Fibre Arts Made Easy
Joining Lines in Nature is finally here - its been waiting for YOU!
As you begin your journey into fibre crafts, or reach for something new to explore, here are some fab top tips to help you along the way.
There are oodles of different types of fibres, yarns and textile crafts you can try as part of this wonderful Joining Lines in Nature project.
Within this guide I will introduce you to some of my favourite yarn crafts, explain the various fibre types available as well as share some of my top tips for sourcing materials and getting started on you yarny journey.
FIBRE ART vs YARN CRAFT
The term fibre art is often used more to describe fine art work and yarn craft used more commercially to describe crafting with yarn. Whatever term you choose, fibres and yarns can be used and transformed into new wonderful creations by the use of these traditional crafting skills.
Here are four of my favourites explained:
Crochet is the process of taking yarn strands and transforming them into fabric by the use of a single crochet hook. Crochet is hands down my favourite fibre craft to practice, I find it a mindful activity and it works up super-fast! Although, crochet does eat your yarn much faster than knitting, I find it easier to correct mistakes and be experimental – it’s much more forgiving. As part of JLIN I encourage you to explore freeform crochet as well as follow patterns, it’s so rewarding and so much fun to create simply for creating sake.
One of the things I enjoy about crochet is that it can only be created by hand – there’s not a machine in the world that can produce crochet fabric, how amazing is that!
What you’ll need:
Example crochet projects:
Knitting can be constructed by hand or by machine, making it one of the most commercial yarn crafts available. From high street fashion, home décor, right through to traditional handicrafts worked up at home, knitting is by far the most well-known yarn craft about. Like crochet, knitting is the process of taking yarn and manipulating it to form fabric. This time two knitting needles are used to transform yarn into textiles. (Hand knitting).
What you’ll need
Example knitting projects:
Weaving is the action of interlacing threads and yarn at right angles, known and warp and weft, to create fabric. The warp threads run length-ways on the piece of cloth and are usually the treads you begin with and the weft threads run horizontally - these are the threads you add to create your textures and patterns.
Weaving is usually created on a loom but in its simplest form this can be a piece of cardboard with notches for the warp threads to sit, a embroidery hoop or any frame like item which allows you to wrap yarn.
What you’ll need
Example weaving projects:
There are a few different ways to explore with felt making; needle felting, wet felting with animal fibres as well as wet felting with woollen yarns. I love the surprise element of felt making, manipulating loose fibres into solid structures.
Traditional wet felting is where you take animal fibres known as roving and either lay them flat in a cross hatch manner or place them over a form, like a bowl, before adding hot water, soap and aggravation to merge the fibres together and create a solid fabric.
My favourite technique is to use wool yarn, crocheted very loosely allowing the water and soap to blend the fibres when aggravated. Taking an open, lacey piece of fabric and watching it transform into something entirely new is a dream to explore. Adding plant or synthetic fibres next to animal fibres create interesting ripple textures as these will not felt, instead they will create raised, loopy section within your work.
What you’ll need
Example weaving projects:
GETTING STARTED WITH FIBRE CRAFTS
Where To Start?
Simply pick one of the fibre crafts listed and have a go. Once you’ve explored each craft a little you will probably be drawn to one more than the other which you can then experiment with further…. or you may love them all and have projects coming out of your ears. Yep! That’s me. Crochet is my love but since beginning my own experimentation through the Joining Lines in Nature project, weaving and felting are coming in close as is combining them all.
My advice is enjoy the journey. Relax into the process and don’t worry about the outcome. Often the best creations are born from the freedom of exploring. Too much structure stunts your creativity.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong”
– Joseph Chilton Pearce
Fibres and Materials
Each fibre craft will require a different set of materials and equipment to get started. Some will require more than others. Knitting and crochet are often the most accessible as you can get started with a simple ball of yarn and a crochet hook or pair of knitting needles.
Yarn is created when fibre strands are twisted together, this process is known as spinning.
What Are Fibres?
Fibres are the materials that yarn is made up of. There are a huge range of natural (animal and plant fibres) and synthetic fibres open to explore.
Animal fibres like wool and cashmere are warm and soft, plant fibres like cotton and bamboo are durable and synthetic fibres like acrylic are often 100% washable, each fibre perfect in its own unique way. Think about what textures and properties you require for your project, consider whether you need a yarn that holds in heat or that is breathable, are you after a yarn that drapes well or can withstand lots of wear and tear.
Yarn doesn't always come in just one fibre type either, fibres can be 'blended' to create new properties and yarn types. Blended simply means that a natural and synthetic fibre have been merged together to create a blended yarn.
Understanding the various fibre properties will help you make better yarn choices for your projects.
What is Yarn Weight?
Yarn weight is not what you think it might be. It is not the overall weight of a ball (also known as a hank or skein) of yarn on the scales, it refers to the thickness of the yarn strand. The way that fibres are processed and spun will impact the final yarn weight.
Yarn weight gives you an idea of what size knitting needles or crochet hook to use; how big the stitches will be, how thick the fabric will be, and what types of projects would be appropriate for the yarn.
Yarn Weight at a Glance:
Depending on what country you are sourcing yarn from will depend on what name is given to each yarn weight. Here's a quick guide to get you started.
What is Tension?
Some people knit and crochet tightly and others more loosely, this is referred to as tension. Tension has a huge affect on the overall finish of your fabric.
It can be quite fun to explore various tensions during your early experimentation - see what happens when you use the same yarn but work tightly and then again more loosely. What happens to the yarn when transformed into fabric?
If you are following a pattern, tension is very important and a gauge swatch should be completed before starting any pattern.
What is Gauge?
Gauge is the measure of how big your stitches are. Everyone knits and crochets differently and tension varies. Patterns often provide a gauge calculation so you can do a swatch before jumping into doing the entire project. Swatching is highly recommended for garment making - if you're out even a few millimetres your finished garment will come out far too big or teeny tiny, not what you want when you've spent hours making.
To calculate your gauge simply, knit or crochet a swatch the size instructed (often 10cm x 10cm) and measure the width of your stitches and the height of your stitches then compare it to the pattern guide.
What is Yardage?
Yardage, or metreage as it's also know, is the amount of yarn in yards or metres in a single ball of yarn. You can find these measurements on the yarn ball band, along with gauge, recommended needle or hook size and so much more.
SOURCING YOUR SUPPLIES
Where To Buy Your Yarn Craft Supplies
I 100% encourage you to visit your local yarn shop or independent haberdashery rather than buying from one of the big boys. Why, I hear you ask! Not only are you investing in the high street and independent business, you are investing in a person and an experience. There is nothing like stepping into a shop that is filled will craft supplies, lovingly sourced by a small team of individuals that do a little dance every time you buy.
Local yarn shops listen to their customers, buy only the best for their needs and provide top quality support and guidance with extensive knowledge. Can you get that level of expertise and customer service from a big commercial retailer?
Buying from an independent business means:
Here’s a list of some fantastic independent yarn shops across the UK - but there are so many more I encourage you to discover:
FIBRE ARTISTS TO INSPIRE YOUR CREATIVITY
Often you don't know what's even possible until you see what other people are creating. Being inspired, discovering new techniques and finding materials you never even knew existed are all part of the journey - the research and experimentation stage is often where the magic happens. Lightbulb moment! Here are some of the artists who have inspired my early research for this project, enjoy:
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Joining Lines in Nature has arrived and it's here for you - Are you ready to take a leap and try something new? Are you ready to left go and enjoy the journey?
If you have any questions or want to brainstorm some ideas then please get in touch - lets keep this conversation going. Leave me a comment.
Happy crafting my lovely
Is the Universe telling us something?
What a crazy time we live in right now. I began planning and plotting for phase two of my Joining Lines project towards the end of last year (October 2019) but things have taken a little side step, which is to be expected due to the massive changes we're all facing as we cope with Covid-19. Now more than ever we're seeking ways to be more mindful, ways to come together and support each other. As the universe fires out negativity, we must find ways to survive, ways to be better.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." Helen Keller
What better way to get back into blogging and sharing my journey with you than to invite you to join me for another community project. After taking some time away from the website and slowing my pace down I have been able to reflect on what is important to me and my family.
My last blog post was very much a big brain fart of all that is April Towriess Crochet and was a way for me to process what I wanted for my business and who I was in this creative jungle. Well, I have stepped away from the chaos, looked after my over thinking brain and have now been able to lift the cloud and discover what path I want to take. Hello, I am April and I am a community artist!
Do you want to join my club?
Yes, of course you do, why wouldn't you! Joining Lines in Nature is the second in a series of yarn based community installations created and displayed in the heart of Nottingham by makers from all over the country. The original Joining Lines installation was created in 2018 and showcased the work of 37 community crocheters and over 145 white crocheted doilies.Read all about Joining Lines Part 1 here.
Joining Lines in Nature will be a free standing interactive yarn based installation with wall mounted elements and will focus on organic form and shapes from nature. I invite you to pick up some yarn, get creative and make magic with me.
Unsure whether this project is for you?
Here's a few reasons why you should absolutely join my club and get involved...
1 | Enjoy your favourite yarn craft or try something new
If you're here reading this then you probably love yarn craft of some form already or are keen to try out something new as the universe slows you down and you stay home to keep safe. Crochet, knitting, weaving, macrame or even pom pom and tassel making are all great examples of yarn craft and are perfect for all ages. There's definitely something for everyone.
I have always been interested in textiles, my Granny introduced me to embroidery, sewing and knitting pretty early on in my creative journey. As I progressed into creative education I was soon drawn to fabric construction and woven textiles. Since leaving education, crochet has been my go to craft and it has dominated everything. Its a way to escape the everyday and relax, let the mind wonder and create. I absolutely love taking something and turning it into something else, constructing fabric out of yarn is magical. Recently I purchased some small weaving kits for the children to try - if I'm honest, I've used them more than they have. These simple, inexpensive kits have sparked so much creative inspiration and reminded me that there is way more to explore in the world of fibre arts than simply crochet.
Which yarn crafts have you tried? Are you drawn to one more than the other? Do you fancy trying something new? Join me for another fantastic community project and be a part of something positive at this uncertain time. We can be certain of one thing, we are here together on the same journey - lets create together, share our skills and build our community.
2 | Work with like minded people and be part of a community
I have seen some incredible acts of kindness through this pandemic and it's exactly this kind of spirit I seek as part of my ever evolving Joining Lines project. Community, now more than ever means so much. You are being forced to stay home and isolate yourself to stay safe. This is not by choice but by necessity, it is important that we listen so we can move through this chapter in time and save lives. It may not feel like you have any choices right now but you do. You can choose to cut yourselves off from the world whilst at home in isolation or you can choose to unite, reach out and be part of something bigger.
Social interaction as well as craft for relaxation have all been proven to relieve stress and encourage a healthy mind set. If you've got this far I'm sure you will agree, its the positivity we project into the universe and the wonderful people we surround ourselves with, that will help us heal and bounce back from this. So, grab yourself some yarn and create. Use your hands and make magic, whether its as part of this project or part of your own personal journey. Be part of my tribe and create!
3 | Share skills and sustain traditional techniques and ideas
As my children always say 'Sharing is Caring' and it really is. Without the skills and experiences of our ancestors a lot of the traditional crafts like knitting and crochet could be lost. Its our job to keep them alive, pass on what we know, share what we love and encourage others to give it a try too.
Whether I'm teaching my children to read, introducing a beginner to crochet or sharing my graphic design knowledge with others, I just love to share, it gives me so much joy in the process. My Granny shared her textiles skills with me and taught me to knit and crochet, but there are a lot of people out there, especially the younger generation that don't have that natural chain of knowledge.
If you can, share what you know and love with others, whether that's crochet, knitting, weaving, macrame, pom pom and tassel making or felting and if you don't have these skills to share, then ask. I'm sure there are people, not so far away from you right now, that have knowledge to share ... **waves like a crazy lady**
Obviously, you can't just pop round to a friends or ask your elderly neighbour to show you the ropes right now (thanks for that Covid-19!) but you can look online, connect with people through social media or dig out those old dusty books you found at a bootsale years ago you've been meaning to read.
4 | Get back to basics - put aside technology and be present in the moment
During this pandemic, technology is the key to keeping us connected, its allowing us to communicate with our loved ones, work remotely in the comfort of our homes and it is one thing I am truly thankful for at this difficult time. Technology and advances in knowledge and learning means that lives are being saved, in more ways than one.
Despite all the positives, technology can also be the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety. I know first hand, whilst trying to set up my day job computer at home, with children round my feet and networks not connecting, it has proven extremely overwhelming, as has the constant news coverage of the virus, online discussions and increased messages to and from loved ones.
So, if you're like me and are finding digital connectivity a little mind blowing right now, why not step away and focus on a more mindful way of being. Use yarn to entertain your hands and let your mind wonder into a creative abis. Crochet, knit, felt or weave instead of scrolling and typing. Let go, be present and you will flourish.
5 | Be inspired by Nature
I've said it many times over the past couple of weeks but I definitely believe the universe is telling us something. Stop! Slow down! Think! You can either see this pandemic as the end of what we know, panic and waste time filled with anxiety or you can see it as a spiritual awakening. An opportunity to start over. A chance to evolve and grow.
How often do you stand still and simply look, breathe in the air around you and feel the motion, or touch the rough textures of the tree you’ve walked passed every day for ten years? In a generation of computers, instant, at your fingertips purchasing and social media we often forget to be present in the moment. Joining Lines in Nature explores themes surrounding nature and our awareness of our environment.
This years project will take inspiration from the natural world. Using fibre crafts to recreate textures, colours and forms from nature, the project will organically emerge and the work of individual makers will be transformed into a fabulous community fibre art installation.
6 | Use craft as a wellbeing tool
Getting back to our roots, surrounding ourselves in nature for inspiration and interacting with others will promote a sense of community and aid with our wellbeing. If you're a crafter you will already know that crafting has an abundance of health benefits. Being creative and keeping your hands busy can help to reduce stress, relieve and reduce depression and anxiety and help build self-esteem. Crafting can also decrease the risk of cognitive impairment as you age, help with insomnia, and can help you to relax, which in turn, reduces irritability and restlessness - feelings I'm sure you've felt over the past couple of weeks. If this list isn't evidence enough that crafting is great for your health, craft also builds community and friendships and brings people together. Let's take this time to collaborate on something amazing, lets support each other through the tough times and embrace the good. If you're lost and in need of a project to get stuck into then Joining Lines in Nature is perfect for you. Learn new skills or rekindle your love of making, maybe you'll even learn something about yourself along the way. Its important to look after your body and mind and remember its ok to stop and relax.
7 | Be an artist and collaborate with others
Everyone is an artist. Art is very subjective and is influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. So, whether you think you are an artist or not, I can assure you, you are. Have you ever considered being apart of an art installation? Why not use the skills you have learnt practising your favourite hobby to make something that sits alongside fellow makers, joining lines between yarn craft, between communities and challenging yourself. I believe in you, you can do it. I have the faith and know that this is your time to do something out of your comfort zone and get involved. Are you ready to get involved?
8 | Make your mark
Joining Lines in Nature - What a wonderful mark to leave once the storm has past.
I have a vision of what I'd like the final Joining Lines in Nature installation to look like but I am so excited to see it evolve. I see the installation being a floor standing tree like form surrounded by a blanket of texture and colour which organically creeps from floor to wall as if to grow and mould into its surroundings. Pod like elements will emerge from the ground allowing the viewer to sit and be fully absorbed in the yarn filled indoor woodland. Will this be how it looks, who knows?! As more and more people get involved, as fabric is constructed and elements combined, the project will mature into its own form. As we move through this incredible and historic part of time, we, ourselves will grow. Embrace this moment, breath in every minute and remember, we're in it together.
Take care darlings, Ax
Whilst researching for my Joining Lines in Nature project I came across some super inspiring textile artists. Each one sparking oodles of inspiration, whether it be the colours they used, the textures they created or the construction of their art piece. When creating any artwork or design work, it is important to first gather inspiration from the world around us, this is called contextual research and it allows us to fully move our thoughts and ideas into reality. Without this type of research our ideas may become limiting or appear flat.
Taking inspiration from the world around me, sourcing inspiring images, sketching out thoughts and comparing my ideas with others doing similar things, have all helped me to map out my concept for my Joining Lines in Nature project. As in nature, my Joining Lines in Nature project is organically evolving and growing into itself.
Here are my Top 10 Textile Artists inspired by nature:
Vanessa Barragão | Website | Instagram
Portuguese textile artist Vanessa Barragão creates nature themed textile pieces using various yarn based techniques which include latch hooking, crochet, weaving, basketry, and felt.
Her Coral Garden installation has been a huge inspiration for my Joining Lines in Nature project and gets me excited each time I see it. The scale of the piece, the three dimensional aspects, as will as all of the varying textures and colours just blow my mind, not to mention the incredible message behind her work.
Sommer Roman | Website | Instagram
Californian born, Sommer Roman is a mixed media artist and illustrator, her work includes sculpture, painting and drawing. She works with materials and imagery from a variety of sources; domestic discards, used textiles, micrographs of plant life etc. and draws inspiration from nature, senses and impulses.
I was particularly drawn to her Elisabethi Installation (pictured above left). I love how the work organically appears to grow up the wall. The subtle colour and textural changes are representative of the natural world, they playfully entice you in.
Alyssa Ki | Solip diy
Alyssa Ki from Solip diy | Website | Instagram
Korean-American Alyssa Ki creates the most beautiful woven wall hangings I have ever seen. Her work is full of texture and whimsy and her use of colour is to die for. My journey into this creative world began with woven textiles so my heart is fluttering right now. My urge to weave once more is strong. I am excited about combining various fibre art techniques, especially weave and crochet, to create a multidisciplinary installation of my own.
Fun fact - Solip is Alyssa's Korean name and the direct translation is ‘pine needle’.
Miho Fujita | Website | Instagram
Miho Fujita is a Japanese crochet jewellery artist. Working on a micro scale, her work is stunning, super delicate and hugely influenced by nature. It would be wonderful to combine chunky textures with delicate details, much like the varying contrast within the natural world.
Hannah Streefkerk | Website | Instagram
Swedish textile artist Hannah Streefkerk seeks to create art that makes people stop in their tracks and raise awareness of environmental problems. Her work focuses on mending and the nature of time, how seasons change and the effect that time has on life and the world around us. She uses stitch and crochet to repair holes in trees, crochets moss onto bark and transforms forgotten nature into spectacular art pieces.
Barbara De Pirro | Website | Instagram
Barbara De Pirro creates biomorphic sculptures and installations. Working with a range of reclaimed plastics she transforms this synthetic material into organic forms. Her art gives voice to her ecological concerns, encouraging reflection about our relationship with the environment.
Leigh Martin | Website | Instagram
Leigh Martin is a visual artist and nature enthusiast from Central Oklahoma. Her fibre work and installations are heavily influenced by her background in Urban Forestry. She uses knit to capture small details within the natural world like fungi, flowers and leaves.
Anna Shepelieva | Awesome Knots
Anna Shepelieva from Awesome Knots | Etsy | Instagram
Anna Shepelieva is a Ukrainian weaver, crocheter and knitter. She has two very different creative businesses Awesome Knots and Eva's Doodlings, both of which focus on texture and fibre art. I am particularly drawn to her macrame work and how she takes thread and cord and transforms them into incredible floral wall hangings. Who ever thought macrame could look like this?!
Emma Mattson | Website | Etsy
Emma Mattson is a Maryland photographer and artist, specialising in portraiture and natural photography. She uses felt, thread and embroidery stitches to create natural moss like art pieces. Her work is delicate and tactile and I'm interested in her use of thread to create textures to represent organic growth.
Patricia Yasmine Graf
Patricia Yasmine Graf | Website
Patricai Yasmine Graf isn't actually an artist she is a German product designer but her Snork Seat just couldn't not get a mention. I love the idea of creating art that is interactive, a piece that you can fully immerse yourself in. I mean, just look at that texture!
Creating Colour Palettes
Colour is everywhere! What better source of inspiration than the world around us. As part of my Joining Lines in Nature research I have sourced some of the most incredible images of nature which I aim to use as inspiration for colour and texture. You can view my Nature Pinterest board here.
From each image I have picked out some of my favourite tones to create a set eight colour palettes which will guide my yarn choices and pattern designs throughout the project.
What colours can you see?
What other colours can you see in the images? Would you have chosen different colours to create a palette instead? Is there anything missing? Colour is viewed so differently from person to person and how those colours react next to each other creates optical effects which are magical.
If you are joining in my Joining Lines in Nature project, please use these palettes to inspire your makes.
Find out more about how to get involved here.
Palette | 1
Palette | 2
Palette | 3
Palette | 4
Palette | 5
Palette | 6
Palette | 7
Palette | 8
Disclaimer: All nature images have been sourced via Pinterest. Colour Palettes have been created by myself, April Towriess in Adobe Photoshop. Please check out my Pinterest board for original sources.
'Hey you guys!'
'Hey you guys!' Name the film reference? Ok, so this isn't how I thought I'd be starting this blog post but I've not written a chatty post for a while and 'hey you guys' just felt right. Bloody love this film too, my sister and I would watch it on repeat as kids. Have you seen it? Its a classic, wouldn't you agree?!
I'm going to start by saying sorry for the radio silence of late. If you follow me on social media you may have noticed I've not been posting much lately. I feel like all I talk about these days is my mental health and feeling rubbish and this is definitely not the tone I want for my little business. Its very moany and miserable so rather than beat myself up and add any unnecessary pressure, I have made the conscious effort to just stop! Have you even noticed? Probably not!
Why have I made this decision? Well who wants to hear someone moaning all the time? Not me, that's for sure. After a mega meltdown a few weeks ago I thought it was time to take a break... again. I feel like I say this all the time and that's not healthy. I'm clearly not learning my lesson, am I?!
It's ok not to be ok!
I have suffered with my mental health for the past few years and its progressively got worse. Late last year I took a leap, asked for help and completed some cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The therapy worked wonders but I've got complacent and things have slipped again.
When things started to come undone again a few weeks ago I contacted my support worker at the Wellbeing Hub, arranged a visit and instantly began to feel better. Having the support of someone who really understands me is invaluable. From there we got the ball rolling for some additional counselling. I'm currently on the waiting list but just knowing that its going to be available soon is a motivational force. I have an incredible network of people around me, fantastic friends and family but sometimes having an unbiased ear to hear your voice helps change your mindset more effectively.
For anyone that needs to chat to an outsider, an unbiased ear then I would highly recommend Wellness in Mind, they have been fantastic.
Finding out what's important and being 100% present
My anxiety and low moods have affected all aspects of my life. I get low, I cry a lot, I have little patience and get angry. I am an over thinker and constantly put additional pressure on myself unnecessarily. So what does this mean for my business? Well, at this present time I am not achieving what I set out to do and its making me ill. My family is suffering and my moods are filtering into my day job. Not good!
My mega meltdown has made me stop in my tracks and reevaluate my creative world. I spread myself way too thinly and its got to stop. The summer is always a time when the cracks begin to show, my workload increases and I feel torn to do all.
So, who am I? Crochet designer, crochet tutor, graphic designer, marketeer, community artist, volunteer, wife, mother, home keeper... right now I'm trying to be all of these things and I can honestly say none of them are getting the best of me. Something has got to give!
My family, my home and my mental health are where I have to focus right now. Crochet for pleasure will follow closely behind. Crochet has such a positive effect on my mental health and I love it so much but I seem to have turned that into an anxiety as well. So I'm stripping things back to basics!
I'm trying to be more present and embrace each moment. I'm limiting my time online and focusing on the here and now without the distraction of social media and all the pressures I put on myself to be present. Funny that, isn't it? I strive to be present online but then I loose the ability to be present in real life. I'm sure we can all relate to this. Being consistent with my planning, working on one project or activity at a time, setting small achievable goals and communicating well with those closest to me are all things that are going to help me stay level headed and focused and in turn, help me feel happier and more empowered to live my best life.
What drives me?
I have spread myself that thinly recently that I'm clouded by overwhelm to really enjoy what I do. I am torn between my career job as a graphic designer, taking on commission design work within my local community and my crochet work, the reason I set up my business in the first place.
It's so important to reflect on what we do, where we want to go and set goals for ourselves. What do I want to do? Where do I see my business going? What do I want my life to look like? It's all a little bit confusing at the moment but writing this blog is allowing me to begin the process of evaluating and reflect on whats most important.
Me, the Graphic Designer
I'm a good graphic designer, it often comes easy to me after twelve years of experience and is the thing that pays but is it really what I want to be doing outside of my day job? No, I don't think so... my heart lies elsewhere. It is, however, very satisfying to help people/organisations create an identity and transform their brand into something more relevant, current and eye catching.
I have been a volunteer for the Bulwell Arts Festival for the past three years, volunteering my time, creative input and graphic design skills and have had some great feedback for the work I have created. I have rebranded the festival, given it a clear defined identity and produced all the visual elements associated with it. Everything with the Bulwell Arts Festival logo and design style on since 2017 has more than likely been created by my fair hands.
Each year the Bulwell Arts Festival grows in size and popularity, we're getting our message out there and people are loving what they see and take part in. Wow, what an achievement for such a small team of volunteers. I feel passionate about everything the Bulwell Arts Festival is trying to achieve and feel proud to be a part of that. Unfortunately, with my head the way it is, I'm loosing my way a little bit. Most of my time is spent on the graphic design work. I'm lucky enough to be a designer and a maker and have, for the past couple of years, hosted a community based yarn project as well as produce the marketing material. Yarny stuff often comes secondary simply because the graphic design side takes up so much of my time and energy. Next year I intend to switch the priority level of these two around and make 2020 my year for yarn. I'll still, no doubt, be the main (only!) graphic designer producing the programme and stuff but with a different mindset I hope its a more enjoyable process.
Off the back of my voluntary work for the Bulwell Arts Festival I have, this year, taken on a commission project with the Bulwell United Reformed Church. The Church is undergoing a rebrand and I have been brought in to create their graphic design and marketing material. In comparison to the Bulwell Arts Festival the Church's rebrand is a doddle, there is a huge amount of it however, which adds pressure to my already epic list of things to do. Again, is graphic design where I want to be focusing my energy?
I first attended the Bulwell United Reformed Church about five and a half years ago, when Martha was a baby and I was pregnant with Elsie. The playgroup they ran (and still run) on a Thursday afternoon was a huge game changer for us as a family. We made some of our bestest friends there and have been welcomed into the churches family. Playgroup was the beginning, then Messy Church on the first Saturday of the month, then coffee mornings, ladies night, youth groups, their is truly something for everyone. I wouldn't say I'm a religious person but I love what the Church offers; community, storytelling, friendship, tradition and fun! So, when I was asked to help, I just couldn't refuse.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? I just can't say no! I want to help but I don't want to help! Graphic design is my job but is it my passion? Umm...but I love my community and if I can help others by utilising the skills I have, why wouldn't I help? Right?!
Me, the Crochet Designer
Oscar Cat and my Ay Up Duck Cushion are by far the best patterns I have designed. They're my first pair of designs and where it all started. They've lead the way for all my other designs. I design predominantly toys and homewares but have more recently toyed with garment design on a personal level, guys I'm talking about my gorgeous Porthminster Cardigan here! I love the designing side, taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something brand new, right from my imagination but struggle to find motivation to write patterns up. This often means the task becomes a big chore, anxiety sets in and I add pressure to my already chaotic brain to find the opportunity and brain power to write it up. I have designs scribbled in my note book that I sampled years ago that still need to be written up.
I mainly sell my patterns on Etsy but have recently added my first pattern to Ravelry. Yey! I believe Ravelry is the place to be, it opens up huge potential for building my community and I'm keen to add all of my current designs and anything new to my Ravelry store. Initialling I will run Etsy and Ravelry alongside each other but can see me dropping Etsy to focus more effectively on one platform. That's the plan anyway and has been for about two years so what's stopped me from achieving it already? Well, I have too many graphic design projects and volunteer work as well as a young family to actually find the time and once again, brain power, to sit down and concentrate. I have evenings and most Fridays to work on my business and quite frankly my brain can only take so much time at the computer, which means after a day in front of a screen at the day job I am unable to focus once the kids are in bed and the jobs are all done. It is still my plan to get all of my designs onto Ravelry but think I'll be taking a break from designing for a while. This seems like the best thing to drop until my heads a bit straighter. It'll also be interesting to see if I actually miss this side of the business. We'll just have to wait and see.
As I'm sure we all do, I follow a lot of crochet designers on social media and often watch in awe at the amazing things they do, the designs they create and the workshops they run. I'd love to be at their level. Why can't I be like them? Why don't I generate the following they do? Well, do you know what the answer is? I am not them. I am me. I am clearly not built the same way as them, what drives me is different. They've obviously found their thing and for me, I have too many things that nothing really gets the love and attention it deserves.
Me, the Community Artist
Since meeting my friend Nicola Curzon, the Bulwell Arts Festival Coordinator and being apart of creating something amazing in my hometown of Bulwell, I have gained a new found love for community.
I love to share what I know, I love engaging with people and I love where I live.
I have lived in Bulwell all of my life and my opinion of the area has changed massively over the past few years. During my teen years I was very much influenced by the thoughts of those around me, I just lived where I lived because I had to, it wasn't by choice. Growing up, my sister and I would say we lived on the outskirts of Bulwell or the upper part of Bulwell in a bid to make it sound like we lived somewhere different, somewhere better. Why? Who knows! I guess it was learnt behaviour, a generational thing, many of our peers would do the same.
It wasn't until I became a wife, homeowner and mother that I really began to embrace where lived. Bulwell has got so much going for it and if the people that live there can't take pride, talk it up and look after it, how can we expect outsiders to do the same. Its even more important now that I have children because I think its so valuable to teach the next generation about heritage, tradition and belonging.
Joining Lines the Beginning of Change
My involvement with the Bulwell Arts Festival and the people I have met along the way has meant I have had the opportunity to work on some incredible projects and meet some amazing and inspiring people.
My most epic opportunity to date was being commissioned, as an artist, to run a community project and exhibition. My Joining Lines project opened my eyes to a whole new world. The world of an artist and the world of community.
Joining Lines was a collaboration between new and experienced crocheters from Nottingham and surrounding areas. The projects aim was to promote community involvement and skill sharing. Joining Lines 2018 showcased the work of 37 crocheters which joined together as part of an impressive textiles installation of over 145 doilies which was displayed at the Bulwell Riverside for a month long exhibition last summer.
I absolutely loved every minute of the project. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever worked on and I feel so proud every time I think about it. Research, planning, demonstrating, crocheting, sewing, constructing, promoting, communicating, you name it this project had it all. I designed a pattern, I created a video tutorial, I hosted workshops, promoted it face to face within the community as well as online via social media, I produced a book and fundraised, not to mention the forthy plus hours I spent sewing each and every doily together and hanging it in its exhibition space. Wow, just wow! The response to the final piece was incredible too. So many people were blown away by it, saying how nostalgic it made them feel, how they felt empowered by the sense of community and the spirit of the project. I felt empowered by this too. Little old me, brought these 37+ people together to produce something so beautiful in a time where, often, we feel isolated and disconnected from each other.
Stop guys. This. This is what I love. I believe my heart lies in community arts!
Joining Lines has been put to bed for awhile, simply because I have't had time to give it the focus it deserves, but it has by no means been forgotten. My aim is to take the project on tour and further explore the key driving factors of it. Bringing people together, building community, sharing skills, encouraging creativity and opportunity and simply embracing a slower more mindful pace of life.
Let's Yarn Bomb Bulwell
Joining Lines, the installation, maybe packed away nicely in my loft but the values of it live on in a lot of the other things I do. I have hosted, for two years in a row, a yarn bomb event as part of the Bulwell Arts Festival which has brought members of the local community together in a colourful, yarn filled day of decoration. Both years have been a make and attach kind of event with colour and texture being the main focus but after some great feedback and participants interest this year there has been a request for a themed yarn bomb next year which is very exciting, watch this space.
Crochet Clinic, My Tribe
A lot of the work that is made for the yarn bomb is created by members of my Crochet Clinic as well as local knit and natter groups and residents. I launched Crochet Clinic back in September 2016, it runs on the first Wednesday of the month, 6.30-8.30pm at Bulwell Tesco Extra. It took a while to take off, with some evenings just being me and my friend Lisa, but three years on the group is flourishing. With between 7-14 attendees each month its everything and more I could want from a group. Its a free crochet social (other crafts welcome, we don't turn people away), with tea and coffee on tap, there used to be cake and biscuits too but no one ate them so I stopped buying them - it was making me fat!
I always bring spare hooks and yarn to Crochet Clinic for people to use as well as a selection of my favourite books. If you're a beginner and need a bit of help, I'm on hand to offer tuition and guidance for a donation of £5, alternatively plenty of our members are happy to welcome new crocheters and show you the ropes. What started out as me wanting to host a group to earn an income has quickly turned into a fun and relaxed evening with an amazing bunch of friends.
The group has grown organically from word of month and the small amount of flyers I have on the notice board at Tesco. I couldn't have dreamt it would be so wonderful. It would be nice to give it a bit more attention, like most things on my list, and offer more focused demonstrations or workshops but for now its plodding along nicely. Maybe the Crochet Clinic name could become a brand and we could have them popping up all over the city, further building our tribe and introducing more people to the world of crochet. Who knows?! For those that can't get along to the monthly Crochet Clinic but want to be part of this wonderful community I also run a Facebook group called Crochet Clinic Out of Hours. Again, this hasn't had the attention it deserves but is slowly growing and gaining more interaction from members.
Being Part of a Bigger Tribe
Crochet Clinic is my local tribe but I also feel I am part of a bigger tribe within this wonderful yarny world. The super fabulous business owner that is Eleanor from Knit Nottingham has took me under her wing and introduced me to so many talented and supportive knitters and crocheters. I've taught crochet in many places over the years but I can honestly say that I feel most at home at the Knit Nottingham shop. The people are great, the lessons I teach are great and in turn I feel great. Surrounding yourself with strong minded, talented, folk really is empowering. Whenever I visit the shop and talk to Eleanor and any of her tribe I feel motivated to do so much. I feel confident, I feel worthy and I feel blessed.
I love sharing what I know, bringing people together and creating something wonderful with crochet. I always thought I wanted to be a crochet designer but I now believe my heart lies with the community, my crochet tribe. So with some fantastic workshops lined up for the Autumn/Winter, Crochet Clinic each month and a clearer focus on whats important lets begin this journey together. You and me in our yarny community.
My mental health is crap but with the right focus and the right people around me I can do anything! You too can do anything. Lets support each other and be each others cheerleaders, in this, often cruel and fake world we live in.
In a bid to live my best life, I'm going to cut back on the amount of projects I get involved with or create for myself. I'm going to constantly ask myself, 'Does it really need doing?' 'Is it really important?' 'Could I spend my time doing something better or more productive or even, more restful' in a bid to stay focused and not sink into this anxious mess as life currently knows it.
I want to feel relaxed, laugh, be silly, feel confident and be myself. I want to find myself again. Its been a while since I really truly felt like me. I plan on scaling back my commitments and begin working on all of the personal projects I've been talking about for years but haven't had time to do. I plan on fully embracing family life and showing my children how much fun life can be.
Thank you so much for sticking with me this far, I hope I've not bored you. Change is afoot, I'm excited by it but I will need you all to help me stay on track. When the moany post pop up more frequently again I need you to give me a poke. Lets make the second half of 2019 an epic one. Here's to staying focused, having fun and living our best lives.
Love and hugs
Holiday Crochet, is there such a thing?!
Crochet is wonderfully portable and is great for shoving in your bag and taking anywhere. I’ve crocheted in all sorts of places; on the train, at the park, at kids’ parties, on the beach and even in the bath!
When there’s talk of a holiday away or days out I get super excited and start planning what project I’m going to take. Its priority over everything wouldn’t you agree? Unless you’re working on a huge family blanket or large scale piece most crochet projects can be picked up and put down anywhere.
This bank holiday weekend we’re heading to the seaside for a camping trip with friends. Since having children we have only holidayed in the UK, the thought of taking two small children on an aeroplane just freaks me out. I think they’re almost at an age where we could manage a flight and sun filled holiday but for now I cherish the road trip experience and ground I’m familiar with. You can’t beat a great British holiday with young children in my opinion. What kind of holiday do you prefer? Does travelling with young children cause you anxiety overload too?! Please let me know in the comments.
I love an excuse not to drive as well, I’d much prefer to crochet instead. If I had the choice of driving for 2+ hours or sitting on a train, which would probably take longer, and crocheting instead I know what I would choose. How about you? I’m so lucky that my husband takes the lead with our driving. Whenever we go on a day trip or holiday anywhere, he drives, standard. It’s not something we’ve talked about it just happens that way. This suits me fine, some of my most productive crochet sessions have been whilst as a passenger in the car. Fingers crossed I’ve not just jinxed things and he makes me drive next time!
Crochet at home or away
Do you prefer to crochet at home in your favourite chair or do you enjoy to crochet on the go?! Perhaps you’re new to crochet and have only crocheted from your comfort zone but would like to take your hook out into the world and crochet in public. I have put together a list of portable crochet projects that I think are ideal for a road trip or whilst on the move.
Before you get started here’s my top three tips for crocheting on the go
My Top Ten Crochet Travel Projects
Small projects or projects that are made of small parts are most definitely the best types of projects to work on whilst travelling, here are my top ten road trip projects. [Click on the image to be taken to the pattern]
> Crochet Scrubbies / Crochet Soap Bags
Crochet scrubbies and soap bags are environmentally friendly and a great stash buster. Make flat pads for removing make up and applying cleansers, go crazy textured and create shower scrubbies or crochet a cute little soap saver to house your favourite soap.
> Crochet Pot Holder
I love a good pot holder, the're super useful and are a great way to add a splash of texture and colour to your kitchen. I have a simple treble crochet, double layered, dishcloth cotton one I made years ago in my kitchen and it still looks and performs as well as it did the day I made it. Here's a few fancier ones I've got my eye on making.
> Crochet Jewellery / Crochet Accessories
If you have ever met me before you will know I almost always have a crocheted necklace around my neck. I'm not one for delicate either, the bigger and bolder the better. Most of my necklaces were made by the wonderful Rhea Clements who runs Handmade Nottingham and are made from t-shirt yarn. I've made a couple for myself too but I'm excited by the mustard beaut below so may just have to make myself a new new.
> Crochet Granny Square Blanket
We all know how versatile the granny square is, from the humble granny original to a fancy pants cactus one, creating squares make fabulous travel crochet. My last big travel project was my Porthminster Cardigan, made up of traditional granny squares, its a statement piece that took over a year to make and spent a lot of time in the car and at the beach.
> Small Amgurumi
Amigurumi is my all time favourite. I tend to make all the body parts whilst travelling and then stuff and join together when I'm home. Its such a satisfying feeling when it all comes together. Most amigurumi is made up of small parts so they're ideal projects for transporting and working on whilst out and about.
> Crochet Garland / Crochet Bunting
Crochet bunting and garlands make great gifts and are another wonderful stash buster. I crocheted bunting for my wedding table and have made lots for new babies in my time. The possibilities are endless as well. Bunting doesn't just have to be made from triangles now does it?! Look at these beauts.
> Crochet Doilies
Doilies can often be overlooked and catagorised as being old fashioned. Not in my house. I love to make brightly coloured ones and use all sorts of yarn types. Doilies don't just have to be used to sit under a plant pot either, why not supersize and make a giant rug, or attach to the front of cushion or as part of a garland.
> Crochet Phone Case
There are soooo many different ways to crochet a phone cover, it was hard to choose just three. Most of these patterns can be adapted and applied to tablet covers or laptop covers too. I love a good rainbow but just look at that unicorn!
> Crochet Flowers / Crochet Applique
Oh my word, look at those feathers! Flowers and appliques make lovely additions to clothing, attached to a key ring or like these adorable feathers used as bookmarks. How would you use crocheted appliques?
> Crochet Hat / Crochet Ear Warmer
Everyone needs a hat and there are so many different types to choose from. The summer holidays are a great time to prepare for the colder months. You don't want cold ears when the cool weather creeps in. I'm never that organised mind you but perhaps, after creating this blog I'll be inspired to get ahead and make our winter hats rather than panic make when they're needed.
Here’s just a few of the possible projects you could have a go at whilst out and about on your travels. I hope you enjoy the examples I have found as much as I did searching the web for them. Let me know what your go to favourite travel project is. Im always looking for inspiration. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve crocheted? As you can imagine, crocheting in the bath wasn't that successful but at least I can say I tried it! One more question, because I'm a nosy parker. If you could travel anywhere right now where would it be?
A celebration of craft and community
Joining Lines is a collaboration between new and experienced crocheters from Nottingham and surrounding areas. Meeting new people, sharing skills and ideas and hearing stories about what got folk into crochet have been a huge motivation for me. I've enjoyed the reasons why people took part in this project and find the research very interesting.
When I originally launched the project I had hoped that it would engage a wide audience and encourage new comers to crochet to get involved. It did just that and then some. After a slow start, I was inundated with doily contributions and words of encouragement which have strengthen my urge to work with the community. I'm excited about where the Joining Lines project will take us and can't wait to work with the community more, share the skills that my Granny Leitha taught me and revive a sense of belonging, building friendships along the way.
Its taken a lot of planning, followed by a lot of waiting (for the deadline to pass and all doilies to be handed in) to a very full on couple of weeks of blocking and sewing. I am super excited to say that, after more than 40 hours of sewing together, the Joining Lines project is ready for the world! (Well it will be once its been installed!)
Joining Lines 2018 will be displayed at the Bulwell Riverside from Saturday 30th June and will showcase the work of 37 crocheters joined together as part of an impressive textiles installation of over 146 crocheted doilies. This is a sight not to be missed. The Exhibition will run until 28th July and is free to visit.
Below I have listed each participant and their comments about who taught them to crochet and why they crochet. Participants are aged from 28-80 years old with only one male taking part... my dad! Many people turn to crochet as a way to escape the chaos of life and unwind. Some even say that it has huge health benefits. I can totally agree with this as crochet is my go to when my anxiety is high.
Why do you craft? Who inspires you? What are your views on community and skills sharing? I hope that the Joining Lines project helps us to focus on community over competition and allows us to find ways to step away from our screens, reach for a more hands on approach and explore different ways of thinking.
Female | 29
"I taught myself to crochet using YouTube and crochet magazines. I've suffered with anxiety for many years now, crochet is the best way for me to relax, be in the moment and slow down a racing mind. It's the best thing I've done for my health."
Female | 28
"April Towriess taught me to crochet on our lunch break. I was keen to learn a new skill."
Female | 34
"My granny Leitha taught me to crochet whilst I was at university. I learnt to knit first but loved crochet more and haven'y knitted since! I crochet most days and have done since I first learnt some 12+ years ago. I use crochet as a way to unwind and its the first thing I head to when my anxiety is high. I love sharing what I know at workshops and events and wouldn't be without the crochet community I have found along the way."
Female | 30
"Taught to crochet by friends and YouTube. I crochet to relax and to feel I've achieved something."
Female | 42
"My Num taught me how to crochet (as well as sew, embroider and knit) but I only learned how to do granny squares. It was my husbands Granny Eileen who showed me how to do Irish crochet flowers that really started me off. She showed me how to recognise stitches and where they should go. I now crocet for fun - I made 250 of the Irish roses to decorate my wedding dress. I used to sell crochet items at craft fairs, I make blankets to keep loved ones warm and welcome babies into the world. Most of all I crochet to keep my hands busy and to de-stress."
Female | 37
"April Towriess taught me to crochet. I pick up the hooks when I'm supporting her at her crochet events. I enjoy the process and have made a few small items, I'm a master at the chain stitch!"
Female | 80
"My aunt taught me to crochet but all of my mothers family were knitter and crocheters. Crochet helps me to relax."
Female | 73
"I knit and crochet but favour crochet. I taught myself to crochet back in 1964 after watching my sister crochet incorrectly. Crochet keeps my mind active and I believes that anybody can do it all it takes is a bit of patience."
Female | 28
"I taught myself to crochet. Crochet is relaxing and I enjoy making things."
Female | 49
"I taught myself to crochet through magazines and books and YouTube. I crochet for relaxation, to keep me same after a hard day at work and because I love it!"
Female | 57
"I learnt to crochet as a child by my mother, the same person that taught my daughter, April Towriess, who is the curator of this project. I am very proud of my daughter and her Crochet Clinics, passing on her knowledge of crochet to others and to the next generation so it does not become a dying art form."
Female | 39
"I taught myself to crochet using YouTube. I love doing it because it's relaxing and I love to create things."
Female | 32
"April Towriess taught me to crochet at the Craft Studio up about 500 stairs!! I use crochet for stress relief and to make gifts for friends and family."
Female | 50
"I have attended various crochet workshops with Rosie Pea and April Towriess. I enjoy crochet as it's time for me. It's a creative activity I don't teach and don't share!"
"I have been crocheting for 6 years. I am self taught and crochet to relax."
Female | 62
"I taught myself to crochet using April Towriess’ YouTube tutorial. I learnt to crochet to be part of this project. "
Female | 66
"I predominantly knit but have started to try more crochet. I have made crocheted toys and blankets. I thoroughly enjoyed making doilies for this project."
Female | 53
"My mum and my granny 'at the farm' taught me to knit and crochet. I crochet because it is versatile, useful for building structures and 3D shapes. Unlike knitting there is only one stitch to worry about at a time - you can only drop one stitch! It is portable and uses minimal tools. I'm a textiles sculptor (www.zoomorphia.com) but I use crochet and knitting for some community projects."
Female | 31
"Eleanor from Knit Nottingham taught me to crochet. I crochet because it relaxes me. It now feels weird to watch TV without working on a project. There is real joy and satisfaction in creating something. I crochet because it's faster and more forgiving than knitting."
Female | 33
"I was taught to crochet by my mother-in-law and consider it a gift. I never thought I would get the bug for it as much as I have. I crochet as a stress reliever and to make things for my daughter."
Female | 29
"I started to learn to crochet 8 years ago. A lady at work could crochet and a few of us were interested to learn. This lead to us having little daily crochet lessons during our lunch hour! It didn't take long for me to catch the crochet bug. After mastering the basics I soon ventured onto the internet to find more complex patterns. I find crochet a good way to unwind from a stressful day at work. It's a fun thing to focus on and forget about everything else that may be going on at the time. I love seeing my creations come to life and work up quickly. I've also made some great friends through crochet activities and groups."
Female | 67
"From being small I have loved crafting. I learned to knit at age 8 but didn't learn to crochet until I was in my early 20s. A neighbour taught me. I have loved it ever since."
Female | Old!
" I have limited understanding of crochet patterns. I am self taught and like to crochet."
Female | 43
"My mum, Pamelia taught me to crochet when I was a kid. I like making things and crochet gives me the freedom to avoid using patterns and go where my hook takes me. Doilies, using a pattern, were a challenge!"
Female | 69
"My mum, Josepha taught me to crochet when I was 13 because I wanted her to make me a skirt and top. She said she didn't have time so taught me. I love the freedom of design and flexibility crochet gives, next to singing and my dogs its the best relaxing thing I do."
Male | 60
"I am an artist living in Bulwell. I am married to Helen and we have been together for 42 years. When Helen and I were courting and were saving up to get married, Helen would sit and crochet so I thought I'd have a go myself. Helen taught me to crochet and eventually I started to string yarn together and made a blanket. I have not crocheted since but wanted to support my daughter, April Towriess, with this project so was inspired to pick up a hook again and have a go. I have found crochet very therapeutic and calming and now feel inspired to created the blanket I made all those years ago!"
Female | 30
"My mum taught me to crochet but only 2 years ago. Before that, I just didn't get it! It's a relaxing and rewarding way to spend my evenings. I enjoy doing something tactile after using a computer all day at work. I also like the idea of keeping traditional crafts alive in the modern age."
Female | 28
"April Towriess taught me to crochet on our lunch break. I was curious to try and get involved in the Joining Lines project."
Female | 46
"I am self taught. I am a first time crocheter and wanted to join in with this community project."
Female | 48
"My daddy (with numerous refreshers from April Towriess) taught me to crochet. I love the lacey detail that can be created with just a few titches on almost anything!"
Female | 54 (just!)
"I think it was my mamma who taught me to crochet when I was young, 7-8 years of age perhaps. All I can remember is making circles, I never seemed to do rows and rows or squares, just circles. Crochet went nowhere after that until one day whilst I was out with a friend. We were looking at craft magazines and I saw an elephant on the front of a crochet magazine. My second granddaughter, Ella, had not long been born and I decided I would have a go and make the elephant from the magazine. I purchased the magazine, went in search of yarn and hooks and then realisation dawned... I'd never used a pattern before. Never even looked at one! "Oh well, how hard can it be" I thought. Well, it was a bit hard, such a small project for bug clumsy hands that hadn't used a hook for years, let alone made anything other than a circle. I persevered and it is still in use today, nearly 8 years on. I keep meaning to find the magazine and remake it as I am far more established a crocheter now, still untidy but confident enough to take on projects. I mainly make accessories, toys and garments, though when I put it like that, there's few categories left that I haven't tried!"
Female | 68
"I taught myself to crochet 50 years ago. I crochet for pleasure, mostly blankets. I haven't made a doily for years as sadly they are no longer desirable."
Female | 57
I can't actually remember how and when I learned to crochet. I know I was quite young and it may have been via a member of my family. I remember my Step Grandmother crocheting very intricate cotton thread book marks, so it may have been her. I retaught myself to crochet early last year when I found I had time on my hands following a bout of flu. This was the start of my new addiction, fed by the internet and all it's wonderful suggestions, patterns and instructional articles and videos. My iPad is my best friend and I am pretty sure I would not have taken up this craft again without it. I find crochet very rewarding, therapeutic and also quite lucrative since I have started to sell a few items. Initially to family and friends but now via my Etsy shop, Hooked Creations by Sue."
Female | 62
"My aunt taught me to crochet. I enjoy making gifts for people and also giving my work to local charities."
Female | 74
"I knit and have always wanted to learn to crochet. April Towriess attended our local Knit and Natter group and taught me to crochet. I like to keep my hands busy."
Female | 38
"I was first shown how to crochet by a girl called Mish who I had worked with in Nottingham but I also did a winter season with her in a resort called Wanaka in NZ. She made beanies for her instructor mates (ski and snowboard). I left crochet there until several years later when I finessed my skills using books and YouTube videos. I used to visit the knit and natter group at Knitworking in Gedling. I find crochet easier than knitting and it seems to make up more quickly which is obviously great! I still haven't been able to make a garment and don't often finish items but I enjoy the process."
Female | 63
"My mum taught me to crochet, knit and sew when I was about 10-11 years old. We made dishcloths until I got the tension correct. I love crochet as it's so versatile, colourful and easy to do, and each project takes you on a journey. I belong to a knitting and crochet group and also a machine sewing group."
Joining Lines is so much more than just an exhibition, its a continuous building of community and revival of traditional techniques, crafts and way of thing. Join me as we continue to join the lines between the past, present and move into the future.
Lots of things have been happening in secret over the past few months which have been super exciting but also rather daunting. After lots of brainstorming and creative conversations, I have joined together with the Bulwell Arts Festival and Rebalancing Nottingham North (Bulwell Connectors) to put together a community exhibition. Eeeek this is massive!
I absolutely love working with new people and get excited when I can share what I know and love with others. Crochet obviously plays a huge part within my life, its my main source of relaxation and its what I turn to when my anxiety is high. We have all heard that creativity can help to improve our mental health and wellness. I want to share my creativity with others and bring people together, to step away and try something they have never tried before. Whether that is to crochet for the first time, socialise with people they haven't before or to get involved in something bigger than themselves. Something that they never imagined they would be a part of.
What is the Joining Lines?
Joining Lines is a community project which brings together crocheters from all warps of life in an exhibition of crocheted doilies.
Submission Deadline: Saturday 26th April 2018
Exhibition Opening Date: Saturday 30th June 2018
I invite crocheters from all backgrounds, cultures, genders and ages to get involved and crochet a doily to be exhibited as part of the Joining Lines exhibition taking place this summer. Whether you’re an experienced crocheter or you’ve never picked up a hook in your life, I encourage you to have a go and be part of this fantastic community project. The exhibition will be displayed at the Bulwell Riverside, Bulwell, Nottingham and opens to the public from Saturday 30th June 2018.
Along with your doily submissions please also provide the following information:
Each doily and set of comments will be photographed and added to a blurb book which will be available to purchase. All proceeds will be donated to charity. (Edit: 31.3.18 - I will be fundraising for a special little lady called Florence who has CCHS and the wonderful charity that supports families affected by CCHS.)
Closing Date for Submissions:
Submit your doilies to the address provided by Saturday 26th April 2018
Exhibition Opens Saturday 30th June 2018
Send your doilies to:
Chris Tilley Community Champion
C/O April Towriess Crochet
Joining Lines Project
Bulwell Tesco Extra Community Room
Once the exhibition closes, date TBC, each doily will be used as part of upcycling projects within a set of community workshops.
I see the Joining Lines project being, not just an exhibition for a few weeks over the summer, but a continuous building of community and a chance to bring creativity back into the every day.
Within this fast passed, throwaway society it is important to sustain traditional techniques and ideas and I am keen to rebuild concepts from days gone by. How many of you actually know your neighbours and I mean really know them. Do you know their names or have you stood and had a conversation with them? Things that would come naturally to folk of my grandparents and parents age seem alien to most under thirty these days. Skills and techniques like sewing and crafts were part of everyday life, you wouldn't catch my granny popping to the shop to buy a new dress because the seem had come loose, no she would get out her needle and thread and repair it. Now I'm not saying that we're all as throwaway as this but when its so easily available the drive to be thriftful is slowly slipping away.
We really need to hold on to this thriftful way of thinking and the skills our elders were taught from a very small age and share them with the next generation. Encourage creativity on all levels otherwise our children are not going to have the knowledge and experience of these skills to be able to pass on to future generations. In a society that requires children to work hard at academic subjects, encourages them to be leaders, and revolves around exam results it is important to also remember that too much pressure can cause harm to their young minds. Lets support these fundamentals with creativity, allow them to explore through the arts and take some time to have fun. We can all take note of this advice. Mental health and wellness is becoming more spoke about, so lets work together to live more freely, have more fun and take time out to relax.
| Community | Heritage | Sustainability | Knowledge | Creativity | Journey |
Joining Lines is my first big project and I am excited about the process and what might come next. I'm really looking forward to working with my local community and fellow crocheters from the digital world. Building my own community and bringing people together to share their knowledge and experiences. If you'd like to get involved or share your crochet journey, then get in touch, I'd love to hear your story.
Get in touch
Follow my journey
You can follow me and whats going on with the Joining Lines project on:
Working in partnership with:
One whole year of business - Where has the year gone!
My little business is a few days away from being a whole year old. Can you believe it! Its been a surprisingly calm first year with lots of pattern designing and creative events being held.
On a daily basis I fight with my to do list and wish for more time but when I reflect back on what I have achieved throughout the year I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I have designed and launched four patterns which are available to download on Etsy and I have oodles of designs in process (too many to count!) some of which will be available for free on my blog later this year. On top of all of this I have met some amazing people at my crochet clinics and workshops and love the creative community I am part of.
Connections and collaborations with other local businesses and online buddies have been super exciting and I look forward to building on these over the coming months.
As of 11th September my world will change considerably. My baby girl starts school! As she grows and we conker each leap and turn we, I feel, will move towards a calmer, more organised life. I see September as a time for us to regroup. As the girls minds develop and they explore who they are I struggle to keep them entertained, tantrums often run high... and that's just me! The juggle of home, day job, business and my beautiful family often gets muddled and this is why I hold September so high up on a pedestal.
Our working day will be shorter, giving us a more relaxed pace to play, laugh and simply be together. I currently work in the evenings on my business when the girls have gone to bed and most days we're on the go from 6am and they don't settle until after 7pm. Starting work between 8-8.30pm in the evening isn't as productive has I'd like.
So, as of September we will all experience change. I have rejigged my hours at the day job so I can do the school run and, wait for it, I will get a full day, well five hours, on a Friday to spend purely on business! Oh my word, this is going to be bliss. I will be able to keep on top of blogging, write up patterns as I create them, plan events and workshops, and generally share my journey with you more frequently. Eeek, So excited! I hope that this dedicated time will help to separate business and home. I often feel guilty. Its not uncommon for me to get distracted thinking about whats on my to do list whilst I'm with the girls or feel sad that I miss out on fun activities as I take time away to do business, like today. That's to plan anyway! Wish us luck as we start our next adventure!
It's Party Time!
I launched my creative business back in August last year and as part of my business plan I wanted to offer a monthly event to support my students. September 2016 saw the birth of Crochet Clinic.
Crochet Clinic is a place for like minded people to come together, share their crochet journey and explore new techniques and ideas. Its predominantly a social event but if anyone is interested in learning to crochet its a great place to come and see what its all about. Find our more about Crochet Clinic here.
To celebrate our first year I am hosting a special Birthday Crochet Clinic on Wednesday 6th September. There will be cake, tasty treats, music and an vibrant party feel. Regulars, followers, newbies, friends and family alike please join me for a relaxed, anything goes Crochet Clinic. Bring your craft or just yourselves, take part or drink and eat the night away, whatever you choose, I'll see you there! For more information, check out the Facebook event here.
It's Giveaway Time!
Not only will there be a party to celebrate my first year but I am also running an Instagram Giveaway, right now! I have teamed up with a couple of my fave creatives to host the giveaway alowing one lucky winner the chance to get their hands on these wonderful prizes.
To be in with a chance of winning, head over to Instagram and follow these three simple rules; follow me, like the giveaway photo and tag a friend, simple! The competition will close Fri 25th August 2017 at 7pm GMT. Don't miss out - Go do it now! The winners will be drawn at random and announced Sat 26th August.
You're the best - Thanks guys!
Thank you so much for all your support this year, you're the best. As always, please leave me a comment and say hi. It's you guys that keep me going, my community, my friends and family, your my team.
Ta-ra for now duckies
What does community mean to you? Do you have a creative tribe? Where in the world are you? I'm a Nottingham girl born and bred and I love the diversity of creativity that the city has to offer, from colourful illustrators and makers to wacky yarn shop owners (Eleanor, thats you!!) Nottingham's creative community is growing at a speedy rate and it excites me that I can be part of it.
" Be part of something bigger than yourself "
For so long I have plodded along in my own creative bubble, too introverted to get myself out there and mingle. However, since my launch back in August last year I feel I have stepped out of my bubble and built up exciting new relationships with some super talented folk. I now feel part of a tribe.
Last weekend Nottingham exploded! It's In Nottingham, Bulwell Arts Festival, as well as so many more hosted a range of events throughout Nottingham and I was lucky enough to attend a few of them. Here's my journey around my wonderfully creative city.
Nottingham Independents Festival hosted by It's In Nottingham
Saturday 8th July saw a jam packed day of family fun. My beautiful family and I hopped on the tram and headed for the city centre to visit many of the fabulous independent businesses in Nottingham and celebrate the Its In Nottingham Independents Festival with them.
Throughout the day there was free entertainment on stage at Trinity Square, Pelham Square, Middle Pavement and Carlton Street, as well as street parties held at Trinity Walk, Flying Horse Walk, St James’s Street and Cobden Chambers. Lots to see and do.
We began our adventure at Trinity Square, where Peppa and Daddy Pig made guest appearances, a not to be missed event for a certain three year old! We danced, listened to stories and giggled before strolling down the best dressed street in town, Trinity Walk.
We chatted to lots of folk, popped into Knit Nottingham (of course), sampled cake and juice at Ilas Little Tea Shoppe, hunted for prizes and so much more.
It was then time to go see the lions. The girls did their ritual stroke of the famous left lion before we headed for St James Street.
The street has changed somewhat over the years and now houses some of my favourite places. The Malt Cross is a must visit if you're after somewhere relaxed to eat and drink, its brilliant for families and with access to the shop next door, Handmade Nottingham, its a treat not to be missed.
Handmade Nottingham is a wonderful treasure trove of a shop. Owned and run by the equally wonderful Rhea Clements who has put her heart and sole into creating a beautiful shop that showcases the best selection of local designers and makers.
On the day I got to see my super talented buddy Jo Want from Hello Sunshine who was busy painting away these fabulous watercolour portraits. There wasn't much time to stop and catch up as this lady had people lining up to have their mugs painted.
Next up we popped into Dukki Gifts to say hi to Heidi. Its the first time I've been into the shop and met Heidi even though I have Insta stalked the shop since its opening back in 2014 and have many a products which have been gifted to me. I just love everything about this quirky little shop, great gifts, homewares and the best souvenirs in town... not to mention the best shop colour choice ever! (#TealLove)
" Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much " - Helen Keller
Often I nip off and do businessy, creative type stuff on my own, well, because its just easier. But I'm so glad I could share all of this with my three favourite people on Saturday. My girls are growing up so fast and both are taking an interest in what mummy's up to. Biggest little loves to draw and Smallest little is always in my yarn basket so being able to share the creative side of Nottingham with them is so exciting.
Bulwell Arts Festival Family Fun Day at The Bulwell Academy
Bulwell Arts Festival is in its fourth year and each year it just gets better and better. 8 days of family fun, music, poetry, art, crafts, workshops, its an event not to be missed. If this is the first time you're hearing about it, then head over to Facebook and check out the amazing list of events that have just taken place.
The Bulwell Academy host a Family Fun Day each year to kick off a week long creative programme of events. This years event was something to talk about! The space was filled with colour, energy and oodles of happy, excited faces. There was 'have-a-go' craft tables, craft stalls, food, dancing, a bouncy castle, Super Sparkle Party entertainers, you name it, they had it. But by far, for me (the big kid) the best bit was when Hunter the dinosaur rocked up! Boom!
We left Daddy (Mr Towriess) at home and the girls and I absorbed the carnival atmosphere, danced, played and mingled with so many fantastic families. We even helped out Granddad (my dad) on his art stall.
I'm so proud of this man. He has turned his passion to paint into a business. Using art as therapy Art by Phil Hearn creates a magnificent and diverse range of art, demonstrates techniques, teaches master classes, kids workshops and has more recently converted his garage and outbuilding into a home studio and gallery space. If you're free between 16th - 23rd July, Art by Phil Hearn will be hosting an open studio event showcasing a selection of Bulwell's Artistic finest. Do pop by and have a look, it's well worth a visit.
Earlier this year I was invited to work with Bulwell Arts Festival on a graphic design project. I worked closely with the organisation team and produced an exciting events brochure, posters, banners and social media artwork, all within the space of a couple of weeks. I have since been invited to join the team officially ready for next years event. The programme of events and number of collaborators increases massively each year and I am super excited about being involved, transforming the brand and creating an impactful range of marketing collateral that will well and truly put Bulwell and Bulwell Arts Festival on the map!
" When I came here, I was looking for a community.
Then I realised I was helping to create one. "
Bulwell Arts Festival Eco Art on the Garden hosted by Bulwell Forest Garden
As part of the Bulwell Arts Festival the Bulwell Forest Garden host a fantastic Eco Art on the Garden event which this year I got to be a part of. I have visited the garden for many family events over the yeas so when I was asked to run a creative workshop I jumped at the chance.
Bulwell Forest Garden is a community garden run by volunteers and includes food growing, wildlife areas, a community orchard and outdoor kitchen. Its a wonderful place to visit and is open to everyone. To find out more head over to their website.
This fabulous Eco Art event took place on Sunday 9th July and the weather was glorious. The best weather for a day spent outdoors being creative.
I rocked up with all my creative bits and bobs, which included yarns, ribbons, textured threads, recycled cardboard tubes, paper plates and whatever else I thought might make an interesting adornment for my dream catcher workshop.
Here I am at the beginning of the day with my well organised, neat and tidy corner.... it didn't stay that way for long!
Families piled in and made themselves comfortable under the gazebo for a relaxed 'make and take' creative session. There was something for everyone and people came and went as they pleased. Some stayed for hours and made more than one dream catcher and others had a go and then moved on to other areas of the garden for more eco friendly activities.
I was blown away by the array of work produced throughout the day and how each and every child (and parent) took time to consider colours and decoration. Some coloured in paper plates, some wrapped yarn around tubes, some even replicated Pokemon symbols by threading yarn through holes in paper plates.
I loved that my family and friends could join me, have ago and enjoy such a wonderful, free, local event. Without the community I have become a part of, most of which had come from play groups and childrens church activities like Messy Church (thanks girls), I may not have even known about this ever growing creative community right here on my doorstep, in Bulwell or be friends with such an amazing bunch of people.
" The best way to multiply your happiness is to share it with others. "
The community gardens are amazing but I hear so many people say that they didn't even know they existed. A little secret hideaway I'm so pleased to know about and share with you today.
Knowlegde is power, community is strength and positive attitude is everything.
- Lance Armstrong
I'm so proud of my community and the tribe I'm now a part of. As a work from home business it's easy to feel isolated. To be a part of these wonderful events, be in the presence of such warmhearted, creative people, local families and fellow artists and makers makes me proud to be a Bulwellian, a Notts girl and I'm here to shout about this amazing community.
Did you pop along to any of these events, or take part in something similar elsewhere? I would love to hear from you and enhance my community further. You, yes you, reading this, you're part of my community. Its you that keeps me going and helps me be a better designer and teacher. It's you that I want to share all of this with. Thanks for taking the time to read this epic post, until the ext time, terrar for now me duck!