A Birthday in the Woods

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My biggest boy is 7. How on earth that happened, I simply don’t know. But it did and to celebrate the awesome kid he is, we threw his very first ever birthday party. With the ulterior motive of getting to know as many people at his new school as possible, we invited his entire class, plus a handful of select friends, to share a day in the woods. 23 kids arrived on Saturday afternoon ready to celebrate the awesomeness of Ellis.

With 2 other birthdays and final book edits all happening in the 7 days before the party, I simply wanted something with as little stress as possible that would not break the bank. We bought a truckload of sausages from Costco,  decorated one of the outbuildings with random festive bits from the house and hired an awesome local business, intrepid:scotland, to run an outdoorsy birthday party in the woods.

intrepid:scotland is run and staffed by rangers who work in the National Park. Clare and Callum were just great with the kids and lead fun activities we just never would have had the skills or confidence to manage.  The kids got to roast marshmallows over a campfire, make journey sticks and charcoal pencils, run all over fields and forests and  generally explore this amazing area we live in. If you are local, I highly recommend them! It also meant that Kevin and I could actually hang out and talk to people, meet Ellis’ new friends and not have 23 seven year olds destroy the house. Plus, we had fabulous friends make cake and handle sausage cooking for the hard working kids and adults. It was *almost* relaxing!

For party bags, we bought some sweet little less-than-a-pound pots from ikea and split up some packs of wildflower seeds for a mini nature reserve.  I used my normal post office (4 to an A4 sheet) sticky labels and designed an instruction note to put on 9x15cm envelopes for the seeds.

Easy, stress free and fun. And awesome. Just like him.

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* the party invite is just a photo I took (inspired by Kat who was inspired by Catherine) with directions to where we live added in photoshop on the bit where the moleskin is. We just printed out colour copies and sent them to school. Easy, peasy.

** the chickens freak out every time someone comes in and out of the door, running up to the gate to see if we have anything for them. Ellis is their favourite because he brings them left over porridge.

 


Help Me, Help You (Reading Crochet Patterns)


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About 3-4 times a week, a version of the following email lands in my inbox:

“Hi Kat, I’ve just bought your pattern/book and I am stuck. What does 2htr in htr/2 (3, 5, 6)/ [3 ch, 3 tr] three times mean?”

These are often emails from very experienced crocheters. People who have made beautiful blankets, home accessories, amigurimi, or even hats and baby items. They know how to crochet, but get stuck at the point of reading a pattern.

After some digging, thinking and talking, I have come to think that the problem is 2 fold: 1. The  lack of standardisation of crochet patterns and 2. The prevalence of crochet photo tutorials.

With regards to the first issue – the fact that crochet terms and style sheets vary so widely (not to mention the UK vs US divide), short of Joanne and I taking over the crochet world, its a pain in the backside that is probably going to continue. The chances of everyone in the world clubbing together and writing every increase in the same way is unlikely to happen. What I can say is that across my own patterns, my books, and The Crochet Project magazines, we work to a very clear stylesheet, so there is always consistency.  Joanne has worked tirelessly at getting these in shape and they are brilliant. They are also pretty consistent with both Inside Crochet and Simply Crochet (though a few differences are there), so that if you live in the UK, you should be comfortable wherever you are working from.

Problem 2 is a trickier one. Photo tutorials are great. As anyone who has ever written one knows, they are a TON of work.  Hours and hours, sometimes days, of photographing, making, writing and editing. They are awesome for teaching new skills and techniques and just a wonderful resource for makers.  If you know basic stitches, its very easy to follow along and see where you are going to make the project.  You can make beautiful things, without ever having read a pattern.

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But, tutorials can only go so far in crochet…with space at a premium in printed books or printable patterns, and when garments are graded across multiple sizes, patterns are needed to tell people what to do in a way that makes as much sense as possible.

I have spent a lot of time trying to get to grips with bridging the gap between written patterns and photo tutorials. My kits include both written patterns and step by step photos where possible.  I have written a guide that I often refer people to when I get the initial emails about a pattern. A version of this is also included in my books to try and help as many people as possible access written patterns. We are also including a few stitch charts in my next book to help with a couple of the more complicated patterns. However, I am going to be honest here, I don’t know what else to do. I want to help people and I see no decrease in the number of pattern reading queries I get.

So my question to you all is – what else can I do to help? If you crochet and don’t read patterns – why? What would you like to see to get you over the bridge of pattern reading? If you do read patterns, what helped you get there? 

Thank you so much for your help!!

(photos are of gorgeous Manos Serena – Georgia is desperate for a cardigan and dug this out of my stash and chose buttons. How on earth does one say no to that?!?! The yarn is luscious cotton/alpaca blend as well…YUM!)


Love Is…

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Doing an emergency stop on a country road, whilst yelling “WILD GARLIC!!!”, then waiting patiently so I could collect a bag full of my favourite Spring-time arrival. He’s a keeper, that Kevin.