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Hello lovehearts, in insta-world there have been a lot of queries about how to tapestry crochet, and seeing as we're doing some final 'how to's' for the new book, I thought I share some of them with you.

Tapestry crochet is also known as intarsia, jacquard, colourwork, fairisle or mosaic, and is a neat and quick way of changing colour.  You can either work over all the different coloured yarns you have to make a nice, stiff fabric, or you can pick them up, working over a them every few stitches.
 Work over the colour you want to change to for a few stitches, or hold it next to your work, where you want to change.
 Work the first part of your stitch in the existing colour...
Work the final yarn over in the new colour, and pull through all loops on your hook.

 Work the next stitch in the new colour...

...Until you want change again, and then repeat the process - finishing the last yarn over with the next colour.

Do you ever have that thing, where you have a design in you're head, but your not exactly sure how to start or where to start?  When you need a bit of time for your subconscious to work it out, but you still want to be making something?  That's where I've been this week, fidgety and itching to make a new crochet jumper - all the wool has arrived, I just haven't worked out the specifics yet.

Then I got home one evening to find that Mr.Steel&Stitch had been printing out pics for the Beasts to colour in, and they had a picked a picture for me; a candy-skull stormtrooper that they thought I might like.  I love my family.  Having been trying out a bit of embroidery thanks to a 70's book of stitches my mum got me, it struck me as the perfect time to try it out for real.

Digging out an old jumper and some wool, it was literally a case of drawing the image on in feltpen, and then spending a week of very happy evenings playing with stitch techniques and wool.  I freaking LOVE the result and think this may become a regular occurrence - although, how many hand embroidered jumpers of storm troopers does a gal need?  AND the jumper design has crystalized in my head, so I'm all ready to go ;)

It must be spring because I really can't seem to stop obsessing about flowers!  I've just re-released my floral headdress pattern - it was originally made as part of a Day of the Dead, Halloween costume, but it's just too ludicrously pretty not to wear more often.  So you can now get it as a pattern on its own over on Etsy or LoveCrochet, and as a special treat, here's a free, mini flower tutorial for you xxx

1. ch 8
2. dc in 3rd st from hook, dc in each st
3. ch3, dc in 3rd st from hook, 2dc in each st
4. *ch8, sl st in first st, working one st per ch: sc, hdc, dc in rest, sl st into next dc at base* rpt to end
5. roll up into a flower, stitch together, add a few yellow strands for stamen.

I am SUCH a schizophrenic designer!  Half the time I love naturalistic, skandi, minimal colours and concepts.  Think of those beautiful washed out images you find in Cereal Magazine, all that merest hint and barely there suggestion.  The other half the time all I want is in-your-face, blousy, bright, neon colours and super kitsch styling, think HRH Gwen Stafani.

With one collection recently finished, a new one is beginning to form in my head, or rather, TWO new ones.  I was trying to fight it for ages, trying to somehow yoke them together with a common theme, to make one cohesive collection and it was frustrating and aggravating and just not working.  It wasn't until a very talented maker Freya Blomst suggested that this conflict wasn't actually a conflict at all, but balance, that everything clicked.

Now I'm balancing my desire to work with the beautiful, natural colours of spring where I live, with the desire to indulge mint and pinks of candy-pop spring.  So don't fight your own nature friends, a bit of everything is healthy, it's all about balance.

In January I made a resolution, that this year it would be all about connecting and working with other people.  I'm extremely lucky to have the job I do, making money from crochet is an amazing thing, but it does tend to lead to shuffling around the house in your joggers all day, talking to the cat.

So on New Years Eve (after a glass of fizz), I sent out emails, to people I admire and have found through the magic of the internet and social media.  Just to say hi, and that I love their work, or that I loved meeting them over the last year.  Thankfully none of them thought I was a lunatic, and all of them have responded positively, and a couple of us are now working on some really wonderful collaborations, which I will hopefully be able to tell you about if they become successful.  But even if they don't, the real joy has been in making friends with lovely people.

On that note, I was invited to host another workshop for the brilliant LoveCrochet last week.  Having learned from previous workshops, we talked about getting a couple more helpers in, so the fantastic Kath Webber and Emma Potter  were invited too.  Getting to hang out lovelies you've only chatted to online is amazing.  We're now officially a crochet girl gang, but I'd invite all of you to join!

Doing what you love is all very well, but doing it with like-minded people is even better.  Hop on instagram and come find @crochetgirlgang, literally everyone is welcome, and all we want to do is share our love of woolly things and make friends.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to run a crochet workshop at the British Library as part of their activities to celebrate the amazing 'Alice in Wonderland' exhibition.  Not anticipating the swathes of eager creatures that came, I designed a loveheart coaster, worked in jersey yarn, to teach.  There were so many people that in the end we only managed to get everybody making chains, with only time to teach a couple of people the whole heart.  For any of you that would like to have a go at it, here's your free crochet heart pattern xxx

For a long time I've been a fan of @craftastherapy over on Instagram, and recently had the privilege of joining the team of talented and lovely makers that moderate it.  It gave me the opportunity to really talk to the community of people that use craft to help with everything from mental and physical illness, to relaxation and fun.

One of the things that kept popping up was crochet mandalas.   I tend to make useful, practical things, and while I know mandalas are a growing trend in crochet world, not knowing what they're 'for', had never felt compelled to make one.  Encouraged by the @craftastherapy community, I decided to give it a go, and in my usual, doodling with wool fashion, I came up with this.  I enjoyed the process immensely, within a couple of hours I had a lovely thing in my hands, and had learned some nice, techniques for making spokes on the way.

I did a little research and found that mandalas are a spiritual device, a thing that when finished represents the completeness of the cosmos used by a variety of faiths.   They're also used in some therapeutic practices  as "creating mandalas helps stabilise, integrate, and re-order inner life" Susan F. Fincher.

I thought that was all rather nice, went back to my practical makes and left it at that.

A few days later I went to the funeral of a beautiful soul and it was shattering.  On arriving home I couldn't find any where to put my sadness, and I thought of those words.  

I  found yarns that reminded me of him, in colours of the earth,woods and cosmos, and set to work.  

Each round thinking of him and who he was.  

At the end I had a small sense of closure, a certain completeness that had been missing, and a physical thing with which to touch him.

It's a not practical, but it's the most useful thing I've ever made.