Saturday, November 18, 2017

Back to School Sweater CAL - Celebration of Making

What an amazing few months Helen of Making at Number 14 and I have had planning and running our Back to School Sweater CAL (crochetalong) and blog hop. We'll be closing the FO (finished objects) thread on Ravelry shortly and running the random number generator for prizes. As we write there are 53 gorgeous finished objects in there and/or tagged with #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL on Instagram. Seven makers have made two garments and two speedy makers have made three in the eight week period of the CAL from September 16th to November 17th. Incredible!

We've loved hanging out in the Ravelry chatter thread, kindly hosted by the wonderful Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast, and over 50 of us have shared our garment making experiences together. We even had a frogging party where a fair few of us, Helen and myself included, had to frog our garments to get them to fit correctly!  There have been over 400 super photos posted on Instagram with the hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL

Many participants have been making sweaters for the first time. We've had comments on how they now see themselves as garment makers as a result of taking part. We've also received lots of feedback about how useful the blog hop posts have been (details here just in case you missed it). This has made the whole crochetalong so worthwhile for us, SO much better than just making our own garments by ourselves.

We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the bloggers who wrote a blog article (or two!) for us: JoJoTwinkletoes, The Crochet Project, Sam of SingASimpleMelody , Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast and Knit It Hook It Craft It and Marta or MrsDaftSpaniel and for all the folk who have donated prizes: Marta, The Crochet Project, Fay, Rosina from Zeens and Roger, Yael from Emyahandmade and Lisa too. A special extra thank you goes to Fay for letting us host our CAL and FO thread in her Crochet Circle Podcast group.

And a huge thank you and congratulations to all the people who have taken part and made a wonderful handmade garment of their own!!! Let us know if you'd like to do it all over again next year!!?

I'm taking a little blog break over the holidays (here in the US we have Thanksgiving next week) so I won't be blogging next week but I'll be back soon depending on how I'm getting on with my frenzied Christmas making! In the meantime you can find me over on Ravelry, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as CraftyEscapism.

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review of The Knit Show

There's just one more week of our Back to School Sweater CAL left so the perfect thing to binge-watch on YouTube while you're finishing off those sleeves is The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. This publicly-funded studio quality series, launched just last month and is so inspiring! Just watching the show makes you a member of the Knit Hive. The definition taken from the website is:  "A nod to the knitting bees of old and the modern, “hive mind” mentality that refers to the gathering of stitchers, either physically or virtually, for the purpose of supporting and sharing a common passion for knitting, crochet, crafts and creativity."

I meant to donate but I totally forgot and I must admit that the name "The Knit Show" put me off (I can and do knit but I don't like crochet being left out). But I was being a bit silly really because I know that Vickie Howell loves her crochet and knitting equally. The show is SO much more than just knitting. There is plenty of crochet content too.

The ten themed episodes last around 30 minutes each. I flew through them and found so much inspiration. Each episode features mini tutorials, famous yarn industry guests, free patterns....  and much more. It's has been fascinating to watch and the content feels so on trend. I am hopeful there will be a second season.

The highlights for me were:
  • The Trends Episode - Pompom socks
  • The Big Knits Episode - Aster Flower knit stitch pattern
  • The Global Episode - scarf and sweater patterns
  • The Lace Episode - the Visit to the Furls crochet hook workshop and Kristen Omdahl demoing a new stitch for me
  • The Bags Episode - Drew Emborsky demoing his crochet bag design & the visit to the Independence Fiber Mill
  • The Color Episode - the brioche fix and bargello knit stitch pattern
  • The Amigurumi Episode - Twinkie Chan
  • The Multicraftual Episode - the crochet/woven purse
  • The Vintage Touches Episode - Granny squares!
  • The Handmade Holiday Episode - The visit to Hill Country Weavers
If you've already watched the show please do let me know what your highlights were. If not, what's stopping you!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Houston International Quilt Festival 2017

This week the International Quilt Festival is taking place at the George R Brown Convention Centre in Downtown Houston. I'm not a quilter but I can appreciate the artistry and skill involved. And I love quilts that tell a story or illustrate a specific social or political issue. I've never visited before but Nimblefingers, the yarn store where I teach, are vending at the show for the first time. So I organized a little trip for members of my Yak & Yarn group on Thursday, the opening day and I'll be working on the Nimblefingers stand on the day this blog post goes live.

This is a huge event with over 55,000 quilt lovers traveling from 35 different countries to attend. It's part marketplace, part quilt competition and part quilt exhibition. There are also a huge number of classes taking places. I headed first to the yarn sellers (they sell everything at the quilt show - buttons, fabric, frames, dyes, embroidery, bags, sewing machines...) just to see what they had going on and have a little squish: The Hen House , Threads & Ewe , WC Mercantile , Yarnorama  all from Texas and RedFish DyeWorks from California.

Then I entered the exhibition hall - a gallery of hundreds of quilts curated into 46 exhibits. So many of the quilts tell a story - collections highlight civil rights, feminism and more. As Thomas Knauer, the creator of the exhibit entitled "Between Me and the World: Identity and Activism Quilts wrote

"Quilts can certainly carry social and cultural implications. Here, they translate specific concerns into material form, and explore a wide range of issues—both personal and political. Ideas are made concrete, and a quilt becomes an expression of the complexities that make up a life in the world."

I'd picked this exhibit out beforehand from the brochure online and it just happened to be the first one as I entered the hall. I didn't know what to expect. Thomas' most recent quilts cover two issues - the epidemic of gun violence and his personal struggles with chronic illness. After looking at his collection, I could have left the festival. I had enough going on in my head at that point...

But I continued, trying to see as many exhibits as I could. I took a lot of photos hoping that I'd be able to remember more. I've limited myself to including just two other exhibits here which I found particularly moving but I could fill half a dozen blog posts...

The 70,273 Project is a worldwide collaborative art project. The quilts are made up of blocks of fabric marked with two red crosses on a white background to commemorate the reported number of physically and mentally disabled people killed by the Nazi regime between January 1940 and August 1941. Jeanne Hewell-Chambers is collecting 70,273 quilt blocks from around the world. Around 7,000 or one tenth of the blocks were on display at the quilt festival this week. The blocks will appear at Rochester, Lincoln and Durham Cathedrals in the UK in January 2018, to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day. 

HERstory: A CELEBRATION OF STRONG WOMEN was an amazing exhibit organized by Susanne Jones who had asked for submissions of quilts of a woman who had inspired them since women attained the right to vote in 1920. Quilts had been sent in from 8 countries. Susanne said I could take photos so long as I attributed the quilter and the collection. I picked out Nina Simone: A Theme with Variations by Sherri Culver because I love her songs and her voice. And it reminded me of the amazing crochet mural currently on display of Nina Simone in Raleigh North Carolina as part of the Love Across the USA community art project. It's funny how things lead back to crochet for me.

I hope you've found this slightly off topic post interesting... most people I know who crochet and knit are interested in other crafts. Have a super week y'all!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast