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/

 

First New launch of the Year!

Welcome to 2018.  It looks like it’s going to be an exciting year at Stylecraft so we thought we would kick off with a quick look at the first of our launches for the spring summer season.  It may still be chilly and gloomy outside but we hope our new yarns will give you a taste of the warmer, sunnier days ahead.

Bambino

Bambino is a lovely new yarn for babies in a sophisticated, yet muted palette of eight gorgeous colours. The yarn is beautifully smooth and comfy for baby, is anti-pilling and of course machine washable, so super practical. There are 9 knitting patterns for jumpers, cardigans and accessories as well as some super-cute dungarees.

 Head Over Heels Boho

Head Over Heels was a big hit with knitters and crocheters last year and we have really enjoyed seeing all your projects across social media.  This season we are launching a completely new range called Boho, which features a monochrome faux Fair Isle strip in among the yarn’s characteristically fun colour stripes.  The 6 new yarns, all named after famous rivers, are supported by three free patterns – a lovely shawl, a baby jumper and a new sock design by Stylecraft Blogstar Josie Kitten, which you can get hold of from your local yarn shop.

Jeanie

Jeanie also launched last year with a range of traditional denim shades that proved very popular.  For 2018 we have extended this aran weight yarn’s palette to include four muted pastels to complement the existing range. The problem we are having is which lovely new colour to try first in one of the 6 knitting patterns for ladies we have designed – easy-to-wear garments that are sure to suit any wardrobe, with gorgeous textures including cables and lace.