It all comes back to Manchester

I’m very excited.  I’ve just published my first ‘paid for’ pattern on Ravelry. The Manchester Shawl is available to everyone here: buy now with Ravelry (and PayPal)

Manchester ShawlManchester has figured heavily in my life – I was born there, as my Aunt crocheted a traditional granny square shawl in the waiting room for my mother to wear during early morning feeds.  We moved frequently over twenty years, but after every move away we always moved back to Manchester – to within 2 streets of where we lived before in fact!

That original shawl is now mine, but much like me starting to fray around the edges and show it’s age.  It has been worn around my mother and me as a baby, it’s been a superhero cape, a den, a secure ‘hiding place’ and a portable hug.  It’s be worn in all weather, dragged through mud, tossed carelessly in bags and used to wipe benches dry… So I needed a new shawl that could withstand abuse required.

Luxury yarns were right out from the start, and the yarns I used are best acrylic – lovely soft modern squishy machine washable acrylic.  The pattern I found and adapted was originally published in the Manchester needlework pattern book (yet another tie to Manchester!).

I had nothing to lose and decided to take a risk on the colour choices – everything else I have is ‘safe’ colours and in the winter months everyone wears dark or neutral colours and I wanted something a bit more eye catching in the grey days.  I’m delighted with how the teal and orange pop together – and it’s certainly eye catching!

Having made one, I decided to write down the pattern – and made another for a friend who also needs a portable hug that can take a bit of abuse from her two lovely boys.  She’s a lot taller than me, so an upgrade to Aran weight and a larger hook produced a positive blanket of a shawl (she’s 5ft 10″ and it’s ankle length on her).  A bone-deep goth, bright colours just weren’t going to cut it, and the Women’s Institute aran rich purple was perfect – dark but rich and jewel like in saturation, this shawl gives a pop of suitably goth colour to her generally black ensembles.

Writing a pattern though takes HOURS.  Not just a couple, but the best part of a working week – somewhere between 30 and 40 hours.  I’m sure they can be written quicker but I take great care to make sure that my patterns are as understandable and as clear as possible.  Writing and rewriting and rephrasing and rereading takes time.  So I made the decision to charge.  Its a token amount, as there is no chart (those are coming for another pattern) but I really hope you will enjoy it!

Reflecting on improvement

As regular readers to this blog may have worked out I have a touch of a type A personality – and as I get older it gets more obvious.  In my crafting life I constantly strive to improve, searching out different ways of doing things, modifying materials, patterns and techniques to get the result I want.

But it’s not just crafting – Mr TuesdayFortnite will happily tell you of the time there were 32 different swatches of ‘grey’ on the front room wall as I took two weeks to decide exactly *which* grey to paint the whole room.  I recently had to change channels when a make-over show hung pictures on the wall *crooked*! (shudder).

This perfectionism extends to my teaching as well – whether I’m teaching dance (my professional training), MS Word to work colleagues or my crafting classes.  After every teaching session, designing a pattern, rearranging a room (or my stash!)…. I sit and reflect and review on what went well, what can be improved and how I can be better.action-reflection cycle

We did the Crochet Beginners class on Saturday last week, and it went really well – with everyone producing lovely work and starting on their individual crochet adventures.

Sometimes the best ideas start with ‘why?’ and sitting in the car on the way home I had one of those moments – I wrote the course way back in 2011 taking notes from other crochet teachers at the time on how to structure a class.  Being new at teaching crochet I accepted the wisdom of my ‘elders and betters’ on the circuit – and didn’t question it.  But why?reflective process

Here, 5 years on, I have the knowledge and the confidence to question that structure – and I’ve broken down what we do on the classes and am starting again from scratch – no assumptions on ‘that’s how it’s done’ or taking ‘because that’s how it is’ as an answer.  Exciting times!