Friday, 29 May 2015

12 Weeks

My blog posting is clearly still erratic at best, I shall blame the half-term...

They say that it takes 12 weeks to form a new habit,  I left the real world of work just over 12 weeks ago, and if you'd asked me at the beginning of May I'd have said I'd made a terrible mistake.  I was missing my work pals (still do), the lack of a reliable income was agonising, and those crows that I were hoping would bring me presents just hadn't come through.  I kept going though - cobbling together articles, making more patterns for a brief I'd set myself, greedily grasping for those lovehearts on Instagram.

Now, it's like an invisible anxiety weight has been lifted.  I'm in the groove of this new way of life.  Sure we don't have as much money, but we're getting by.   I miss my work friends, but I'm making new ones in the school playground, the crows can do what they like...  But I'm in talks with my publisher about the next book, the teacher training will start soon, I can fit the evening classes around the boys, and the little admin job for the indie yarn company needs just a tiny bit of tweaking and it'll be there.

The garden is finally feeding us (well, a little bit, but it all helps), I get to be home when the boys are ill or the school is closed for an unexpected burst pipe (true story) without feeling the crippling guilt of not going to the office.  I'm not floored from exhaustion all the time from commuting, school runs, dinner making and bedtimes.

The point is that it was really hard and frightening to make that leap, and you will be racked with dread that it wasn't the right thing to do, but it really is worth it. You'll never know unless you try.

 Trialling new yarns for the next book

Just being able to spend time altogether xxx

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Instaddict - why do I NEED the lovehearts?!

In trying to 'up my online profile' in a bid to make the world aware of me, what I do, and ultimately, pay me to do it, I have started an instagram account.  In fact I opened one ages ago because I liked the way it made my pics look.  I never hashtagged anything, I didn't look at anyone else pics, I just made pretty pictures and was content.

Then I became unemployed, cough, I mean 'freelance' and the world of social media beckoned.  So I dutifully started hashtagging some of my crochet bits and all of a sudden the lovehearts slowly started to appear, then 17 followers (my friends) went up to 18 followers and the chemical addiction properly began.  I spent three months in a wild frenzy of trying to gain more followers, but more importantly - the lovehearts.  I NEEDed them, they somehow validated my existence, I was so greedy for them I became consumed in posting all the pics I was taking just to get the next loveheart fix.  And then the first day I lost a follower... If you'd told me that I would be genuinely heartbroken that someone I didn't know and had never met, wouldn't be interested in seeing pictures of my children playing on the beach I would have laughed in your face.   But oh the tragedy!  Oh how bereft I was!

I will admit that I am still an instaddict.  But I have calmed down. The frenzy is over and now I only post once (ok, maybe twice) a day.  I do still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the best way to take a picture, but as someone that sells an aesthetic object, it's actually been a really valuable process to discover my visual voice.

And yes, last week I did find myself in my pajamas at 8am taking rhubarb porn, but I promise I'm getting better.

oh and p.s. the new doily pattern can be found on my Etsy shop, I properly love it :)

Friday, 15 May 2015

Good Things Come to Those Who Try

Well, it has been a productive week in the world of making money from crochet!  I say that, I've made exactly no money at all, but it's not always about the short term gain, sometimes it's about the long term game.

The very lovely Bibelot Magazine have happily published my first attempts at 'journalism' - you can read it here.  It was such a childish impulse to join in that made me email them in the first place, just to say how lovely they are and that I'd love to work with them somehow.  After a few emails back and forth working out ideas, I pulled this little piece together and that was it!  What it's given me is the confidence to do more, hone my style and punctuation and keep going.  Who knows, one day maybe I'll get paid for it, but for now it's just gratifying to know that people don't hate it.

Now, the other non-immediate-money-making-thing: I applied to be a teacher for adult evening classes, teaching crochet.  They weren't advertising for crochet teachers, they were looking for knitters, but I thought it was worth asking, and they said 'fill out the form', so I did.  Astonishingly I got a first interview, and after giving a mini-teaching session to a Spanish teacher, a man that knows all about seizures and a sewing machine specialist, I got through to the formal interview, and have been asked to join their list of tutors, with a specialism in 'modern' crochet.  Next step is to get my teacher training qualifications (which they will pay for) and start teaching at various colleges in September. 

The moral of this story is just to try.  The very worse thing that can happen is that people will say 'no', but you won't have lost anything.  It just takes an email, and if you're too scared to send that email, write the thing and get someone else to click on send for you.

 Made this little basket as a demo piece

Getting all the hooks together for the mini lesson

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Work and Home

What's been interesting about making crochet my 'profession' is the difference in making something for someone else, from making something for me.  I've been working on a couple of collaborations, and designing patterns to go in specific publications with specific aesthetics, and it's still enjoyable, but it's.... different.  The inspiration is still there, but you have to work at it, work up a design, go through various progressions until you're happy with the final outcome.  It's work. 

What it doesn't always have is the same fizzing, sparkling, straight from the cosmos into your brain, glorious, inspirational joy that making for yourself has.

Clearly, I get a kick out of that.

So the last couple of days I've been thinking about making a floral headdress, just for me, but this time all out of wool, and the fizzing, creative magic is all there and I'm completely loving it.  Inspired by a very beautiful, clashing collection of azaleas that I pass every day, the making fever has hit me with a vengeance, and I'd be happy if it never stopped.

I've made a mini-free-tutorial of how to make an azelea, just using pics, so that you can share in the flowery goodness, let me know if it's any use :)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Making Opportunities

Apparently I'm rubbish at being unemployed - I keep finding myself applying for jobs before I remember that I'm 'freelance', stay-at-home-mumming and trying to live in a more holistic way.  To combat this I have written a very long list of things to do to promote the freelance crochet designing which anyone can do, and hopefully you might find useful.

Completed items:

1. Emailed 'Inside Crochet' to thank them for the lovely spread from my book, as well as asked if they'd like to work together.  They have already got back to me and said they would and my mind is whizzing with possible ideas. Big tick.

2. Made and photographed a submission for 'PomPom Magazine' for their winter edition. Half Tick - this needs to be finished please Emma

3. Got my self together to get all the finished pics and text to the gorgeous Bibelot Online Magazine, which they will be featuring on Wednesday :)  Have another Big Tick.

4. Sat down to write this blog post.  Could have done better.

There are many other things I need to do but haven't, like figuring out exactly how to navigate Ravelry and finishing a piece for a collaboration with the lovely Poppies & Polkadots, but the moral of this story, ahem 'list' is: that you have to make your own opportunities, no one else will.  And you never know, it might just pay off!

I'll leave you with a sneaky peak of the pattern that will be available, for free, on the Poppies & Polkadots website from June...

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My Craft Witch

A while ago I told you about buying a spinning wheel from a witch (in the most flattering way), with arcane, magical knowledge of all things crafty.  She has become a regular feature of my week, and frankly stops me from sliding into an isolated crochet hole.  So while I am working hard trying to design something and get a sample together to submit to PomPom Magazine, and continue to work on a tapestry collection, and design something for a collaboration with Poppies & Polkadots, she is my craft-relief.

Last week we dyed wool with coreopsis flowers, which was practically a spiritual experience for me.  This week I made my first skein and learned all about sheep breeds.  She's 50 years my senior but there are moments of sparkling connection between us as we share our love of colour and wool and craft.  Next week we're going to learn how to deal with a raw fleece.  Every week it's a completely amazing craft and friendship experience.

 Dried pansies for dying

 Experiments dying with heather twigs

My first, plyed skein

Monday, 27 April 2015

Unemployed, I mean 'Freelance'

We're well and truly into the world of unemployment, ahem I mean freelancing and stay-at-home-mumming, and things are finally starting to settle into a routine.  But I can't seem to stop applying for jobs!  After years of being indoctrinated in the world of work, trying to stay unemployed, ahem, I mean freelancing, is still one of the most uncomfortable experiences ever (well, child birth was pretty uncomfortable, but slightly different).

Being a vaguely uptight sort I'm finding the key to sanity is having routine.  Mondays are now dedicated to getting all the computery, officious things done, and with that in mind I have finally written up the lovely new, Blue Block Tote Bag pattern and got it on Etsy/Ravelry.  I might be losing my marbles and spending too much time in the garden talking to the tadpoles, but I do at least have time to do this now.  AND I get a chance to play around at styling and getting an image I really like, which I've not had the chance to really do before, or I have, but not with the same understanding that I have of it now.  So here's the fruits of today's labours...