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The last few weeks have all been about experimenting with materials and trying out new techniques.  Working on a new book is always a challenge, you have to come up with a whole bunch of designs in a relatively short space of time, and you have to make sure that your material choices are globally accessible.

My general design style is usually much more organic and sustainable than this - often I'll have an idea, and then I like to reuse things around me, take stuff apart to make the thing in my head.  For a publisher though, they want to know everything in advance; colour, material, size, style.

Which means planning and deciding it all in advance, which means my house is now FULL of wool.  Which is a joy and a curse all at once :)  The best part is, it pushes you out of your comfort zone and you really begin to get to grips with how different materials feel to work with, and what techniques suit what yarns best. 

Here are some samples of some of the yarns I'm working with, there are different jersey yarns, I tend to prefer Zpagetti, but these are some Boodles and Tek Tek too. There's also a new DMC Natura Cotton XL which I've never worked with before, but comes in some gorgeous shades and is an absolute treat to work with.  And then some Katia Big Ribbon, which uses a big ole hook, but crochets up into a light, durable fabric.

(I'm also getting obsessed with the idea of really trying to source and use locally spun and naturally dyed yarns, although that totally won't work from a transatlantic standpoint, it's something that I feel very strongly about,  let's see where that goes...)

In the UK we have a special day to commemorate all the soldiers that have fought for us.  My very debonair aunt asked if I could make her one to wear to Hong Kong this week, so being a special aunt, even though I'm up to my bleeding fingers in crochet commissions, I did.

Here's the free crochet poppy pattern for you too.  (It's written in US terminology again, holler if you need help.)  All I'd ask is that you make a donation to a poppy appeal collector when you pass them, just to make sure we're all still supporting the cause.



Halloween has come and gone, and in true Steel&Stitch style, we dressed the house with beautiful red leaves, conkers, branches of berries, teasels, and giant, looming, decaying cow slips.

To finish things off I made a 'festive' wreath of tiny crochet pumpkins, and the old favourite - pompoms.

 Here's the pumpkin pattern for you, as a present.  It's written in shorthand, using US terminology, but it's pretty self explanatory, just holler if you need any help.

As the weather draws in, the temptation is to burrow in and batten down the hatches, but I love it.  I love it so much.  The changing colours of the leaves, the cool and crispness biting around the edges.  The extraordinary vistas that shift shades every single day, I've nearly crashed the car twice for gasping at them.

This time of year just gives so much inspiration - all the little accessories as well as the astonishing colour inspiration.  Hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, cowls, ear warmers, boot toppers, wrist cuffs, so many little woolly lovelies just waiting to be made and worn.

I'm very lucky to have so much crochet work on, that I won't have time to make all these indulgent treats until the very depths of the winter.   So for now, I'm recording as many of these gorgeous colours as possible, and this is where I'd recommend you doing it too.  And getting yourself a proper camera.  Phone cameras are amazing, but proper cameras are made just to take a picture, and for a small investment you can make a massive difference to the images you take, and the inspiration you're banking (and sharing).

Halloween is a MASSIVE event in our house.  The eldest is ridiculously excited, and has asked if we can start getting the decorations up already.  To placate him we've started gathering the things we'll need. 

As a fan of the handmade, we tend to shy away from shop bought stuff and make/forage our own.  So with that in mind, we've been out grabbing bags full of conkers, beautiful, fallen red leaves from maple trees and Virginia creepers, all to line edge of the front path with.

We've also been making candy skulls out of cereal boxes to turn into bunting.  As crochet is now my (very) full-time job, and no longer my hobby, it's been remarkably soothing to draw all these intricate designs on little bits of card, long into the evening.  A friend said "why are you wasting your time, why don't you just buy some?"  and I think the answer is this:

1. Making something, anything, grounds you in a time and a place, it's like  mindfulness for your whole being.
2. Recycling something, anything, has got to be better for the planet than  buying more stuff that you'll probably just through away.
3. Something you've made with your hands you tend to treasure, and bring out year after year, and becomes something special and important to those you love.

So make away dear friends, whatever it may be, and enjoy the season and the excuse to do something together, creating excitement and delight in yourself and those around you.

Wow, it's been 8 months since I began this crochet journey, and I can't believe that it hasn't been a complete disaster!  I think there's some sort of formula that I can share with you, that illustrates the key to success:

Confidence in your abilities + reaching out to the online crochet community + defining your aesthetic and 'brand' + working really freaking hard = successful crochet career

On the working really freaking hard point, when all was still quiet a couple of months ago, I decided to set my own brief of designing a collection for myself.  An Autumn/Winter collection using all the yarns I like, making all the things that had been buzzing round in my head.   It's only a little collection, but I am so impossibly thrilled with how it's come out that, even though I'm up to my RSI throbbing wrists in crochet work right now, I've decided to release the patterns, one a week, from the 1st of October.

The best thing about this collection?  They're all for me and my hubster, and they're things that bring me SO much joy when I put them on.  Which is surely the reason to make and wear anything.

This cowl right here?  This is just my FAVOURITE thing I've ever made.  Ever.
It's been an absolute whirlwind of crochet madness over at Steel&Stitch Towers for the last few months.  There are collaborations commissions, interviews, articles you name it.   Remember when I quit the day job 8 months ago to see if I could make this crochet thing work?  Well, right now, it couldn't be going better.  One really exciting collaboration that has come about through the wonder of Instagram, is with LoveCrochet.

If you're not familiar with their website, get on over there!  It's a really amazing resource for all things crochet - patterns, yarns, how to's, makers, books, CAL's, you name it.  They've managed to build this completely accessible crochet community, that's feels really personal and totally shows a love for the craft.

For October I'll be doing a free, Halloween tutorial for them (and you), and getting my minimalist, yarn porn mitts all over their IG account.  I'm so excited!

Just as an aside, if you think you've got a chance at following your craft dreams, take them.  It might be completely amazing, even just for a week, and that is the best feeling ever.

Here are a few outtakes of some pics I've done for them :)