4kcbwday6 A Tool To Covet

Hmmm today’s post is not easy as its hard to identify a physical crafting tool I prize above all others. Sorry for the lack of images but my tools collection and I are some 120 miles apart today. … Why? Well some have been given to me by lovely people who have passed on the story of the hooks or needles and their owners. One friend passed on her mum’s lace hooks shortly after she died for example and as I knew her mum I think of her each time I use them, even though they are not the best quality hooks out there. .. Other items I value because they’ve opened crafting up to those who appeared excluded due to physical impairment. Extra chunky needles that can be tucked into armpits or splints so someone with the use of one hand can have a go at knitting.  Knitting looms that have opened up all sorts of horizons for my headway group, discovered in a pound shop. Not my first choice of tool personally but they’ve changed lives. .. The huge bag of needles of all shapes and sizes I bought for £5 from a local charity is another plus.  I often give them to people who want to learn but lack the finances. Yes I do have the odd pair I won’t part company with as they’re perfect for my recycling projects but again no one glaring favourite I think the closest I come to a tool I love is within my crochet hook tub. I collect hooks from magazines, sales, charity shops and pound shops so that there is   always something to suit everyone In a taster class.  From basic 4mm hooks to chunky rubbery plastic kids hooks I usually have something for everyone.  But there is one hook I prefer to use if possible. … a pink, metallic, double ended 5 and 3.5 mm hook I picked up on a magazine somewhere.  Its weighted just right for me and is lovely and smooth to use. But as I write this I realise that the tool I most value is my ability to hunt down bargains and find tools that wuden access to crafting to all those who want to have a go….

4KCBWDAY4 Colours

Today’s challenge is posed as a series of questions so let’s pretend that my alter ego Marvellous Madge is an overnight yarn superstar and is being interviewed by the yarn crafters press!

Having been blinded by 100’s of popping flashes Madge’s vision clears to a vast room at the savoy packed with reporters firing questions about…. that most personal of knitter’s things….. her stash!


Judging by my attire you’d ve forgiven for thinking yellow and black but really I love greens and self patterning yarns.  Neutrals are a favourite of the human who buys my bananas… oh and I love combining teal /duck egg blues with cream and chocolate. …. but greens and riotus self patterning yarns remind me of my treetop home where I’d sit anther story as the human mainly works on commission so tends to make me work in the colours the customer wants. … but it’s good as I’ve found new colours I like…pinks purples and creams, a lovely deep red and a gorgeous brown and cream variegated yarn that knits up into cute monkey jackets for little humans. …but black is not my thing having just finished a man’s jumper for the human…but I had a marvellous revenge. .. She has done the neckline and sewing up…. I told her I left my bifocals in the

jungle when I left to take my place as a knitting superstar 😀


Shrugs for Sharom




Well that’s another story as the human works mainly to commission, so tends to make me work in the colours the customer wants…but

its good as I’ve discovered lots of lovely new colours to work with, from purples and pinks to creams, deep reds and a lovely variegated brown and cream yarn that looks just like a little monkey jacket when knitted up…. although as the human is rubbish at photo’s I’ll have to show you one of her previous makes in the same yarn…. >>>Madge rolls eyes!

But black…….. well lets just say I don’t like! The human has just made me knit a whole man’s jumper in black but I had my revenge… after all use monkeys are intelligent and got her to pick up the neckline and sew it together….. I just happened to ahem leave my bifocals in the jungle don’t you know!


Well the human has weird rules about stash. .. when I knit for her customers we either use what’s in stock or buy enough for the project and…...If the customer supplies the yarn they get the spare back…even if they can’t knit! I was shocked I tell you! And all her oddments go into biscuit tins and get used for accessories and for her pupils to practice with…. at home mother monkeys are failing if they don’t teach their monklets to knit but apparently you humans have other ideas! But where she works with charities etc lots of people give her their leftover yarns so there is quite alot of stash. Then she goes hunting in yarn sales and charity shops too…. so its quite big…. her bedroom and lounge has dedicated storage areas…. I prefer hollow trees of course but again you human’s have some strange ideas :-)….
And the colour range and is vast from blacks and greys through baby pastels to riotously bright colours… ps this is just a small selection but its apparently a “health and safety breach” to open certain cupboards in this house, climb into the boxes under the dining table and……….. well you get the idea!!

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You meanBee Hat me of course, well yes as there’s plenty of variety and a definite need to be sensible intelligent and inventive… after all she often comes up with ideas for working with what she has…. this year its all about chevrons so she can use up odds and ends creatively… and then there’s the carrier’s and video tapes she makes me use for an extra challenge…. and of course she’s always making little flowers and things to appeal to her hidden bee…hence this ridiculous outfit! But at least she’s not making me wear this hat………..

(it was at this point Madge’s human stood up and shouted “That’s What You Think……….. I Created you!!!! ” and was dragged from the room by 2 very large men in white coats muttering about “that blooming monkey’s stealing my personality”…….. we do hope she recovers soon!

4kcbwday3 An Infographic

Today’s challenge is a trip down memory lane. In a past job I was a clinical auditor and had to learn to summarise and present data as simply as possible.  I was part of a team implementing an older people’s outreach service to acute medical and surgical wards in a major UK teaching hospital. It was my first job after my spinal issues meant I had to give up nursing and I did it alongside an Open University Health Promotion Course – which is what taught me the beauty of infographics!

The job and course together helped me realise  that despite being unable to do what I loved I was still useful. And of course craft was also there helping me with the transition.  It was during the 8 weeks I spent laid on the floor, waiting to get better that I taught myself cross stitch and blackwork. I made all our Christmas cards and some presents too that year. And on numerous transitions since its been craft that’s pulled me through the dips and deteriorations and has given me new openings and horizons.  One of the many reasons I love working with people who are experiencing difficult life circumstances is that I love to empower people to discover latent abilities and new horizons.

So my infographic can only be based on crafting as a life changing opportunity 🙂

Let’s imagine I asked 100 people who crafted 3 questions:

1. Do you craft when happy?

2. Do you craft when worried?

3. Has craft ever helped you get better from a serious illness / accident or deal with a big change to your life?

And of those the numbers who answered yes to each question were roughly split into 3 equal sized groups and I wanted to know about where those groups overlapped….  and show you in very clear and colourful terms I might use a Venn diagram to do this:


Without looking to loads of numbers you can see that:

A certain group of those who craft when happy also craft when worried

And a bigger group of those who craft when happy have also crafted to help them recover from a serious illness, but the group who have used craft when worried and to help them is even bigger

And a small number of  those who craft when happy, also craft when worried and have crafted to help them get over something major.

But if I presented this as a table of numbers you would probably spend ages ploughing through the tables and fiddling around with calculators – assuming you hadn’t lost the will to live of course – before you got the information you wanted.

4KCBW Day 2 – A Mascot Project

Here is the part of the brief I’ve chosen for today’s post:

Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house

Initially my mind went down the route of trying to pay “homage” to the “Monkey House” with a nod to the “Aviary” and as my design notebook would show were I not too shy to share, many of my quirkier projects start with some form of verse or creative writing exercise:

MadgeAm I a Monkey?

Am I a Bee?

I know I’m not a Peacock

Or sadly, a Manatee

I need to make a decision,

I need to make a choice

After all have you seen, a Monkey in bumble bee stripes?

Well………. as you can see from the sketch that’s exactly where I got to…. A sort of fairy monkey, called Madge! Once Madge is made she will have a  knitted puffball skirt – a nod to the 80’s, very lacy Irish crochet wings, knitting legs and arms on circulars – no seams please – and a crocheted head and body…

But I realised that making Madge was not going to be possible for a week or so and there are extra House Points for anyone who makes their creation so my actual mascot is “Pat’s Teacosy”… Pat is a lovely lady with learning difficulties who got a “proper teapot” for Christmas and is desperate for a teacosy for it…. she sometimes comes along to Knit and Natter with her sister and last week I showed her a picture of a teapot I found on Facebook and pinned over on Pinterest….

Pat has understandably fallen in love with it but affording it is beyond all of us, so I thought I might see if I could use it as inspiration for a tea cosy for her little teapot

The plan is to work a band for the top and bottom of the cosy inspired by the ring of small circles using navy blue, white and bright green in double and single (UK) crochet. I’m fiddling with working a row of circles of the moment and will post a photo once I’ve cracked it!

I’ve then decided I’m going to make a “double skirt” – bands of navy blue trebles , framed with red for the base. The top layer will be red chain stitch flowers with green middles, crocheted onto the base – so I’ll need to be doing some back and front loop trebles to create an edge I can attach the flowers to.

Once I’ve got the main body sorted I want to try and use some red to create the knob on the top of the teapot – more the shape as the colour scheme would be really tricky I think. If the cosy was bigger I could see this lending itself well to a less structured freeform piece….. definitely an idea for the future

I think this cosy will keep my “Monkey” happy with lots to think about, especially as I want to write the pattern up and publish it – this is a step I am committing to taking this year and I will be re working the design in a larger size with different colours and design elements for something I’m hoping to submit to….. But my bee will have lots of bits to flit with from making the “bead inspired” bands to working out the shapings for the “lid”……. watch this space as I’ll hopefully have some photo’s to show once for the week of the work progressing



KCBWDAY1 The House Cup

I took part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week for the first time last year, simply because I’d got myself into a bit of a rut and lost my way with blogging. There was as per usual lots was happening in my personal life, I was putting loads of pressure on myself to make the teaching succeed and I’d stopped loving what I do.

This year has been a real journey of discovery for me and I’ve definitely changed my outlook on crafting alot  – I’ve got a better business head, thanks to the help from the Mum’s and Business Team at The Lounge amongst others.  And I’ve also journied further and  discovered the creative me, developed a passion for free form work and found out that things I believed I couldn’t do, I could. Writing last years posts  started the journey as they challenged me to view knitting and crochet differently, rediscover my crafting roots and also tap into my latent passion for creative writing – which is still to be explored when I commit the time to completing my Creative Journalling Course.

So… you may be wondering what on earth a Monkey is doing sitting top left looking cute, when I’m rambling on about journeys of self discovery! Well she – I’ll call her Marge –  is there because for this year’s Blog week, our first challenge is to   choose a House – without the help of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat I might add!!! Each house relates to the type of crafter you think you are…..

I had a choice between being a Bee and a Monkey. I know I have bee like tendencies of flitting between projects, liking to have a few on the go and also needing an afternoon a week where I am allowed to play with yarn, wire, beads, needles and hooks…. and I can get distracted by bright shiny things. But I also recognised that I meet the “Monkey Brief” too:

Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

I love a challenge and that is why I get a bit bee like if that makes sense…… because I need things to keep my brain ticking over. In the non-crafty part of my life…. yep it exists, I love documentaries, historical novels, archaeology, science  – you get the picture. Oh and I’m well known as a bit of a wind-up merchant according to some of my friends….. I love to think! I love to be challenged and I love to discuss and debate ideas and extend or even change my attitudes and opinions as I understand more….. and I like to use that approach to my crafts. I also like to work to deadlines and see projects through the end, but when they are long and repetitive, then I need something else along side.

For example I am currently working on a men’s military style jumper – I took a basic pattern, adapted it, learned how to insert a v-neck and have just finished knitting it up – just the neck back, blocking and sewing up left…..

Some sample Motifs for “Beyond the Granny Square

But…… knitting continuous 3 x1 ribs in black is a “TV knitting” job and tedious, especially as the man concerned is over 6ft tall with long arms….. so I need relief! So in between times I’ve been working on some designs: creating  crochet, beaded, motifs for a free form piece; working up more crochet motifs for an intermediate workshop; and making butterfly brooches for a Together for Short Lives, a charity that Hobby Craft are supporting. I’ve also been teaching children and adults, passing on my skills and hopefully my passions for crafting….. hence I think I am more a monkey – needing the “mental challenge” than a bee, in that my distraction projects have purpose…….. do you agree?

I’m also going to include this post as my Handmade Monday for this week –  so don’t forget to head over to Handmade Harbour and join us.

And if you want to learn to knit or crochet, pop across to the LEARN! or Events pages and book yourself onto a workshop – then you can join next year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and share your talent with the world!

Handmade Monday 112 – Never Work With…

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday, to catch up with other talented crafters, many of whom are published authors too, pop across to Handmade Harbour and either join in or have a read….

A much quoted text in the TV world is “never work with children or animals”…. I’ve not been working with animals – not sure if sheep can crochet from their own coats, but what a photo that would make!!! But I have had a lovely 2 weeks working with various groups of children ages 2 and above over the Easter Holidays and had a very enjoyable time too! Sometimes working with children needs us to think outside the box or find alternative ways to explain or demonstrate something but for me that’s part of the joy.

Creative Makes on Sat 13th April

Last Saturday I ran a Family Craft Workshop with my friend Karen from Kazie’s Magical Designs. I concentrated on crochet – mainly chain stitch whilst she did beading and papercrafts. We had a good mix of ages and families and all the kids got involved. For the little ones it was necessary to deviate from the plans a bit and come up with some different ideas, such as making crochet rings with heart buttons instead of a bracelet but that was fine…

One beautiful bracelet

Wednesday was a class for 7 young ladies at a local library, making bracelets and flowers from chain stitch. What was lovely about this group was the way they all pitched in and helped each other. Everyone got to complete their piece of work and they all had fun. And they’ve asked for more, as have their Mum’s. One of the girls made an interesting comment that “grannies can knit and stuff but Mum’s can’t” – and to a great extent that’s true although a surprising number are definitely keen to learn. I suppose they are the so called “lost generation” of crafters who grew up when make do and mend and “home made” clothing went out of “fashion” which is a shame but there is definitely a rising tide of Mum’s who want to make again!

All ready to go!

Yesterday finished off the week of kids events with another family workshop in a local church. We had some horrible weather to compete with and the streets were pretty much deserted but a few families braved the elements and came along. Our youngest participants were both 2 and they loved buttons! One handed me a pile of them and some yellow wool to make a badge for mummy – so after a bit of fiddling around I made her a little brooch with a raised middle, whilst the other wanted a flower in red, black with a white flower bead in the middle. They then discovered Karen’s pile of stickers and had a lovely time covering their own little books with fish and princesses. Another little girl came along with her Nanny and made a bracelet for Mum and necklace for herself. I had a great time helping her find beads in the kids box to meet her requirements – including luminous bats! Another family made crochet bracelets, learned to sew on buttons and spent ages hunting out letter beads to spell out their names – we did have to use a few stickers as the majority of vowels and more popular letters had gone!

Would I work with children again? Definitely!