coming up: folksy summer school

folksy summer school

I’m very excited to be heading up to the Folksy Summer School in a few weeks’ time.  It’s billed as:

two days of learning for designers and makers. It’s in the woods, in the height of summer, in a little corner of Sheffield where we can’t be disturbed. We’re bringing together experts in branding, marketing, social media, photography, selling, making and creating, all with the aim of helping designers and makers get better at what they do.

It’s set to be a whole weekend full of crafty maker/seller inspiration and it sounds amazing.  There will be talks from lots of crafty  bloggers and makers that I love, as well workshops and demonstrations (I’m particularly excited about linocutting).  I can’t wait!

Let me know in the comments if you’re going too.


the make escape

make escape

Some of you may not be aware, but there is a fantastic FREE craft night that happens in Hackney on the last Tuesday of the month.  It’s The Make Escape, and it’s held upstairs in The Attic at The Hackney Picturehouse.  It’s such a great night, I can’t believe not everyone knows about it yet!  The idea is that it’s a space where people can drop in from 7.30pm and just join in with the crafts that are happening on the night.  Each month hosts a different theme, and last week was all about Easter.

Here’s my bunny nugget with a very woolly sheep cosy:


Making the most of the opportunity to learn a new skill, I had a bash at crochet.  It’s hard to believe that someone has actually taught me to crochet before, but since I’ve never practised, I’m still completely rubbish.  I just can’t seem to figure out how to tension the yarn without a needle in my left hand, so I ended up with the smallest, tightest few stitches known to humanity:


Catherine Hirst tried to reassure me that an inability to tension the yarn is very common in beginners, but I think maybe crochet is just not the craft for me.

I had a little stall with my yarns and got a chance to talk to some really interesting knitters and crocheters.   I love how people are welcome to set up a stall and then help out or run a workshop for the evening.  I’m already plotting and scheming for some good ideas for future workshops.

The fabulous Momtaz who organises the night was busy taking photos of the evening’s craftiness, which she has put together in a blog post here.  There’s even a photo of me, but I can assure you, I was much happier than the photo suggests!  (I really need to work on my fear of being photographed).

All in all it was a great evening and I’m looking forward to more.  The next night is April 30th, with the theme of jewellery.  Break out the sparkly stuff!

a change is as good as a holiday

I’ve got a few problems with my back at the moment (well, my back, hips, and shoulders actually, but my osteo is on to it) so I’m taking a little break from knitting this week.  There was actually much frantic pre-wedding knitting last week, but I’ll fill you in on that another time.

I’ve had a rather fun time indulging in some non-knitting crafts for a change; I missed out on the opportunity to get in to crafts as a kid so I’ve been relishing the chance now!  Lots of cutting and sticking and gluing is very good for the soul.

I’ve recently moved in to a new flat with a huge shiny fridge; this was in contrast to my last flat which had an integrated under-counter fridge.  So I find myself with a need for fridge magnets – lots of fun to make!

I wasn’t thrilled with how the first few turned out, as the fabric is a little bit flimsy.  (I’ve made loads of fabric buttons before, but with a slightly heavier weight fabric, and they’d turned out much better).  Then a stroke of genius hit, and I whipped out the starch that I’d bought for my wedding garter.  Much nicer!  You see those crinkles around the edges?  Later versions are now nice and smooth.  I’ll keep the second-rate magnets for myself, and make nicer ones for friends.

I’ve also had an absolute ton of fun shopping and crafting and wrapping little goodies for a swap organised through the Blog Hub group on Ravelry.  Neat little packages of brown paper always make me smile, and I even found a use for some of my little samples of hand-dyed yarns:

I have a tendency to get a bit carried away and over-think things,  but I’m pleased with how the parcel turned out. I really hope my swap partner likes it!

christmas market crazy

London seems to have gone slightly berserk with Christmas/indie/craft markets at the moment.  I absolutely love small designer markets, and even though I try to avoid all things Christmassy, the lure of the handmade draws me in.  There is such a ridiculous number to choose from, I’m hoping to make it to at least one or two.  To try and narrow it down, here’s my shortlist:

Made in Clerkenwell (Friday 28th to Sunday 30th November, 12-6pm)

Cockpit Arts Open Studios (Friday 28th to Sunday 30th November, 11-6pm, 11-9pm Fri)

Hidden Art UK Design Fair (Friday 28th to Sunday 30th November)

Fair Christmas Fayre (Wednesday 3rd December only, 12pm-9pm)

Cologne Christmas Market (until 23rd December, 10am-10pm)

Traditional German Christmas Market (daily until 4th Jan, 10am-10pm). Mmm, mulled wine…

Dazzle (not specifically Christmas related, but a stunning jewellery exhibition.)

hyperbolic crochet coral reef

I went to the Hayward Gallery at Southbank on Sunday afternoon to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibition.  It was the last day of the exhibition in London – I have a habit of leaving things until the last minute.

Many of you will already know about the exhibition, but for those who don’t, it was designed to raise awareness of the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, all through the mathematical wonder of hyperbolic crochet.

I went with my friend Barb, who is currently over from Australia.  She’s actually been to the Great Barrier Reef (jealous!) so was able to comment on the realism of the display (apparently there should be more yellow, but otherwise the coral looks pretty good!)

There was such diversity in the work, with the displays made from so many different yarns in so many different shapes. 

Some of the coral was clearly bright and healthy…

while some displays represented the increasing problem of bleached coral:

Some just looked cute.

If I didn’t have such a ridiculously long knitting queue, I’d love to play around with some hyperbolic crochet shapes.

wanderings in the east end

My new camera arrived, so I went out for a wander around Brick Lane in London’s East End.  Sadly much of the area has been well and truly ‘cleaned up’ (*cough* Spitalfields) but thankfully there’s lots of interesting stuff at the Old Truman Brewery.  On Sundays the brewery site hosts two great markets, Sunday Up Market and Backyard Market – make sure you go to both.  Inside you’ll find lots of young creative types selling their wares, and this is probably the closest I’ve found in London to some of my very favourite markets back in Melbourne.  Somehow I managed to come away without buying anything, which certainly never happens in Melbs.

I was quite surprised that I didn’t find any knitterly goodies for sale (definitely a gap in the market there), but I did happen to meet two lovely men who design some gorgeous cross stitch kits.  Many are inspired by street art (think Banksy in cross stitch) but here’s a favourite for the 80s kids:

I don’t know a thing about cross-stitch, but it seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence in line with other crafty pursuits.  They’re looking to set up some cross-stitch evenings in local London drinking establishments, so get in touch with Random Monkey Design if you’re interested.