Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me

Today I’m celebrating a year of being self-employed full time and as Victor Meldrew often says – I can’t believe it. The year has passed so quickly. It doesn’t seem a moment ago that I was employed by the Environment Agency as their Regional Waste Data lead. When I think back, I both worked and lead on some great initiatives for the North West, which make me feel proud. I co-wrote the North West Regional Waste Strategy and the subsequent annual waste monitoring reports. These provided detailed technical waste data and information to help local authorities plan for waste – making sure they have the right sorts of facilities in the right places at the right time. I lead the first North West Regional Industrial and Commercial Waste Survey despite being told “it wasn’t possible with the limited funding we had”. This was a success and was subsequently used by Defra as a blueprint for other regional surveys. I worked on lots of other equally successful projects and initiatives and feel really proud of my achievements.

I decided to give up the world of waste for knitting and crochet and one year on, I don’t regret that decision one bit.

I’ve been far busier that I could ever imagine and I haven’t even started half of the initial ideas I had. I simply haven’t had enough time at the moment, but hopefully that will change. I’ve had over 40,000 hits on my blog – how did that happen??? and my facebook and twitter followers are ever growing.

I’ve been working with Let’s Get Crafting, Knit Today, Inside Crochet, Knit Magazine and Knit Now, and I’ve designed some lovely projects that I’ve been really pleased with. I’ve noticed that my designs are getting more refined and I’m pushing myself to use techniques that I don’t really like, such as knitting on dpns (urghhh!!!) and intarsia/fairisle (even bigger urghhhhhh!!!!).



I’ve also been working with a big publications company on a new crochet part-works magazine. Exciting. I’m providing crochet advice and technical input as well as sub-editing the pattern, proofing the mag and designing a different crochet square per issue which will be made up into a project at the end. Really interesting stuff. Hopefully, if the full 60 issues go ahead I can design some of the patterns too.

Not to mention the knit and crochet classes that I've been running at Sandbach School. So far I've taught 20 people to knit or crochet. Fab.

I’ve enjoyed making some new knitty friends, like Tracey, Emma and Ali, even if I haven’t met some of them in real life. They’re really supportive and inspirational too and I wish them all the best in their crafty adventures. I'd recommend their blogs for some great recipes, knitting and crochet patterns and for generally making you feel happy. I really hope the next year is as successful as the last and I promise – yes promise to post some more free patterns to share.

Thanks for all your support and here’s to another great year xx Lynne xx

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Free Knitting Pattern #4 - Valentine Heart - a little love token

Here's a cute pattern for a little knitted heart. Simply attach your own personal message and pop into your loved one's pocket, lunchbox or work bag. They'll find it during the day and know how much you love them.



Abbreviatons:
st(s) = stitch(es)
k = knit
p = purl
k2tog = knit next 2 sts together as one st
p2tog = purl next 2 sts together as one st
kfb = increase 1 by knitting into the front of the next st but don't remove it from the left hand needle. Knit into the back of the same st then remove st from left hand needle (two stitches made from one stitch)

Materials:
Oddments of double knitting yarn
3.5mm needles
small amount of toy filling
darning needle
scissors
card
ribbon

Instructions:
With your chosen yarn and 3.5mm needles, cast on 2 sts
Row 1: kfb, k1 (3 sts)
Row 2 and every alternate row: p
Row 3: k1, kfb, k1 (4 sts)

Row 5: kfb, k to last st, kfb (6 sts)
Row 7: repeat row 5 (8 sts)
Row 9: repeat row 5 (10 sts)
Row 11: repeat row 5 (12 sts)
Rows 12-14: starting with a p row, st st 3 rows
Row 15: repeat row 5 (14 sts)
Rows 16-18: starting with a p row, st st 3 rows
Row 19: k7, turn and work on these sts only
Row 20: p to last 2 sts, p2tog (6 sts)
Row 21: k
Row 22: p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog (4 sts)
Row 23: k1, k2tog, k1 (3 sts)
Cut yarn and thread onto a darning needle. Thread needle through last 3 sts on needles and pull tight. Bind off yarn and trim.
Attach yarn to remaining 7 sts (right side facing) and work second hump as follows:
Row 19: k7, turn and work on these sts only
Row 20: p2tog, p to end (6 sts)
Row 21: k
Row 22: p2tog, p to last 2 sts, p2tog (4 sts)
Row 23: k1, k2tog, k1 (3 sts)
Cut yarn and thread onto a darning needle. Thread needle through last 3 sts on needles and pull tight. Bind off yarn and trim. Place the two heart pieces together, right sides facing. Stitch together with a mattress stitch (trapping all yarns ends inside the heart) until approximately 3cm of the seam remains. Fill with toy filling and stitch the remaining seam. Tie off yarn end and weave end into the heart.

Use ribbon or yarn to attach a message printed onto a small piece of card and pop your heart into your secret place, to be found during the day. It's sure to make your loved one smile.

Sketching

I've been flat out over the last few weeks with commissions and advisory work. It's been cRaZy, and I've had to use my planning and scheduling skills to their best abilities to make sure I get everything finished and posted on time. I've been pleased with my desiging skills and I can see how these have improved draMaTiCally over the past year. One of my new year's resolutions is to make sure every project has the 'wOw' factor. I need to look at it and think - 'wow, that's nice', or 'wow, that's pretty' and I'll be hoping other people think the same when they see my projects in magazines. I hope readers are inspired to make them.

The magazine editors have been pleased with my work so far, which is great, and usually leads to more work - even better.  I can't share my projects as they're 'secret' until published, but I can post a picture of these little CuTiEs, as they're made from the Ami Ami Dogs books. They're so realistic and cleverly designed. They're quite fiddly to make, especially the legs, which are crocheted over just 5 or 6 stitches in the round. This made my hands ache. I've made about 6 so far, and you should be seeing them on your TV screens in the not too distant future. How eXciTinG.

One thing I need to get better at is putting my design ideas into a good proposal. Some magazines are quite specific in what they require, whilst other ask for proposals - a submission of your idea, with a description, inspiration, yarn requirements, a sketch and a swatch. And that's where I fall down - my sketching skills are pretty basic - I'm certainly no great artist. However, I recently gave it my best shot and plucked up the courage to include sketches in my last two design proposals. So it's a case of fingers crossed until the decisions are made. In the meantime, I think I'll practice more sketching of my ideas and hopefully improve these skills for the future. Practice makes PeRfeCt.

I have a little window of opportunity to write up a little idea for a FreE pattern that's been developing in my head. So I'll give the bathroom a quick clean, get ready then give my idea a whirl. I'll write it up asap as it would make a nice valentine's gift or decoration.