Teaching 1 Think Before You Speak…

To kick this series off I’m going to talk a bit about the ‘power’ teachers and tutors can have over their students.

Regular readers will be aware of the creative journey I’ve been on since last September when I was put into a situation that triggered a very strong response. The root of my reaction was rooted in my school experiences of art lessons which left me with a  lifelong belief that I lacked any artistic or creative ability.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of meeting many more adults who tell a similar story. ..it might not be art, it could be anything that they firmly believe they can’t do because my teachers said so! What’s even more disturbing is that I’m hearing similar things from and about children going through primary school at the moment!

As a tutor I firmly believe that an important part of my role is to encourage.  Yes I might need to spend more time with some students than others, I might need to change the way I demonstrate or explain but I keep persevering.  Because it is not my right to tell anyone they’re hopeless or suggest they stick to their current craft.

Another  thing to consider is that people have different learning styles so it could simply be that your teaching style isn’t right for them.  It’s no one’s fault its just how it is.

When I need to frog a student’s work I make sure they understand why and also that they realise they aren’t the only person to make an error.  I’m an experienced knitter and crocheter but I still make errors too and its important to be real with students and not come across as ‘Little Miss Perfect’. After all I often learn  things from my students or by trial and error too.

I also work with the students on projects they want to do. I’m sure we can all remember classes where we’re totally uninterested and uninspired and hence disengaged. In the early stages things might need to be simplified or adapted but you never know!

The best lesson I learned in teaching was from a group of older ladies who I was running a taster workshop for. They declined to make a granny square and insisted on making butterflies.  I found a reasonably straightforward pattern and within an hour the ladies were happily tackling triple trebles!

So to sum up remember  it is not kind or good practice to pronounce a student as lacking talent or ability.  And never underestimate lstent talents 🙂

Handmade monday 118 – Blooming Marvellous

Welcome to Handmade Monday. Please remember to pop over to Handmade Harbour and read the posts of crafters the world over or……even better join in 🙂

Today I spent a lovely few hours at Hobbycraft crocheting flowers.  I came over all horticultural and decided to go for making the elements for a string of bunting based on the white garden at Sissinghurst – all waiting to be blocked now:

Image1 Image2

I’ve photoshopped the close up flower to show the true colour of the green yarn 🙂

Image3Along the way I also helped 2 lovely ladies with their crochet conundrums and advised a couple more about beginners projects. And hopefully helped sell a couple of books.  The best of the 2 I worked on was ’50 sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt’. Its on my wishlist now too 🙂

It made a nice change from my current wips:

A waistcoat knit in one piece top down that I’ve designed for me – not able to photograph this yet as its not possible to spread it out without losing all the stitches and as its lace I’m sure you’ll understand 🙂

A set of nesting bowls in videotape for an exhibition day at Southampton Central Library on Wednesday – the Eco fair


And ‘Beauty from the Scrap Heap’ a freeform knitted and crocheted piece using swatches, practice pieces and demonstration pieces. I’m connecting them with crazy crochet lace and should finish tonight if all goes to plan! It has flowers, hearts and even an owl lurking in its midst and I am planning a competition for kids along the lines of how many …….can you see?


Summer Newsletter – What’s New(s)?



Please click here to download the  Summer Newsletter

Its not just about Bits and Bobs Crafts and what we’re doing, you also get a quick summary article about Pinterest and a free crochet heart bookmark pattern.

I want to share a summary article about something knitting or crochet related each time and a small free pattern, so if you have any ideas for content, please let me know 🙂

Changes to Classes

Currently I’m running a monthly crochet class at the Velmore Centre, Chandler’s Ford. I’ve been alternating between beginners and improvers but this doesn’t really meet everyone’s needs and the beginners have to wait 2 months for their next lesson….

So I’ve talked it over with a few people and decided to give a new idea a trial in July, at a slightly lower price so that I can see how if works:

Regular workshops will run over 3 hours and be divided up like this:

Info on classes for blogs

Learners can choose to:

1. Do the whole 3 hours for £15

2. Do the beginners and “crochet clinic” for £10

3. Do the extended skills and crochet clinic for £10

I’m not sure whether having people in for an hour to do the crochet clinic will work so if there appears to be a demand I’ll introduce this later.



How the Blog Works:

From this weekend there will be a new posting routine for the blog:

Blog timetable

Reopening the Shop

I am currently reviewing and rephotographing all my stock in partnership with my lovely friend Elaine, who makes cameras behave far better than I can! I will be restocking my online shop over at Folksy bit by bit over the coming weeks and will be adding another page so that you can browse on the blog and then click through to my shop, if you are kind enough to shop with me.

I will also have some items up on the shop page that are commission only, and you will need to order these from me via the contact form on the shop page. Once made I will pop them into my shop with “reserved for…..” on them, email you to let you know they’re available and send you the link so you can purchase them via Folksy.



Handmade Monday 117 – A Flight of Flutterbys

That Was The Week That Was …..

Whew! Its been a busy old week and this week is shaping up to be similar….

I’ve got a stand next Wednesday at Southampton Eco Fair so am working on some samples to exhibit – will be showing them off in another Handmade Monday once I’m happy with them.

I’ve also been teaching quite a bit this past week and have got a couple more patterns written up as a result – I just need to get them tested now so will be advertising for willing testers soon. They’re very simple, beginners patterns but as I discovered on Saturday when teaching a class its easy to get into a right muddle with instructions and not realise it! And making up samples for upcoming classes:



On the needles is my knit in one piece cotton – viscose mix lace waistcoat I’m making for me to wear to a wedding. I only realised the other day that I’d used the lace pattern on a matinee jacket in the past… there will be a pattern written for this at a later date but I’m trying to make a decision about sizes….

Traditionally Mounted Flutterbys 

But none of this approaches the question of butterflies! I’ve been making some for summer events and turning them into brooches, scrunchies, hairslides and bookmarks:

Mixed setButterfly Wings Collection

And A New Approach….

I also made some bigger butterflies and was then left wondering what to do with them…. so I pinned one to a canvas and sat it on the back of the sofa for a week so I could keep looking at it and thinking about what I could do to make it into something special…

Finally on Wednesday inspiration struck and I sketched in a design around the butterfly and then unpinned it…. had a delve around in my threads box and had a go at some freestyle straight stitch embroidery… and this was the result:

Butterfly Blue 1

I now want to do more mixed media pieces as I can see all sorts of possibilities for this…… but first its back to the “To Do List” as my online shop won’t photograph and stock itself!

And now I’m popping over to Handmade Harbour to admire some more beautiful creations by the stars of the online craft community, why not join in?

Handmade Monday 116 – Crocheted Bowls

Its been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged – I’ve been sitting knitting and crocheting alot in between meeting some lovely new people and discussing a few new ideas for passing on my skills. I think I’ve needed the time to adjust to Dad moving into the care home and giving up his bungalow as it had much more of an emotional impact than I’d anticipated… but its good to get back to blogging again!

I’ve been having a think about how I use the blog as I want it to show all aspects of what I do……. making, selling and teaching and the inspiration behind it, so once I’ve really thought it out I’ll be aiming to post 3 times a week – with each day having a specific theme. I also hope I can have a guest blogger spot too so that I can share the work of other talented makers and teachers… I just need to work out the how’s now!

Anyway  enough ramblings from my addled mind – welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – don’t forget to head over to Handmade Harbour and join in the fun!

Tick list

I needed to develop a pattern for one of my beginners group that introduced crocheting circles,  increasing, pattern reading and a little bit of decorative work  and hit on the idea of a bowl…which would also serve well, reworked in another colour as a sample piece for a class coming up next month in a local library….

Top down green and yellow

I crocheted the pink bowl in a DK cotton and the blue / lemon / green bowl in a ribbon yarn both using the same pattern but I used a smaller hook for the pink bowl. The bowls can be starched to give them a stronger structure.

Both bowls use half treble stitch and treble stitch, alongside slip stitches for joining the circle and are started with a magic loop. Half treble and magic loop were new to the group. I’m got an offer from a friend to photograph me crocheting soon so that I can do my own tutorials for the stitches and techniques needed to make one of these bowls. When that’s done I’ll post the tutorial on the blog in a downloadable format and make the pattern including a step by step tutorial plus yarn and hook available via my online shop.

If you are able to crochet, you can download the pattern here: Pink Round Bowl

I’d be interested to know what you think of the pattern and how it worked out for you. I will be looking for pattern testers in the not too distant future too!

4kcbwday7 Looking Forward

Sorry this is late but it turned out to be an emotional and exhausting weekend sorting out the bungalow with Dad, deciding what to keep, what to store and what to throw. And closing the front door for the last time was very  hard. As was coming back and knowing that Dad was staying in the care home permanently. I’ve no idea of the number of families I supported towards making the decision when I was nursing but what I do know is that I totally under estimated just how hard it is to do.

So I think my looking forward is not going to be as strictly skills based as I’d intended…


WaterWater centre


As regular readers know I’ve been on quite an artistic journey and have been working on more freeform crochet and knitting projects often inspired by Devon scenery.



This access to the natural world and the rugged beauty of Dartmoor is having some influence on my current thinking as I’m considering  a move back to Devon,   to be closer to Dad. Having done a bit of research and wandering around I’ve also discovered that along side this beautiful and inspiring back drop that there . is a vibrant creative community established in a nearby little town too….so in theory from a work point of view it would be a good move. But the overall pull is purely emotional, so I think it is wiser to sit with the decision and see how I feel in 6 weeks or so and not rush headlong into a move…

But to give you an idea of  why the village itself inspires me so much creatively this is virtually the same view Dad has from his window now.  And a a view I’ve always loved where ever we’ve lived in the village:

The hill in the background is called Ugborough Beacon and is something of a local weather station… if the “beacon has its hat on” – in other words the top is lost in cloud, we know we’re about to get very wet! Over the year it changes its clothes regulalry, currently its a sort of brackenish brown, but through the year is moves through  greens, gorse yellows and white… its especially pretty in winter!

So I hope that if  I feel my decision is the right on and all goes to plan I’ll be writing for the next Knitting and Crochet blog week from a kitchen table in sunny Devon, with views over Dartmoor and the tumbling River Avon in easy reach …. and my work will be increasingly freeform based and highly influenced by the natural world around me…