New Post: Time to celebrate

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

Hi there, over on Granny Cool, you can read all about my latest designs for Inside Crochet magazine. Click here for the full story and while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to my new blog for all the latest news and updates.

Tracey x

Momma’s Got a Brand New Blog

shutterstock_138222647OK, so for a long while I fell out of love with Baking and Making, it didn’t really seem to fit what I do any more and it has become little more than a place to list where I’ve been published each month (not much fun to read eh!) . I’ve written before about this and for a long time I’ve been trying to find a solution. I love that so many of you stop by each day to read and feel bad that it’s become a bore!

I’ve toyed with other blogs, trying to find a “creative outlet”, but that didn’t seem to work either and to be honest, most of my day to day thoughts I post on my facebook page or instagram, so a “real blog” didn’t seem to be so appropriate any more.

I’ve also begun to sell more “ready to own” crochet items in craft shops and galleries and wanted a “label”, something to make them stand out and identify my “brand”. That’s how Granny Cool was born, and slowly (very slowly), I’ve been building my website, organising stockists and trying to juggle all this with my magazine work, writing a book and living a life! Selling under my own label is really exciting, it’s how I started (making small kits to sell to classmates at school, selling baby hats at NCT sales and in recent years designing patterns for Craftseller, for others to sell). I love the freedom of making, of not having to stop to think about writing down the pattern. I have no intention of giving up my design work (look out for some really lovely designs coming soon), this is just a slight change in direction.

Over the next few months I’ll be moving the free crochet patterns and other bits and pieces over to Granny Cool, but this site will remain. It won’t be deleted or disappear, but you’ll see less and less new posts.So, if you really want to stay in touch it would be fabulous if you could hop over to facebook and like my page, or even better take a moment to add Granny Cool to your “favourites”.

Over at Granny Cool, I’ll be blogging about yarn, giving away “stuff”, letting you know about sample sales and new pattern releases and on Facebook, I’ll be posting links to my favourite blogs, great designers and general chat, so it would be lovely to see you there (post a link to your facebook pages on there too, so I can say hello!).

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

 

Walk on By… (not about knitting)

When I was a little girl, we used to visit my Nanna and walks into Manchester always took us through Ancoats. Nanna would give us 10p and tell us to “go and give it to that gentleman over there”, always slightly afraid we would drop our change in the hands of what we called “tramps” and would then be rewarded with ice cream or trips to Kendals to travel in the lifts. There were lots of “tramps” in 1970’s Manchester.

Years later I worked on a psychiatric unit and spent a lot of time with men and women who had no home. For various reasons they found themselves in our unit and I heard their stories. It made me realise how easy it would be for any of us to find ourselves without a home.

My trips to Manchester are less frequent these days, but I still can’t turn a blind eye on the beggars, homeless and strays who call the streets of Manchester home. I always carry change in my pocket as I walk down from Piccadilly station and I donate to homeless shelters across the North West. I never feel like I make a difference. But there are ways we can all be more humane, less self absorbed and a little bit more tolerant of those whose lifestyle is not what we would choose for ourselves.

This short film was made by a friend of mine, please take a few minutes to watch.

If you feel moved to do something positive, the Rucksack project makes it easy for you. Visit their website here and find out how you can do more than just chuck a few coins in a paper cup.

And to finish with a  bit of knitting, the fabulous charity Knit for Peace will gladly take your donations of handknits and crochet and make sure they find their way to people who need and will appreciate them.

Credits:

The film was made by Leaky Shed and all images are from their website.

Introducing Happy Crafting

A new magazine has just been launched by Immediate Media called Happy Crafting. Each issue comes with a collection of knitting and crochet designs along with a kit, needles and hooks so you can get started on your makes straight away.

For the first issue I was commissioned to make a selection of baby accessories, great fun as I love designing for kids!

boy in beanie

My favourite is this cute bobble hat, which would work equally well for a boy or a girl.and this cute baby skirt is a simple make, even a beginner could manage it.

baby skirt picture

Finally, this little beret would look super cute with some crochet flowers instead of a bow don’t you think?

baby beret

Look out for the first issue in the shops now and let me know what you think, I took my issue along to knit group and the ladies loved the collection of patterns on offer. If you would like to see what else features in the first issue, head over to Sandra Paul’s blog and take a peek at her designs, which include a cute pair of booties and a snuggly blanket.

I’m already hard at work on issue two, which will be filled with some great homewares and simple ideas to brighten up your kitchen in a beautiful range of spring inspired colours.

 

Learn to Crochet Workshops 2015

7th March 2015 Gallery Artemis, Cockermouth Cumbria – Learn to Crochet for Complete Beginners

I’m pleased to announce my first confirmed date for 2015 will be in my adopted home town of Cockermouth, Cumbria.

Gallery Artemis is a contemporary gallery and art space which supports local artists and makers and sells a range of jewellery, decorative pieces and paintings by local artists.

The class costs £45, which includes all the tools and materials you’ll need on the day. In addition to the basic skills and stitches, you’ll take away a kit to make a pair of wrist warmers.

The course runs from 10am until 4pm, with a break for lunch. All refreshments are provided, but please bring a packed lunch (or buy from one of the many delicious eateries on or near Main St).

You can book directly with Gallery Artemis by phone, or if you’re nearby why not pop in and take a peek at current exhibits, which include some gorgeous fused glass piece by my friend Helen, and my own boiled wool purses. A full listing and course description is available here.

Cockermouth is well served by public transport and has plenty of local parking. It is familiar to many yarn lovers as the home of Woolfest. I’ll be in Cockermouth all weekend, so if you’re tempted by the chance to learn to crochet, but will be travelling some distance, why not make a weekend of it? I’ll be happy to point you in the direction of some great local sites for yarn lovers, such as The Wool Clip in nearby Caldbeck.

For more details, you can email me (todhunter63[at]gmail.com or contact Yvette at the Gallery on 01900 267090

Hope to see you there.

2015 Diary Dates

plush fibreMy 2015 diary is already filling up and I wanted to share a couple of events with you. The first is a brand new show in Coventry in March*, called p – Lush, it’s a celebration of everything Alpaca. Organised by a lovely group of ladies – just take a look at their twitter or facebook – their humour and enthusiasm just shines through in every post.  This is going to be one event I shall find it hard to miss.

I pasted below a couple of extracts from their press release to whet your appetite

The shows covers fibre art, luxury creations that speak to you, materials and products to make beautiful things, knit, crochet and textile design, upcycling and making. 

This is no ordinary show. It’s a chance to share your designs and products, celebrate and showcase the skills that allow you to make delicious things for the people you love: products that are soft and warm and inviting – designs that are cute and clever. p-LUSH is a celebration of the slow art industry and connecting designers: share what you love with the world, Sit-n-Knit/Hook-a-Bit to pass on the skills and wisdom that define your unique work. Think alpacas and fibres, inflatable sofas and handmade, innovation and indulgence. The p-LUSH Show has it all.

There will also be workshops and 300+ alpacas showcased in the central arena. 

If you are interested in exhibiting, you can contact the organisers for booking information via their website where you’ll also find full details of exhibitors, location, tickets etc. I’ll be posting more event details over the next few weeks. As we begin the mad rush in to Christmas preparations and shopping madness (I try, but it can’t be avoided so I embrace it!) it’s good to know that a celebration of all things “slow” is there to look forward to. In fact, I’ve sent a link to advance ticket info to Mr T in the hope that I may find a little treat under the tree – why not do the same and come with me!

Follow p-LUSH on twitter  or  facebook  for all the latest news.

*p-LUSH runs 27th and 28th March 2015 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry as part of the British Alpaca Futurity event.

Catching Up

Photo Credit: Regula Ysewijn

Photo Credit: Regula Ysewijn

it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas here, the family have begun to email their “wish lists”, you can’t avoid cards, trees and decorations in the shops and to add to the festive mood I came across this fabulous photo of some of my makes from last year.

The photo was taken by my lovely internet friend Regula,  who writes the Miss Foodwise blog (I’ve mentioned that before, it’s definitely a blog worth reading – or at the very least follow her on Instagram for gorgeous peeks into her creative life (photographer, graphic designer, writer, food historian…).

The Christmas Pud tea cosy and baubles were sold in my Etsy shop , which has been sadly neglected lately due to other commitments. There are a few patterns for sale, including the instructions for these felted baubles.

Photo Credit: Andrea Ellison

Photo Credit: Andrea Ellison

The pattern originally appeared in Inside Crochet, in fact it was one of the first designs I had published there. I just love these photographs. Two different styles of photography, but both equally suited to the story they were telling.

Also featured in this photo is my crochet mistletoe, which you can find as a free pattern here . I can hardly believe that pattern was posted way back in 2011!).

Before I go, I must mention Regula’s latest achievement, which is the publication of a fabulous new recipe book. Written by Ruth Van Waerenbeek (and published in English by Grub Street), Regula’s photography to accompany the recipes is stunning and for that alone I will be buying it! Of course anyone who has been to Belgium will immediately think of frites and mayonnaise (try them with a light addition of fresh truffle, delicious!), but this book offers so much more. There is a chapter devoted to cooking with beer and the promise of an authentic recipe for Belgian waffles.

I have a Waterstones voucher, which I’m off to spend in Manchester tomorrow, but if I can’t find it there I shall be dropping a heavy hint at my favourite independent bookshop next time I’m in Cockermouth!

There is so much more to tell you, so do drop by again soon for more news.

PS I have been busy updating my facebook page, if you use facebook it would be lovely if you could hop over and click the “like” button.

A Secret Revealed: Part Two

Stonewall Cushion, photo credit: V. Magnus

Well, it’s been a while, but as promised here is the second instalment of “things I couldn’t tell you”!

It’s often hard to know what to do with designs that have been published in magazines, the sensible thing to do is to reformat them and start selling them as individual downloads online, but this means new photography, confirming yarns are not discontinued and having the time / inclination to do all of the above! Excuses, excuses I know…

So, quite often patterns sit here, waiting for me to “do something”. Occasionally I add them to my online stores such as Etsy and Ravelry. Mostly I add them to my “list of things to re-knit and rephotograph” and they never see the light of day again. I can’t tell you how many designs I have that aren’t even listed on Ravelry, not every magazine commission is listed. Uploading  private commissions, book designs, and one off designs for yarn stores etc just don’t make it to my exceptionally long to do list, so what you see online is just a snapshot of what I have actually been working on.

stonewall (c) V Magnus

Then, sometimes, I love a design so much I am determined to see it have a new life. These three designs were originally commissioned by Claire Montgomerie for Inside Crochet and The Complete Guide to Knitting (the Stonewall Cushion made a brief appearance in “Yarnwise”, then languished unloved until it was rediscovered and republished).

Silsden. Photo credit: V. Magnus

Silsden. Photo credit: V. Magnus

The Log Cabin inspired blanket pictured above is one of my all time favourites. Reknitted and updated in gorgeous Whitfell DK, a 100% Baby Alpaca, this is the softest, snuggliest blanket you could imagine and I’m thrilled to say the pattern is now available on Ravelry via Eden Cottage Yarns (click here for pattern details)

I love designing homewares, our living room is full of cushions and throws and one day I would love to put together a collection of my favourite designs for publication. Cushions are brilliant, they are relatively quick, a great way to try out new stitches or techniques with no need to worry about shaping or fit. Like the Silsden Blanket, the Stonewall cushion  pattern is also available via Eden Cottage Yarns. If you were at “Ally Pally” (AKA the Knitting and Stitching Show) recently, you may have seen them on display.

Silsden Blanket. Photo Credit: V. Magnus

Vikki’s gorgeous photos really show these two designs off to their full advantage. Both look more complicated than they really are and could easily be tackled by a beginner who has mastered the basics.

But, there’s more. I also have some gorgeous accessory patterns available, and although I’ve shared pictures already on Instagram, I’ll be back next week to show them off here.

Finally, huge thanks must go to Clare Devine, who tech edited and polished up my written patterns into the gorgeous new Eden Cottage pattern format. They really do look fantastic.

A Secret Revealed: Part 1

Maisy Roper (photo credit Eden Cottage Yarns), a sturdy bag in 100% Baby Alpaca Chunky

Since May, I’ve been hard at work on a new design collection for Eden Cottage Yarns. Finally I can share with you all the projects that have been keeping me busy over the summer. When Vikki, the creative force behind my favourite yarn brand asked me to collaborate on a new collection I was thrilled and a little bit overwhelmed. There were days of sketching and swatching, weeks when all I seemed to do was rip back or take refuge in the garden when “nothing seemed to go right”. Finally I felt ready to show my initial ideas to Vikki, and thank goodness she loved them as much as I do!

Phyllis Turner, a crochet purse in 100% Baby Alpaca DK (photo credit: Eden Cottage Yarns)

Each design features a different fastening or handle, all available from Bag Clasps (more about this in a minute) and are suitable for beginners. The crochet bag and purse are my favourites, incredibly quick and simple to make, but elegant and definitely a match for anything you can buy on the high street. By using a smaller hook than usual, they don’t require a fabric lining and can easily be completed in a weekend.

The whole collection will be on display at the Knitting and Stitching Show, which opens at Alexandra Palace on the 8th October. If you’re visiting, you’ll be able to see all my new designs for yourself, but the patterns and even kits which contain everything you need to make a bag of your own.

Poppy Miller, a knitted clutch in a luxury blend of baby alpaca and silk 4 ply (photo Credit: Eden Cottage Yarns)

Special thanks must go to Julie at Bag Clasps, who had no idea why I was ordering such an eclectic selection of her products,  but sent out dozens of purse frames, handles and accessories with speedy and efficient service. I hope she’s pleased with the results.

Lucy Fisher, a capacious project bag knitted in 100% baby alpaca chunky (photo credit: Eden Cottage Yarns)

If you’re not heading off to “Ally Pally”, you can see photos (and download patterns) on Ravelry, and I’ll be sharing pictures on twitter, facebook and instagram all week.

Betty Carver, a tiny knitted purse in a blend of baby alpaca and silk 4 ply (photo credit: Eden Cottage Yarns)

Next time I’ll tell you about some old favourites and new designs which are also available in Eden Cottage Yarns, but for now it’s back to the sketch book to start work on the next collection!

 

Introducing #Crochet Magazine

If you look for crochet inspiration on the magazine stands right now, you’ll be spoilt for choice, there are some fabulous autumn issues on sale.

issue 1 coverThe latest “new kid on the block” is #Crochet, and I’m pleased to say it features two of my favourites designs  alongside a brand new collection I designed especially for this first issue.

Up first is this gorgeous stool cover, which I designed for the Dorling Kindersley Book “Crochet”. I have always loved the colour combination I chose for this project and I’ve used it several times since. Every time I see it pop up in print it makes me smile and cheers up a dull day!

dk crochet stool cover

I was also very chuffed indeed to see the New Lanark Wrist Warmers I originally designed for Love Crochet make an appearance, made in one of my favourite British wools, they are simple, quick and make ideal gifts.

new lanark wristies

Finally, the editors asked for a collection suitable as a desk set. Designed in rainbow brights, the tiny garland is just the right size to hang across a filing cabinet or computer screen. The pencil case and pot holder continue the rainbow theme and you’ll even spot an ipad cover and phone cosy – ideal as a beginner project.

iphone cosy

I may be slightly older than the demographic this magazine is aimed at, but I have to admit I loved it.  There is a crochet collar by Emma Escott (pictured on the cover), which is beautifully styled and really shows off her design to best advantage. I also love Sarah London’s Turkish Delight blanket.

There is a great mix of projects and interviews in this first issue, so do look out for it. Priced at £7.99 it would be a great gift for someone who has recently taken up the hook, or even as a special treat for yourself.

The next issue should be on sale before Christmas and I’ve hooked up something rather pretty for that one –  no clues now – you’ll just have to wait and see!

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