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

Sunshine in the corner

I wanted to brighten up a corner and I decided there was no better way than with a little crochet.   However, I wanted something small not as big as a blanket or cushion.  After some thought I decided to try a mandala. I have never made a mandala before let alone designed one but it is only a large round motif and I have lost count of the number of motifs I have designed……..

So here is my bright sunshine mandala:

Sunshine Mandala
Sunshine Mandala

I enjoyed making it, which came as a surprise to me because I hadn’t even imagined that mandalas had a use, nor that I would design or like one!    But I did enjoy it, and now I am thinking about making another……….

Oh, and when I dropped it I discovered that yarnaddictcat also liked it – well, I’m not surprised really!

Yarnaddictcat
Yarnaddictcat

The pattern can be found here.

Happy crocheting  xxx

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Hooking Up! final feature

This is the sixth and last design in the Hooking Up! ebook.   It is the Starry Night Blanket, another design by special permission of the designer Amanda Perkins.   I think it is the perfect first large blanket for a new crocheter.

Starry Night - smaller version
Starry Night – smaller version

Many people make a granny square blanket as their first major blanket project.  I am no different – my first blanket was a granny square design (in shades of blue).   But I have found so much more enjoyment out of making a more unique blanket.    I first saw this design in 2011 and I fell in love with it; it had been many years (too many to confess!) since I had made a blanket and I knew this was the one that would set me on the path of making them again.

The photo is the Starry Night I made; it is a smaller version of the blanket design. Why?  Well, Amanda’s blanket is a lovely shade of blue and uses variegated yarn to highlight the design but I decided I wanted a midnight blue and a sparkly star highlight for mine.  Unfortunately I had difficulty finding the yarn I wanted in the quantity required – but I improvised with the quantity of yarn in the colours available and that is why mine a smaller version.    I love the final effect I achieved, but I also love the original colours.  So it seemed perfect to fit this in the book because I could show you how to make 2 sizes. Those of you who are less confident may wish to go for the smaller size (approx 110cm square), or maybe you just want something a little smaller. The original large design is approx 140cm by 150cm.   So the choice is yours – large or small.

Another reason this is a perfect fit for the book is that it builds on the techniques you will have learnt as you work through the book.  The motif is hexagonal like the Cassia Cowl and joining is the ‘as you go’ method.   And it really does make up quickly once you have made a few motifs.

Amanda is the queen of crochet blankets, she has some beautiful designs in glorious colours.  Quite coincidentally she is running a mystery blanket club this year for a star themed design – Zodiac.   This club is now closed for those who want the complete package of yarn and design, but she has released the design (in monthly instalments) in her Etsy shop.  I will be blogging about my progress on this in another post – meanwhile if you want to learn more have a look in her Etsy shop.

I hope you have enjoyed following the designs in the Hooking Up! ebook. If  you have just learnt to crochet, then I hope it will help you grow your craft and I would love to see what you make.

Happy crocheting xxx

PS Starry Night is also available as a single pattern here.

 

Hooking Up! feature no 4

The next design in the Hooking Up! ebook is a baby or lap blanket.

Granny Blue Lap Blanket
Granny Blue Lap Blanket

Again this design is exclusive to the ebook.  I love this blanket, it was a joy to make and it is a perfect size for the chair, and is an ideal size for a baby!

It is included because it teaches some important techniques.  The first is how to join motifs as you go (rather than crochet them together or sew them together later); this is a technique which is used in many motif projects.  To help you there are a few photos showing the technique.

The second technique is how to do a ‘granny’ border that lies flat.  Too often I see granny blankets with a ‘granny’ edging that looks wavy rather than flat and it is very easy to avoid this if you know how.

Finally it has a nice final edging which is firm and very practical.

If you haven’t made a granny blanket before then this is a good one to try, provided you want to learn a few new techniques.

 

Happy crocheting xxx

Hooking Up! feature no 2

The second design in the Hooking Up! ebook is the April Scarf.

April Scarf
April Scarf

This was published in April 2014 as part of my 2014 scarf a month challenge.   But I decided it is also a good fit in the ebook.   The Simple Scarf uses a dk/worsted weight yarn but this April Scarf moves onto a 4ply/fingering yarn and, although not compulsory as you can use any weight of yarn, practice with finer yarns is an important step if you want to increase your crochet repertoire. It will stretch the new crocheter a little, giving them a couple more stitches to use and some interesting challenges about placing stitches.   So completing this should be a real confidence booster!

If you try this pattern, or any in the ebook, and find you have any difficulties then please do join the Ravelry forum here and ask questions – I will be happy to answer them but also you will find there are plenty of helpful crocheters on the forum.

 

Happy crocheting xxx

Hooking Up!

This week I published a new ebook: Hooking Up!
This ebook contains 6 patterns that are ideal for those who have just learnt to crochet as well as experienced crocheters.

Hooking Up!
Hooking Up!

If you are new to crochet then you will gain experience and learn new techniques as you work through the 6 designs. The book also provides good reference material – a reminder of the stitches used, the importance of tension and how to adjust your hook size, what to have in your beginner crochet kit, all about blocking and lots of other useful reference material.
If you are experienced at crochet then you will find some beautiful projects which you can make quickly and adapt to your requirements.

Over the next week I will be featuring each pattern in turn. Today it is Simple Scarf.

Simple Scarf
Simple Scarf

I designed this especially for some gorgeous silk yarn by Willow Knits and I used 5 mini skeins. However, it is adaptable and can be used with any type of yarn – ideas on how to adapt are provided in the ebook. Here is one I made using a single ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze:

Simple Kidsilk Scarf
Simple Kidsilk Scarf

If you make a mistake counting your foundation chain on this pattern then you will find a cure – I provide instructions on how to work with this little mistake without having to take back your work; a simple scarf with simple solutions!

The other patterns in the book are April Scarf, Round and Round Cowl, Granny Blue Lap/Baby Blanket and, by special permission, Cassia Cowl and Starry Night Blanket by Amanda Perkins. More information on these 5 patterns will feature in future blogs.

Happy crocheting xxx

Christmas CAL part 2

How are you all doing?   Did you finish the motifs from part 1?

I didn’t do too much yesterday, I was far too busy eating and drinking!   But I did have a flash of inspiration after all that excess, a little embellishment for the blanket – so this will be included in one of next week’s updates.

I have seen some progress on Ravelry, and I know some of you have completed 9 squares and therefore must be ready for this instalment.  So here it is:

First a reminder of the ABBREVIATIONS:

The pattern is written in English crochet terms.

St = stitch

Ch = chain

Tr = treble (US dc)

Ss = slip stitch

Sp = space

Ch-sp =chain space

This is the second motif design, I am making 10, 2 in each of my chosen colours.  I call it the FULL MOTIF 1:

FULL MOTIF 1
FULL MOTIF 1

Foundation:  Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), (3tr, 2ch) 3 times into the ring, 2tr into the ring, join to 3rd st of first 5ch with a ss.

Round 2: ss into 2ch-sp, (note for this and each subsequent round: this ss is to position the start of the round in the right place) 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr into the same 2ch-sp, 1tr into each tr along each side and (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in each 2ch-sp on the corner, finish with 1tr in the first 2ch-sp and join to 3rd ch from start with a ss. You should have 7tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Rounds 3 to 6: Repeat Round 2. The number of tr along each side increases by 4 with each round. So after Round 3 you have 11tr, after Round 4 you have 15tr, after Round 5 you have 19tr and after Round 6 you have 23tr.

Break yarn and fasten off leaving a long tail about 3m long for sewing or crocheting together later.

Please share your progress on the discussion thread on my Ravelry Group here.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, which I aim to publish on Sunday……..

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Now for the legal stuff – I designed this, it’s all my own work and is copyright. Please feel free to make as many as you like, but not for commercial purposes, and please credit me with the design. Thank you!

Christmas is almost here……

…..and I haven’t written a full blog in almost 2 weeks!   So first I must apologise to my readers for being so quiet.

As well as being busy preparing for Christmas, I have also been thinking hard about my designs and how I sell them from next year.  This is all due to a change in legislation relating to EU VAT.  Aimed at making large tax-avoiding companies  pay VAT, it has hit also a huge number of small businesses who sell digital downloads, whether crochet patterns, music or a multitude of other digital downloads or PDFs.  The legislation has been in the wind for 6 years but hasn’t been widely marketed because the legislators did not realise just how many micro businesses there are that operate in the digital world.  And yes, that includes me!   I will not bore you with the details, but from 1st January 2015 I will be limiting my pattern sales to a few websites – definitely Ravelry and also Loveknitting.

Meanwhile the good things that have happened in the last few weeks:

I published my last crochet scarf design of 2014 on 1st December, the culmination of a year of scarf designs.  I called this one The Starflower Scarf for obvious reasons:

Starflower Crochet Scarf
Starflower Crochet Scarf

I used lots of oddments of gorgeous silk yarns from Willow Knits.

Also, I compiled all 12 designs from my monthly challenge into one ebook – My Year of Scarves.

My Year of Scarves
My Year of Scarves

I can’t express just how good it felt when I pushed the button to publish this.  I never expected I would last the whole year on this personal challenge but I did!

Remember the beaded crochet pouch that featured at the Buxton Knitaway? Well that has been published also.

Crochet pouch
Crochet pouch

So I am ready for a relaxing Christmas season, but if course it will always feature some making.   I have a design I need to finish but it requires concentration, which may not be readily available during the holiday season! So I have decided to make a straightforward lap blanket, something that will flow quickly and easily off the hook, and doesn’t need too much concentration.   This is designed (in my head) and will be started soon…..do you fancy joining me in a seasonal CAL?    Some easy quick crochet, perfectly suitable for the holidaytime, great as a stash buster…….if you are up for it, then I will publish the pattern in parts on this blog over the festive season, starting on Christmas Eve.  The pattern will be written as the design comes out of my head, so you will be crocheting along with me.  It should be fun 🙂

With all good wishes for the Christmas season xxx

November update

November is here, already.   Remarkably I published my 11th crochet scarf design of the year last Saturday, the first of November.

Here is Swirling Seas Crochet Scarf, named because the glorious green silk yarn shimmers and the design reminds me of swirling green seas.

Swirling Seas
Swirling Seas

The silk yarn is one of my favourites from Willow Knits.   Anne of Willow Knits has very generously offered a 10% discount on the yarns in her shop on Etsy to anyone who purchases the pattern (details on the pattern).   She doesn’t just dye pure silk yarns, she has some lovely laceweight in silk/alpaca and silk/merino mixes.

And until midnight GMT on 16th November, if you go to Ravelry to buy this pattern you will get 50% off if you use the coupon code NOVEMBER.   Half price pattern from me and 10% off the yarn from Anne – Happy November!

I am delighted and surprised that I have managed to keep up with my personal challenge.  Only one month to go ……………but, although the December design is in my head, it hasn’t quite gone to plan.  The design hasn’t worked with any yarns I have chosen yet – other than the acrylic I swatched with.  Yes, readers I do sometimes swatch with acrylic yarn!  But fear not, I do not plan to make December in acrylic……….(ETA I have nothing against acrylic yarn; these days it is excellent quality and comes in an amazing range of colours, but I do have a preference for natural fibres!)  Yesterday I settled on the yarn and it is silk again, I have a lot of small quantities and will be using 20 colours in this.  I will have to be quick to make it, write the pattern and find a couple of people who will test it for me before December…….wish me luck!

The only thing that will stand in my way is a new design; yet another a challenge.  This time a challenge by Sigrun who is a member of my forum on Ravelry – she asked if I could design a crochet wrap pattern for her 2015 weather project.   It had to be something that could be used with a range of colours that she will use, and she suggested the lovely fine lace yarn that I used for Bohemian Rhapsody.   I do have a few scraps of that yarn left so I did some swatching and designed a motif that I think will work well.  This is now charted and ready for me to start making the sample….and I have been patiently awaiting the yarn.  Yes, it had to be the exact same yarn, and it landed on my doormat yesterday having travelled all the way from France.   I will have great difficulty deciding which of the 2 designs to work on – December or Weather?   I will just have to move between them.

I just managed to finish October instalment of the Kaleidoscope Mystery Blanket Club from the Natural Dye Studio.   Only 2 more instalments to do now, so hopefully I’ll have a new blanket by Christmas.    I have said it many times before, so I am repeating myself……I love this yarn!  The single pure merino is a dream to crochet with.  Here is October (sorry for the photo quality – I finished it at night and photographed inside with a flash).

October
October

I am looking forward to Amanda’s 2015 Blanket Club – Zodiac.   This is available in crochet and knitted versions.  I have an insight on the design and I know I am going to love putting the colours together.  The Zodiac motifs are larger than Kaleidoscope and less than 300 are needed for the blanket, so the project will be quite quick to make.  If you want to join in then you can sign up here.  This is the last blanket club that Amanda will be doing for a while, so sign up now before they sell up!

I’m off now to crochet something…….now do I choose December or Weather?

Happy crocheting xxxxxx

 

Happy International Crochet Day

Today is International Crochet Day, what are you crocheting?

If you have nothing on your hooks then you may wish to join in the 2 CALs on my Ravelry forum (with prizes!) – the August Crochet Scarf:

August Crochet Scarf
August Crochet Scarf

and The Hexagon Project 2014:

The Hexagon Project 2014
The Hexagon Project 2014

Both patterns are available at 50% off their normal price today only (until midnight GMT) on Ravelry if you use coupon code ICD2014 here:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/august-crochet-scarf-mcal
and here:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-hexagon-project-2014

Happy International Crochet Day xx