Thank you

Last week, Annette and I released our first podcast/vlog, Two Peas in a Woolly Pod, into the wonderful world of the web and we have been overwhelmed with you response.

We just wanted to say the biggest thank you to all of you for every view, comment, like, word of encouragement and for every little yeey.

We wanted to start a podcast for a while now as we just love the idea of them and they look like a lot of fun. We had a hoot recording it and are so overjoyed that you liked it too

Few words from Annette:

Thank you for watching our new podcast. Your response has filled us with joy. 

The idea of a podcast is something we’ve been toying around with for a while. We’ve been friends for ages, and have always nudged and guided each other with our creative ideas. Doing it together just seemed the natural thing to do. Working on this podcast, will give us an opportunity to combine our individual personalities, and hopefully give you something a little different to watch, and to share our joy of this community we are all a part of.

Do join us each month as we bring to you our love of yarn, crochet and knitting. We love it all! There’ll be wips and occasional fo’s. Patterns that have taken our fancy. Maybe some stash enhancement. We even hope to have some k/cals as we go along. We can’t promise it won’t be haphazard, but we’ll do our best. lol

We hope this will lead to many more episodes. There’s always something new to inspire us.

Here is the podcast/vlog for those who hasn’t seen it yet 🙂

See you next time,

Two Peas in a Woolly Pod x

Blankets

I wanted to write this blog for a while now, since the blankets were released really, but things kept mounting up, and recent events meant that I kept pushing it back. At this moment I crave occupying my mind with my soothing craft and even writing a blog again.
Let’s talk about blankets…………….
When the lovely people from Deramores approached me for design ideas I was overjoyed, I haven’t really designed crochet blankets, and this was the perfect opportunity.
I had ideas brewing it was just a case of making them a reality.
My love has gone in every stitch of designing and making them, it was truly a joy thinking of stitches and colourways. I wanted to use the new Colour Lab DK yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners as I worked with it on Runswick shawl and Melmbery socks and I’m crazy about this yarn, but then what’s not to love about it? The range of colours is beautiful, it’s pure wool and very affordable with good metreage, a winner all around. 
One idea, three blankets – When designing these blankets, I wanted the maker to be able to customise it to reflect themselves or the person they are making the blanket for. I took four interesting stitches and made them into squares which are fun, portable and quick to make, but I also wanted those stitches to be able to make one large blanket, without having to join squares.
Bolderwood is named after the beautiful forest which is also a deer sanctuary in New Forest. This is made out of four types of squares which use all four stitches, which are then joined together to form a large blanket. You are in complete control of how large you would like the blanket to be. I have laid them out diagonally in a style of traditional patchwork quilt; starting from the corner you have rows of textured squares, followed by rows of plain squares, each row uses one or two colours.
 
I have loved making this blanket as you can’t beat the portability of a crochet square, you can take them anywhere. I made sure that each square uses one or two colours only. They are also great way to try out stitches you haven’t before. 
 
I have used combinations of textures and plain stitches in colour sequence 
Spike stitch
Cable lattice stitch
Linen stitch
Plain stitch
 Green and grey colourway
 Pink
 Brown and cream
And I used the gorgeous flat slip stitch joint which is my all time favourite 
You can make Bolderwood blanket as large or as small as you like, you are in total control.
If you would like to change the size, make a little layout diagram to help you, use some coloured pencils to see if the colours will look good together.
 
Batchworth is named after the gorgeous lake in Hertfordshire where some of the photos were taken. This blanket is made in one piece using three of the stitches. It starts at the centre in linen stitch, expanding into plain stitch, followed by textured section using cable stitch, ending with a small edging in half trebles and finished off with slip stitch lines along edges of plain section. It is a perfect blanket to make when you are curled up on the sofa watching your favourite shows. 
Little Cloud takes its name from the sweet fluffy clouds. It is a baby blanket that uses the same idea as Bolderwood blanket but using three types of squares: linen, plain and spike. I have designed this blanket in a multi-use size, perfect for cots, prams and as a comfort blanket.
I used the sweet West Yorkshire Spinners Po Beep DK.
 
Dave and I had so much fun taking some of the photos by the lake. The weather was just right for perfectly moody photos. The Batchworth lake is really stunning location and I have used it before for photos, it never disappoints.
Big thank you goes not only to my Dave but also to Carmell for letting me use her stunning house for the Bolderwood blanket photos and for lovely Melinda for arranging it all. Also, to Annette and Magda for all their help, I have wonderful people in my live and I’m so grateful.
The patterns for the blankets are free and available at Deramores website along with yarn packs. 
The yarn packs are also at 10% off for limited time, perfect time to get them 🙂
 
Click on the blankets name below to take you to Deramores. 
 
And of course giant pompoms are a must 🙂
Happy crocheting, 
 
Anna xx

Little crochet trees


Time for another Chrismassy make.

I have designed these little trees for one of my classes at John Lewis Oxford Street. They are a great little project to try out tapestry crochet, which is very addictive.

Not only are they fun but also very quick to make, once you get into swing of things you will be able to make one in 45 minutes.

They make fantastic decorations for your tree and around the house. You can also make them into cat toys, just omit the stick, start with magic loop and include catnip in stuffing.  

The tutorial on how to work in tapestry crochet is below. I have written the instruction for the colour changes instead of a chart as the project is quite small so it’s not too overwhelming to follow the written instructions. 

Pattern notes 
  • Pattern is written using UK terminology with US conversion given in abbreviation list.

  • The pattern is worked in continues spiral, which means you will not ss to join round or ch 1 at the beginning of rnd, place marker to denote the beginning of rnd. 
  • From rnd 4 you will work in back loop of every st on every rnd. 
 

Materials

Small amounts of 2 colours of DK yarns: colour A – pine, colour B – white

I have used Ricorumi in Fir Green 050 (A) and Cream 002 (B)

3mm crochet hook

Toy stuffing

Piece of garden twig approximately 9 cm in length

1 x lockable marker

Finished size

One finished tree measures approximately 7 cm in height and 12.5 cm around the biggest part.

Tension

5 st and 5 rnds to 2.5 cm square measured over dc worked in back loop of every st.

Abbreviations

Ch – chain

Dc (US sc) – double crochet (US single crochet)

Dc2tog (US sc2tog) – double crochet two stitches together

Rnd(s) – round(s)

RS – right side

Ss – slip stitch

St(s) – stitch(es)

WS – wrong side

Snowy chevron and plain colour

With colour A make 4 ch, ss to first ch to form a ring.

Rnd 1: ch 1, 8 dc in ring, ss to first dc.

Rnd 2: ch 1, 2 dc in every st to end, ss to first dc. (16 sts)

Rnd 3: ch 1, * 2 dc in next st, 1 dc in next st, rep from * to end, ss to first dc. (24 sts)

You will now work in spiral and in the back loop of every stitch only.

Rnds 4 to 6: 1 dc in every st to end.

Rnd 7: [dc2tog, 1 dc in next 3 sts] 4 times, 1 dc in next 4 sts. (20 sts)

Rnd 8: 1 dc in every st to end.

Now you will work using the tapestry technique, join yarn B at the beg of next rnd and carry it with you all the way through a rnd using when needed.

If you are making a one colour tree just work the next two rnds: 1 dc in every st to end.

Rnd 9: with A – 1 dc in next 2 sts, [with B – 1 dc in next st, with A – 1 dc in next 3 sts] 4 times, with B – 1 dc in next st, with A – 1 dc in last st.

Rnd 10: [with A – 1 dc in next st, with B – 1 dc in next 3 sts] 5 times.

Brake off yarn A and continue only in yarn B.

Rnd 11: [dc2tog, 1 dc in next 2 sts] 5 times. (15 sts)

Rnd 12 and 13: 1 dc in every st to end.

Insert the garden stick in the middle of foundation ring (see below), start stuffing the tree around the stick, making sure that the shape is nicely rounded.

Rnd 14: [dc2tog, 1 dc in next st] 5 times. (10 sts)

Stuff the tree a little more, but do not overstuff.

Rnd 15: [dc2tog] 5 times. (5 sts)

Break off yarn, leaving approximately 10 cm tail, using tapestry needle feed the yarn through the stitches of opening, pull tight to close opening.

Weave in all end.

Deep snow

Work as given for snowy chevron to rnd 5.

Rnd 6: [with A – 1 dc in next 11 sts, with B – 1 dc in next st] twice.

Rnd 7: with A – dc2tog, 1 dc in next 3 sts, dc2tog, 1 dc in next 3 sts, with B – dc2 tog, 1 dc in next st, with A – 1 dc in next 2 sts, dc2tog, 1 dc in next 5 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 2 sts. (20 sts)

Rnd 8: with B – 1 dc in next st, with A – 1 dc in next 6 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 4 sts, with A – 1 dc in next 6 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 3 sts.

Rnd 9: with B – 1 dc in next 2 sts, with A – 1 dc in next 4 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 6 sts, with A – 1 dc in next 4 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 4 sts.

Rnd 10: with B – 1 dc in next 3 sts, with A – 1 dc in next 2 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 8 sts, with A – 1 dc in next 2 sts, with B – 1 dc in next 5 sts.

Brake off colour A and continue only in colour B.

Starting with rnd 11, work the rest of rnds as given for snowy chevron. 

Techniques

  • To get a neat colour change we need to change colours one stitch before: For example; if the third stitch needs to be a different colour, change yarns on the second stitch. Work to one stitch before colour change, stop when you have two loops on hook.

  • Drop colour A and finish the stitch with colour B.

  • We need to work one st in colour B and the following sts are in A – work next st in colour B but stop when you have two loops on hook, drop colour B and finish the stitch with colour A.

Continue changing colour as described in the last 3 steps.

Tip – To avoid yarns twisting, make sure you keep your colour B to your right and colour A to your left.

Carrying yarns

Usually when working in tapestry crochet you carry the yarn not in in between the stitch, however when working in the round I prefer to carry it inside the work and catch the yarn every third stitch when not in use.

  • When inserting hook to work dc make sure that the yarn to be stranded is placed on top of the hook at the back of work.

  • Work dc as normal, enclosing the strand in the stitch. Continue repeating the last 2 steps, enclosing the yarn not in use every third stitch.

Stuffing the tree

Insert the garden stick through the foundation ring and stuff the tree around the stick, that way the tree will have a nice rounded shape. 
Happy Crocheting, 

Anna x

Birdie brooch

Last week I had the pleasure of taking over the Lovecrochet Instagram account. It was huge fun and lovely meeting so many new makers. The biggest thank you to LoveCrochet for inviting me.

I created a little bye bye gift to say thank you to all those that said hello and joined me at the LoveCrochet Instagram. I posted pattern for this brooch at the end of my takeover day, but here it is again 🙂
This birdie is to get you ready for warmer days. I love winter, especially the white fluffy stuff but I can’t help and dream of Spring.
The little birdie brooch is perfect little addition to your favourite cardigan or jackets…. Of course, you don’t have to wait until Spring, get crocheting now to wear it as an appliqué or brooch on your hat or scarf.

To make this lovely little bird you will need: two colours of any DK yarn, I have used Paintbox Cotton DK
3.5mm (US E/4) crochet hook
Tapestry needle
Few lengths of thinner yarn in different colours.  
 

Please note I’m using UK terms, US terms are given in brackets in abbreviation list. 
Abbreviations
Ch – chain
Dc (US sc) – double crochet
Htr (US hdc) – half treble
Tr (US dc) –treble
Sl st – slip stitch
St(s) – stitch(es)
Bird
Work 6 dc into adjustable ring, enclosing the tail as you work, sl st to first dc and pull tight on the tail to close up opening.
Round 1: ch 1, 2 dc into ever st to end, join with sl st to first st. (12 sts)
Round 2: ch 1, 1 dc into next 4 st, 2 htr into next st, 1 tr into next st, 2 tr into next st, ch 3, sl st in the base of last tr, 1 dc into next 2 st, [2 htr into next st] twice, ch 2, sl st in top of last htr, join round with sl st to first st. Fasten off
Wing
Make 8 ch.
Row 1: 1 tr into 4th ch from hook, 1 tr in next ch, 1 htr in next ch, 1 dc in next ch. Fasten off.
Attach wing to the middle of bird, so it covers the centre. I have tied few strands of fluffy yarns held together to the tail part, just to add a pit of colour and play. 
Happy crocheting 
Anna xx

Ramble mittens – tutorials

The sun appears to be shining but it’s still freezing cold!! Despite the wonderful scene of snowdrops in Batchworth Lake, Spring seems to be still avoiding us.

To keep warm I decided to design these lovely Ramble mittens, well, one reason is to keep warm, the other is that I really wanted to try out the crochet waistcoat stitch and one more reason was a chance to play with the new Willow & Lark yarn.

These cosy mittens are worked from the cuff, which is worked flat then seemed. Stitches for the body of the mittes are worked in raw ends of cuff, which is worked in waistcoat stitch. The colourwork pattern is worked using Fair Isle technique. The stitches are picked up for the thumb at the end.
The mittens are finished off with embellishment worked using double crochet (US sc) around the colourwok pattern, picture tutorial included in the pattern.
The cuff and first 8 rounds of the pattern are written, the rest charted

The pattern for Ramble Mittens is free and available at:

 I have create a picture and video tutorial which are below. The picture tutorials are also included in the pattern.

Waistcoat stitch is just fantastic!! It looks like a knit stitch, in fact it’s also referred to as the crochet knit stitch.
It is a beautifully tight and firm stitch that’s perfect for mitts, hats, bags and anything that requires dense fabric and it doesn’t twist the work like a standard dc (US sc). I absolutely love it as it looks fantastic and makes a nice change from a standard dc and if that wasn’t enough, it is also great for working Fair Isle colourwork.
The only difference from working a standard dc is that you work wst into the body of the stitch, in between the strands (the V) of the stitch below.

Before you start working in waistcoat stitch it is important that you get a pointy hook and remember to keep a relaxed tension, don’t pull your stitches too tight, you will have to work into them on the next round.

1 & 2: Inset the hook in between the strands of the stitch (between the V) as marked by red lines in pic 1.
3: Yoh and pull up a loop, 2 loops on hook.
4: Yoh and pull through 2 loops. One stitch made.
Continue repeating the 4 steps throughout.

Waistcoat stitch video 

                             
                                   In the video MC stands for main colour and CC for contrast colour

How to work crochet Fair isle

Waistcoat stitch is perfect to work crochet colourwork as it doesn’t twist the work therefore the colour changes look better.
1: To get a neat colour change we need to change colours one stitch before: For example; if the fourth stitch needs to be a different colour, change yarns on the third stitch. Work to one stitch before colour change, stop the last stitch when you have two loops on hook.
2: Drop colour A and finish the stitch with colour B.
3: Work next stitch with colour B, but because we need to go back to colour A on the next stitch, finish this stitch with colour A, ready for next stitch.
Continue repeating the 4 steps while following the chart.
Tip – To avoid yarns twisting, make sure you keep your colour B to your right and colour A to your left.

Fair Isle video

Carrying yarn
When working Fair isle you need to carry the yarn not in use with you all the way around, but only carry the yarn on the rounds that it’s required. The neatest way to do this is to catch the yarn every other stitch when not in use.
1: When inserting hook to work wst make sure that the yarn to be stranded is placed on top of the hook at the back of work.
2: Work wst as normal, enclosing the strand in the stitch. Continue repeating the 2 steps, enclosing the yarn not in use every other stitch.

Happy crocheting,

Anna x


Inherited knowledge and talent – Tabula Rasa post by me


I felt compelled to write about the inspiration behind the name of the De Anima shawl and about what it means to other people and questions it raises. I have asked designers and overall very talented people, whom I admire a lot, to write from their prospective about Tabula Rasa and whether they believe that we, as people, are born as a blank canvass or whether we genetically inherit knowledge and creativity.
I want to thank them all for contributing by writing such personal insights. If you would like to read the blogs again here are the links:

Today is the final day of Tabula Rasa posts and I thought I’ll give my two cents on the matter.

Tabula Rasa refers to the idea that we are born without built-in content, a ‘’blank slate’’, and that all we know comes from experience and perception. It is a truly fascinating concept, and I very often ponder it when I teach knit and crochet. We acquire skills through practice, some of us are taught those skills at a young age, but do we possess them already in our unconscious mind? The same can be said for talent… do we acquire it or are we simply born with it? In western philosophy the concept of Tabula Rasa originated in treatise of Artistotle – De Anima or On the Soul (hence the name of the shawl).

I tend to agree more with Pluto and his Theory of Forms that the human mind is born with ideas. I believe that we genetically inherit instinctive knowledge, like a new born who innately knows how to suckle onto mother’s breast. In the same way as you can observe in animals, like cats with hunting or elephants with geographical knowledge. Based on that, what other information is passed down, which can be later reinforced through teaching? Form the first day we rely on parents, our surroundings, then later on teachers and people around us to help us develop and enhance that knowledge. Do we naturally possess creativity/talent in the same way we possess instinctive knowledge?  
Teaching knit and crochet gives me the perfect opportunity to observe all stages of ability. In a group of ten people who never tried crochet, you will have four that instantly show natural ability and will be crocheting within half an hour with ease. Then you have few that just can’t get to grips with it. We are all wired differently and predisposed to be good at different things. However, maybe knitting and crochet are not the best examples of talent as we can learn how to do it and obviously enhance our knowledge and ability through willingness and lots of practice, but let’s take photography for example. Everyone can learn the rules of staging a good photo but only few have a natural eye for capturing a truly amazing image. You can have twenty photographs of the same person taken by different people but only one will capture the person’s soul and encapsulate the mood of the subject.
How much of that wiring and ability we possess is in part down to any knowledge we inherited? I’m not sure, but maybe I have a romantic view of it that we do pass more that we think down to the next generation. 
Anna xx

The desire to create things – Tabula Rasa guest post by Steel&Stitch


Today’s guest post on Tabula Rasa comes from the fantabulicious Emma from Steel&Stitch, who is the crochety and crafty goddess and overall a luscious person. Her designs are colourful, fun and begging to be made. 

Well howdy y’all!  This is Emma from Steel&Stitch here to talk to you today about tabula rasa (don’t worry, when I first heard this phrase I thought it was a roasted aubergine dip, turns out it’s actually the theory that human’s are born with a mind that is a ‘blank slate’ and then informed by life’s experiences) and creative ability.  I would like to put it out there right now that I am not an authority on this (remember the aubergine thing), but I have been doing a little research in to creativity in humans for my MA in Sustainable Design, and will happily contribute my tuppence-worth.  Oh, and this really isn’t going to be too heavy, in fact it’s going to be very unacademic and light (yep, the aubergine thing), so don’t worry. 

Where to start?  I’m mainly going to talk about this in relation to creativity, but this is one of those massive subjects that everybodyhas an opinion about, mostly informed by personal experience (which is exactly how I’ve formed my own opinion; as an identical twin, a mother and a person). That, and a tiny bit of research that was recently done by Harvard University.  Those Clever Clogs have discovered that there are certain patterns that light up in the neural network when creative people come up with ideas.  Some people have brains that do this very easily, and some people don’t.  (This very interesting piece of research was in an abandoned copy of the Guardian that I found on 16.1.18 on the 16.54 from Victoria to Ore, very much worth a read if you want to find out about it properly).  It would seem reasonable to assume that this is the case for other things too, like maths or combining flavours or singing.
What it proves is that some people are much more creative than others.  But were they born that way, or did they become that way by having encouraging parents, or by being forced to live on their wits, or by being sent to a Steiner School?  As an identical twin, we were each brought up with a designated identity.  I was the Clever One and she was the Outgoing One.  For years we subscribed to these roles, I rarely spoke to anyone, spent too much time trying to read the classics and mooning over Pre-Raphaelite art.  She was wildly gregarious, kissed lots of boys and wrote her fashion dissertation on Barbie.
  
What was interesting was that for various reasons we ended up at different schools in different counties, and for all of those ideas about how differently our brains worked, we got identical results for our GCSE’s.  Even now, as adults, we still marvel at how I ended up being the clothes designer in spite of studying philosophy at uni (I’ve just been working on a mini collection of patterns for Scheepjes J), and she has ended up as a lecturer working on a phd.  So while we were unconsciously encouraged to study and engage in different things, our brains clearly have their own ideas about what they are able to do; which is pretty much the same as each other.  We are both very creative, have a compulsion to make stuff and love doing a bit of research.
Another case study (this is just to make things sound fancy, what I could actually put is ‘thing I’ve seen’) is the difference in my boys.  They are two years apart, have had the same access and been around the same amount of paint, paper, pens, glue guns, scissors, air brushes, you name it, and the youngest, Creative Boy, while seeming to have an innate ability when it comes to drawing, has very little interest in making stuff.  The big one, loves it.  What’s also interesting is the big one is Maths Boy.  Always has been, so we’ve heartily encouraged him and worked with him to further this aspect of himself.   Didn’t really notice it in the littlest so didn’t do anything special with him.  Started school, turns out he is also Maths Boy, we just hadn’t given him that identity.  So Maths Boy and Creative Boy are actually interchangeable, their brains have a similar default setting. 
Having said all that, I just want to go back to that point about some people being more creative than others.  Me and my twin were set on different paths but both have a deep love and connection with making things.  My boys are being brought up in a creative environment and only one of them chooses to take of advantage of it.  I think maybe we all have a desire to create things, just sometimes it may take a bit of encouragement to find the confidence to do it.  And while there may be some of us that are hard wired to be good at it, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all take enjoyment from just playing and doing it.  My goodness, I can’t sing for toffee, but give me a hairbrush and an empty house and I can have an absolute party.
So, what have we learned here?  I don’t know the difference between an East African dip and a theory proposed by a 17th century Philosopher (in spite of having a philosophy degree).  Surprising things can be learned from abandoned newspapers.  Reading the classics when you’re 12 has very little bearing on your future career.  Also that I think that we are born with a certain amount of pre-programming.  We are not a clean slate.  But whether we’re good at something or not, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy it and we can still do it just because it brings us pleasure and maybe a sense of connecting with something beyond ourselves.  I don’t know the name for that something, maybe it also sounds like something you can dip a carrot in, but whatever it is, I’d definitely encourage you to try it.

Emma x

The potential to do remarkable things – Tabula Rasa guest post by Anneknitty


Today guest blog is by my incredibly good friend Annette, who is the bestest friend anyone could ever ask for and I love her to the moon and back. Annette is a seriously amazing knitter, with a vast knowledge of the craft to match, and if that wasn’t enough she also is pretty awesome at sketching, in fact it was her who designed my logo :). Onto Annette’s thoughts on Tabula Rasa……

How have you ended up reading my writing on my friend’s website? My Friend, Crochet queen, and

knitting star, Anna, designed a Shawl and named it ‘De Anima’. I was intrigued where this name came from. Anna explained, then me, not being very philosophically minded – was mind blown. This conversation led to me writing a guest blog about this idea.

The brief I was given is as follows:

De Anima or On the Soul – the treatise of Aristotle, in which the concept of Tabula Rasa in Western philosophy originated.
Tabula Rasa refers to the idea that we are born without built-in content and that all we know comes from experience and perception.
It is a truly fascinating concept, and I (Anna) very often ponder it when teaching knit and crochet. We acquire skills through practice. Some of us are taught those skills at an early age, but do we possess them already in our unconscious mind? The same can be said for talent… do we acquire it or are we simply born with it?  
I think honestly that everyone is born with the potential to do remarkable things, but the skills come with practice. When you’re a baby, then a toddler, life is just thrown at you. A bottle is put at your mouth – you drink it. A crayon is put into your hand, you realise it makes colourful marks, you start scribbling colours everywhere. Then you become a child, a little more dextrous, a little more sophisticated in reasoning. The crayon in your hand is now making recognisable shapes, the ‘Adult fear’ hasn’t yet appeared, so you’re still happy making these shapes and not worried that they don’t look perfect. (That bottle is still a bottle, or maybe a cup… but now you can decide when you would like to drink it. But that is me digressing) The child age is the perfect time to take that potential you were born with and absorb new skills easily. You’re not afraid of getting things wrong, or at least looking back on it – you don’t remember having any fear.
As an adult it’s becoming harder and you can now be tentative towards learning new skills. Negative feelings can take control. Fear of getting it wrong, fear of looking stupid, that you’re not good enough from the start. You start thinking you can’t do this new skill, so you stop even before you’ve given it a good go.
On a personal note, I’ve been trying to draw for as long as I can remember. I was given many sketchbooks as a child. I don’t recall being very good at it in the beginning, however, I found a lot of joy in it, so I continued to practise. Eventually, with a lot of repetition and joy, the scribbles became objects, and some could say, ‘artwork’. 
My knitting adventure also started when I was young. It began back in my Brownie troop, I needed to get my Knitting badge and I didn’t know how to start. This led to me being taught by my Nana. Now this is quite a few years ago, but I don’t remember being good straight from the start. I vaguely recollect getting things wrong but not being worried about it – I kept trying till I got it right. Basically, there were a lot of holes, missed stitches and the like. What I think I’m getting at is – I wasn’t born with the skill, I had to work at it. I’m still working on it to this day. What I was born with was the notion to try. I’ve now been knitting for, let’s just say many years and I’m still learning new techniques. If I get something wrong, I work at it till I get it right.
My crochet journey was a little different. Learning crochet started as an adult. This was after I’d said goodbye to my Nana, but before You Tube tutorials were everywhere. So, I had to teach myself from books. As an adult, learning is a little different. You see other adults (even kids) crocheting with ease, and here you are, all fingers and thumbs. The link from your brain to your fingers holding the yarn and the hook, doesn’t flow freely. You start thinking – I can knit well, why can’t I crochet yet? You’ve forgotten that it took time to learn to knit – it wasn’t instantaneous. This is that ‘Adult Fear’ I mentioned earlier. You’re afraid of looking stupid, but usually you must get things wrong before you get it right. So, I decided to ignore these feelings after a while and I stuck at it. I may now crochet like a knitter, but it works for me. 
I hope I’ve stuck to my brief and haven’t rambled on too much. Looking over my few words, my philosophy agrees with Tabula Rasa. We’re not born with talent, that all we know comes from experience and perception. If you’re trying a new skill or craft and feeling some self-doubt, stick at it. Practice some more, tell that Adult fear to get lost. Pretty soon, you’ll end up producing a fab design like Anna’s ‘De Anima’.

 Annette x

Are we born with creativity? – Tabula Rasa guest post by GamerCrafting


To celebrate the release of De Anima shawl I have asked some superb crafters and bloggers to write a guest blog for me on Tabula Rasa.

De Anima or On the Soul – the treatise of Aristotle, in which the concept of Tabula Rasa in Western philosophy originated. 
Tabula Rasa refers to the idea that we are born without built-in content and that all we know comes from experience and perception. It is a truly fascinating concept, and I very often ponder it when I teach knit and crochet. We acquire skills through practice. Some of us are taught those skills at a young age, but do we possess them already in our unconscious mind? The same can be said for talent… do we acquire it or are we simply born with it?
 
Today guest blog is by my very good friend and fellow crafter Ange the creator of GamerCrafting. Ange is not only a fab knitter and yarn dyer but also an amazing musician. Who better to talk about talent than her.

Are we born with creativity, or is it a learned skill?
For people like us, creativity is as important as the air we breathe. Without new ideas and inspirations, the world around us feels dull and grey. But what made us like this? Are we born creative, or do we learn it the same way we learned to read and write?
Tabula Rasa is the idea that we’re all born as a blank slate – an empty mind to be filled up with learned experiences, new ideas, and information. Aristotle compared us to new characters in a play, who are nothing but blank slates until the author gives them a personality and a purpose. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said that wars are the result of social conditioning, and never an innately human condition. I’d like to think that he’s right, and maybe someday we’ll all learn to embrace the humanity of others.
If we are born as blank slates, then what makes us creative? Do we chase activities and ideas that we received positive feedback on as children, or is it as simple as a chemical reaction in the brain, with concoctions of hormones and endorphins that make us feel emotion?
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The trouble is remaining an artist once we grow up.” Maybe as we grow and observe the world around us, and we start comparing our work to others, we start to doubt our own creativity. Maybe your finger painting wasn’t as “good” as someone else’s, and so you deemed yourself “not artistic.” Maybe we just tell stories about ourselves so often that we begin to believe them. I’m not artistic, I’m bad at math, I’m shy, I’m too aggressive. Maybe we are more than the two dimensional versions of ourselves that strangers see. Allow yourself to be three dimensional and explore every inch of your creative mind; after all, life is short. No one on their deathbed has ever said, “Man, I really wish I had been less creative.”
 I have a theory that everyone is creative, but in different ways. An engineer who invents a new machine is creative, but in a vastly different way to an experimental contemporary musician who uses sound samples of a cityscape to weave an auditory tapestry of exploration. You just have to figure out how to tap into that creativity to make it shine. If we’re born as blank slates, then it’s up to us to write our own creative stories.
Sometimes, a blank slate needs new inspiration. Take a walk in the world around you to find inspiration in the smallest places. A crack in an old tile, a flower growing through concrete, or frost on an early morning. We’re responsible for growing ourselves and our creativity, no one can do it for you. Listen to music you’ve never heard before – in fact, listen to the piece titled Tabula Rasa, written by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. I promise it will make you feel something. I can’t say what that something is, because I’m not you; I feel a deep sense of “hiraeth,” a Welsh word which means homesickness for a time or a place that you can’t return to.
I leave you with a challenge: do something, anything this week that ignites your creativity. Allow yourself the space to be creative and give yourself permission to write on your own blank slate.

                                                       Some of Ange’s delicious yarns

Christmas baubles

I have been completely obsessed with embroidery lately, and have been trying out different stitches. Of course, the first thing I wanted to try is to embroider onto crochet fabric, which gave me an excuse to play with Scheepjes Catona. The cotton yarn is now available in the cutest 10g balls in a huge range of colours and at 55p each, who could blame me! I decided to create something festive and the result are these charming Christmas baubles. 
 

They are pretty quick to make, it takes me around 1.5 hours

to completely finish one, so still time to make few before
Christmas.
Hope you enjoy making them as much as I have.

Materials 

Scheepjes Catona – 100% Mercerised Cotton – 10g –
25m/27yrd
Colours used: 130 Old Lace, 173 Bluebell, 192 Scarlet, 205 Kiwi, 241 Parrot Green, 251 Garden Rose, 391 Deep Ocean Green, 411 Sweet Orange, 513 Apple Green, 514 Jade, 518 Marshmallow.
3.00mm crochet hook
Lockable stitch marker
Tapestry needle
Toy stuffing
Pencil or tailor’s chalk (optional)

Finished size 
The completed bauble measures approximately 9cm (3.5”) in
height and 14cm (5.5”) in circumference around the biggest
part.

Abbreviations

Ch – chain 
Dc (US sc) – double crochet (US single crochet)
Dc2tog (US sc2tog) – double crochet two stitches together (US single crochet two stitches together)
Ss – slip stitch 
St(s) – stitch(es) 
Rd(s) – round(s) 
Rep – repeat 
Magic Loop – You will find tutorial on how to make Magic Loop on my website: http://moochka.co.uk/pages/support 

Pattern note – Please note that pattern is written using UK terminology with US conversion given in abbreviation list.


Baubles 

Using chosen colour make a Magic Loop. 
Rd 1: ch 1, 8 dc into Magic Loop, pull tight on the tail to close up opening, ss to first dc.
From now on you will work in continuous spiral, which means you will not ch 1 at the beginning of round and slip stitch to close round. Placing a marker on the first stitch of round is vital to denote the beginning of round. Move the marker up on every row. 
Rd 2: * 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next st, rep from * to end. (12 dc) 
Rd 3: 1 dc into every st to end. 
Rds 4 & 5: as rds 2 & 3. (18 dc) 
Rd 6: * 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into each of next 2 sts, rep from * to end. (24 dc) 
Rds 7 to 10: 1 dc into every st to end. 
Rd 11: * 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into each of next 3 sts, rep from * to end. (30 dc) 
Rds 12 to 16: 1 dc into every st to end. 
Rd 17: * dc2tog, 1 dc into each of next 2 sts, rep from * to last 2 sts, dc2tog. (22 dc)
Begin stuffing the bauble. 
Rd 18: * dc2tog, 1 dc into next st, rep from * to last st, 1 dc into last st. (15 dc) 
Rd 19: * dc2tog, 1 dc into next st, rep from * to end. (10 dc)
Change to contrasting colour. 
Rds 20 to 23: 1 dc into every st to end.
Insert more toy stuffing into top of bauble. 
Rd 24: *dc2tog, rep from * to end. (5 dc)
Cut yarn leaving 10cm (4’’) long length for weaving in.
Following the picture tutorial below, work as follows: 
1 & 2: Using tapestry needle, weave in yarn around the opening, I have used contrasting colour so you can see
better. 
3: Pull tight on the yarn to close up the opening. 
4, 5 & 6: Hide the tail of your yarn in the top of bauble by
inserting your needle downwards through the top of bauble,
then back again the same way you took your needle out, to
trap the yarn. Cut off excess tail.

 

Embroidery 

I have used only three types of stitches on the baubles: a
combination of back and straight stitch, running stitch and
chain stitch. I’m not an expert in embroidery (not even close!)
I just try out things and see what the finished product is like. I
think embroidery gives you lot of freedom as you really don’t
have to follow the rules, no need for structure, try it, if you
don’t like, then undo. The wonderful result of embroidering
onto crochet is that the finished result looks rather clumsy (in
a good way), which to me means handmade.   
Crochet fabric does not produce perfectly straight lines so
working embroidery onto it gives you the perfectly rustic
look. 
 

Below is little tutorial on how I worked some of the stitches.
These are just guide lines that worked for me, if you find a
way of working them better, then that’s fantastic. This is the
first time I have tried to explain how to work embroidery
stitches, I hope my instructions will be clear.
Please check out thespruce.com website, I have found it very
helpful for explanation on how to make some of the stitches.
For the snowflake bauble, I have drawn a template, then
traced it onto the side of the bauble using tailor’s chalk as it
dusts off easily. If you do not have a tailor’s chalk use a
pencil or just try embroidering free hand. 

Snowflake
For the snowflake, I have used a combination of back and
straight stitch. 
1 & 2: Thread your yarn through a tapestry needle and inset
it from the back to front, where the centre of the snowflake will be.
3 & 4: The long spikes of the snowflake stretches over 4 rows and the short ones over 2. The long ones are made using back stitch and the short ones using straight stitch. Insert your needle two rows above the centre and out again 2 rows above that. Pull the yarn through, being careful not to pull all of it out. 
5 & 6: Insert the needle back into the same place as the end of first half of the spike (this creates the long spike of the snowflake) and at the same time pull the tip up 2 stitches to the left (this will create the short spikes). 
7: Insert the needle back into the centre (short spike made) and pull the tip up through 2 stitches to the left (this is the first half of second long spike). 
8 & 9: Insert the needle back into the centre and pull the tip up 4 stitches to the left, in the same line as the first half of the long spike. 
10 & 11: Insert the needle back into the same place as the end of first half of the spike and at the same time pull the tip up 2 rows below (this will create the short spikes).
Continue repeating steps 8 to 11 until the full snowflake is made.

Embroider the little branches of the spikes using the straight
stitch, just going 1 stitch to each side of the spikes.
The dots above the short spikes are made using the running
stitch (see below for instructions)
When you finish the star, hide the yarn by feeding it through
the bauble twice, so it gets trapped in the stuffing, cut the
excess tail.
 
Running stitch 
I have used this stitch at the bottom, around the decrease
part and the tops of the snowflake bauble.
Starting at the back 
1 & 2: Insert the needle in and bring the tip up 1 stitch apart. 
Pull yarn through. 
3 & 4: Repeat the last steps with 1 stitch apart all around the
bauble.
Feed the yarn through the bauble to trap it. 

Chain stitch 
I used this stitch on the firework bauble. It looks beautiful
when done in different colours.
I have worked this stitch over one double crochet stitch going
up, down and sideways. 
1: Bring the needle up through back to front. This is your
starting point. 
2: Insert the needle again at the starting point and bring the
tip up 1 stitch away. 
3: Place the yarn behind the needle and pull the needle through the loop. 
4: Insert the needle back into the same stitch you just came
out from, but making sure the loop is secured in-between the
two strands of yarn. This will trap it and you can move on to
the next chain stitch. 

Straight stitch
This stitch was used to create the stars and crosses on the
top of the firework and star baubles.
The stars are worked as described in the snowflake but all
the spikes are made with single thread and over one or two
stitches. The crosses on tops of the baubles are made the
following way:
Starting from the back and around 2 rows up from colour
change. 
1: Insert the needle in and bring the tip up 2 stitches apart.
Pull yarn through. 
2 & 3: Insert the needle from top, 2 rows up and 2 stitches
apart, going downwards, bring the tip up 2 rows below, this
should be in line with the starting point. Pull yarn through.
This is the first leg of the cross. 
4 & 5: insert the needle in the same place as starting point,
pull the tip up through the same point as end of last step. Pull
yarn through. The second leg of cross made. 
6 & 7: Insert the needle, 2 rows down and 2 stitches apart,
going upwards, bring the tip up 2 rows above, this should be
in line with the end of last step. Pull yarn through. This is the
first leg of second cross. 
8 & 9: Insert the needle in the bottom corner of previous
cross, pull the tip up through the starting point of last step.
Pull yarn through. Second cross completed.
Continue repeating steps 2 to 9, working around the bauble.
Feed the yarn through the bauble to trap it.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas


Anna xx 

One last thing; Please excuse the rather wonky wreath, it’s the first time I actually properly shaped one (apart from the ones for the wedding, but they were in ivy, far easier). Quite a good fun though, and costs nothing, I used branches from my garden and local park.