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?

What do you do all day?

This is a question I have been asked on a few occasions recently.  Not only do my children think that I sit and watch TV all day, but it seems that a lot of people I come into contact with wonder just what it is that I do with my day.

Alright, so I will admit that when I am at the knitting stage of a project I do have a pretty easy time of it.  Yes, I can sit on the sofa with the fire going, get cups of tea as and when I want them and binge watch a series or some movies.  Not a bad way to work?

But that isn’t the whole story.  I do spend many hours in front of a computer too.  Such as now.  Blogging once a week is a business target for 2015.  But what should I write about every week?  Sometimes I have an idea which just flows.  Other days I may need to do some research or take some photos to go in the post.

When I have finished knitting an item I have to type up my notes and turn them into something people can follow to make their own version.  This can be time consuming as I need photos too.  On Sunday we had a lot of snow.  I suddenly jumped up and ran out into it with some boot cuffs.  The white stuff made a fantastic background for the photos and I just had to have them for the pattern page.

When the pattern is written it needs to be listed and uploaded to the internet for people to look at and buy.  This all takes time.  I currently sell my patterns on Etsy, Craftsy, Ravelry and Love Knitting.  So that is four times I have to type in details of the pattern and upload photos and files.  This week I have released the pattern for my Diamond Lace Boot Cuffs which took a few hours of work.

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Then there is social media.  That could swallow up whole days if you let it!  It is not enough to write my patterns, put them on the internet and trust that ‘if you build it they will come’.  They don’t.  And how could they?  Who has told them where to come to?  Me.  I need to tell them where to come and what they will find when they arrive.

Of course I can’t just tweet constantly about my knitting patterns that I am trying to sell.  That would get very old, very quickly.  I need to show that I am a real person.  The clue is in the name – social.  Interaction with other people is key.  So whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram you can’t just post and run expecting people to follow you and love your products.  This week I have really been trying to make a better effort on Twitter and Instagram in particular.  I have posted pictures of work in progress, re-tweeted interesting things other knitters and crocheters are posting.  I have spent hours replying and commenting on things in my feed as well as searching out posts using #knitting and trying to fave and comment on them too.

I am exhausted just talking to you about it!  Then on top of all this I have two children who demand my time, a dog that needs walking and a house that needs to be run.  This weekend we were very lucky to have enjoyed the snow.  Everything was dropped and we just had to rush out into the back garden for an impromptu snowball fight.  These are the sorts of things that memories are made of after all.

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I have tried to include some of this on social media too so that people can see I am a normal person with a normal life.

Despite what my husband might think –  my life isn’t just all about the knitting!  (Even though sometimes I wish it could be!)

A Jumper for Caitlin

I was recently looking through some of my knitting books when my daughter, Caitlin, asked me if I would knit her a jumper for Christmas.  I passed the books to her and told her to choose which one she would like.  She chose Scafell by Marie Wallin in Lakeside, Collection Two.  You can find out more about the pattern here:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/scafell

We went onto the internet and I let Caitlin choose the yarn that she wanted it knitting in.  She chose a pale lilac colour and a really deep purple.  When they arrived we could see just how well they went together.  As the pattern for this jumper is for a lady and Caitlin is only 11 I had to make some modifications.  She wanted it nice and long so she could wear it like a dress over leggings.

I followed the basic pattern for the smallest size but began by making the rib deeper.   When I got to the end of the pattern I repeated the top part until the Caitlin was happy with the length.  The front was made to match.  The sleeves proved a little more difficult.  I measured her arms and knitted both sleeves together.  But when I sewed one into the jumper she said it was a little tight.  So I ended up pulling them both out and completely re-knitting in a bigger size.

The finished item looks fab on Caitlin and fits her perfectly.  Although the long body and smaller arms does mean it looks a little strange on the mannequin, but it is Caitlin that will be wearing it – not the dummy!

Check out my Ravelry project page here

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Memory Walk

Yesterday I took part in the Memory Walk in aid of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. This is one of the charities I support since my wonderful father in law was diagnosed with this awful disease. Unfortunately he passed away last year.

Last year it was a much quieter affair with around only 50 or so walkers. My sister in law had seen it advertised the week before which left us little time to get organised. But we turned up and enjoyed the morning.

This year my sister in law and I were also joined by her daughter, Mum and granddaughter. It was fabulous to see four generations of ladies in our family come to remember a very special man.

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored me. I raised £165. And we shall be doing it again next year.

In loving memory of Eric Sadler. A true gentleman who may have left us too early but will never be forgotten.

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Are you going to Scarborough fair?

Hello!  I have been quiet for a couple of weeks and I thought I should let you know why.

My husband works abroad and he came home for a few days over the Easter break.  So when I should have been writing my newest blog entry I was on a short break with The Hubster, The Child of the Blue Variety, The Child of the Pink Variety and The Smelly Hairy One.

We took the caravan to a site in Scarborough, Cayton Village, for a few days.  We had a lovely pitch and really enjoyed the fields for both the dog and the children.

View of the site from our caravan.

View of the site from our caravan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our few days away we spent time at the beach where the children went body boarding.

The children going into the cold sea.

The children going into the cold sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cayton Bay

Cayton Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cayton Bay

Cayton Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also explored the local village of Cayton.

 

 

 


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Beach huts.

Beach huts.

I loved these beach huts and would love to be able to use the colours in a future design.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the rock and biscuit factory in Bridlington where we were able to make our own rock to take home.

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We also had a look at the dinosaur exhibition at the Rotunda Museum.  Plenty of walks, games of football and tennis.  It was just nice to spend some well earned time as a family.

I was even able to sneak in a little time to crochet.

A crochet square for a blanket.

A crochet square for a blanket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the highlight for me was beating everyone when we played The Logo Board Game.  I NEVER win so it is something of which I am proud.  Although The Hubster just put it down to me spending too much time and money shopping and watching too much TV.  How very rude!