I almost forgot to prepare this post as I couldn’t quite believe it was November already! October gave us a truly magnificent Autumn in Cambridge and I know I always say it but I’m SO grateful for this beautiful city. For some weeks I hardly leave, but I never feel suffocated like I did in London. Despite having migraines almost every weekend last month, I managed to take my meds effectively and push through for some nice days and crafty happenings.
It’s time for another Instalife post where I round up my month via my Instagram snaps. September was filled with pom poms, bikes, sunny Cambridge days and crafts. Loved it. My migraines were a bit pesky, but I cuddled up with Tammy in my onesie for some recovery and TV time when I needed it.
Today I want to share with you a new series on the blog called Creative Inspirations. In each post I will share with you someone or something that has inspired me.
The first of the series starts with an interview with Hannah of Span Studio.
Hannah is a fantastic blogger, crafter and all round creative type. She is so supportive of others and inspired me to learn to crochet (after seeing her fab granny square journals). Sharing her story about crafting for health and wellbeing, really stuck with me, particularly as I’ve been suffering with poor health over the last two years including a lot of migraines in recent months.
Hi Hannah! Can you start by telling us how your journey with art and craft began?
Well I went to art college about 11 years ago so I’ve had an interest in arts and crafts for a while now. Since then I dabbled in bits and bobs but would put would it back down for a long time, years sometimes. However 6 years ago everything changed as my head started to spin and it never stopped, I had to finish work and I kinda felt pretty worthless after that, then I was given a sewing box that was my grandmothers and in it there was a little broken crochet hook, I had no idea what it was but I researched it and found some youtube videos and gave it a go. The hook must have been a 2mm and it was broken in half but I spent hours crocheting the same stitch over and over and ended up with very holey, very wobbly fabric. And I loved it! I felt so proud and for that short while I wasn’t concentrating on how my head was spinning. So it all went from there. I have learned and had a go at many crafts since then but crochet is always me go to craft. It calms me.
What or who has been your biggest craft inspiration?
I am continually inspired by the awesome people I meet on-line and I am very lucky that most of the women in my family are creative, I have many things in my home made by those I care about from embroidery pieces to handmade bags, they inspire me.
You openly talk about how embracing your creativity has helped you live with health issues. What advice would you give to fellow crafters in similar situations?
Trust the process. Being creative is fun and rewarding but you get a lot more out of it if you just let go and enjoy the journey. Creating helps bring you into the moment helps you not dwell on what you have lost, on those hospital appointments you are worried about and what might happen. For that time you are just someone enjoying being creative. Watch children as they play with materials, they totally get it.
I know we and other crafters always have a continuous to-do list of projects and always strive to learn new skills. I love your idea of a Craft Bucket list – how did this come about and what have you learnt since you started it?
The craft bucket list came about as I kept finding more and more things I wanted to try, they were going into my bookmarks and being forgotten about so I decided to write a list. There’s no deadline so there’s no pressure, its all about having fun and discovering new things to try, I have already discovered mosaics and weaving both of which I really enjoyed and have plans to do more 🙂
My short experience of the craft blogging community has been overwhelming and I can’t believe I missed out on all these people with common interests for so long. I wish someone had told me about it sooner! What has you experience of the blogging community been like? Any revelations?
My biggest revelation is that people want to make authentic and honest connections. They are actually interested in who you are how you feel and if you allow it you will be shown great kindness and acceptance. Blogging has changed my life, it has widened my world and I have been given many opportunities I could only dream of because of it.
Now for a fantasy question…..If money and time were no object, what would be your ultimate crafting experience?!
Oh my I love this question! It’s a dream of mine to go to a art/craft retreat. learn new skills and take long walks in the countryside and eat gorgeous locally sourced food. hmmmm.
Your new crochet buttons are a fantastic hit already, but what is next for Span Studio?
I am currently developing a pdf for people to download so they can have a go at making the buttons themselves. After that I don’t know, I never know what’s next I just go with where my instinct takes me 🙂
Hannah regularly contributes to Popular Crafts magazine and can be found blogging over at Span Studio. Be sure to take a look at her crochet buttons available on Etsy too! All images in this post are courtesy of Span Studio.
I have shared this post over on Handmade Monday, so do pop on over and see what everyone has been up to!
One of my favourite places to buy quirky habberdashery supplies is All the Fun of the Fair. I frequently use their online shop for yarn, patterns, unusual buttons, lace and accesories.
Located in Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street in Soho (London), All the Fun of the Fair has been open for 5 years.
In addition to the cute shop and online space, they often visit craft, handmade and vintage fairs and markets such as the recent Soho Flea Market on Dean Street and the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair in Kent.
In a bid to improve my knitting pattern skills, I purchased a Chunky Knitted Cushion Cover Pattern for a reasonable £2.50. It is a nice simple knit and purl project with Cygnet Seriously Chunky Yarn and 10mm needles. I ordered the bluebell colour, but when it arrived it was more of a lilac tone, so I decided this would be a gift for my sister rather than another cushion for my spare room.
After a few blips in understanding the pattern repeats and many cups of tea later, I had finished the cover. I do love how a chunky knit grows so quickly! It was a 2 evening project with a bit of telly watching in between. A nice plump cushion insert made it feel really big! My sister was chuffed with her handmade gift.
This week, I made a couple of other purchases from their quirky range including the ‘I Love Sewing’ Spool Holder (perfect for my vintage stash), Fancy Trim Pack of Lace and Sew Crafty Gift Tags.
I’ll leave you with Jaqueline from All the Fun of the Fair’s best craft tip:
Try something new. When you’re an expert in a specific craft, be it knitting, crochet or felting, it’s always good to try your hand at a new one. The skills you learn from one can always be transferred to another and help keep your mind creative and filled with new ideas! And if it doesn’t work out, then you just go onto the next one!
As part of my handmade mission for 2012, one of the goals I set myself was to learn how to crochet. I’ve always dabbled with a bit of knitting, but never really understood the concept of making items with just one hook? Where do the stitches go? How do all these loops make a hat or a scarf? It was time for a class.
The Sheep Shop is my favourite place to buy yarn in Cambridge. When I discovered they also ran classes, my craft buddy (formerly study buddy) Jess and I signed up for beginners crochet.
The Sheep Shop is run by Sarah, who happily answered some questions about her journey with yarn….
When did The Sheep Shop open?
November 23rd 2011 (I hadn’t realised – it’s 6 months!)
Can you tell me a bit about the beginnings of the shop & why you started this venture?
I felt Cambridge didn’t have much choice for nice yarns, and no comfy environment to revel in choosing them. The idea kept popping into my head that I could open a yarn shop myself. I used to work for the county council waste team so it was a big step, but eventually I listened to that idea, and am very glad I did as it’s a joy every day to meet the most lovely people (all knitters are lovely!) and be surrounded by all this incredible colour and texture.
What kind of response have you had to the shop & the classes?
It’s been rapturous. It makes life worth living when people go round stroking everything like they’re cats in a field of catnip – and some have purred. They’ve been very generous with their comments. A lot of praise belongs to my wonderful mother – she’s the one who designed the shop and all the decorative and display touches. The classes are still settling in. We’ve found some awesome teachers, but trying to match what people want to learn with when they want to learn it is a bit of a learning curve, some have ended up very oversubscribed with others empty.
What is the best item you would recommend in the shop? Favourite yarn etc?
Argh, I love everything! Circular needles are the bees knees – they are more comfortable to use, easier to carry around, and knitting in the round means you can cut down on seaming, purling and if you’re doing Fair Isle you always have the pattern side facing you. And interchangeable ones mean you don’t have to have millions of sets of needles of every size and every length. So the Knit Pro needles are A Good Thing. I’m a sucker for soft and silky yarns which feel heavenly between the fingers. My favourite yarns are Mirasol Miski (baby llama), Malabrigo Merino Worsted (supersoft wool), Louisa Harding Grace (silk/wool blend – was up until 2am knitting it because I didn’t want to put it down!) and the Hjertegarn bamboo/cotton mixes – these are cheap as chips but feel silky and gorgeous.
Which do you prefer, Crochet or Knitting?
Well, I’m a bit of a one-trick pony. I’ve only done a tiny bit of crochet, but keep coming across marvellous patterns on Ravelry and then have a “damn, it’s crochet” moment. So I guess I’d better learn!
Such pretty yarns! For the class we chose some bright colours to crochet with and got to work on understanding the basic stitches and differences between UK/US terms (which I found highly confusing!).
Our teacher Michelle, was self taught and she was kind enough to share with us her many projects which provided inspiration. How lovely is this lace scarf?
At the end of the class we attempted a Granny Square, but I know I am going to need more practice. That’s why I’ve signed up for another course! (I also used really dark purple yarn which made it super hard to see the stitches.)
Many thanks to Michelle for a great class and to Sarah for the lovely hospitality and advice on yarn and books. I’m really looking forward to my next class and feel lucky to have this tranquil corner of yarn in my neighbourhood.