I am officially a published crochet pattern designer!
Last September I submitted two designs to the Crochet 2015 Calendar by Susan Ripley for Accord Publishing. At the beginning of July, I checked the website and saw my name on the list of accepted patterns, but didn't want to say much until I actually had the calendar in my hands and could see for myself. I ordered it from Amazon when it became available a couple of weeks ago, and was practically squealing with excitement when I picked it up from the post office on Friday. Yes indeed, it's true - my patterns are in there!
My "Lava" wrist warmers pattern is the very first pattern in the calendar.
And my tricolor felted bowl is also included (it's the January 22nd entry).
It was my first time submitting to a publication, though it's something I've been pondering for awhile. I'm not sure why I haven't done it before now - shyness maybe (I do sometimes find it hard to put myself out there, but I'm working on that). I must say though, it's quite a thrill to see my designs in print!
Submissions are still open for the 2016 calendar - the deadline is October 20th. If you'd like to submit, here is the link. Good luck!
As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I've been thinking a lot about goals lately - for my life in general, and the creative side of my life in particular.
I never used to set goals - I kind of just let things happen and followed seemingly random paths to see where they would lead. And I do believe in that too; I don't think we should obsessively set goals that we never stray from for fear of ruining our lives, and I'm a fan of saying "yes" to things because you just never know. But, as I've discovered, setting a few concrete, achievable goals can help lay a foundation for a path that leads to where you want to go. The trick, of course, is knowing where you want to go in the first place.
When I knew I would be leaving my old job at the beginning of the summer, I was faced with some choices:
- Look for another job and continue my creative pursuits "on the side"
- Try to use my skills to build a freelance career in editing, which would (in theory) allow me to spend more time doing creative stuff
- Make a go of being a full-time designer-maker
It was tough. On the one hand, I have long dreamt of being able to pursue my craft full-time. And inspiration that feeds that longing is everywhere - from all those "Quit Your Day Job" profiles on Etsy to the beautiful, aspirational blogs and websites and Instagrams of crafters and creative people who are living the dream. I want to live that dream too, one day, or something like it.
On the other hand, I was brought up with the notion of always having "something to fall back on", and maintaining a sense of security (while being aware that anything can happen) is important to me at this stage of my life. It's easier for me to be creative when I'm not worried about where my next mortgage payment is coming from or if I'll be able to fly home in an emergency.
It was while at my old job that I developed an interest in business and technical writing and editing. So I took some courses, and set a goal to finish the program and earn a certificate. Which I did! It was a lot of work, but so rewarding. When the opportunity to work full-time as a technical writer came along, it felt too good to be true (this is where setting goals meets saying "yes" to surprises) and I took the job.
So, here I am, once again in a "day job", but this time it's where I want to be. I'm able to do something I enjoy, that I worked for and hope to continue growing in, and now I'm a little more confident applying that same goal-setting philosophy to my craft. For now, my goal is simply to make time for the creative stuff, consistently and with focus and intention, at whatever pace feels right. It might not look like "living the dream" from the outside, but right now it feels like it from the inside.
We have finally got the "little room" (as we call it) working as a functional office/spare bedroom. It really is a little room, just 2m x 3m - hard to believe this used to be the kitchen - but it's perfect for a cosy workspace.
The desk is H's grandmother's old sewing table - to get a bit more desk space, we just added a board on top that we painted white. The shelves above it are leaves from H's grandparents' old dining table (the table was given away to a relative long ago, but the leaves were still kicking around in the shed), fitted with brackets from the hardware store. A couple of regular old Billy bookcases (gotta love Ikea) hold all the "stuff". I put doors on them to hide away the mess and make them look a little prettier.
The single bed is also from Ikea - it was my couch/guest bed back when I had my studio apartment. I'd like to add some more cushions for more of a "daybed" feeling, and maybe make a nice woolly throw for it too.
I am still getting the hang of using this room on a regular basis though - I tend to default to the kitchen table or the couch to work. But I'm in here now as I type, and it's so lovely and bright and peaceful. I foresee spending a lot more time here from now on.
One of my favourite projects this summer was this granny square cocoon shrug, (while I didn't get around to writing about it at the time, I did post a pic to Instagram). I had wanted to make one for a while but wasn't quite sure where to start until I saw this version.
My square measured about 105cm across, and I used two strands of plötulopi (unspun Icelandic wool) crocheted together with a 7mm hook, which gave it a chunky but light texture with a nice drape. I also did one round of double crochet as the last round of my granny square.
Next, I folded it in half and joined the short sides from the bottom edge to the "armhole" (leave a space before the fold) on either side (I used a sc join).
For the collar, I started at one of the joined corners and added five rounds of dc all the way around, turning on each round to avoid an obvious "wrong" side when it's flipped over. To make "sleeves" (more like cuffs, really), I did three rounds of alternating dc and front post dc stitches around the armhole openings.
I thoroughly enjoyed making this, and I really want to try making a version that falls a bit more like a cardigan, like this beautiful piece by Jo Storie. In the meantime, I'm pretty happy with this one, and look forward to wearing it now that fall has arrived!
I've been away awhile - a little longer than expected, but "real life" seems to have a way of taking over sometimes. Someone recently made the observation that the last several months were a bit of a "hurricane", which is true - there was a lot going on, and it was at times overwhelming.
But the storm abated, and thankfully I was able to take a much-needed break over the summer. I spent the time recharging - relaxing, seeing friends, visiting H's family up north and my family in Canada, crocheting a little here and there - before starting a new job as a technical writer, a direction I've been slowly working towards for the last little while. It's a pretty steep learning curve still, but it's nice to know the work paid off. And a huge confidence boost to see that I can set fairly big goals and accomplish them.
The next step is to get serious about setting some goals for my creative life, something I think and talk and dream about endlessly, but somehow have never been able to get around to doing properly. Now that all the "other stuff" is sorted, I feel like I might finally be able to set aside time to find some focus.
I picked up this gorgeous hand spun wool at the Craft and Design Fair today. I don't know what I'm going to make with it, and it was hard to pick just one as there were so many beautiful variations to choose from, but I couldn't resist. I also like the DIY sewn newspaper bag (great idea!), and I love that the name of the person who spun the wool is on the label. Thanks, Ingibjörg for making this lovely yarn!
I just got back from a month-long trip to Canada to help my parents pack up their house and get ready to move some six hours drive north, to be closer to my brother and his family. It's been their home - our home - for the last 40 years, and though I moved out long ago, it's always been central to my sense of home, albeit a little less so as the years have gone by and I've grown up and into a life of my own. It's the place I've always come back to, and while I'm happy for my parents, it felt strange, sad, and a little bit unreal to be leaving it for the last time.
I just finished my first-ever pair of mittens! Suffering from chilly fingers after losing mine this winter and inspired by some lovely knitted pairs from the Purl Bee, I decided to try my hand at making my own. Since I'm not really a knitter, crochet was the way to go. I had some lovely charcoal yarn in my stash that I thought would be perfect, and it was - I'm so pleased with how these turned out! They are a little longer and loose fitting around the wrist, but I love how they bunch up beneath my coat sleeves. And now that I've got the basics down, I can experiment a little more next time with fit, texture, pattern and colour.
If you'd like to make your own, here is the "recipe" (as knitting and crochet patterns are called in Icelandic):
The mittens are worked from the top down, in double crochet for the body and single crochet for the thumb. I used worsted weight washable wool (Free Style from Dalegarn), and a 5.5mm hook.
Start with a magic ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 3 and make 8 dc into the ring (ch 3 counts as first dc), for a total of 9 dc. Join with a slip stitch in the 3rd chain of the 1st ch 3.
Rnd 2: Ch 3, make 1 dc in same spot, 2 dc in each stitch around (18 dc), join.
Rnd 3: Ch 3, *2 dc in next st, 1 dc in next stitch*, repeat from * around (27 dc), join.
Rnds 4-10: Ch 3, dc in each stitch around, join. Note: You will make space for the thumb in the next round. I have freakishly long fingers, so the tops of my mittens are quite long - if you want them to be a little shorter, simply work fewer rounds. Try them on as you go to see how long you need the top to be. I also found it best to make it one round shorter than I thought I needed, since they do drop down a bit when worn (when your hands are down at your sides, for example), giving you some extra space. I hope that makes sense!
Rnd 10: Ch 3, dc in each stitch for 22 stitches, ch 5, skip last 5 stitches, join.
Rnds 11-20: Ch 3, dc in each stitch around, join. Note: Again, you can adjust the length as you wish here by adding or subtracting rounds.
Rnd 21: Make a corded edge (ch 1, then working backwards, make a single crochet in the previous stitch, and so on, all the way around). Join and fasten off.
Weave in ends.
Rnds 1-10: same as 1st mitten
Rnd 11: Ch 8, skip 5 dc, make a dc in 6th dc, dc around, join.
Rnds 12-21: same as 1st mitten
Thumb (same for both mittens):
Rnd 1: Insert your hook into one of the stitches at the edge of the thumb hole. Ch 1, make a sc in the same spot, and sc all the way around, making 1 sc in each of the dc posts on either side of the hole - you should have 12 sc. Join.
Rnds 2-10: Ch 1, sc all the way around. Join. Note: If you have longer or shorter thumbs, you can adjust the number of rounds here.
Rnd 11: Ch 1, make a sc decrease (insert hook into stitch, yo, pull through, insert hook into next stitch, yo, pull through, yo, pull through 3 loops on hook), continue decreasing all the way around (you should have 6 sc), join and fasten off.
To close the thumb, turn the mitten inside out and thread the yarn tail through a yarn needle. Work the needle through all the stitches around the top and pull tight to close the thumb. I also worked a few stitches back and forth across the top of the thumb. Fasten off and weave in the end.
Ta-da! New mittens for these remaining days of winter. Enjoy!
My friend Jeremy Lynch, an artist based in Berlin, is in Iceland at the moment working on an abstract photography project called Pieces of Water. I had an opportunity to take part in a workshop with him yesterday to make water photograms - a very hands-on process using light-senstive photo paper and water, to create abstract photographic images without a camera. It was a totally different kind of "handmade" experience than say, working with yarn - I honestly didn't know what to expect as I had no prior experience in developing photographic prints, but it was a lot of fun. I also got to hang around and watch a couple of other people work on pieces, and what struck me was how differently each of us approached the project, and how wildly varied but equally beautiful and striking the results were.
Jeremy describes his project like this: "Water photograms are a simple way to create photographs without the use of a camera, producing the most beautiful abstract images – by transforming everyday reality into a unique abstraction. Like snowflakes, no two photograms are the same, and everyone can make art with water."
I've had it in the back of my mind for awhile now to do an all-bobble trivet, inspired by those lovely felted ball trivets (like these). I finally had an "aha" moment after seeing this gorgeous cushion and set to work. I'm really happy with the way this turned out, though I might do another round of fulling to make it a bit more dense. And of course it still needs trimming and blocking. Looking forward to trying some other colour combos too.
I hope the new year is off to a good start for you! I'm just getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks in Canada with my family over Christmas and New Year. It was a bit of a whirlwind, as visits home usually are, but it was great to be there. Cold and snowy, but beautiful, and thankfully we missed the really bad weather.
I'm also happy to be starting the new year with a new stockist! I was super excited to send some of my bobble tea cosies and trivets to Mosey, in Melbourne, Australia just before I left for Canada. It looks like such a lovely shop, doesn't it? They also have a web shop for those of us who can't make it there in person.
As for resolutions, I haven't really made any. But I do have a few goals, some new and some I've been working away at for a while now, that I hope to accomplish this year. Though I will also make an effort to not be too hard on myself if I don't get everything done within a set time frame. We have to make some space for life too, after all.
Here's to good things for 2014!
My potholder set is in the current issue of Kiki Magazine! Kiki is an award-winning lifestyle magazine for young girls aged 8-16 that features crafts, culture, fashion, and healthy living among other relevant topics for girls. I wish there had been a publication like this around when I was that age (way back when)!
For the current issue, they did a story about Iceland and featured some Icelandic artists, designers and crafters who work with natural materials. I was so pleased to be included! You can purchase the issue here (for those of you with girls) - it looks like it's only available in hard copy. You can also check out the Kiki blog, which has loads of fun DIY projects for kids, and I think you can download content from previous issues as well. Almost makes me wish I had my very own teenager at home!
Here finally are some pics from our renovation. What started last January as "let's redo the bathroom" turned into literally gutting the whole apartment as there were so many other things that needed fixing. Starting with plumbing and wiring (which was dangerously outdated), we also had to dig up the floors to replace cracked sewer pipes running under the building (we're on the ground floor), and after finding some pretty nasty mould, discovered that there was no drainage at the back of the building, so had to install that as well (thankfully the mould problem is taken care of). I'll admit it was hard to see the end.
But the end did come. What we got out of it was a beautiful, big, new kitchen that we moved from a tiny room at the back of the apartment to the dining room at the front (now our favourite room), a new, ever-so-slightly bigger bathroom, a guest room/office where the old kitchen used to be, new closets with plenty of storage in the bedroom, and new wood floors throughout (since we couldn't salvage our old parquet floors).
I should clarify that we didn't do any of the hard work ourselves - we had a really lovely contractor, and he and his team did a great job. We are so happy with the outcome and are (still!) slowly but surely putting on the finishing touches - this weekend's project is to finally put some proper shelving in the "little room", as we call it, and make it a usable workspace/studio. Months later we still can't get over the changes and love our home more and more every day!
I recently purchased this beautiful bowl from my friend Sherry Richmond, whose Etsy shop STUDIOartdevivre showcases her gorgeous ceramic work. I love the pretty patterns, delicate impressions, and soft colours she uses on tiles, bowls, little dishes and serving plates, incense holders and more. I bought the bowl for a wedding gift, and though it was tempting to keep it for myself once it arrived, I'm glad I didn't as the bride and groom loved it as much as I did.
I wasn't left empty-handed though, as lovely Sherry also packed this sweet little incense holder just for me.
How nice is that?
Well, maybe not an empire, but I at least decided it was time to diversify and move my eggs into some different baskets. To this end I opened my own online shop, to link to from the blog/website.
I used Tictail to make it, which is free to use unless you want to add options like your own url, discount codes, etc. (I'm sticking with the basic version for now), and is also pretty user-friendly. I even edited some code all by myself (!) to make it look more like the rest of my website, and I'm really happy with it. Still some work to do, and no sales yet, but "if you build it they will come", right?
We decided to stay in Iceland for our summer holidays this year and drove north to spend some time in Húsavík with H's family. It was a lovely time, and I got to visit some places I hadn't been to before. I'm always so struck by the beauty of this country.
(Click on the pics to see the whole gallery)
Alas, back to work and reality tomorrow. How have you been spending your summer vacation?