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

Sunday Postcard #22 28.2.21

Hello there, I hope this postcard finds you well this week. We’ve had half term and then another week of home schooling since I last stopped by.

Half term brought with it a bit if a virus (I think) not THE virus I’m very glad to say, so the ‘holiday’ was even more underwhelming than anticipated! I’m now well on the mend and looking forward to just one more week of home schooling before the Little Postcards all return to school next Monday- hurrah!

As a consequence of feeling a bit meh for a big chunk of the last few weeks, this week’s postcard is a little bit lack lustre…

Sunday nature reserve walk

We began half term with a walk to a new place for us. Less than half an hour’s walk from our front door is this nature trail which was created back in 2000. By that point I had moved away from the area with work so as a result I had never visited, so it was a first for all of us.

It may have been a cold, damp and grey day but the ducks put on a bit of a show for us which made me giggle. You can’t beat a bottoms up duck can you?!

Introducing Hope the Snowdrop

I did say a few weeks back I would be publishing a pattern for Flora the gardener, but things have got in the way of that. In the meantime, I shared this photo of Hope the Snowdrop onto Instagram. I made her back in January before Flora as a matter of fact.

On cue I received a lovely present in my doorstep, a bundle of snowdrops to plant in my own garden courtesy of my Dad. Thanks Dad!

I also shared Saffron the Crocus, who I finished this week…

If the neighbours saw me out in the sunshine playing with crochet dolls they’ll be wondering about what home schooling has done to my marbles!!

Saffron, Hope & Flora

Gardening

As the weather has improved lately, I’ve been able to get out into the garden, not only to plant my snowdrops but to cut back a few shrubs which were getting a bit big. I’ve also started planting seeds ready for the summer ahead. That’s my first batch of sweet peas.

I’m so looking forward to my first summer in my new garden, oh the possibilities!

Gift from a friend

My lovely friend who lives across the road dropped these beautiful daffs off to me when I was feeling under the weather last week. They have been looking beautiful all this week. The perfect sunshiny yellow boost to remind us all that spring’s around the corner!

That’s all I have for you this week from sunny Manchester. I hope you are well and beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Take care,

Lindsay x

Sunday Postcard #21 14.2.21

Hello there, happy Sunday to you. Sorry I went missing in action last week with no postcard. It’s been a bit full on with home schooling and everything else so I took a week off.

I’m very pleased to say that we have survived six weeks of home schooling relatively unscathed (apart from my blood pressure and sanity) and we are now at the beginning of a week of half term holiday. Ooh what shall we do? A trip to the seaside? A walk in the country? A trip to the shops? No, no and no, we will mostly be staying home, walking round the block and eating too much – no change there then!

I will though, hopefully be spending a lot more time on my crochet. I am within touching distance of publishing a pattern for Flora my amigurumi gardener, and I’m trying to get some more podcast episodes sorted so Making Stitches can return for a new series before too much longer and I have a few other bits and bobs going on behind the scenes – oh so much to do and so little time!

Anyway, here’s a brief peek at what I’ve been up to during the past 2 weeks – warning – it’s not that riveting!!

Work moves on apace with pattern writing

So I have started remaking Flora and taking pictures as I go so that hopefully I can publish a pattern.

A trip to the waterside

Last Sunday we took a half hour walk from our house to…. the Manchester Ship canal! We used to be able to walk to the Bay of Gibraltar from our home… how times have changed! 🤣 It may look a bit bleak, and it was bitterly cold, but we saw lots of wildlife, it was late in the afternoon and we saw a murmuration of starlings coming in to roost near by, there were also lots of seagulls and even a heron. Plus there was a rather dramatic whirl pool on the opposite side of the lock gates to where we were standing…

More snow ❄️

We had a couple of days early this week when it seemed to snow off and on all day, I stopped counting at the ninth snow shower. It was lovely to glance out of the window in the midst of improper fractions or history and drift away watching the flakes float down. Unfortunately none of our showers came to anything unlike elsewhere in the UK this week, but we did have our snow over Christmas and New Year so I’m not complaining!

Happy post

In amongst the lessons this week, there was a knock at the door and the postman had a parcel for me. It was a kit for an amigurumi Harry Potter sent by my lovely friend Nikki in Liverpool. Thank you Nikki, I will be starting on this very soon!!

Snowdrops

I have been seeing some beautiful photos of banks of snowdrops over on Instagram lately, and I have to say I think they are my favourite post-Christmas plant (I can’t say spring because it isn’t spring yet is it?!). They always herald the beginning of the gardening year and hope of what is to come. I have hardly seen any on my walks around our neighbourhood but spied this rather weedy clump in our local municipal gardens. I will try to do better for the next postcard!!

More crochet

Flora now has carrots in her basket. I’m bursting to show you something else I’ve been working on but want to share my Flora pattern first so I’m biding my time. Flora #2 had an unfortunate accident with a cup of coffee and a young man’s foot this week which didn’t help progress, so she had to have a rather drastic plunge into a washing up bowl and a toast on the radiator which added to the delay… But suffice to say, I’m so enjoying my crochet at the moment, it’s what’s giving me focus and a reward to my day to day lockdown drudge.

I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got for you this week, sorry it’s been a dull one, but I guess that’s the same for everyone at the moment.

Have a good week and stay safe!

Lindsay x

Introducing: Flora my crochet gardening alter-ego

Please excuse this flight of fancy, it may be lockdown isolation which is getting to me, or perhaps the home-schooling but my mind has wandered off into a fantasy land where my alter-ego Flora lives.

Flora lives for her plants and adores her garden…

She has all the gear (and no idea) and can’t wait for the spring flowers to fully appear once the snow and frosts have passed. Flora is like a tightly coiled spring ready to burst into action once winter loosens its grip on her new garden.

After years spent living abroad without a proper garden to call her own and all that time spent watching Gardeners World from afar and dreaming of having a huge garden like Monty’s she now finds herself living in the suburbs with a rather smaller plot than ‘Long Meadow’ but it’s hers nonetheless.

What will this year have in store for her as she sees shoots of new life appear in her new plot?

Watch this space…

Sunday Postcard #20 31.1.21

Hello there! How are you doing? I hope you are bearing up in the circumstances. We’re doing ok and I’m pleased to report and my parents got their first dose of the Covid jab last week so that feels like the first step towards something a bit more positive.

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last postcard and nothing much has really been going on as I’m sure you can appreciate. We have completed 4 weeks of home schooling – which I’m feeling rather proud of achieving. It hasn’t been easy but it has given me the excuse to sit next to youngest and supervise his work and during bits he can manage on his own, I have been able to crochet.

I mentioned last time that I had been playing with amigurumi and attempting to design something of my own. I have been crocheting ‘properly’ for about 7 or 8 years now and I never felt I had the ability or creativity to create something that other people might like to make. However, towards the end of last year a germ of an idea started for a collection of amigurumi ‘dolls’ and I just can’t stop thinking about them, so I have begun designing.

There have been a couple of odd looking prototypes (which the Little Postcards say give them the creeps) but I’m hoping I have ironed out some of the quirks and I’m getting there. I hope to be able to share them with you very soon. The first is ‘Flora’ and here’s a sneaky peak of her….

Wintery weather continues…

We started the week with another wintery spell of weather. It looks so beautiful and bright and crisp but I was very glad I wasn’t having to get out early and scrape the car windscreen to drive anywhere! I could enjoy it from the warmth of the house!

Heavenly hyacinths

I didn’t used to like hyacinths because of the perfume they give off. One positive of my post-Covid wonky sense of smell is that, that no longer bothers me, so I have greatly enjoyed this trio of hyacinths in the house this last couple of weeks. They blossomed quickly in the warmth of the dining room / makeshift classroom!

A tour from your armchair

New Manchester Walks tour of the Northern Quarter

Yesterday I enjoyed my third virtual tour around my home city of Manchester. The tour group ‘New Manchester Walks’ has been hosting virtual Zoom tours around the city and other places in lockdown. So far, I’ve been on a virtual tour of Underground Manchester, followed the Pankhursts on a suffragette tour and yesterday took a spin around the Northern Quarter and heard many fascinating stories about the history it holds from the Manchester Martyrs to the Beatles’ first audition for the BBC and Sean Ryder firing a bullet into the wall of a bar owned by the Haçienda’s Anthony H Wilson. I can highly recommend seeking them out if you have an interest in the city or just social history in general.

Podcast update

Janet hard at work at her sewing machine

The subject of the latest edition of Making Stitches Podcast is textile artist Janet Browne. Janet makes the most beautiful pictures of journeys she has been on and places she has visited using hand-dyed fabric and stitching. She was a fascinating person to speak to and I’m sure you’ll agree if you listen to her chat with me. Just search for Making Stitches on your favourite podcast app or follow this link.

Stockinger Lane Allotments by Janet Browne

And that is it for this postcard, as I said there’s not an awful lot going on, as I’m sure is the case for many of us. I hope the coming week is a positive one for you. Until next time, look after yourself!

Lindsay x