Posts in Books
Crochet at Play Day and a Giveaway

Today marks the official release of Crochet at Play! Yay!! PicMonkey Collage (3)

 

 

And to celebrate (and to keep with the rhyming!) we have a giveaway!!! 

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The fox stole was the firm favourite after the video was released and also has a special place in our hearts. At first, I wasn't going to include him because there are a couple of well known patterns for fox stoles available, but (after alot of tweeting with Joanne), we decided that one simply could not have a crochet book with a dress-up theme without a fox stole.

Once decided upon, Kevin was sent to the wool shop to pick out said wool...on his own...with the children....(huge thanks to the staff of Mcarees in Stirling for all of their patience and tolerance of my family when we went on wool runs.  Maybe one day I will tell them what I was doing with it all).   And then, poor Joanne and I spent AGES checking and double checking that his little face was written correctly.  Oh, and I have been told by Kat I may not see him again after filming the video.

Anyway, now you can make a little foxy friend of your own! Deramores will send one reader 4 balls of Adriafill Regina in the Rust, Black and White and I will send you a copy of Crochet at Play!! Wa-hey!adriafil-regina-300dpi print_deramores_CMYK

 

 

To enter, just leave a comment below. Both Deramores and I will happily send the book and the yarn to anywhere in the world!

Don't crochet or *gasp* don't like foxes? No worries, they have also kindly given me a discount code to share with you.

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Next week marks the start of the bloggy book tour as well and Crochet at Play will be popping up around the internet over the next few weeks.

Monday 22nd April - Natalie from Bambino Goodies

Friday 26th April - Sarah at Crafts from the Cwtch

Monday 30th May - Kat from Housewife Confidential

Wednesday 2nd May - Joanne from Not So Granny

Week of the 7th of May - Rachelle from Ted and Agnes and Emma from Silver Pebble

Week of the 14th of May - Amanda from Kitshycoo

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And the winner is:  Kristina who said : I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! I really want to win! Pick me!! Love your blog! Awesome mama XX

(I think she really wanted to win!) You have email, mama.

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Competition Terms and Conditions:

  • Giveaway is open worldwide.
  • Maximum of one entry per person.
  • Please leave your email to make sure we can contact you.
  • Entries must meet the entry criteria or will be void.
  • Giveaway will close at 9pm BST on 25th April 2013.
  • The winner’s details will be shared with Deramores who will post out the yarn.

 

Discount Code Terms and Conditions: One use per customer. Ends midnight BST 2 June. Excludes gift vouchers. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, promotion or discounted item.

Crochet at Play front cover

Swatch and Wait

IMG_9414IMG_9413IMG_9411 IMG_9410 IMG_9409 IMG_9407And so it begins. Book 2, that is. I love this bit. Before all the stress of not enough yarn, pattern corrections, writing all of the stitch descriptions, this is the bit I like best. Trying out different yarns and stitches, planning, making endless lists.

This time last year, I was panicking. In retrospect, I really had no clue what I was doing: I had used such a limited range of yarns, had never designed garments before and spent a lot of time hoping I wasn't making a fool out of myself!! I feel much more relaxed this time 'round. Plus, I really like the swatching stage.  I try to really think through my designs at the swatching stage - how the yarn will work, how affordable it will be to make, how various stitch patterns will flow into each other.  It is not uncommon for me to make a swatch 7 or 8 times, making sure it is exactly what I want. Its the dreamy stage, before I have to get into excel and make it real.

And so, the swatching is good!! But the waiting?!?!  Book 2 isn't going to be out until Autumn 2014... not as keen on that part!

 

Yarns from top to bottom:

- Ripples Craft Assynt Rocks Sport

- Artesano DK

- Rowan Baby Alpaca

- Rowan Creative Linen

- Can't Remember

- Amazing Snælden Yarn from the Island Wool Company.  Gorgeous!!

 

 

 

 

When You Hold It In Your Hands

IMG_9014Remember, how I said we had a month to the release of the book  

Amazon has dispatched the pre-orders.

 

And so, if you receive the book over the next few days, when you look at it, you will see 30 patterns for crochet.  You will see my children and the children of my friends.  You will see the locations and a nice book of stuff you (hopefully) want to make. It's just a book of crochet patterns. Good ones.  Useful ones. But just crochet.

When I look at it - I see the culmination of the hardest and most amazing 2 years of my life.  I see the physical manifestation of many hours of work, many late nights, a few tears*.  I see a lot of learning and trying and failing and succeeding. I see a summer of children climbing on me while I designed and made 30+ items of crochet. I see the thing that helped me support my family in some very hard times.  I look at it and remember finding out I was pregnant with Theo, and resigning from my job, and wondering what on earth we were going to do.  I see the first time Etsy featured my hats on their Facebook Page and then in their Look Book. I remembering wondering what to put in the occupation box on a form. I see "meeting" Joanne over hat math and  starting Capturing Childhood on the day I agreed the deal with Kyle. I see the path I should have been on a long time ago - designing, making, photography.

So, yes, it's just* a crochet book.  But, it is also a lot more, and also just the beginning.

*Kevin insists it was more than a few tears.  I am saying nothing on that matter.

 

 

 My book Crochet at Play is now shipping from Amazon.co.uk and will be available elsewhere soon.

Travelling Circus
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That is what it feels like we are at the minute.  I sit amidst bags and boxes, packing for another trip down to London. The children are wild, cooped up all day because of torrential rain and last minute preparations.  I dread the drive (I always do) with these little caged beasties.
This month has passed in a blur of adrenaline and busyness.  I am grateful for the adrenaline, as quite frankly I wouldn't make it through otherwise. There is no time for tiredness or self pity about the relentlessness (which is good, as we all know, I like to wallow). 
People often compare writing a book to giving birth to a baby, but actually it seems to be more like orchestrating a performance - remembering your lines and the costumes and the staging and the lights and the blocking and the rewrites and the props and the... 6,000,000 things to think about all at once.  But, bit by bit, it all comes together. Well, at least I hope so.
And its worth it.  From the first glimpses of the photographs to seeing my title tweeted back from an authour (thanks, Lynn!) at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  I can not wait until its released out into the world.  Can. Not. Wait. 
(the little bear hat at the top was a cast off from the designs for the book.  Beary sweet though, no?)
Binge Socking

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One summer, I ate nothing but toast and read historical fiction for 3 months.  A few years ago, I made about 50 crochet bowls.  Recently, I made snickerdoodles for days on end.

 

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Binge activities are pretty common around here. A few weeks ago, it was socks.  It was all I could think about.  How much I wanted to make them. How I wanted them to look. Which yarn to use. Which colours. Toe up or cuff down? I even dreamt about them!  And so, the only way to deal with an obsession is to dive deep. I just had to make some socks. 

Guiding me on my sock journey was Joeli Caparco's new book Tiny Treads, a collection of kid's sock patterns.  I've never knit socks before and needed something to cover the basics, plus Joeli was a student on Capturing Childhood (and even took some of the photos in her book!!), so I knew she was where I needed to turn. 

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While I was tempted to try out some of the more complex patterns, what I really needed to get out of my system were some multi-coloured, stranded socks I'd seen on pinterest.  I started with worsted weight, as it was what I had in the house.  Joeli's book is really good because it has a couple of generic recipes at the beginning (one for toe up and one for cuff down), which I could base the pattern on, all the while making up my colours as I went.

I really want to make her contrary cockleshell pattern next and am just waiting to find the perfect solid/semi-solid yarn that is perfectly Georgia. 

Friday 5 - Life Changing Reads
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I love to read, but I am the biggest book-snob you will find.  My criteria are simple, but unrelenting:

- The acknowledgements from the author must be authentic.  Theacknowledgements tell you so much about the place from which the author is coming and about the kind of person who wrote the book.  I can be put off by the first sentence.

- It must end happily.  There can be strife and sadness at the beginning and middle, but the end must have an uplifting resolution. I see enough violence and sadness in life. I spare myself any potential agony and always read the ending once I have read a few chapters.  A cliché, I know, but I can not bear to fall in love with characters and then end my time with them in sadness.

- It must be "true" in the Hemingway sense. Elaborate ruses or exaggerated characters do nothing for me. I find that I am more often than not drawn to non-fiction because I find that many fiction authors forget that just because the characters and story are made up, the emotions and situations must ring true. Oh and don't think I am all high-brow here, I count the Big Stone Gap series, A Trip to the Stars and Harry Potter among my favourites.

Even with the above criteria, as a voracious reader, I have found many books that I love. Over time there are some books that stuck with me more than others. The simple act of reading changed something internally, like Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Man's mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions".

1. Unless by Carol Shields. Its about the suburban life of a mother, Reta, whose family is in the midst of a crisis as her oldest daughter has left home and sits on a street corner with a sign saying "Goodness"  I love this book passionately.  I've read it countless times, but 2 of the times stick most in my mind.

The first time I read it, I was just a daughter.  It was when it was nominated for the Booker Prize and we were living in London and I worked with rough sleeping (homeless) drug users.  I could understand so completely that bottomless pit of utter despair you feel when you look at the world (and the plight of women in it) and want to run away screaming with hopelessness. I could understand Norah's need to shut down to it all. 

The second time I read it, I was a mother.  At the time, I was struck fiercely by how my perspective no the novel had changed. I can and still do understand Reta's deep need to immerse herself in the everyday pleasures and domesticity...to make a small bit of beauty in an ugly world and to just keep going, not because you want to all of the time, but because you have to, for everyone that depends on you.

2. A Slender Thread by Diane Ackerman.  It is about her work in a crisis centre and looks at the biological roots of crisis.  I could say so much about this book.  I found it in a bookshop in Calcutta.  I have read it so many times that the covers are falling off.  It prompted my own work for a number of years in a crisis and mediation centre and working with rough sleepers. Her style of writing and the sensitivity with which she rights about the people she worked with is inspirational, but mostly, its this quote that gets me every time:

"A man was holding a loaded gun on his family, threatening to kill them and himself and anyone else that got in his way.  Lewis walked right into the man's house, sat down beside him, and said quietly:"Tell me your story." Ten hours later, the man gave him the gun.  The truth buried in this drama gets to the very heart of crisis centre work: each of us has a story, each of us has a loaded gun that we aim at ourselves.  After hours, or years, of talking the story can be told in its fullness and the gun can be laid down.  The story has both happy and sad chapters, and parts of it may be forgotten.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to help remember of clarify it.  Lose your story and you lose the pageant of your life." Yes.

3. Small Wonder by Barbara Kingslover.  If I could ever be anyone's biggest fan, it would be Ms Kingsolver's.  To pick Small Wonder out of all of her books is a bit like splitting hairs, as I love them all.  But in this one, I hear her voice at its most true and eloquent.  Barbara led me to Wendell Berry and the simpler life.  She made me laugh and cry and think...sometimes all at the same time.  I cry every time I read the chapter that starts, "The Columbine used to be my favourite flower"...because they used to be mine too.

4. The Fussy Baby Book by William and Martha Sears When Ellis was small, I thought I had done something wrong.  I looked for some reason why he never stopped crying, didn't sleep, fed all the time and just wasn't like other children we knew. This book made me realise that Ellis is a special person with different needs and the sheer unbridled vibrancy of his personality is a gift.  It also helped me with the simple, but powerful realisations that I'd done nothing wrong and I wasn't alone. It continues to be my backbone at times of instability. 

5. Choose Something Like a Star by Robert Frost.  I read this poem for the first time when my family and I were caught up in a mob that carried blame too far.  To this day, in times of deep crisis I find myself looking for a star to get me through.

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud-
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to the wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use Language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

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As an aside, I may have to add the Bakerella blog to this list, as I have been obsessing about cake pops for nearly a week.  I am making some this weekend.  We shall see if they change my life.

On that note, have a wonderful Easter weekend.  I am going to be stepping away from the computer for a few days to focus on creating, baking (cake pops, sugar cookies, Easter nests, bread) and being with my wonderful boys. Oh and getting my rear into gear on my garden, I am so far behind!

Have a lovely weekend and I'll see you on Monday!