Tuesday 28 September 2021

Organised October WiP-Along, Top Tip Tuesday 2

Hello! I'm back this Top Tip Tuesday with lots of ideas for being creative with your WIPs! If you missed my announcement about the Organised October WiP-Along or last Tuesday's post about making friends throughout the WiP-Along, it's probably best to check out those blog posts first ...

Being creative with your WiPs is probably one of the key things to finishing them quickly & in a fun way, so I'm here to give you a few suggestions on how to go about it.

Maybe the colours you chose at the start don't resonate with you in the same way the did in the beginning. Can you add some fresh colour or take a colour out? Playing with colour is a fantastic way to lift your mood and bring about the excitement you had when you started the project.

Perhaps it's a long term WiP that you've been working on for absolutely ages. You know you want to finish it, but the progress just seems to be sooooo slow. By taking yourself and your project to a new space you'll find the different environment will give you fresh inspiration and energy. This could mean taking your WiP with you to the beach or the park, it could be going to a cafe and sitting in a quiet corner to work on it, or it could simply be moving to a different room in your house. The change of scene will do you good!

And then there are those projects where you simply don't like the way they're going. Have a think - is there anything you can change? Let's say it's a crochet cardigan. Perhaps you don't like the way the shaping is going and you don't think it's going to fit properly. How can you alter it? Crochet is very easy to increase and decrease to suit shaping (and if it doesn't work, it's easy to frog and start again!). 

Finally, there are some WiPs that have sat so long in your pile that you can't remember why you even started them in the first place! Bring these projects out, have a good look at them and make either a commitment to finishing them (following my advice above) or the decision to pull them apart and use the components for something else.

As you know the WiP-Along is open to all crafts and I know most of you will be crocheting but these principles apply to books you have had sitting around (please don't pull them apart, simply donate them to the charity shop!), paintings that are sitting in a corner, sewing projects that you've half started etc.

I hope you found some useful tips in this post! The WiP-Along starts this Friday, so don't forget to share your WiPs on Instagram and remember we'll be cheering you on and sharing your progress in our stories.

Until next time, happy crocheting,

Marta xx

Thursday 23 September 2021

My 10 top tips for taking amazing flatlay photos!

Hello! Are you struggling to take good flatlay photos? Do you look at other people's perfect little squares on Instagram and wonder how they do it? Or perhaps you've been taking flatlay photos for a while and are looking for some tips to improve your skills?

I'm here with my 10 top tips for taking amazing flatlay photos!

I first began taking these images for my Instagram grid back in 2017 and through experience and via online courses, I've been learning ever since. I also dipped my toe in photography when I was at art college and it's this knowledge together with a solid grounding in composition which have helped me.

My biggest piece of advice to you would be to have a go. Try things out! If they don't work, make one or two changes and try again. Unlike when I was learning photography, photos on our phones don't cost us anything and we can take multiple shots making minor adjustments as we go. And, like most skills, there's a learning curve and it will become easier!

Here are my 10 top tips ...

1.  Set up your photo on a table or similar flat surface as close to the window as you can get. If it means pulling the sofa across the room, do it! The more natural light you can get, the better.

2.  The time of day and the weather play a big part in your lighting too. Avoid the beginning and end of the day when the shadows are longer. Avoid really bright, sunny days and dark, overcast days - you want something in the middle. If you have a lightweight roller blind or net curtains this helps to diffuse overly bright light. You could rig something up if you don't have something fixed to your window.

3.  Start with your background. You want something with a bit of interest but not too much. Battered old baking tins, wrapping paper, a scratched and weathered table top, vintage maps, self coloured fabric or fabric with with small ditsy floral print on it are all good choices. I invested in some backdrops from a company called Black Velvet Styling and I find them perfect to simply pull out and work on top of. I should add, this is not a sponsored post, I really do love them!

4.  Begin slowly. Once you've decided your background, you might want to add fabric down one side or across at an angle. In my photo below, I started with the mitts I was wanting to photograph and added the dried flowers- sweeping them across at an angle. This helps to add a bit of depth to your photo.

5.  When you have your background and your main subject, gather together small items that fit your theme. You may wish to start a props box to keep all these sorts of things close to hand - small things like buttons, shells, stones and feathers are all easy to aquire. Charity shops, car boot sales and antiques stores are an excellent source of smaller items to help give your flatlay interest and appeal.

6.  However, don't overload your photo with too many items! It's extrememly hard to read an image that's too cluttered. Allow your main subject (if it has one) plenty of space; it's perfectly fine to have a large area with nothing in it. Take photos as you're playing around and take a moment to assess whether things are working well together or not. Have a look at the image below - the feather was just too much!

7.  Have a few items spill out of the picture; a flatlay should feel as if it extends beyond the frame. As you are building up your composition look for things which can go over the edge.Scatter smaller items such as buttons or shells - making sure they go well beyond the frame. This all helps make the final image look more natural.

8.  Give your image plenty of space to breathe - don't go in too close. You final photo will feel hemmed in if it doesn't have enough space. This is something you can experiment with.

9.  Once you're happy with your composition, a photography bounce board will help to brighten the shadows and even out the contrast. If you're on a budget, simply use a large piece of white card.

10. If you're taking photos for Instagram, use your phone (or camera if it has the function available) on the square setting. That way you're seeing exactly the same dimensions as your final photo. Also make sure that you're holding your phone or camera parallel to your surface. A flatlay should be flat - not taken at a bit of an angle! Most phones have a function you can select in settings which acts like a spirit level, telling you when you're parallel.

I hope you've found this post useful! If you have, please bookmark it or pin it to Pinterest - thank you!

Until next time,

Marta xx

Tuesday 21 September 2021

6 tips for making friends during the Organised October WiP-Along

Hello! Today I'd like to share my 6 top tips for making new friends during the Organised October WiP-Along! If you're not sure what this challenge is about, you probably want to read my last blog post first. 

For me, making new friends is one of the best things about joining in with challenges like these! The WiP-Along is taking place on Instagram, the social platform with a suer friendly and supportive crafting community. Whether you have taken part in the WiP-Along or a CAL (Crochet A-Long) or a KAL (Knit A-Long) or something similar before or not, there's sure to be something useful in this post for you.

For me, making new friends is one of the best things about joining in with challenges like these! The WiP-Along is taking place on Instagram, the social platform with a suer friendly and supportive crafting community. Whether you have taken part in the WiP-Along or a CAL (Crochet A-Long) or a KAL (Knit A-Long) or something similar before or not, there's sure to be something useful in this post for you.

Let's dive in ...

  1. If someone leaves a lovely comment on any of your posts, take a moment to leave a friendly reply. If you're not already following them, go and check out their account.
  2. Make sure you're following the hosts. They'll be sharing posts in their stories and you'll be introduced to new accounts. My co-hosts are @andintothetrees, @goslingandplumb, @laboursoflovecrochet and @sewcraftynaz.
  3. Follow the hashtags #wipalong21 and #organisedoctober21 - this way you'll see a few posts everytime you scroll through your feed from accounts you're not following. If you do see posts that interest you, click on them to see more of the other person's posts. Like, comment, save, share, follow - if you like what you see.
  4. Leave lots of encouraging comments on posts or in stories. The chances are, you'll get a reply and the start of a blossoming friendship.
  5. Share other people's content to your stories! This lets them know you appreciate their content and widens everyone's circle of friends! 
  6. If someone new follows you, take a moment to check out their account. If they look like a good match for you, follow them back!

... and I have a bonus tip which is something I try my best to impliment because it's a super friendly way to reach out and connect with new friends - I send new followers a short DM (direct message) introducing myself! When I send these DMs I almost always receive a lovely reply with a bit more information about the other person and our relationship is off to a flying start! If you have a business account you can set this up as a shortcut in DMs. If you don't have a business account, you can set one up in the notes app on your phone and copy & paste from there.

Like I said at the start of this post, the crafting community on Instagram is a positive, supportive one, so don't feel shy about joining in with comments and feedback, everyone is very friendly. I know I've made some really good friends there and I'm sure you will too!

If you have any questions about the WiP-along you can leave a comment below or you can reach out to me on Instagram, I'd love to hear from you! 

Also, if you'd like to keep up to date with my blog posts, receive free patterns, crochet tips & advice, see sneak peeks and more, you can subscribe to my mailing list here.

Until next time,

Marta xx

Friday 17 September 2021

Organised October WiP-Along


Hello! Next month, over on Instagram, I'm co-hosting the Organised October WiP-Along and I'd love you to join us!

What's a WiP-Along? Well, firstly "WiP" stands for Work in Progress and is widely used on Instagram to refer to projects that are on the go. The "Along" refers to the community support of cheering each other on to finish these projects.

If you have a project (or 2, or 5, or 95!) on the go, then this challenge is for you! Dig out those WiPs and take a a look at what needs to be done to finish them. Do you need to order more yarn/fabric/paint etc? Do you need help choosing colours? Do you simply need to get your head down and work on it?

As an extra incentive, there are printables to go along with this too! Laura (goslingandplumb on Instagram) has created a monthly planner, a weekly planner and even a fun bingo sheet with rewards! They are FREE to download so if you're into pretty stationary you should definitely check them out!

my current WiP pile - a mix of crochet & knitting

There will be prompts to encourage you to share photos of your progress - Motivation Monday, Share Saturday etc. We would really like you to post photos of your progress firstly to give you something to look back on and secondly for others to leave you lovely comments, motivating you to continue.

As well as myself and Laura, the other hosts are Ruth (@laboursoflovecrochet), Hannah (@andintothetrees) and Nasreen (@sewcraftynaz). There will be to be tips from all the hosts on tackling your WiPs, covering topics such as setting achievable goals, not comparing yourself to others and challenging yourself.

This annual challenge started back in 2017 and it's not just yarny projects that are welcomed either - you could include sewing, reading, gardening, DIY, calligraphy ... anything creative really!

Are you going to join in? We'd love to see as many of you as possible finishing projects, getting creative, making new friends and cheering each other on, Look out for more details over on Instagram and next week there will be a blog post on Tuesday with some top tips for making the most of this challenge. If you'd like updates straight to your inbox please subscribe to my mailing list here.

If you have any questions, please hit reply to this email or drop me a DM over on Instagram (you know that's my fave hangout!)

Until next time,

Marta xx

Wednesday 8 September 2021

5 Of The Best Slouchy Beanie Crochet Patterns!

Hello! I've picked out 5 slouchy beanie patterns for you to crochet this autumn! They've all been tried & tested by me and I think you're going to love them! I've chosen designs requiring a variety of yarn thicknesses with some free and some paid for patterns. Let's dive in ...

No. 1. is the Lake's Edge Hat by Kat Goldin. This is a free pattern with lots of tutorials to help you if you need them. The hat works up quickly in aran weight yarn (10ply) using V-stitch. I made this hat for my youngest a few years ago and it's still going strong! You can find the pattern here.

No.2 Is the Skipton Hat by Vicki Brown Designs. I loved making this hat, especially in this variegated yarn - the colours kept changing, keeping things interesting. This one is DK weight (8ply) and I added a faux fur pompom! You can find the free pattern here.

No.3 is the Puppy Love Heart Slouchy by Bethany Dearden. The basic pattern in 1 adult size is free on the blog or you can buy the pattern which gives you multiple sizes and eliminates the adverts. This design calls for aran weight (10ply) yarn and it works up super fast! I enjoyed the way the hearts formed in this pattern - I definitely want to make another one!  You can find the free version of the pattern here.

No.4 is the Bromsgrove Hat by Joanne Scrace. This super slouchy design is worked in 4ply and is a great stash buster, you could use as many colours as you like! There are lots of different stitch techniques needed in the rounds, but nothing too tricky - it's rated as easy. This pattern is £4.00 on Ravelry, you can find it here.

No.5 is one of my own designs! This is the Barista Beanie, originally an exclusive for Crate Crochet subscription box in Australia. The pattern alternates between working in rows and working in rounds which gives it lovely drape. Fingering weight (4ply) yarn is required and it finishes with a crochet tie rather than a pompom. Find this pattern on Lovecrafts.com here.

Subscribe to my newsletter to receive more crochet inspiration, free patterns, crochet tips & advice here. I hope you've found this post useful. Let me know if you give any of them a try, I'd love to know how you get on!

Until next time, happy crocheting,

Marta xx

Friday 3 September 2021

My crochet pattern of the month for September is ...

Hello! It's suddenly September and I know that many of you are starting to crochet warmer items for the months ahead, so I have chosen socks as my featured pattern this month.

My Fabulous Socks! are a toe up design using extended stitches to create excellent stretch around the foot. The pattern includes a link to my YouTube tutorial showing you exactly how to create these stitches.

The cuffs are worked in rows of back loop only stitches, creating a snug finish around the ankles.

100g of sock weight yarn is sufficient for each of the sizes. I used Paintbox Yarns sock yarn in Stripes - Rainbow, but any sock yarn will work for this pattern.

I've rated this pattern as intermediate level. If you've never crocheted socks before but have are confident beginner level onwards, you'll be absoloutely fine with this pattern. 

Throughout the month of September you can use the code SEPT21 at the checkout on Ravelry to receive 20% off this pattern.

If you have any questions you can drop me a comment below or you can send me a DM on  Instagram, I'm more than happy to help you out. Don't forget to tag me on Instagram if you crochet a pair too, I'd love to see!

Until next time, happy crocheting, 

Marta xx

Lazy Days CAL Kit Launch!

Hello! I'm so, so pleased with how this year's Lazy Days CAL kits have come together! It has been a real pleasure to collaborate wit...