A big decision….a little late

I made a decision last week that I really should share with you.

First, let me show you what I published last weekend:

Julie's mini mandala
Julie’s mini mandala

It is a simple design, a great stash buster, quick and easy to make.  It’s a gift tag, an ornament, or even a string of bunting, but most of all it’s a fun make.

I was just about to push the ‘free’ button when I halted…….this just isn’t fair to other designers.    And so my decision was to not publish it as a free pattern, nor will I publish any future new patterns as free patterns.

The reason I started selling my patterns many years ago was to be fair to all designers and operate on what I call ‘a level playing field’.  You see I recognised that there are a lot of designers who work extremely hard to make a living out of designing and selling patterns; if I made my patterns free then human nature is such that, even if my patterns were only half as good as some of the paid-for patterns, people would take my free patterns rather than buy those paid-for patterns.   Indirectly, I would be stealing the income of those designers if all my patterns were free.  But I couldn’t do that, I believe the designing world works best with lots of designers sharing their ideas and publishing their patterns.  The discerning knitters and crocheters deserve variety and quality, and the hard working designers deserve rewarding for all their efforts.

Even though that was my reason for starting to sell patterns, I was guilty of publishing some patterns free, because they were simple or small or used techniques that are very common.   But I have had this constant guilty feeling about it, it just isn’t fair to others.  Also, I do put a lot of work into my pattern writing, after all I am a tech editor and strive for high quality, and giving those free patterns is totally undervaluing my own work. And really ANY free pattern is undervaluing the work of all designers.

So I will not be publishing free patterns again, no matter how simple or small they are.  But from time to time I will offer discounts.   If you are a regular reader you will know that I have a forum on Ravelry.  Members of that forum (or people who like to read the forum) will find any discount codes there.   There’s a discount code lurking in there right now for the pattern I published last week, but it expires soon 😉

So what are your views – have I made a good decision?

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx

Buxton in April

I have just returned from a lovely few days away with my knittery friends!  We went to the very same venue as last November – the Alison Park Hotel in Buxton.

Buxton is a lovely spa town in the Peak District, with lots of history, and each time I visit I learn more.   But the main focus of our visit was a knitaway – a holiday with like minded friends where we can knit and crochet, do a little shopping and exploring, knit and crochet, eat a little, knit and crochet, eat a bit more and maybe drink a little….and have a great laugh, good time and share special memories together.  I didn’t think it possible, but this knitaway was even better than the last.

So what did we do….here’s a quick review in a few photos:

Bay window
Bay window

We decorated the lounge of the hotel, which is a lovely Arts and Crafts building with interesting features  like this window, with crochet decorations 🙂

Sunshine on the patio
Sunshine on the patio

We spent each afternoon on the patio – the weather was glorious and we knitted and crocheted and drank…Pimms on the patio in the Buxton sunshine was fantabulous!


We spent the evenings enjoying our knitting/crochet time……..and we drank a little and watched DVDs and (you just can’t tell from this studious photo) we laughed A LOT!

Nic's yarn
Nic’s yarn

We had a visit from Nic – aka Yarnsfromtheplain – who brought her pop up wool shop and stayed for dinner and knitting.  And there was plenty of scrummy yarn:

More of Nic's yarn
More of Nic’s yarn
And more....
And more….

And I couldn’t resist 😉

Each morning we fuelled ourselves on an excellent breakfast at the hotel.

And each day we walked into Buxton for lunch at one of our 2 favourite venues – Upstairs at Charlotte’s and Number 6 tea rooms.  And we shopped – especially at Jantar.  And we bought wool at Sew In.   And we had ice cream…at least some of us did 😉 And we had an exclusive presentation from Netta of DiscoverBuxton about Mary Queen of Scots and her regular visits to Buxton.

And we had visits from Ruth and Rose, who joined us for a few hours…lunch and knitting 🙂

And each evening we enjoyed an amazing dinner at the hotel.

And each day we enjoyed excellent hospitality from Sara and Dave and the staff at the hotel.   And we will be back, because it is a perfect venue for us.

Thank you to my lovely knittery friends for your excellent company and so many great times, and to the hotel for an excellent venue, food and hospitality and to Buxton for a great town and to the weather gods for the most perfect weather.

And I am soooooo looking forward to doing it all again!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx



Knitting away……

I have just returned from a knitaway break to Buxton in the company of 8 lovely knitters.

I have been on numerous such holidays over the last couple of years and they are always enjoyable.  We find new things to do, enjoy a relaxing time away from our normal ‘routine’ and have a great laugh.  Perhaps I should add we eat very well and quaff a fair amount of wine, or maybe I should say lots of wine 😉

This was a new venue for us – the Alison Park Hotel .  It is a family run hotel in a large arts and crafts style house just a stone’s throw from Pavilion Gardens and therefore very easy strolling distance of the town centre.   It proved to be a very good knitters’ venue – the rooms were all ensuite and spacious, they have 2 lounges, one of which was ours exclusively, and a light and airy dining room, part of which is a conservatory and a perfect size for our meals and workshops.   The staff and managers were very friendly and nothing was too much trouble.  The food and drink was plentiful and good.

So what do we do on a knitaway?  Well it isn’t all knitting, there is always some crochet but we also like to try new crafts.  So we started with a self help workshop on making Dorset buttons, which are buttons woven with yarn on a circular ring.  I had seen these at Yarndale and I purposely decided to buy a bag of rings so we could all have a go at Buxton.  Here are the two I made:

Dorset Buttons
Dorset Buttons

Dorset buttons were traditionally made in Dorset as a cottage industry, with thousands employed in the craft.   You can find out about Dorset buttons on various websites such as this one: Henrys.   And you can buy the rings from Beakers Buttons

Do you remember the beaded crochet and knit pouches?  Well that was the subject of the second workshop.  Some ladies wanted to knit and some wanted to crochet, but everyone had a go. Of course with all the nattering we didn’t quite finish these beaded pouches, even with 4 days away.

This is the one I made, finished at Buxton except for the lining.

Crochet pouch
Crochet pouch

The lining is purple felt bought from this shop in Buxton.  I am sure they enjoyed our stay, we all purchased at least one item from them!

The third workshop was on sock knitting, toe up two at a time socks (avoiding the second sock syndrome) expertly tutored by Jenny, and Sue was on hand to provide excellent hints and tips and one to one tutoring on sock making

We dipped in and out of workshops as we fancied, nothing was compulsory and everything was flexible.  We had chosen 2 mitts patterns to work on together, although very few of us made much progress with them!!!!  I did start mine….

Snow Mitts

Snow Mitts

Also, we worked on many other projects (I brought a hat and a shawl to work on). Although I don’t think very much was finished.

Buxton has lots of lovely shops, so we visited the town every day for a bite for lunch and a bit of shopping…..did I mention the shops?

On the last evening Nic from Yarns from the Plain  dropped in to see us with her pop up wool shop.   This was like a sweet shop for knitters and crocheters.  Not only were her colours wonderful and the yarn bases soft and squidgy, but the names she gave them were very local, such as Nether Alderley, Chelford and Mobberley.  All of which conjured up images of the Cheshire plains and local sheep.  Of course, I couldn’t resist……

Nether Alderley and Mobberley
Nether Alderley and Mobberley

So – knitting, crochet, shopping, eating, drinking laughing….such a good combination and one which we are sure to mix together again, and likely at the same venue!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx


A personal challenge or craftidextrous heaven?

Perhaps I shouldn’t post this. The subject is something that is (or maybe now, was) destined as a Christmas present. A beaded crochet pouch that I designed, lined with felt and is now perfect for keeping jewellery safe, clean and comforted. It was fun to make.
Here it is:

Beaded crochet pouch
Beaded crochet pouch

And then someone suggested maybe we should have a beaded knitting workshop at the knitaway we are planning in Buxton. So I thought, how about doing knitting and crochet? What if I designed a beaded knit pouch that would be similar to the crochet one and then I could host a dual workshop – beaded pouch for knitters and crocheters?
I am craftidextrous – I love doing both crochet and knitting, although I confess crochet is my favourite (slightly).

So a spare afternoon yielded this:

Beaded knitted pouch
Beaded knitted pouch

What do you think?

Are they similar? Would you like to make them? Or one of them?


To me this was a personal challenge, and it feels fantabulous to have completed it! I think, at least on my own personal level, that I have proved crochet and knitting are both brilliant and can produce similar beautiful results. What do you think?

This is one topic where I am aching to hear your views.

Happy craftidextrous crafting xxxxx

Colour and collaboration

What an exciting week it has been for me! First the MCAL on my Ravelry forum is going better than I had expected. I confess I was really worried about this MCAL, I wanted to make it easy enough for anyone to try but interesting enough for the mystery element. So I planned it in small chunks, and actually those small chunks really help to keep the mystery going. None of them are complicated themselves, but as you add them together it becomes more interesting. Best of all for me, everyone seems to like it and they are sharing progress on the Ravelry forum, even speeding away each time I publish a new clue! I do hope they like the final design… but in case they don’t I do have several options available …… ooooo, mustn’t give the game away!
The last clue of the MCAL is out later this week. Meanwhile, here’s some progress photos by kind permission of some of the MCALers – Sigrun, Elaine and Kerry:


I am so pleased that everyone has chosen lots of colour, the colours vary from bright to subtle, but are all very beautiful and I think will look excellent in the final design.
And here’s another photo I have to share from (another) Kerry, she hates sewing ends (I guess we all do) but by issuing this in chunks she has the opportunity to do sewing in between clue. Here is her Sunday morning production line:

Also I have been busy on another major collaboration with Amanda Perkins of The Natural Dye Studio. Those who know Amanda know that she does the most beautiful crochet designs and recently has concentrated on some very special, unique blanket designs. This year she designed the Kaleidoscope mystery crochet blanket club, which you will have seen on this blog. Here is my August instalment, with apologies for the photo quality (it is very dull here today, difficult to get good light for photos):

August Kaleidoscope
August Kaleidoscope

For next year she is planning the Zodiac blanket club. Check out the club details here: http://www.thenaturaldyestudio.com/zodiac—crochet-blanket-club-2015-428-c.asp

Although Amanda designs crochet she is very aware that many of her customers knit. And she decided she would like to give them the opportunity to join the Zodiac club. Yes, this means she wanted to have a knit design as well, so she asked me if I could help. Of course, I jumped at the chance and several weeks later (and many swatches ranging from very easy to extremely complex!) we have found a knit design that fits well, or rather a component of the design because the overall design is the same whether knit or crochet but the components are different (naturally). I can’t give too much away but I am extremely excited about this! Very soon you will be able to find more details on The Natural Dye Studio’s website. I will post a link when it is available.

I did a lot of swatching to get this design right, and I really didn’t think I would enjoy knitting motifs as much as I do crochet (I think I am addicted to crochet motifs!), but I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this. So much that when I hit on the final design I wanted to make more ……….. and more. I sense a new addiction taking hold.

Naturally one collaboration leads to another, and there is something else we are working on which is very exciting. I can’t reveal more at the moment, but it will be just as exciting!

So I have had a very exciting week, I hope yours has been equally exciting and enjoyable.

Happy knitting and crochet xxx

Catching up

These last few days I have been trying to catch up with myself. Why? Well I had a few days away in Malaga, unplanned but very good!

Many people pass through Malaga airport on the way to holidaying in southern Spain, but fewer people visit Malaga itself. This is a shame for those who don’t visit, but great for those of us who do because it means less crowds. Malaga really is worth visiting – it has some beautiful architecture and there is plenty to keep you occupied for a few days. It is also easy to get around and very clean.

I visited the Picasso Museum (he spent his early years in Malaga), saw most of the sights from the top of a lovely sightseeing bus, had a guided tour on a ‘modern’ rickshaw, and wandered through the streets quite happily enjoying it all. The food was excellent. And I can recommend the café in the Picasso Museum, a beautiful relaxing quiet oasis in the city – perfect for a post museum/pre-shopping coffee.

We staying in an old residential area of Malaga – called Huelin. A taxi ride from the centre (or an hour’s walk if, like us, you couldn’t find the taxi rank on the first morning!) but a stone’s throw from a long beach. As it was off the tourist track, the food and drink prices were excellent – the drinks on the first night were at 1980s prices!

The house we stayed in:

Cool corner
Cool corner

The cathedral:


The Alcazaba above the Roman amphitheatre:


Some old tiles found in a back street (I like the shapes in these):

Spanish tiles?
Spanish tiles?

So I have spent the last few days catching up. I finished the shawl I started in Blackpool, completed the June instalment of Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope June
Kaleidoscope June

and published the pattern for the Molly Shawlette.

Molly Shawlette
Molly Shawlette

which you can find here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/molly-shawlette-2

I still have a few things to tick off my ‘to do’ list, but I’m in no hurry. In fact having spent a lovely break in Malaga, my thoughts have turned to longer holidays…….!

Happy knitting and crochet xxx

Almost a year!

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, I know because I’ve just paid a renewal fee on my domain name! I can’t believe how quickly this last year has gone. I guess I must be enjoying life because I haven’t stopped to review or consider the year, I’ve just ploughed on and enjoyed!

Today I took another big step – I started a facebook page. Just search for Agrarian Artisan on Facebook and you should find me!

In the next few days I will publish the next hexagon in The Hexagon Project 2014 and self publish the Molly Shawlette. And that will bring me to 101 designs (at least that is what Ravelry tells me!). Wow! I need a drink!

Here’s the prototype of Molly:

Molly Prototype
Molly Prototype

And a glimpse of motif no 4 of The Hexagon Project 2014:

Hexagon Project 2014 no 4
Hexagon Project 2014 no 4

Happy knitting and crochet xxx

Wonderful Wonderwool

Early yesterday, along with 48 like-minded yarn addicts, I set off on a coach for Wonderwool Wales. This is a fabulous annual festival of wool and natural fibres. And for me it is becoming an annual opportunity to organise a coach trip!

I think I can safely say that all the ladies on the coach thoroughly enjoyed themselves and, judging by the overflowing bags they loaded onto the coach for the return journey, I think they were in yarn retail heaven and sampled all the wares on offer!

I have been to 4 different festivals of this type and, even though my experience is limited, I think it safe to say that Wonderwool is my favourite. It is held at the Royal Welsh Showground in very large agricultural sheds with plenty of room to move about. Of course, this means it can get chilly but you just need to be prepared for this.

This year there were 200 exhibitors demonstrating and selling everything you could want in the way of yarn related goodness and fun.

Stupidly, I forgot to take my camera so I attempted a few photos on my phone (which is quite new), so apologies for the quality, to give you a flavour of the day:

Gorgeous yarn at The Natural Dye Studio
Gorgeous yarn at The Natural Dye Studio
Supernova - one of Amanda Perkins' splendid crochet blanket designs
Supernova – one of Amanda Perkins’ splendid crochet blanket designs
Everything a spinner could want
Everything a spinner could want

I had a fantastic time and purchased lots of lovely goodies:

Wonderwool goodies
Wonderwool goodies

Amongst the yarn skeins there are a couple of lovely skeins from Willow Knits http://www.willowknits.com/, Ann dyes the most gorgeous colours on this pure silk yarn, which is very good value as well as being extremely beautiful. When not at the shows, you can find her yarns in her Etsy shop. I also bought yarn from some other lovely independent dyers – Triskelion Yarns, Five Moons and The Old Piggery. You will also spot some fibre (I really must do more spinning) and some lovely buttons.

Of course, whilst retail therapy is good for my soul, it is even better to meet up with friends. I spent some time with Amanda and Phil Perkins of The Natural Dye Studio, met up with people I have worked with and, as is often the case at events like this, bumped into some friends unexpectedly! All in all a very good day.

Happy knitting and crocheting xx


Almost halfway through April already….whoosh that time is really flying!

Whilst we have had some April showers, I have managed to spend a fair amount of time in the garden, doing some spring tidying and preparing the veg patch for my growing frenzy.

My hooks have also been on overtime, I completed the April instalment of Kaleidoscope:

April Kaleidoscope
April Kaleidoscope

It gets better every month.

I have started the April instalment of Jane Crowfoot’s mystery blanket. No photos yet but I promise one soon. This month there are some repeat blocks and a new beaded block. And funnily enough, after 2 months of getting rather fed up with endless double crochet rows and lots of end to sew in, I have at last started to enjoy this. The reason is that I have re-ignited my love of beading. There are plenty of beads in this month’s blocks and I am having fun with them. It even inspired me to make a beaded spectacle case as a gift for an elderly friend, but unfortunately I forgot to photograph it before gifting it. Doh!

I have done plenty of knitted beading in the past, I even put together an ebook of my beaded knitted bag and purse designs – Precious purses, beaded bags:.

Precious purses, beaded bags
Precious purses, beaded bags

It is over 2 years since I published this – what did I say earlier about time flying? Here is a link to the book on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/precious-purses-beaded-bags

I was pleasantly surprised to find Craftsy.com had featured my beaded bags one day last week.
So all these little reminders have made my thoughts turn to designing with beads, and maybe crochet this time…………….watch this space.

I also managed to squeeze in some time to publish this:

March Scarf
March Scarf

Not bad for only halfway through the month!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx