Monday, 8 June 2015

My garden

This is quite a long post and there is very little crochet in it, its about my other love xxx

I've been living in my little house for two years and a half now. When I fist moved here I left behind my beautiful garden that I created with my partner before he died.

This was my old garden as seen from the above. It was where I spent most of the short time I had with my wonderful Andy and being forced to leave it behind was heartbreaking.

When I left I tried to take as many plants that had some meaning to but a lot got left behind.


As soon as I moved to my new home I started work on the little garden here. It was just a postage stamp of patio with a little lawn and a pond at the back but I knew I could work my magic and have it looking lovely in no time.

The pic above is from my first spring in this house that patch is the sum of planting I'd done so far. Its also as far as I got. Two things I didn't plan on happened. First I got shed loads of crochet work all at once and it completely consumed my time. Secondly I just didn't love gardening anymore and couldn't find the will to do it, I'd even stopped watching Gardeners world.

I know most of us have gone through the horrible grief process when we lose someone we love. We all deal with it differently and its only now I'm starting to feel more like myself I can look back and see it made me completely numb. I functioned but it was more auto pilot than anything else. I concentrated on my crochet work and nothing else. I was a human robot. I could respond well enough to pretend to be ok but I was far from it if you scratched the surface.


Let me give you an example. I got Cal my second cat just after Andy died, (in hind-site it was a huge mistake to get another cat at that time and a begal kitten is just a mad ball of fun and energy and not what I was in the mood for. I love her, shes wonderful and I wouldn't be without her now but still it was a bad idea at the time) I remember a time quite a white after Andy died and I was cleaning the kitchen and having a bit of a sing song to myself. Cal got really scared and was howling at me. I thought she must have hurt herself somehow but couldn't find anything wrong and after a cuddle she calmed down.
 It was only later that I realized that was the first time in months I'd sung out-loud. Cal had no idea what was going on as she'd never heard it before and she thought I was in pain and was trying to help me.

I'm not a great singer but I don't care and that not the point anyway. Just ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I sing all the time. I sing jingles or, show intros or just the song thats stuck in my head at the time. Its a part of me, its who I am and for months I had been silent to the point that when I started to sing again it scared the cat.

That was a bit of a shocker to me after all I thought I was coping quite well.

Looking back now it doesn't seem strange that I had no interest in doing anything I'd used to enjoy. I put my head down, worked hard and that was about it.

For more than a year I practically ignored that my little house had a garden. It was something on the long list of things to do when I had lots of pennies which was never gonna happen anytime soon. I made excuses as the grass got over grown (the lawn mower doesn't work, can afford another) and all I could see out of the kitchen windows was cobwebs (I convinced myself there were mock widow spiders webs) and mess (fallen apples and millions of wasps) .

I was convinced I would need help, man power and lots of money to make it into a workable garden again but at the beginning of this year I decided it was time to make a start and clear it.

14 bags of straw, weeds and rubbish, a lot of swearing and a day on the sofa after hurting my back later and I had it clear.


This is the first photo I took of my garden from since taking the one above just after I moved it. I'm proud of this photo. I've dug over where I want the new beds to go and cleared most of the area. I know how much work when into getting the garden to this state so this pic makes me happy.

It was mainly grunt work at first. I was lucky I had a few quiet week as far as crochet work was going so I could crack on. As I cleared thing I found that old plant friends where still in there and I hadn't lost any of my special plants.

 While I hadn't been physically gardening. I had been dream gardening in my head and planning what I would do eventually. I really liked pictures I saw on wine bottle edging and thought I'd give it a go.

A lot of research when into the best way to cut the bottles down and I got a bottle cutter and everything but I gave up and in the end just dug bigger hole and buried the bottles whole. The finished border catches the light in the most beautiful way and when it rains the water pooling in the bottom of the bottles and makes the most wonderful sound.

 Getting there in this photo. I got my first few bags of gravel. I went for a Yorkshire flint stone gravel. I know its probably wrong to love gravel but I fell for this as first site and those feelings are still going strong :)

The weed proof membrane was pretty easy to put down but I found out the next morning it wasn't cat proof as I found this little girl merrily ripping it up.
This is Cleo she is my gardening cat, she lives next door. I have to keep my two indoors now but it is nice to have a cat friend to talk to when I'm in the garden.

 As well as clearing and redesigning outside I started planting seeds inside.
I've always grown a lot from seed before, its the cheapest way to get lots of plants and its fairly easy if your happy to wait. Cal does have a habit of trying to eat them mind and I don't think Cass was to happy as slowly all the windowsills got covered with propagators and there was nowhere for her to sit.



The half way point. It was slow going as I could only get to the shop that sold the gravel once a week when my mum came through and we could only fit so many bags of gravel in with the shopping.

My goal was to get it finished for the Harrogate flower show in April so I could buy some lovely plants there in the end I got it finished just after my birthday at the end of March.

I got gravel as my birthday present and it was one of my favorite birthday presents ever. 


That was the hard landscaping done. I still had a patio fill with bags of garden rubbish that I could only get rid of a couple bags at a time every two weeks in the green bin and lots of planting to do.

I had my first bbq the first bank holiday weekend of the year. Sure it was only me and my friend Richard cause I only have two chairs and Richard had to google how to light a bbq cause he's a big geek but it was lovely to be out in the sun.

I would like to point out that I am sat down taking this sneaky photo of the camera dodger and Richard really isn't as tall as house. He does make my garden look very small mind.


I had the bug back now and I spending hours looking at planting websites and watch old eps of gardeners world. I was a gardener again and I wondered how I'd managed to live so long without a hobby that was such a huge part of me.

With the hard work done I had a garden I could potter in once again as everything started it green up and the first roses came out.

Finally I got the patio clear of rubbish just in time for a downpour to wash it clean.

Pretty things started to emerge and everything put on a growth spurt as spring carried on.

 I tried my had a aquatic planting and had a happy moment when the first leaf of the water lily finally reached the surface of the pond


 I took lots and lots of photo as the garden bloomed. Insert pretty flower pics :)



Then last week my mum brought me a old table over and some more chairs and for the first time the weather was consistently good enough that I could start taking the laptop out and doing some crochet work outside.

 So if you want me this summer, I'll be crocheting...


in my big silly hat, with my sunnys on, listening to my tunes...


 in my garden

love
Liz xxx






Saturday, 30 May 2015

Craftseller ballerina

This months Craftseller magazine is a bit of a bumper one for my patterns. I got a lovely surprise when my copy arrived as my pretty ballerina had made it onto the cover.

This commission was for a mixed media amigurumi ballerina. The idea behind it is that she has just finished her performance and has lots of flowers thrown on her stage.
 It was really enjoyable to work with different textures of the satin ribbons and net skirt. Its always interesting to do something a bit different and I think they look really nice with the crochet doll. It gives a lighter look that just couldn't be achieved with a crochet skirt.


 Also in this months magazine is the pattern that I did for this crochet shrug/ cover up. I really am enjoying writing more crochet clothing patterns and inventing new stitches and this commission was right up my street as its the sort of thing I would wear.

Also this is a repeating pattern so once you get the hang of it you can crack on without having to refer to the written pattern all the time so it makes a great relaxing project for an evening in.
 My favorite part of this is the bobble trim around the edge and it really is easy to do. I think if you get your hands on this pattern you'll be waning to use this edging pattern on more than just this top. I think I'll have to come up with some more designs that use it, I defiantly need more bobble trim in my life :)

With this magazine you get a free second magazine of stash bushing designs. I was asked to do two projects for this and so in the spirit of the magazine I used yarn from my stash to create this neon dipped coin purse.
 It didn't really use a lot of yarn up but its really sweet and I can't wait till it comes home and I can keep my pennies in it.


I've lined it with my favorite fabric. I bought it ages ago from a little shop in York called grace and jacob which has since closed. I've used it a lot in the past for Omnipom ears but I'm running out so I'm going to have to try and hunt down some more.

edit - I've found a link to the fabric you can get it from here its called roman glass and this colour is pastel Link to site

Also in this little extra magazine is a my pattern for this traditional but funky granny triangle bunting.

More pom poms :)

Well thats it for today. I'll do another post soon as I want to tell you all about my new garden which has become my crochet haven. Also I got to make dinosaurs and the are really really cute. Happy happy :)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Dave the dodo

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the dodo bird. The story of this lovey docile larger than life, fearless, flightless, plump pigeon captured my imagination. As a child all I wanted was to see a real one but of course they had left the earth a long time before I set foot on it and all that remained was a few old feathers, pictures and stories.

I read everything I could about them and that fascination never when away. I used to go car booting with my dad and was always on the hunt for anything dodo related to start a collection.

I only ever found one thing, this little brass dodo. I think it came from a mixed box of stuff Dad had bought from a local auction for us to sell on a car boot but as soon as I saw it, it had to be mine.
 I do remember no one but me believing this brass bird was a dodo but I was convinced and I loved it. It was the start and only member of my dodo collection for many years. Its still sat on my shelf of precious things now.
As I grew up and after my dad died I didn't go to car bot sales as often and I stopped actively searching for items for my collections but I never forgot about them and I never saw another dodo.

When I started amigurumi design I knew one day I'd love to make a dodo but they are such a odd shape it would never be an easy job. I let the idea rattle around at the back of my mind where I would occasionally fish it out and try and work on bit of the problem with how to create a dodo, but I never solved all the problems.

A few months ago I spotted this in asda home department and my dodo collection double to two.

Cats are not aloud to sit on the dodo cushion but they like sitting next to it. Cassi it being good.

Having the cushion in the house kept reminding me how much I really wanted to create an amigurumi pattern for one but the cogs in the back of my mind still hadn't solved all the problems that this design would have.

I spent the past weekend working on a few different new projects for new designs and ran out of yarn on three projects in a row. I was in a bit of an bad mood, I had done three full days of work and had not one complete item to show for it just bags of body's, heads and unattached limbs. I would have to order more yarn and put these projects off till next weekend.

I still had one more day that I'd planned to dedicate to crochet work but I wasn't really motivated to start a new design and would have wasted the day doing little bits of nothing.

I had a cup of tea, yet again looking at my dodo cushion and prodded the back of my brain to see if it had solved anything. The main problem is the beak, its an weird shape and includes the eyes, I had not a clue how to even start making it. There are many other problems, the curve of the neck and body and the huge body itself.

I knew how I'd make the fluffy tail feathers and the feet. I had a good idea for the wings and figured I might be able to fudge the body and neck by making pieces and sewing them together but I could not get my head around the beak.

I could just bumble wildly in and start making it and possibly it would work or it would be a disaster and I'd have wasted a day. As I didn't have any better plans I decided to go for it.

Fist problem was the colours to use. I needed a main colour I had quite a bit of as I didn't want to run out of yarn again. I really liked the colours of the bird above so I found a nice teal and mustard yellow, white and a rusty orange. The colours looked nice together but dull, dull, dull. I'd been working with bright colours all weekend and the thought of making my favorite bird with these drab colours wasn't doing a lot for me.

On my work table I had the colours I'd used for the three little pigs dungarees, a project I'd run out of pink yarn for the day before and had to abandon. hot orange, bright sunshine yellow and cool aqua, my favorite combination of colours and they were so much prettier together than my basket of drab. This was a project for me, I wasn't trying to please anyone else or fit into the constants of a commission, it was to make me happy and so I thought sod it, I'll use my favorite colours and my bird will be bright.

I started with the beak. This wasn't easy I had to start again a number of times but when I got the main part and the hook at the end of it made I knew it was going to work. The rest was fairly easy, I managed to work the head neck and body in one piece and by this point I could see what it would look like when it was finished and was already in love.

I was working with an aran cotton which isn't easy on the hands but I was on fire, I couldn't stop till I had all the pieces made. I worked from 9am -7pm but I did it.

My hands were too messed up to sew it together last night so it had to wait till today.

I don't have the best photos yet but I wanted to share the finished make.



There is nothing I don't love about him. I'll will have a pattern ready for him soon and I may send him off to have his moment to star in a crochet magazine but for now I'm just gonna keep him close.

Dave the dodo I love you xxx

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Patterns

Three years ago I got my first pattern published in a magazine. This had always been my goal for my crochet patterns and I was lucky. From a slow start my patterns became pretty popular and I got more and more work.

This is my collection of magazines that I've done work for now.

I haven't counted but thats quite a few magazines. I've nearly filled this shelf and am looking forward to starting on the next one :)

Now, when I write for a magazine the pattern I produce belongs to the magazine for a set amount of time and then I get the copywrite back. This means I have a massive backlog of patterns that I need to put in my etsy shop.

 I don't know how many of you have an etsy shop but listing items is one of the most boring things you can do ever, but as the weather been pretty rubbish this week and I don't have an excuse to go play in the garden I thought it was time I started making a dent the listings.

So now I'm going to try and do something clever and it probably won't work. I'm gonna post pics of what I've listed so far and hopefully if you click on the picture it'll take you directly to my etsy shop and that particular pattern.

Yeah that didn't work but if you click on the caption under each pic it will take you to the pattern.









 

 

We I've made a start. Go have a look at my etsy shop and let me know what you think. All feedback will be great fully received.

Now I know not everyone likes buying patterns in a digital format so soon I will be able to offer a printed version of some of my most popular patterns.

Thats all for today, happy crocheting xxx

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Bank holiday weekend

 I tend to start every blog post by saying sorry for how long its been since I've written and this one is no different. As usual I've been kept really busy working on new crochet designs and exciting things.


First up is the new #crochet magazine This is the third issue of this fantastically modern crochet magazine and for this issue I created the spaghetti necklace you can see on the model on the cover and below on my dress form Miranda.

This is such a super easy make it would make a great first project to get someone started with crochet. You only need to be able to do a chain stitch and you'll be able to make this. Grab the mag for the pattern it should still be in the shops.

Also in this magazine I made theses tiny Micro crochet pets

I don't have a pic from the mag but I might add one when I get it. These are tiny but they are not difficult to make. Yes you have to concentrate a bit more but its well worth it to get these tiny amigurumi that can be made into charms or key chains.

I got slightly addicted to micro crochet for a while and have some new patterns coming to my etsy shop soon but for now I can show you these lovely super tiny toadstool earrings I designed for inside crochet magazine.

Thanks to Inside crochet magazine for the use of this lovely photo. I think these were in last months magazine but back copy's will be available if you want to get your hands on this pattern. It really is fun and makes great gifts.

On to craftseller I've missed a few months here and so there is a bit to show.


 These flower fairy's are from issue 48 if you want to get yourself a back copy. Again I don't have a photo of them from the magazine but when I do I'll add it in. I've made a tulip, primrose and snowdrop fairy but it would be so easy to chop and change the colours to make all different types of flower fairy from these starter designs.

For Craftseller issue 49 I made something entirely different. This is a bit of a new direction for me in crochet design so I'd love to know what you think.

 This ice blue vest top with flower corsage was designed to be simple to make and stunning to wear. I actually added the flower corsage because the pattern is so simple it didn't fill the page in the magazine. I love the finished look of the iris stitch. This isn't a quick make but its very relaxing the yarn feels amazing to work with. (drops Safran 4ply)
 Here is the finished top on Miranda and in this pic you can see the ribbed band that finishes the bottom edge.

There is another crochet top in the next issue of Craftseller magazine due out next week I think and it also comes with a free magazine of stash busting ideas that have a bonus two extra patterns from me in it :)

Right back to what I'm best at amigurumi.

What do you think of Dolly my very pink, very fluffy and cute spring sheep?

I've been playing around with eyelashes again as I just love the look it gives theses cute critters.  I have a few more designs coming with eyelashes to but I'll be posting all the details here when I finish the patterns.

Dolly is super easy to make but the bocle yarn can be a bit of a pig to work with. You kinda have to trust you instincts and just go with it. The best thing is no one will every be able to tell if you make mistakes with this yarn its fluffyness (is that a word) hides everything.

If your a fan of Love crochet magazine you may have noticed the I have been lucky enough to design the cover project for them for the past year and a bit. You can see all the covers on the top of my blog and it makes me very happy seeing them all together.

Also in this magazine issue is my little fox design. Originally designed for #Crochet magazine.

Right well its the tour de Yorkshire today in York and I'm working at Duttons so I'll get see it go by. I have to get the bus soon so I better leave this post here.
I'll catch you up what else I've been getting up to shortly and I'll be having a my usual sale of worked amigurumi soon so stay tuned to my etsy shop and facebook page

happy crocheting love Liz x