Friday, 28 February 2014

Crochet; the complete step by step guide

This month, a new crochet book for beginners was released by Dorling Kindersley which I had the pleasure of consulting on and commissioning for this time last year. It was all well worth the effort as DK have come up trumps with the design and quality of this fabulous book. There are over 80 great projects, here are some of mine - one of my projects even features on the rather striking cover, I am so chuffed!

If you are here before the 9th March 2014 get over to the Inside Crochet website to win yourself a copy! 

'Woven' lap blanket by Claire Montgomerie

Ruffle scarf by Claire Montgomerie

Rainbow blanket by Claire Montgomerie

Raglan Sweater by Vicki Brown - simply adorable!
Stool Cover by Tracey Todhunter - beautiful colours

Rag Doll by Liz Ward, Littlun want one of these!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cardboard City

This week, I have been helping out at the Imagine children's festival at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank. The guys from Land of Kids have put on a pirate school and a cardboard kingdom workshop and a couple of days this week I was part of the team overseeing the children who are making the cardboard architecture in their half term. 
It all started with a stunning red routemaster, the creative genius Sarah Waites of The Bungaloo, who has been running the workshops, and has grown since there into a beautiful, imaginative, inspiring installation which all the children seem to love being part of. 
They like looking at it and spotting familiar landmarks like the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Wembley, London Zoo, even Willy Wonka's chocolate factory! I think it is fab that lots of children have included their own homes. They also love playing with the cardboard pieces, especially the vehicles and boats on the Thames, which I realised after resurfacing the napkin road what seemed like hundreds of times while continually rescuing sinking ships!
If you have children, get down to the Southbank this weekend and add to the city, become a pirate, colour in the walls, see shows and hear stories, all completely free! Here are some pictures from the cardboard kingdom - wish I could have taken pictures of everything.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pauline Turner

An exciting place I went last year was Morecambe, for Pauline Turner's 30 year celebration of her International Diploma in Crochet. I had wanted to go to visit the beautiful Midland hotel for a long time, so the chance of mixing business with pleasure was too good to miss. 

Lunch at the Midland Hotel

Neither the Midland, nor Pauline and her students disappointed. The weekend I spent in Morecambe was fabulous, even down to the wonderfully changeable and dramatic weather and views across the bay - we got double rainbows, bright sunshine and dark, foreboding rain clouds, all of which were spectacular when looking out across the sea. 

Pauline herself turned out to be the most wonderful, intriguing, interesting woman, who's life and career have spanned a multitude of different paths, leading eventually to developing the crochet diploma, which has students across the world. I hope that after 30 years or more in the business, I am as knowledgable about crochet as Pauline, what she doesn't know about it would fit on a pin head - and she has even aided in the creation of new crochet disciplines in the past - scrumbling or freeform crochet being one of them. Pauline wore a few of her more spectacular crochet and knit creations throughout the weekend and displayed even more, including her own wedding dress. This woman is prolific, and her talents as a teacher and crocheter shine through her students work. I had the honour of helping Pauline and Helen Jordan of Thread of Life judge the final entries to the competitions that Pauline had set up for the celebrations. The students work was absolutely amazing, from fine thread christening gowns to gorgeous chunky cables and freeform, the variety and skill was amazing to see. 
There was students work representing many diverse parts of the world, including as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand. There was a student who had used bent roofing nails to hook their samples as their part of the world does not have the access to hooks and yarns that we take for granted. It really was an education through craft for me and a fabulous celebration of how crochet can bring diverse communities together.
There was one student, called Unagh Macullough, who had completed the whole diploma and was graduating at the event. Her work was so varied and beautiful. She is obviously a very methodical crafter, who makes the most beautiful beaded jewellery as well as fine crochet lacework, but her final projects were gorgeous freeform pieces, which seemed to demonstrate how the diploma explores and introduces techniques and that are new and exciting and often bringing out an unexpected side to the work. 
If you are looking to improve your crochet skills, or want to learn how to begin designing your own work or exploring new techniques, definitely go check out Pauline's course - it is a unique and exciting challenge for any crocheter, and I have even considered taking the higher levels myself to make sure I am up to scratch!

Samples of Unagh Macullough's work.

Sample of the range of threads available from The Thread of Life.

A tiny part of Pauline's vast crochet library.