Discovering Hope – The Role of Creativity

I had a completely different topic in mind for this week’s post but having spent a lovely morning teaching 3 ladies with learning disabilities to crochet a chain and make a bracelet it occurred to me to explore the role of creativity in building a sense of hope.


I honestly believe that we all have a creative ability…. it might be handicrafts, art or even building a wall – it doesn’t matter what it is you like to create, the only thing that matters is that you put your heart into it and are pleased with what you have achieved. It actually doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your finished work – they might love it, they might not but that’s not the point. The point I believe is in your personal achievement.

I’ve already shared bits of my own story – how I’ve rediscovered that I can be creative and the journey I’m taking into freeform work. However if it wasn’t for crafting I have no idea where I’d be now! 5 years ago I was pensioned off by the NHS following a massive flare up of the complex pain syndrome I have. I was pretty much bed / chair bound and came out of a discussion  with a back to work provider feeling pretty fed up – I was told if I wanted to work I’d have to find a job to do laying down!! I sent my daughter off to the shops for a kids knitting kit and had ago and found I’d not lost the ability so started making things – I hunted down yarn and fabrics on Freecycle and in charity shops as I got a bit stronger – thanks to the pain clinic and their brilliant and very inspired physio – and eventually opened a Folksy shop. Things gradually grew from there, I gained an adult teaching qualification about 3 years ago. It was pretty scary going into the classroom in a wheelchair – I wasn’t sure what the group would think etc but it was great and I found I could still teach! Since then I’ve run workshops and classes with the help of friends and family and attended fairs etc. And met some equally amazing people along the way….


I’ve mentioned the Headway group before – currently they’re embarked on

knitting preemie clothes for Lisa’s Stars. The loom knitters are producing hats, one lady who hates knitting is making tiny blankets and another lady who has not been able to follow a pattern for 8 years is now churning out tiny hats, mitts and booties from simple patterns and has decided to attempt a tiny cardigan over Easter. I’ve rewritten the pattern so its a bit easier to follow and I’m sure she’ll do it as her confidence is really growing. Our next project is to make a wall hanging / quilt. Its going to take some inventiveness but our sewing star has promised me she’ll make sure I’m teaching things well so I’m sure it’ll be fine. When I first met the group I had no idea what would be possible but to see them grow and gain confidence through their achievements is amazing and no matter how bad a day I’m having I always come out feeling better. Its easy to look at the label and decide on people’s capabilities but its only when you give people a chance to do something creative and forget labels that you discover their potential.


I’ve recently started working with a group of ladies with mental health issues on a monthly basis. I support them in working on projects of their choice. Some can already knit or crochet and need a bit of confidence and others are beginners. The rule I work to is progress not perfection so until the person can confidently do something I don’t spend time on mistakes because it actually doesn’t matter. What matters to these ladies is that they are doing something and achieving something that they feel good about. One of the group has already joined the Friday Knit and Natter group and is making new social contacts too.

And talking of Knit and Natter, we’re a diverse group sometimes all female, sometimes with the odd man coming along. Some can knit or crochet well, others are complete beginners. We talk about all sorts, help and support each other and I think encourage each other to achieve. For some members the group is a break from a fairly isolated lifestyle, for others its a chance to learn something new or pass on existing skills. One girl had never tried knitting or crochet at the beginning and is now making toys and dolls clothes for her children.

And this morning was amazing – I worked individually with each lady and their helper. Ok the correct crochet grips etc went out the window but everyone was really proud of the chain bracelets they’d made. I was kept busy making flowers to add to them and everyone took one home to give to a friend or relative as an Easter gift. One lady has asked if I can come again as she eventually wants to make a blanket and I’m really looking forward to it.

So based on my experiences, I think hope for the future comes from feeling positive about yourself and one of the best ways of feeling positive is to have a sense of achievement. And creativity definitely has a role!

Handmade Monday 109 – A Week of Finishing Touches

Welcome to Handmade Monday. If you’d like to find out more, take part or spend a lovely evening or 2 reading about crafty people around the world and being inspired by their work then pop over to Handmade Harbour and join in!

Last week was one of those crazy weeks where it was hard to find the time to get things done. It seemed like there was something to fit in most days and I had a few commissions to put the finishing touches to, and a few tiny amigurumi’s to make for a demonstration at Hobby Craft on the Saturday.


Shrugs for SharomFirstly there was a set of 4 bridesmaids shrugs to finish –  number 4 needed another sleeve and  a crab stitch edging. Plus all 3 needed to be blocked and have their buttons sewn on. The picture shows 3 because I didn’t realise I’d not photographed no4 until I’d given them to the customer!

I adapted an original pattern from Rowan, changing the curled knitted edging to a double crochet and crab stitch edge. The colours work well together too! Can’t wait to see the photos of the Bridesmaids wearing them!


Tweety Pie

f95bd7cfd1752ec92f58a3d78672e155My other commission finish was a Tweety Pie Jumper, designed completely from scratch for a customer. I’d finished it before Christmas but the customer then decided they would prefer to wait until now for it. Its turned out really well but am not entirely happy with the quality of the photos.

Its all pinned out for blocking here and went in the post today so am hoping they like it!

Teeny Tiny Amigurumi

I found this lovely little book at Hobbycraft after I was booked to do a demonstration for them and bought it.

I’d previously designed and made the angel myself and will be making another as a photo tutorial /pattern as she was lovely to do and received many compliments


The book was packed with tiny makes – materials were crochet cottons or scraps of 4 ply – made on 1 – 2mm hooks. I made a duck, pig, butterfly, owl and a flower and am just putting the icing on a cupcake. Again the pics haven’t turned out as well as I hoped – I thought the camera on my new phone was quite good quality but its definitely not a patch on the digital camera so I’ll be using that for product photography in future I think.

One of the lovely things about demonstrating is that not only does your work get additional exposure, you also get to meet some lovely people whilst you’re working.

Spring Newsletter and Updates on Workshops

I’ve been busy planning the next block of workshops and classes and writing a short newsletter to update regular Bits and Bobs Crafts customers and readers with what’s been happening. Also included is a free crochet pattern and a couple of short but sweet articles about sharing your work online, featuring Handmade Monday, Creatives Unite and the lovely KnitRun4Sanity

You can download the newsletter in Spring Newsletter Published

To subscribe to future, please email me  –  and I’ll add you to the mailing list once I work out how to make Word Chimp do something other than induce a mild dose of acute confusion!

To book onto any of our workshops or lessons, please use the enquiry form over on the Learn page. You’ll soon be able to book lessons directly using eventbrite and the soon to be created What’s On page once I’ve finished tinkering!

Spring News 1

Spring News






Handmade Monday 107 – From Water to Crosses

This week’s post is going to be a bit on the eclectic side… but before I get side tracked please remember to pop over to Handmade Harbour and visit all the lovely crafty blogs that join this event.

Water Water Everywhere….

I think the mixture started with this week’s #Creative Beings Challenge – Water. I have been a water baby all my life – I love water, its journey, its energy, its peace and stillness, its moodiness And when I’m in water many of the constraints of my disability disappear – I can walk further without falling and if I do fall I don’t hurt myself. Swimming and water physio played a huge role in getting me back on my feet a little bit, so I think I love it even more now!

Freeform and Flowing

Water  Water centreOceanI started a Freeform piece for the challenge celebrating the journey from raindrop to the Ocean. However once I’d made and joined up the crochet scrumbles for the river and estuary I wasn’t sure what to do about the sea. A chat with my lovely friend Elaine helped as we discussed whether knitting could also be freeform. The yarn I wanted to use for sea was really unusual, very thin and thready with chunky slubs. I spent most of the week pondering – well avoiding and procrastinating –  and finally picked a pair of needles at random last night and started knitting a sea. I used a variety of  ripple and wave form patterns , chopping and changing and interspersing them with blocks of garter stitch and stocking stitch. Working odd rows withleft over bits of dk acrylic yarn helped create the varying moods of the sea. I discovered doubling the number of stitches and working a random row of spider stitch – anything up to 4 wraps, then switching back to an acrylic and halving the stitch count created a lovely row of “breakers” forming.  I finished off with a bit more pattern and then a final “row” of knitting lengths and loops at randon using a mixture of short row shaping and I cords. Once I got adventurous there was no stopping me! I now want to gather up a selection of random sea coloured yarns and take the adventure further and make a scarf using random waveform patterns – so watch this space!

Hope, Crosses and Water

As reguRainbow edged heartlar readers know I’ also creating a range of gifts that bring hope – this week I’ve been looking into symbolism (please visit the post and vote in the poll!) and using my creative journal to explore the links between faith, hope and water. I’ve been designing and making some little crosses for book marks for a while and got to thinking about the relationship between water, baptism and the cross – washing away sins and came up with the little blue cross  in denim shades of embroidery threads, accented with crocheted in pearl beads. Its a sort of contained free form! I’ve also made other crosses to practice techniques and work out patterns for larger pieces – hence the centres of the white and the rainbow cross, where I was practising bullion stitches and trying out different ways to make hearts.

Hewlett-PackardDenim Patchwork bullion flower

Finally Fish!

Fishers of Men pendant for blogOf course my mind didn’t stop wandering there and whilst doodling in church and listening to the sermon – I do listen honest – the doodling often becomes inspiration for my makes – I started drawing fish- not sure what that had to do with Moses in the Bullrushes but never mind! And then an old Sunday school song started looping in the back of my mind about Fishers of Men……… so a pendant design was born. Its still a wip and is  being written up as a pattern with photo tutorial. I’ve experimented with  DMC light effects thread and like the effect, even if the sewing in is a bit of a challenge. I’m also thinking of making some fish earrings too! The net is made from gold Gutterman sewing thread which is very fine.

The photography was challenging for this piece – but in the end, just like shoe shopping I chose the first one I took….. but in honour of creativity and crafting as you can see Bagpuss made a sacrifice………. “and twas all for nowt” as they say

humour for blog

Discovering Hope – Colourful Feedback and Symbolism

Thank You!

I had a great response to my poll about the colours of hope and some really interesting discussions about how the colours appeal to people, mainly over on Facebook. Two colours the “experts” suggest have meanings linked to hope – orange and brown received no votes  – I could understand the brown not appealing but I was surprised at orange as to me its a colour of summer – sun, heat, warmth and all the lovely things to come.

I’ve made a little chart of the results:


And I’veHope tile also designed a little colour tile I’m planning to use as the colour scheme – in terms of packaging etc –  for the Gifts of Hope collection I’m currently working on. Its been painted freehand with a mouse so the lines are a bit wiggly but I think when its used to colour the logo and the banner for the online shop I’ll be opening it should look good!

What’s Next?

I’m working on a few small designs that will appeal to Christians  – cross bookmarks and patches, fish and anchors – hopefully to include some wire work jewellery too….

But I also want to develop some gifts that will appeal to a wider audience and again I’m going to need your help..

Symbols of Hope


I’ve been researching widely, both through reading a variety of sources, web searches and asking questions on my facebook page about objects people associate with hope and I’ve grouped them loosely as follows:

Biblical – Cross, Anchor, Fish, Chi-Ro, Dove, Angel, Rainbow, Boat or Ark, Dove

Popular Culture – Heart, Rainbow, Horseshoe, 4 leafed clover, Bell, “Hope Note Book”, Daffodil / Spring Flowers, Stars, Lighthouse, Butterfly

Mythology / Other Beliefs – Phoenix, Cockerel, Calf, Chinese Script, Horse, Infinity Symbol, Oak Tree, Oil Lamp,

I have a few ideas about things I could make using some of these symbols but this is where you come in….. I’ve designed a little poll and would appreciate your feedback to guide me towards those that would be most popular – thank you again for your help with this and I will be posting the results and more info about the symbols chosen next time

Handmade Monday 106 – All Aflame

Hi and welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday, hosted by the lovely Wendy Massey over at Handmade Harbour. Wendy’s designs and makes can be regularly seen in CraftSeller and are fantastic and explained really well. So pop over and find out more and join all us crafty types!

Travelling and Special Birthdays

I was away for most of last week as it was Dad’s 86th Birthday! He’s still in the care home at the  moment for rehabilitation, but he’s now decided he loves it and would like to stay! So we are now hoping he “fails” his home assessment so that social services will fund his place. To be honest he needs to be there as he is only so well because he’s somewhere being cared for. Hopefully my brother and I can back him too and he’ll be able to stay! The home is beautiful and the staff are amazing, even throwing Dad a little party – although the diabetic birthday cake wasn’t really his cup of tea. I was really worried about him being there as they have a large number of clients with dementia and I thought it would pull him down, but Dad chats to them anyway and is quite unconcerned if he doesn’t get a response. The staff are happy to work to each residents preferences too, so Dad isn’t forced to join in with anything and can spend his time in his room watching the footie etc when he wants to. He’s also become a bit of a daytime TV fiend and is now into such things as Homes Under the Hammer. I took him into the village for a  birthday lunch too and as soon as he got out of the car he disappeared off into the chippy to chat to the staff and the ladies at the cafe (part of the pub pictured) were really pleased to see him out and about again. He’s now realised that with a bit of time he’ll be able to pop out for a cuppa and chat once the weather gets warmer as the home is very near the village centre, on the flat and he’ll only need to cross one road, which is never too busy.

Getting Things Done

I took the cardigan’s I’m working on for a commission with me and have nearly finished another…. this week’s aim to write up a couple of patterns for a child’s hoodie and girls / ladies jumper dress – the maths is a bit confusing at present but I’m hoping to sort out a spreadsheet that can do the hard sums! Along side that I’m starting the Creative Journalling 30Day E Course – was meant to start that on Saturday but being away and still learning to use the allegedly smart phone means me and the emails fell out big time – the lack of wifi and3G didn’t help much either. Though a visit to little brother to use his wifi meant I now have some knitty apps which I’ll blog about when I’ve figured out using them 🙂

Yesterday’s drive back was beautiful and we were really spoilt when we got to the top of “The Hill With it’s Own Weather”, which overlooks Lyme Bay – the sun was coming through the clouds and making pools of gold on the water – a real mermaid paradise! I’ve got lots of ideas for making things that combine golds and sea colours now!


Creatively in Flames

I diFireflowerd have a bit of time for my #creativebeings prompt last week – the theme being fire. I’ve created a few works in progress that I’ll add to and finish during the course of the coming week:

The flaming flower  needs an outer layer of yellow I think to complete it. I’m using it to experiment with making a much larger flower that is more freeform in nature that would look good as a piece of wall art or perhaps a star shaped wrap?

But this version will become a brooch or bag charm, perhaps with a mirror tile in the middle!


Flaming Feather wip

This is a mixed media piece – knitting and crochet built up on each other.I’ve used a combination of embroidery threads and a gold sewing thread, with a combination of lace hooks and 2.5mm circular knitting needles. I started it aiming to make a small candle flame inspired  petal for a flower.

However as I worked it sort developed a feathery shape and an eastern style. I’m not  certain what I want to do with this yet – I’m torn between leaving it as it is (once all the ends are sewn in) and creating a brooch or making more feathers and using them to make a phoenix / peacock hybrid bird for a mixed media collage, using embroidery, more knitting and some applique onto canvas…

Flame WIP

This is my latest piece of freeform. I made a series of flame inspired scrumbles, crocheted them together and then added on additional leaps of flame to fill in gaps. I’m now working on the back of the piece to create a notebook cover.

I used a variety of yarns from scraps of yellow and orange pure wools to 4ply acrylics. I also varied hook sizes depending on the piece. The colours haven’t photographed as well as I hoped though. It’ll look much better once blocked, stretched and attached to book.

It has a really good texture. I was surprised though that many of the stitches I used were small and contained – I had to almost force myself to use anything taller than a half treble – does that come from our instinctive fear of fire or was I simply limiting myself to the size I wanted to cover a notebook? But when I started joining the scrumbles and adding to them the “fire” took on a less controlled look with flames going everywhere so perhaps the smaller controlled stitches didn’t win?

Rippled flame

As I mentioned early I now have a Smart – or is it unsmart – phone. I decided that it needed a little home, due to the  need for protection from the contents of my handbag – needles, hooks, scissors etc! I got a book from The Works of rippled knitting and crochet stitches as this is something I really feel drawn to at the moment – a bargain at £2 too! I chose one of the patterns after a bit of faffing around, made a phone cover. I’ve added a drawstring top and rose to decorate it.

I’ve also made a beautiful scarf using a granny ripple pattern from the book which I’ll share later this week as part of the series on Hope!