Thursday, 30 June 2016

Ta Dah! Jo Shawl

I am thrilled to tell you that the Jo Shawl pattern is now finished!  Yay!  Only one more to go which is Meg, she is nearly finished and will then need to be blocked and I need to write the pattern up so it will be a couple of weeks before I publish that one.  I think that you will love it though!  Of course I hope that you love Jo and the other two as well!


The Jo Shawl represents various things about her character I think.  It is a bit spiky with the points along the edge.  Jo can be a little spiky and bristly at times, but she is also very loving and caring and warm.  This shawl is warm and will wrap around you and give you a hug!

It also works up very easily so is ideal for someone newer to crochet or someone more experienced who wants a fairly quick make.  There is only one stitch and once you get the pattern rhythm you can easily work on it.  I would say this would be a great travel project.


Another part of the shawl that represents the character Jo is that it is a warm shawl.  It isn't the biggest, but it has a big heart and is warm and cosy while being soft and drapey too.

The yarn that I used is Cascade 220 Heathers, it isn't a superwash yarn so you need to exercise some care, but, it blocked out beautifully, has held its shape very well indeed and is very soft too.


Each time I finish a shawl I think that I like it best, and right now I think I like this one best of all.  It is difficult to choose between them though, a little like picking your favourite child!

I know that some of you are waiting until all four are published before making your decision about which one to purchase so I will do a post with all four when they are done so you can compare them and make your choice.  If Jo is your chosen shawl though the pattern is now available.


Thank you all for your support for these shawls, your comments have been lovely and I hope that you will enjoy crocheting up your own versions, I would love the see the colours and yarns that you use so please do share them with me!

To purchase the shawl via Ravelry using paypal just click the button below.

 
To see all of my patterns click this button.

http://www.ravelry.com/stores/amy-at-love-made-my-home


Hope you are all having a good day!

Amy

Sharing with Cooking and Crafting with J&J

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

More bags

Thank you so much for the bag love yesterday.

I promise to all my regular blog readers that this is not going to become a regular thing, but I have a few more samples that I have offered for sale on Instagram and I needed somewhere to put more info for people to get to purchase the bags.

In the future all bag sales - and anything else! - will just be on Etsy or Ravelry with just the odd mention here and on the podcast, this really is a one off so please don't run away screaming!

For those of you interested in bags I have a few more.  These are my last samples which I made today to do some more tweaking here and there with my method of construction.

So if you missed out yesterday here is another chance to purchase.  As yesterday all bags will be
£9.50 plus postage which is just 96 pence for the UK!  In future they will be £12.00 each plus postage.

Updated 30 June 2016 - the Floral Dots and Floral Drawstring are now sold, the Owls and Zippy Floral are still available.

These bags - with an exception that I will mention! - are not 100% perfect, but they are 100% useful, useable and very pretty!  They are approx. 9 by 9 inches and have a drawstring - or for one a zip - and will hold about 2 balls of 100g each of yarn.


There is one of each bag, shown standing and flat.


One - Owls - pretty perfect.



Bag two - floral dots - this one is pretty darned near perfect!



Three - floral drawstring - this one actually is 100% perfect in every way!  I am so thrilled with it.  Same price as the others though!



Finally - four - zippy floral.  This one is a perfectly good bag, but the zip sewing in didn't go as I intended. It was an experiment.  Still works, holds lots, stands up, looks good, well sewn, just a slightly wonky top!


If you would like any of these bags PM me on IG or email me lovemademyhome at gmail dot com and I will send you a paypal invoice with postage cost included.

Thank you everyone.

Normal service resumes tomorrow!

Amy

Monday, 27 June 2016

The year of the needle

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might remember that right back at the start of the year I declared that for me 2016 would be the year of the needle.

In a way I have succeeded in that.  I have finished two tapestries, the next one is still waiting for some more attention!

I haven't really done much other sewing though.  Although you might have spotted that I have been doing some playing with a different kind of needle in the last couple of weeks.

Knitting needles!  So far so OKish.  I can do the back and forth of purl and knit stitches but casting on is still a bit iffy and I haven't the faintest idea how to do anything else yet.  I will get there though I am sure.  I feel far more confident than I ever have before, which I think is because of my crochet skills and being used to yarn and knowing that there is terminology and stitches to get to grips with.

The needle that until this weekend hasn't seen much use is the sewing machine needle.

My sewing machine is vintage.  It is older than me.  It isn't one of the really old Singer type machines.  I think it dates from the early 1960's.  It is called a Lemair.  I call it all kinds of names, mostly unfavourable!

Being in real need of some bags to take my crochet - and now knitting - projects out and about I decided to set to and make some.

The bags that I have used up to now have been repurposed from other things, I haven't had any that were specially made for yarn projects.  Receiving one recently in a giveaway though made me realise that I needed some proper bags.

I love the baskets that I crochet for holding projects at home, I like the way that I can see the yarn and the project, but they aren't always the most practical for taking out and about.

So, this weekend I have been doing what my husband called Making Prototypes.  Which in reality means trying different things and fiddling about with the design to get things how I want them to be.

I am nearly there and have three bags that are reasonably OK that I am going to put into use.

I also have another three that I am going to offer to you.  These are very much prototypes and are not perfect.  By that I mean that some of the seams don't totally line up, some of the top stitching isn't totally straight.  They are not what I would consider to be "seconds" but they are not perfect either.

So, here are the bags.  If you would like one for the reduced price of £9.50 each plus postage - no packing costs - e-mail me at lovemademyhome at gmail dot com and I will send you a paypal invoice after confirming the postage cost to you.  They are light and should definitely count as a large letter rather than needing to be sent as a small package which will be cheaper.

Amended to add 8pm 27/6/2016

Sorry, these bags are now all sold.  I will have some more and will list either on Etsy or Instagram.  Let me know if you are interested in one and we can go from there.

Thank you so much to those of you who were interested in these!

 
Each bag is approx. 9 inches square and holds two 100g balls of yarn plus your notions such as scissors, crochet hook etc.  The bags are lined and have interfacing which means they will stand up on their own.  They close with a drawstring.



I think that I have a pattern and method that I am now happy with so I will be making some more in the coming weeks which will go into my Etsy shop.  They will be for sale for a higher price of £12.00 and will of course be as perfect as I can make them!  If you would like to preorder one let me know and we can discuss what you would like and what fabrics I have.

Hope that you like them as much as I do and enjoy using them!

Bag One is Butterflies.


Bag Two is Owls


Bag Three is Woodland


Amy

Linking with Julie for Cooking and Crafting with J&J.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Five On Friday

Hello!

Can you believe it is Friday again.  Where does the time fly?  Well, for me over the last seven days the time has flown in a flurry of pattern writing.  Thank you so much for your kind words about the release of my Amy Shawl pattern yesterday.  I really appreciate it and am glad that you like it!  Hopefully some of you will get the pattern and make one of your own because I would love to see your versions.

I have also finished the pattern for the Jo Shawl and that will be released next week.  Meg should then follow in another week or so.  Then the set will be complete and yes, for those who have asked, I will do my best to share a picture of them all together.

I really do mean it when I say thank you for what you have said about it.  To know that others like and appreciate your work is a good thing!

Thank you too for your thoughts last week on postage and so on for my shop.  I am still mulling things over, but you have certainly all given me lots to think about and I appreciate that.

The week here has, as I said been a busy week of work for the most part.  Hubby is nearly finished with the big tiling project and it is looking good.  There is some painting and other finishing to do and then I will show you the results of the hard labour.

I am mostly bogged in a sea of crochet, but that is OK.  I have two shawls, two blankets, a computer cover and a crochet hook cover on the go at the moment as well as my knitting - such as it is!  I want to get a few things finished and then start some new projects!  Always on to the next thing.

Speaking of which, I better get on with my five things for this week!

You might remember a couple of weeks ago that I shared a post about losing a pet that included a quote from Rosamunde Pilcher.  I had never really considered her before in my eternal search for inspiring quotes so I have been digging and found five to share with you today.

One

“It was good, and nothing good is truly lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours, forever”

This is the quote I shared with you recently.  It resonated then and it still does today.  I quote this to myself regularly - daily! - and it does help me.

Two

“Happiness is making the most of what you have, and riches is making the most of what you've got.”  
This is so true isn't it.  We all know it, but don't necessarily remember it or live by it.  It isn't about what you have, it is what you do with it.  You can be rich with no possessions at all.  I spent so much less time doing the dusting when I had less things and I am trying to go back to that.  Not just because of the dust, but because I don't need things to make me happy.  Don't get me wrong, they are lovely to have and I am not criticising myself or anyone else for having things, but they don't automatically infer happiness do they.

Three

“It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Arrival often brings nothing but a sense of desolation and disappointment.”  
So true.  Often the journey is far more interesting than the final destination.  The thing to do is accept that the journey was good and then plan another and move on from the disappointing destination. 

A good journey doesn't mean a disappointing arrival though.  Travel hopefully, remain hopeful and be hopeful and perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised!

Four

“Life is so extraordinary. Wonderful surprises are just around the most unexpected corners.”  
Isn't this true!  You never know what will happen next.  New things, different things, they appear from nowhere and amaze us all.  The flower that blooms, the rainbow after the storm.  Small things that are good things.

Five

“Loving isn’t finding perfection, but forgiving horrible faults.”  
You don't need to say anything else about this do you.  Forgive and move on with love and that is the greatest love!

As always I wish you well for a good weekend and a good week ahead.  Thank you for joining Five On Friday, leaving me a comment and going and visiting other participants to leave them a lovely message too.

Happy travels!

Amy

********************

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ta Dah! Amy Shawl

At last - it has been a while! - I am delighted to be able to share with you the Amy Shawl from my Little Women series.

Ta Dah!


This is the second in the series following on from the Beth Shawl.  I have finished making the Jo Shawl and will now be working on writing up the pattern for that.  Meg is nearing finished too and that will be the last pattern to be released.

I wrote about my inspiration for this series of shawls here.


Amy is made in Cascade Heritage Sock yarn which is a 75% Merino, 25% Nylon blend.  It works up beautifully and is very soft and drapes well.

I have loved wearing the shawl and everyone that has seen it has said it is very pretty, which has been so kind of them.  Being fairly tall and having a full bust (!) I always want shawls that will be long enough in the back and also long enough to wrap right around me.  I love to have that cosy wrapped around feeling.  So in the design of the Amy Shawl I worked it to be quite long, but also fairly wide.  I didn't want it to come to a point though so I changed the shape a little and I think it has worked well.  Other inspirations have come to mind from this, so you might see more of this idea.


The colour was chosen, as I explained before in the design inspiration post, because of the little book that each girl received in the story Little Women, but also because blue is one of my favourite colours and goes so well with many of the things I wear.  Jeans in winter, dresses in summer.  It all fits for me!


Designing this shawl took a little while and some swatching and trial and error, but once I got going it was quite straightforward and if you decide to make one you will see that you can follow the pattern back and forth and the repeats quite easily.

Writing it up though was a different matter for me!  This is definitely the most intricate pattern that I have written so far.  I learned a lot though and after much writing and amending I am certain that the way it is written will be easy for you to follow, will give you just the right amount of information that you will need to follow the pattern without giving you unnecessary details.  There are actually 3 PDF's for this pattern.  I believe that you will only need the main pattern, however, there is also a stitch chart in case you find those easier to follow.  As the main part of the pattern is repeated the pattern is written out in the "repeat" method, but in case you like to have each row written out I have also done that in a third PDF document.  I expect that most people will only download the main pattern though.


To buy the pattern via my Ravelry Shop click this button and you will go straight through to the pattern page.  I am behind with uploading patterns to lovecrochet.com, but it will soon be available there too.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/amy-shawl

I am thinking of hosting a Crochet Along (CAL) for the shawl series once all four patterns are written up.  Is that something you would be interested in?  Do let me know.  There would be prizes!

I hope that you will enjoy making this shawl and having your own bit of Amy to cosy up in!  Do let me know how you get on.  I would love to hear what you think.  There is a thread in the Love Made My Home group on Ravelry where you can share your finished shawls.  Find it here (there is one for the Beth Shawl too!).

Happy Crocheting!

Amy

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Bits of things

A random collection of things that are on my mind right now.

I stopped putting xx after my comments.  It isn't that I don't want to send you hugs and kisses, but somehow it just felt odd to continue to do it.  No idea why.  Nothing happened.  So mostly I am not xx at the end of my comments right now.  Hope you don't mind!

When I see on someones blog something they bought from my shop and it makes me gasp.  In a good way, but I gasp.  That happens to me!

I must buy a new Persephone Book otherwise they will stop sending me their biannual.

I must read more books.  I really must.

I have started another new notebook - you know I love a notebook! - for my yarn bands and project information.  I know I should put all of this into Ravelry, but this is right there and I can easily refer to it without needing the computer.

Have you ever steam blocked something?  I need to and am scared.  Any suggestions?

Writing patterns.  Loads of detail and information or not?  Not sure what to do after I wrote it all out in great loads of detail and now it is really long - over 11 pages...  Actually it will be over 13 because I have a chart to add that is 2 pages...

It is summer and it is raining and grey.  Perhaps that is because it is England.

Watching podcasts while working is good.

Scared about setting up crochet classes.  Actually that isn't true.  Terrified.  What if it is a massive flop...  What if no one will employ me.  What if I am a rubbish teacher.

Feeling bad because I am taking a day off from my voluntary unpaid job in order to try and do some work on my own business working for myself trying to actually get paid.  Why do I feel so guilty!!!

Don't know what to have for dinner.  Pasta or salmon.  Salmon or pasta.  One will be today and one tomorrow, but I can't decide which one.

I am too hot not to have the fan on, but when I do I am cold.  Can't open the window in my office because of the direction of the rain.  It will come straight in the window.

Should I do my paperwork or get the pattern I am working on finished.

Or skive and do the ironing and housework.  Although is that then skiving off work - especially as I am feeling guilty about not being at my other work.

So confusing!!!

I am hungry already.  It is only 11am.

Should I order a book on crochet borders?  Or go and practice my knitting.

Or stop this ramble and go and do some work, any work, rather than feeling guilty about not working.

See.  Lots on my mind right now!

I will go and leave you in peace!!

Hope you are having a good day.

Amy

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Podcast Episode 8 - This is Not a Knitting Podcast

Hi everyone!

The latest episode of the podcast is now live and available to watch.  Shownotes can be found below the video.  You can find links to everywhere that I am in the sidebar there are also links in the shownotes below.

Thank you for watching, I hope that you enjoy the episode.  Thank you too to everyone who has subscribed.  If you subscribe you will be notified as soon as the episode is available rather than waiting for me to have to post it here.

Hope you enjoy the episode!

Amy



Shownotes for this episode.
 
There are links for everywhere you can find me or my shops in the sidebar of my blog.
 
You can also click either on the name of the place you want to find me or by clicking the word "here" to be taken directly to where you want to find me.
 
 
To subscribe to the Podcast click here.  You will then automatically be advised of new episodes that are available.
 
There is a Ravelry Group for the podcast which can be found via the groups tab in Ravelry, search lovemademyhome or just c1lick here.
 
My Pattern Shop on Ravelry can be found here.
 
My Etsy Shop can be found here.
 
Lacy Jo Shawl.  Pattern and yarn information will be available in due course.
 
Meg Shawl.  Pattern and yarn information will be available in due course.
 
Beth Shawl designed by me.  Pattern available here.
 
Happy Scrappy Squares Blanket by Sandra of Cherry Heart.  Information available here.
 
Computer Cover, Stylecraft Special DK in colours White, Lobelia and Empire.
 
Crochet Hook Case that I am going to make.  Pattern and yarn information will be available in due course.
 
Crochet Covered Hanger - pattern available here (free)

Books

Mandalas to Crochet by Haafner Linssen - available here
Beginners Guide to Knitting by Alison Dupernex - available here

Under an English Sky - blog, Etsy shop link etc here

If I have forgotten anything please let me know!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Possibly funny...

Sit down.  Do not have any cups of hot tea or in fact any liquids in your hand.  Step away from anything dangerous while you read this.

Because you might be in hysterics at any moment...

You know that I am NOT a knitter.  I have said it many many many times.  What I would love to be able to do is knit socks, but I can't because I can't knit.

It is true.  I can't knit.  What isn't quite so true is the fact that I haven't told you the rest of the story.

I have tried to knit in the past.  That is why I own these - in sets of two of course!  Why the massive sizes?  I don't know!!!


I also own this.


Here is the bit where you may have hysterics.

This weekend I decided to put the sticks and the book together and add some yarn into the mix and see what happened.

This is the result.


I hope you are OK after seeing that horrid mess!  Especially as I am going to show you the big hole now too!!!


Recovered?  Let's hope so!!!  I am not going to show you any more horrid pictures so don't worry.

I thought well, I have got to grips with crochet and it is going reasonably well now so perhaps knitting and I could try again.

When I tried to knit before I did manage to produce a couple of scarves, but really they were not good.  I could never remember whether I was knitting or purling, work out how to read a pattern, follow instructions or really do anything.  What I did manage to produce was by luck, not judgement.

This time though I am hoping for more success.  I get how to follow patterns more from doing crochet, I also now understand the need/way to count rows, mark the pattern to know where you are and all of those other good things.

So this was a disaster, but it might get better.  We will see.

If nothing else on this very wet and miserable Monday it might have made you smile.

You know it is midsummer today.  The longest day of the year.  Midsummer solstice.  It is pouring with rain here.  Very wet and very grey and gloomy.  So we need something to brighten our lives don't we!

Hope you have a good day, whatever you are doing!

Amy

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to all Dad's and Son's.  Those who wish they were Dad's, are Dad's no longer and all of those who are great Father figures to those around them!

Hope you are having a great day!!

This is just for you!


Amy

Friday, 17 June 2016

Five On Friday

Thank you so much for your kind comments on last weeks Five On Friday post.  Hubby was thrilled with all of your kind comments and a little bit overwhelmed too!  Thank you for saying such nice things to him, it was so lovely of you all!!!

Speaking though of comments, I feel that lately several of you have asked questions that I haven't necessarily been able to reply directly to.  So, I have gone back over the last few weeks of posts and replied directly in the comments.  If you asked me something go back and look and hopefully your answer will be there.  Give me a nudge if it isn't!

This week I am afraid you are back to just me!  Carrying on the crafty posts that I have been catching up with and sharing with you this week I thought that today I would go a little further back and share five projects from the past that I have really loved.

One

I made these cushions in 2013 and they are still in our living room looking great.  They are applique - to my own design of course! - using genuine vintage fabric.  I am so happy that I made them!



The good news is that I also have more of this fabric and when I get round to some machine sewing I hope to make something else with the fabric that I hope will also be lovely.

You can read the original post here.

Two

Apart from Five On Friday posts which are always top of the stats, the post that is always top is one about a pincushion that I made using a kit that came free with a magazine.  It is called Mollie Makes Pretty Rose Cross Stitch.  The original post is here


I gave this pincushion away as a gift and it is in use and is much loved.  I think that I have another of the kits tucked away somewhere so perhaps someday I will make another one.

Three

Another of my favourites is my Seaglass Shawl.  I made this last year and I love it.  The beads around the edge, the design, the softness of the yarn, which has got softer with use (Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace) and just better all round.


Did I say that I love it!

Original post here.

Four

More crochet goodness!  This post - here - was, I think, where I first shared my love of crochet with you.  If you have been reading my blog for a while now you might remember this blanket.  It was eventually finished and is still in use and much loved.  In fact I can't believe how old it is now!


You get that I love crochet don't you?

Five

Well, it has been hard to narrow it down to just five and there are many things that I could pipe on about here, things that I have and am designing right now - because the thing I love most is always the thing that I am currently working on - makes from the past and all kinds of other things.

So I will leave it there for now.  Open to whatever is coming up next!  Craft.  Here I come!  Just waiting to dive in for more!!

Thank you for your kind words on all of my posts this week, I have enjoyed them a great deal.  I think that I am getting back into a balance of blogging and I am sure that there is always more catching up to do and with next week being a podcast week I will be out of kilter again, but it is good to be back to it again.

Thank you for your comments here, for joining in and for going and visiting other participants.

I hope you have a great weekend!!

Amy

********************

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Can you help me?

I have a question that I really need some help with an I am hoping that you are just the person to offer your advice and thoughts!

The quandary?  Well, it relates to my Etsy shop and the things I sell there.  I am not trying to sell or promote anything to you, I just need some help.

Postage costs.  It seems that everything I send, no matter how thick or thin it is, ends up being a small parcel.  Postage costs for small parcels are considerably higher than for letters.  That means that my postage costs are higher and I suspect that that is putting buyers off.  I only charge the postage cost, plus a small amount to cover the packaging materials.

To date I have been sending things in bubble wrap envelopes.

Today I noticed that a fellow blogger had bought some lovely progress keepers from an Etsy seller - not me - and I went to have a look following the link in the blog post because I thought they were very pretty.  They were and there were lots of other lovely pretty things and I will be going back to buy something myself.

I had a quick look at the postage costs and noticed that this seller is charging a lot less for postage than I am.

For a very similar - I mean REALLY similar - item they are charging about a third less than the amount I need to charge taking into account the cost that I reckon the post office will charge me and my packaging costs (based on the rate table that I obtained from the post office). 

Now, I realise they may well sell loads of things and buy envelopes and so on in bulk to reduce their costs, but given that after my costs and the charges that Etsy puts on the items I sell, I am making about 5 pence profit (yes, really!) on the item, I cannot afford to reduce the price or reduce the P&P cost.

I do reduce the costs for multiple purchases.

So, my questions to you are this.

1.  If you buy something of very low cost do you expect it to be wrapped and packaged as well as it if were something more expensive - I know I would which is why I wrap and package them that way.  However, if it meant that the cost was less would you mind that the packaging might not be as lovely?

2.  Do I need to send things in bubble wrap envelopes?  Could I send them in a normal envelope or one of those plastic mailer thingys - can't remember the name! - which are thinner and therefore as the postal cost is based on size as well as weight, it might reduce the cost.  What are your thoughts?  As a purchaser, what do you prefer?

3.  My other thought is to actually increase the cost of the item, but for it to include the P&P.  I don't like the idea of this myself, but I wondered how others feel about it?

4.  If you see similar items from different sellers, how do you decide which one to purchase from?  Do you go with the person you know, the number of reviews, the lowest price?  What is the deciding factor for you?  I would love to know.

I hope that you can help me as I feel that my postage costs are higher than I would like them to be, but I don't know any other way to get around it and would love to know your suggestions as purchasers!

Thank you for your help.

Amy

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Happy Scrappy Squares

I have been working on a Happy Scrappy Squares blanket that is inspired by the blanket that Sandra from Cherry Heart is making.

Mine differs a little because I am using a different stitch count, not making the blocks all to the same size and using whatever yarn comes to hand.

I told you yesterday that I am not good at following other peoples patterns!

Sandra is mostly making her blocks square where as mine are rectangular and Sandra is using, I believe, all sock yarn, whereas I am using a mixture of things.

I decided to make this blanket to use up the little tiny bits and pieces of yarn that I have.  I am only putting it in the blanket if it meets the following criteria.  It is a leftover tapestry wool that I have, or one of a large bag that was given to me, is a teeny tiny scrap leftover from a ball of wool or is wool that has come as a magazine freebie.  That means that it really is scrappy!

The idea is that it looks as though it came from the 1970's.  Which, I think it does!




My blocks are mostly fairly small because of the fact that I am using really small amounts of yarn.  Of course as I work further across it the look will change because the little ends that I will have will be different and there will be less tapestry wools included.  That is OK though, it is all part of the look that I want the blanket to have.

The other thing that I love about this is that I plan to only work on this on Sunday and to work only on this on Sunday.  So far that plan is having mixed results!!

If you want to see Sandra's blanket go here.

Happy scrapping!

Amy

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Designing

As you know I am a great crochet fan.  I have always liked to make my own things, and am not terribly good at following patterns because I like to fiddle around and change things and see what will happen if I try this, that or the other.

Moving on one step from that I am now designing my own patterns and this year I have been working on a group of four shawls.  If you have watched the podcast you will have seen some of them, but this week I am sharing crafty things with you here on my blog so today I have the backstory on these four shawls to share with you!

Again, if you are long time reader here you will know that I am a great fan of the writer Louisa May Alcott and in particular her book Little Women.  This is because I love the book, but also because I am named Amy after the character of the same name.

When we visited Louisa May Alcott's home, Orchard House, I totally fell in love with it.  Learning more about Louisa, the house, her family and her sister May, on whom the character Amy is based, was incredible.

For example, did you know that May Alcott was the leading Turner copyist of her time?  No, I didn't either.  I had no idea that May was an artist or that she was amazing.

Since that visit and since I started to write my own patterns I had been turning over the idea in my mind of making a shawl based around Little Women or Louisa herself.  Thinking one day about what I could do I suddenly had an inspiration.

I would make four shawls, each to reflect the personalities of the four main characters of the story.  Following on from that I had the idea to theme each one in a different colour.  The idea for this came from the book itself. 

At the start of the book it is Christmas and the four girls each receive a gift of a book under their pillows.  Meg's is Green, Jo's is Crimson and Beth and Amy's are each described as being Dove Coloured and Blue but no detail is given as to which one receives which colour book.

I decided to make Amy's the blue one because I like blue and because her bedroom at Orchard House is painted with a bright blue stripe around the top of the room.  As you can see in this photo of the postcard I bought.


So far I have completed three shawls, and am writing up the patterns for Amy's and Jo's, while Beth's is already done.  Meg's is proving to be more difficult to get right, but I ripped it all back and charted it all out and now it is going better.  The finished shawl will be far easier to make than the designing process has been!

As for the actual shawls themselves, well Beth's was to be light and airy.  Floaty and floral.  She is so delicate and fragile and I wanted the shawl to have a feel of that. 


This is a sample of the Beth Shawl.

Amy's could go one of two ways.  Either very artistic and intricate and fancy or more practical.  Something that a lady out for a days painting could actually use to wrap up in and keep warm while still being pretty.  I decided to go for the latter as that is more of my personality!

Jo's shawl is sturdy, wrap up, keep you warm.  In the story Jo writes up in the garrett, but Louisa actually wrote at a small table, fixed to the wall in her bedroom between two windows looking out from the front of the house.  I imagine though that Jo would need something to keep her very cosy and snug so that is what she has.

Meg seems to me to be the more practical person in some ways.  Jo is very forthright and Beth would do whatever she could for anyone, but Meg just got on with things in the end.  Meg's shawl therefore is a bit of a contradiction.  It is light, airy and will in the end, I hope, represent something of her garden wedding to John Brooke.  They married under the arbour in the garden so I hope the shawl will give some of that feel.

To produce the designs I started as I always do, with my inspiration in mind, hook and yarn in hand and then I just fiddle until I get what I am happy with.  I never start on paper, I always start hook in hand.  That is why it is so much harder for me to write patterns, because I have to go backwards!

I am trying to get better about it though and keep better notes once I have settled on the way I want to work a particular piece.

So, that is the design process!  No real mystery, not much to tell at all really, but I hope it gives you some insight into how I work and where I come from with things.  I guess that I am a visual and practical person so I see it in my mind and then I need to actually see it and form it in my hands to make it work.

If you would like to read the post about Orchard House that I wrote some time ago you can find it here.

Amy - or May perhaps!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Making a Crochet Hook Roll

For the longest time all of my crochet hooks have been bundled into a pencil case.  Admittedly a very cute pencil case from Paperchase, with very pretty butterflies on it, but nonetheless, it was a pencil case and scrabbling through all of the hooks to find the one I wanted was getting a bit annoying.

Some time ago I had hatched a plan to make a roll to store them all in.  As yet that remains unmade, but I will tell you more about that at the end of this post.

I have though - finally! - made myself a roll to keep all my hooks in.  I bought a Great British Sewing Bee kit to make to store knitting needles in.  It was wildly reduced in price, I think I paid about £2.50 and although I don't know the original price, I know it was a lot more than that.

I will start with the Ta Dah! because that is the best bit of this.  One Crochet Hook Roll!!!!!


Here it is all filled and then all rolled up.


The kit included a printed piece of fabric with all of the parts of the roll apart from the interfacing and the tape for binding the edges, but these were also included.


After cutting out all of the pieces of fabric I started to make the piece up.  There were instructions, but I didn't find them to be that easy to follow.  Probably partly because I am rubbish at following rules but also because I feel that in a few areas the instructions were just missing.

One example of missing instructions related to the top flap piece - the yellow zig zag piece in the picture below.  I figured out afterwards that the sides should probably have been sewn to the backing and then bound over, but there wasn't anything to tell you this.  So instead I had hemmed the sides and my flap is just loose.  Not a problem, but annoying to me.


It was also not the best project I have ever made because I was making it in a tiny cramped space.  I simply moved my laptop off my desk, put the sewing machine down and started to sew in the middle of everything else on the desk.

That was my fault.  My advice.  Do not sew in a cramped space and move your stuff out of the way first!!!


It has turned out reasonably well though.  I made it on a day when I was feeling very stressed and literally cried several times when I made this.  It is done and in use and that is what is important!!


The pieces I like best of all are the tie which you can see in the picture above.  I folded the strip in two and ironed it then folded in the edges to the middle and ironed it again and then sewed it up.  It looks so good and that pleases me.

The other best bit is the tape around the edges to bind it all together.  It doesn't look the greatest in this very close up photo, but in person it finishes it off better than I thought it would.



When it is full I fold the top down, fold the two sides in...


Then fold over again and tie the tie.


Everything is stored safely and securely and I can easily see all of my different hooks.  Overall a job done, perhaps not as well as it could have been, but done and that is the important thing hey!

On to the Hook Roll I was going to make originally.


A couple of years ago we went to the American Museum in Bath to see the wonderful Kaffe Fassett exhibition - and the rest of the museum of course!  You can see my posts about the visit here (Kaffe Fassett post), here and here.

I was very restrained with my purchases and only bought this fat quarter of one of his wonderful fabrics.  My intention was to crochet an outside piece and then use this to line it and make the pockets for the hooks.


I have decided that as I have SO MANY (really, SO many!) 4mm hooks I am going to make this roll just for them!

I have pulled 14 colours of yarn from my supplies that match the different colours in the fabric and I will be working up some kind of an outer piece and will then make up the roll.

Of course I will show it to you in due course.  Don't hold your breath though, I have a few other things to finish first...


So, here's to Crochet Hook Rolls!  How do you store yours?  I would love to know!

Amy