Tuesday 31 January 2023

How I became a crochet designer, part 2


Hello! This is part 2 in my 'How I became a crochet designer' series and in this email I'm actually going further back in time, to when my Nana tried to teach me to knit! If you missed part 1 you can find it in this blog post.

My nana, pictured above with my middle sister and me (right), always had something on the needles and I would sit and watch as she knitted clothes for my dolls or socks for my dad, fascinated by the process of creating something so intricate from a simple ball of wool.
She was a prize winning knitter, winning first prize at local and national level for her Shetland lace shawls - they were stunningly beautiful.
My nana tried to teach me of course. I remember, aged 10, knitting a brown and yellow mitt to wear with my Brownie uniform. Second Mitt Syndrome struck and its partner never made an appearance!
I didn't really take to knitting back then, possibly because she made it look so slick and fast and I felt so clunky and slow. There were other cast ons as well as the mitts, but never any cast offs!
I wish she could see me now! As far as knitting goes, I'm still slow but I am FINISHING things!! And this early introduction to playing with yarn defineltely led to my later love of crochet. Sure, my nana crocheted too, everyone did back then - I possibly even saw her doing it, but to my untrained eye everything was classed as knitting.
The lesson in this for me was don't give up! I could clearly see the potential of creating with wool and although it was knitting which had initially attracted me, it was later that crochet sealed the deal!
I'll share the later part of my story next week and if you'd like to read more about my childhood knitting journey in the meantime, the blog post titled 'Why I was banished from knitting in Primary School' might interest you!

My nana with my eldest son

Can I give you a quick reminder that today is the last day to buy my Bandwagon Mitts at the special price of just £3.60! This crochet design is my current pattern of the month - simply add the code JAN23 at the checkout on Ravelry and on my website!

Until next time, happy crocheting,
Marta xx

Thursday 26 January 2023

How wool saved the day!

Hello! Last Friday we had a guy round to fit us up with a smart meter for our gas and electric. Our existing electric meter was actually broken, so even though we'd heard lots of stories from other people about issues arising from the process, we had to go with it.

To cut a long story short, the engineer suspected our boiler to be faulty and cut off our gas supply. At lunch time. ON A FRIDAY!

Could we get hold of a plumber on a Friday afternoon? No.

Did we have a cold weekend? YES!

Things were actually ok over the weekend because I had craft group on Sturday morning, church on Sunday morning and I went for long walks both afternoons. We also had a few electric heaters (we did did still have electricity, phew!). 

But, Monday morning after nearly 3 days of no heating the house was COLD. It was a dark and miserable morning outside too.
Hubby was off to work and our youngest was off to college and I was alone in the house waiting for the plumber who MIGHT have time to pop in and check the problem (but it was likely to be Tuesday they said).
Well, hooray for the tribe of ladies in the small biz community that I'm in because they cheered me up with silly GIFs and suggested I go put on all my woolly layers and make a reel!

This is exactly what I did! I was already wearing lots of crocheted and knitted items but I went OTT and put on 2 hats, a cowl, a scarf and a shawl! 
Not only did making the video give me purpose and give me a giggle, it also went on to gain over 16K views on Instagram! Crazy for me!

The little snippet above shows only the end of the video. If you missed it and want to watch the whole thing, click the link to Instagram here.

No doubt about it, wool definitely does keep you warm, which is why I choose it for my designs. If you're interested in my crochet patterns, you can find them on my website, on Ravelry and on LoveCrafts. Below is a pic of one of my most popular hat patterns, my Elsie Beanie, which is crocheted in merino wool.

I hope this post has inspired you to layer up in wool too! If you'd like to receive my blog posts straight to your inbox, please sign up to my newsletter here. 

Until next time, happy crocheting

Marta xx


Monday 23 January 2023

How I became a crochet designer, part 1

Hello! I don't think I've shared my full story in a blog post before and thought it might be interesting for you to know a bit about my background. 

From a young age my mum encouraged me to be creative. She can knit, sew, upholster & restore furniture, decorate, cook, bake and look after the garden - she can even crochet a little! Growing up we were always dressed in handmade clothes and later she drafted and sewed my wedding dress which was absolutely stunning!

The wedding day photo above shows me with my dad who was giving me away and in the background my 2 younger sisters and my flower girl in dresses my mum made for them.  We had a ceilidh in the evening and boy, did that dress twirl well on the dance floor - I'm so proud of my mum for making it so beautifully! The pic below depicts me and my husband during one of my favourite dances, Strip the Willow (no clothing is removed for those of you unfamiliar with scottish ceilidh dancing!).

Back to my story! Growing up I was surrounded by all my mum's pursuits and I was definitely inspired by them. I used to love visits to the haberdashery, in particular a small, family owned one we used to visit which was an Aladdin's cave of goodies and treasures! The sights, smells and things to touch and feel (when no-one was looking of course!) were such an inspiration for me. One of my favourite things was also the sound of the big scissors cutting through metres of fabric on the counter (if you know, you know!).

So, in my late twenties when I properly began crocheting (and knitting) it was fantastic to have my mum nearby to ask for help and advice. She was also fun to go to the local yarn shop with and steer me clear of tricky-to-work-with fuzzier yarns and gave me the fond love of real wool that I have today.

My mum has also pushed me to try new techniques, to broaden my skills and to really go for it! In turn, I've also encouraged her. At one point she was in a bit of a knitting slump and I showed her some brioche patterns - a technique she hadn't come across before - and suddenly her passion was reignited!

Right now, she is busy knitting me a pair of socks designed by Stephen West, the Painted Bricks Socks and they are working up a charm!
I realise that my mum is only one of the people I have to thank for where I am today and as this is already a fairly lengthy email, I think I'll share more in part 2 next week!

Until then, happy crocheting,

Marta xx

PS. This is your last week to take advantage of 10% off my Bandwagon Mitts! Simply use the code JAN23 on Ravelry or on my website to claim your discount.


Have You Taken My Colour & Crochet Course?

A circle of buttons set out like the colour wheel.  Text reads Colour & Crochet Course

Hello! Did you know I share many techniques for choosing colours with you in my Colour & Crochet Course? The course is a mix of theory and practical steps which you can take at your own pace to gain confidence in choosing colours for your crochet projects and any other creative endeavours!

Did you also know that I have a degree in Fine Art? Looking back over the 4 years I spent at art college, my favourite part of the course was a 2 week block in first year which focused on colour! I absolutely loved that short course and threw myself in it head first, spending all my time and energy on it! and learning in the process. One of the exercises was to take paint swatch cards and pair them up, firstly in twos, then threes, then fours as our colour theory knowledge expanded.

An achromatic scale in purple using buttons

My Colour & Crochet Course comes with 4 of my crochet patterns which use multiple colours to for you to have fun and put your new knowledge of colour to straight into practice;

  • Air Balloon Beanie
  • Banjo Socks
  • Printer Ink scarf
  • In The Groove cushion cover

The trickiest part is going to be choosing which one to crochet first!

I'm fully available should you have any questions about the course - now and throughout your colour journey! Now it's your turn to have fun and let your colours shine!

Until next time,

Marta xx


Friday 13 January 2023

Warm hands, warm heart!


Hello! Do you suffer from cold hands? I certainly do, that's why I've chosen my Bandwagon Mitts as January's pattern of the month offer! There's sure to be another cold spell coming our way here, we're not out of Winter yet and I think I'll whip up another pair of these myself!

Whether they're for yourself or for gifting, these mitts will work up in a matter of hours - why not buy the pattern today and make them this weekend, ready for the next period of cold weather?

Are you ready to throw that snowball? Here are all the pattern details ...

  • It begins with a stretchy rib worked as a long strip, next it's joined to make a round and then crocheted up to the fingertips in a continous spiral. A gap is made for the thumb and the thumb is crocheted in at the end.
  • I've rated it as intermediate level.
  • The pattern is available in 6 sizes ranging from child to adult XL.
  • Yarn requirements range between 50g of DK weight yarn for the smallest size up to 150g of DK weight yarn for the largest.
  • There is a video tutorial for closing the fingertips and thumbs.
  • It's written in UK and US terms.
  • As with all my designs, this one has been tech edited and tested.
  • I used West Yorkshire Spinners Aire DK which is sadly discontinued in solid colours but is still available in variegated colourways.
  • On Ravelry one of the download options is for a full photo tutorial accompanying the pattern, (ideal if you are fairly new to crochet).
Use the code JAN23 for 10% off the pattern this month only. Code is valid on my website and on Ravelry.

Have fun crocheting, whatever you choose to make this weekend,
Marta xx

Monday 9 January 2023

Looking after your hands: 5 top tips every crocheter should know!

Hello! Today I'd like to focus on the important topic of looking after our hands. It's something we all know we should be doing but in reality it's something we often overlook - myself included!

When we crochet our hands and wrists are doing a lot of work and we do need to take care of them to avoid stress or injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones that we use. Prevention is always better than cure, so I have 5 top tips for you which I'll share with you below.

1. Take frequent breaks

I know, I know! You're really enjoying sitting comfy on the sofa, the stitches are flying off your hook and you want to do one more row! BUT, taking breaks is really important. Even if it's just 5 minutes, get up, move around, go empty the dishwasher (shudders!), anything that means you're not crocheting for long periods at a time. 30-60 minutes is the max you should do in 1 session.


2. Change where you're sitting

Switch things up! If you were sitting on the sofa, move to the dining table. You could try standing at a counter top or a standing desk if you have one. This will change your whole body's alignement and help relieve strain on certain areas.


3. Do some stretches

A few simple stretches before a crochet session will help to prepare your hands and wrists for the actions to follow. At the end of your session you can repeat the exercises to help relieve any tension which has built up too. I've uploaded a short YouTube video sharing a few simple exercises - go check it out here!


4. Have different projects on the go

YES! I am hereby giving you permission to have multiple WiPs! By switching from an amigurumi project with a 3mm hook to a chunky jumper with an 8mm hook you will be using completely different muscle groups, meaning you can crochet for longer periods!


5. Give your hands and wrists a massage

Apply some handcream and gently rub it in, feeling out for any niggles and easing them away as you go. I really enjoy this little ritual and my hands feel softer and less likely to catch on the yarn too!

Friday 6 January 2023

My commitment to you!

Hello and Happy New Year to you! Here's a selfie I took out on my first longer walk of 2023 - the light was just beautiful! My topic for this post is words for the year.

Do you like to choose a word for the year ahead? I began choosing one as my focus for the year 5 or 6 years ago and this year I've chosen the word commitment

This means

  • a commitment to you on my mailing list. I will continue to send my Crochet Chit Chat on a Friday morning with one or two emails in between.
  • a commitment to those who buy my patterns & courses. I will be there for you throughout your Marta Mitchell Designs pattern/ course journey; you can come to me with all your questions and I will get back to you promptly.
  • a commitment to showing up and recording podcast episodes over on YouTube. I currently record every 2 weeks which I think is a good schedule.
  • a commitment on Instagram. Showing up, replying to comments on my posts, encouraging others on their posts. Building up the supportive community that I have around me on Instagram.
  • a commitment to producing new and exciting patterns & courses and a commitment to making them the best they can be.
  • a commitment to creating interesting and useful crochet blog content. Did you know I wrote 75 ad-free blog posts in 2022? Link at the bottom of this email if you want to check that out!
I want the word commitment to spread to all the other areas of my life too. Basically, if I'm doing something I want to be doing it whole heartedly and to the best of my abilities.
Obviously, I accept that I am human and there are times when I am going to mess up. Please give me a gentle nudge if you think I need it and forgive me for the times when I don't live up to expectations.
What about YOU? Have you picked a word as your focus for 2023? Let me know by leaving me a comment, I'd love to encourage you on your journey.

That's all for this week, happy crocheting,

Marta xx

PS. If you'd like to receive these blog posts straight to your inbox so you you don't miss a post, sign up to my mailing list here.


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