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Now she has her own sewing machine…

My older daughter will turn 11 this summer, but she’s turning into a craft addict. Or rather, a sewing addict.
Lately she’s been asking more and more to use my sewing machine… leaving tons of bits and pieces in my office (hand-drawn “patterns”, remainings of fleece and fabrics…) to make clothes for her dolls or her sister’s dolls, sew a bag for her music books.. and then make another bag as a Xmas present for her grandmother.

I felt it might be a good idea to let her have her “own” sewing machine in her bedroom as I have 4 of them, mostly vintage numbers. (I did insist that I’m not giving it to her though, just a long-term loan)
I figured this way she’ll also learn to clean it and take care of it… and the mess in my office will only be mine.
Rabbit plushie
This seemed esp a good idea after she finished this rabbit plush for her friend’s birthday last week. As usual, she did everything by herself and despite my initial fears I quickly saw she did an awesome job !! Not perfect for someone looking for details, but perfect for a 10 year-old in my book !
Rabbit plushie
I only gave her a couple pieces of advice for the shaping of the ears and the fluffy tail.. because oh yeah she did use a pattern but it was for a bear !! She has NO fear :-)
Zigzag Elna sewing machine
Then yesterday I had time to look up the vintage “Elna zigzag” gem found in our local recycling center for a dozen Euros. Couldn’t figure out the tension first time I used it, but somehow this time it worked perfectly. Using Ikea sewing thread might help as I had already noted thicker thread worked better.

It’s such a beautiful machine, sewing ever soooo smoothly. I told her over and over again how she needs to take good care of it and I think she’ll do her best. I found the manual here (in french) so our next lesson will focus on where to oil it, and how to remove the lint and generally take good care of it. I know we’ll have fun.
And I love the way she fitted their small desk in her cupboard to make a true sewing corner. Looking already so professional ! (and reassuring to think my sewing machine won’t be exposed to too much dust..)
Zigzag Elna sewing machine
Meanwhile she’s already “taking orders” from her sister for doll’s clothes. Apparently some of her friends are also trying and place orders for headbands and whatnots. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it in a few years…

Oh and did you have a close look at the Elna ? It works with a knee bar, just like my other vintage Elna, a Supermartic inherited from my grand-mother. The knee bar takes a few minutes to get used to, but really it’s no big deal. The way you have to thread the machine through the back is always more of a suprise to me. And the machine sews so smoothly that it’s worth it.

Lett lopi crocheted hooded jacket by Sylvie Damey
Good progress to be reported since last week. I closed the hood, crocheted along its edge to start on shoulders, separated sleeves…
InProgress5
and continued down towards the waist. For the hip increases, I chose to gather them along each side and in the back. To beautify our perfectly flat stomachs ;-)

Will soon run out of the light grey (except for provisional amount set aside for sleeves) but that’s ok because I will then change back to COLORS ! Mirrored stacks of color blocks matching the hood. Aren’t you getting impatient to see it finished ? I am !!

WIP wednesday – a story of hoods…

I currently have 2 hooded jackets on the hook.
This one was started over a month ago, yet I’m still not done with the hood because…

crochet wip by Sylvie Damey
It started with this idea: make a hooded jacket with rainbow colors up the hood and down the edge of the jacket. After choosing colors among the super large array of colors of the icelandic Lett Lopi yarn, I got started… and chose spike sts to transition from one color to the other.
Except soon enough the question of symmetry troubled my sleep: because the hood and jacket would be worked in opposite directions, so would the Spikes. No biggie for me, but I know some crocheters would find this odd.

crochet wip by Sylvie Damey
So I started looking for options. Including working the hood in the other direction… (hood #2) It just didn’t work.
Plus by then I realised I wanted a larger hood this time, and thus needed more red. Enter hood #3.

hoodmorered2
I think we should be good this time though. Can’t wait to crochet more and see this project develop. If all goes well, it should make an exciting new design .. :-)

New year, Resolutions and organisation

crochet flowers workshop by Sylvie Damey
Happy New Year !! May it be joyfull & creative, full of love among your loved ones !!

I hardly worked at all for 2 weeks, not even touching my hooks (and that doesn’t happen often) but it now feels good to get back to work. During the last months of 2014 I tried to focus on making my business grow in a sustainable way, ie a way that feeds my family. It’s no big news that actually making a living from designing crochet patterns is no easy task. But I still want to believe it is possible.

Thus I tried to stop and think. Read blogs dealing with creative micro-businesses. And realised one thing: seing my patterns published in magazines or books and being somewhat “famous” especially on Ravelry is NOT going to feed my family (being the sole bread-earner at this time, it’s a big concern for me). YET if I’m being honest, there are many crochet designers out there who are doing well with their patterns but not on Ravelry. I need to think outside the box and focus on making it work. Which means marketing. Not in a bad way, but just finding ways to spread the word and let the world know how fabulous my patterns are ;-)

I did a lot of reading. I did a lot of thinking. I did a lot of experimenting. And the results started to come, which is already SO very encouraging. I feel like I’m finally going in the right direction.

So in 2015 I want to keep focusing on taking my business more seriously.

– Focus on what works ( = crochet garments in my case) for my business and keep the other fun stuff for my personal enjoyment. Because that’s ok too. :-)
– Get organised. Make a weekly planning to keep some days dedicated to blogging / social media and other long-term thinking.
– Take time to explore new crochet techniques.
– Blog on a regular basis, for instance with a “designing monday”, “Wip wednesday”, or “technique thursday”. Not all of those every week but that should help..
– Take time to share more with the crochet community who shares my passion through my (fast growing, yay !!!) Facebook page.
– And more generally, take my business seriously. Which I always did. But I’ll try and add new things. I like very much Stacey Trock‘s approach for instance. Good food for thought.

How about you ? Any resolutions for the New Year, business-related or not ?

Getting into Amigurumis…

Because I teach workshops locally, students have asked about an Amigurumi workshop.
Well I did crochet a couple amigurumis ages ago, but not that many. Totally needed to refresh my skills in that area.

I started looking around, and collecting ideas and techniques into an Amigurumi Pinterest board.
Here are some of the creatures that emerged from those weeks of brainstorming and crocheting to prepare the workshop:

Lamb
This one has to be my favorite. The original Lamb had a fluffy pink fleece but I used bouclé pure wool that I dyed years ago in shades of green.

My lamb is way bigger (and heavier) than the original, measuring about 30 cm (12 in). I love that it will sit somewhere and not budge… Can already picture it on my stand during wool festivals !

Pattern: Amigurumi Pinky lamb
Yarn & hooks: bulky bouclé pure wool + bulky acrylic blend (french brand) and 6.5 mm (K) hook
Mods: larger hook, and modified the “hat” which came out much too large for my taste. (+ was short on yarn)

Owl
This little owlet was free-styled to use as my main workshop project. Easy enough yet it features the first basic techniques to make amigurumis: start with magic ring, make a flat circle in sc, work straight in a tube, use safety eyes ect, sew limbs onto body…. I just looked at the gazillion Owl crochet patterns online and chose my favorite features: 2 colors, little rounded wings, and fluffly feathers on top of each “ear”…

Pattern: my own, written to use during Amigurumi workshops
Yarn & hooks: 5 mm (H) and various worsted weight acrylic yarns from stash

SnowmanFini
Aaah, and this one is just so cute ! Totally inspired by a pattern, but I wanted to do it my way so I could use it for my workshop if we had enough time (which we totally didn’t !) as it includes more of the basic shapes used to make amigurumis: flat circle, sphere, tube and cone…

Pattern: totally inspired by this snowman pattern (although I used my own instructions)
Yarn & hooks: 5 mm (H) and various dk weight acrylic yarns from stash

As for the workshop ?
It was great, and each student made their own Owlet. Full story and more pictures on my Workshop blog (in french)
Ami4

Inspiring crochet – Visual artist Nick Cave

This week I discovered the inspiring world of Nick Cave (no, not the musician. Quite amazing to see there are 2 out-of-this-world Nick Caves on this earth !!) thanks to the ever-inspiring french Tricotine.
Nick Cave Visual artist
First I was … let’s say surprised. Yet quickly the collage of random crochet hats and bags and various odments to create a human mask/suit/sculpture resonated deeply within.

I love the story of how he came to making those sculptures, collecting oddments from thrift stores and flea markets to turn them into a work of art. And how his work can not easily be classified into a specific category, art, dance, fashion…?

Here are a couple videos to get a better grasp of his work.

first a quick introduction

and a slightly longer one which I really loved watching, esp. as it allows to see those famous Sound Suits in movement

And for those who read french, beautiful photos and inspiring conference by Nick Cave.

I tend to focus only on “usefull crochet” because I don’t have room for decor. And let’s face it, because I need to feed my family.
But it’s enlightening to see crochet from a different angle. Beauty also feeds us, although on a different level.

Did you know about Nick Cave’s work ? Any other amazing crochet artist you’d recommend ?

Sewing for me and her…

Last week-end was all about rain and crappy weather. To try and keep the girls happy, I suggested we do some sewing together… My older daughter kept herself busy making a cardboard doll house for her sister’s Barbies, and sewing barbie clothes on her own (10 year old and she can now nearly handle the sewing machine on her own !).
Fini4
So I had a couple hours to finish off another “Lubin t-shirt” started months ago: I loved my first one so much I’ve always wanted to make more. Then a friend gave us tons of fabrics from his late mum’s stash. Score ! Those fabrics are not true knits (more like the kind of fabric intended to make those shapeless retirement home dresses.. ;-) ) but you can see how the grey and plum ones work perfectly for this. Good news being that I still have tons of yardage both in those same colors AND different neat colors.

Fini3 Fini2 Fini1R
It’s a raglan style t-shirt, and the collar always comes out a little large. I gathered it using a repurposed pink knit cut out from a repurposed turtle-neck t-shirt … Works like a charm !

And the little detail I love: having those stripy orange and fushia sleeves popping out from my warm woolies all winter :-D

Pattern : “Lubin” from french sewing book “Sarouels” by Valerie Roy.
Size made : 38
Alterations : longer sleeves, and cut the bottom slightly curved.

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Then my younger daughter came around and asked if we could get started on her leggings now (her second passion in life after chewing-gums ;-) )

FIni1
That ones loves colors ! I chose this super funky thick jersey knits (the kind of fabric used for sweater-shirts), given by a neat aunt lately. Yes, I’m so lucky to be given fabric :-D
This fabric is quite heavier than what I usually use for leggings, but then we live in a cold place and she’s loving the fact that she can still wear leggings despite the temperature drop !

Fini2 Fini3 Fini4
We got ready for the photo-shoot, but noticed the big stain on her sweater. Off went the sweater… Now to rearrange the matching headband made in 2 seconds with the leftovers…

Fini5 Fini6 Fini7
And here she goes, ready to run and play… perfect clown as usual !!

Pattern: “Riviera leggings” from the book “Sewing clothes kids love” by Nancy Langdon & Sabine Pollehn.
Size: used a template cut previously for older daughter in size 140. Ended up way too long for my 8 year old, but that was easy to fix. And width looks great.
Alterations : not much, only recut the bottom of legs to shorten them. Sewed a large hem, so I can lengthen it later if needed when she keeps growing…

Just wanted to share some pretty amazing colorful and happy hooded crocheted cardigans made following my Ermeline, Armel and Jehanne cardigans patterns, found through my Facebook page and Ravelry:

Ermeline, pattern by Sylvie Damey, made byTrictoYmasFB
First I spotted this stunning Ermeline crochet cardigan, photographed from the back to showcase that super long hood which makes it so attractive to many of us. This one was beautifully made by TricotyMas and I love that color combination of orange and blues she chose!

Armel hooded cardigan, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey, made by CKGF Armel hooded cardigan, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey, made by CKGF
As soon as I saw this happy rainbow version of the Armel hooded cardigan on Ravelry, I asked CKFG if I could share it here, and she graciously agreed. I love it, and can totally picture a cute outgoing boy wearing this every day !

TrishJones2R Jehanne hooded cardigan, pattern by Sylvie Damey, made by TrishJones
Trish Jones graciously shared not one, not two.. but FOUR of her Jehanne hooded cardigans !!! She chose to customize hers with added granny triangles around the cuffs, to accentuate the elfic tone of her jackets.. (have seen that before among the Ravelry projects as well, it’s so cool to see variations on your patterns and how people add their own personal touch !)

TrishJones1R TrishJones3R
Oh, and you gotta love what she says about them too, I bet Trish is a fun person to hang out with ;-)
” I wear my sweaters every day – I teach school and am famous for them. I added a dragon tail to the end of the blue one. The brown is one I made for a friend at work and the orange is my daughter’s. Her teacher had her model and spin for her class You have given us so much pleasure in your designs. Thank you so much for making them available in English!”

Would you like to share pictures of clothes you crocheted using my crochet patterns ? Please send them along, or leave a comment if you have already published them on a blog !

After 2 patterns for babies and kids, here’s one for us :-)

Right after I finished the Roseline cardigan, I thought well maybe I could wear one too.. Then friends started to comment how they’d like one for themselves too.
Ombeline cardigan, http://SylvieDamey.com
It just so happened that I stumbled upon this bag of Knit Picks “wool of the Andes” stashed for years, waiting for the right project. Looked just perfect !

And thus, a month or so later, this piece emerged. With a high Empire waist, lacy skirt, delicate picots edging, and long sleeves with lacy flared cuffs. I’m in love. And the heathered colors of this yarn are so soft, contrasting with the lime single I used for the edgings (Gedifra Fashion trend Fino, apparently now discontinued).
Ombeline cardigan, http://SylvieDamey.com Ombeline cardigan, http://SylvieDamey.com Ombeline cardigan, http://SylvieDamey.com

This pattern is explained in 5 sizes from XS to XL. Pattern is richly illustrated with many step by step photos.

Materials:
– Knit Picks “Wool of the Andes”: 9 (10, 12, 13, 14) skeins in Amethyst Heather and 1 skein of similar weight yarn in a contrasting color
– 5.5 mm (H) hook (or size needed to achieve gauge)
– 5 buttons – approx 1,5 cm / ¾ in diameter

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL) – Bust: 71/76 (81/86, 91/96, 101/106, 111/116) cm – 28/30 (32/34, 36/38, 40/42, 44/46) inches

Finished bust dimensions of cardigan: 72 (82, 92, 103, 112) cm – 28 1⁄4 (32 1⁄4, 36 1⁄4, 40 1⁄2, 44) inches. Cardigan is meant to be worn with negative ease.

Gauge: 16 sts and 8 rows = 10 cm/4″ over double crochet in front loop (dcfl)
Note: gauge should be measured over slightly stretched fabric, to mimic worn garment.

Pattern is available on Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy.

Or buy it directly here:
Price: $6

Once again, thanks to my team of super testers for their helpful feedback. Care to see what theirs look like ? :-)
disou2 colinetteR nzcarmsR coudreDuCoeurR

Lutin Marguerite, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey http://SylvieDamey.com

“Lutin Marguerite” is another design with a super long hood, this time made with worsted weight to fit little ones with sizes going from 6 months to 2 year old.

As you may know, I’m french. Every now and again I like to use french words to describe my patterns: “lutin” is the french word for “Elf”…

Lutin Marguerite, crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey, http://SylvieDamey.com Marguerite floral motif by Sylvie Damey, http://SylvieDamey.com

It features a cute “marguerite” (= daisies in french) floral motif along the edge of the hood and the bottom edge.

Crab stitch edges compliment the unique look, while twisted cords make a safe closure system for babies.

Originally made with recycled cotton and hemp worsted weight yarn (available as a KIT for this design), you could also use colored yarns, just as my amazing testers did.

Pattern is now available through Etsy, Ravelry, Craftsy.

Or buy it now ($6)

Confiture1 Maellingson2 WP_002050 image_2 image

Lutin2 Lutin1

Oh. And one last thing. Like the Lutin Marguerite but you’d like to make it in MORE KIDS SIZES ? No problem. Use bulky yarn and a 6.0 mm (J) hook, to achieve gauge of 13 stitches and 6 rows = 4 inches in dc in the front loop (US crochet terms)

If you’d like to make a Lutin Marguerite in larger KIDS SIZES:
the same 4 sizes given in instructions should give you sizes 4 YEAR OLD to 10 YEAR OLD.

I use the same base for all my kids patterns, thus change the gauge and you’ll get more kids sizes as for the Roselette top or Roseline cardigan.

However, for a hooded cardigan such as this one, you may have to adjust the size of the Hood, as I sized it down to get the proper sizing for babies. :-)

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