Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A visit to a Trade Show

Last week I visited a Trade Show in Birmingham. I woke early to catch the train, and I even scrubbed up and wore a dress (a welcome change from my holey leggings and baggy jumper!!)

First stop of the day was a presentation by Warren Knight of Think#digitalfirst. Warren is a social media marketing expert and  business builder and always presents an interesting, factual and useful seminar. After listening to Warren for just 45 minutes, I have a list of useful sites and tips that I need to check out and put to good use.

Next, I called by the Search Press stand where I caught up with the lovely  people I deal with and had a good chat with Amanda Perkins who was signing copies of her latest crochet book called "Rainbow Crocheted Blankets", which is packed full of colourful and cosy throws and blankets of all shapes and sizes. I was delighted so see my next book being advertised on a rather large board.

Time for a break and a natter with another knit and crochet designer, Sarah Hazel. Sarah is a knit and crochet designer, author, blogger and tutor, and we chatted like we'd know each other for ages, which is always a good sign. Sarah recently ran a workshop in India for charity 'Knit for Peace', and I really enjoyed watching her Instagram feed and seeing all the brightly coloured textiles and trims that she found locally. I was delighted when she gave me a couple of strips of some beautiful embroidered brocade. I will use these wisely and carefully to trim something lovely.

I popped by the Toft stand to see the lovely ladies there and see their latest issue of Toft Quarterley in person, which I was delighted to tech edit for them.  It's the spring issue and features a very cute dog on the front cover. For just £8 it's packed full of great designs for both knitting and crochet, from accessories and homewares to clothing and toys.

After a quick chat with Kerry and Jo I headed off for a meeting with F&W Media. I do a lot of freelance tech editing work for them, and it was the perfect opportunity to meet in person and chat about future work. I also managed a quick chat with Rooster Yarns and I had a good squish and a smooch of the gorgeous yarns from Baa Ram Ewe - I was completely inspired by their stand and even went away and bought myself a skein of Titus in Shade Bramley Baths, (the most beautiful soft blue), which I can't wait to dive into.

I managed to escape the giant tinsel hedgehog (my arch enemy!!!) and enjoyed a chat with the very lovely Erika Knight, Emma Wright (EmmaKnitted) and Georgia Farrell. It was interesting to see the industry through the eyes of two very popular and talented knitwear designers. 

I had a lovely train journey home looking through my samples and shade cards and was even recognised by a fellow traveller from my Crochet Now column photo (Crochet Now were giving out copies of the latest issue). I heard my name shouted across the carriage and she held up the magazine and smiled. It turned out that she is an indie dyer and we had a lovely chat across the aisle about yarn .

What a day - I came home with my head full of ideas and inspiration for new projects. It's such a shame that there's only one of me and only two hands, when I could do with twenty!

I'm felt so glad that I work in such a creative and inspiring industry and I'm honoured to be part of it and to share my passion with you too.

Thanks for reading - if you would like to join me on social media, I'm @the_woolnest on Instagram; @thewoolnest on twitter and @thewoolnest on facebook. It would be great to see what you're all up to. 

Don't forget to tag me and use the hashtags #makeandbehappy and #knitcrochetcreate - I'll share my favourites.

Happy Crafting,
Lynne x

Friday, 24 February 2017

Book Review - Every Which Way Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman, Storey Publishing

If you love to crochet blankets, shawls, scarves or washcloths, then you'll know how important it is to choose the right border for your project.

Edie Eckman's latest reference book will help you to finish off your projects perfectly, with 139 beautifully designed borders.

I have a blanket with a plain border that I can't wait to add a more decorative border to. It was once a long term WIP as it took me a couple of years to make, and I thought it was an FO, but having seen some of the gorgeous borders in Edie's book, I think a more decorative border would finish it off perfectly.

I was invited to take part in a blog tour of this lovely book by Storey Publishing and in return they sent me a copy. All of the views are my own and I was not asked to write anything specific, other than to write a review.

I decided to create a video review - so here goes ............. (just click on the play button and mute the music if you prefer).

I had a play around with a few of the patterns, which were really easy to follow, especially with the charts that are provided in addition to the written instructions. I know that this book will be an essential part of my crochet library and a great "go-to" book. It is written is US terminology, but there is a helpful section for those who use UK terms, including a translation table for US to UK stitches.

You can buy it on amazon here:
Every Which Way Crochet Borders on Amazon

and you can try out a border pattern here:
Bullion Coil Border

Thanks for reading - if you would like to join me on social media, I'm @the_woolnest on Instagram; @thewoolnest on twitter and @thewoolnest on facebook. It would be great to see what you're all up to.

Don't forget to tag me and use the hashtags #makeandbehappy and #knitcrochetcreate - I'll share my favourites.

Happy Crafting #makeandbehappy #knitcrochetcreate
Lynne x

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My 3 favourite yarns from January


I'm sure you'll agree that January whizzed by so quickly. For me it was all about getting quite a lot of knitting and crochet commissions completed and sent off so that I could free up some time to focus on my own designing and web site development.

The thing about being self-employed is that you need to be a 'jack-of-all-trades' - in the main, I'm a designer, technical editor, author, blogger and tutor, but I also need to be: photographer, project manager, agent, accountant, website developer, social media exert, PR expert, computer technician ..... the list could go on and on, not to mention tea maker and general office assistant. This year I'm focussing on a few of these - website development, product development and social media.

I started off in January by joining the #31daychallenge and I set myself a goal to blog everyday for 31 days.

Admittedly I missed a few days, but what's a few days amongst friends? I really enjoyed this challenge and I didn't run out of things to talk about, which surprised me. I think I found it easier to write a quick 10 minute post than a full blog post. I realised that blogging mid-day was much better than last thing at night and that it was a great way to engage and involve others. You can read my diary here and learn a little more about my daily life. I was inspired by Louise Tilbrook to join in, and met a few new 'virtual friends' along the way, including Jeanette Sloan, who has listed other bloggers here who also took part.

Also in January, I decided to log how much yarn I knitted or crocheted with - a grand total of (drumroll........) 1385g. Of this, 525g was 100% wool (made up of British wool and alpaca), and 375g was cotton (I do love working with cotton yarn). Not bad, but I'm aiming to work with more artisan yarns over the coming year, so hopefully you will see a lot more hand-dyed and small-scale production yarns in my blog and social media feed.

My Top Three yarns for January were:  
The Big Scary Bear: 100% British Alpaca, which is incredibly soft and easy to work with for both knitting and crochet.

 New Lanark Wool (Aran): 100% British wool, which I felted into a lovely bag. It's a sturdy yarn that softened beautifully when washed.

And my BaaBaaBrighouse Yan Tan Tethera Club: hand-dyed yarn by Sylvan Tiger Yarns - I really love how this variegated yarn has crocheted up, giving a flecked effect rather than distinct pooling or striping. I love my new shawl design which will be released soon, once I have tested it out with a few yarns and have some samples to photograph.

I'm looking forward to  staying focussed in February - I have a book to tech edit, my final 'Crochet Now' Magazine Column to write, and a small handful of commissions to design and make, which means I have time to continue developing my own products. I'm already working on the second new pattern of my very long list. 

Don't forget that February is the month of Valentine's day and I have a free pattern here for these easy to make and very cute hearts. 

I hope you've had a great January too.
Happy Crafting #makeandbehappy #knitcrochetcreate
Lynne x

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Getting Organised

Hello there - I hope you're all keeping well and that 2017 has been good to you so far.

I've had a busy start to the year, which is fantastic - I'm always so grateful that I can do what I love for a living. It can be a little stressful at times because it's completely deadline focussed but I still enjoy my days and particularly so at the moment because I seem to have become somewhat of a technical editing guru for both knitting and crochet. I've been working towards becoming a well-established and thorough technical editor/copy editor/proof reader for a while, so being approached for my expertise makes me happy. I've already edited two amigurumi bookazines this year (both very cute), plus I've tech editing the Toft Quarterly magazine - if you haven't subscribed already then I can definitely recommend it as I have bought the first 2 issues and they're both jam packed with some fantastic patterns and interesting stories. I think they're about £8 each plus postage but you get around 10-11 patterns (both knitting and crochet), so it well worth it.

I've been continuing with my "Use it or lose it" campaign too. At the moment I'm focussing on magazine clearance. I literally have hundreds of magazines, so I really need a clear out to free up some space in The Woolnest. Quite a lot of my designs are published  in various UK magazines, so I like to keep these as a reference, however I realise that 7 years of my design work is in most of my magazine stash so I've devised a way to carefully remove the pages that I want to keep, before discarding the rest of the magazine.  Remember that you cannot re-sell magazines in part or whole, as this goes against copyright laws (each magazine states this in their opening pages), however, it may be worth checking at your local charity/thrift shop to see if they have any special dispensation.

Here's my method which I hope you find useful. It involves using a pair of sharp scissors or a craft knife, so take care with the blades. Start at the top of the flow diagram and work down and watch my video demonstration too.
Disclaimer: I do not accept any responsibility for accidents or injuries.

Here's a video demonstration of how to remove the pages carefully:

I hope you found this useful and I'd love to hear from you if you're tidying up your stash too - especially if you have any special methods  that you'd like to share. You can join my "Use it or Lose" group and share your ideas here on Ravelry.

I hope you're enjoying my audio blog casts too - let me know what you think.

Happy Crafting,
Lynne x

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Knitting and Crochet Highlights of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I somehow feel a little deflated and not my usually positive self. But looking back over 2016 has cheered me up because I did some really amazing and creative things.

Firstly, I started the year by creating The Crochet Circle Podcast with Fay from Knitit-Hookit-Craft-it. Our first ever interview was with the wonderful Erika Knight. We were quite nervous but it was an amazing interview despite it being quite noisy as we were at a Trade Show. We then went on to interview more brilliant and inspiring people from the crafting world, including the amazing and talented duo Arne & Carlos, Hugh Metcalf (Editor of Crochet Now), Cara Ackerman (DMC Creative World), Verity Castledine (Truly Hooked) and Sara Mulvey (Black Sheep Wools). 15 episodes later, I left the podcasts in Fay's capable hands, as I was struggling to find the time required to do my fair share of the work, due to my self-employment work commitments. But don't despair - you will be able to hear me on my own podcasts which will be less frequent and much shorter, so I will still be sharing my knitting and crochet adventures with you along with lots of tips and advice. My first recording is here.

I was also approached by Search Press to author a new knitting title called "Knit Yourself Calm" along with Betsan Corkshill from Stitchlinks. Betsan is an expert in the therapeutic benefits of craft and it was great to work with her and learn how knitting can really help relieve stress and improve wellbeing. I designed 16 projects for the book that all link to Betsan's research and recommendations. Knit Yourself Calm will be published in June 2017 and I can't wait. It's already listed here on amazon and you can pre-order which means that you will get it at the cheapest price that it's offered before publication.

I also embarked upon a self-published book with Fay. We called it "TAKE TWO Collection 1 - Crochet". Printed copies will be available early in January 2017 and we both really pleased with our first self-published book and how it turned out. You can pre-order the printed version here. Alternatively you can buy a download version here.

My teaching has continued which is great. I love to pass my skills on to others and see my pupils really proud of their new skills. I hope my classes are popular too in 2017. My classes are run by a local Adult Education Programme and you can register here.

One of the things I've enjoyed the most this year is writing a monthly column for Crochet Now magazine called "Stash Diaries".

Each month on the back page, you can find a little reflection from me, along with a pattern for a quick or small project that will help you to use up your yarn stash. I've written about local artisans, recycling, upcycling, my favourite yarns, tea and favourite toys and I've had great fun designing the mini-projects. I'll be sharing some of them with you over the coming year as free patterns on my blog.

My design work has continued, which is fantastic - I design regularly for quite a few magazines, including a beginners section for Woman's Weekly Knitting and Crochet as well as designing for Let's Knit, Let's Get Crafting, Art of Knitting, Art of Crochet, Beginners Guides to Knitting and Crochet and more. There will be more of this in 2017 and in addition I have designs waiting to be worked up for Inside Crochet and Love to Knit and Crochet - I'm going to be a busy bee.

On top of all that, my tech editing work is growing and  it's been a pleasure to edit some brilliant knitting and crochet books during 2016 as well as editing some monthly magazines.

So I'll be doing all of the above and more in 2017 - I have a couple of new ideas that I want to take forward so you'll hear more about these throughout the year. They're top secret for now though.

Have you have a productive and creative 2016? I'd love to hear your plans for 2017 - maybe you'd like to learn a new skill, or a new technique? Feel free to leave a comment below, or you can tag me on social media if you prefer. I'm @thewoolnest on Facebook and Twitter and the_woolnest on Instagram.

So that's my review of 2016 - thank you so much for reading and I hope you'll join me again soon. You can subscribe to my blog in the right-hand column to make sure you don't miss a post.

Bye for now and see you next time.

Happy crafting, Lynne x