Sunday, 25 January 2015

How do you do...

It's all very well declaring to the internet that I'm giving up work to live like Tom and Barbara, but you have no idea what my life is like or what that means, so, a more complete intro:

I have two beasts, one six (big beast) and one four (small beast), oh and the one I married who is thirty seven (Mr.Steel&Stitch).  I have a mortgage (rather a lot - smallish house, very small garden), two cars, a cat with no tail and I've had a very sensible job in local government since 2006.  There was a fabulous two year break where I set up a business for the maverick Alastair Hendy (food writer and photographer), but probably more of that later.

Yes, Mr.Steel&Stitch does have a sensible job too, and no, I couldn't have left work if he didn't have that, but I still have to find a sizable amount a month to cover all the bills, so I'm by no means a kept woman.  He just has a lot of faith in me (sweet Mary...)

Finally, I have been working on a way to make crafting pay for nearly 10 years, and have now had my second crochet book commissioned by CICO publishers, so I have learned the hard way, and I really do feel like I know my shizzle.  I have also worked really, really, really hard to get to this point, so if you're wanting to go this route too, don't be under any illusion that you'll suddenly become HRH Kirstie Allsop overnight, it's taken bleeding fingers and RSI to get here.

More of that later, for now it's all about frugal, and this weekend we managed to spend no money at all going out bird spotting for the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch.  They sent a booklet in the post with pics and tick boxes and the beasts where unbelievably excited about it.  We met with pals, had an amazing muddy time and lost count at 5 crows and a wood pigeon.

I also consolidated my assets - aka went through the yarn stash to see what I actually have to make the final pieces for Book.  Turns out I had plenty to work with and had no need for the emergency HobbyCraft trip I'd anticipated, so all in all a good start.  Of course I still have 2 and a half pay checks to come, let's see how I'm feeling 3 months time.

Friday, 23 January 2015

New Year, New Leaves

Dear Blogsphere, craft fans and the internet,

Firstly I must apologise for the absence; there was Christmas, New Year, Book 1 about to go into print, Book 2 well under way, regular job, looking after the beasts, cooking, cleaning (ok, maybe not so much of the cleaning), trying to be healthy and happy and the usual collection of family dramas, non-family dramas, tears and the Hunger Games trilogy to get through.

And I decided it was all too much.  There has to be a better way.

So I've handed in my notice, and from mid-feb I'm going to see if there IS a better way.  A way to make crochet, craft and creativity pay enough, backed up by growing as much of our food as possible as well as making,  mending, upcycling and creating a home-made home that doesn't compromise on style.

I know lots of you have been thinking about this too, it's not just me that's fed up with never seeing the children, commuting horrid hours, eating rubbish because it's quick and easy, being shattered when the weekend comes, so I invite you all to embark on this journey with me. From the comfort of your computer you can watch and see how it all unfolds.  I'll post as much of the crafty stuff as I'm allowed to share with you (without breaching any sort of contract with The Publisher), give you advice on how you too can make money from crafting, post whatever tutorials might be useful, money-saving and fun, as well as all the stuff that we'll learn about living in a  way that gives us more time together, is healthier, way more sustainable and hopefully much, much more fulfilling.  (I tell you, it better chuffing had be, I've given up a terribly sensible job for this...)

p.s. this is me, hi. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Winter Colour

We grew up near a beach which means we NEVER go in the summer.  That's when it's baking hot, there's not a scrap of shade or relief from the incessant sun, all the colour is bleached out of everything by the blinding sunlight and it's rammed with lobster-pink packs of people all claiming a tiny patch of pebbles as their own.  No, we go in the winter.  In the winter when the subtle shades of pale blue and grey of the sea and sky blend into each other, when the cloud and mist comes down and cuddles you, so all you hear is the crash of the waves as you comb through pebbles, shells and curious bits of creature.  And, there's no-one else there, it's just you, the beasts and the sea.

So last weekend, wrapped in scarves, hats and coats we packed up and hauled out to the beach.  It was gorgeous, and this time, instead of pocketing all the pebbles and scraps that we found, to fill the house with an unsettling fishy smell in a few days time, I just took photos.  The colour palette of everything that we found is going to be a fantastic inspiration for some makes at a later date.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Pom pom addiciton

I have this thing about 'integrity of making' (which is as meaningless as it sounds, or at least I don't know exactly what I mean when I say it, but kind of have a feeling about what it's SUPPOSED to mean), and I have made many, many pompoms over the last few years using the traditional method of 2 circles of card with a hole int he middle.  I've gone through the faff of making mini-balls of yarn that will fit through the central hole, I've experimented making the hole big enough for a ball of wool (nope, didn't work), I've used chair backs to make MASSIVE pompoms which was a Herculean effort. 

Now, I saw Her Royal Highness Kirsty Allsop using a pompom maker on a tv show ages ago, and I sneered.  I turned my disgusted nose up and wittered on about 'plastic contraptions' and 'what's wrong with a bit of cardboard?' and diligently spent many more months resentfully fudging half unwound balls of wool through cardboard hoops, but feeling like a craft puritan.

Last week I entered my first Hobbycraft (don't ask, that's another post) and Mr.Steel&Stitch said "have you seen this?", plonking a couple of pompom makers in my hand before running off to catch a child before he took down the store.  I stared at them for a LONG time before putting them in my basket, but come home with us they did.

OH MY G.O.S.H!  They are AWESOME (a whole world of Lego Movie references right there).  Big beast and I literally spent 3 hours making pompoms in our pajamas on sunday morning- quite honestly the single best morning of my entire life.  I later collected twin and her beasts and then they spent 3 hours making pompoms.  It's so easy!  It's so quick!  You can do 6 strands at once!  Any mix of colours, 4 different sizes, a design so simple a 6 year old can do it!  We are going to have a very pompom themed Christams this year...

All craft puritans, give yourself a break and purchase some IMMEDIATELY.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Arm Crochet

We've all seen arm knitting - it's brought supersize wool wear into the craft spot light.  I even accosted a poor girl in the street yesterday to accuse her of arm knitting her scarf using Cygnet Seriuosly Chunky (guilty on both counts), and it clicked as to how easy it would be with crochet too.

It's easy - but you only use the hand to hold your stitches on as you work, not the full arm.  I need to set up some sort of filming thing so I can post a proper tutorial, but for now, here's the outcome, I feel another infinity scarf coming on...

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Crochet Halloween

Finally, Halloween arrived!  This was our first Halloween in our new house and it was amazing.  There were swathes of little monsters, witches and ghosties roaming from door to door, our little beasts got the idea VERY quickly and ended the evening with, literally, buckets of sweets.

The big beast got up at 5am in his excitement, and we'd watched 'Nightmare Before Christmas' by 6.30am.  We spent the day carving pumpkins, collecting leaves and autumnal things from the park and dressing the house.  It all got a bit Martha Stewart, but looked amazing.  

The candy skull crochet wig worked out amazingly, and the floral headdress is still one of my favourite makes ever.  Seeing how much effort all the people near us made, getting dressed up was the least we could do!

Inkeeping with the candy skull theme, I worked my socks off to get a candy skull rug ready in time, getting up at 4am but when you get a picture in your head if what you want to make it's hard to let go until it's done.  This is 1/2km of yarn and 10 hours work, my back and knees were ruined from crawling round the floor, but it's so freaking cool it was worth every second.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Half term carnage

So we're 4 days in to the half term, the littlest beast allegedly has chicken pox (although I've never seen them like this before), so he's full of beans but forbidden from playing with anyone.  I'm crocheting like a lunatic to meet a deadline, the house looks like we've been burgaled, and the big beast has been incessantly peeping about getting Halloween things ready all day.  To placate him, give us an indoor activity, and satiate the small beasts addiction with smarties we've baked smartie muffins, iced with Nutella.  I'm sure the truck or treaters will be thrilled tomorrow if they make it that far!

I think I feel an Early Boys Bedtime coming on, and then a 'world of interiors' and a yogi tea?  Don't mind if I do.