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disco stitches

Crochet

The blanket of redemption

2nd August 2017

I stopped crocheting for a bit.

For me that’s a sign that something, in this case my all, is extremely awry. This craft has become for me as natural as breathing. I notice the days I don’t pick up the hook at least once in the day. Throughout my dad’s illness, I still picked up the hook and managed to add mindless lines to an every growing granny square. This time in my life is different though. This time I wasn’t able to contemplate carving out a half hour pocket in the day, every day was a vacuum. Days slipped into weeks and all the things I enjoyed: reading, coding, crocheting, blogging and writing took a backseat to what we can fairly refer to as ‘the trauma’. I just concentrated on the essentials, eating, walking the dog, bathing and not much else.

But a few weeks ago, I started a square. I took a basket of colours and I felt for each new round, for a colour that would sit right. It got bigger and bigger and it felt better and better to focus on each next colour, each next join. Before I knew it, as one square slotted into the next I had a blanket to border.

It’s sitting on the side in my bedroom at the moment, waiting to be sent. Another task on the seemingly endless to do, but I started and I finished something, stitch by stitch. I felt me when I was doing it, I make a good blanket and I love this one. This one makes my heart sing. I’m relieved that I’ve come back to it. It’s a part of me, I love the process of creation and I wouldn’t want to lose something else I love right now.

I’ve a busy week planned, two rooms to get ready for air bnb, rainy days in which to entertain the children, job applications to tailor, miles to run. I’ve signed up for another ultra, almost double the distance of the first. Today’s training run was just bleak, I endured torrential rain and wind on the cliffs of Rottingdean as I closed in on 18 miles.

Anyway, enough on that, I’m exhausted, here are some more captures of Verity’s blanket. I WILL send it this week!


 

Crochet

Babette blanket update

1st March 2017

Photograph of the babette crochet blanket I made

When I began this blanket at the end of November I was hoping to add one square per evening. This was my background daily project that would grow slowly and on days where it was difficult to fit in crochet be the thing I would at least be getting further with.

As it turned out, with December being as busy as it usually is, this didn’t quite happen. The larger squares can take around half an hour to finish and that sometimes just doesn’t fit at the end of the day. At least two out of seven evenings in the week I generally don’t get anywhere near any kind of evening routine. However I have been plugging away at this. I can usually find at least ten minutes to work on a piece of the puzzle, even if it doesn’t get completed and attached. I love the way that it has come together and the way it lies and gets slowly more substantial.

Image of unfinished afghan babette crochet blanket

There are still around 50 individual squares to work up to get it complete, currently I lay it out on my bed in my room every morning when I make the bed and then pick a colour to add and work up a square in the evening but it won’t be long before I’m picking up the whole piece and taking it down to the sofa to work on a mismatched finishing border to bring it all together.

It’s made me want to work on another for all my scraps where every round is at least one colour. That would take a phenomenal amount of time and the idea of all the ends to weave in is slightly daunting but I’ve added it to the potential project list. For now, this looks like it will be the first big project of 2017 to get finished, a really fantastic way to work through ALOT of yarn.

Crochet

Xavier’s blanket

15th September 2016

Xavi in his blanket

 

Not too long ago now, I made this blanket for gorgeous Xavi using the Circle Square pattern from Leonie Morgan’s 100 Bright and colourful Granny squares.

 

Circle square

 

I used a palette of mustard, greys and cream to create the square and added an additional dc round to make the square bigger.

 

Border of the circle square blanket

 

Once sewn up I simply added a mustard sc border. I didn’t want to add any fuss. This seemed perfect.

 

Squares

 

Yarn used was Stylecraft Special DK and I used a 5mm hook.

 

Blanket overview

 

I absolutely love making these blankets, I love how they come together no matter how detailed they are. How just starting, stitch after stitch gets you closer to a finished piece. I especially love making them for friends and family as gifts and seeing pictures of them being used. As always I can work to commission, but I’ve sometimes got ready made pieces in my etsy shop. See the link at the top of the page.

Crochet

The Baboushka Rose Blanket

15th February 2016

Babushka Rose Blanket

I finished this blanket quite a few weeks ago and now that it’s been safely received I wanted to get it posted on here.

The pattern for this beaut can be found here. It’s reasonably simple to make and once I picked up the pattern and committed to it, it came together relatively quickly.

This blanket got pinned on my cool crochet pinterest board years ago so it was great to finally have an excuse to make it. I just have to work on seeing it in situ now with Little Freya Rose (I know – her name is so fitting for this blanket… kismet) in France soon.

Congratulations Lianne and Stu!!!  Bisous x

 

Baboushka Rose Blanket

 

I’d never made a blanket with 3D shapes in the blocks before and I enjoyed the switch up, I also really enjoyed deciding on the colour placements for each of the squares.

To make this blanket I used drops paris red, light ice blue, pistachio, light turquoise, strong yellow and shocking pink.

 

Baboushka Rose Blanket

 

It’s probably going to be my favourite finished item of 2016 to be honest. I feel like I’ve peaked early for sure.

Crochet

The first craft fair

26th November 2015
Me. At my stall. At the Fairytale Fair, Brighton.

Me. At my stall. At the Fairytale Fair, Brighton.

The weekend before last was my first craft fair – I know long times – I had a tendency before  of being a bit sporadic with writing blog posts and true to form here I am, almost two weeks later. Do you want to know how my first fair went? Read on. The couple of weeks leading up to the event I did feel that I was working on some kind of unachievable deadline, a deadline with little to no time to make the things for the deadline. That type of self imposed deadline (who else signed me up to that fair?) that I made more complicated for myself by deciding to create unnecessary things like crochet signage which took f.o.r.e.v.e.r and meant I had less time to make the things that I would actually sell and make money on. The sort of deadline you stop at times and think ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going with this’. But I have to say I was impressed with my (relative) chill leading up to the fair, a kind of acceptance that I would get something together and that I would do my best to enjoy everything leading up to it – I already had the ever growing stack of baby blankets – anything else was a bonus. Right? I’d see it as an invited life experience. It certainly had it’s place low in the hierarchy of things to worry about. Also I knew I’d learn a lot leading up to it. So game on.

Creating and planning for something in the window of opportunity that is between drop off and pick up is no joke. The issue of time scarcity is conversational currency as a mother, it seems to be a failsafe topic to which we have no end of negative vocabulary to sling around but though I can be VERY guilty of it, for the most part I just fitted in the hooking when I could and got on with it to varying success.

I’m going to briefly give a run down of the journey between my acceptance email and the event in this post. I had my reasons for doing the fair, I’d wanted to do one for a while, it was on my list of ‘things to try’, I wanted an opportunity to grow whatever Disco Stitches will turn into because I really do love crochet, I knew the why, I just didn’t know the how. My biggest problem with this fair was deciding WHAT TO MAKE. Such a headache. I can crochet just about anything. I’ve been crocheting for years now and I pretty much make sure I do everyday, so much so that I could  turn my hand to a big variety of projects if I wanted, coasters, mats, blankets, cushion covers, scarves. The big question I wanted and needed to ask was what to make and weigh that up with how long it would take. Should I focus on blankets which are time consuming, though satisfying? Should I have a big variety of stuff? Too much choice and not enough decision.

It was advertised as a festive fair so I immediately thought I’m going to need Christmas Decorations, I remembered some stars that I had pinned on my pinterest Christmas Board and so for the first week I experimented with learning that pattern and with different cottons. The second week I took out my snowflake bible and started hooking up some snowflakes too. I think I crocheted snowflakes for around a week and then I ordered some Petra DMC cotton in some bright colours and started messing about with that. I imagined snowflake garlands as well as standalone Christmas tree decorations, maybe I would turn them into mobiles! or add them to wreaths! In fact, hold on a minute! I’d seen some AMAZING crocheted Christmas Tree skirts, hold the phone! I’ll find the pattern for that and make 5.

Then it was my birthday – I’m hitting my mid thirties, even a tame evening in can take me out for a couple of days, I lose my creative intent, I truly do, and then it was a wedding. Wow, that took me out for quite a few days, creative intent well and truly annihilated. After recovering from LIFE, I finished up and started 3 baby blankets and then another, and then I got commissioned by my sister for another. You can appreciate, I did feel lulled into a false sense of productivity, because I was slowly making, but it wasn’t specific stuff for the fair and that’s when I started to get mildly panicked. At the time I was doing a lot of running training for Bright 10 which was really eating into my making time and I still hadn’t figured out how to stiffen the snowflakes nevermind working up a decent amount of stock. I went as far as creating a daily planner with a lovely chart layout and a list of what I would aim to make. While the list was lengthy the planner remained very much empty, I never did get my shiz together and distribute all those projects into manageable daily tasks. Nice idea.

Disco Stitches blanket

Disco Stitches blanket

 

More on the snowflakes later – let me list the ideas of things you could make if you ran your own crochet stall, I got these from my followers on Instagram and Facebook:

  • headbands
  • hairclips
  • crocheted brooches
  • tree decorations
  • snowflake garlands
  • Christmas decorations
  • Mats
  • Coasters
  • Cushion Covers
  • Blankets

I didn’t even scratch the surface on these suggestions. After hooking up a load of snowflakes, I was still finding the solution to how to get them to stay rigid a problem. I tried ‘pro’ stiffener spray which was a waste of money, expensive and inadequate and also made my lungs hurt, I tried epsom salts which left a horrible dusty icky residue and finally I hit upon the PVA glue/ water solution, the ratio of which I’m still not happy with. Basically I spent way too much time in October and November troubled by the snowflake problem. You would think that a resolution would have been forthcoming (how hard can it be?! Really???!)  but no, it was a niggling frustration the whole time. With this in mind I just wanted to forget all about snowflakes… I needed some other low priced takeaway items so for a few days I hooked up more coasters, thought about dishcloths and I also messed about with digital images and emails with printers for greetings cards and other items.

snowflakes

 

Half term came and went in which I did absolutely no craft, none at all, I hit 9pm and I felt like I’d walked into a wall. At the tail end of October George decided to switch up his Halloween costume and was set on Dennis the Menace. How is this at all relevant? Well apparently, it’s pretty impossible to find a black and red striped jumper anywhere, the net included, and so came the next creative diversion to throw me from what should have been my focus. George had to have a proper jumper, a t-shirt was no good. “Mummy? Can you make one?” OF COURSE I CAN SON, I WILL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU. I never learn. That was three days of crocheting in the fringe hours, gone, and it was a great many hours. I know, true love.

www.discostitches.com

 

By now we are up to two weeks before the fair. I have some floppy snowflakes, a handful of blankets and a few sets of coasters and I am starting to refer to myself in the third person, by my maiden name and that is when you know things are really serious. When I’m giving the slow headshake and trying to thread a needle to sew in ends saying ‘come on Amy Cox,’ we have problems. I am starting to get that all too familiar sweaty, almost sticky sense of discomfort that I am not very organised and so begins two weeks of coffee fuelled late nights and early mornings and a lot of calming glasses of wine and excess sugar. Such a positive combination. A few days after Halloween I try out a bauble pattern and then that changed everything. It worked, it was seasonal and they ended up being really very popular. So popular I am still making them. So the heat was off, I started getting orders for them via Facebook through friends and family which meant I knew that the cost of the stall had been covered and whether I sold anything on the day or not I had hit upon something that I was supposed to be making. I stopped thinking about making anything else and just stuck with them. They were my pivotal craft fair One Thing and if I had been smarter I would have known that ages before.

I think to sum up, if you are thinking about doing your first craft fair and you want to share the things you make with other people by all means force your hand like I did by signing up to one but try to know what you are good at making and what you are going to focus on beforehand. I had swerved blankets, my primary love, because I felt I couldn’t make enough in the time and knew that people are looking to buy lower priced affordable items at these events. Baby blankets was just going to narrow my  appeal and they are relatively expensive but most people are in a position to buy a Christmas Decoration. I’d advise though, take the pain out of the process by doing all the experimentation before you commit to a date. Having said that if it’s something you have been thinking about, don’t hesitate, likely you will somehow find your way. Try not to be too broad or too discouraged by all the ideas that you do not execute, pick three or four items and do them well. Start a Facebook page, share your work with your friends for some honest feedback and inspiration will eventually strike.

:: the actual day is another blog post entirely ::

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crochet

Baubles

11th November 2015

Cottonthreads

If you’ve been following me on instagram you might remember that at the end of August I applied to do my first craft fair. I got accepted at the start of September for this weekend’s Fairytale Fair at Brighton’s Open Market and it felt like such a looooong time away. Now, 10 weeks later I’m pulling everything together so that I am set for Sunday. It’s come around, as these things do a bit too quickly. There’s a lot of sitting on the sofa or at the kitchen table hooking and a hella lot of list making because I just keep thinking of things I *might* need or *should* make.

Today I am putting the finishing touches to a sign that I want to hang at the front of the table, something that I have just worked out will have taken about 10 hours all in all once I’m done (!) – probably not the best use of my time. I’m also hooking up the baubles you can see in the picture above which have been a surprise addition. I hadn’t tried out crocheted baubles until last Thursday, but, after posting on Facebook Friday morning they’ve been a bit of a runaway success with friends and family and I’ve sold 22 sets of 3 already. I’m hoping they’ll be similarly popular on Sunday.

This last week has been a bit of an ordering and sourcing week – a logo, a stamp, cardboard, bags, labels, tags, ribbons, cotton, business cards, stickers, greetings cards, baubles and display materials. I’ve been holding out for so long not wanting to spend a ton of money but now I’m just wondering if everything will actually arrive in time. I also would have hoped to have a bit more of a handle on how I would be laying everything out (I’ve not even done my mock up yet) and felt a bit more confident about my stock, I don’t feel I’ve made nearly enough snowflake decorations and I wanted to have done some cushion covers, scarves, brooches. Still, I’m all set for a next time and overall I’m looking forward to the whole experience. At the moment I’m just taking it step by step, stitch by stitch and I’ll see how things go.