Sunday, 30 January 2011

Hooked on Lace

I've been experimenting with filet lace crochet this weekend as a break from knitting bags. I needed to make birthday presents for 2 friends and hit on the idea of bookmarks. I've wanted to try out filet lace and crochet lace making for sometime and thought now would be a good opportunity to try. I originally got inspired by some of the gorgeous books written in the late 18, early 1900's which can be found in the Antique Pattern Library. This is a wonderful catalogue of knitting, crochet and cross stitch patterns and booklets that are collected from around the world, scanned in, uploaded and shared with all us crafters for free. When you think of the time and effort involved, its a wonderful gift from those involved in all the hard work behind the scences. The patterns are so delicate and its amazing to think that ladies crocheted beautiful underwear and outerwear all in fine lace, often without electric lights. Its always worth reading them carefully and checking the abbreviations first as things have changed over time and the instructions may be different to what we are used to today.

Having created one with a name, I was then inspired to launch a personalised range of bookmarks in my shop - you can choose a name or short message and the embellishments in a shade the recipient will want. Am off hunting fine red ribbon so I can do a few for Valentine's day!

Click on the pic to go to the item in my Folksy shop:

Bits and Bobs Crafts

I also produced another book mark, this time with more eleborate lace trimmings and a Christian Cross. Although this isn't going to be available in my shop until Easter, I will be taking pre-orders, so contact me via Folksy:

I was surprised at how simple designing the filet lace was, once I'd got the knack of making the mesh - you simply work a treble stitch (UK) and 1 chain, missing the next stitch and then working the treble into the following stitch along the row. To make the letters / shape you simply work an additional treble into each space. And all you need to design the pattern is squared paper - or a cross stitch design programme. Then you simply block in the squares you want to make the picture with or spell a word with. Just remember that each blank square is effectively 2ch on your foundation chain. I found it easier to do a foundation row in the basic net so I could follow where I was as I started to fill in the pattern.

I think crochet lace has become less popular with time and it would be lovely to see more of it used. I know I was put off initially by the fine threads and small hooks needed but once you get going it grows surprisingly quickly and the delicate finish is well worth the effort.

I also had a bit of a look around Folksy to see if other's make or use lace items in their shops and thought you might appreciate a look at the wonderful things you can create:
Click on the picture to visit the store!




Its really worth having a go at lace crochet as it doesn't take long to create something that is really beautiful and makes a gorgeous gift for a friend or adds something special to an outfit.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Folksy - Friday - Hearts, Stars and Flowers

As I've blogged before I've been quite busy this month whipping up a large number of keyrings for a Gala Evening for ladies and gents who have completed an EMPOWER course, hosted by the Wheatsheaf Trust and Women's Wisdom. The task is now finished and fortunately I now have some surplus stock that will be finding its way into my Folksy Shop very soon! Have decided that these lovely little makes will be ideal for a small custom range  - I can make a set to order for anyone who would like them for party bags etc, given sufficient notice. I've started today by listing a rose keyring:

And for a sneak preview, here's the full set:


I'll be adding these to my shop over the coming week or 2! I'll also post some pics if I can of the ladies receiving them in their goodie bags on Wednesday night!!

If you would like to order direct, please email me

And of course I've started a new charity make - this time a crochet baby cardigan for Chole's Count the Kicks. This is a Mum who is raising money through Facebook Auctions to include information in packs that are given to expectant Mum's about being aware of their baby's movements in the later stages of pregnancy - for more information, follow this link


Anyway as I'm in a "hearts, stars and flowers" mood, I've decided to base this week's Folksy Friday on this theme, so here are 6 selected sellers and their lovely work:

Please click on the image to be taken to their store :-)


Monday, 10 January 2011

Back at last!

Its feels like its been ages since I've been here.
I decided that as I'd been through quite a rough time in my personal life of late - teenagers, need I say more? - I'd give myself a break over christmas. I set myself I very firm rule - I could only craft if it was for me!!! So the result is one gorgeous jumper finished and a long line, self designed short sleeved jacket 80% done!!!
I then had the theory that I would be back and ready to roll last week but I got whacked by some sort of virus that has done the rounds that kicked off a series of horrible migraines - flashy lights and extreme fatigue were the biggest problems.
And of course that put me well behind last week with preparing for an interview to teach knitting at a local college. So this weekend has seen me chained to a hot keyboard and tis done - but unforseen circumstances mean the interview's been postponed. However there was a silver lining there too as it means I will now get my mobility car, all being well tomorrow!!!! in order for me take delivery the hoist I have in the boot for my wheelchair has to be adjusted so the straps are the right length. Otherwise - and this has happened - it means you have to launch your bum into the boot, so the straps reach the anchor points on the chair - not easy when you're not too mobile but one definite advantage of having a largish bum!!! Or even worse the chair can be attached but the straps are too long and you can't get it high enough to go into the boot!!! But when all else fails the RAC are brilliant at running repairs and truly are the Knights of Road when natural stretching or some other fault arises.

Its been quite interesting writing a teaching programme for a class as I usually teach one to one and tend to go with the flow for the learner. We work from a plan but its flexible to meet their needs. But when you're looking at teaching through a college its a whole new world. Not only do plans need to be fairly structured, they also have to ensure they cover "Essential Skills" - english, maths and IT. The English and Maths were fairly simple - understanding patterns and abreviations, knitters diary for homework, choosing patterns, fun activities to make stitch patterns fit the number of stitches and playing with tension squares. Plus all the counting stitches and rows! But IT was more of a challenge - so have decided to try incorporating a few internet search sessions  - looking for patterns etc and also using U tube for demonstration videos etc. Not all the learners will have access though so I need to make sure it can be used in the classroom too! Am really excited.
Have also been chatting to people and have found there's a fairly steady demand for knitting and crochet lessons and no one to fill the gap generally. So the next step is to see a benefits advisor so I can find out the best way to launch my own business and access grants etc that will help me set up. The keeness of the government to get disabled people with more complex needs back to work seems to indicate there will be money for business start ups as they have realised that self employment is a good way forward for many of us. Certainly for me, being able to work lying down on my rough days are essential so its really good to think I can do this! Obviously I won't teach lying down but being mu own boss will mean I can arrange sessions that won't go beyond my maximum tolerance when I'm in a flare up period. I got my adult teaching qualification last year so its about time it was dusted down and put to work!!
And to finish these completely self indulgent post, here are some pics of what I've been up to knitting wise over the past few weeks:

Christmas presents for special little people

Candy lace leg warmers

My first hoodie - resplendent with teddy bear buttons