It’s going to be an exciting Autumn Winter season from Stylecraft

It may seem odd to be talking about yarns for the colder months when we are in the middle of summer, but yarn companies traditionally start to launch their new yarns towards the end of June, so that you can complete your pattern before the weather turns chilly

We have some exciting new yarns that will be in your yarn shop very soon, so we thought we would showcase some of them for you.

We are introducing a new member to the Life family, called Life Changes. Available in 8 rich, semi-solid shades, Life Changes is supported by 7 pattern leaflets including 3 for ladies, 3 for girls and 1 featuring accessories. The designs are simple yet stylish, with subtle dashes of texture to really bring out the beauty of this yarn. 

Life DK is a very popular yarn across a whole range of projects from garments to accessories and designs for the home. This season there are 5 new, deeply rich shades to enhance the existing palette, with 7 pattern leaflets for ladies and girls.  These classic designs are embellished with tipping and stripes, as well as textures and cables.  Perfect for any winter wardrobe.

What could be nicer than chunky cables for the chilly months ahead? We are launching 3 subtle new shades in Special Aran with Wool featured in 4 new designs, which showcase garments and accessories. So, whether you are planning long walks in the country or want an on-trend garment for everyday wear, Stylecraft has an option for you. These patterns for 400g balls are cleverly designed with matching accessories to use up leftover yarn.

Finally, we have an exciting exclusive for you. The delightful Sandra Paul, one of the Stylecraft Blogstars, who writes under the name Cherry Heart, has created a blanket and cushion combo using one of our most successful semi-solid yarns – Batik.  The crochet pattern features the kind of colours that Sandra is so fond of, put together in her own unique way.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our social media for more launches in the coming weeks.

Teaching and Sharing

Passing on skills is a vital part of the history of knitting and crochet. Without parents, grandparents and other family members passing on their skills, our crafts would quite simply have died out.

Today we pass on our skills in so many different ways, not just to our kids, but to work colleagues, friends and even the public at events throughout the country.

Teaching others can bring such a huge sense of satisfaction. To see someone who has struggled with a knit stitch complete a whole row makes us want to whoop. Being sent a picture of a crocheted blanket from someone who may have only just taken up the craft is a very proud moment for any teacher.

So, we turned to our Stylecraft friends to ask them about their experience of passing on skills and wanted to share their experiences with you.

“I taught my friend to crochet and now we have a girlie crochet night each week, and then we joined a group of knitters and crocheters and we are making a huge Poppy display for this year’s centenary of the end of the First World War, and we both then taught some ladies to crochet in the group and now crochet is part of their lives.”

“I run three crochet, knitting and yarn craft social groups in three towns close to where I live with help from my other half and my best friend. We offer a supportive, friendly environment and have met some wonderful people over the last 12 months. Part of what we do is encourage people to share their knowledge and skills.”

“I started to bring my projects (either knitting or crocheting) to work to make them at lunchtime. Few colleagues joined me – they were intimidated to bring theirs to work… I am a self-taught crafter and I don’t hold back to try a pattern or different techniques. I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the project.
Given that, I became the “go-to” person among our group (of 10 co-workers) for any project. I help them to read pattern and diagrams and to find where they missed and how to correct.”

“I spread the word and share the links to websites or FB groups to the crafters’ community. This is my way of giving back – my grandmother initiated me to crochet when I was seven, it’s a healthy way to get your stress level down.”

“I started my friend off on crochet. She was a better student than I am teacher. She now knits as well as crochets but I just can’t get the hang of knitting. I’m hoping to be able to help a couple of other people pick up crochet too after they’ve shown an interest, just hard to find the time we’re all free to do so.”

“I taught all four of my children to knit, crochet and sew. One is now a tailor and still knits and crochets, one crochets, one knits and my son didn’t take to either. I now teach crochet twice a week and am on the verge of going self-employed to teach crochet, knitting, sewing and multiple other crafts. I find my classes become like a mental health group too. Many of my students live alone or have stressful jobs so treasure their two-hour class to help them touch base and unwind and socialise.

“I belong to a mixed craft group. We meet every Wednesday and swap skills by running workshops to show fellow members our favourite techniques. I’ve taught fair isle knitting, crochet baskets, advanced crochet squares, to name but a few ……. and of course, learned loads of new skills too.”
Passing on skills is a vital part of the history of knitting and crochet. Without parents, grandparents and other family members passing on their skills, our crafts would quite simply have died out.

Today we pass on our skills in so many different ways, not just to our kids, but to work colleagues, friends and even the public at events throughout the country.

Teaching others can bring such a huge sense of satisfaction. To see someone who has struggled with a knit stitch complete a whole row makes us want to whoop. Being sent a picture of a crocheted blanket from someone who may have only just taken up the craft is a very proud moment for any teacher.

So, we turned to our Stylecraft friends to ask them about their experience of passing on skills and wanted to share their experiences with you.

“I taught my friend to crochet and now we have a girlie crochet night each week, and then we joined a group of knitters and crocheters and we are making a huge Poppy display for this year’s centenary of the end of the First World War, and we both then taught some ladies to crochet in the group and now crochet is part of their lives.”
“I run three crochet, knitting and yarn craft social groups in three towns close to where I live with help from my other half and my best friend. We offer a supportive, friendly environment and have met some wonderful people over the last 12 months. Part of what we do is encourage people to share their knowledge and skills.”

“I started to bring my projects (either knitting or crocheting) to work to make them at lunchtime. Few colleagues joined me – they were intimidated to bring theirs to work… I am a self-taught crafter and I don’t hold back to try a pattern or different techniques. I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the project.
Given that, I became the “go-to” person among our group (of 10 co-workers) for any project. I help them to read pattern and diagrams and to find where they missed and how to correct.”

“I spread the word and share the links to websites or FB groups to the crafters’ community. This is my way of giving back – my grandmother initiated me to crochet when I was seven, it’s a healthy way to get your stress level down.”

“I started my friend off on crochet. She was a better student than I am teacher. She now knits as well as crochets but I just can’t get the hang of knitting. I’m hoping to be able to help a couple of other people pick up crochet too after they’ve shown an interest, just hard to find the time we’re all free to do so.”

“I taught all four of my children to knit, crochet and sew. One is now a tailor and still knits and crochets, one crochets, one knits and my son didn’t take to either. I now teach crochet twice a week and am on the verge of going self-employed to teach crochet, knitting, sewing and multiple other crafts. I find my classes become like a mental health group too. Many of my students live alone or have stressful jobs so treasure their two-hour class to help them touch base and unwind and socialise.

“I belong to a mixed craft group. We meet every Wednesday and swap skills by running workshops to show fellow members our favourite techniques. I’ve taught fair isle knitting, crochet baskets, advanced crochet squares, to name but a few ……. and of course, learned loads of new skills too.”

“My daughter has problems with depression and I taught her to knit and crochet. She’s still learning but loves it and says it does help.”

“I have taught people at work to crochet and knit so they can make squares. We have a bit of a tradition for making patchwork baby blankets for expecting colleagues and staff always like to learn so they can join in.”

“I’m part of a prayer shawl ministry. We make shawls and prayer cloths for people going through a difficult time, and we welcome and help new knitters and crocheters.”

“I teach people both knitting and crochet at my volunteer workplace, a wellbeing/substance abuse counselling centre.”

“My daughter has problems with depression and I taught her to knit and crochet. She’s still learning but loves it and says it does help.”

“I have taught people at work to crochet and knit so they can make squares. We have a bit of a tradition for making patchwork baby blankets for expecting colleagues and staff always like to learn so they can join in.”

“I’m part of a prayer shawl ministry. We make shawls and prayer cloths for people going through a difficult time, and we welcome and help new knitters and crocheters.”

“I teach people both knitting and crochet at my volunteer workplace, a wellbeing/substance abuse counselling centre.”

Year of Wellbeing – Crafternoon

We are all becoming more and more aware of the health benefits of knitting and crochet, celebrated in our Year of Wellbeing, but did you know that one charity, in particular, has put craft at the heart of its fundraising.

Mind is the charity for mental health which believes that no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Their successful Crafternoon campaign has been raising funds for the charity for a number of years, and the idea is a simple one.  All you have to do is organise a date, time and place invite a few friends, family or colleagues to come along, spend time together getting crafty and raise some money for Mind.

If you haven’t come across this charity before, Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding, and more people have access to advise and support thanks to their amazing information and services nationally and locally, in England and Wales. The charity was established 60 years ago and currently helps more than 500,000 people each year.  They have a fantastic amount of high profile support from their president, Stephen Fry, and a group of ambassadors including Frankie from The Saturdays, Ruby Wax, Fearne Cotton, Denise Welch and Beverly Collard from Coronation Street, all of whom speak very eloquently about their own problems with mental health.

What could be more fun than using your craft skills to support their work? Mind have lots of resources to help you once you sign up for your fundraising pack, including a planning guide, craft templates and ideas, and a network of like-minded crafters via their private Facebook community.

On 18th June Mind will be kicking off its summer campaign so there will be even more materials and ideas for you to hold your own Crafternoon event including paper craft lanterns and a special Happy Jar designed by Emily Coxhead from The Happy Newspaper.

We are planning our own event and the moment.  As well as yarn, needles and hooks there will definitely be cake and lots of fun.

Heel Post

We love to knit socks, which is why we brought out our own sock yarn – Head Over Heels – just over a year ago.

There are so many decisions to be made when you embark on a pair of socks.  Will you knit it top down or toe up? What kind of pattern brings out the beauty of the yarn?  What kind of toe do you prefer?

When it comes to heels there are lots of different options.

The most popular is the French heel which has a flap.  Sometimes knitters get a bit flummoxed by turning this heel to achieve the shaping but this heel is really very straightforward and the slip stitch on the flap makes it nice and durable.

In parts of Europe, you might see this one called the strong heel or even the Dutch heel.  It is particularly good for people with a high arch and allows you to carry on your patterning across the heel.  The technique involves increasing on every other row before turning your heel and returning to the foot tube.

The after-thought heel is very useful if you are knitting socks for someone that often wears through their heels.  You knit the tube and work in a piece of scrap yarn to mark the position of the heel.  When you have completed the sock, you go back to the heel, pick up the stitches around the scrap yarn and work the heel in the same way as a basic toe, grafting to finish it off.  Some people prefer this method because there is no turning involved.  If the heel wears out, you can simply unravel it and knit a new heel.

There are lots of videos on YouTube that will give you more information about how to work all of these heels.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the new Head Over Heels Allstars – a collection of colour combinations from our very own Blogstars as voted for by you – which launched at the beginning of September.

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.