tara

Aren't they lovely!!! Now, go and find a friend and start designing!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sandra Backlund - slow fashion

I discovered this extremely talented designer through many websites linked to design rather than craft and have found that crochet and knitting hold their own in such august places. The skills involved, particularly with the more architectural quality of crochet, means that it can rise up from the prosaic and become a real artform.

Sandra Backlund has gained her design chops in establishments like Louis Vuitton and has been acknowleged by the international design community. Not bad for someone who first enrolled in a textile class when she was bored at university.

Hidden away in her studio in Stockholm, she works long and meticulously on her designs. Not for her the throw-away fashion we're so used to. As she says, "It depends how you see luxury. For me luxury is if something is made especially for you and it is made by someone, not just a machine that does it for anyone. And good quality fabrics and of course nowadays you want it to be friendly to the environment. It’s not about a logo or what it costs. But about how it is made, that it is unique, special. I see fashion as an art form. I could have chosen any direction for myself, design, photography, but for me fashion is a way to combine art and crafts and techniques. And fashion is such a big thing, everyone is involved with it one way or another. It’s pretty unavoidable which makes it very interesting to me."

She works up to 20 hours a day and the work is still unavailable which really raises its worth and quality. I'm very glad to see that she gets her mother to help out. Collaboration in the family is something to treasure.
Her design processes are fascinating and certainly ring some bells for me (in a modest way!).
"Mostly the possibility to improvise. I build the fabric and the garment while working on it, I can change my mind all the time. And of course knitwear is stretching so you can shape it in a different way than with fabric. It’s a bit like sculpting with clay. The material is alive. I invent the pieces while doing them."

The quotes are from an extensive interview which I would recommend anyone interested in this designer, giving real insight into what goes into such amazing pieces.

For your notebook

I have changed the URL of my sewing blog, Sewing Bee, so do please note the change. Lovely posting about Lucie Summersville this week.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

While you're waiting

As a postscript to yesterday's post that I might be less evident in the next few days, why not trawl the chaincreative back catalogue? Although I might be in danger of blowing my own trumpet, there really is an awful lot of crochet material in the posts from last year and the year before. I must say I've accumulated many favourite posts and crochet material that I revisit from time to time for inspiration and information. Often I have the feeling that like a library, there are unvisited shelves that people may have forgotten about.

With this in mind, how about picking a post-from-the-past? May I recommend this one from the Voyages strand about Portugal with a great designer interview with Maria from Kjoo.

Monday, 11 May 2009


Thank you to lovely Yael of Yoola jewellery on Etsy who included me in her Treasury. These lists of carefully chosen collections are very highly sought after by Etsyers and shoppers alike as they are wonderful showcases for the very talented people on Etsy. They can be collated by colour or theme and I love to browse the hundreds (yes, that is really true) of fabulous treasurys on offer. I've always lusted after curating my own but they are incredibly difficult to obtain and you have almost to sit up all day and all night to get one! So congratulations to Yael.

Posting at the moment is a bit of a luxury for me as I'm up to my ears (and everything else, it feels like) in preparing for my jewellery workshop in June. I know it sounds pathetic. It's still 5 weeks away, but the amount of preparation is quite alot. It's better to be away from the computer and go and sit with a crochet hook, beads and wire.

Sorry but I will be back later in the week.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Finally there

At last I've posted my first thoughts at sewing bee. It's really an introduction but will set the tone I hope. I want the new blog to have the same feel as chaincreative but with threads!
Of course I won't be neglecting my lovely crochet's far too precious. I'll be posting next week about a fantastic fashion designer from Sweden who uses crochet in extraordinary ways.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Plans afoot for Sewing Bee

Planning to start another wee blog. Sewing this time!!! I'll be rummaging round the virtual world searching for all things needle and thread to bring to any of you who are fabric friendly. Let me know of any finds you make and we'll try and feature them. Crochet will always be there too but now it'll have a useful neighbour if a button falls off.
In a few days I'll be more prepared to let you through the door, but the packing cases are in the hall and you'ld only see it's bad points. Give me a few days and the welcome mat will be out.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Staying in touch

I'm now officially a twittering wreck! As if it isn't enough that I babble away endlessly about stuff, I'm now going to tell everyone. You can now catch (if you want!!!) my daily musings on Twitter and check out the vibe at chaincreative, my twittering tag. Let me know if you're listening!
The latest pearl of wisdom is available here on the right or at I'll keep you notifyed of my favourite crochet finds on the web, yarn fave raves, tips and gripes and much, much more, as they say.