The Class of 2022: crochet, school days & the end of an era

Today is a bit of a milestone in our home. It marks the end of a 14 year-long period of time when at least one of the Postcard children was at primary school. Today, Youngest says goodbye to his primary years and looks ahead to secondary education. It’s going to be an emotional one for everyone involved – the Leaver’s Assembly will be awash with parental tears I’m sure.

Photo borrowed from my ‘Back to School’ post in September 2015 – eek time flies!

For some of Youngest’s classmates it’s the end of 8 years at the school – those who began in Nursery and then Reception before moving up the school to Year 6. For him though, it marks the end of a very happy 2 years settling into a new life in the UK after starting out in Gibraltar. My three boys have in total been educated in 7 different primary schools between the three of them – starting out in West Yorkshire, then to Gibraltar and now in Manchester. For someone who spent the entirety of her childhood in the same house and went to three schools in total, my boys have had a rather ‘interesting’ time of it. I hope that the new people and experiences they have encountered along the way have enhanced rather than detracted from their learning and life experiences.

I felt that I had to do something to thank the school for all their help settling Youngest into life here and so, last month when they were able to hold their first summer fair in three years, I contributed something for their fundraising effort….

This cheeky pair are inspired by a couple of young people I know and helped raise more than £50 towards the sum raised by the parents association for school equipment. We asked people to guess the number of stitches used to make each school child. The guesses ranged from 60 to tens of thousands!

Once I’d stared crocheting though, I couldn’t stop, so made a load of crocheted friendship bracelets and hair clips to add to the stall as well. The hair clips are decorated with Lucy from Attic24’s Teeny Tiny Flowers you can find the link to that pattern here.

The bracelets I made up myself – they are super easy. Just chain 31, then make 1 double crochet (Dc) in the 2nd chain from the hook and along the remaining 29 Chains. Then chain 15, slip stitch into the 2nd chain from the hook, and back along the remaining 13 chains. 1Dc into the first of the original chains and make 1Dc into every chain along to the other end of the row. Then chain 15 again and slip stitch into the 2nd chain from the hook, and back along the remaining 13 chains. Make 1Dc into the first of the original double crochet stitches, and every other one along the row before finishing off at the end of the row and weaving in the ends.

By the time you have made a few, they rattle off your hook in no time. There is no end to the possible colour combinations. I bought some variegated yarn in a couple of colourways to prevent the need to change colours, but for the Manchester United (red & black or white) and Manchester City (pale blue & white) themed ones I made the original chain and first row of double crochet in one colour before changing to make the edging and ties in the main colour.

I have no idea how much these other items raised in the fair, but the ones which were left over were kept by the school to sell at lunchtimes in the playground, so they didn’t go to waste.

All laid out and ready for the fair opening…

Once I had made my little crocheted school children, I suddenly thought, someone else might like to make a little school person for a child or a school in their lives too, so I wrote a pattern for it. Meet the School Days Class of 22…

School Days Class of 22

If you would like to have a go at making one of my ‘School Days’ dolls, you can find the pattern over in my Etsy shop (the link to the pattern listing is here). The pattern is written in such a way that you can make a doll who wears a skirt, trousers or shorts, a long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt or polo shirt and with a jumper or cardigan. In fact the cardigan could also work as a blazer if you add a lapel to the edge too. The colour combinations are entirely down to you to match your own school uniform colours, so every one will be unique just like our young people themselves.

I’m off now to lie down in a darkened room to prepare for the emotional day ahead and the long summer break….. did I hear someone say Summer Craft Challenge??

Thanks for stopping by, and happy crafting!

Lindsay x

Introducing Daisy…..

Up the Garden Path Daisy - a new amigurumi crochet pattern from Making Stitches Shop on Etsy
Daisy

Hello there! Please allow me to introduce the newest member of the Up the Garden Path gang – Daisy.

Did you make daisy chains as a child? It’s something I always liked to do during the summertime – if I could find any…. you see my Dad was very proud of his garden (he still is to be fair) and rarely did he allow the grass to get long enough to allow daisies to appear in the lawn. Most of my daisy chain making was reserved for playtime on the school field or the occasional trip to a field or meadow.

But despite that, daisies always mean summer to me. Way back in the very early days of Postcard from Gibraltar, in July 2015 on one of our family trips back home to Manchester from Gibraltar during the school summer holidays I blogged about a lovely family outing we made into the Cheshire countryside. Amongst the delights on offer that day were a woodland walk, a picnic, creamy Cheshire ice cream and, you guessed it, a daisy chain. Living in Gibraltar at the time, there was very little access to ‘real’ grass due to the climate, and certainly no daisies, so they were a bit of a novelty.

You can find that blog post about Daisies and Damselflies here .

Fast forward to last year and we were enjoying our first summer in our new home in Manchester and what should pop up through the blades of grass in our new back garden lawn than a small but very welcome crop of daisies? As I was already in the mindset to try and turn any floral inspiration I found in my garden into something yarny and specifically amigurumi, there was absolutely no question that I had to make a daisy inspired doll.

Fortunately I had some yarn in my stash which fitted the bill perfectly for the job – a couple of balls left over from making Hope the Snowdrop and some yellow which had been bought with daffodils in mind (do you remember them?) and I was able to crack on pretty much immediately. Before long Daisy was beginning to take shape.

Hope the Snowdrop and Cariad & Dave the Daffodils

I actually had another inspiration for my Daisy too, she was a lovely lady who was full of fun and involved in everything going – my Great Aunt Daisy. Although not her actual name, she was known as Daisy from being young and was always Aunt Daisy to me.

She lived on the west coast of Scotland in a tiny little village, which although small, made up it for with a sense of community and boy did she squeeze every ounce of fun out of that community. She was involved with so many groups and events from country dancing to women’s groups. Sadly no longer with us (she would have been well over 100 if she was still around today) I initially set out on my Daisy crochet adventure with Aunt Daisy in mind.

I had thought to give her white hair and glasses befitting of a village elder, but this Daisy is youthful and no less great for it. I imagine she is never one to say no to turn around the dance floor and ready to squeeze every last ounce of fun out of life.

Yet again, my pattern is based on the amigurumi technique of crocheting in the round and is in UK crochet terms. It comes in a beautifully produced and illustrated version (thanks to my wonderfully talented childhood friend Emma from Emma Jackson Art) and a text-only printer friendly version too for those who prefer to work from paper patterns and perhaps scribble notes in the margins (like me). The Daisy pattern has been launched on my Etsy shop today and is available for immediate download.

Emma’s beautiful illustration of Daisy

I hope this inspires many Daisies to be made and that they all bring that same sense of fun with them out into the world. If you fancy capturing a bit of summer meadow or lawn which will last all year long you know what to do.

She’s a perfect project for stash busting – just four colours are required and she’s made using simple stitches which would be great for beginners.

You can find the pattern for sale in my Etsy shop which you can get to via this link.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and if you do make a Daisy of your own, please do let me know by either tagging me in on social media, use the hashtags #upthegardenpathdaisy or #upthegardenpathcrochet , or just send me a message to tell me – I would love to see where any Daisies start springing up!

Have a lovely day!

Lindsay x

A postcard from November

Hello there! It’s the last day of November already eek! I’m not ready for December!!

It’s been a busy old month – perhaps that’s why it’s gone so quickly. It’s only now I look back at what we’ve been up that I’ve realised it’s been quite a lot.

In the latest twist of the Covid story it’s also been a month of regular trips to our local testing centre every time anyone gets a cough or sniffle or we are alerted about a close contact. I think we may have been about 10 times lately – I’m thinking of asking for loyalty points!! Fortunately all tests have come back negative.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this month…

A golden tree at the end of the rainbow

Yet again this year, after over a decade away from the UK I have loved seeing the beautiful colours of autumn this month. I may no longer have little people at home who like to make pictures out of autumn treasure, but I can’t help but pick up pretty leaves when I see them!

No it’s not Christmas yet!!

Eek – am I the only one who gets freaked out by early Christmas decorations? I took Littlest out for hot chocolate on 1st November to a local café and they had a huge tree, giant baubles… the works! On the first of November!!! Maybe I’m just a Scrooge but it’s seems a bit early to me. This photo was of the Trafford Centre on the first Saturday of November…. Christmas lights galore!

Meeting real people in real life!

One evening early in the month, I had the most wonderful time ‘out out’ in Manchester. Since February/March last year I have been a virtual member of a super community for podcasters.

After months and months of zoom virtual meet ups where we hear from real ‘professional’ podcasters and swap advice and help amongst our community, I actually got to meet everyone in real life!! What a thrill. (People were so much taller than I expected after spending so long just seeing them on my phone/laptop screen 😂! )

The occasion for this meet up was to celebrate the club’s 3rd birthday and the 30th meet up in total. There were drinks and even birthday cake!

If you are a podcaster yourself or are thinking of starting your own podcast do come along to a future zoom. The group’s called MIC’s Podcast Club and although it’s based in the North West of England, there are members from much further afield (like America) and I was still living in Gibraltar when I first joined. You can find them on Twitter @MICsPodcastClub and maybe one day you can have the thrill of seeing your own podcast up in lights on the wall of a real-life meet up!

Costa del Ship Canal

Littlest’s football match got cancelled one week and instead the team coach opted to run a team building training session in our local nature reserve.

It was a perfect morning for it – definitely worth setting the alarm for an early start on a Saturday!

Just look at those blues and the golden leaves….

That water almost looked Mediterranean – well almost – it is the Manchester Ship Canal!

Plastic hedge be gone!

In this era of everything needing to look perfect and be convenient, we end up with situations like astroturf and plastic hedges. I am not a fan at all. I’m a bit more slap dash and enjoy going with the flow with nature, plus I really enjoy gardening. So when we inherited this delightful plastic hedge at our new home last year, it’s days were numbered. It did a lot better than expected as other jobs took precedence but this month, it’s time was up.

It didn’t take long, it was so rotten inside it practically fell apart – very little force was needed at all. I’m looking forward to installing a rather more environmentally friendly replacement soon!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A few weeks ago I received a message from a lovely friend I used to know in Gibraltar. She, like me has moved back to the UK and is now based in the South East of England. She wanted to let me know she and her partner were having a few days up North and would I like to meet them at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park? Yes! Was my answer!!

Barbara Hepworth sculptures

Before we moved to Gibraltar, we lived in Wakefield just a stone’s throw from YSP and it was a regular destination for us as a family on a weekend. It was so lovely to be able to go back there – albeit briefly while the Little Postcards were at school.

Ai Weiwei’s Chinese Horoscope Characters

The weather was so kind to us. It was very cold but it was beautifully sunny. The perfect conditions for having a wander through the beautiful park and sculptures.

Close-up of one of Ai Weiwei’s Chinese Horoscope heads
You can never have a big enough hand bag!
A Diamond ring made out of car wheels!

We didn’t spend too long together as I was clock watching to get back across the Pennines in time for school pick up, so we didn’t get to see the whole of the park but one exhibition both myself and my friend (who’s also a crafter) enjoyed immensely was one by Joana Vasconcelos who likes to create amazing things out of everyday objects… like giant stilettos out of pots and pans…

…. Lots and lots of crochet!!! Viva crochet!

Just look at that intricate work!!

Close-up of the above statue
Animal heads enrobed in intricate crochet

But the next fabric structure stopped us in our tracks… it was huge!

The photo doesn’t do it justice – it was giant and filled the huge exhibition space. It was a combination of patchwork, embroidery and very complicated crochet.

The photo above shows the end of one of those tentacles and was over a metre in diameter.

There were also pictures made of bulbous crochet structures…

Finisterra 2018
Close-up of above picture
Heartbreak 2015

How about this for a giant pouffe for your living room?

There was also a sculpture made purely of red plastic knives & forks..

Red Independent Heart #3

And then more examples of intricate crochet covering everyday household items…

A double sink
Detail of the sink piece above
A urinal called ‘Purple Rain’

And a fabulous chair…

The back of the chair above

The Joana Vasconcelos exhibition is on until 9th January 2022 both in the underground gallery and with pieces in the open air too. The artist’s work is said to be “sculptures that comment with a feminist perspective on cultural identity and tradition and celebrate the creative lives of women” – YSP Guide.

It was a lovely visit to the YSP and fabulous to be able to see my friend again – who I hadn’t seen since pre-Covid times. I can highly recommend a visit if you haven’t been, I’ll certainly be back when I can spend longer there.

Sock knitting update

Remember the pair of socks I was knitting thanks to Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum’s fabulous book?

Well they’re finished!!

Knitted using the Winwick Mum Basic Sock Pattern in West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply in ‘Brightside’ also designed by Winwick Mum

I now have toasty warm toes!

In other crafty news, I’m currently working on Eleonora from Coastal Crochet’s Winter Walk Scarf CAL.

It took a while to get started as my hand-dyed skein I’d been saving for the right moment got into rather a big tangle…

But I got there in the end…

And I’m on my way!

Making Stitches Podcast

In podcast news, there have been 2 new episodes this month – both of them yarn inspired.

Emma Leith
(photo credit: Emma Leith Atelier)

The first was with the hugely talented and inspiring crochet designer Emma Leith. You can find that here.

Sara Mulvey from Black Sheep Wools
(Photo credit: Black Sheep Wools)

The second was a real treat to record because it meant I was able to go ‘back stage’ at the fabulous Black Sheep Wools Craft Barn and speak to Sara Mulvey. What a joy it was to have a proper chat with Sara after months of watching her videos through lockdown – it was such a positive part of a rather unpleasant time. You can listen to Sara’s episode here.

And finally…

My first ever crochet patterns have been launched and are available to buy from my Etsy Shop!

There’s Flora the Gardener and Hope the Snowdrop and all being well they will be joined by some more friends very soon!

And that’s just about it for this month. I hope November has been kind to you.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Lindsay x

Edit: I forgot to mention the snow! We also has some of the white stuff fall in the last few days – super exciting even if it was very cold!!

Introducing…. ‘Up the Garden Path’

Hello there, thanks so much for stopping by on what’s a really special day for me. Today I have launched the first of my crochet patterns for sale on my Etsy shop. It has been a long journey of many months (perhaps even years) to get to this point and I would never have achieved it without certain events happening or some special people helping me along the way. Here’s the story of how ‘Up the garden path’ came about…

The Rock of Gibraltar

Many moons ago (well about 18 months ago to be precise) we moved back to the UK after spending more than a decade living in Gibraltar. Before we moved there we lived in a house with a garden and I loved my garden. I loved the huge oak tree in our neighbours garden which made a really pretty backdrop to our own small patch, I loved the really old hedgerow which bordered the side of the lawn and was a throwback to the old days when the land the house was on was farmland. I also loved the apple tree we planted expecting to spend years there and watch it grow. 

Life had other plans for us though and we found ourselves packing everything up into boxes and moving thousands of miles away to a tiny place call Gibraltar at the very southern tip of the Iberian peninsular. In Gibraltar land is scarce and gardens are scarcer. We ended up in a lovely apartment with a beautiful balcony filled with pots of geraniums and other mediterranean plants, we were also lucky enough to have a sun scorched patio which we put potted citrus trees in too. I missed my green English garden though (the grass truly is always greener!).

Our old ‘front garden’

When life brought us back to the UK to live last year, it opened up the possibility that we would be able to enjoy the delights of a proper garden again. I was like a coiled spring…. I had spent years watching Monty Don and co. on Gardener’s World from afar wondering if and when I would have my own garden again and what it would look like.

Then, one year ago (almost to the day) we moved into our new family home, it doesn’t have the biggest garden but it’s ours and it’s allowed my imagination to run wild with possibilities of what I could plant and grow.

My first batch of seedlings this spring
Some of my sweet peas from this summer

Meanwhile, I have long admired many talented people who design the most wonderful crochet creations like Lucy at Attic 24, Eleonora at Coastal Crochet, Rosina at Zeens & Roger, the lovely ladies at The Crochet Sanctuary and many, many more and wondered whether one day, I could have a go at designing something myself which other people might like to make. I knew I couldn’t attempt to design clothing – sizing would be sooo hard. I also didn’t want to attempt a blanket – there are already so many beautiful ones in the world to choose from. But, I could have a go at amigurumi – there’s no end of possibilities when it comes to making little people and creatures out of yarn and a hook.

I guess I took a fantasy trip back to my childhood, where I remember so many of the books and stories I loved were based in gardens and adventures in nature. What if I could combine my fascination with gardens and plants and trees with crochet? I had hit on an idea.

Hooking in front of Hootenanny

So, after finishing the Christmas crochet blanket I’d been working on in the run up to and over Christmas last year, I found myself on New Year’s Eve with a burning idea, some yarn and a hook and I set to work with some of my stash making the first prototype of an amigurumi doll. It took a bit of frogging and lots of note taking, and then another couple of prototypes before I bought the yarn I needed to have a go at my first little person…. Hope the Snowdrop.

Hope the Snowdrop

She was my New Year project and loads of fun to make. I called her Hope because snowdrops are pretty much the first plants to flower in the year and offer such hope of the better weather still to come, and the promise of Spring.

Next I decided to have a go at my alter ego, Flora the Gardener. Flora (in my imagination) has just acquired a garden of her own (remind you of anyone?) and is filled with expectation for what her new garden will offer her. The peace and quiet, the anticipation of what would sprout up from the soil and how successful her seedlings would be. I imagine that in the seasons and the years to come, she will make lots of new friends.

Flora the Gardener

So that was Hope and Flora. But then, a very good friend of my mine, Emma, saw Flora and asked if she could illustrate her. I didn’t need asking twice. Here’s the beautiful illustration she came up with:

Flora the Gardener
Copyright: Emma Jackson

Isn’t she marvelous? Hot on the heels of Flora came Hope….

Hope the Snowdrop
Copyright: Emma Jackson

Then…. Emma, being the wonderful friend she is, offered to design my patterns for me too. I wanted them to be as clear and simple as possible and with lots of photos (pretty much like a blog post) and that’s just what she’s done. I’m so thrilled with what she’s done for me!

And so, after 10 months of experimenting and absolutely bursting with ideas of what to do next (I have a list of about 30 future projects!!) and lots of to-ing and fro-ing between Emma and I, the big day has arrived – it’s launch day of the first of my patterns. Flora and Hope are available to buy from my new Etsy shop – Making Stitches Shop. [The proceeds of which are going to cover the costs of my podcast – Making Stitches].

The patterns are quite photo heavy so in addition to every illustrated pattern, you will also receive a text-only printer friendly version so you don’t run out of ink!

I couldn’t have reached this point without the help of Emma, and so many other wonderful people who have listened to me go on, and on, and on about my little ‘Up the Garden Path’ people. Sharing my successes and failures and not telling me to be quiet!! My sincere thanks also to my pattern testers and everyone who has offered me help and advice along the way.

If you would like to see some of Emma’s other work, you can find her Emma Jackson Art website here.

So, that’s the story of Up the Garden Path so far…. I can’t wait to share a couple of seasonal friends with you very soon as well!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Lindsay x

PS: The super logo for my shop was designed by Neil Warburton at iamunknown.com