Posts tagged [nurturing fibres]


  • Blog 3: I had a dry January

    Like many of us, I completely overdid it in December – I went from famine to feast because I could. I had the time, I was relaxed, and I was in the zone to completely over doing it.

    But it wasn’t a food and drink feast!

    No! It was a crocheting feast.

    crochet blocks 1

    In the space of five days, I crocheted 3 octopuses, 12 squares for my blanket and taught myself to do the star stitch. I was an addict. I could truly say “Hi my name is Briony and I am a crochet addict”. Crocheting had gone from being a meditative and soothing experience to being a somewhat frantic affair.

    crochet star stitch

    My addiction was hurting me – my hands were aching, my fingers went tingly and numb, my left wrist stiffened up, my elbow hurt and we won’t even talk about my shoulders and neck that were pretty much locked.  At some point holding my crochet work became impossible. But worse than that, I was struggling to hold a knife, pick up anything heavier than a mug, or make a fist.

    Yup, you guessed it… repetitive strain injury (and a flare-up of arthritis). (I hate that word – I am too young to be using that word!!).

    So January has been a dry month for me. I packed away my crochet projects and for a month my hands have rested. Sadly they spent most of January picking up food because they weren’t busy all the time… so February is now the reverse of January. My crochet work is back in hand, and I am having a carb-free February!

    When I chatted with Helène and did a little research on repetitive strain injuries, it became clear to me that most crocheters go through this at some point.

    So here is some wise advice from Helène and other crocheters on the internet:

    • Concentrate on your grip.  Whether it’s a knife grip or a pencil grip make sure that you place little to no pressure on your thumb. 
    • Invest in a soft grip hook (I already have one). Helène recommends investing in an ergonomic hook like the Ilaja Hook handmade by LJ Craft Creations.
    • Change your grip. Helène says that a few years ago she forced herself from a pencil grip to a knife grip because of sore hands.  Find a way that suits you.
    • Rest, stretch and focus on posture. Regular intervals of hand, arm, and shoulder stretching are very important (definitely something that I neglect, but have started being a lot more conscientious about).  The Crochet Project goes as far as recommending stretching every 20 minutes and even doing light weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your “crochet” muscles!
    • Try massaging Hilda Steyn’s specially formulated sore hand's remedy on to your hands, arms, and sometimes you can buy directly from Yarn at ZelLé. (Check out Hilda's patterns as well – I think her Wacky Weave Squares CAL might just be a project in my future!!)
    • The opposite of repetition is variety. Try having a number of different projects on the go to introduce variety in hook sizes, yarn types, tension, and figure out for yourself what types of projects are least straining for you.
    • Stop! If all else fails just stop crocheting for a while. If crocheting is causing fear rather than fun, then it’s time to stop. Read Sally Strawberry's blog for another account on RSI.

    After a month of no crocheting, my hands are all better and I am back to doing a bit of crocheting here and there when I have a half hour or so. My blanket may take longer to complete than I had hoped but rather than, than hands that don’t function.

    Have you ever had a repetitive strain injury?

    crochet blocks 2

     Briony Parsons (Liber) is the owner and founder at Briony Liber Coaching (www.brionyliber.com).  She provides coaching to young professionals that want to explore and develop their behavioral competencies and broader personal and interpersonal business skills, to complement and support their technical capabilities.

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  • Blog 1: My first 30 days of crocheting

    Special note:  Briony started her crochet journey with our Hook Holder Starter Pack and Denim Marigold Zipper Pouch.  These products can be purchased from our online store.

    I have always wanted to learn to crochet. My gran taught me to knit and that was easy enough, but what my gran did with a crochet hook was just a complete mystery to me. That hooked moved like lightening, and the concept of making anything with one hook as opposed to two needles just made no sense to me.

    Earlier this year I was cleaning out the remnants of my late moms kist and found about 30 crochet hooks in all sizes and at least 40 pairs of knitting needles. I have a million unfinished projects and the look on my husband’s face was a gentle reminder to me that taking on another project might be ludicrous in a year when I was building my business. And so the majority of those hooks and needles made their way to charities and I am pretty sure are being used lovingly to create all manner of woolly goodies.

    Despite having given away all those hooks, I got sucked into the world of Amigurumi and crochet projects on Pinterest and have spent the year wanting to make tiny stuffed yarn creatures.

    So a couple weeks ago when Brilliantmommy held a beginner’s crochet workshop, I went along secretly hoping to master the granny square and hop straight on to making an amigurumi mouse within a week or two (I wonder if Crafter Granny would appreciate a mouse in her house?).

    Well I am a looooong way from making anything Amigurumi (so no need to worry Crafter Granny).

    In the workshop I learned to make something resembling a basic granny square. I also learned to unravel everything and remake it a few times before I finally got the hang of it. That morning was like learning a new language – ch3, sl st, sc, 2dc, hdc, tr, …… what??

    Nothing made sense to me. I must have unraveled my work at least three or four times that morning. But Helène patiently guided me through the stitches and under her wonderful guidance I got the hang of it.

    Helène teaching classHelène teaching class

    Everyone else walked away from the morning with what looked to me like perfectly tensioned granny squares – mine looked more like a wonky lacy doily.

    I might have given up there and then, but I have such fond memories of the granny blankets that my gran made for my brother and me. I wanted to make my own blanket.

    So every morning for three days after the workshop I sat for an hour or so practicing my crocheting, watching Youtube videos of beginner crocheting (I particularly am enjoying Melanie Ham’s https://youtu.be/w_B3YJHMgzM crochet channel) and slowly but surely getting to a point where I had what I considered to be the perfect granny square.

    Part of granny square

    full granny square

    While I was perfecting my granny square, I was bombarding Helène with photos of my progress which included the little heart I learned to make while following Crochet Lover’s Youtube  video https://youtu.be/cHqOBv5Wpos

    crochet heart

    After three days I ran out of wool. I also found myself bored with the colour I was using. But what was worse, were the appeals from my husband not to cover our house in crocheted doilies. (I am a bit tempted now to crochet one for the back of his chair just to freak him out LOL).

    But I agreed that if I was going to crochet then I better find some modern crochet patterns for my granny blanket. And the one I found is this one from Purl Soho  - how gorgeous is this!!! https://www.purlsoho.com/create/2012/11/15/whits-knits-bears-rainbow-blanket/

    I have decided to use a mix of colours from the Nurturing Fibres Eco-cotton range https://nurturingfibres.com/yarn/eco-cotton/. I am aiming to make a king size blanket…. (hopefully by winter next year). I suspect I have no idea what I am taking on but watch my journey with this and other projects over the next year and find out.

    I am now three squares in, despite having crocheted 7 squares (and that tale of unravelry (or frogging) will be the subject of my next blog).

    I am thrilled to be a “new hooker” ambassador for Brilliantmommy. My Brilliantmommy Soft Grip Hook Holder and Marigold Zipper Pouch are helping to keep my work organized and my tools at the ready.

    Brilliantmommy Hook Holder

    Brilliantmommy Marigold Zipper Pouch

     * Briony Parsons (Liber) is the owner and founder at Briony Liber Coaching (www.brionyliber.com).  She provides coaching to young professionals that want to explore and develop their behavioral competencies and broader personal and interpersonal business skills, to complement and support their technical capabilities.

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  • Q&A with the designer - Bren Grobler (session 2 of 3)

    Not only did I finish the crochet top in the Your Family Magazine of February 2018 in Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion Seashell, I have been wearing it!  The colour suits my skin tone and the cotton/bamboo mix is light and soft and such a pleasure to wear.

    Last time we spoke I was telling you about the great time Bren Grobler, the talented SA designer of this crochet top, and I had during the interview she so graciously granted me.  If you weren't here you better read it before reading the rest or you'll not know what I'm on about!  Now, where were we?  O, yes.

    Set the scene:  cue the instrumental music in the background, glasses are clinking against each other in the distance, Bren and I sitting at a table in a quaint restaurant overlooking the sea and the waiter brings our wine order...

    Me:  It is evident from many crochet- and knitting-related gatherings that most crafters are very jovial and welcoming.  It’s almost as if you are by default part of the club when you can crochet or knit.  Does that resonate with you too?

    Bren:  It certainly does. I don’t really do the social crochet gathering thing, but have made many friends in the design and yarn industry. What amazes me time and time again, is when we meet for the first time. It is almost as if we’ve know each other for a long time (in person). There is this common thread that binds us together.

    Me:  On crochet-related Facebook groups it is astounding to see how many crafters truly detest the copyright law on patterns.  It is very obvious that they dislike intensely the fact that a copyrighted pattern may not be shared freely.  Why do you think some crafters feel so entitled and regard themselves ‘above the law’?

    Bren:  Years ago, patterns were only available in print (magazines, books, leaflets). Crafters would photocopy and share these amongst each other. Now, with everything happening on social media, they (especially the older generation) want to continue doing it. They literally don’t understand the ramifications of a shared document on social media and how intensely fast it can spread. A lot of education still needs to happen. I also think, because most people crochet or knit for a hobby, they don’t grasp the concept that designers do it for income, so they literally don’t understand the damage they’re doing. It just breaks my heart that people are ok with buying expensive yarn, but aren’t prepared to pay a decent amount for a pattern. It is an ongoing struggle, but I have decided to not let it affect me anymore. If someone want to steal my work, they must have at it. I firmly believe in Karma. What you give out in the world, will come back to you. Steal from me today and tomorrow you too, might lose something dear to you.

    Me:  On some Facebook groups the penalty for not adhering to pattern copyright law is to ban that individual from the group.  It almost feels as if the banning of the individual just makes some more determined to continue the infringement practice by joining secret Facebook groups where patterns are shared illegally.  Do you believe there is a another way to ‘rehabilitate’ these ‘offenders’?

    Bren:  Banning people won’t change a thing. These offenders simply join other illegal pattern sharing groups. We need to continuously educate, educate, educate. And it doesn’t help when the admin of a group leaves a rude, obnoxious message. As painful as it is to continuously having to repeat yourself, rather educate. You might convert someone from a pattern thief to a copyright protector.

    I stop the recorder here. Bren and I feel like a decadent and gooey dark chocolate baked dessert with thick whipped cream and a splash of strong hot coffee over it.  We call the waiter over.  Surprisingly he hasn't bothered us once during our conversation.  Even more surprisingly they have exactly what we want on the menu.  While he scurried off to prepare our order I switch the recorder back on...  

    Make sure to subscribe to get the third and final installment straight to your inbox where Bren shares her tips for the Mompreneur / Solopreneur who crochet for an income.  

    Cheers!

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

     

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  • Q&A with the designer - Bren Grobler (session 1 of 3)

    Done, done and done!  I'm elated with the outcome of the crochet top that I made over the last few weeks!  And I'm not just saying that because the designer and I spent a lovely morning in a beautiful coffee shop at the seaside with the waves crashing to shore and laughing at my incredibly funny and witty conversation with our own handmade shawls cascading from our shoulders...  Insert a bucket-load of eye-rolling GIFs here and read on.

     Brilliantmommy Bren Grobler crochet top Your Family Mag

    Maybe Bren Grobler sat at the beach while she answered my questions on email but I certainly was not!  The gifted and accomplished designer of the cover crochet top from the Your Family Magazine of February 2018 (that I'm showing off in the pic above) took the time to answer a lot of my questions that I had about the crochet industry.  In this first session of three she shares what characteristic your handmade garment lacks that makes it look old-fashioned rather than on-trend.

    In sessions two and three Bren shares her view on pattern copyright infringement and her tips for Mompreneurs / Solopreneurs who crochet for income.   Don't miss it and get it straight to your inbox every Wednesday by clicking here: Brilliantmommy email.

    Set the scene:  Bren and I (wearing the top I made from her pattern with full smokey eye makeup and hair sprayed to a stiff yet modern style) are sitting at the seaside coffee shop, cue the waves crashing sound in the background, Bren laughs at my funny joke...  and go:

    Me:  Recently you’ve been appointed as the Brand Ambassador and Head Designer at Nurturing Fibres – a natural fibre yarn brand.  During your pattern designing career, was it ever a title that you aspired to or worked towards?

    Bren:  To be quite honest, that wasn’t even something I ever gave a thought to. I always thought I’d end up as a rep for a yarn company!

    Me:  Now that you hold the title, has it in any way influenced your designing process?  Do you perhaps now feel obligated to design patterns where in the past you may have designed something new when a pattern developed in your thoughts?

    Bren: It hasn’t influenced my designing process at all. Carlé is a terrific boss and I’m very fortunate to work for her. She gives me tons of leeway to do my own thing, in the yarn I like and my preferred colours. So yes, the yarns continue to talk to me and tell me what they want to become. As with any job, though, there will always be the ‘must-do’s’ so from time to time she would ask me to design a specific item. I don’t mind at all though, because our aesthetic in terms of colour and design is very much aligned.

    Me:  Most of the designs in your Ravelry store are for ladies clothing.  In your opinion, what design characteristic in a handmade garment – specifically such a historic craft as crochet – transforms it from old-fashioned to on-trend.

    Bren: Simplicity. Older garment patterns were very bright (lots of colours) and had either intricate patterns with severe set-in sleeves or were very boxy in design. Using classic, softer colours and softening the lines transforms clothing garments from a 1970’s vibe to something modern women (and teenagers!) want to wear.

    I switch off the recorder, Bren shares something off the record with me whereby I nod appreciatively and say something like "I understand, I can so relate...", we signal the waiter to bring our wine order and I switch the recorder back on... and go.

    Make sure to subscribe to hear what Bren said next about that dreaded words gauge swatch.  O no!  Sorry!  The other dreaded words!  Copyright infringement.  Insert Law and Order dun-dun sound here.

    Cheers!

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

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  • I played yarn chicken and won... sort of

    I've gotten into some type of routine where I leave my crochet for a Sunday.  Sunday's are family days in our house where we go to church and when we return my daughter and I bake something for tea.  Once that's done and I've put lunch in the oven I can sit down and crochet and social with the family.  I have to on purpose walk past my sewing room / laptop / facebook page etc.  This past Sunday was no different.

    Rewind back to Thursday before I go on.  I was able to release the first glimpses of the craft bag collection for March '18.  Every month I prepare a new collection to feature for the next month.  It keeps Brilliantmommy fresh and creates a new challenge for me.  I was also able to open a Facebook shop on the Brilliantmommy Facebook page!  I've had so many requests from fellow crafters that wanted to buy directly from me that it would've been cruel to not do it at some stage.  So, in addition to shopping at the finest yarn shops in SA you can also view and purchase some of the Brilliantmommy products directly from Brilliantmommy hq.

    Fast forward to Sunday.  I enjoyed a wonderful game of yarn chicken with the alluring Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion until 11pm that night!  I literally had scrap pieces of yarn that I knotted together to finish the last row.  And when I showed it to a friend the next day she had some of the same yarn in her bag and let me roll some of it down to sew up the side seams!  *insert face palm emoji here*.  But it's done!

    Next week I'll show you how it looks when washed and blocked.  I also hope to have made a matching skirt.

    Cheers!

    x Helène

     

     

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  • How much is that gauge swatch in the window? (woof! woof!)

    How much is that gauge swatch in the window?

    The one that's perfectly made

    How much is that gauge swatch in the window?

    I do hope that gauge swatch's for sale

    I hate hate hate hate hate hate doing gauge swatches.  *insert some childish foot-stamping .gif here*  It feels like such a waste of time.  You start something and the object of it is to frog it and redo it until it's perfect.

    Why does it feel like such a grudge job?  I'll tell you why.  Instant gratification.  A gauge swatch is where instant gratification goes to die.  When you're done with a gauge swatch it serves no purpose other than to congratulate you that you successfully copied the pattern designer by figuring out how to get a block the same size and shape with your own choice of yarn and hook size.  I've read about some crafters collecting all their gauge swatches and eventually making a wonderful and colourful textured blanket with it.  Really? 

    That was the old me.  I've been converted and am now a proud member of the we-are-serious-about-our-garments club.  I will proudly hold up my gauge swatches for the world to see.  I will collect them in a special craft bag for show-and-tell gatherings.

    Imagine:

    "This gauge swatch I redid 6 times to get it absolutely perfect..."  (proud smiley face)

    "Oh, and this gauge swatch required me to wait until the weekend so I could go to 4 shops to look for a very elusive hook number..."  (very determined look on face)

    My gauge swatch for the cover top of the Your Family February 2018 edition screamed that I'm going to need more yarn to get the required length.  Did I listen?  Of course not.  Another trip to the yarn shop for me.

    x Helène

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  • Go, go, go... frog

    My mom taught me most of what I know today about sewing.  But there is one thing that her mom taught me that still ring in my ears today:  "Nee, mens knoei nie.  Trek los."  No, don't fudge it.  Unpick it.  It would annoy me greatly!  Now, how many years later, I don't mind to unpick because I've learned the value of having a completed project that you can be proud of.  I also don't mind to frog a crochet project.  And boy, did I frog this project - multiple times!  Here's why.  (insert the Law and Order dun-dun sound here)

    Firstly, it's my first real garment-from-a-pattern on the hook.  I feel uncomfortable with taking my own measurements.  Don't laugh.  I do.  I'd rather go to a store and fit tops from the largest size downwards and see how low I can go until it gets stuck going over the twins or until I have to pull in the tube to a point where I can't breathe normally.  I've now forced myself to look at my measurements - albeit in a scientific manner - and figure out where I fit in.  Get it?  "Figure out" and "fit in"?

    Secondly, I up-sized the garment.  I took my measurements and immediately went to the larger sizing.  Why.  Don't answer me, it's intended as a rhetorical question because of, you know, point number one above.  Once I've crocheted a few rows on both panels I fitted it around my waist (which coincidentally is the exact same measurement as my chest...) and realised the top is way too big.  After much deliberation (a few tears might or might not have been involved) I frogged the project back to the second row and started on the smaller size.  The chainless foundation row will be frogged to the correct size when I feel up to it.  P.S. my standing double crochet stitches look like a perfect Pinterest pin!                          

    Thirdly, kids, kid-friendly activities, mealtimes, laundry, dog and husband (although not so much as the aforementioned).  Interruptions can wreak havoc on your newly started project.  Girlfriend (or boyfriend - this is a no-discrimination zone)!  I should have done a bloopers real.  And as luck would have it you'll only realise you made a silly mistake when you are one or two rows on.  So... you frog!

    Amidst all of the frogging I'm still cautiously optimistic with the outcome of this project.  The yarn is glorious, the pattern is comfortable and my craft bag makes me happy!

    Catch you on the flip side.

    x Helène

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    In all the 20 years that I have been crocheting I've never made a proper crochet garment for myself.  I've always been too scared that after I've put in so much effort the garment will not fit me.  Although I have a healthy body image I know that I am on the - let's call it - voluptuous side.  Thank goodness that I have large bust otherwise my large tummy would have been the focal point.  Now it's the large bust that are the focal point!  Then, I have a high waist.  So, in essence, I'm a typical apple shape and the apple gets juicier and juicier over time.  

    Clothes shopping is such a headache for me.  I never feel comfortable in form fitting clothes.  I want something that's loose over my muffin top but it mustn't make me look pregnant.  I want a blouse that can button over my bust but the shoulders should still fit like they're supposed to.  Aaaah, the joys.

    What drew my attention to the top design on the cover of the Your Family mag of February 2018 was the symmetry and simplicity of the design.  It's loose fitting in all the right places without looking like a flour bag.  And surely when I wear it I will look exactly like Reinette Potgieter who is the beautiful (and skinny) model wearing it.  Right?!  Right.

    Off I went to Surene at Yarn at ZelLé in Centurion to pick up my 6 balls of Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion in Seashell (like the pattern suggests).  The yarn looks absolutely magnificent.  The 50% Bamboo Viscose and 50% Cotton blend is silky soft.  The bamboo strand weaved with the cotton strand gives it such a luscious shine.

    At home I, of course, had to find a craft bag for my latest project!  The Dark Chocolate colourway of the Brilliantmommy Valentine's Collection matches perfectly with the soft pink yarn.  Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    Brilliantmommy Craft Bag Valentine's Collection

    Because I'm so hesitant to crochet a garment I thought I'd be a good hooker and really, like in really, do a gauge swatch.  I was very relieved to have figured out in the end that I can continue my project with my brand new 4mm Clover Amour hook that I bought from Be Inspired.  It would have been a travesty if I had to use my aluminium hook which - to me - is so last year...

    When you hear from me again I would hopefully have started on my front panel!

    x Helène

     

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