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We're firmly in the grips of autumn here in the UK, and you know I tend to prefer to write seasonal posts, but today I have to make an excepetion.

One of the awesome things about designing crochet patterns, is that you often get given a brief that'll send your brain down avenues it may not have considered before.  When Now Crochet magazine got in touch, and asked for a collection of bright, bold chunky patterns, I'd tentatively proposed a big ole doiley rug, but as I was sat making it, it wasn't lighting me on fire.

For some reason, Brain then happily trotted off down a new route, and ended up at Geometric Pineapple Place.  I completely fell in love with the idea, and you know that when you love something, that other people will too.  I busily set too, and this was the finished piece, a super cool, bold, pineapple rug using ribbon tape.

For those of you that missed the chunky Now Crochet issue, I've now listed this pattern at Etsy & LoveCrochet, so you too an visit Geometric Pineapple Place!
I know there are still three weeks to go, but now I've got my wreath all ready I can get to work on the costumes!  This is actually a deceptively simple design.  If you can work a basic increase in crochet, then you can make all the elements on here.  Add a few pompoms and a tassle and you're done!

You will need:

20cm wreath base
Small amounts of yarn in any colours you like (I used PaintBox Aran as they have a great range of colours, and Aran weight always works up quickly!)
Suitable Size hook for yarn

Flower Pattern
Ch4, ss ends to make loop
Rnd 1: sc 10 around loop
Rnd 2: *(sc, 2dc, sc), ss* rpt to end

Leaf Pattern
Ch 7, ss in 2nd ch, sc, dc, htr, tr, tr, htr x 5 in end ch, working up the other side of ch tr, tr, htr, dc, sc, ss

Make as many flowers and leaves as you like, I made 8 flowers with 5 leaves each (yep, that is 40 leaves, but you don't have to make as many if you don't want to).  Whip up a few pompoms, on this wreath there are 4 large and three small, and affix them to your base. 

Pop your candy skulls in among them (Skull Pattern on previous post), I made three as I think it's a good number, but you could make as many or as few as you like.  A nice, chunky tassle gives it a bit more glam and ta da!

Do you remember those cardboard candy skull decorations I made last year?  Well THIS year I thought I'd step it up a notch, and sticking with the Day of the Dead theme for Halloween, have started work on a crochet-candy-skull-pink-pom-pom garland!

If you want to make one too, the instructions are super simple:

Any yarn and suitable sized hook.  Chunky white makes it easier.
Rnd 1: mr 6  (don't be afraid!  Click on 'mr' to take you to a video tutorial, you can totally do this!)
Rnd 2:  2sc in each st  (12)
Rnd 3: *2sc, sc*, rpt to end  (18)
Rnd 4-9: sc in each
Rnd 10: *sc2tog, sc*, rpt to end  (12)
Rnd 11: sc2tog, rot to end  (6)
Close up with yarn needle.

Use a little dark coloured yarn and an embroidery needle, and whip on a few stitches to make a face.

When it's finished I'll put completed pics and things on here, and add any other instructions that you may need.

Here comes Halloween!

I know I said I was only going to post once a month, but such yarny beauty has fallen through my door, that I just couldn't help it!

I know I have a ridiculous amount of crochet work on.  I know I have to do my tax returns (*strangled gargle*).  I know that I haven't hoovered the house for at least a week.  But as soon as I opened this package I had to take a quick tea break amidst the woolly chaos, and have a quick play.

I feel very, very lucky that I get the opportunity to play with such beautiful yarn.  When I first started out it was DK acrylic, £1.99 all the way.  But the more I've learned, and the more opportunity I've had to experiment with different materials, the more I appreciate and value good quality yarns.  The Bad Boys in my WAK pack are merino, and they are so super soft.  We Are Knitters is also the single most stylish and badass yarn brand.  They SO know what they're doing when it comes to styling, and they certainly don't scrimp when it comes to yarn quality either.

So although I'm up to my eyes in wool and chaos, I've still had to work up a quick sketch for the Bad Boys, for a simple, fairisle capelet, that I will hopefiully get time to crochet before it gets too cold.

I started this blog as a way of charting and sharing my adventure into the unknown realms of trying to make it as a crochet professional.  It's been over 18 months since I took the plunge, and in the beginning I didn't think it could possibly work.  But it's been incredible.

My top tips if you're thinking of doing this yourself?

1. Sell the things that let other make - get the guts up to write those patterns and get them online, making things will never be worth your time!

2. Get your online presence sorted - blog/instagram/youtube you name it, get on it.

3. Don't be afraid! - approach those magazines, ask people if they want to collaborate, he worst you will hear is 'no'.

4. Things take time - it won't happen all at once, give yourself a break and let it grow on its own.

The only thing is, I now have so much work and so many commissions, I have very little time for blogging!  I will try and keep on top of it, but right now, I'm going to commit to posting once a month, in the mean time you can keep up to date with me over on instagram.

In the meantime, here's a sneaky peek of my new book, out on 20th of Septmeber ;) xxx

A few months ago I was asked to go to London for a mystery meeting with a yarn company.  All that I knew was that I'd have to sign a disclaimer to say that I wouldn't say a word about it to anyone.  I literally had NO idea what it was about, so of course I went. I mean, who could say no to that?!

Amazingly, it turned out to be an opportunity to provide some input in to new range of yarns.  Paintbox Yarns invited designers and bloggers who live and breath yarn, to be part of the production of their new ranges.  There were a whole variety of yarns of different textures, weights and ply's, (it really is astonishing the variety that you can get with acrylic, you would have no clue that they were all made of the same thing), and I got to really play and fiddle with them, hooking up different stitches, ripping things back to see how they coped, trying different size hooks  and techniques. 

What we came to at the end of a couple of very enjoyable hours, was a shortlist of yarns that are ideal for crochet.  Durable, soft, pliable and hardworking (and it turns out fantastically economical too, go check out LoveKnitting or LoveCrochet). 

The other thing that they've been able to do, is provide a really gorgeous palette of 60 different colours.  For me, as a colour collecting obsessive, it's awesome.  A couple of days ago all 60 shades turned up on my doorstep, and I have compulsively started creating colourways with them already.  In fact, it's made me think of trying to make a colourway a day, celebrating the season (late summer, my fave) and whipping up a little granny square in each.  Having made a couple already, it's given me a chance to really work with them, and they are a good, solid, economy acrylic, that really does handle being ripped back a couple (ahem, 5 or 6) of times, yet still works up cleanly.

I would happily commit to making a whole blanket with this stuff, it would be affordable, and the colour range means it could be anything you wanted.  And even more gloriously they make a cotton as well, all 57 colours of which landed on my doorstep this morning, so once I'm back from a final summer holiday jaunt, I'll be seeing what that can do too!

I also have to add (as a stationary fanatic) that the graphic design, font type and packaging totally tickles my modernist sensibilities.  It's WAY cool.

Here's the yarn porn, people (I've literally been having THE best time making it over the last couple of days!) and maybe the start of a late summer collection (let's see how much crochet work I have to do first.)

Oh, and on another note - totally keep on with your instagramming and blogging guys.  I'd never have been given this opportunity if I hadn't stuck with it.  Just be ready to say yes to whatever comes your way, and something super exciting will come to you too.

So you'll have noticed a definite theme over the summer - short, quick, I've only got 10 minutes to myself makes!  I've been solidly sticking to pimping and customising existing things rather than trying to whip things up from scratch.  It's just as gratifying but takes way less time!

The key to this is, don't be afraid.  Taking a pair of scissors to a top, sleeve, waist band can be intimidating, so maybe don't try it with your lovely Boden tee.  However, a quick scout around a charity/thrift store, or everbodies favourite - Primani, and a bargain grabbed for small change, and you'll happily do anything to it!  (I'd totally advocate the charity shop route though, you can actually find things made with really good quality material or much more interesting patterns than the plastic nonsense from cheap, high street stores.)

Want to do it yourself?  I'd recommend working up your crochet piece before chopping bits off.  That way you can pin it in place, and mark it up nicely before you actually make a cut.  If you're going to do cuffs or sleeves, then use the first one that you cut off as a 'template' for the second - so lie it in place and mark where it come sup to on the sleeve.  If you're going to do a yoke on a tee, then once you've marked it up, fold the tee in half and cut the neck line that way, so it's symmetrical.  (Otherwise you can spend AGES nibbling bits off to try and make it even.)  Also, make sure you give yourself a little bit of seam allowance.

Here's my fave thing I've been attacking this summer.  My denim jacket has now almost become a crochet and stitching sampler, and the more I add to it, the more I love it.