Colour Therapy

What’s your favourite colour?  Have you ever thought why you are drawn to a particular shade?

Colour affects us all in different ways.  Red might be your favourite because it lifts your mood but for others, it’s just too intense a hue.  The way colours are put together might be harmonious for one person and clashing for another.

Your relationship with colour may be quite complicated, a mixture of personal experience and cultural bias as well as your current state of mind and emotions. In western countries, the colour white expresses innocence and purity but in eastern lands, it is the colour of mourning.  The colour blue has a cultural association with clear skies, a very positive image for us, but to our ancestors, it was even more important because it meant no bad weather. Colour is so deeply rooted in our history that it has even become a part of our everyday language in phrases like ‘seeing red’, ‘feeling blue’ and even ‘mellow yellow’.

So what is colour?  Without going into too much of the science, colour is light and energy which is visible to us through reflection and refraction.  The amount an object absorbs the light gives it its colour – isn’t that amazing?

The ancient Egyptians and Chinese believed that they could use colour to heal– a practise called Chromotherapy – impacting the body and emotions. They used red to stimulate, yellow to purify, orange to increase energy, blue to soothe pain and illness, and indigo for skin problems (!).

There is a lot of research out there that shows how colour can affect our moods and emotions.  Being shown the colour red can cause people to react with greater speed and force – great for athletes; in clinical trials placebo pills in warmer colours were felt to be more effective by the subjects; you may have noticed more LED lights in your neighbourhood because blue hues seem to lead to less crime.

Colour in the home and at work can enhance your mood, but it really is down to your personal preference.  A quick trip to your local DIY store and you will see a huge kaleidoscope of colours for you to choose.  When my kids were young I had a red feature wall in my bedroom which I found restful at the time.  Now my kids are older, I prefer a muted blue, so your life stage can also have a huge influence on you.

As knitters and crocheters we are exposed to colour all the time.  The way it stimulates our brains can be exciting and soothing at the same time.  Combined with the feeling of the yarn passing through your fingers, following a pattern and the anticipation of your completed projects, your craft is ticking so many boxes for our personal wellbeing.

Colour is an extremely personal subject and our only advice would be to enjoy as many or as few shades as make you happy, whether you are wearing them, filling your home with them or selecting them for your next project.

As John Ruskin said: “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.”

 

Stylecraft’s Year of Wellbeing – Intergenerational Crafting

How did you learn to knit and crochet?  The chances are your mother or grandmother taught you and that gives our crafts such an important link across the generations.

Knitting can be traced back to the 4th century – the Victoria and Albert Museum have some Coptic socks from around that time. Although, in previous centuries, passing on your craft to your children or grandchildren may have been an economic necessity, today it is much more of a leisure activity; a way of spending time together as a family and an antidote to technology – don’t we all need a bit of that sometimes?

What is the best way to pass on your skills if you have children or grandchildren that are starting to show an interest in your craft?  Finding a nice, easy project is a great way to introduce a child to the textures and colours of yarn.  Everybody loves to make pom poms and, while there are lots of gadgets to make them quickly and easily, all you really need is a fork.  Wind the yarn around the tines until it is nice and fat, then tie it in the middle and snip the sides. A bit of a trim and a roll around in your hand and you have a lovely pom pom.

 

Once they have developed a feel for yarn you might like to try some finger knitting which gets them used to the idea of stitches.  We have found that kids get quite addicted to finger knitting and you could end up with many metres of their work.  No problem, just think of it as a super chunky yarn and you can make bags, cushions or even try a bit of arm knitting.  Great fun!

If you think they are ready to pick up some pins or a hook there are always lots of books in your local library with basic patterns. A simple square is a good place to start.  The key is to choose a project that they can finish quickly and feel they are achieving something.  Before long, teddy will have a new blanket.

If you want to give them the incentive to keep going while you aren’t there, you might like to borrow this lovely idea from Germany called a Wunderknäuel or magic yarn ball.  Get a handful of sweets in wrappers, little plastic toys and a ball of wool.  Start with one of the toys and start to wrap the wool around it.  When the toy is almost covered add a sweet and continue winding.  Keep going adding toys and sweets until you have used all the yarn up and have a great big ball.  The idea is that your child has to keep knitting or crocheting until one of the goodies drops out of the ball like magic.  It is a great way to build that determination and ‘just one more row’ attitude we all have.

We hope you enjoy passing on your skills to keep them alive for the next generation.

And The Results are in!

You may remember we launched and exciting colour competition for our Head over Heels yarn with an air of mystery.  Our Blogstars, inspired by the artist David Hockney, had put together the colour combinations and which colour combination belonged to which Blogstar was a closely guarded secret, locked in a vault at Stylecraft HQ.

There were two categories, melange and stripe variations, and the top 3 in each would become part of the Head over Heels range for Autumn 2018.

During March knitters and crocheters voted in their thousands to help us choose the new shades. We watched the votes come in every day – it was so exciting to see which colourways were proving popular.

 “ This competition has been such fun and lots of people were trying to guess which colours belonged to which Blogstar.  It was so difficult to keep it secret,” says Annabelle Hill our Sales and Marketing Director.

And now…drum roll…. we can unveil the winning shades and reveal which Blogstars triumphed. The new range will be called Head Over Heels All Stars.

We hope you agree that they are stunning colourways and we can’t wait to see them come to life. Here are the blogs of the winning Blogstsars:

Josie Kitten- http://theknittingexploitsofjosiekitten.blogspot.co.uk/

Cherry Heart- http://sandra-cherryheart.blogspot.co.uk/

The Twisted Yarn- https://thetwistedyarn.com/

Hand Knitted Things- http://handknittedthings.blogspot.co.uk/

Zooty Owl- http://zootyowlcards.blogspot.co.uk/

Attic 24- http://www.attic24.typepad.com/

Intergenerational Crafts by Zelna Oliver

Zelna Oliver is a Stylecraft Blogstar who blogs under the name Zooty Owl.

You can find more of her posts here.

My earliest and most vivid memories are of being engaged in some or other crafty activity with either my mom, granny, grandpa or my great granny.

Mom loved colour and flowers – we would sit for hours and colour in, cut out pictures, make collages, and look through her kaleidoscope.

My granny was a knitter, a great baker and flower gardener.

Grandpa grew vegetables and made all sorts of things for my cousin and me (beds for our dolls, a cupboard for our Barbies and mini kitchen dressers, etc)

My great gran was an expert crocheter and cake decorator.

Being engaged and included in these crafty activities from very early in life gave me a sense of purpose and belonging, and a strong character foundation to build on.    Besides the amazing skills that I learned from them, the stories and life lessons shared have provided me with a place of “wellness” (you can read more about the lessons my grandparents taught me in this blog post).

Having that place of “wellness” from which to approach life makes dealing with difficult situations much easier.

The beauty of this intergenerational interaction is that it is a two-way street. As I grew older and learned new things I was able to share that knowledge with my mom and my granny (sadly my grandpa and great granny died soon after I started high school).

When I had my children they were painting as soon as they were able to hold a brush. By the time they went to playschool their fine motor skills were already extremely well developed. Later, answering the tough questions was made much easier in that we were usually busy with some kind of crafty exercise when they arose – so the conversation was way less awkward!

My first little grandbaby is just six weeks old and I cannot wait to share my crafty knowledge with her!

‘Me Time’ by Catherine Bligh

When Stylecraft told us Blogstars that 2018 would be their year of well-being, they helpfully provided us with some suggestions about topics we might like to blog about. One of them was ‘me time’, and it struck me as ideal for me to talk about – not just because I strongly believe that we all need ‘me time’ in our lives, but also because I have an illness known as M.E., and quite frankly I couldn’t resist the word play!

‘Me time’ is time we take for ourselves. Maybe it’s a little bit every day, maybe it’s a few times a week, maybe you don’t take enough of it. It’s time we need to have in order to relax and refresh ourselves, time in which we can set aside all the demands of daily life and switch off from the world. It’s time we spend looking after ourselves so that when we pick up those demands again, we can meet them more easily.

It’s important for everyone, but when you’ve got a chronic illness, it can be even more important to carve out some space in your life to focus just on keeping yourself as mentally and emotionally robust as possible. So ‘me time’ can become an act of self-care that is an essential part of the overall picture.

Crafting is a great way of doing that. Crocheting or knitting something can bring your focus right down into a small area: your hands, your pattern, your yarn. I find it incredibly soothing to let all my other troubles fade away and just concentrate on making the stitches. Even when I’m particularly ill, I can always manage to crochet something, even just a simple granny square. The repetitive motions and counting of stitching can be a really good way to keep myself focused on resting and recuperating from bad patches. It’s very meditative, and I find it a really good way to let go of my troubles and focus on something creative and calming. The world is switched off and all I have to think about is the next stitch or few stitches.

It’s a wonderfully peaceful way to relax, and has the added bonus of producing something useful or pretty!

For more blog posts by Catherine Bligh, follow this link to her blog page- https://catherinescrochetcorner.wordpress.com/

 

 

“Me” Time

In our time-pressured world, it’s often difficult to find time for ourselves.  Whether you have a demanding job, are managing a hectic family set up, or both, life just seems to get busier and busier.  Add the pressures of social media, your tablet and your phone and you have the perfect recipe for STRESS. It’s all too easy to spend time juggling and forget about yourself and your wellbeing.

So how do you cope?

One of the most important things for your health, mental and physical, is to try and find a bit of Me time but that is not as easy as it sounds.

Why is Me time important?

Psychologists tell us that time to and for yourself can not only help you unwind but can reboot your brain, improve your concentration, help your relationships and even aid in problem solving. It doesn’t have to be about being alone (unless you want to), it is more important to do something you want to, rather than have to do.

This is where your craft is so important and beneficial. Just a row or two, losing yourself in a project, can make a huge difference to your outlook on life.  It can bring space and balance, and don’t we all need a bit of that? Taking the time to get you know yourself again by enjoying your knitting or crochet is a good thing.  Just think of all the amazing skills you have acquired and will continue to learn.

If you can, try to make your Me time a regular occurrence, maybe once the kids have gone to bed or before anyone else gets up.  Time with friends or like-minded people is another great way to relax so do try to find yourself a knitting or crochet group to join. Aren’t we lucky we have our craft to help us?

Most of all don’t feel guilty – you really aren’t being selfish by looking after yourself.

It’s All About The Colour With Stylecraft’s Second Launch Of The Season

Colour is key in our second launch for Spring Summer and we have lovely new yarns, new shades and a feast of new patterns just for you.

Linen Drape

Linen is the most beautiful fibre and perfect for Spring Summer.  Not only does it have a wonderful lustre, but the drape is very elegant.  Team it up with viscose and you have one of the most exciting yarns of the season – Linen Drape.

With a sophisticated colour palette of eight Mediterranean hues and a desirable collection of knit and crochet garment patterns, this yarn is already turning heads.

New Blankets by Blogstar Lucia Dunn

Lucia Dunn is one of our wonderful Blogstars, as you may know.  She has created two gorgeous blanket and cushion sets, especially for you.  Her monochrome design, the Hypno blanket, is very striking and her colourful Boho blanket pattern uses the interesting technique of crochet intarsia, floating the yarn through each row.

Classique Cotton

Classique Cotton is popular with crocheters and knitters alike because of its superior handle and the fantastic range of colours for you to choose from.  This season there are six new pattern leaflets to tempt, using a bright and optimistic palette in DK and 4 ply.  Our collection includes jumpers, cardigans and accessories with interesting ties, bold stripes and delicate textures and shoulder details.

Wondersoft Stardust

Wondersoft Stardust is the latest addition to the Wondersoft family in six pastel shades with an opalescent binder to give just a hint of sparkle.  There are six pattern leaflets featuring super cute jumpers cardigans, dresses and accessories – perfect for any little girl’s wardrobe.

We would love to see what you make from our latest collections so don’t forget to look out for our #CleverCrafters shout out on our Facebook page.

 

Heart, Art and Soul – By Angela Armstrong of Get Knotted Yarn Craft

It only takes a couple of seconds on Google to find a multitude of articles on Creativity and the benefits to one’s own wellbeing, but I think often we get lost in the terminology and science and we forget the major thing that is happening – IT JUST PLAIN FEELS GOOD!

Creating is scientifically proven to increase endorphin levels. Whatever aspect of it that appeals to you, whether it’s design, the joy of giving, the feeling of accomplishment when you finally finish or just five minutes a day where you aren’t thinking of the million and one things that society tells you that you should be focussing on … whatever fills your heart, make sure that you’re aware of it and try to tailor (no pun intended) your creativity towards that.

Indulging in Creativity can lower your blood pressure. Well, that sounds kind of opposite to the last paragraph, doesn’t it? I mean, you’ve got your endorphins pumping, so your heart must be racing right? Not exactly. Endorphins are your happy hormones. When your 18-month-old sticks her hands down the back of her freshly filled nappy, and shares the joy of texture with your walls, just as your frenemy rings your doorbell, and you realise that you’ve left the dinner on the stove and that the other strange smell is actually the meal that you will be scraping into the bin…. Well, let’s just say that the happy hormones aren’t exactly plentiful. But later on, you can sit in the lounge with your loved one, binge watching some absolute drivel while your hands work up a masterpiece without you even knowing.

You don’t have to be “talented” to be creative. Yep, it’s true. Think about it, how many times have you seen that line “Dance like nobody is watching”. What it really means is, don’t think about it, just do it! Don’t worry about whether it’s going to win you praise, or the Nobel peace prize. Just make something. People ask me how I got started as a designer. They always laugh when I tell them it was by accident, but that is the truth, I’m not being humble. I wanted to make a blanket for my nephew, and I wanted a solid square with no holes in the corners. So, I fiddled with stitches for three hours, trying to get those perfect “snap to” corners in a medium that is flexible. I had to keep cutting off lengths and chucking it out because the darn stuff got frogged so many times that it was shredded! But, that was my first pattern, because people asked me how I achieved it. Then I had an idea for a sheep square for a baby blanket, but first I needed a solid square that started with circles. So, there were patterns two and three (with a lot more discarded yarn). I don’t see myself as talented, just monumentally stubborn.

But the feeling I get, when I click that “publish now” button on Ravelry – it’s priceless!

So go on, give it a go, get knitting, get knotting, get creative like nobody is watching!

xx

For more blogs by Angela Armstrong, follow this link to her blog page- https://getknottedyarncraft.blogspot.co.uk/

On Creativity and Tortoises

Definition of creativity

the use of imagination or original ideas to create something;

“Being creative is what sets us humans apart.  It is the wellspring of wellness”, according to Betsan Corkhill in her book Knit for Health and Wellness.  This rich source to enhance our wellbeing is something that knitters and crocheters tap in to almost instinctively and without even realizing how they are benefiting their brain.

Have you ever wondered how some people are always brimful of ideas? The most creative people find ways around problems because they see them as opportunities and because they are ready to fail and learn.  But this isn’t something that you can necessarily train yourself to do, but rather something that we have forgotten.

So what goes on in your brain when you tap into your boundless creativity? Scientists know physically what happens in a brain when it generates ideas, but they have yet to come up with a way to train people to be creative.  A psychologist in the 1970s called Donald MacKinnon wrote that: “Most creative people get into a mood to allow creativity to function.” He suggests that creative people retain an ability to play and a childlike enjoyment in things.

Maslow, he of the Hierarchy of Needs, defined a link between psychological health and ordinary creativity, between cheerfulness and openness.  So it seems if we can get in touch with our inner child we can all be more creative.

As Pablo Picasso said; “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  If you think of a group of young children happily painting or making something in the classroom.  They are all being creative in their own way, making decisions about colours and textures.  They are also problem solving which is something we all need in our everyday lives.  As we get older life gets in the way, we get scared of making mistakes, and the danger is we lose the ability, or opportunity, to be creative.  This is why taking part in craft is such a boon to us.

You don’t have to be able to design a pattern to be creative with your craft.  Simply choosing a pattern, the colours you want to use and anticipating the enjoyment you will experience are all highly creative processes.

My favourite theory is by comedian John Cleese.  He says that creativity is like a shy tortoise, tentatively sticking its head out to make sure it’s safe. Cleese suggests we all try to create a safe environment against the craziness of modern life – that’s what our craft can bring us.  A safe haven where we can be meditative, relax and allow our brains to unwind, be flexible and open to whatever life has to throw at us.

Blogstars Meet-up

Early February usually means we have some very special guests visiting our Yorkshire mill.

There is a buzz around the office as though royalty are on their way. On February 3rd we had our highly anticipated Blogstar meet-up.

This is where all of our Blogstars come and join us for a chat, lunch and usually a little workshop to feed their creativity.

The activities start on the Friday before when some of the bloggers arrive and we go on a visit to somewhere crafty. This time we visited The University of Huddersfield’s Textiles Department. Well known for its fantastic textile courses, we thought it would be the perfect place to take a bunch of textile loving bloggers. Two students called Liam & Echo showed us around where we saw samples, swatches, fabrics, machinery and yarn!

It was brilliant to see the inner workings of the department. They have around nine different courses from Textile Crafts and Art to International Fashion Buying Management. It was safe to say the Blogstars enjoyed their visit, apart from when the fire alarm went off and they had to stand outside!

That evening, the Blogstars all met for a meal where much eating, drinking and crafting was to be had followed by a good night’s sleep ready for an early start on the Saturday.

We all met at the mill for around 10am. Within seconds, the yarn from the Blogstars goodie bags was out and the mill went from being very quiet to being a hive of activity.

What’s this? There’s a new Blogstar sat at our table! Meet Helen Shrimpton, with a wealth of super crocheted blankets, motifs and knowledge, she is a great addition to the team.

We all said ‘hi!’ to our overseas Blogstars who were attending the meeting via Skype. We had Anne Schueler, Julia Marsh, Michelle Westlund, Polly Plum, Zelna Olivier and Angela Armstrong.

We began with a general chit-chat and a feedback session followed by the very exciting Spring/ Summer collection and new releases (shhh, top secret!) This always creates a buzz in the air as you can almost see the Blogstars conjuring up ideas of what to make with the new yarn! We discussed new competitions, giveaways (watch this space) and magazine articles, so keep a lookout for a Blogstar popping up on paper.

We got to meet Sandra of Cherry Heart’s Forget me Not Dots Blanket in person <3

Then we moved on to what some people see as the best meal of the day… lunch. We mainly like lunch as it gives us a chance to drink lots of tea or coffee, play with yarn and chat about yarn! Not to mention the lovely food and cake… yes! Cake.

With all the important things out of the way, it was time to move onto our relaxing Dorset Buttons workshop run by Juliet Bernard.

This was not too taxing with brilliant results.

The charm is that it isn’t very difficult to master. This is a great technique for making buttons to match your knitted or crocheted garment if you can’t find the perfect button. You can use matching yarn! Perfect.

It was then time to say goodbye, until the next time, Blogstars!

From left to right we have Emma Varnam, Sarah Shrimpton, Phil Saul, Helen Kurtz, Lucy Attic, Sandra Paul, Kathryn Senior, Helen Shrimpton, Lucia Dunn & Heather Leal.

Unfortunately, Jane Crowfoot, Catherine Bligh & Julia Marsh could not attend, but we hope to see them next time. We would also love to meet our overseas Blogstars in person one day too.

To find out more about our Blogstars, follow this link to their profile-  https://stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/blog/designers/