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I used to work with a very dear, acerbic chap, who used to refer to me as Headmistress.  It made me feel like I was in a very particular role, and made me come over all Margaret Rutherford or Alastair Simm's in St.Trinian's.  As a result, whenever we would email about work, I'd get a particular persona in my head, and would find myself writing in the style of a slightly pompous, slightly posh governess, and I enjoyed it enourmously.  (I'm starting to do it now, I literally can't help it).

It's this voice that overtakes me when I'm writing Mrs. Steel's School if Stitchcraft and Scissory blogs.  In fact it's partly what inspired me to open a school in the first place, the enjoyment of playing a headmistress.  It just got me thinking about how all of us that use the internet to communicate with the world develop our own voice, but also that we can have as many 'voices' as we like.

I'm hoping everyone enjoys Mrs.Steel as much as I enjoy being her, and that's it's taken in the slightly farcical tone in which it's intended.  But also that it makes the school accessible and fun too, and that's the real point of it.  Which reminds me: if you're trying to find us on Instagram, due to a 'technical error' the original account has disappeared.  So in the good, old fashioned, 1940's spirit that seems to possess me when dealing with the School, we have relaunched as @stitchcraftandscissory.

Do come and join us. 

Today's lesson has just been released; there's a free crochet lesson AND a cross stitch pattern today, all Valentine's related.

AND I've FINALLY released the Secret Loveheart Mitten pattern for general sale, which is over at the Shop if you'd like it xxx

I am super lucky to have heaps of crochet work on at the mo, but it comes with a couple of downsides. 1. I can't share any pics of any of them and 2. I get so fried crocheting all day, that I no longer find it relaxing of an evening.  This is when all the other stitchcraft and scissory come in to play.

This week I have mostly been playing with my cottons and a yarn needle, and getting my stitch on.  Couple that with some Tom Hardy in BBC's 'Taboo' and once the sun has set and the Bests are in bed, I have been an extremely happy lady.  What's more, starting up Mrs.Steel's School is giving me a lovely opportunity and excuse to do more of this sort of thing AND I can share all the how to's with you as I do it.

Customising thrift finds with a bit of stitchery is one of my fave ways of making something individual.  I'm not a massive fan of applique, so creating my own surface designs for garments really only left me with one option.  But getting the guts up to work my first stitches into a jumper was really hard.  However, once you get on it, there's no going back.  My first  attempt was actually a sugar skull storm trooper, just using DK yarn and a big old needle.  The purdy flowers have evolved over the last few months and now I'm trying to get the guts up to work the phases of the moon around the neckline of a mohair jumper.  I'm not quite ready for perfect circles and delicate fabric, but I'll get there!

How to free style a hand embroidered flower is now over at the school

I am literally thrilled to announce that the School is taking off in the most delightful way, and we can already open up our curriculum to cover the Dark Arts (or baking).  As much as I try, I am a horrible baker, but love taking pictures, so my twin sis has stepped in and offered up her favourite, gluten-free brownie recipe.  Hop on over to the Stichcraft & Scissory blog for your free tutorial.

(And I just have to share with you, that while I was having a lovely time, in my first foray as food photographer, I dropped my camera in the cake mix.  I think in future I'll make sure that I always wear a strap!)

Well my darlings, before Christmas you would have seen the pic of all those Hogwart's House Mittens that I made for my friends and fam.  Today I've posted the pattern for free as part of the new Mrs.Steel's School curriculum ;)  The link is in the side menu, so if you fancy hooking up a pair, hop on over there and get you hook out.

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