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I've been thinking really hard about my New Years resolution, and as you know, I wanted to find a way to use my (small) powers for good, so this is it!  (See the link in the side bar to get there!)
Welcome to Mrs.Steel's School of Stitchcraft & Scissory!

A creative school for all the craft witches out there. You'll find regular crafty projects, and tutorials with tips, hints and how to's, to help you learn everything from crochet (of course) to carpentry.

A place to embrace the multi-talented, creative creatures that you are; you can connect with other, like-minded makers in the Common Room, aka Instagram ;), share you own, resourceful makes AND find your franternity.

The school motto is 'Make More, Take Less', and that's exactly what we're going to try and do.  Rather than buying 'throw-away' things from stores, we're going to find creative and exciting ways to make and re-make things to create treasured, heirloom pieces.

Now for the fun part, which house are you?!

Yarnistry - crochet, knitting, weaving, macrame and the fibre arts
Stitchery - sewing, embroidery, dressmaking, cross stitch
Papeterie - paper cutting, painting, drawing, origami and anything paper based
Herbarium - flower arranging, photogrpahy, growing and gardening
The Pantry - dyer, baker, candlestick maker? Anything with a bit of hardware!

Happy 2017!  I find this time of year incredibly inspiring.  It's an opportunity to take the time to reflect on everything that you've achieved, learned and experienced over the last 12 months.  I like to take a quiet evening, turn all the devices off, get a cosy cup of something and find a quiet spot to just tuck in, and think.

This time last year I set out a list of intentions for the months ahead, and as a result, my craft year has been incredible; I've made all sorts of things, worked with all sorts of people, learned all sorts of things, tried and tested new things and been all over the place meeting and making things with new people.  I have a bit of a 'yes' policy, so any time people ask if I want to do things, I tend to say yes and end up trotting off somwhere and inevitably finding out something I didn't know before.  I just think that any experience will teach you something, even if it's that you won't be doing it again!  This is true for everything, from learning to mosaic (not for me) to trying to teach 30 people to crochet at once (not possible!).

I've also thought about what my creative journey means to me.  I'm very lucky doing what I do, but I'm also aware that the world doesn't need designers, it needs people that can bring positivity and change.  At the end of 2016 I started an Instagram account called Make It Better Social Club as a knee jerk reaction to the outcome of the US election.  I wanted to create a space where we could all share our makes and just get a bit of positivity going.  But it hasn't felt like enough.  Sharing pics is lovely, but there has to be more.

It shouldn't be 'eco' to remake or reuse something, it's just common sense.  So I won't be using words like sustainable, environmental or ecological, even though that is really what this is about.  I want to do something that normalises those ideas, brings them into our daily lives and still gives you that gorgeous, creative buzz when you've finished something!

So this year, right now, I'm setting the intention to launch Mrs.Steel's School of Stitchcraft and Scissory.  A creative place full of tutorials, how to's and the ingenious ideas of makers the world over, all with the intent of getting people making more and taking less, as well as sharing our common humanity through our shared interests in the love of making things.

To kick it all off, I will be setting up a tutorial for this craft resolution banner, keep 'em peeled lovehearts, and if anyone is interested in sharing any of their craft no-how to further the causes of good, just let me know!

This year, as I sat and started making Christmas gifts for people, I had a bit of a revelation.  We all know that making gifts for people is a way of justifying our craft habit, and the pleasure is really in the making, rather than in the giving.  But I always assumed that people would acknowledge, understand and therefore love the things I'd made for them because of the time, effort and energy and thought that went in to making them.  This is not necessarily the case.

I say this as someone that was thoroughly enjoying learning to knit last week, and thinking about people I could practice my newfound skill on, by bestowing lovingly mangled wristwarmers on.  It wasn't until I'd got to the end of a left-hand that I realised that it was horrible.  I'd been practicing stripes, and as much as I was enjoying it, the end result was hideous.  I knew instantly, that if someone had given them to me as a Christmas present, they would have been consigned to the back of a cupboard for the rest of their life.  And then I started to think about some of the things that people HAVE made me, and I really didn't appreciate, and it led to me this thought...

Just because it's hand-made, it doesn't have to look like it is.

I have the skills to make something that is really quite lovely.  Hell, we ALL have.  So instead I've taken a bit more time to really think about what people will want, and even if it's not exactly the thing I feel  like making, I'd rather they had something they'll truly treasure rather than something I want to make.  So here are the things that are currently underway at Maison Steel...

Embroidered Mermaid Top

Horribly fiddly but ultimately awesome 'K' cushion

More ends than you can bare, but flipping cool hexie cushion

I wouldn't normally set myself such fiddly challenges, but if it's a few more ends to deal with and a lifetime of love and appreciation, then I'll take it.

p.s. the Hexie Pattern will be free for you to download from the LoveCrochet blog on 22nd December as a special Christmas treat xxx
Any of you that follow me in insta world will know that recently I started a group called Make it Better Social Club, it was a knee jerk to the extraordinary, divisive feeling that has grown out of Brexit here in the UK, and the result of the US elections.

I just got so frustrated with all the divisive, negativity in the world at the moment, and spent ages thinking that I had nothing to offer but craft.  Then I thought about what making stuff means to me, and it's about creating something with meaning, that isn't part of a throwaway culture, and it's also about making other people happy.  So I figured I could create a little space for like minded people, with a similar, social conscience, that love to make.  We can fight the fear and negativity in a modern-day, WI kind of way (without the lessons in how to work defibrillators or CPR!) by swapping skills, supporting each other and offering a gentle message of sustainability and political inclusivity, without it feeling like activism. 
Just nice, with making stuff.  
Make more, take less.
I'm still working out how best to use it, but please come and join us if you feel this way too, and we can work it out together!
There are literally no words I need to write to go with these.  If you know what they are, then you know which ones are yours. 

Three hours is all you need, pattern in Shop.

(And Ravenclaw, in case you're wondering).
;) x

The weather keeps luring us in to a false sense of security here in the UK, it'll be bitterly cold for a day or two, and then, like today, it'll be practically spring like in the sunshine.  As a compulsive wool wearer, I literally love to find any excuse to have a snood/scarf/shawl about my person, but with the changing temperature, you need to pick your woollen, neck wear carefully.

For me, an infinity scarf is the perfect accompaniment, looped over a couple of times when the cold winds blow, or loose and hanging when the sun is shining.  And you know me by now, if I can get a bit of inspiration for a make from the hedgerows of Sussex, then I will!  So when I came across Noro's Hakone from Laughing Hens it seemed the ideal culprit for a little, sloe inspired infinity scarf.

I've used Noro yarn before, and I really love the way they variegate their yarn - the colours change form one end, to the middle and then back again, none of this stripy style, repeat, it feels much more natural than that.  They're a company that's close to my heart as they believe in using natural materials rather than acrylics and chemicals, this particular blend is all wool, but they also do amazing things with silks, mohair and alpaca.

As soon as it arrived I knew it was destined to be a one skein infinity scarf, but as soon as I'd finished it, Mr.Steel pinched it to go with his tweed jacket, and I literally haven't seen it since.  They do look beautiful together though (the tweed and the scarf, not the husband!  Although I think he's alright too).  And the natural, sloe coloured tones in the Noro made it feel perfect to be named the 'One Skein Sloe Gin' scarf.

(The blur in this pic is actually because the texture of the wool is so soft  - you can see it in contrast to the hook, it's just lovely!)

You can find the Noro Hakon at Laughing Hen's website, and the pattern for this infinity scarf in my shop.  (And if you're feeling generous you could make it for your husband, and that is quite a big if...)
Hurrah for the final arrival of the frost!  Hurrah for the autumn and wrapping up warm!  Hurrah for massive scarves and the excuse to cover yourself in a blanket ALL day!

Yes, I do properly love autumn.  Somehow I find the colours and the crisp air extremely energising.  Summer leaves me sluggish and horribly blaaahhh, where as autumn just brings out the sparkle in everything.  It is also the perfect time to dig out the winter-wear case, find all the hats, mittens and scarves (a LOT).  Some things are old favourites and I 'll wear year after year, but trends will also change, ideas will be inspired, and sometimes you don't need much of an excuse to whip out the ole hook and get makin' somethin' new.

This year I've just wanted to feel like I'm wrapped up in a blanket all of the time, I also wanted something that felt super comforting.   Although I'm not a great one for the humble granny square, it just seemed like the perfect candidate for a super cosy, cuddly blanket scarf.  Then the stars aligned and the gorgeous Yarn Master (true story) at HobbyCraft got in touch to ask if I'd like to make a pattern using some of their wool.  Being a regular browser of their WI range I instantly knew what I wanted to do.  A blanket shawl in their chunky yarns, in grey and neon pink.  I instantly said 'yes!' and had it made in 4 hours flat.

The pattern will be totally free for you to get next week, from the HobbyCraft website.

I literally haven't taken it off (I'm in it write now, typing this, with the cat on my lap and the rain outside, it's ace), and my bestie has been coveting it so much, that I've made her one too.  So that we don't look too creepily the same - we already have the same jacket, jeans and shoes - I've made one in her favourite colours, gold & green.  You can find the pattern for this guy in my shop, he uses different yarn, hook and has a different edge, so you can pick and choose which one works best for you.