Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Introduction

The Adventure Begins…

This blog is a little adventure into the world of starting off a business and celebrating the beauty I see around me. Right now, I feel the trepidation of stepping off a boat onto an unfamiliar shoreline; excitement and wonderment, mixed with a bag full of nerves!

“Mayai”, literally translated from Swahili to English means, “Egg”. A very simple shape that on its own comes in a variety of subtly different colours, but can be adapted through decoration to suit any aesthetic, or equally, cooked to suit any taste.

Mayai Loves is born of a desire to share the things that brighten up my day; not including my family and friends, I find most often that these are pops of colour, bold prints and interesting shapes. I’ll often wonder around shops looking at shoes and handbags, most often the ones with a beautiful pattern like this one at Matalan: https://www.matalan.co.uk/product/detail/s2655426_c101/embroidered-backpack-black.

For many years, like so many I know, I told myself I lacked creativity and pigeon-holed the concept of ‘creativity’ into a small, narrow view. I believed that since I was not prolific with a paint brush, I was not creative. My intention with the blog is to explore this sense of creativity with my readers, the intention being that I may inspire you to dust off ‘creativity’ from the box into which it was discarded long ago. I hope this will in turn encourage you to don the tools which help you express this inherent goodness. If you hadn’t already guessed, I have a firm belief that everyone has a ‘creative side,’ as such, but we all need opportunities to discover it and fulfill it.

The idea of a blog and business came from friends and family, who have lovingly encouraged me to share my journey, mainly of making and giving crocheted items. I’ll be writing a post shortly about how I (re-)discovered my creative side and the intention for the rest of the blog is to celebrate some of the things I love, in the main, these will be focused on crochet, but expect to see some posts about food, interiors, art and even bullet-journalling.

I’m looking forward to going on this journey with you. If you’d like to keep up, please click on the follow button and let me know your thoughts and comments below.

Have a lovely weekend… I’m off to a wedding, but more about that on another post πŸ™‚

Bullet Journalling, Colour

Taking Notes; Adding Embellishments

Wherever I end up in a meeting or listening to something, I can’t help but take notes. As soon as I add little pictures, tags, colour, etc. (the little embellishments), I am able to recall what I’ve been hearing more easily. I also find that this allows for threading the overall theme together later.

Embellishments can be simple doodles, but rather than a point of distracted absence, they serve a purpose. These embellishments can be anchor points; how often have we all searched through lots of words looking for THAT point? Why not have a little colour in your notes? Maybe that highlight will make it easier to find/catch the thread of the meeting more vividly.

I’ll confess here, although I love the concept of bullet journalling, I’m not great at the ‘bullet’ part in this context. I haven’t figured out how to reduce what I’m hearing/thinking to simple bullets.. however, when I write notes, I love colour. As demonstrated below:

WJEC Chemistry A-Level Modules
Notes in my journal – colours to capture separate modules
🐝 Beelong

My experience, after much trial and error I hasten to add, is that I need colour or pictures to recall my feelings and/or the essential principles of what I was listening to or learning at the time (e.g. the little honeycomb and bee in the picture above).

I’d encourage you to think about what is useful for you when taking notes:-

  1. What do you want to remember -recollection of details or broad strokes? This will define the amount you write. Consider if a picture to depict the setting, or your interpretation of the theme will help to map your notes more effectively; this doesn’t need to be elaborate or pretty and could even be a logo or picture stuck into your notes.
  2. Consider how do you best learn/ understand – if you’re a visual learner (use pictures), if you learn best by reading (use colour to separate chunks of text), if you learn best simply listening (note down quotes and bullets for anything essential, but focus on what’s being said, primarily)
  3. Finally look back to your previous notes; do they help you recollect what was said /done? If not… Think about taking them a different way, don’t be afraid to adopt several methods in one meeting 😊

I hope this overview of how embellishments could support your note taking is useful, let me know any thoughts in comments below.

Crochet, Ponderings

Hand Made with Love. This is Luxury.

Recently, I’ve been listening to a number of hand made / yarn related podcasts: Creative Yarn Entrepreneur, B Hooked Podcast and Etsy Conversations.

These are brilliant resources for anyone who is looking to set up or already has a small business. Generally they consist of a themed topic, an interview with a tutorial /suggestions about how to approach various aspects for business management.

One theme that’s come up several times in the podcasts and that I’ve been considering is: How do we value or price hand made/ hand crafted items?

A few titbits I’ve learnt are if you’re a maker or customer:

  • Stop undervaluing the work!
  • Every time a crafter says yes to one thing, they have to say no to another – if a crafter chooses to work on a project, they are making a choice not to do something else.
  • Just because it’s a hobby or a side gig doesn’t mean it’s worth any less. If someone else is trying to make a living and the one who makes as a hobby undercuts on price, both parties loses out on potential additional income; the one making a living because they must compete at unsustainable prices and the hobbyist because they lose additional income to feed their hobby.
  • When pricing, make sure to account for time, overheads and materials.
  • ‘Materials multiplied by three’ is a sucky formula for pricing crochet work, because it doesn’t account for intricacy or skill in the project.

In the past, like so many others, I’ve often gone to craft fairs (not being a crafter then myself) and compared items I saw there to what I may be able to purchase in a large store. “A scarf for Β£35?!” Many times, I admired the work, got chatting to the owner and then walked away because I thought the item too expensive. To those people, I humbly apologise now! I’m so sorry for wasting your precious time!

For the last five years, I’ve massively got into crochet and handmade. I am a hobby crocheter at the moment, but in time would love to launch a business in this area.

I finally realise how much time, blood, sweat and tears have been invested into these hand made, works of art. Let’s be frank, it’s a feat to turn, what’s essentially a ball of string, into a fabric which resembles anything useful. Not to mention those who paint, turning blobs of oil or plastic into beauty; make ceramics, cultivating mud and silt into vases, plaques and various other items and those who create cards, transforming paper into stunning ways to pass a message… I could go on.

My friends, I have had an epiphany that I must share! Hand made is luxury, not cheap!

It’s the curated work of someone else. They’ve willingly researched the right material to use, chosen colours /themes, developed a skill to convert that material into something of value, designed (or purchased a pre-made pattern) and then made useful items for friends, family and customers. So much effort goes into these lovingly crafted things.

I have been reflecting on an item I made recently – an absolute privilege, for wonderful, family friends. The item took 20+ hours to complete, the yarn was approx Β£20, the backing ~Β£15, the packaging ~Β£5, postage about the same. Not counting my time, I already started at a basic cost of Β£45! I could’ve bought in bulk and possibly halved these costs, however, the most valuable thing I put into this was my time; not mentioning the practise and patience it took to learn the craft in the first place. 😊

Please, when you look at hand made or painted or crafted, think luxury!

The closest analogy I have for this is the difference between a microwave meal at home and eating at a restaurant: Eating out is a treat because someone else carefully thought it through, developed the skills to make it and served it beautifully for you to enjoy. A microwave meal requires similar skills at the start, but it’s created for the masses and it’s not as fresh or tasty as the restaurant equivalent. We’d expect to pay more at the restaurant, crafting is no different.

If you’re someone who has thought like me in the past, I hope this post has helped you to consider the purchasing choices you make, I hope that any myths about hand made being less quality than factory manufactured are put to rest (micro meal vs. restaurant) and that when you next see a small, local hand made fair you remember that these products are LUXURY.

On a side note; check out the Just a Card campaign. If you go into a local gallery/shop try to buy something, anything small if you can’t buy big. Its keeping this type of local art industry thriving.

Thanks for reading my latest ponderings. I hope this post has made you think and would love to hear/read your comments!

To keep up with me on a more regular basis and see my latest makes follow me on Instagram. 😊

Colour, Ponderings

Visit North Wales!

After approximately 10 weeks of almost non-stop, sunshine, it rained when I visited North Wales a few days ago! I hasten to add the whole of the UK had similar weather and North Wales (despite the rumours) didn’t have a climate of its own. πŸ˜‰

We stayed in a beautiful country house hotel (Sygun Fawr); nestled in the country side, with magnificent views in all directions, this was one of the most peaceful places my husband and I have ever stayed.

The mountain view in the picture above offered hours of enjoyment as the clouds billowed around the landscape. Within a few minutes we saw the picturesque view disappear under clouds, reappear in a haze and then highlighted to full colour by glorious sunshine. Near Beddgelert, these types of views are seen often. There are several walking routes available, including a climb up Snowdon Mountain,which is only a few miles away.

We wanted a restful weekend, so no climbing for us; however we did visit a spectacular copper mine (Sygun Copper Mine). My love of chemistry and my husband’s love of history were indulged, as well as both our love of art and colour.

The mine tour is self-guided, following signs to various stations, listening (via speakers) to the story of a miner describing the conditions and offering an insight into the process of mining copper. We climbed through the mountain, up metal steps; the highlight being several stalegmite/stalegmite formations and ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’; the stunning views at the top (bottom left of the above picture).We spent a good while taking pictures and then meandered down the path back to our car, where we drove to a nearby lake.

The second day was spent in Portmeirion. This village, known as the ‘little Italy’ of North Wales, was designed by Clough Williams Ellis; he wanted to show that it was possible to place buildings within a beautiful landscape, without ruining the atmosphere. He also loved Italy, therefore there is colour, pattern and stunning architecture whichever way you look in the area. Also worth noting, Williams Ellis often saw buildings elsewhere and when possible and only when he felt they would add to the village’s unique outlook, they were imported into the structure. For example this Bristolian columnar structure:

The colours and the playfulness of the architecture are nothing like I’ve seen elsewhere. There may well be some art or crochet piece in the future completely inspired by Portmeirion.

As an example, in the picture above, the stores for the garden area, painted to blend in (bricks and what appears to be arches) are really made of wood and metal.

I honestly think we could have spent an inordinate amount of time in Portmeirion and we are sure to return.

Our short trip has given us a taste of this beautiful part of the world and I hope it has inspired you to visit. Be assured, you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for reading, wishing you safe travels wherever you journey this summer.

If you’d like to see some more pictures of the mine or Portmeirion, please check out my Instagram πŸ™‚

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Ponderings

Crochet Diploma; Was it Worth It?

Approximately a year and a half ago, I came across an advert on Facebook for a Crochet Diploma by the Centre of Excellence. Online and self-paced, the idea of this course appealed straight away- the advert also had a code for a significant discount, meaning it was ~Β£30 to sign up. I was conscious the qualification may not mean anything to anyone else (in a professional capacity), but I love to learn, so this was ideal.

Having been crazy about my hobby for a while and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, encouraged by my friends and family to pursue (at least part-time) a creative business, I signed up and took on the course.

Whilst on holiday earlier this month I completed the course, about a year after I initially began it. I have a full-time job and a busy social life, so I chose to study only when I felt like it, to stop it becoming a burden. The diploma could definitely be completed in a shorter time frame, if you so wished.

The course covers how to crochet; advanced techniques; reading patterns and charts; designing various items from scarves and bags to clothing and finally the course finishes by covering basic business approaches, including considering your target market and writing a business plan.

Although I learnt new approaches from the first few modules, since I could already crochet and had some experience of the advanced techniques, the highlight of the course for me personally, was not only the modules about designing garments, but the final modules on thinking through a business plan. Both these aspects of the course were new to me and having a platform to go on from was just what I needed.

The assessments at the end of each module are largely simple and useful to cement knowledge. I treated them as open book and reviewed the content as I went along if I wasn’t completely sure of an answer. The final assessments were far more personalised to a business you may want to create, so required a lot of (good, needed) thought and reflection. A word of caution here, you cannot access the answers you submit for your assessments once completed, so make sure these are saved or written elsewhere. I wrote mine in my bullet journal and a separate crochet notebook.

Once I completed the course, I received lovely feedback and a certificate from CoE with my grade as well as confirmation of 150 hours of Continuing Professional Development. In addition to this, I received a certificate to say I was part of the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists as a result of getting the qualification. A note, you can access the course content after completing the course, very useful for a reminder! πŸ˜„

As I mentioned above, I’m not sure whether this will be recognised professionally as a qualification, but I think it demonstrates a love of the hobby and an ability to pursue learning & development for my own pleasure, so I think if re-doing my CV for example, it will feature as a personal achievement.

One other benefit I haven’t mentioned; doing the course qualifies you for an National Union of Students (NUS) card, enabling you to have student discount at various shops and the cinema; this is definitely worthwhile!

I would recommend doing this course or one similar if you’re considering setting up a business or want to get into designing – COE also provide a Sewing and Knitting Diploma too; make sure you look/ask for discount codes, as these make the courses far more accessible financially.

From a personal point of view, I recently realised that learning new things is a major factor for my motivation. For a time I had lost my ‘Crojo’ (the motivation and heart to crochet), so this course has helped to cement the love of crochet and I am now picking up my hook more often. I look forward to putting the skills I learnt into practise and hope to design something soon.

Doing the course is also part of the reason this blog exists, rather than remaining a longed for dream. As well as the blog, I also set up a Facebook page and Instagram feed (@mayailoves on both platforms). To be honest, I find it much easier to engage on these regularly, so please feel free to follow me there too to keep up to date. πŸ˜ƒ

If any of you have an questions or thoughts, about the course or my journey, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Ponderings

Rest! What is it Good For?! Absolutely Everything!!

I’ve been AWOL for a little while on the blog, Facebook and Instagram as it’s been a manic few months.

It was only when I finally stopped last week, on holiday I realised how long it had been since my last real ‘rest’. This view from our balcony did me the world of good:

Being away made me think about a couple of things.

  1. Why is rest important?
  2. What strategies could I incorporate into daily life to introduce more rest?

Why rest?

Simply, because it’s good. Rest allows contemplation, celebration and restoration. When we stop being so busy (as has been my experience last week), we are able to think more clearly, observe details often missed otherwise and focus more on the current moment. We also have opportunities to celebrate what is going well and consider where we need to make changes.

I feel less frenzied this week, my mind has more freedom to dream, hope and think. I’ve actually become far more productive too. I think these are some of the benefits of rest, but how to actually introduce rest?

Strategies to have rest

In the midst of busyness, I find that I often fore-go things I enjoy, fun goes out of the window!!

So, with that in mind, I hope to:

  • Walk more; at least twice a week – I started walking by the river and through the local park recently and it has done me the world of good to be outside.
  • Crochet – this goes without saying given my previous series of posts, but I love to crochet. However, crocheting is one of the first things to get taken out of my schedule if things are busy. Whilst on holiday I crocheted more in two days, than in the last two months. The sheer joy and the ‘mindfulness’ of hook and yarn was exactly what I needed.
  • Sew – I recently bought a new vintage sewing machine (blog post to follow), one I’ve dreamed of for many years. However, I don’t feel that confident sewing, so I am going to spend some time re-learning how to sew. This will hopefully be another calming activity.
  • Bullet Journal – I recall a time, as I first began the Bullet Journal journey this year, I wrote a couple of lines each day or drew a small picture to represent my thoughts for the day. A real journal as such. I found that I slept better and it was a good record of life, I felt less like ‘life’ was just passing me by. So, I hope to do this as a wind-down before bed each night. While on holiday I updated my pen test list:

  • Finally, I’d like to introduce regular nights off in the week. I am notorious for being unable to say, “No”. So in a bid to take care of myself and take opportunities for rest, I will have a night off planned each week, with no responsibility! On these evenings, I may just stay at home. Though, as I also love art/ arts & crafts, live music and dancing, I may use these to have some fun with the people I love.

I hope that these new ways of living help me to rest in my everyday and this post has inspired you to learn to take some rest too. If you have any other strategies or thoughts regarding rest, I’d love to hear them – please comment below. πŸ˜ƒ

Colour, Ponderings

I Decided to Follow a Prompt….

I’ve never heard of it before, but today I came across a word prompt to aid inspiration in content for a blog post.

The word was Fabric.

To be honest, I’ve published one post only yesterday after a month+ of hiatus, feeling like I had nothing to say. This prompt made me laugh since I read it just after completing a draft version of blog post ideas in my bullet journal. I had literally just written down “Fabric”.

So here goes:

For me, there are two threads that immediately spring to mind with the word ” Fabric”:

1. ‘Fabric of life’

2. ‘Fabric to make something’ i.e the thing sewn together to make garments, covers etc.

When I initially wrote it down in the web of ideas above, I was thinking of it as part of my theme about Colour. As you know if you’ve read Adventure Begins (my first post), one of my aims of the blog is to celebrate colour and pattern in life. This view in my bed earlier today was the source of inspiration for the word Fabric in my blog post web:

I love the pattern of the owls on the fabric, but also the brightness of colour. It got me to thinking, how does someone go about printing fabric like this? How did they choose this combination of colour? What made them choose red and white?

This also reminded me that I have another one of these duvet sets with the same pattern, but with completely different colours and I love it just as much:

As you can see, they are completely different, but are linked by the pattern. That led me to think about the fabric of life. I think of the fabric of life as the richness of life, the threads and patterns that run through. I find it fascinating that from day to day we’re able to see our life from a different perspective – see my last post. In the example of the duvet sets, even the type of cloth itself; a simple cotton fabric is the same, the detail is the same (the hearts and flowers on the chests of the owls, as an example), but the way the colour is applied is completely different.

This leads me to ask: What makes up the fabric of my life, what colour can I add, what do I miss when I only see that the pattern is the same? These seem to be questions at the forefront of my mind given yesterday’s post too. To be honest I haven’t got any coherent answers yet, but I think it’s worthwhile pondering.

Also, depending on your outlook, one could perceive the red and white set as boring or dull in comparison to the tartan pattern and several colours of the other set. But I think that’s the key; I wonder if the killer to inspiration, the one that steals joy is the very act of comparison?

In my eyes, both duvet sets are beautiful, in their own right.

However, I often see myself playing a comparison game in my life, thinking that someone else’s life looks better; someone speaks more eloquently, etc. What if they’re both beautiful in their own right? What if my life is as beautiful as theirs, but my trying to line up the pattern and compare the colour actually leads me to think of it as dull, when it’s bright and powerful just as it is? Life is rarely dull I’ve realised, but my perceptions can lead me to think that way. So my hope is that I’ll choose to see the colour and beauty in my life more often and wish you the same opportunity.

That’s my thoughts on the word, “Fabric”. Out of interest, what would your thoughts be if your prompt was “fabric”?

Thanks to Ben Huberman @The Daily Post for the prompt today – it’s served me well.

Comment below with your thoughts and follow me for the next update. Thanks again for reading πŸ˜„


Snow! When Everything Has New Perspective

As I woke on Thursday morning this week past, everything around me had a taken a new hue. The sillouettes of my normal view were visible, but the details were missing.

I’ve often thought that snowy scenes offer some kind of magic; but these last few days I realised that their beauty comes from hiding the familiar edges of what I know and offering a renewed perspective.

It can be so easy to slip in to feeling like life is a bit dreary, dull and monotonous; to be honest there have been many moments when I’ve felt like this. Today, however I realised that sometimes this comes only because we focus so much on the minor, insignificant details that we miss the outlines of our lives.

If I’m honest I forget that each day I have the privilege of being able to read and write, running water, a beautiful home, a car, family- I could go on. The reality is I am so familiar with these things that they take a back seat quite often and the stresses and strains of work, busyness of life and worry take precedence.

The snow however afforded me the joy of going for an impromptu walk; discovery of a deserted, snowy, children’s park; watching a duck skim along a river and listening to birds sing. I suddenly noticed the pops of colour that are so easily lost in my normal observations. The vantage of my locality covered in snow also highlighted the colour that’s normally missed. I also managed to work on a crochet project and to top it all off I had an enormous amount of time with my loved ones. For me, that’s the magic of snow.

I guess my biggest perspective shift is to understand the sillouettes of my life are consistent; but they’re not going to be looking like this forever. What will I do to make sure that I don’t miss the joys of life around me in my everyday? How will I see the beauty and listen to the melodies of life more clearly -even without the snow?

I think it would be wise to make a concerted effort to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and remember to shift perspective; embrace the here and now and see the precious things in life today.

The snow is an inconvenience for sure, but it’s also a pace-changer. What has the snow revealed for you and what will you do to help you to recall this in a few weeks time? Comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts.

I’m hoping to write again soon; the intention is to write as inspiration strikes. If you’d like to follow me to read the next update, click follow below.

Bullet Journalling, Slimming World

Slimming World, Fresh Food, New Start

This post is about my return to a journey I started almost five years ago by joining Slimming World. Since getting to my target weight in 2015, I have managed quite well to keep off the pounds, however in recent months, I have to confess my discipline has slipped.

I’ve been noticing for months that where I used to stick to one piece of chocolate, I’ll often now have two or even three in a row. So today, despite having to sacrifice my Saturday lie in, I joined a local group again.

When I did last did slimming world (SW) a few years ago, I lost just under three stones; this was fundamentally because my husband and I changed our lifestyle, eating habits and I played netball regularly. I really enjoyed the process, saw good results, but wasn’t putting undue pressure on myself, knowing that the weight would come off over time.

I’m hoping this post serves as a reminder to me and to you that it’s good to consider our health, but also to give ourselves a break.

So to this end, as I go through this weight loss journey I choose to:

  • Go at my own pace – no competing or comparing
  • Cut my self some slack – there will be good and bad weeks, but over time, the good will outweigh (πŸ˜†) the bad.
  • Enjoy food – remember good relationships, community and friends are worth more than a few pounds; be grateful!
  • Experiment – work out what works this time, this week and don’t be afraid to try new things

If any one else is also on any kind of health kick, be kind to yourself. Learn from those you can, forget the ones who are unhelpful and be grateful for the ones who cheer you on and join you on the journey.

To aid me, I’ve added a very simple tracker in my bullet journal showing each pound lost, which will (I hope) serve as motivation on this journey.

I expect that I’ll share a little more about food in the coming weeks. Wishing you all the best of health for the coming year πŸ˜„

Bullet Journalling

A New Year – Bullet Journal Set Up

First of all; Happy New Year from Mayai Loves. May this year be full of delights and happy memories for you. 🍾🍾πŸ₯‚

As part of my run up to 2018, I chose to set up my bullet journal for the new year. I came across bullet journalling in the latter part of 2016, partly because I was looking for a way to organise life without feeling guilty for having many, many missed days in a traditional planner. I’ll be honest, I love the idea of journalling, but the practise has always been haphazard. I wanted some way of tracking my day to day things to do, birthdays and a visual means to see when I had too much on. However, I love taking notes, so also wanted a notebook or many blank pages and always found that traditional diaries never had enough space for all of this in one book – I cannot for the world imagine why! πŸ˜‰

The bullet journal seemed ideal as in reality, it’s just a notebook and a pen. Each day, you make a list of the events and tasks you have ahead, in the form of a bullet list. In the original (linked here), there are a few different bullets to depict tasks, events and notes, alongside these, some will also have a signifier, which are used to highlight whether a topic is particularly important, inspirational or even something requiring further research. All of this is done in an incredibly neat rapid log.  However, the bullet journal has developed into a creative outlet for many people, as well as the original concept of an effective, personalised, organisational tool. 

I discovered the idea after it had already morphed into the beautiful polyphony you’ll discover if you search on Google, so my journal is a mish-mash of the minimalist, rapid log and the incredible, creative spreads that normally appear first on Google. I wanted a practical, but creative feel. So some pages from 2017 are shown below:

As you are able to see, I prefer blue ink, with splashes of colour. I draw, write notes, make lists etc. all in the same notebook. The versatility of the bullet journal is the thing that attracted me to it, but it’s also what keeps me hooked. The added bonus is that I no longer have little bits of paper all over the place with lists or ideas on them! 

For 2018, I wanted to set up some of the same pages as I had for 2017 and also add a couple more: 

New for 2018 is a words of the year page: 

This really serves as inspiration and helps with goal setting; these three words were the ones that jumped out at me for the coming year; for the whole list see the end of the post. 

Then, two pages which worked well in 2017: 

A Calendex: a hybrid of an index and a calendar. This allows you to mark a new event, much like a traditional calendar and then view the details about it on a different page. I’ve also added birthdays at the bottom of the page.

The second repeat of 2017 is a month to view page. This helps me to track exactly what’s going on and make a note of any important dates at work. This should (I hope) help me to balance out my month in terms of time commitments.  This monthly view looks at what happens in the short term, in detail; where the Calendex is really to help with tracking future events as an overview.

I am intending to try and look at weekly breakdowns with a list of tasks also – but I’ve not decided on how to plan that yet- so that may become an update to this post. 

I have a few more things to complete but, here’s to a smashing, organised 2018 for you and I! My next job in the BuJo is to plan my next few blog posts πŸ˜†

I’d love to know what’s your word(s) of the year are; here’s the list I started with: 

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know below. As always, if you want to know when the next post is up, click follow below πŸ˜„


Favourites from Four Years of Crochet, Part 5

In Part 1, I celebrated my first ever blanket that I made for a friend. Recently, this same friend commissioned me to make her daughter’s flower girl dress for our mutual friends’ wedding. She has long encouraged my creativity, in crochet as well as baking and crafting in general; therefore, it was an honour to be asked and a privilege to make the dress. 

The style my friend chose was akin to a princess dress; fitted bodice and a puffed out skirt, like a floor length tutu. 

As it was my first commission I wanted to get it right. I did a lot of research into crochet flower girl dresses and came across The Sarah Dress by Deanna Hardin. This pattern is made using rows of ‘shell stitch’- a group of stitches made into one stitch which fan out resembling a shell. Once I’d understood the workings of the pattern it was easy to carry on to make the main bodice. 

This pattern taught me a lot about making a made to measure item. Firstly, measurements cannot be approximated! Age 5 general measurements do not equate to this age 5 child. I found that I ended up making the crochet part of the dress twice, adjusting the gauge (closeness of the stitches) the second time to make the dress smaller. This was required in part because I had envisaged a criss-cross back detail, which meant I needed to make adjustments to the pattern. 

The pattern suggested using lace for the straps, however I had wanted to crochet these and came up with a pattern which incorporated the shell design in open work. I also added some buttons to secure the straps, and stitched the straps in place as a final adjustment.

As a result of making the pattern, I learnt a fair amount about tulle through a Facebook group I follow (Haphazard Hookers…Hook along). In my experience (and of some others in the group), the best place to source it is eBay. The only local place I could purchase it from was John Lewis and this wasn’t the cheapest (or most convenient). 

The best form of tulle to buy for this purpose was in rolls approx 6in wide. This is because it is quite an art form to handle tulle without it ruching and twisting. To combat this I was laying strips to length across my bed and cutting to size, so they remained flat. Another tip I learnt was that to maintain a consistent length, it’s best to have a guide measure, a piece of card to wrap around; in my case this was a house tape measure (one of the bright yellow hard ones) as I had nothing long enough to use otherwise.

The (second) dress didn’t take long too crochet, in fact I think it took longer to attach the tulle by knotting each piece to the bodice. This made a fabulous puffed skirt. 

I used a standard dress bag to store the dress and to my surprise I found that tulle gives an amazing texture when it is removed from its squashed state. The puffyness returned to the skirt straight away, but alongside this the top layers of the skirt also attached to one another giving a beautiful layered and pinned effect. 

For modesty’s sake, I had planned to also add a lining. I used the fabric from a vest top for the top, with leggings underneath the skirt. Another friend helped to sew the final part of the lining as she is a fabulous seamstress. 

It was such a pleasure to make a piece that my friend’s daughter called, “her wedding dress” and to be part of the joy that was a stunning wedding of two lovely friends. 

I chose this piece to be the last in the series for a few reasons. Firstly, it is chronologically, the last, large crochet project I’ve done. Secondly, this was the first commission I’d been able to fulfil. Thirdly, this was the project that inspired the blog that you’re reading. Fourthly, it enabled me to put into practice a ‘crochet diploma’ I’ve been studying; by designing the straps. Fifthly, this project helped me to consider my creativity as not limited to the familiarity of playing with colour, but also considering texture and movement. 

It’s been an absolute joy to reflect on the years of crochet so far through this little series of posts into my personal history with the craft. It has been a reminder of the seasons that have gone and the help that friends and family have been to my personal growth. So to each of you, many thanks for the hugs, encouragement and well wishes; they are noted and appreciated. 

I think this will be my last update of 2017, into 2018 I hope to carry on in the vein of the last few years; growing in, learning of and exploring the realms of creativity.

My intention is to broaden the blog to organisational creativity (as related to Bullet Journalling), interiors (I have some upcycling projects lined up) and continue with the themes of crochet I’ve started this year. 

So, all that remains is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.