Handmade Monday 188 – What Happens in a Class?

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – pop over to Handmade Harbour and treat yourself to an hour or so browising the work of some very talented crafters and artists.


I’ve realised that although I spend alot of my time teaching I rarely blog about what happens in a class! So I’m aiming to change that in the coming weeks.

Today I’ll give a brief overview of the various classes that are running and the sort of things we do

Open to All

Beginners Crochet – Starts 13.10. 14 @ Hedge End, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

wpid-20140303_195614.jpgIn beginners classes there is usually a mixture of people, from those who have never picked up a hook in their lives to those who have learned a bit off the net or who crocheted years ago but have forgotten how to get going again.

For the purposes of this post I’ll focus on the 1st week: We start by finding the best way to hold the hook and yarn for you – I start by teaching the best way, both right and left handed and then work with individuals who are struggling to find a technique that is best for them. It might be holding the hook differently or threading your hand another way with the yarn. We then move on and practice chain stitch. When everyone is confident they are able to manage that, we start on the 1st lesson proper – making a granny square. I choose the granny square because the foundation chain doesn’t need to be perfect as its hidden inside the centre and its  a popular thing to make. Once you have mastered it you can go on to create anything from handbags to cushions to blankets. To achieve this we then learn slip stitch, joining a chain to make a ring and treble crochet, plus how to put them all together to make a square. After the 1sr couple of round I introduce pattern reading, so that the group start to get a handle on the abbreviations and how crochet patterns are written. I colour code the pattern and break each round down into manageable sections. Once we’ve covered this, I tend to find that those who have some crochet knowledge can work the following round with minimal support, giving me more time to work one to one or in a smaller group with those who need a bit more help. The ladies who are working more independently are not left to struggle however as I am on hand for them too. If the lesson is going well we also look at colour changes. The group is encouraged to practice at home, either starting another square from scratch or adding more rounds to their existing square. Practice between lessons is essential. We revise the granny square in week 2 and then move on to look at a variety of ways of joining them together.  Each week you receive a comprehensive learning pack that covers everything we have learned during the lesson. This builds into a beginners / improvers manual, including exclusive patterns that you can fall back on in the future.


Knit and Learn – Tuesdays, Bitterne Park, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

wpid-20131202_135408.jpgThis is a mixed ability group of beginners, improvers and more experienced knitters. There is usually a 1 hour workshop, followed by a further hour working on individual projects with support when needed. Handouts are supplied for any new techniques and beginners have access to the the full 6 week beginners manual. We are currently working on Christmas Decs as a group, with people learning colour work, shaping, experimenting with fun yarns and making up techniques, Individual projects include lace work baby blankets, hats, mitts, cardigans and fairisle squares for a blanket. We have recently covered blocking and mattress stitch as the large blanket is put together.


wpid-20131018_133210.jpgCrochet Thursdays – Various Dates, Eling Tide Mill Cafe, 7- 9pm

This group runs along the same lines as the Knit and Learn group, with a combination of beginners and improvers working on a range of projects. Sometimes the group chooses to have a 2 hour workshop, others we do an hour focusing on a specific technique and occasionally they all work individually and I float around the group to help. Beginners are welcome and you will get quite alot of individual attention. We usually meet once a month and the group is small and friendly. Currently we are making Christmas decorations and gifts. In the last session we created an amazing crochet rose!

Why not come along and joins us if you can! If you prefer to have individual lessons these are available too!

If you’d like to book a class, pop over to the events page and click the relevant link!


Specialist Groups

Headway Group

wpid-20140908_114913.jpgThis group is specifically for people who are living with an acquired brain injury. We have been running for 2 years and are now at a point where everyone is working individually on chosen projects in between sewing panels for a wall hanging quilt. Currently we have people learning to use sewing machines to make a variety of bags, loom knitting toys, crocheting fairies and sewing felt Christmas decs. The bag on the right is a box toiletries bag made by one of the men in the group. He has no use of his right side but is amazing on the sewing machine….this was very much a project where I was learning as I was teaching…. that’s one of the reasons I love this group so much, there’s always an interesting challenge and alot of fun!

Creative Options

wpid-20140729_110705.jpgThese are 2 specific groups for people experiencing enduring mental health issues. We work on a combination of small group projects such as a knitted / crocheted afternoon tea, egg cosies, Christmas Decs, flowers. The aim of the sessions are to build concentration, explore crafting as a way of managing symptom and to learn / extend skills. This group has a 50 /50 male female balance. Some members crochet and others prefer to knit. Not everyone wants to work on the group projects so the learning plan is flexible. Again learning packs and patterns are available to the group members. Many choose to work on their projects at home as a way of elevating mood, distracting themselves from troublesome symptoms and giving themselves a sense of achievement.


Workplace Groups

wpid-20140707_182146.jpgThese run over an hour and are based on the premise of supporting individuals with their chosen projects. I also supply handouts and offer a mini 15 min workshop covering a specific technique. Currently I have beginners crocheters learning to make granny squares or work from their 1st pattern, beginners knitters learning to make hats and flowers and more experienced knitters learning new techniques like the lace cast on and knitting on circulars using the magic loop.



I am of course busy working on commissions and getting some canvases made for an exhibition in December, as well as knitting for my gorgeous grandson…. I recently adapted a hoodie pattern and turned him into a very hungry caterpillar:


Handmade Monday 166 – A Very Hungry Caterpillar

It seems ages since I’ve participated in Handmade Monday over at Handmade Harbour but its good to be back.

wpid-20140426_155001.jpgAt the moment I’m juggling commissions with making wedding accessories and gifts as my brother gets married on 24th May! I’ve almost finished a shrug I’ve designed and crocheted for my daughter and am well underway with the wrap I’m making for me. I’ll be sharing them during future Handmade Mondays – especially as I want to experiment with making jewellery from the shawl pattern as its so unusual and I think would lend itself to be knitting in a fine yarn, with very fine needles and beaded.


I’ve just finished a commission to make a family tree baby shawl in a combination of tapestry crochet, lace crochet and embroidery. I wish I had taken a better photo but intend to repeat the design in a neutral colourway to take to fairs and also have online as a made to order or embroidered to order item. Perhaps having a small stock in pink, blue and either lemon or mint green would be a good idea?


wpid-20140505_131044.jpgMy next commission is from the local nursery school, who want me to make some Very Hungry Caterpillar props for their story sack. So far I have finished the caterpillar. The cocoon is a work in progress and the butterfly is a challenge to come.

I enjoyed making the caterpillar and tried to copy him from the pictures in the book as faithfully as possible, down to the rather bizarre lack of legs on some segments. I’ve used a combination of left over yarns in a variety of textures from pure wool to cotton to give the children a bit of a sensory experience.

I started making the head, eyes and nose and stuffing them, I worked one of the decrease rows into the front loop of the crochet stitches to make a ridge so that I could begin crocheting the the next segment on at that point – this not only cuts down on sewing but also makes the join secure, meaning less risk of little fingers encountering stuffing. By working the whole body in this way, each segment is stuffed individually and therefore moves in a caterpillar like manner. wpid-20140505_130956.jpg

I had alot of fun with his feet,  my first attempt made  him look like he had clowns feet – I eventually decided to make round feet which gradually decreased in size down to the ankle. I’ve made sure I’ve attached them securely and given the caterpillar to Kayden who has tried the “baby destruction test” very well!

Hopefully I’ll get the cocoon finished later today and then its on to the butterfly!

I would love to publish the pattern for free but with copyright I’m not sure if it would be possible – unless anyone has any ideas of how I could find and approach the copyright holder?

I will be making another for Kayden too as he has fallen in love with both the caterpillar and the book. Although being an icecream stealer he is very unimpressed that the icecream cone can’t be picked up off the page! I can’t believe he is fast approaching 5 months already. He’s a gorgeous little man, sleeps really well and has sorted out his own 7pm bedtime! He is sitting up on his own for short periods and is investigating crawling but gets very cross with himself as the brain is willing but the body isn’t quite yet. We’ve spent some time with his Great-Grandad recently and its lovely watching them together. Dad is quite happy to sit in his armchair and just watch Kayden laying on the floor kicking when he gets too heavy – Kayden is a big lad for his age and is already wearing 6- 9 month trousers and filling the legs lengthwise!


Handmade Monday 125 – Teachers and Sun Hats

Before I start blogging, I first must apologise to all who commented on my last post for not getting back to you. in the last few weeks my daughter has had a threatened miscarriage – fortunately Junior is safe and happy and kicking well now – and for reasons I can’t discuss, needed to move home, so we’ve spent alot of time getting her sorted out, registering with GP’s, booking midwives and finding out about our local SureStart – who are brilliant!

Plymouth HoeI’ve also had a few tight schedule makes to do including a very special gift canvas for the former youth pastor at our church and his wife, as they’ve moved up North to take on their own church. So most evenings I’ve been flopped in the chair either crocheting or sewing following a mad day of juggling teaching and home. But we did have 3 lovely days in Devon staying with my brother and his wife and visiting my Dad. Dad’s still doing well and even walked with us to the pub in the village. Dad and I have identical walking frames and look a bit like a mad convoy coming along the pavements though lol!

I’ve been writing my newsletter this afternoon, if you’re not on the mailing list but would like to be or like to have a read before committing, you can find it here

Anyway moving on, here’s this week’s Handmade Monday- pop over to Handmade Harbour to either join in or spend the odd hour or two enjoying yourself viewing crafts from around the world, including some from well known names in the crafting industry.

Teacher Giftswpid-IMG00055-20130710-1636.jpg

I’ve been really busy making teacher gifts too. I decided to experiment with foam sheets and see whether its possible to crochet into them with a fine hook…. the answer was a big yes! So I got some shapes cut out and proceeded to add edgings, embellishments and words to them. I wanted ribbon that said something about teachers but despite searching Hobbycraft and the Range from top to bottom found none, so I chose one ribbon that said thank you and another that said Handmade with Love. I made alot of them in the garden last week and ended up selling a few to neighbours and friends. I’m also going to pop them over on Facebook and Folksy this week and see if the few I have left sell. I want to try a few other ideas out now with foam and plan to write a tutorial too. Here are a selection of the gifts:

wpid-IMG00043-20130710-1630.jpg wpid-IMG00042-20130710-1628.jpg  wpid-IMG00054-20130710-1635.jpgwpid-IMG00048-20130710-1633.jpg

Sun Hats

I’ve been doing some more Hobby Craft Demo’s and was asked to crochet sunhats. I have another coming up on Wednesday and plan to work on a boys baseball cap style one as my neighbour’s son is most miffed I only have little girly hats! I also have another on the hook at the moment using a spiral pinwheel pattern which I’ll be writing up for sale next summer.

The blue / lilac  hats are my own design and made from Smoothie – I think this is a lovely yarn, very light and airy despite being acrylic but I need to find a shop with a bigger colour range or start buying it online, I’m also making a pair of baby sandals to go with the “bluebell” inspired newborn hat:

wpid-IMG00026-20130710-1619.jpg wpid-IMG00031-20130710-1621.jpg

This little newborn hat is made in James C Brett dk in a beautiful colour way. Its crocheted in v-stitch and is from an Annie’s Attic pattern Hobbycraft sell, with a few embellishments of my own, such as a slightly smaller brim and the flower. I’m also making the spiral pinwheel hat in this colourway and would love it if “junior turns out to be a girl so she can model it for me 🙂 :


Its been suggested by a couple of people who have fallen in love with this hat that I make it in adult sizings for the winter, possibly felted, using “victoriana” type colours. I’m thinking that a small spray of felted crochet flowers would add to the victorian feel -what do you think?

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?


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!

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 99 – Spiralling with Butterflies

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday. If you’d like to take part, please pop over to Handmade Harbour for more info

Where life is not going at all smoothly just now and with a tax return looming I’m sort of in a fallow mode with regards to creativity – although I can feel ideas coming, especially around the new theme of HOPE that I’m working on. I have a suggestions list going on Facebook at the moment, as I’m collating people’s thoughts and ideas about what hope is to the them and what objects and colours symbolise hope. Not only will this inspire some designs but will also be used as the basis for a series of  blogs about  hope. If you’d like to take part,  please pop over to my page and leave your comments

Today’s post is all about making patterns and turning them into butterflies! This is a touch of serendipity as in between playing with butterfly ideas for a window display being constructed by Southampton Art House and sharing a photo over on Pinterest. The Art House are situated next to a currently emptyshop which will eventually form part of the new cultural quarter being created and have persuaded the local council to let them improve the front window area in the mean time…. and they’ve come up with this amazing design, and they now want local people to submit pictures of butterflies to add to it… To see the design please visit their blog

Anyway as I was pinning -that site is a dangerous distraction! – I happened across a Dutch magazine’s page which had one board themed around Spirograph. I had spirotot as a child as I think it was cheaper and our class teacher also taught us other ways to make similar patterns with compasses, pencils and  threads. I remember making those 70’s thread pics in fact! So only play true Spirograph at my cousin’s houses. But I loved the idea of making complex patterns from simple shapes and have been hooked on doodling in this style ever since.

On this wonderful page was a link to an Adobe Illustrator tutorial showing you how to use it to make Spirograph patterns. I have an old copy of Paintshop Pro 9 though and wondered if it was possible to replicate their ideas…… and with a bit of twiddling and a dredge into the deeply buried memory banks I did it!!

Then I got to thinking about how I could make butterflies, especially as I was already playing,  from the shapes I’d created and came up  with these design ideas:

butterflies The solid  grey and pink one was as a result of playing with brushes I have installed and although its pretty I have to admit I prefer my doodles!

I used a combination of ovals, stars and preset vector shapes to create my doodles. The plan is to replicate one of them in crocheted plarn and submit a photo of the finished item but the one I really want to do is going to be a challenge to do – I prefer the pink!

colour scheme

I then wantedto do a butterfly using the colours I’ve put together in a stripe pattern formy  Hope Design Board :

Hopeful butterfly

I have no plans to crochet this one but will submit it as a butterfly doodle……….. and go on to learn how to dye my own yarns so I can eventually make one!  What do you think?