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Monday 30 June 2014

Crochet dinosaur hand-puppet

Crochet dinosaur hand-puppet by SallyStrawberry
Crochet dinosaur hand-puppet by SallyStrawberry

ROARRRRRRRRR!!!! Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had great weekends. This is a dinosaur hand-puppet I have made for a uni friend to give as a gift to a 3 year old (hence why its a little bit small for my hand!). I have found this project a bit tricky to be honest.....I just couldn't conceptualise it. It took a couple of attempts of messing around, trying things out (most of which were never going to work!) and I have ended up with this. 

I'm not sure which kind of dinosaur it is......but it is definitely a dinosuar. I hope he likes it!

Crochet hand puppet, dinosaur, green, SallyStrawberry

Crochet hand puppet, dinosaur, green, SallyStrawberry

Friday 27 June 2014

Friday Favourites.....yarny blogs

..........yarny blogs

The Twisted yarn- I came across this blog when it entered the Deramores blog awards, which it won! A well deserved winner with loads of interesting knitting projects and some great yarn-bombing- I just love these pigeons!  

Frugally Peachy- this fantastic blog by Emma follows a year of abstaining from shopping on the high-street. A great mix of knitting, up-cycling, and well informed articles on the perils of the fashion industry. 

Slugs on the Refrigerator- all round fun blog with brilliant photos, loads of essential crochet tutorials and some gorgeous crochet and knitting.

Coco Rose Diaries- stunning photos and loads of lovely crochet- I could just look at the photos all day!

Not So Granny- Joanne designs some amazing crochet patterns and also gives really informative crochet and design tips. 

Fringe Association- a lovely read, Karen showcases the best of modern knitting alongside her own. She is one talented lady!

This is just a selection of the fabulous yarny blogs out there, but the ones that I read most regularly (I'm not a blog stalker honest!). I was going to make this a round-up of craft blogs, but the yarny ones definitely deserve a post of their own. Do go and have a read. If you have any yarn-related blogs you would like to recommend I would love to hear from you!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Le Tour de Bunting

I was in Harrogate (Yorkshire) this weekend for a wedding and I was so excited to see stings and strings of knitted jumper bunting to celebrate the Tour de France. The first stage of the tour ends in Harrogate and they have really gone to town with their decoration......there were knitted jerseys everywhere, along with yellow bikes dotted around the place.

This is one of my favourites

The jumpers were knitted initially by local residents to celebrate the tour coming to their town, but they had an overwhelming response world-wide, with a whopping total of 23,453 jerseys received by the end of April! Although they do not need any more jerseys a knitted brooch pattern can be found here.

The decorations continued in neighboring town Knaresborough, where school children had decorated T-Shirts that were strung around the castle.

Yet more yellow bikes!!!

The decorations, coupled with the fantastic weather gave the towns a celebratory air, and a feeling that soon something very exciting was to happen, which it most certainly is! Stage one of the tour ends in Harrogate on Saturday 5th July, and then passes through again on its way to Sheffield on the 6th. We are hoping to watch it pass along the route, and I can't wait!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'm becoming the 'Queen of the WIP' at the moment, never getting round to actually finishing anything. I have the best of intentions but I keep on getting distracted with new yarns, new designs. 

My jumper is coming along nicely though. I have finished the back and am ready to go with the front. The blanket is still in the corner of my living room I'm embarrassed to say. The blanket isn't really a priority though as it was a 'me time do it when I fancy it kinda project', but the jumper does need to be finished, and the pattern written up in the next couple of weeks........YES! It will be done :-)

I have started 3 (well almost 4) news projects in the last 48 hours, which is a record for me I think. Even when I was doing markets and fairs I never had so many things going on simultaneously. 

The first is the beginnings of a design in Rowan wool cotton (50% cotton, 50% wool). This is a gorgeous yarn to work with, and is not at all splitty like cotton can be. Only one of the motifs has been blocked so far which explains the crinkly edges.

These motifs are going to be joined together to make a scarf suitable for the autumn as it is quite lightweight being 50% cotton.

I have also started a custom project for a friends from uni.....a dinosaur hand-puppet of all things! To be honest it has turned into one of hardest, most difficult to get my head round projects I have worked on in a long while and after a day of figuring out the best way to go about it I needed something new and exciting to get my teeth into. Can you remember my photos of Libby Summers Fine Aran? They are all so lovely I couldn't decide which colours to put together. 

I had been thinking about this on and off and thought, why not use them all together?! I have never done crochet colourwork before so with a bit of help from YouTube got going. I started to make this hat:

It is going to be rows of different coloured diamonds. What do you think? I'm really pleased with it so far. It uses the Fair Isle technique of stranding the unused yarn across the back of the work. I also had another design in mind that I wanted to test out first........

Whilst I love the colour combinations, I'm not 100% sure the pattern is the best it could be. So, the big question is....can you tell what it is? 


Monday 23 June 2014

My crochet design process

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? This was my feeling Thursday afternoon when I had an idea *ping*, I made a few sketches scribbles, picked up a hook and the yarn I had in mind and hey presto, it worked! Sometimes this happens, sometimes not. However, for me it happens more often than not and I think it has something to do with my design process. I'm in no way a pro-designer, but I like nothing more than to dream up ideas (and I mean that literally) and play about a bit until they become a finished object that I can look at, hold and marvel over the amazing things that can be done with a stick and some string!

Everyone works differently, and this is how I work.

1) Start with some inspiration 

I find that I always work better if I have some sort of inspiration- I cannot just think up an idea out of thin air. This inspiration can be all manner of different things....a gorgeous yarn, a particular colour palette, a photo, the garden, a person you envisage using or wearing the item. More often than not for me I am inspired by colour and the yarn, although with my current WIP I was inspired by the fit and style and the yarn came later.

2) Think, dream, and think some more

When designing I don't work well under pressure. I can't force an idea to come to me (maybe this is due to lack of experience of designing), and I actually struggle when posed with a brief. My style of designing is much more organic and really, I just wait until an idea chooses to come to me. I don't think about a design all day every day until it comes to fruition, I think about it in fits and starts....when I'm walking to work, when I'm in the shower, in the last few minutes before I drop off to sleep at night. On many occasions an idea comes to me in the night and I'm ready to get started in the morning.

3) Have a play around

I usually have the yarn I would like to use in mind so I have a little play, mess around with different stitch patterns, see how the yarn feels and whether it would actually suit the purpose of the project I have in mind. At this point I may make a little sketch of what I would like the item to look like, or jot down a couple of potential starting points.

4) Does it all add up?

In many projects a little maths is required. This is not always necessary, and for most of my projects the maths is pretty simple. For example, I want this star motif to have five points so how many stitches should I start off with?? To be honest I often work this out my trial and error, combined with the point above when I'm having a play around with the yarn.

5) Have another play around

Try things out, see what looks good (or bares any resemblance to how I imagined it to look in my head), rip back, start again, try things out another way. Sometime this process can take me a whole day, other times 10 minutes depending on the project or whether I hit on the perfect stitch pattern straight away.

My Top tips:

Go with your instinct- if you don't think it will work out start again to save wasting precious time and yarn

Learn from your mistakes- if something looks wrong- why? This process means you will be less likely to make the same mistake in the future but also you may discover something new that could be used in another project

Try not to rely too heavily on Pinterest or Ravelry for inspiration. For one you may end up accidentally copying someone else's design, secondly it can be very overwhelming (so and so is way better than I am etc), and thirdly it can cloud your own imagination.

Take notes as you go along!!!This is probably the most important thing to do when designing, and will make the process far easier. To be honest I don't always practice what I preach-  I'm very guilty of getting carried away and then having to work back to fathom out the pattern due to my lack of legible notes. 

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how I work!


Wednesday 18 June 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday

I can't remember if I ever said before, but for some bizarre reason I am designing a jumper! I usually design small crocheted items so designing a knitted jumper is totally new to me. Ever since I knitted THAT jumper as a sample for a knitting book (never again am I doing that much work for so little return- not to mention the stress it caused me!) I have been hankering over knitting a jumper of my design. This is totally out of my comfort zone but you don't know if you don't try ey? 

Ideas come to me at the strangest of times....usually when I'm in the shower or on the loo! I also sometimes just wake up with an idea though, and these ideas are often my best and most feasible. Somehow I even manage to work out the construction so am pretty much ready to go come morning! I'm not sure how this all works but I'm perpetually knackered so maybe my brain just doesn't ever really switch off.

Anyway, weird hyperactive brains aside, I'm knitting a jumper. I knew the yarn I wanted (chunky/aran) and the tone (muted) and the use of this jumper (a loose-fitting but warm jumper for when the nights are getting cooler but you still want to sit outside late by the fire kinda thing). I even had a vague idea of the stitch pattern (textured). I knew this jumper had to be simple, for one because it is my first attempt at designing something to fit, and secondly, a simple, basic design was what I had in mind. I really wanted to showcase the yarn and the stitches and nothing else (bar the amazing person wearing it of course!)

I'm a mathsy, sciencey kind of person, so with the help of a set of online tutorials I have graded the jumper for sizes 8-18, methodically working through my calculations and thankfully, they all make sense and add up! Hooray! Time to start knitting.....

With this yarn and needle size it is working up really quickly. I'm absolutely loving the colour and the yarn (Artesano Aran) is an absolute joy to work with. Here is the back so far (held against my front as taking a backwards photo would be even harder than this one was!).

What do you think so far?  

I have high hopes for this one. A little positivity never did anyone any harm :-) 


P.S. Did you spot the little strawberry on the radiator??

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Maths, environmental science....and crochet!

Now I am a few years behind on this but thought it was definitely still worth a share. Having decided to tackle my bloggers block head on I sat down at my computer a couple of hours ago and hit Google with search terms something like this 'overcoming bloggers block'. I came across this page by social media gurus 'Social Media Examiner' listing ways to gain a bit of inspiration etc. One of the points suggested watching some TED talks or podcasts for inspiration. Heading over to TED.com I searched for 'crochet'. Not expecting any results I was surprised to get a result- a talk by Margaret Wertheim on her crochet hyperbolic reefs. 

I have seen some crochet hyperbolic reefs in a gallery in London, and they were fabulous! This project, started by Margaret and her sister about 10 years ago has spread globally, uniting people through their love of crochet and the environment. The project has also lead to great breakthroughs in mathematics but I'll leave Margaret to explain that one to you!

I won't really say any more other than go and watch her talk which can be found here or viewed via YouTube here:

Have you seen, or been involved in this project? If so I would love to hear your experiences. 


Monday 16 June 2014

Blog Block

Maybe its just because its Monday, or maybe it's because I expended all my energy at the gym this morning, but I have got blog block. I know I should have a plan of when and what I'm going to post but well, I don't. Consequently I haven't got a clue what to write or share with your (sorry!) and I only have access to the computer for another hour. On this note have a great day and I will be back tomorrow :-)


Friday 13 June 2014

A splash of colour on a Friday....

Here are some bright, colourful pics from my week. These coasters are available to 'mix 'n' match' from Stitched Up in Chorlton, Manchester.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!


Thursday 12 June 2014

Easy tip to improve your product photography

I'm no photographer, but one thing I do know if that if you want to sell your craft items online, or want people to return again and again to your blog you need great photos! Some blogs have fantastic photography for example A Beautiful Mess  (they do have a photographer though!), Coco Rose Diaries, and Slugs On The Refrigerator (Kat is a pro-photographer) that keep you going back time and time again.

For me, I'm just pleased if I get a photo that looks half decent. However, in the last few months I have been exploring ways of improving my photography. I.....

  • Got a DSLR for Christmas- its just fab- I love it! I'm still learning and not quite brave enough to go full-out manual but am getting used to playing with different settings and am slowly seeing my photos improve.
  • Learnt to use Photoshop Elements- this is a paired down version of Adobe Photoshop but still has plenty of scope for improving your pictures massively. 
  • Read a great book - 'The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos' - this book is brilliant for a beginner and covers all aspects of product photography from using your camera to how best to photograph different products. Now that I know my camera better I think its time to re-read it. 
  • Have been working on my composition and trying different backdrops. The tree stumps in my garden are becoming a firm favourite! 

One problem I always have though (and is hard to completely remove using Photoshop Elements) is shadow. From the above book the general rule is lots of shadow =bad. No shadow at all can make your products look like they are floating on thin air but it is best to remove as much as possible. 

Shadow is created if you  photograph your product perpendicular to a light source such as a window. 

In this picture of a crochet heart the window (the light source is on the right). See the shadow on the left of the heart? 

In most cases you do not want this. In this next picture the light source is still coming from the right.....but the shadow has virtually disappeared! 

What's the secret?

Its not really a secret and is a technique pros must use all the time- a silver screen on the left reflecting the light back across the heart thus eliminating shadows! 

To make this 'screen' I simply covered a piece of card in tinfoil and folded it a bit in the middle to make it stand up. Voila! If only I had known this little trick earlier!


Monday 9 June 2014

A great weekend....

I had a fantastic time this weekend catching up with old friends in London.....eating, drinking, laughing (a lot), taking the micky out of each other (a lot!) and reminiscing about the good old times of our teenage years. We met at high school and are still the best of friends after all the ups and downs in between.....universities, babies, marriage, illness. It was just so relaxing and easy being in the company of people you have known that long- no pretence and just being yourself! Hope to see you all again soon girls! 

For now its back to a secret crochet project (all will be revealed in a couple of weeks)......


Friday 6 June 2014

Stocking the shelves of Stitched Up

Above is a selection of pieces I, as of today, have on the shelves of Stitched Up, a non-profit cooperative in my local area (you can read more about this in my post earlier this week). Certain events today have put a bit of a damper on this to be honest. But I HAVE MY WORK IN A SHOP!!!!! Pretty massive achievement for me, and something I have dreamt of doing but never thought it could become a reality. 

There are a couple of new pieces you may not have seen before so here are a few more close-ups.....

'Proper' photos will follow in due course. I would like to say a massive thanks to the girls behind Stitched Up for taking an interest in my work, and for all you guys for your kinds comments and encouragement!



Thursday 5 June 2014

Crochet Classes

I thought I would update you all on my crochet teaching schedule. I have been meaning to do this for a while but I got the kickstart I needed when I got a message via my Facebook page from a lovely lady who had been struggling to teach herself crochet and was looking for a class. 

As you may have been aware I was teaching beginners crochet classes in Chorlton regularly until a couple of months ago. After a while I struggled to fill up my courses (maybe I had reached as many people in my local area as I was going to?!) and the venue I was carrying out my classes is closed for summer for a total revamp. These factors, combined with a need for a bit of a rest, meant I have not been running classes for a while. Until today that is!

I gave a one-to-one lesson to Sarah this morning (see her go with her granny square!) and it reminded me how much I love teaching crochet. Therefore I will be offering one-to-one classes, or if you can find a small group of friends (maximum of 6 please otherwise it gets tricky!) I can tailor a class to your requirements. A group crochet class makes a great birthday present, and is a perfect excuse to get together with friends and learn a new skill at the same time. I can also tailor classes for baby showers and hen-dos (I'm thinking bunting, flowers, fascinators.......).

If you are interested please don't hesitate to get in touch (sallystrawberrycreations@gmail.com)!

Back to the bunting :-)


Wednesday 4 June 2014

Work In Progress Wednesday

I thought I'd update you on the progress of my ice-cream inspired diamond shaped granny blanket. A couple of weeks ago I had pretty much finished all the diamonds. I had tied in all the ends and was pretty excited that the end was in sight.

I had even started joining them together. I am doing this using double crochet as I liked that the ridge it made mimics the criss-crossed on an ice cream cone.

However, disaster struck!!! I realised that I had attached a diamond the wrong way round on a previous row. Being very tired from lots of late nights at work, and also quite annoyed that I had to work all Sunday when my friends were out enjoying the sunshine, I'm a bit ashamed to say that it was angrily thrown in a heap on the floor where it remained for several days....

.......I'm sorry blanket! 

I hope to finish this by next week though. As much as I love crochet it can make me incredibly frustrated when things go wrong (not as much as knitting but thats a different story!).

Anyway, I hope you are having a great week :-)

For me I'm off to work, but not before I have finished another triangle of bunting.

SS xx

Tuesday 3 June 2014


I'm very excited to announce that as of Friday you will be able to buy some of my crochet creations from Stitched Up in Chorlton, Manchester. Stitched Up is a shop-come workspace selling ethically produced clothing and accessories and running classes in a huge range of things with a focus on upcycling and sustainable fashion. It is a non-profit cooperative run by 6 lovely ladies who I have had the great pleasure of meeting recently. I will be stocking some of their shelves with summery bunting and home accessories such as coasters and placemats.

In order to make my products stand out from the other great work in the shop (oh boy is there some lovely stuff- do pop in if you can) I have been thinking more about branding so have ordered a stamp with my logo and am thinking of a colour scheme........at the moment I'm erring towards red on pink- like this blog! What do you think?

I have also been making making making. Do you remember my retro coasters? If not you can find them here. I've had a great response from these at markets but I've always had a bit of a problem- I make them in sets of 4 and sell them in sets of 4- but people keep on asking to buy just one! Fair enough if you want one coaster but then who would want the remaining 3...?!? So I have a plan. I am going to made loads of coasters in a range of different colours so people can mix and match and buy as many or as few as they would like. Here is one of the varieties that will be available.....

Retro Crochet Coaster Pink and Blue by SallyStrawberry

What do you think? I really like this colour combination. There will be plenty more to follow :-)

I also started on some new bunting this morning. Its not my usual colours or style but there's something about it I just love.......kind of 'pretty' vintage rather than the 'retro' vintage I usually find myself drawn to.

They are blocking at the moment but can't wait to show you it finished (and I am excited to see it!).

Finally, anyone know what these gorgeous flowers are? We have had them at work and I rescued a couple before they were disposed of.....

I hope you are all having a great day!


Monday 2 June 2014

My personal fitness goals

What better way to start a Monday following a weekend of the usual excesses than a post about fitness! Fear not though, this will not be a long one!

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I'm trying to improve my fitness levels. Before I moved to Manchester I was reasonably fit- I cycled every day and was on my feet for most of the day, rushing around like a headless chicken. Nowadays I spend most of my time either crocheting or on the computer. Read sat on my bum. My bike has barely been used and when I do take it out for the occasional spin I find it oh so hard. So....3 weeks ago I joined the gym! I'm not really a gym person and would rather be out and about cycling and running (if my knees hold out!) but thought it would be a good place to start. Plus, the gym is at the end of my road so I can roll out of bed and be in the gym 10 minutes later and get my exercise in before I properly wake up and my body notices it!

So far, so good. I have definitely seen some improvements so far- I can now run for a full 10 minutes and I have gone up a level on all the weight machines! This exercise kick is not about trying to lose weight or tone up ready for the summer- you would never catch me in a bikini in public anyway- but about getting fitter and stronger. No measuring, no weigh-ins- just being able to run and cycle faster and for longer! 

As I forever hear- it is much easier to exercise with a goal in mind. Mine aren't massive, as I don't want to push myself beyond my capabilities and risk injury (or even worse, disappointment) but I believe are realistic for me.

1- Go on at least one Park Run before August. Park Run is a fantastic, free, timed 5km run in parks around the country. I did one a couple of years ago and it was great fun so I would love to be able to have another go.

2- Cycle the Manchester 100km in August. This is a 'Bike Events' sponsored charity ride in aid of The Christie Hospital. In the past I have completed the Norwich 50 mile ride and loved every sweaty second of it (especially the pint of Adnams at the end!). Maybe this is a bit ambitious considering I'm still not cycling regularly but you've gotta have a goal ey?

OK, so I've put my goals 'out there' so to speak- I've just gotta go and achieve them now.......