Welcome to The Gingerbread Bunny! I'm Sarah, a textile artist specialising in crochet and felt based in Wigan in the North-West of England.

On my blog, you can find my day-to-day craft adventures and tutorials.

You can find details of my work for sale and workshops on my website - www.thegingerbreadbunny.co.uk

Monday, 28 April 2014

Top Tips for Crochet Pattern Reading

When I ask the student's on my crochet courses what they want to learn, the main response is 'How do I read a pattern?'  Of course, it is a pretty essential part of crochet if you want to make the multitude of gorgeous patterns out there.  It may seem quite daunting at first but, do not fear, with lots of practice, and a few little tips, it can all be a little bit easier. 

1)  Know your abbreviations
Easier said than done, I know, but pretty essential to being able to follow the pattern.  There are a multitude of guides out there on the internet which tell you what each abbreviation means - I give one of these to all my students and suggest they keep it in their crochet notebook to refer to when needed.  Some of my students write out the abbreviations they need at the top of the pattern so they can find them quickly as needed.  The more patterns you follow, the more familiar you will become with the abbreviations and one day you won't need the guide at all!

2)  Know the origin of your pattern
Is your pattern British or American (or Australian, Dutch ....)? Depending on where your pattern is written depends on the terminology used as it's different in some countries.  Again, there are plenty of guides out there on the internet to help you translate your patterns.  I recommend getting your pen out and changing the pattern - cross out and change allthe stitches!

3)  Read the pattern first
It helps to have a quick scan through the pattern first before you start to crochet it - pay particular attention to any special stitches so that when they come up in the pattern you are ready for them.  

4)  Highlight your size
When crocheting a garment, or other pattern which is written in various sizes, it is really helpful to highlight all the parts that relate to your size.  I'm currently working on a lace cardigan and there are 6 different sizes for it.  If I hadn't highlighted all the relevant parts for my size, I would have absolutley no idea where I was up to.  It may mean you have to delay the start of your project but, it will save you time later on (and possibly prevent you throwing your project out of the window in frustration!)

5)  Know when to walk away
Don't get me wrong, I think the ability to self publish your patterns via the internet is a wonderful thing however, it does throw up a few issues.  Occasionally, you will come across a pattern that either isn't written very well or has so many errors in it that you just can't follow it.  This is when you need to walk away.  Most people crochet for enjoyment and, if you on the verge of throwing a massive tantrum because it just doesn't work then that is the time to walk away.  Put it down.  Start another project.  Of course, sometimes it might actually be that you just aren't ready for that difficulty of pattern - I tried to follow patterns that where beyond my capabilities when I first started and had to abandon them because they were just too difficult for me.  

6) And finally - don't expect miracles overnight
We live in a society where we want everything now. As adults, we often forget that it takes time to learn a new skill and that's OK, in fact, it's perfectly normal.  The more patterns you follow, the easier it will get.  

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Friday, 11 April 2014

An Evening with Debbie Bliss

Last night I met knitting royalty!  I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Debbie Bliss event at The Black Sheep Craft Barn in Culcheth and it turned out to be a fabulous evening.  

Being rather excited, we did arrive early, but this gave us chance to browse the yarn and to check out the beautiful fabrics in the new Fabric Room. 

The evening began with a goody bag from designer yarns, a glass of bubbly (I couldn't refuse) and canapes (or butties and sausage rolls for those of us slightly more common) before being whisked off to the workshop room for a Q and A with the lady herself - Debbie Bliss.

It was really interesting listening to Debbie talk about her career as a knitwear designer and work in producing her line of yarns, what inspires her to design as well as tales of projects that haven't quite gone to plan!  We managed to have a little chat with her (and a piccie) afterwards. 

From left to right:  Fiona, Me, Debbie Bliss, Joanne
During our chat about knitting and my crocheting, she started to talk about her friend who had come with her who was a crocheter and had just started to write a column in Simply Crochet magazine.  At the mention of the name Emma I knew who it was and I was whisked away by Debbie to meet her! It was the wonderful crochet designer Emma Varnam. I have to say that I was a little starstruck about meeting her as I adore her patterns and have made a few of them myself - the Indian Summer Shrug being the first crocheted item of clothing I ever made!  If you aren't familiar with Emma's work then check out her blog.  She regularly has patterns published in Inside Crochet and has written a new How to Crochet Book.  We had a really good talk about crochet, even though I couldn't remember anything I did, she admired my shawl, and photographed it,and she even took my business card (squeal)! 

Emma Varnam and Me

I am truly inspired now to really knuckle down and write up some of the patterns I've designed and get them out there into the crochet world - as I've been threatening for quite some time now.

Well done to The Black Sheep Craft Barn for hosting such a great event .  When is the next one?!