May Day Crowns

Floral Crowns and May Day Protests

So it’s nearly May Day.

Another mixed up, modern day excuse for a knees up.

May Day, like most festivals in 21st century Britain, has a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not quite sure what it is anymore and doesn’t really know what to do with itself.

It wants to put on a pretty frock, wear a floral crown and frolic around a maypole on the village green performing a ritualistic dance of summer, fertility and joy.

On the other hand – it is also an anarchist bent on overthrowing the canons of capitalism; a proletarian revolt against exploitation of ‘the workers’ and a rampage through the streets in an uproarious celebration of temporary mayhem.

It seems that in the 21st century we have to choose which side we’re on. Floral dress and crown- or hoody and bandana?

Shall I frolic – or rampage?

Am I joyful or angry?

And why can’t I be both?

In the past ordinary folk, like me, were allowed to do both. To be both. May Day, and similar festivities were all about breaking the rules, fools were crowned, and the authorities were mocked as the world was turned upside down for a day.

At what point in the civilising process did we lose our identity? When did we lose our sense of humour – and the strength to uphold our traditions?

At the turn of the 21st century when an ex soldier was jailed for decorating Churchill’s statue with a green turf Mohican it signalled how insecure as a nation we have become. We take ourselves so seriously now we deny all our weaknesses. We are so self-conscious, and self-policing, we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes, say the wrong thing occasionally, get drunk and cavort outrageously. It can’t be healthy to be so civilised.

So this May Day I’ll put on the crown….then I’ll open a can of larger and swear at the 10 o’clock news.

If you’d like to join in my armchair revelry, here’s how to make the pretty floral crown.

You will need:

  • A few lengths of natural raffia. (around 12)
  • Some freshly cut flowers. (nothing too ostentatious….just a few sprigs of whatever you can find growing nearby)

You’ll need to secure your work – I’m quite happy to stick pins in my furniture – you might not be.

Gather your raffia and begin by tying a loop at one end – leave the ends nice and long.

Raffia May Day Crowns

 

Start to plait the raffia – and works the short ends into the beginning of the plait.may day crowns 2

Check the length of the plait and when it’s long enough to go around your head thread the ends through the loop and secure in a knot. If you knot it fairly loosely you’ll be able to undo it if you need to adjust the size.may day crowns 3

Trim your flowers and poke the stems through the plait. Use additional lengths of raffia to

bind the stems so they dont poke out.maydown crown with flower

Continue to add the flowers until you are happy with your crown. Now try it on.mayday crowns finished

I wanted to photograph the crown on my resident 10 year old May Queen ………but…..

“I’m not wearing THAT.” Stomp stomp stomp. SLAM.

Hoorah! The spirit of protest is alive and kicking in our house.

Share This:

Crochet CAL

Crochet Shawls: Connected with Hugs and CALs

For several weeks now I’ve been thinking rather a lot about shawls; their history, their function and their design  potential

I’ve written before about The Norwich Shawl and it’s glorious history. Queen Victoria commissioned two Norwich shawls after admiring them at the 1851 Great Exhibition and for much of the  19th century decorative woven shawls were the ‘on trend’ accessory for women of all social classes.

It’s also fascinating to track the demise of this once ‘must have’ wardrobe staple as fashions evolved and the shawl became almost obsolete in fashionable society. For the last few years of the 19th century, and for most of the 20th century, shawls became a rather self-effacing accessory, associated with the elderly, the frail and the ubiquitous huddled masses en route to an unknown future.

In the 21st century, it is still a brave designer that sends models swathed in shawls down the runways of London Fashion week; and I love Burberry Prorsum for having the courage to do this two years running.

Burberry

A shawl presents infinite possibilities. It is a conceptual blank canvas that can be any shape, size, colour or gender. It can be functional or decorative; high fashion or utility. A shawl has the power to comfort and make the wearer feel warm, safe and protected. Like a shell, but soft and forgiving. Being wrapped in a fabulous shawl is a gentle and tender embrace.

Fringed prayer shawls feature in Judaism and there is now, particularly in the USA, a movement for knitting or crocheting a more generic ‘prayer shawl’ which is blessed and given to someone in need of comfort. I was reminded of this recently when I was contacted by Anne McCrudden about the Shawl Hugs project she has started. Shawl  Hugs is a project for anyone to make shawls for people who are going through a tough time “ they may be experiencing physical or mental health problems, going through bereavement or struggling in some way.”

“Shawls can be tangible symbols of love and support. They can be warm hugs of happiness and empathy; a place of escape to relax, rest and renew; something to hold on to when all else is slipping away. Wrapping another in a shawl made of your loving thoughts is a gift not only for the person who receives it, but for yourself as well.” 

shawl hugs

The project includes live workshop events where anyone can drop buy, learn to knit or crochet, pick up a pattern and get started on their own, unique, shawl. The next event is on Thursday 12th May and you can find out more about it here.

This is such a great way to connect with others, and in my own work at The Mercerie I also used a shawl, earlier this year, as a way to connect with people all over the world.

In February I launched my first on line CROCHET-ALONG which ran over 6 weeks and I was amazed and delighted by what happened. I loved watching the progress of so many variations of the Folklore Shawl. I was stunned by how fast some of you work (yes, that’s you Lee!) and thrilled to see so many different colour variations – take a look at some of the projects…..they are so beautiful.

I adore this blue version by Lee.

lees Shawl V1

Marion’s multicoloured version is just fabulous – I’m going to try this….

marions

Lee managed to make TWO!!!

Lee's 2

Heather was the first to finish…..

Heather's

Aimi hooked up her black and red version pretty quickly too.

Ami's

Oh – and here’s mine. Shamefully still unfinished!

green folklore

If you made a shawl as part of this CAL; wrap yourself up in it……and that’s a big hug from me to say THANK YOU!

 

 

Ps. I’m running a ‘Joining Motifs’ crochet workshop on May 14th if you’d like to give this pattern a go – but need a little help getting started.

Share This:

red bobble knit bangle

Art, Entropy and a Bobble Knit Bangle

I may have mentioned this before…but I really don’t look forward to winter.

I turn the clocks back with a heavy hand, and heart, making mental calculations of how many weeks until spring.

Yes, I know that Autumn can be a beautiful season, and there is much to celebrate with Michaelmas and Harvest Festivals, Halloween and Bonfire Night. But for me, especially this year, I inch towards November with a swarm of red admirals avoiding hibernation in the pit of my stomach as I watch Mother Nature slowly decay.

Melancholia, however, is not something I revel in and so today I am reminding myself that the darker months bring with them their own unique gifts.

During a recent walk around the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve at Wheatfen, on the Norfolk Broads I was greeted by thousands of bright and cheery little beacons of colour in the hedgerows, undergrowth and trees. Nature was bedecked in her most brilliant, yet transient, jewellery and her ebony and ruby red beads shone in the October sun.

Wheatfen 2

Wheatfen

Wheatfen 4

Her seasonal decorations will leave no trace; they are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and carry the seeds of a new generation. They cost nothing, are labour free and won’t be exhumed from a landfill site in 1000 years from now.

I love my craft and the community of makers I feel a part of – but I make no apologies for not feeling the urge to yarn bomb a tree, or decorate a hedgerow with knit graffiti.

I can’t help it – I am hot-wired with the Modernist Manifesto. Beauty in Function and Ornament is Crime are carved into my heart and, for me, the natural process of entropy, brings with it its own poetic, unadorned, beauty.

I know a place where nature and art encounter each other perfectly, and it’s in the work of Anja Gallaccio.

A carpet of 10,000 decaying roses; 2,000 gerberas gradually decomposing and trees strung with apples shamelessly performing their entropic autobiographies.

red on green

Image creditgallaccio 3Image credit 
gallaccio 2Image credit

This is the work that stops me in my tracks. This is what reminds me that life is short, time is precious, nature is beautiful…..and art is profound.

So I’m going to stop looking at the clock, drag my eyes away from my naval, and look again at the big picture……

Wheatfen Broad

I’m feeling inspired. Now where’s that lovely red wool?

red wool

I’m going to make a bobble knit bangle just as soon as I’ve climbed off my soap box.

red bobble knit bangle

 

Look out for Issue 25 of The Mercerie Post – I’ll include the pattern for the bangle…..it’s super simple!

Share This:

CAL Shawl project

The Folklore Shawl CAL

I’m so excited!!

I’m going to be running The Mercerie’s very first CAL project in 2016 – and it’s going to be our gorgeous Folklore Shawl. WAHAY!!

It will be launching in the new year as a series of 4 crochet patterns that I will email directly to you over a period of 6 weeks.

Worked in our own gorgeous DK merino yarn this shawl has two very different colour ways to choose from and we will be selling yarn bundles for each colour option  in our online shop very soon.

I’ll be posting further details on how you can sign up, so come back soon or sign up to our newsletter and I’ll tell you all about it…..

BLACK COLOUR OPTION

Folklore Shawl CALCrochet Shawl CAL

WHITE COLOUR OPTION

Folklore Shawl CAL

Share This:

yellow flowers

Crochet, Penelope and the Art of Unmaking

Close your eyes and imagine the joy of seeing a new design emerge, and that buzz of excitement when it’s finally complete, and it is more beautiful than the picture you’ve held in your mind for so long.

This is what drives me to start a new project; this is my addiction. I am a #crochetaddict.

Penelope and UnmakingPenelope and Unmaking

But recently I’ve been struggling with conclusions. I’ve been working on a new crochet project, and I’m very excited about it; except I’ve been working on it since January and it’s very resistant to completion.

I must have made, and unmade, this design half a dozen times now. Each time there’s something not quite right. The flowers don’t lay as they should, the shape is all wrong, and that shape’s wrong too. It’s not big enough, it’s too big, it’s too dense, it’s too lacy……

unmaking the purple crochet flowersunmaking the yellow crochet flowers

With each design scenario I find a reason to undo it. I spend hours taking back days of work. Evenings are spent undoing and redoing; unmaking and remaking; destroying and mending; brutalising and healing.

I am Penelope, the archetypal dutiful wife who for 3 years spent her days weaving and her nights un-weaving in a cycle of procrastination. My own making and unmaking has suspended time by a thread and it is still resisting conclusion.

Penelope weaving and unweavingPenelope image credit

There is order in finished work. A completed textile is a product, an object with a role to play, a position in the order of things. It can be owned and measured, valued and devalued.

But I know that there is also meaning in the act of making. I became aware of this when I wrote about The Happy Blanket. But that was different, the process of making was linear. It did what it was told. It behaved itself, and in the end it looked lovely. (and it still makes me smile)

But what about the cycle of making and unmaking? Where is the truth and meaning in that process?

I don’t know.

Perhaps there isn’t one.

Perhaps it is just mindless making afterall.

But I do know that this period of unmaking has been about something other than the finished (text)ile. It’s not about the text, it has been about the conversation. And it was a difficult subject.

The threads of this particular conversation are long  – but soon it must reach a conclusion. I want this design to be finished in time for Yarndale.crochet design

There. I’ve said it.

So I’d better get on with it.

Eeek!

#crochetinglikeamadwoman

If you’re visiting Yarndale this year please do come and say hello, I’d love to meet you.

And if you’d like to learn to crochet – or develop your existing skills, I run classes to suit every level at Norfolk Yarn in Norwich.

Share This:

Flowers for Memories

Crochet Flowers for Memories

I am getting increasingly excited about Yarndale this year, and one of the things I am most looking forward to is seeing the display of knitted and crocheted Flowers for Memories. Just as the mandalas did last year, these flowers are going to be breath taking, and given their significance – extremely moving.

The crafting community need little excuse to pull together and charities can be a powerful mobilising force. I was reminded of this last year when I saw The Knitted Flower Pergola and more recently the Craftivist Collective have introduced a #wellMaking Craftivists Garden.

It seems that the convention of floral tributes has been embraced by crafters and makers all over the world; those generous people who give their time, skills and resources to all kinds of good causes.

I wanted to contribute to the Yarndale project again this year, but also wanted to draw people together to work collectively on this. Making is always more fun with other people – and cake!

Rebecca at Norfolk Yarn very kindly offered to host a workshop, so yesterday I met with some lovely, generous women and we worked together on our collection of crochet Flowers for Memories.

We were gathered for all kinds of reasons and we all managed to finish at least one or two flowers. As we worked our conversation ebbed and flowed as some of us remembered our own family members who had lived with dementia

How many of the flowers made for this community project represent real people loved and lost? Perhaps they are all ‘forget-me-nots’ in their own way.

Thank you to everyone that came to the workshop, I loved meeting you all and I will be forwarding your work to Lucy at Yarndale – perhaps if you visit you’ll be able to spot your work…….

Crochet Flower Workshop

Crochet Flower Detail

flowers for Memories

If you’d like to brush up on your crochet skills or simply learn the basics, we’ve got a whole programme of classes at Norfolk Yarn this Autumn, and we’d love you to join us!

Share This:

Craft Activities for Children

From Movie Star Planet Back Down to Earth

Help! I think my daughter has been abducted by aliens!

What 21st century parent isn’t wearily familiar with the addictive nature of online games for children?

Having finally come to terms with a family members minecraft addiction, another seems to be rearing it’s ugly head. It has huge purple hair, empty black eyes and appears to have an arrow impaled in its head.

This monstrous character is an alien from Movie Star Planet; a truely scary environment. Inhabitants of the planet appear to have had their brains sucked out and they wander about aimlessly spouting mindless banalities to anyone they come across.

Direct action is required.

“This is Earth calling. You are under threat of alien abduction. Please make your way to the dining area for your own safety…….NOW!!!”

I wait for the slap of the laptop closing and observe the entry of a young female with attitude. She rolls her eyes slowly, swishes her high pony tail and makes an exaggerated gesture. (which she hasn’t quite perfected so it looks alarmingly like a nervous twitch)

Let the battle commence.

Here are my 5 suggested activities designed specifically for combating and alleviating the negative effects of Movie Star Planet on 10 year old girls.

  1. Make a Dream Catcher.

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate conversation about cultural appropriation.

Making Dream Catchers

  1. Make Some Felties

Introduce this with an age appropriate conversation about animal welfare, conservation, Cecil the Lion and the infantilising effects of adults in onsies.

Making Felties

  1. Arrange a Collection of Rocks, Stones, Pebbles or Crystals

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate contextual conversation about the work of Andy Goldsworthy. (eg. Is it Art? Yes it is.)

arranging crystals

Goldsworthy image credit

  1. Make a Tent Outside.

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate conversation about temporary dwellings, refugee camps and homelessness. (try not to make her cry)

home made tent

Refugee image credit

  1. Bake Some Gingerbread Men

Introduce this activity with an argument about who’s going to tidy up all the mess.

baking ginger bread men

 

Any of these activities should help re-ground and acclimatise your child. Normal speech patterns should return, eye rolling should cease and general intelligence and well being should be restored

Share This:

Crochet Bohemian Shawl

Crochet Shawls, Strangers and other Norwich Stuff

If you head north east out of London for about a hundred miles, just before you get to the North Sea, you’ll find Norwich; a fine city. Once an impenetrable gated community, Norwich is now circumnavigated by the ring road and the crumbling remains of a city wall.

Like many people, my historical knowledge of the place where I live is sketchy, anecdotal and riddled with holes and questionable facts. 365 pubs (one for every day of the year) 52 churches (one for every week) rivers running red like blood (the madder dyes) and a cockerel as big as a donkey (on the top of the cathedral spire – according to my grandmother)

In geographical terms, Norwich is rather off the beaten track but it is possible to trace a route through history to a time when it was a city second only to London and a thriving textile hub.

Knowledge and evidence of our grand textile history has become rather threadbare over the years but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and I wonder how many of my ancestors might have spent long hours weaving in their dimly lit garrets, or suffered the dire consequences of working with toxic mordants in the dye houses of sixteenth century Norwich.

I wonder how they might have viewed the new community of ‘strangers’ –  the highly skilled Dutch and Flemish weavers invited into the city to mobilise and modernise the city’s ailing textile industry, and to escape religious persecution.

Like all new immigrant communities The Strangers brought with them many things that impacted on the City. The Flemish brought with them their pet canaries (canary breeding became so popular in Norwich we named our football team after them) and even the Norwich dialect is said to have been influenced by this community, who at one time made up almost one third of the city.

The greatest impact, perhaps, was made on our textile output. They introduced revolutionary technical changes, mixed fibres and improved finishing processes.

The Norwich dyers were also prized for the quality of their bright, clean, colourfast dyes. Red dyes were particularly prized and one red dye became known as ‘Norwich red’ produced from the madder plant which was grown locally and later important from Turkey.

The new fabrics were lighter, silkier and had strange names like camblet, Say,Tammy, Callimanco, mockadoes, Fustian of Naples, Bombasine, stamin, serg, and dornix. Collectively they became known as Norwich Stuffs.

As the fabrics became more delicate, like the fashionable ones on the Continent,  the need for a big warm shawl increased and Norwich was to become hugely important in the production of the very fashionable ‘Norwich Shawl’. Not to be confused with the Paisley Shawl – no really – don’t EVER make that mistake. I did once – and was told off very severely by a textile historian. Paisley is in Scotland. Norwich is in England. You see – they are different!!

Shawls were manufactured in Norwich from the 1780’s but by the mid 19th century Norwich was producing some of the most exquisite, and expensive shawls in the world – inspired by the beautiful textiles imported from Kashmir

Norwich Textiles

Image: http://locutus.ucr.edu/

Much of the history of Norwich is wrapped up in a beautiful wool shawl and I’m very pleased to see shawls, wraps and oversized scarves return to the contemporary fashion scene.

Shawls make the perfect knitting or crochet project if you’re one of those people who can never quite get the fit of a jumper right, or if you’re rather too impatient to work a third tension square….shawls always fit!

I recently added The Bohemian Shawl to my collection of crochet patterns and it takes more than a hint of inspiration from the textile history of Norwich.

Bohemian crochet shawl

I may wear it one evening soon and take a walk through the city, past Strangers Hall, the Maddermarket Theatre, The Woolpack, The Dyers Arms, Canary Way, and, finally, down Weavers Lane, and  think about the rich history of this very fine city.

I shall also be running a three part crochet masterclass in Norwich this Autumn where you can make your own version of this gorgeous shawl. We will cover a huge range of stitches and techniques and you can choose your own colours from a range of Debbie Bliss yarns at Norfolk Yarn wool shop.

crochet shawl design

Crochet shawl

Crochet Shawl Bobble Trim

Full details can be found here

Oh – and I’m going to include the instructions on how to work the lovely pom pom trim in the next issue of The Mercerie Post!

You can register here.

Share This:

colour workshop

Colour Stories and Chromatophobia

Do you suffer with Chromatophobia?

What’s your relationship with colour like?

Are you slightly afraid of it; not really sure how to approach it in case you do, or say, the wrong thing?

Or are you living a comfortably safe existence? Is it habitual, something that you don’t really think about until you realise that almost everything you own or wear is grey? maybe you’re worried you’re just a little bit too passionate; a ‘more is more’ approach, hiding your true colours under a layer of rainbow brights and deafening your friends with your extremely loud colours.

Perhaps your love of colour just needs rekindling; a little poke here and there to check that it’s still alight.

Colour is a subject/concept that fascinates me on every level. It’s a triple science subject; biology, chemistry, and physics. It’s metaphysics. It’s natural, manufactured and available in every shape and form. It’s animal, vegetable, mineral and every conceivable hybrid in between.

It’s a reflection, a memory and a trace with the power to ignite associations and flash backs.

It’s on trend, off colour, retro and ‘the new black’. It’s classified, organised, registered and theorised.

It’s all an illusion, it’s smoke and mirrors playing with our perceptions and confusing our senses.

Joseph Albers spent a lifetime exploring the Interaction of Colour and his work is a visual reminder that nothing is fixed; perception is all about context. Just like people, colours adjust their behaviour according to who they are sitting next to, or talking to.

Consider #thedress and the media facination with how and why its colour apparantly appears different to different people and in different environments.

This is all beginning to feel like a heavy load, there are rules, authorities, the fashion police and queues of ‘other people’ just waiting for us to make a ‘colour faux pas’ so it’s easier just to stick to a nice pink and purple combination because that always works – doesn’t it???

Well maybe it’s time to lighten up a little and see colour as an exciting new plaything. It’s there to be enjoyed, not feared.

So let’s play a game…it’s called Colour Associations and anyone can join in – in  fact the more the merrier. It works better with friends. And wine.

Think of a colour then simply list everything you associate with that colour. It might be food, an emotion, a landscape, a smell, a piece of clothing, a favourite auntie…..that’s it. You could also say wherther you like a particular shade of that colour –.

I’ll get the ball rolling…..(it’s a big red bouncy ball BTW)

RED

Lipstick, blood, apples, tomatoes, anger, passion, bull fighters, nail varnish, Red Army, Red Cross, Red Tent, red shoes, red knickers, FIRE! STOP!

Phodophobia; is a fear of the colour red.

Red Collage

 

ORANGE

Get ready to go; marmalade, ginger hair, life bouys, ginger toms, guantanamo detainees, Tango (drink not the dance) sunsets, fake tan, nicotine stained fingers…..not sure I like the way this one’s going…..

Chrysophobia is a fear of the colour orange.

October is Orange

YELLOW

Sunshine, yellow ribbons, submarines, *smiley face, smiley face, sad face*, custard, egg yokes, baby chicks, scaredy cat…. jaundice…er, lets stop there.

Xanthophobia is a fear of the colour yellow.

yellow collage

GREEN

GO! My favourite colour (as everyone under the age of 10 knows – you MUST have a favourite colour by which you will be judged) chlorophyll, new shoots, eco warriors, naive, green tea, jealousy, sea sick, green cross code, my favourite charity shop cardigan that I literally loved to pieces and couldn’t bear to get rid of, pool tables, the green green grass of home, Greensleeves, the dress they always put the red head in…..

Chlorophobia is a fear of the colour green

green collage

BLUE

Steady now… loyalty, precaution, my horrible school uniform, any uniform, big sky, oceans, blue moon, blue movies, big blue eyes, forget-me-nots, the blues, baby blues, black and blue, flashing lights and sirens, another uniform….ello, ello, ello….what’s gong on here then??

Cyanophobia is a fear of the colour blue

blue collage

PURPLE

The Colour Purple, velvet Jackets from the 1960’s and 70’s, purple hearts, parma violets, purple haze, purple rain, the Biba lipstick I bought in Top Shop in 1979, my childhood bedroom, royalty, Victoriana, mystics, lavender, residential homes for elderly people.

Porphyrophobia is a fear of the colour purple. (I think I may be borderline)

purple collage

PINK

Sherbet, Brighton rock, fluffy mohair jumper (mine in 1982) ballerina’s, pink ribbons, in the pink…..OK. I’m bored with pink.

And I can’t find a word for the fear of pink. Does that mean it’s the least scary colour??

pink collage

You get the picture?

The next part of the game is to get your paints out and paint as many different variations as you can of each colour – that’s possibly a step too far for most of you, but I thoroughly recommend a ‘hands on’ appraoch when it comes to playing with colour.

If you’d like to have a go at mixing colours, and creating beautiful and inspiring colour combinations I’m running a 2 part Master Class in Norwich starting on June 3rd. You can find all the details here.

But if you can’t join us, just gather a few friends round, open a bottle of wine (after arguing about what colour it should be) and share your colour stories.

I’m sure you’ll all enjoy hearing each others personal anecdotes about why they can’t stand bottle green, lemon yellow or candy pink.

Such fun!

Share This:

The Journey of Creation

Today I’m delighted to host a guest blog post by The Mercerie’s brilliant lifestyle photographer Boo Marshall;

Ive watched the creation of The Mercerie grow from the seed of an idea to a successful and vibrant creative company. As someone who has been lucky enough to be asked to photograph the major seasonal collections, Ive been there, witnessing the birth of a design idea –  something simple like colour choices wound round card, or some crochet motifs still on the hook, or a half knitted bag. Then later, much later, I see the finished samples, and I gasp – every time –  with delight.

Lifestyle Shoot

 For those of us who love wool, who adore colour and whose fingers have a physical yearning to make, The Merceries designer, Sue, has managed to meet and satisfy our creative needs. The need within us to create is almost as strong as the need to breathe. Who has not whipped open their new package to reveal their choice of wools and colour palatte and not sighed with happiness? Although the process of creation can be fraught with anxiety, or frustration, the satisfaction of completion makes us forgot those moments of frogging or the doubt that appeared in the night over our choice of colour. Rather like the birth of a new baby, the arrival of our completed project is worth every day of angst, sickness or even pain.

 But the final result doesnt just delight because it is complete; rather, it invites you to continue your journey –  because during this one, you may have learnt a new technique, or perfected an old one, or because you want to try it again with different colours. And that I think is the key to successful design –  that it pushes you on, again, into a new part of a continuing journey.

 Last year, engrossed with the art of creating, I set up a new business with a fellow photographer, Jo. Both of us had experienced purposeful creation of aspects of ourselves, our personal and our business lives –  and decided to share our experiences in Create The Moment. We recognised that within a vast majority of women, we shared a feeling that wed lost control of aspects of our lives, even of our characters –  in our ability to make choices and to decide what we wanted and how we wanted to live in our futures.

 After running workshops, we adapted our ideas into an online 6 week course, showing how it is possible to return to your past to choose what you want to stay, and how to use the amazing strength we all have, to choose our future.

Create the Moment

 Having spent weeks writing and editing the course documents, I suddenly saw how the process it invites you to go through, is similar to the process of creating. It has all the initial excitement that is familiar in the new start of any creative project. There are many, many moments in it that will bring you close to tears –  but throughout it, there is always hope – and finally, the end promises not just completion –  but a brand new start. And therein lies the real comparison to creating –  that an end is just another start, to a phase in another journey.

 Readers and newsletter subscribers of The Mercerie have a special code allowing them 20% off the full price of the Create Your Vision online course. Use code Mercerie20 when you book using this link. Next course starts 1st June 2016.

 

Boo Marshall is a photographer and film maker. (Eliza Boo Photography and Dynamic Dog Productions). She is also co founder of Create The Moment with Johanna Garlike, photographer at Summer Love Photography.

 

Share This:

Eos Godess of Dawn

EOS, Easter and a New Dawn.

As Easter approaches and the green shoots of spring finally appear I can, at last, welcome the season of renewal and rebirth.

I love the anticipation of this time of year with it’s promise of warmer months and longer days, and I’m fascinated by its spiritual mix of Christianity, paganism and ancient Germanic Goddesses.

Eostre may well be a modern myth whose roots go no further than new age paganism, but she still has a presence in our Easter mythology; one that seamlessly combines rabbits, chocolate eggs, tricksters, fertility festivals, parades, bonnets, the crucifixion, the resurrection and  glorious new dawns.

Whilst Eostre and Ostara may be little more than the goddesses of romantic conjecture, this month I have been reminded of the Titan goddesses Eos; the goddess of dawn and the female spirit that dissolves darkness under a shower of light.

Eos rises from the river each morning in her golden chariot drawn by winged horses, and with her rosy fingers she opens the gates of heaven so that the sun may rise and disperse the mists of night.

Eos enables the light to come streaming through and she accompanies the sun, Helios as he travels across the heavens. The Titan goddess signifies beautiful new beginnings and recently I was reminded that every day begins with a glorious dawn and ends with the promise of resurrection.

EOS Programme

This month I finally committed to the Eos programme, a course of self discovery and personal regeneration, and I think I’m beginning to see some light –  over there on the horizon.

Eos is a 2 part programme for women designed to reframe your thinking, kick your negative thought habits, and move forward towards a brighter, more fulfilled future. It is intense, liberating and empowering and after just one day I felt like I’d finally got a handle on my internal dimmer switch and could begin turning the lights up.

It’s a straightforward programme and beautiful in its simplicity. Much of what is covered seems like common sense, but it’s alarming how blinkered we become, and how deafened by the noise in our heads that we are no longer able to listen to our own intuition, as we attempt to navigate our way through our complex modern  lives.

After just one day feel I have been given permission to take control of my life. No- one had taken it away from me – I’d just let go of the steering wheel.

EOS Programme 2

Jenny Eaton, who presented the session, is an engaging speaker whose knowledge, skills and serious intent are delivered with humour and empathy fusing psychology, philosophy and anecdotal evidence with a recurring theme of……. men’s pants.

Thank you for that visual metaphor Jenny!

We discussed the ways we think, how we measure our successes, personal responsibility and our own self image and as we shared stories and discussed scenarios and considered our values I think each of the 10 women in the room experienced a light bulb moment. Not the startling glare of a 100 watt flash light; more of a slow turn of the switch enabling us to gradually get used to the light that was starting to illuminate our thoughts.

It was a long day, and I felt exhausted, and rather emotional when I got home.

One week later, with time to reflect, I feel different. I feel calmer, lighter, empowered; my thoughts are clearer and I’m very much looking forward to Part Two.

Thank you Eos for opening the gates.

Happy Easter!

You can find full details on the Eos programme, seminars and 1-1 coaching here.

Image 1 (clockwise from left)

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

 

Share This:

Crochet flower motifs

Crochet Motifs: Pattern and Repetition

I’ve been rather busy lately, working on some new designs and planning some new crochet workshops. Progress has been slow though, mainly hampered by my inability to stay on task and focus on the patterns I’m trying to develop.

I just can’t help it though! How is it possible to stay on task when you’re presented with a myriad of pattern possibilities?

One of the things I love about making little crochet motifs is that each one is a small, but perfectly formed (*cough*) object of beauty and completion. It’s very satisfying to finish something – however small it might be but if you can make one – you can make one hundred and then you have the potential to create something absolutely amazing!!

A single object can be nice, good, interesting, beautiful even. But multiply it by 10, 100, 1000 and then you have something extraordinary, fabulous and magnificent and I just can’t stop myself playing with these thoughts.

crochet motifs

 

Crochet motifs 2

Crochet motifs 3

As humans we naturally seek out pattern, repetition and order. There is something inherently satisfying in placing things in order, in sequence, in a pattern –  it is this simple, primal urge that prompts designers to play, explore and repeat a motif.

If you study decoration from any historical period, and any culture and you will find yourself in the repetitive realm of tessellations, mirrors, rotations, drops and half drops. And I can lose myself for far too long meditating with the rhythms of pattern repetition

escher

islamic patterns

quilts

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how to explore these ideas in my own work, and how to answer the question I’m often presented with – ‘what can I do with all these crochet motifs; how can I join them together?”

So I’ve been working on trying to resolve this…and rather enjoying the results and the possibilities. (with a little help from photoshop!)

Joining Crochet Motifs

Joining Crochet Motifs 2

Why stop at ‘nice’? There’s power in numbers. Aim big, be ambitious, and make something amazing.

You just have to do the same thing again and again and again……

If you’d like to explore the possibilities of pattern repetition and discover exciting new ways to piece together your crochet motifs why not join us for a masterclass at Norfolk Yarn in Norwich on March 18th?

We’re also running a rather lovely flower class too…..

Share This:

Valentines Rose

Red Threads at the Wool Shop

It’s nearly Valentines day and once again I’ve been busy working on a themed window display for the Norwich Lanes Valentines window competition. Some of you may remember last years display – and this year I was thrilled to be asked to work with the fabulous wool shop Norfolk Yarn in Pottergate.

A stash of wool, some red thread, a spinning wheel, a few nails and a roll of rose print wallpaper all feature in this years display, and I’m very grateful to Rebecca at the shop for humouring my rather loose  interpretation of the Valentines theme!

Wool, string, or thread of some description was always going to be the essence of this work. It describes the shop and defines my self.

As a child of the 1970’s I was threading string around nails in a fashion that was eventually unravelled, rewound and reworked into the most beautiful and evocative artworks of contemporary artists such as Chiharu Shiota and Debbie Smyth.

String art

Image 1 Image 2

There is something very emotive about red thread. It features in many different cultures as a metaphor or signifier for emotional  ties and familial relationships.

The Red String of Fate is a myth with its roots in East Asia and the story goes that the gods tie a red string around the ankles, or the little fingers, of two people that are destined to meet and become soulmates. The magical cord may become stretched, or tangled over time, but it will never break.

The tug of an invisible thread reminds us of our connections to others; our heart strings are strummed, we’re bound by duty; it’s time to cut the apron strings; there’s no strings attached, it’s a long drawn-out affair, who’s pulling your strings? I can’t seem to string this sentence together….. String Art   String Art   String Art Crochet Valentine hearts pattern   I can’t finish this post without the promise of a little Valentines gift……….so if you rather like the look of the little crochet hearts in this display – I’ll give you the pattern in Issue 20 of The Mercerie Post!

You can Register here: The Mercerie Post Issue 20

Share This:

Vision Boards and Action Plans

Vision Boards and Action Plans

A new year and a 2015 diary present 365 blank pages to fill.

With every new year hopes and ambitions can be edited,  goals redrawn and new dreams imagined in a rose tinted landscape that signals the dawn of our future selves.

When the year was just a few days old I met with 6 lovely women from all walks of life to discuss our hopes and dreams for the coming year; to share our innermost thoughts – (and some rather fine pumpkin soup; thank you Caroline!) and to create our Vision Boards for 2015

Conversation and visualisation drew us together, and a mountain of magazines, some scissors and some glue, became the tools for constructing our new dreamscapes.

Swept up in the chaotic carnival of Christmas with its inevitable hangovers and  leftovers it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When #consumerism is trending I lose all perspective and my personal goals and ambitions disappear into vanishing point, so a day of cutting and sticking helped me to put my aspirations back into the fame.

Our conversations that day were a roller coaster of emotions as we flicked through magazines and searched our souls, looking for pictures of our alter egos.

Vision Boards 1

Vision

Vision Boards 3

At times we were surprised, and shocked, by what we found on our vision boards.

On mine #largeandostentatiousflashydesignerjewellery was a significant trend, without so much as a wool fibre in sight.

Vision Boards 4

Vision Boards 5

My vision boards are now on the wall in my new studio and will be my daily reminder of how important it is to aspire, look forward and imagine a better future.

However, I am not naturally a fantasist and over the last day or so I’ve been hearing the words of Professor Richard Wiseman, from his book 59 Seconds; Think a Little. Change a Lot.

“…fantasising about your perfect world may make you feel better but is unlikely to transform your dreams into reality.”

Change can only take place if you action it, and this is what Wiseman suggests.

  1. Write down what you want to achieve.
  2. Remind yourself, regularly, why you want to achieve it.
  3. Make a plan and break it down into small, manageable, steps.
  4. Tell people what you are doing.
  5. Reward each small achievement.

Visualisation is an excellent point of departure…..

….but then you must Take Action!

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Share This:

Paper cut out snowflake

Paper Cutouts and Crochet Snowflakes

If October is orange, November in Britain is most definitely grey. Outside the sky is grey, the morning fog is grey, and inside, I feel grey. I have to remind myself that grey is a tone not a state of mind. November is Grey In fact grey is a whole spectrum of tonal colour  from the most delicate pearlescence  through polished concrete, platinum, gun metal  and  charcoal. Grey exists in an achromatic world and its tonalities have captured history since the invention of the camera obscura.

As I watch the colours fade from the seasonal pallet I wait patiently for the glittering signifiers that winter is here. Winter brings with it the shiny finale to the seasonal calendar with  crisp frosty mornings, freezing cold mists, cracked puddles of ice and the hushed quiet of pure white snow scapes.

Winter has it’s own exquisite  beauty and the excitement of the first winter snowfall is magical for a brief moment in time. So this month I shall celebrate  winter, that huge exclamation mark after the sentence that is November. This year I will shake the icy fingers of Jack Frost, accept his frozen gifts with grace and wait for the first snowflakes to fall…..

In a cloud, a water droplet freezes and takes on a six fold crystalline formation. It shoots out six radials and starts to travel through the cloud. As it travels it bumps into other particles, it moves through different temperatures and humidity’s continuously melting and reforming into complex asymmetrical shapes.

The radials, or arms, each form independently and most snowflakes are visibly irregular; it is estimated that less than 0.01% of snowflakes are perfectly symmetrical. In contrast, it is almost impossible to find an image of an asymmetrical snowflake. It seems that even a snowflake can’t escape our prejudice against perceived imperfection – regular ones look nicer in photos.

It is well documented that it is almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes. In the late 19th century Wilson Alwyn Bently  searched for two icy twins as he documented images of over 5000 snowflakes, captured under a microscope. Snowflakes Images from Snowflake Bently.com

There is something very compelling about the imperfect uniqueness of a single snowflake that makes it the perfect motif for home-made Christmas decorations, and the starting point for a new crochet project. Paper cutting is perhaps, unlike bronze sculpture, abstract expressionism and landscape painting, not perceived to be a proper, grown up, artistic endeavour.

So here’s my advise, if you are on the receiving end of withering looks, patronising glances and quiet tutting when you pick up your paper scissors, consider what Henry Matisse, Rob Ryan or Tord Boontje might have to say, then snip away and watch the confetti fall. Paper Cut Art Image 1. Image 2. Image 3

How To Make a Paper Cut-Out Snow Flake.

I used large A3 sized sheets of paper, but A4 sized printer paper would be fine. First fold in half lengthwise and mark the central point on the folded edge with a small crease. With the folded edge at the bottom fold both edges in so that they are overlapping (see photos) and your paper is folded into 3 equal potions. paper cut snowflake Fold again bringing all the folded edges together. Crease well. Cut off the untidy bits at the top of your folded ‘dart’.

Now draw your design on the paper. This might take some planning. The most important thing is that your design touches both folded edges and also runs continuously from top to bottom. It might help to shade in the areas you are going to cut away. paper cut snowflake 2 Then snip with a sharp pair of scissors (I used nail scissors) and unfold. paper cut snowflake 3 Give it  a press – and your done! I have to admit to getting rather obsessed by the paper cutting. paper cut snowflakes paper cut out snowflakes but I did manage to create some crochet snowflakes too! crochet snowflakes We’re going to be making some gorgeous crochet snowflakes  at our Christmas Crochet Workshops, along with some other rather cute little seasonal decorations – but if you can’t join us we’ll include a couple of patterns in our next issue of The Mercerie Post which will be out very soon. Christmas Crochet at Norfolk Yarn

Share This:

A Knitted Halloween Lampshade

Knitted Lampshades and a Festival of Light

WARNING – this blog post contains a picture of a big black spider.

As the nights draw in, the clocks go back and lighting up time creeps in a bit earlier each afternoon I begin to get slightly anxious. I can sense the approaching storm so I batten down the hatches and prepare to ride it out.

This is not my favourite time of year. I enjoy watching the world change colour, but for me, Autumn is simply the wrong end of the seasonal spectrum. As I turn back the clock I long to re-wind it all the way back to the dawn of spring and the promise of long summer days again.

Yes, I know there is much to celebrate at this time of year and I manage to brave Halloween behind the mask of a comedy scream. A firework phobia, however, makes it impossible for me to appreciate the explosive celebrations of bonfire night. I can really only enjoy a large bonfire with a stiff drink in one hand and a hose pipe in the other; and my arachnophobia peeks as the supermarkets restock their shelves with spiders.

But I am  determined to confront my fears this year, and in this week of Diwali I’ve had a light bulb moment. It’s time to lighten up.

This autumn I shall take inspiration from a culture different to my own. Light will triumph over darkness and hope over despair. I’m going to fill my home with light.

I want the Blackpool illuminations in my living room and floodlights in my garden. I want a crown of twinkly fairy lights and a fibre optic nightie. I want to bathe in the light of a million candles every time I go to the bathroom – and I’m going to plant a bed of daylight bulbs to stop me feeling sad at night.

So I’ve been looking for a little lighting inspiration and this is what I found……knitted lampshades 1Image 1 Ariel Design

Image 2 Ikea Hackers

Image 3 Les Petits Bohemes knittted lampshades 2Image 1 Naomi Paul

Image 2 Freshome

Image 3 Naomi Paul

Yesterday, buzzing with excitement, I nipped down to my local DIY store  for a lamp to customise and set to work on a Knitted Halloween lampshade.

halloween lampshade 2

If you’d like to make a Halloween Lampshade too, this is what you will need –

  • A small table lamp with a shade. (like this one I bought in Homebase)
  • DK weight yarn (our black and sunshine yellow merino would be perfect)
  • A length of black pom pom trim like this one from Beyond Fabrics.
  • 4mm knitting needles.

Halloween Knitted Lampshade We’ll give you the knitting pattern in Issue 17 of The Mercerie Post – so don’t forget to register!

I feel better already – Happy Halloween and/or Diwali!

Share This:

Knitted Loopy Hat

In the Loop at Yarndale

I think I’ve finally recovered from all the excitement of Yarndale. It was a fantastic experience, a bit of a learning curve and a long way from home.

As I am deemed too risky to insure (it’s a long story…yes, I have all my points, and no, I haven’t been involved in a collision for 25 years) my good friend and photographer Boo was assigned the task of driving us there and back fueled by a stream of cheesy biscuits, peanuts and wine gums.

Five hours, and a white knuckle ride later, we arrived. A combination of car sickness, too many wine gums and the site of a huge empty animal pen made me slightly  nauseous, but we eventually displayed our lovely yarns and knitting and crochet kits and snatched a few moments to enjoy the environment. I don’t get out much.Yarndale 2014 As the owner of an online business I spend too many hours sitting in front of the laptop staring at a screen.

I often feel like I am peeking through the nets at a window, curtain twitching and watching a party that I can’t go to. Brief conversations via social media; tweets, DM’s, ‘likes’ and shares are as personal as it gets for me most days. I might be linked in, but mostly I’m out of the loop, so Yarndale was the perfect opportunity to get connected – with no wifi  connection on site.

We met so many really lovely people over the weekend and it was interesting to see what people were drawn to, and why. One of our most popular products  at Yarndale was the Loopy hat. Loopy Knit Hat This particular design seemed to trigger vivid memories  for many people;  “oh my goodness – I had a hat just like that in the 1960’s” or  “My mum knitted me one of those!” One lady looked as if she’d been struck by an electric flashback and was witnessing her whole childhood again as she stared into the soft pile of the pink loopy hat. Vintage Hats Fashion is a compelling signifier.  A single item has the power to ignite laughter or shared memories; and prompt a conversation between total strangers.

Fashion offers a facinating vantage point from which to view the world. It provides a telescope for looking forwards and back, and the vistas are both strange and familiar.

Fashion never really goes full circle, it cycles in spirals and loops. It revisits itself and is predictable by nature. It’s playful, mischievous and self mocking. It dresses up as a parody of itself and it points its finger and laughs at our past and future self.

We had a fabulous weekend at Yarndale, and sold out of this particular pattern so I’m currently on the lookout for ‘loopy hat ladies’. You can download the pattern here for this hat or if you simply want to try knitting this stitch, look out for a simple pattern we’ll be including in the next issue of The Mercerie Post.

How to Knit Loop Stitch.

The loop pile texture is achieved by working a loop stitch on every other stitch on one row, followed by a complete row of knit stitches. The loop stitch takes a little practice – but it looks so gorgeous we think it’s worth it!

Step 1 Insert the point of the right hand needle into the stitch on the left hand needle (as if to knit). Wind the wool over the right hand needle and the first finger of your left hand 3 times – take the wool over, round and under (you will keep your finger in these loops until they are all knitted together as one) How to Knit Loop Stitch Step 2 Then put the wool around the right hand needle as if to knit and draw all 4 loops through the stitch on the left needle, this will make 4 loops on the right hand needle. (here comes the tricky bit!) Remove the left hand needle and insert it into the 4 loops, with the needles in the knit position.   How to Knit Loop Stitch Step 2 Step 3 Gradually easing your left finger out of the loops knit all 4 loops together. Give the yarn a slight tug to tighten the stitch and give the loops a little tug to neaten.  It will seem very fiddly at first – but keep going – it’s worth the effort! How to Knit Loop Stitch Step 3

Share This:

imake

Knitting and Breaking the Law!

Today I’m very excited to be hosting a guest blog by Martine from the fabulous lifestyle blog IMake. We thought it might be rather fun to share some histories of the places we call home….

Dear readers of The Mercerie blog.

My name is Martine and I write a creative lifestyle blog over at imakegsy.com. There you’ll find all sorts of other goodies too, such as my podcast, magazine and knitting patterns.

I live in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. One of the best things about blogging and podcasting is I get to share my beautiful island home with people all over the world.

Guernsey has a fascinating knitting history so I thought I’d share a few snippets with you in this guest post.

As a Guernsey girl and avid knitter, it seems natural for me to want to explore Guernsey’s knitting history. However, it wasn’t so much my heritage that drew to research this topic further; it was overhearing a fascinating story at my Stitch n’ Bitch group one evening.

Apparently, it is illegal for men to knit, during daylight hours, in Guernsey! This law was created because local fishermen cottoned on to the fact that they could make more money knitting Guernsey jumpers than they could fishing! As such, they started neglecting their fishing duties. The law was passed to get the men back out on the fishing boats. According to my Stitch n’ Bitch buddy, the law has never been repealed.

The Guernsey jumper was traditionally knitted in 5 ply, worsted yarn on straight or circular needles. It’s warm, wind-proof and shower-proof making it the perfect garment for people working at sea. It’s estimated that a speedy knitter could make a Guernsey in approximately 80 hours.

guernsey sweater

The traditional design is a boxy jumper in navy blue with gussets under the arms and ribbing on the shoulders, cuffs, neck and waistband (the ribbing is said to represent ladders). There is a split hem at the waist for ease of movement. Some Guernsey designs would include the owner’s initial and some featured parish-specific patterns. This was useful back in the day when the vast majority of men wore Guernseys. Sadly it was also useful for identifying fishermen who died at sea.

detail

Guernsey has been famous for kitting since the Middle Ages, but not just for jumpers. Guernsey’s textile industry was at its prime in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Guernsey worsted stockings were particularly famous (and incredibly itchy, I should imagine!) It’s said that Mary Queen of Scots wore a pair of white stockings, made in Guernsey, for her execution during 1587.

I knit for a number of reasons. It relaxes me but it also connects me to my island’s history. I’ve yet to get a definitive answer on whether it is still illegal for men to knit in Guernsey, but in the meantime, the rebel in me wants to teach as many Guernsey men to knit as possible! I can just imagine the headlines now: “Guernsey man arrested for knitting during daylight hours.” Perfect .

men in guernseys

 

 

Thank you Martine!

If you’d like to nip over here now, you can read Sue’s homage to historical Norwich.

Image Credits:

http://www.bosunslockerchandlery.co.uk/ProductImages/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernsey_(clothing)#mediaviewer/

http://www.guernseyknitwear.co.uk/resources/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share This:

The Mercerie A/W 2014 Collection

Autumn/Winter 2014: A New Collection

As word of The Mercerie begins to spread; you – our lovely blog readers, are the first to see these beautiful images of our new Autumn/Winter 2014 knitwear collection captured by the brilliant Eliza Boo Photography outside the iconic Sainsbury Centre, in Norwich. Sue, our designer, (PR person, blogger, social media slave, pattern writer, graphic designer, stylist, tea maker, incompetent accountant and attention deficit daydreamer) has created a collection of cosy knitting and crochet designs perfect for snuggling up in as the temperature drops, the nights draw in and the colours outside turn golden.

As always, Sue’s designs are uncomplicated (we don’t like a lot of fuss) and draw their inspiration from tradition and contemporary key trends. This season it’s all about ‘the big wrap’ – versatile scarves and shawls that can be worn in different ways – depending on how much you want to retreat from the world! So here’s a taste of what’s coming this season.

Worked in our supersoft DK Merino, The Crochet Folklore Shawl is a beautiful and extremely versatile product. Wear it as a traditional shawl for an on trend folklore look, or find your own way of snuggling into it, and stay warm and stylish this season. This is a fabulous project for anyone with good crochet skills and is an achievable and very satisfying creation.

Crochet Folklore Shawl

Crochet Folklore shawl detail

OH! And we’re going to be giving away this kit to one lucky subscriber next month….find out how you could be in with a chance to win one at the end of this post.

The super-sized knitted scarf is a must-have key item this season and we’ve got just the thing for an absolute beginner – and for the more competent knitters among you. This pattern will include two variations on the oversized scarf. If you’re just learning, or you want a ‘mindless knitting project’ (one that you don’t have to think about too much as you knit your way through endless TV programmes, DVD’s and old movies) this one is for you. Worked in our beautiful 100% British aran wool, in easy-peasy garter stitch, it’s wide enough to be worn as a shoulder shrug, or a wrap around scarf. It’s easy to wear and easy to make. What could be simpler?

Garter Knit Scarf

If your knitting skills stretch beyond garter stitch and you love a bit of texture, why not make the bramble and moss stitch version?  – it’s a classic. Both styles would make beautiful gifts for the significant men in your life- who aren’t always as appreciative as they should be of our hand knitted jumpers.

Bramble and moss stitch scarf

Our knitted collars make quirky and cosy additions to your wardrobe and can be worn over dresses and casual knitwear to add a touch of drama and style. The Loopy Fur Collar knits up very quickly  once you get the hang of this stitch. (look out for a little tutorial later this season) and is a rather jaunty accessory with it’s lovely pom poms and big cord bow. It is worked here in our bark coloured aran yarn – but it would equally stunning in natural grey.

Loopy Fur Collar

And finally, if you’re looking for a statement piece, our Knitted Lace Pierrot  Collar is a dramatic accessory. Worked in aran yarn it combines short row knitting, lace and bobbles – so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge in a project that’s not too huge.

Knitted Pierrot Collar

We are working on getting these into our shop by the end of September and, as always, our designs will be available to buy as downloadable patterns, and self contained kits. You can buy all the yarns you need to make the projects in our online wool shop, and we’re adding a few new colours soon too. (we think you’re going to LOVE them!)

We’re so excited about our new products that we’re going to give one away!!! This is what you need to do to be in with a chance to win a gorgeous Crochet Folklore Shawl Kit

  1. Subscribe to The Mercerie Post (our cute little newsletter)
  2. Like us on Facebook
  3. Tell us you’ve entered by posting on our Facebook page – or by sending us a message on our Facebook page.

If you already ‘like us’ and have subscribed to our newsletter then all you need to do is tell us!

This will be a sweep stake competition with one winner announced on Thursday 9th October 2014 at 12.00 noon GMT.

This competition is open to all our UK and international customers and the prize will be one crochet kit for the Crochet Folklore Shawl (as pictured) No cash or product alternatives will be offered and winners names will be announced through all our social media platforms.

Good Luck!

Share This:

Christmas Crafting

Breathing Space: A Midwinter Creative Retreat

As the school holidays unfold and the long summer days begin to dissolve into each other I remind myself on a daily basis to savour the freedom of these unbound weeks.

I make myself slow down, and become conscious of my breathing, because I can see what’s on the horizon. It’s just a speck now, but I know it’s hurtling towards me – and a knot is already forming in my stomach.

I am in a direct collision course with Christmas and when it makes impact I know it will take my breath away .

A British Christmas, in the 21st century, is a paradox rolled in glitter. It is exhausting and exhilarating. It’s stressful and blissful. It brings our friends and families into sharp focus and empties our head of all rational thoughts.

Thankfully the current zeitgeist points to a return of the home made and reminds us of the genuine pleasure derived from crafting and making things.

One of the greatest delights at Christmas is, perhaps, the rediscovery of old, home-made cards and decorations; the unsophisticated, but intimate, reminders of Christmas past. My own family’s attempt at edible tree decorations and felted gingerbread men will never grace the pages of Elle Decoration, but they made us smile and we had fun making them.

There is something strangely powerful about the home made Christmas object, and this winter, at the beautifully tranquil retreat; Breathing Space, we are going to give you an opportunity to create your own, home-spun, decorative traditions.

I am delighted to be collaborating with the brilliant Stylist and Image Consultant Sarah Morgan on a programme of Creative Retreats,  and so just before Christmas strikes this winter  we can offer you a space to catch your breath.

When did you last give yourself the time and space to play?

When did you last give yourself permission to play; to cut, glue, sew, print and explore new ways of making?

When did you last use your paints,  open your sewing box , or unfold that stash of salvaged wrapping paper?

Sarah and I gave ourselves permission last week, at Breathing Space, and we spent a day ‘playing’ with fabrics in preparation for the midwinter workshops and it was FUN! We talked and laughed, shared stories, ate cake and were delighted by our upcycled textile decorations.

Crafting at Breathing Space

 

moodboard

upcycled textiles

If you struggle to give yourself permission to play, just remind yourself that creative practices trigger the release of endorphins – our bodies ‘feel good’ chemicals. Creativity is associated with improved brain function, and connecting with others in a creative environment fosters empathy, laughter and trust.

So if, like me, you sense a growing knot of anxiety as the ‘festive’ season approaches, give yourself permission to play. Get out the scissors, and the glue, and all those salvaged scraps of fabric or paper, invite your friends round and have some FUN!

Make a date now. Go on – put it in your diary…….

For more information about this fabulous weekend retreat at Breathing Space take a peek over here.

 

 

Share This: