Monday, 20 October 2014

Full time

This week I've been working full time as a crochet designer. I've only had one day at Duttons and the rest of the time I'm been in my crochet cave.

I've taken on a lot of work. My white board is full, I'm surrounded by yarn and half finished pieces. Its been fun and its given me a taste of what it would be like to give up my day job and commit to being a full time crochet designer.

 The cats have loved having me home more. Although Cal wasn't too happy when this lovely delivery of Yarn from wool warehouse turned up and she was told she couldn't play in the bag.

 They have done everything possible to try and distract me from work and have a new game where they both try and get as close to me as possible and then be super cute and distracting, Cassi likes to lick my hands (does anyone else have a cat that does this?) its sweet but a right pain while I'm trying to work. Cal just wants to be under everything, my blanket, my work board, note book, sketch book and laptop are all fair game as far as she is concerned.

 Even now as I type they are both by the laptop trying to get my attention on them and not my work.

Sometimes I just have to give up and wait till they fall asleep and as there is lots of soft yarn around to flop into this doesn't take long.

Other than the cats I haven't had much other company. Every morning I take myself a walk to get some fresh air and set me up for the day. Its peaceful the leaves are quickly changing colours and Autumn is defiantly here. I like listening to the birds and trying to spot other wildlife. I saw a fox one day and wished it a cheery Good morning as it when on its way.

I need to take my camera one morning as the woods have changed so much since spring when I took this
It has been so lovely to do what I love all week but I have been a bit of a hermit and I'll need to not make a habit out of that.

I never thought there would come a day when crochet could become my full time job but it may well be that that time is coming soon.

Now onto Love crochet magazine.
 The new magazine hit the shops last week and you'll find two patterns of mine in this issue.

My penguins all wrapped up in their cosy scarfs are the cover starts of this issue but you might notice my grey kittens in the corner too.

These picture are from love crochet magazine and I love how it looks like its snowing :)

The first idea I had about these guys was for the colours, I'd been told I couldn't use black and at the time the commission came in I was working on a shopping bag for me (as with all projects for me this still hasn't been finished).


I really liked the way these colours worked together in this random stripe and thought they would work well for the penguins.


This is the original sketch at this point they were going to be dressed differently but they looked better when they matched. I love hoe the finished duo look really fun and cosy, they turned out well.

This is my 4th cover for Love crochet magazine in a row and its such an honor yet again.

I'll tell you more about the kittens when I get my copy of the mag and can show you some better picture.

I'll leave you with some exciting news. This December I will be running an advent calender of free Christmas patterns on the blog. Every day of December there will be a new exclusive pattern by me available to download here.
 Its quite a task I've but I'm really enjoying the challenge and I'm getting some really lovely patterns together for you. Stay tuned they'll be more news soon.

Time for handmade monday, pop over and join in the fun
 







Thursday, 2 October 2014

Omnipom giveaway

Do you remember these guys?

Or how about this guy?

Or Tony?

When I first started to crochet these dolls were some of my first creations. We called them the Omnipoms and I had lots of plans to write children's books about their adventures.

Crochet design and pattern writing has overtaken my dreams of writing children's book but I couldn't leave these guys behind.
 Every year I get asked to make some for special presents and I when I get a cute idea I make an odd one to add to the gallery. I have been asked many times to write a pattern but I never got chance.

Then a few months ago I was contacted by Suncather craft eyes. They had seem my work and wanted to send me some eyes so I could use them in a design and then we'd have a nice giveaway. I got sent some amazing glow in the dark eyes and new right away this was the time to finally write the Omnipom pattern

I had a rare 3 day weekend with no Duttons or crochet work on so I settled down with my cats for a Omnipom filled weekend and these are the results...

 BOO, did I scare you. Its a crocheted BOO with a little tiny cute skull and a mini pumpkin.
 The omnipoms needed a friend so I gave them a cat made with more suncatcher glow in the dark eyes :)
 This is Trick she a light orange omnipom with a grey moon eye patch and a ghostly cuddle toy. Se has glow in the dark eyes too.
 This is Treat, he has a pumpkin eye patch and is holding the BOO sign with its skull.
Here they all are together. Don't you think they look cute?

Now here the good news I have written the pattern up and you can get it right here in my etsy shop. If you use coupon code GIVEAWAY1 you'll get 25% off and you'll also get a discount code for suncatcher eyes

If you don't have an etsy account and you want to get hold of any of my patterns just drop me a line at lizwardcrochet@mail.com

The even better news is you can enter the giveaway to win one of the actual doll and 10 runners up will get a copy of the patterns and a voucher for some eyes from suncatchers eyes store.

To enter click on this link like my facebook page and add your comment to the giveaway post. You also get an extra entry if you share the post, if you follow my blog and comment here.

Last bit of good news I will be typing up more omnipom patterns over the next few days and there will be some new dolls available to buy in my etsy shop soon xxx



Monday, 22 September 2014

#crochet

I'm finally able to tell you about a fantastic new crochet magazine that hit the shops last Friday.

#crochet magazine is a beauty. Its huge, its thick, the paper is lush and the patterns are fun and inspiring.

I was lucky enough to be invited to design some projects for this magazine. They asked me for a small desk toy amigurumi, some tiny charms and 10 mini pumpkins.

The brief was that they should be small quick projects that can be hooked up in a few hours.

I started with the desk toy. I knew I wanted to make a fox but I wanted it kawaii so I didn't want it to look to dog like. I tried a few things that didn't work and then I remembered the woodland critters I did for Craftseller magazine last year.

For this design I'd concentrated on the distinguishing features of the animal and put them on a simple body shape. I was pretty sure the approach would work again but I wanted to take it further and this time use crochet for the details not felt.

In the end this was the deign I came up with. The pattern came together quite simply from there. I used the Rowan cotton hand knit that I just used for the Love crochet magazine puppy  as the colour was perfect and soon this little guy was ready to be sent off.

I was so excited to see this new magazine and see my cute little fox design when I got my copy on friday. Here he is...

Isn't that a fab photo. Huge thanks to the guys and girls at #Crochet magazine xxx

Next up was the phone charms. The brief had given me a few ideas f what they wanted but they didn't really fit a theme so when I sent of my sketch I gave them loads of things to pick from.


In the end we when for the geisha girl, the acorn, the owl and the toadstool. They work together in a woodland theme, but I had so much fun making these though I am hoping to find time and get some more patterns worked out for the other designs.

I had planned on using DMC natura yarn which is 4ply to make them small but they were just coming out far too big. I was a bit stuck what to do, I didn't want to make the shapes smaller or they would lose their detail but I couldn't find a finer yarn in the colours I needed.

Luckly one of the girls I work with a Duttons  is also a crochet designer Steffie Glaves   and she makes stunning micro crochet jewellery like this

 For this she uses very fine quilting tread and a the tiniest hook. Check out her facebook page here. These bunting flags are a work of art and she gave me a great idea.

I've made some crochet jewellery before myself and then I used stranded embroidery thread. I wondered if that would solve my charm problem.

Not the best photo but this was the result of my attempt. You can see by the tape measure in this pic just how small they are. They make great phone or bag charms or you could group them together with beads to form a necklace or charm bracelet. The embroidery thread worked perfectly.

Here they are in the magazine...

I think they look really cute on the bark. Pretty much rocking that woodland theme :)

Now please don't be put having a go at making these of by how tiny these are. It is slightly more fiddly than normal amigurumi but you'll get you head round it quickly and you'll love it. I would recommend you use a hook with a soft grip so it doesn't hurt your hands. There are loads of diffret ones out there to buy or you can make your own like I did.

This is just some marbled fimo wrapped around the handle. I held it in my normal crocheting position before baking it so it would fit my hand perfectly. I made this hook over 2 years ago and its still going strong, although its likes to hide and I usually have to hunt it down before I can start any micro crochet work :)

Just a little break from crochet. As I type I'm being hemmed in on ether side by my cats and I really want to show you this lovely photo I took of them the other day when I was having a bit of a crochet marathon.


 I had them sat as they are how but as I was crocheting they were acting like a tag team to try and get the hook off me. My beautiful devils xxx

Back to #crochet magazine and my final project for this first issue was 10 pumpkins.

I didn't think a sketch was really needed here. I think we all know what pumpkins look like but I did send them this photo I found as inspiration.
I didn't really want to just do a lot of orange pumpkins and I thought as pumpkins and squashes come in lots of lovely colours that was the way to go.

I went for the Rico cotton aran yarns for these as they have the biggest range of yellows and orange shades. Orange is a shockingly neglected colour in yarn ranges I have found, maybe I should start some kind of orange support campaign?

It was a bit of a slog to make all 10 of these but I think the visual effect of them all together is really lovely. When they come home I'm going to keep them in a bowl as you can see in the photo above with the fox but I still like the way they have been photoed for the magazine.

I think these would make a great Halloween decoration without going down the spooky route. Or maybe you could make an Autumn wreath and use these to decorate it.

Well that's it for my projects in #crochet magazine but its full of lots and lots of other amazing projects too. I would think you'd be able to pick it up from and good newsagents like wh smiths but I'll add a link if you want to buy it online and I'm sure it'll be available as a digital download soon.

In none crochet news I have finally got around to doing a bit of decorating (I've only lived here a year and a half). I have a red wall in my house that I've never been fond of

Cal looking the red wall.

I have not really had the spare time to tackle it but also I was stuck on what colour I wanted to change it for but then I found this photo.

I love this combination of the teal with the yellows and grey. I was sold and as a plus I get to crochet lots of pillows, cushions and throws to go with the wall.

 Cal looking at the new fab teal wall.



Here it is my lovely new wall. Do you like my cherry blossom decal? Its super girly isn't it. I'm really happy with it and now just have to sofa to cover with throws and pillows and this is where I will be crocheting away the rest of the day.

Its been a while since I checked it on Handmade monday so I;m heading there now to catch up on my fellow crafty bloggers x




 






Thursday, 11 September 2014

August catch up

Already its the 2nd week of September and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write a new blog post. I have a slice of cake (black forest yum), a piping hot cup of tea and my two kittys sitting either side of me like bookends to keep me warm so I'm all set to type away.

I'll start with work and its been a very, very busy month. I'm working on Christmas projects for various magazines at the mo. Crocheting up some lovely things that'll be able to share with you in a few months.

On to what I can tell you about...

This months see the release of the new Love crochet magazine and for the third time in a row I was asked to design their cover project. They wanted a puppy.

The last puppy we've had in the family was my sisters dog rusty

He a grown dog now but when he was younger he was a bundle of energy with massive paws, floppy ears, a big brown nose and an ever wagging tail. I knew I wanted to base my puppy pattern on Rusty and the main focus being the huge paws, big ears and nose. I wanted my puppy to have an eye patch - 'cause I think they are cute and I was going to give him a huge rubber bone because I thought he would like to play with it and I really wanted to have a go at writing a pattern for one.

Here the sketch I sent off. This one of the first drawings I've done that I liked, it felt like I was able to get what was in my head onto the paper for the first time.

Then it came to deciding on yarn. I had a pile of rich reddish Rowan yarn that I'd bought for a fox project that I'd hope to send to inside crochet magazine but till then just hadn't had the time to make.


It was the perfect colour for my puppy and because this cotton handknit yarn it quite thick and has no stretch to it at all it means that I would be able to make the ears stand up on their own so they would be positionable.

A bit of crochet and maths later and this was the result.

This was the picture I took before I sent him off to Love crochet magazine....


and here he is as the cover star of the magazine :)

I'm really happy with him. I think he looks lovely, I love his big paws and that nose xxx

I also had a cunning plan that when he came home from his little trip to the magazine I could give the puppy toy to my sister as her Christmas present. Clever right :) Well no, that was not to be because my editors loved him so much they decided to give him away to one lucky reader of the magazine. I think there is still time to enter too all you have to do is go over to their facebook page which is here and suggest a name for him (or her).

Talking about facebook pages if you don't follow me already the facebook page for amigurumi barmy is here. I've just done a give away myself that went really well and I now have over 4000 followers which is just wow. Thank you all who followed and I will be doing another giveaway very soon xxx

Up next is Craftseller magazine and can I have a mini fanfare for my second cover of the month

My patterned owls made it to the cover :) This is my 5th Craftseller cover in just over a year. I really can't believe it and I'm super chuffed.

This is how they started life in my sketch book (I forgot they wanted two with sleepy eyes when I did the sketch whoops).

This was a really simple design and didn't take long. I like that as it mean I know that its going to be super simple for everyone else to follow the pattern and sure enough within days of the magazine going on sale I'd seen loads that had been made and posted on Craftsellers facebook page and various crochet forums.

It really makes me happy when I see people using my patterns and making my amigurumis. If anyone ever whats to send me a pic of what you've made you can drop me an email at lizwardcrochet@mail.com if I get enough I'll set up a gallery on here and pinterest.

Craftseller wasn't done with me this month though they wanted another set of patterns and when I got the email I was so, so, so excited....

They wanted Red riding hood and the big bad wolf.

Now as a designer I have a list of things I really, really want to make some day and right at the top of that list in big shiny sparkly letters is my favorite nursery story red riding hood.
 I have wanted to make it for so long so that when Craftseller asked me to make it for them I was skipping with joy.

My not so great sketch. I had to design patterns for Red and the wolf, a picnic basket and flowers, toadstool and a tree. Yes a tree :)

I loved every second of this project, I was in a happy bubble from start to finish. I think this might be why my BIG BAD wolf actually looks very cheerful and friendly.

ok here it is finished ...

Don't you just love it. Look at my tree!!! and the cute little toadstools, wolfies big paws <3 and Red cape xxx


I can honestly say hand on heart this is the best pattern I have ever written. Go now and get a copy of Craftseller magazine while its still in the shops because if you love amigurumi and crochet you need to have a go at making these, you'll have so much fun xxx

Wait there's more... When I was making Reds cape I thought it would be pretty easy to scale it up to little people size for dressing up and general larking around in the woods :) So I've done it. Its nearly finished and it will be a free pattern on the craftseller website very, very soon.

Ok that's all for now. I'll tell you about my redecorating next time and there is some very exciting news coming up of a brand spanking  new crochet magazine that out on the 17th of September.







Sunday, 17 August 2014

Working weekend

Gosh I'm tired. I haven't moved much in the last 48 hours but I have that lovely feeling that my work is nearly done.

This might not look very interesting but this has been my weekends work. There are three different magazine projects in there just waiting to be sewn up. I used to start and finish a project before I started on the next but as the commissions are coming in thick and fast I've found this is the best and quickest way to get everything done on time.

I can't say much more about these projects till they are printed but see if yu can work out for yourself what that little lot is going to be.

The most challenging thing this weekend has been working with boucle yarn.

This is a textured yarn and so its really difficult to see your stitches and where to go next. Its been a right pig to work with and I've got quite grumpy with it at times. I've been asked to write a tutorial on how to crochet with textured yarn to go with this project so I'm going to try out some tricks to make it easier to explain how to work with it. I think this is a good enough excuse to use the left over yarn to create some more patterns for my etsy shop. I I really want to make a llama pattern :)

My cats Cassi and Cal have been watching over me as I work. I've had a lot of problems with them wanting to sit on or next to me while I'm doing my crochet work. I love them and would be happy for them to be there but they seem to think the yarn, my hook and whatever I'm making are all toys. Somehow I don't think my editors would be happy if  the yarn used to create one of my amigurumi designs has flossed a cat first.

Luckily my tower boxes of yarn have come to my rescue as they now take it in turns to sit on top and watch me.

Cal on Saturday
and Cassi today.

I have now built another pile of boxes so they both have a tower to sleep on so there is no fighting.

 I have another free pattern coming soon. This jam jar cosy will be available next week via Craftseller online (i'll add the link when it goes live).
There is going to be quite a lot of new patterns coming soon and a lot of them will be free. If you have any requests please leave me a comment. I'm always looking for new ideas. (Mum if your reading this I know you want your beaded lace milk jug cover, I've not forgotten, I'll be working on it soon xxx)

My other little pet project is this space invaders inspired cushion. Its made from little squares each about 3cm sq. I've a way to go as it takes lots of squares but they only take 4 mins each to make (I timed myself). Its gonna be a big floor cushion. I'd like to make a set of three but that might be pushing my spare time at the mo..

So that's it from me this week. Its time for a well earned glass of wine and a cuddle with my kittys, while I hop over to handmade monday and catch up on my fellow crafters blogs