Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Workshop Review - needlefelting for beginners at Dalmore Croft

the stove is lit and I am all set up and ready to go!

Hello! Last Saturday I held my first ever craft workshop at Dalmore Croft, Barry and I wanted to share my experience here in this blog post because the morning went very well, the ladies all enjoyed themselves and they learnt a new skill. I should add at this point that all recommendations are my own, this post has not been sponsored.

materials and tools

I have been needlefelting for many years now and I almost exclusively use gilliangladrag.co.uk for my felting supplies. It's a bricks and mortar shop in Dorking, England which also has an amazing online shop - go check it out! I am a huge lover of colour so for me this online shop is a delight and I would love to go to the shop itself one day, it's on my list!

craft and tea!

When I arrived at the studio on Saturday the stove had been lit and it was wonderful and cosy with the fairy lights twinkling too; the scene was set for a creative morning. It didn't take me long to unpack the wool tops, needles etc and shortly after that my students started to arrive. There was tea, coffee, freshly made scones and homemade blueberry muffins for everyone to enjoy.

so much concentration

The first project was a simple pincushion with a vintage cotton reel for the base. This taught the basics of how to handle and manipulate the fibre into the shape they wanted. Smooth Merino wool tops was on offer for this project in a large variety of colours - something to suit all tastes. The next project was a bunny brooch which was slightly more challenging but everyone approached it with the confidence of their new found skills. To mix things up I offered various British, undyed wool tops for this stage, to allow the students to work with something a bit different and experiment with texture.

nearly finished

By the end of the morning my students had a finished pincushion and a finished (or very nearly finished) bunny brooch. If anyone wasn't quite finished they had the skills and materials to take it away and finish it off at home. I handed out feedback forms at the end are here are a few of the comments I received in the "what did you like about the course?" section; "Everything! Marta was a very good teacher and I loved doing a new craft." and "I liked learning the basics of a new craft and having a finished product."

So, I am definitely going to be running future workshops - more needlefelting ones, including advanced needlefelting - but also other handcrafts. I feel that people enjoy taking time out of their busy lives to stop, take a break and try something new. If you would like to keep up to date with news of all my future workshops please sign up to receive my newsletter.

Until next time,

Marta xx






Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Drawing out crochet charts

if at first you don't succeed ...

Hello! A short blog post because there are not so many colourful crochet photos to share this week, it's been all about drawing out crochet charts instead!

my set up

The above photo is from my Instagram stories, it shows my usual drawing set up: sketch pad, pencil, laptop and a mug of rooibos tea (with soya milk). I have just finished drawing out the chart for my Fields of Wheat beanie, and it's been one of the trickiest charts I have ever drawn! I had to think long and hard about exactly how to depict the intricate 3D form of the beanie as a 2D chart. However, it was well worth persevering with and I am pleased with the finished result. The photo at the top of this post shows the finished chart in the top left corner and I love how pretty it turned out, it's like a big flower!


example of a finished chart

This chart, for a yet-to-be-named project has a fascinating geometric pattern going on too! It's only now that I am into crochet pattern writing that I wished I was better at Maths - it's all so mathematical - it must be good exercise for my brain, so that's a bonus I suppose!

Daffodil Shawl chart in progress

I like to daw the charts out in pencil and then carefully go over them in fine coloured pen, usually 2 colours to clearly define the different rows or rounds. I then either scan them or take a high resolution photo before adding them to the pattern pdf. Most of my recent patterns have charts and I am going back and adding them to earlier patterns because I know they can be a real help to people. Personally I prefer following a written pattern but if a chart is included too I will refer to it, especially in the early stages, it helps to visualise what the pattern writer expects. What about you, do you like to follow charts? What do you like about crochet charts? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

Marta xx

Thursday, 20 February 2020

my Fun a Day Dundee project



my finished Fun a Day project

Hello! Today's blog post is all about a project I was involved with in January. For the second year in a row I took part in Fun a Day Dundee, a project which has been running in the city since 2011. "The premise is simple: pick a project (take a photograph, make the bed, draw a picture, bake a cake, etc) and do it every day in January, then show your work the following month in a big group exhibition." (quote taken from the Fun a Day Dundee website).

initial sketchbook ideas

Last year I drew a flower every day for the month using various methods and a wide array of materials. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed making 1 finished piece every day it did feel quite pressured and there were days when I was pushed for time or simply didn't feel very creative. This year I decided to crochet a doll over the course of the month, working on it a little every day - more time or less time depending on what else I had on and my creative energy.

beginning to have character

I have made quite a few crocheted dolls over the years because I love the satisfaction of making something tangible, full of character and personality in a fairly short space of time. For this project I chose to design the doll myself writing the pattern for it as I went along.

Hello!

I crocheted the body using Rico Creative Cotton in the colourway Powder because I really liked the pale skin colour of this yarn. The huge mop of curly hair is created by needlefelting Debbie Bliss Lara (in the colourway Anna) in place - I love the bouncy curl it has. After crocheting the doll I began working on a little outfit for the chilly wee boy - it was January! I knew that I wanted to add lots of little optional details to my pattern and I had great fun designing pockets and even adding orange thread top stitching.


tiny details

shoes with laces

The shoes were possibly the most tricky design element because the feet are essentially quite shapeless and the shoes have to be able to be pulled on without stretching them or the doll out of shape. I added little contrast soles and gave them laces too, giving them more destinguishing features.

making him a friend!

By the 25th of January I was finished the doll and the clothes and had to make a decision: make more clothes and accessories or make another doll? As you can see from my first photo, make another doll won! I knew the process would be much faster this time because I had my pattern written up, ready to follow.

needlefelting the hair

Sure enough, I had a second doll in next to no time (not an awful lot else got done in these few days mind!). I decided to give the girl doll bright orange, Japanese manga style hair so I ordered Cascade Magnum in the colourway Living Coral and when it arrived it was perfect! I needlefelted the hair in place again, a technique which I had followed in the past and really wanted to use in my pattern too.

January 31st
So, by 31st of January I had 1 completely finished doll and 1 almost finished doll - she just needed her hair sorting and some more clothes. I was chuffed with how productive I had been! It was lovely to have feedback and encouragment from fellow participants on Instagram and in turn to follow their creative journeys - I loved this aspect of the project!


more details

Last week I added the final touches to the girl doll's outfit - a green cardigan and a pair of sandals. for both dolls I used DMC Narura cotton yarn partly because I like to have a different texture for clothing when I make a doll and partly because the colour range in this cotton is fantastic - so many to choose from! All I need to do now is add the final touches to my pattern and do an outdoor photo shoot of both the dolls. The weather here hasn't been in my favour and I think I will leave it another few weeks for some spring flowers too. Also, both dolls need names! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.


finished doll

The group exhibition for Fun a Day Dundee takes place over the Easter weekend, 10th - 12th April at Generator Projects in Dundee - my dolls will be there alongside so many other different projects, I can't wait!

Until next time,

Marta xx


Thursday, 13 February 2020

"Are your crochet patterns suitable for beginners?"


This Way, That Way scarf pattern for beginners

YES! This is a question which people frequently ask me so in this blog post I am going to share with you which of my crochet patterns are suitable for beginners.

how best  to wear your This Way,
That Way scarf 
I designed my This Way, That Way scarft with the beginner in mind - it only requires double crochet (UK terms). There are ridges running along the length of this reversible scarf, created by changing between working into the front loop and back loop of the stitches, but don't worry - the pattern includes a step-by-step tutorial to keep you right! It's a unisex design which can be made in your own combination of colours in chunky yarn. The pattern is available in UK and US terms.

Calunna Hills cowl
Slightly more challenging, but still with a beginner rating, is my Calunna Hills cowl. It requires just a few simple stitches to create this stunning wave effect. Once you have crocheted a few rows the pattern is repeated and it's easy to remember and get into a routine with. It's available in both UK and US terms.

Jute Plant Pot Cosy
My Jute Plant Pot Cosy pattern is super simple and works up fast in Hoooked 100% natural jute. The finished cosy has a raw, chunky quality which heightens the lush greenery of any plant placed in it. This free pattern can easily be adapted to suit whatever size of plant pot you have.

Small Flower

My Small Flower pattern includes a step-by-step photo tutorial and a chart alongside the full written instructions. You will need to know how to make a magic loop but there are plenty of YouTube videos to keep you right on that! This project is perfect for using up small amounts of left over yarn in any thickness and the flowers can be used to decorate all kinds of things! It's also another of my free patterns! 

Easy Wrist Warmers
Another simple beginners project is my Easy Wrist Warmers pattern - a free Ravelry downoad. There are only a few basic stitches required and the pattern works up quickly giving you an achievable finished item that you can show off to friends and family!


The final pattern I would like to share with you is Zig Zag scarf pattern. It is a super simple stitch repeat which works up really fast! there is an easy to follow chart included with the pattern and it's available in both UK and US terms.

Wow! Six beginner level patterns to choose from! And, once you have mastered a few basic crochet stitches, become more confident with your hook & yarn and learnt to follow a pattern you will be ready to move on to intermediate level patterns. I am now including charts with all my crochet patterns (and going back and adding them to older patterns) because I know they can really help people visualise how the pattern works. If you have any questions relating to my patterns please leave a comment below or send me a message on Ravelry.

Until next time,

Marta xx

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Introduction to Needlefelting

bunny brooches - perfect for Spring time!

Hello! I have some very exciting news to share today - I am going to be teaching my first workshop! This is something that I have wanted to do for a long, long time but have never actually taken the time out to fully visualise, plan and organise ... until now!! 

pincushion in progress
So, what is needlefelting? Put simply, needlefelting is the transformation of wool into 3D objects using a very sharp, barbed needle. The wool fibres become tangled and then tighten causing them bond together into a solid shape. You can manipulate the wool in many different ways creating a huge variety of effects. It's a craft that I really enjoy because it very quickly develops from a smooshy handful of wool into a finished piece - it's very satisfying and addictive!

needlefelting in action!
My first workshop will be held on the morning of Saturday 7th March at Dalmore Croft, Barry near Carnoustie. Dalmore Croft is a 12 acre small holding owned and run as a small mixed farm by Rosemary and Dan Champion, and the workshop will take place in their wonderfully cosy, converted outhouse - complete with wood burning stove and comfy chairs.

the studio at Dalmoe Croft

bunny brooches with the cosy
wood burner in the background
Over the course of the morning I am going to teach my students to make a small pincushion with a vintage cotton reel base and a bunny brooch. There will be lots of colour options available in the Merino wool for the pincushion, playing with colour combinations will be fun! The brooch can be tailored to suit lots of different styles and made in natural Blue Faced Leicester wool or in the bolder colours of the dyed Merino fibre. By the end of the morning my students will have the skills and confidence to carry on with the craft at home - the possibilities are endless!

... and me!
 All photos taken by Niall Mitchell
As you can tell, I am really excited about the opportunity to start teaching - I hope this is the first of many! If you would like to join me on this course you can book here. If you have any questions, please get in touch via the comments below or directly with Dalmore Croft.

Until next time,

Marta xx

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Winter Crochet Patterns


Hello, I am keeping up the blogging habit - returning this week with a selection of my crochet patterns which are ideal for making for the winter months. I have highlighted a pair of socks, a beanie, a baby cardigan and an adult jumper and I like to think there is something in this selection that will appeal to everyone and that there is something here for all abilities too.

fabulous socks!
First up, my Fabulous Socks! pattern. This is the most successful pattern in my Ravelry Store , customers who have bought and followed the pattern agree that it is a lovely pattern to follow. Claudia made a pair and left the following review "I enjoyed the pattern and really like that the socks fit me really well as this is the first ever completed pair of socks I have crocheted". The pattern is written for intermediate level but it is a straightforward design, ideal for a first pair of socks. 100g of sock weight yarn is required to make a pair, I used Paintbox Yarns Socks which is available in lots of fun colourways!

isla cosy polo
I released my Isla Cosy Polo design in time for autumn last year because it is so snuggly and warm to wear in the winter months! It's a top down design using Cascade Yarns  220 Superwash Wave in "Unicorn" which works up in amazing bands of colour - it's a definite "one more round" project! The pattern is available in 4 adult sizes and guidance is given for making adjustments to suit different figure shapes.

fields of lavander cardigan
If you are looking for a quick make then baby clothes are a fantastic option - within a few hours you can have a teenie garment! My Fields of Lavander Cardigan design is available in 2 sizes, 3-6 months and 6-12 months. I chose King Cole Merino Blend DK because it's a superwash wool which does wash brilliantly and because it feels so snug and cosy - perfect for a little one!

Geometric Beanie
Last but by no means least, my Geometric Beanie is a lovely pattern for making in the winter months. It's an intermediate level pattern that uses front post and back post stitches to create the geometric design. 100g - 150g of aran weight yarn is required, depending on the sze you make. I used Artesano Aran, which is sadly discontinued but a similar weight yarn would substitute in very well - I would recommend Drops Nepal.

All these patterns are available from my Ravelry Store so if you feel like starting a new winter project why not go check them out? Don't for get to share you makes on social media, I would love to see how you get on!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx


Wednesday, 15 January 2020

getting back to it ...

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all. It's been a while since I posted on here, hasn't it? Well, I am here today to put that right! Firstly, I want to take a moment to introduce myself to those of you who don't know me, or have just started following me.

me, at the beach on a windy day!

I'm Marta and I enjoy writing crochet patterns. I have been designing for around 4 years and I feel confident that I have reached a level in my pattern writing skills to know that they are going to be easy for others to read and enjoyable for them to follow. All my patterns are tested by at least 3 crocheters and often I send them to be tech edited too. I particularly like using natural fibres in my designs because I enjoy the feel of wool, cotton, linen, bamboo etc on my hands. I do like to knit as well as crochet but crochet will always be my first love!

finished Advent Socks
Of course I follow other designers patterns and want to share a few projects with you which I completed at the end of last year. I challenged myself to knit a pair of socks following Natalie Sheldon's Advent Socks pattern. These were a real joy to knit, I absolutely loved watching each new stripe appear!

Beekeepers' Quilt, a work in progress
close up, aren't they cute?
The Beekeepers Quilt is a long term project that I began in April 2019 with the intention of knitting one hexagon a day for a year! At the moment I have exactly the same number of hexies a s days but I hit pause for 2 months (December - Christmas prep & January - Fun a Day) with the intention of starting again in February. The hexagons are knitted on double pointed needles using scrap 4ply yarn from my stash of leftovers from crocheting socks.

sketchbook work & my chosen yarns
My current WIP is an amigurumi doll that I am crocheting as part of the Fun a Day Dundee project. It's a doll that I am designing myself, crocheting a little everyday and writing up the pattern as I go. I began with some simple sketches and ideas of the direction I wanted to go in - quickly discovering that it should be a boy doll! I am finding real inspiration in following the hashtag #FADD2020 on Instagram and seeing what everyone else is doing every day - we can be a real encouragement to each other in what can sometimes be a long and bleak month.

beginning to look like a little person
So, let's hope this is the first blog post of many! I have certainly scheduled future posts in my diary and have a list of potential post titles. Is there anything specific you would like me to blog on? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Until next time,

Marta xx

Workshop Review - needlefelting for beginners at Dalmore Croft

the stove is lit and I am all set up and ready to go! Hello! Last Saturday I held my first ever craft workshop at Dalmore Croft , Barry...