Friday, May 4, 2018

Packing frenzy

I have not been crocheting or knitting much recently partly because our move back to the UK is imminent and there is so much to do but also because I have a shoulder injury. Arrggh. I haven't exactly pinpointed how I injured it. I have been swimming a lot but I suspect it's just overuse and poor posture is a contributor too. I've been visiting a physiotherapist and have read the most incredible book while resting my poor shoulder: Knitting Comfortably The Ergonomics of Hand Knitting by Carson Demers.

Carson is a physical therapist as well as a knitter, spinner, designer and teacher. This book was SUCH a revelation. And although there are a lot of details about best practice knitting techniques I'd say the majority of the book is relevant to crochet too. In fact working on your computer at a desk is very similar to knitting so it's even relevant for non-crafters! Now I've changed the way I'm knitting and have switched to crocheting left-handed (I am soooo slow, it's hilarious to see) and I will also change the way I teach as a result.

A few simple take outs
(from a mass of superb advice in this book)
 that I've embraced are:
craft little and often
slow down
take breaks and stand up

I took part in my first twitter chat in April #hgdcmakersmoment takes place from 3pm-4pm CDT/9pm-10pm GMT run by a very cool young British Crocheter, Knitter, Sewer and Maker Heather Griffith. I loved it. I'm going to try to make it every week. Very fun! Heather also has a super vlog which she started eight months ago. I'm really enjoying it. Check it out: HG Designs Crochet on YouTube.

Since I last blogged, I have found a Facebook Group of fellow yarn addicts in the neighborhood I'm moving back to. I'm going to have some local people to craft with. Hurray! And one member is Alexandra, crochet and sewing addict and founder of Crochet Beginners Group on Facebook which has 90K members  - how amazing is that?! I'm going to be living around the corner from a crochet superstar! Her vlog is: Alexandra from Crochet Beginners Group on YouTube. It has weekly crochet tutorials and my particular favorite vlogs are those on local yarn stores: Wool Bath and Alterknits Universe which is in Cleeve. You know where I'm going!

Last month I also went on a day long craft retreat - the fourth time I've attended this retreat and I love it so. And inspired by the format, I've decided to put together a series of quarterly local workshops once I'm back in Bristol. I have lots of ideas on the content and possible themes. They will obviously be crochet-related, possibly knitting too. I need to find a suitable venue or venues. This will involve lots of visiting yarn stores and other crafty places. I need to start saying "wool shop". I just don't think I can though - wool shop just doesn't sound as sexy as "yarn store."

Anyway, I had better get on with the decluttering and downsizing. Our house in Bristol is quite a bit smaller than our place here in Texas. Being realistic. I'm not going to be blogging or podcasting for a few months with the move happening. So in the meantime you can find me on social media - I'm Crafty Escapism everywhere... Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry. Craft on friends!!

Friday, April 6, 2018

We're repatriating!

It's official. I'm moving back to Bristol. Yay! We're repatriating to the UK in June. Our two year adventure in Houston turned into six years and it's the most bittersweet feeling. I've met so many lovely people here in Texas and I'm really going to miss them. I will miss my job teaching at my local yarn store Nimblefingers, my workshop students, my colleagues and inspiring boss lady Chris ....... I can hardly believe I've been teaching there for 3 1/2 years now! And then there are all the wonderful ladies in Yak and Yarn, my charity crochet group. Thank you Yvonne for taking over the communications! I promise to continue providing crochet design inspiration and guidance from across the pond!

Thank goodness I have lots of crafty friends on social media, and plenty of them live in the UK. I may even get to meet them in person! If I didn't have my virtual crochet community, I'd be untangling right now.

I have been doing a lot of decluttering and have virtually stopped buying yarn. I now have all of my stash yarn in four 27 liter plastic containers. Astonishing! Well, it is to me! Garments that I've made but don't wear I am giving away as gifts. Our house in the UK is smaller then here in Houston and I'm aware that our belongings have expanded to fit this bigger space. And yarn has become a much larger part of my life out here and consequently takes up a lot more space. 

I'm not quite sure what life is going to look like once we're back home but I'm determined to continue teaching. And I need a local group to be part of. And if there isn't one I'll just start one up. Oh and I may show up an odd yarn event ..... my crafty British friend Helen mentioned Yarnporium in November. I might have found a place to hide (whoops I mean store) new stash by then.

We leave in just over 8 weeks. I'm not sure if I'll manage to keep up with my monthly blog and podcast. I will try my best but I will be tweeting and posting to Instagram and Facebook and checking into Ravelry. I'm Crafty Escapism in all of these places.

If you're not doing social media or you just want to know when there's a new blog post and I'll keep you updated with the move.

And if you're in my Yak and Yarn group I've already signed you up and hopefully you're reading or listening to this! You can unsubscribe. You're not stuck on my list forever! I do hope we'll stay in touch though. Until next month...

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hello March! Review of Crochet Kaleidoscope

Short February has flown by and thank goodness I can check my Instagram feed because I forgot to write a list... I've mainly been hooking a fabulous crochet blanket, joining in with the go go granny crochetalong run by super British crochet designer Rosina of the Zeens and Roger podcast. I was dithering a lot before the CAL began on my choice of project and then happy mail arrived from F+W/Interweave, a newly released crochet book for me to review Crochet Kaleidoscope by Sandra Eng who is @mobiusgirl on Instagram.

It's a book of 100 motif patterns and there are five projects at the end including a really standout blanket design which incorporates granny stitches and so qualifies for the crochetalong. The owner of the yarn store, where I teach, loved the design too so I've been hooking it as a sample for the store. Samples sell yarn!

If you don't have a motif book this would be a good one to buy. There is some fantastic color advice at the front of the book. Some people intuitively pick out colors that go together but not me I need a little assistance. It has appealing motifs aplenty in different shapes: squares, circles, hexagons, triangles and others. Each motif has written as well as charted instructions which is something I like to see. And there are several inspiring projects at the end of the book so you can see how to incorporate your favorite motifs into something more than a motif. Here is my Vintage Bauble Blanket in progress. I'm using lovely Queensland Collection United yarn which is a sport weight certified organic wool/cotton blend in the most gorgeous colors.

My #useitorloseit2018 campaign continues. I made the Lilla Bjorn Sweater in February using stash yarn taking part in another crochetalong hosted by one of my favorite designers Tatsiana Kupryianchhyk. I love this sweater and Houston Texas, like many other places, has had a colder than normal winter so I've been able to wear it often and show off.

From March 1st I'll be starting another crochetalong - the Different Designer CAL run by Fay from the Crochet Circle Podcast. Full details are in her Ravelry group but essentially you pick a pattern from a designer who is new to you. I thought I'd try some different crochet sock designers. Do join us in the group and/or use the hashtag #DesignerCAL if Instagram is your thing.

And finally...the kind publishers sent me two copies of Crochet Kaleidoscope so I'm going to offer one of them as a giveaway. Please let me know in the comments below if you'd like my second book and/or send me a message via Instagram Twitter Ravelry or Facebook - I'm Crafty Escapism everywhere! I'll run a little random generator in a week's time and pick one of you. Good luck and have a fabulous March. I'll be back with another combo blog/podcast on April the 6th.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Stash Busting, Grannies & YouTube

The great thing about writing my blog & recording my podcast monthly rather then weekly is that I have so much content - too much in fact. Here's some of the best bits... The year has started out with me firmly focused on stash busting. This year I'm going to be even better at it than usual because I have Lynne Rowe's Use it or Lose it campaign running for the whole year. I love "-alongs" that go on for the whole year. There is less pressure of a deadline. Some of the rules are a little harsh like removing a pattern from a magazine only if you have stash for it and otherwise giving the magazine away. I just can't do it so I am modifying the rules (I'm a master at modifying to suit) and Lynne says that's OK fortunately. So I am keeping the entire magazine if it contains more than a single pattern and even for the single patterns I'm pulling out I'm kind of optimistically imagining that I have exactly the right stash yarn to suit. Once you get started it's almost addictive. I've got through all my magazines now and I'm putting them into categories in a folder - crochet patterns are sorted into garments/accessories/other and I also have other craft projects and techniques.There are more details on Lynne's blog here on how to take part and chatter in Lynne's Ravelry group. There's also the hashtag #UseItOrLoseIt2018 on Instagram. Lynne sent over a helpful image of how to handle those magazines. Give it a go. Decluttering is very liberating.

Still on the theme of shifting some of my huge yarn collection, the ultimate stash busting project has to be granny squares. And rather conveniently this week the Granny square CAL or crochetalong has kicked off. Yay! It's hosted by Rosina of the Zeens and Roger podcast. I plan to make motifs for a poncho or garment of sorts and also at least one huge granny square blanket to donate. My lovely Yak and Yarn group make products to give to local charities. There are details here on Rosina's blog, chatter in her Ravelry group and a hashtag of course #GrannyCAL18 on Instagram. I found this amazing magazine dating from 1974 while I was decluttering. This one I am keeping unless Rosina really wants it!

The most exciting thing that has happened this year so far ... I've started making instructional videos for YouTube. I am a teacher and I've thought for a long time that this is what I should be doing. I've only got one up there so far so don't get overexcited. My inspiration has been my 11 year old son aka SnakeBoy Dude who recently started his own channel.  I'm recording short clips showing how to crochet different parts of a sock - toe, foot, heel... and so on. I'm using the pattern I wrote last year for my class that I taught at the Houston Fiber Fest: The Leftover Crochet Sock. It's a small toe up sock designed to cover some of the key techniques. I think I'm into double figure subscribers now. Go me!

I hope the start of your year has been fabulous. Are you going to join me in the Use it or Lose it Campaign and/or on the Granny CAL? Do let me know what you thought of my first video too. Have a wonderful month y'all and I'll be back here on the first Friday of March. In the meantime you can find me doing my crochet thing on Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook as Craftyescapism. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

A Book Review of How to be a Craftivist by Sarah Corbett

I realized I was a craftivist three years ago discovering "Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism" by Betsy Greer on a "new and notable in the 700s" display in Houston Downtown Library. Shortly afterwards I was fortunate enough to hear Betsy speak, on the topic, at our fantastic Houston Centre for Contemporary Craft. (I love this place and really don't visit it often enough!) I know we even spoke briefly but I really can't remember what I said now. It was something disappointingly inane because I was feeling so inspired by the talk. The book and Betsy's lecture changed the way I viewed my craft. Craftivism is "using your creativity to make the world a better place" (Betsy Greer, I realized that I was making a difference and it was a wonderful feeling.

I teach crochet and knitting and I can see the positive impact this has on my students firsthand. I run a yak and yarn group where we hook items for local charities. I make items for larger craftivism projects to raise awareness of social issues. I buy local, independent and sustainable yarn whenever I can (that's a lot of buying). But I've realized I have become too comfortable with my definition of craftivism. So I supported and bought a copy of "How to be a Craftivist" by Sarah Corbett on Unbound because I hoped that reading this book would help me to become a more effective craftivist.

And it has been just the book to take my craftivism to the next level. It's a very practical book aimed at "everyone who wants to help improve our wonderful world in a beautiful, gentle and loving way". That's me! Yes!

The definitions at the beginning of the book are extremely useful. Sarah provides a valuable insight with her background in activism and the nonprofit sector.

I kept reading. So many ideas! Here's an excerpt from the book on Slow Activism. Read it! It's so good! The case study on #imapiece - jigsaw pieces crafted for the Save the Children "Race against Hunger" campaign was the one to convince me that craftivism can effectively tackle social injustice.

This amazing book has shown me that craftivism can be more effective and powerful than I'd realized. My advice would be to read the book, take it all in and join the collective too. Buy a hard copy here on the Craftivist Collective website or an Ebook edition here on the Unbound website. Then report back and tell me what you think!