Banners, Branding and a New Pattern

It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but that is because I have been waiting to reveal a few things.

The change to Designs by Emma @AllNeedles is now almost complete.  Here is my new design!

Custom Esty Shop - Starter Kit_Avatar Logo

The only thing left to do is the name of my page on Facebook.  For some reason, because I have over 400 likes I have to provide some kind of evidence of the name of my business.  Such as a phone or utility bill.  I have neither of these so am still working on this one.

My Etsy shop has had a complete re-vamp.  A new name as well as a new banner and profile pic.  Pop over and take a little peek.  I would love to know how you think it is looking.  I now need to start going through all my listings and update the pictures and descriptions.  Something I always put off!

This week has also seen the release of my latest knitting pattern – The Caitlin Cabled Skater Skirt.  This one has been a bit of a labour of love.  It was designed for my daughter which is why I named it after her.  She just loves skater style skirts which are really flared at the bottom and get more fitted the closer they get to the hips.  The shape creates a wonderful swing when the wearer moves and twirls.

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The pattern was originally designed in a smaller size for children from 11 years up through the teenage years, to fit up to a 32 inch waist.  It has elastic inserted into the waistband, so if you need a smaller size you just put in a smaller piece.  This adds even more to the gathers and swing of the skirt.  When I started to share pictures of the skirt on Instagram I had such lovely comments but more and more people were asking for a larger size.

So much maths, headaches and testing by some wonderful knitters later the pattern also includes a size which will fit up to a 36 inch waist and also is a little longer for taller people.  The pattern is a lovely big cable alternated with a smaller cable.  The flare is created by panels between the cables which get smaller towards the waistband.

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As always, all my patterns are also available on Ravelry, Love Knitting, and Craftsy too!

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Writer’s Block

This week family life has taken over a little and I am late in writing this.  My daughter injured her finger in PE and so instead of blogging yesterday morning I ended up in the small injuries unit at A&E.  She has damaged her growth plate and now has a rather snazzy splint type thing she has to wear.  You can see a picture on my Instagram.

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I have also spent time this week looking at my knitting pattern business and decided I need a re-brand.  When I first started over a year ago I was concentrating more on making handmade knitted and sewn gifts.  Now I am moving more towards knitting and crochet patterns so my logo doesn’t quite fit anymore.

With this I have been trying to write a new tag line.  I have been finding this incredibly hard.

What do I offer?  Knitting and crochet patterns.  So what?  Well, I have a variety of patterns available, from quick knits for beginners to larger more complicated projects.  Especially the few that I have lined up for release over the next few weeks.  And?  I like to think that my patterns are the kind that you will not only want to make, but want to wear when you have finished too.

And there you have it.  Knitting and crochet patterns you will want to make and wear.

What do you think?

Is This The Death of Creative Education?

Something that you may or may not know about me is that I have recently taken on the role of school governor, well, we are actually called Directors at this school.  It was a decision I made because of the wonderful work they had done with my son who has autism, because my daughter was joining Year 7, I had a little spare time and I thought it would be nice to give something back.  I only attended my first board meeting in December but so far I am enjoying the role.  I have been asked to have responsibility for Food Technology and Textiles, two subjects I would like to think I know a thing or two about!

Yesterday I went into school to meet with the Director of Learning for the Technology Department, or in other words, the Head of Department.   The meeting didn’t get off to the best of starts considering they couldn’t find the lady for half an hour and then she left me waiting a further 20 minutes!  Eventually she collected me and we had a tour around the technology department.  Some very large Year 11 children were busy at work, both in the kitchens cooking for a GCSE assessment, and also in the workshops where there was lots of cutting, hammering and welding going on.  But the textiles rooms?  Deserted.  The walls were half bare too.  I was shocked and saddened to hear that not one single child had chosen textiles as one of their options.

Apparently one of the reasons for this could be that the project they complete in Year 9 before they choose their GCSEs is not exactly enthusing the children.  They make a bag in Year 7, a cushion cover in Year 8 but in Year 9 they make a fabric postcard which even the staff admit isn’t very interesting.  Why can’t we offer them something like a simple quilting project which can be VERY addictive?  So I decided to look into this further.

Simply by doing a Google search I found a few articles and papers written about the decline in creative subjects within schools.  Primary children get very little chance to make things, as evidenced by a lesson I taught as a supply teacher recently where not one Year 4 child in a class of 29 knew what to do when I gave them a needle and thread!

One of the best articles I read on this was by the Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/feb/11/design-craft-subjects-decline-in-schools  in which it is clear that Educational policy is one of the reasons for the decline.  A few years ago the EBac was introduced which placed a greater emphasis on ‘academic’ subjects rather than those that are more artistic and creative.  GCSEs have recently gone through change from being all about getting ‘5GCSEs at A* – C including English and Maths’ to a ‘Best 8’ system which turns grades into numbers and gives a student an average points score similar to the American system.

It works like putting all subjects into three boxes.  My Year 9 son will have to study English Literature and Language and Maths which will go into the first box and be double weighted in this new points system.  He will have other compulsory lessons such as PE but will end up with room on his timetable for just three options.  One of these MUST be from science, computing, history, geography or a language – basically traditional EBac subjects and they will go in the second box. The final two choices will be from any of the subjects the school offers, but if a child chooses two creative subjects they could possibly end up in a situation where only one will count towards the final points, leaving the other as a zero score and the child with a potential deficit in their overall points.  This will put them at a disadvantage compared to a child who choses more academic subjects and thereby gains a higher points average.  And of course all this has an impact on the school league tables too which has led to some schools leaving children with only one choice of subject at GCSE in order to maximise the potential for points.

All of this seems to be in a complete juxtaposition of what is happening if you look at community courses, or adult education.  There has been a significant growth in the number of adults enrolling for evening classes in creative areas.  People are choosing to spend their free time and hard earned money on anything from knitting to flower arranging.  This could lead to craft based skills only being available to those people who can afford to learn them.  How will that impact on already disadvantaged families?

Something that also came up in my reading is the growing evidence of increased childhood depression.  More and more young adults are needing help with their mental health, they are suffering from stress placed on them to achieve in their exams.  Suicide rates continue to increase and there seems to be a new story in the news every week about the lack of funding in the NHS for mental health, especially for young adults.  There has been studies into this and it has been proven that increased creativity can reduce depression, stress and anxiety.  Are we doing our children a huge injustice by taking away their creative outlets and replacing them with yet more academia and stress?

We also need to consider the long term life choices that could be affected by what the children can study at school.  When I was taking my GCSEs our school didn’t have a textiles teacher, and so it wasn’t offered as an option.  Something which has always bothered me as I am pretty sure that my career choices would have been very different if I had been able to work with materials from a much younger age.  So can you imagine my horror this morning when I discovered that the school I am now a Director of, with a responsibility that includes textiles, is not offering it as an option to the current Year 9 children for one of their Year 10 subjects!

I would love to hear your views on this, do you have any ideas or comments?  Do you have children in this position?  Would they like to do more creative things in school?

I feel like I need to do something about this.  It may already be too late for those children going into Year 10 in September, but what about future generations?  And one last thing to ponder, I did hear a rumour that the government is now trying to make PE lessons less practical too – where will this all stop?