Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Chaincreative confidential

There are plans afoot here at chaincreative Central and the first summit meeting of it's personnel took place yesterday in my flowery garden. It really was a gorgeous day and I hope it is like a great send-off for all our schemes.

The glittering cast list consists of myself (natch), Claire Montgomerie (who many of you probably are acquainted with already) and Catherine with her adorable sidekick, Edie.

We spent alot of the time oohing and ahhing at E but the rest of the time was discussing our various talents and what we plan to do with them.

You already know about me, crocheting and sewing up a storm. Claire is a published knitter and crocheter and general all-round doer of things creative. Catherine, as well as giving tons of cuddles to Edie, is a baker of extreme talents and I've got a sample to show you which might get the digestive juices gurgling a bit.

Claire looking very passionate about her craft - eating!!!
We're all very passionate about what we do and we want to channel that into some sort of productive venture. To that end, this lunch. Obviously, we licked our plates clean!!
You'll be kept in on the secret as it progresses, so regard this as the first installment!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

It keeps on giving

They said you could get a bit obsessed!! Wire crochet, bead crochet. Not everyone has given them a try for various reasons. Many think only in yarn and are happy to stay there. Following the Jewellery Workshop, however, I have discovered my inner bead!!! The task was to start and, hopefully, finish a beaded rope bracelet. Made using slip stitch crochet, on paper it all looks so easy!!! The reality is less rosy. The experts work in 11/0 or 8/0 beads which are the delicate seed beads you see in many beaded projects. Sadly they proved too tiny for me so I upgraded to 6/0 which are approximately 3.5-4 mm. I actually prefer their relative chunkiness. Thread is a problem too. Beading thread is fine and that spells problems for beginners. With the size of beads I used I sized up to viscose twisted floss from Texere yarns. Called Prism, it comes in loads of lovely shades so should suit any project.

It seems that the first 3 rounds are the trickiest and that is definitely true. The circle can quickly end up in a funny beady ball very quickly. To keep your head, you string however many beads that the circle calls for in a larger contrast bead and start crocheting with a firm view of the sequence. After much trial and error (that's quite a few times, in other words) you realise where you're going and then you're off and running. Then the obsession kicks in and you want a whole bunch of bracelets. I'm on my fourth and still planning!!!

The sites I found most helpful and where I bought patterns and advice pdf were -

Need for Beads - patterns and handy guides

McKenzie Designs - a primer with wonderfully clear illustrations

GJ Beads - supplies in UK
The Bead Shop - in Tower Street, Covent Garden, London town
To be honest there's lots of sites on the net that help so don't give up if you want to try this challenging skill.
Talking of challenges and skills may I introduce the production of another brilliant student. Me Ling came to the Workshop and went away and came back with this!!! How fabulous is that!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Nice things happen

Several nice things in fact!!! Lovely Friday at Loop (by the way, the online shop has a new address, loopknitting.com so don't forget!!! Old address users will be re-directed) with Claire. Claire has her own home, Monty, and she's got some exciting news which I'm going to share with you as I'm going to be involved too! Hurrah!!! Claire and I make a great crochet team at Loop on Fridays, so if you're in London and need some extra crochet juice then pop in for a chat.
Claire is a great discoverer of all things creative and ways to be creative. Her latest venture is going to include you, the great public. Called Kiosk it is, as Claire says, a way for designers 'to take part in a collaboratory exhibition with Wayne Hemmingway Design and the Design Museum. They have set up a Kiosk by the Mayor's fab building with a view to supporting young British designers. It is a great idea and I recommend you all head down there at least once over the summer to support the innovative design and participate in some workshops.' Isn't that fantastic?! And I'm going to be there as crochet and sewing sidekick!!!
Claire has kindly asked me to join her in giving crochet advise and workshops and my own sewing workshops. Yippee!!! I plan to run workshops in simple start-up sewing with basic stitch guides and making opportunities to design and make your own accessories either in crochet or fabric! Anyone in the South Bank area on Sunday 26th July put it in your diary now and head down to our Kiosk for a day!!!Finally, I want to give a big crochet hurrah for my Improvers' crochet gals yesterday at Loop. I adore all the classes at Loop and if you've wondered about attending then wonder no more. They're grrrrrrrreat and rewarding. Yesterday's Improvers were a case in point. Everyone there arrived with alot of doubts about their ability and conviction that they'd be pleased if they managed a row of trebles. Stuff and nonsense. They finished with the entire stitch lexicon done and dusted and the start of a beautiful scarf or trim. Doubts have vanished and they're off to becoming experienced crocheters.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Crochet Jewellery Workshop 2009

About to begin.
The first of the workshops for 2009 kicked off on Saturday. The students that came were the bravest of guinea pigs for this new class and they certainly had quite a work schedule to face. Whether to sit in the garden room or out in the rose-filled garden!! Whether to keep the sunglasses on or if the sweater was redundant!

Where's that stitch? Preparing the motif prior to starching.

Then it was down to the real deal of the start of the journey of enlightenment with some good old crochet. A simple motif in crochet thread and fine hook. Alot of crochet students are unfamiliar with this more rarified medium so it's an exercise in itself to get your eyes focused on the tiny stitches. How did people cope before the days of chunky and aran crochet!?
Is it time for lunch yet?!!

Motifs completed, we starched and left them to dry before breaking for lunch. I'm a pretty hard task-master and hate to see people enjoying themselves so after about, ooo, well, an hour we turned our attention to bead crochet. The temperature began to rise and that wasn't because we were sitting in the garden. This did test the skills and needs to have the patience to do and then re-do those opening rows. The results are there for all those who persevere and then you're off! I used patterns from Need for Beads with the Bead Crochet Primer produced by Leopold McKenzie. Lots of super design ideas sprang from this part and I hope to post the outcome later.

Keep your yarn from twisting! Beading tips for you!
The last part of the puzzle (and I use that word with a reason!!) was the wire crochet project courtesy of Yael Falk of Yoola Designs. We used her patterns for the Glamorous Bracelet and the Sunflower Earrings. The method is more like knitting with a crochet hook so did give my crochet gals something to think about.
A break for cupcakes courtesy of Me Ling. They were YUMMY!
The day was drawing to a close and there was some tired folk who scrambled onto the train. But these people are crochet heroes and the hooks continued to work after the sun set and results of their work continue to flow in.
Wire crochet tube from Me Ling
I hope they would agree with me that it was very successful launch of our year of workshops.
I think this testimonial from Kate might sum it up:
"I always love coming to the crochet days, it's such an oasis of calm and so nice to be with other obsessive crocheters/knitters. "

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Flying without wings

It's almost a year ago that the Crochet Coral Reef project rolled into town at the Hayward Gallery. I know that many of you were able to visit the exhibition and those who could not were able to follow it's progress round the globe.
The principles involved with 'hyperbolic' crochet are deeply imbedded in the freeform crochet movement (or vice versa). I'm going to confess some lack of knowledge and experience here, but I know that it's pretty huge!!! There's someone freeforming somewhere at this very moment!
I mentioned that pintangle had called over to chaincreative the other day and, calling in on the blog yesterday, I see that she's writing about a rather special exhibition and competition which might interest the freeformers. At the International Freeform Crochet Guild you can find details and further explanation. Reading more about the freeform movement, however, I'm guessing that if you're a real fan then you already know all about it. It sounds like a great clan of like-minded people who share their knowledge very happily. Anyway, get scrumbling!!!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Take a bow

Chaincreative really loves attention! Who doesn't, and it's often completely unexpected. The blog has had a mention on a website called pintangle included in a list of blogs all beginning with the letter 'c'. It's not just random addresses either. The author, Sharon, from Australia curates this comprehensive blog on the creative arts and chose the blogs with a special purpose in mind, 'I choose blogs that stay on topic, written reasonably frequently, by textile practitioners and designers who do such things as quilt, stitch, dye, sew, embellish fabric,and bead. Or who are interested in art and design and perhaps are interested in paper related crafts, such as bookbinding, or use visual journals.'

I thought that there might be something else in the list for you. I've posted a picture from the pin tangle blog which is perhaps more suited to Sewing Bee but it's good to diversify!!!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Alive and kicking

Dig deep!

I've often wondered what bloggers get up to when they 'disappear' for a bit. Work, illness, lack of material, all of the above and more. I know that I'm always thinking of what I'll post but when there's hundreds of Very Important Projects all shouting for attention then I'm afraid that the blog has to take a backseat. Summer does seem to take people out and away from the computer - I wonder why. The northern bloggers particularly are passionate about the 'outdoors' (I know, we all are) but as I visit many blogs from Scandanavia, the number of posts dwindle as the summer months start. I don't mind. I'm out there too and that's with English weather.

My lovely salad garden -yum!

So while the blog suffers, rest assured I am working on it's behalf. Loop in London gives me loads of inspiration, so when I'm in the shop Claire and I are often to be found up to our arms in lovely, lovely yarn speculating what to sample next. And how do you teach left-handers when you're right-handed. Important stuff!!!

Jewellery-making never ends!!!

The rest of my week is taken up with many of the projects I've set up for the summer. The Jewellery Workshop is appearing on the horizon swiftly followed by two sewing events and the Felt Workshop. I'm also struggling to finish many of the projects I'd started of making up a series of vintage patterns that I can gather in 'book' form and publish.

1950's capelet in Frog Tree Alpaca Sport Melange

Whilst that's all going on, I've got the outdoors to contend with!!! Mind you, with the gorgeous weather (yes, we do have divine weather in England so don't believe the myths!!!) we've been experiencing there's tons of things to do in the garden.

A girl's gotta have a rest some time!!!!

Then there's the family. My son's moving and my lovely L is starting an internship at Vivienne Westwood. Yelp!!!!!!!