Thursday 8 August 2019

Summer Sale & Pattern Updates

August seems to always be the month I run my summer sale and this year is no different.
This year I thought I'd test out a sale in my Etsy shop
There is a 25% discount on all the items including my book Rainbow Crocheted BlanketsI've re-listed it as Etsy have changed their free postage plan to sales over $35, I guess someone listened to all the complaints after all :-)

When I closed NDS in 2015 I decided I needed to rewrite and edit all my old patterns, I imagined it would take about 2 years. 
Four years later and I'm still rewriting, editing & drawing new charts. I really didn't think it would take me so long, but to be fair I have published 3 books and become a grandma to 2 tiny boys who live in the flat above me.
I have finished the main bulk of my patterns, all the blankets and garments are done, but I still have 4 shawls and 6 scarves to do. I need to edit the 10 designs and remake the samples, so they are going to take a lot longer, probably longer than the previous 43 designs. 
The first on the list is the much loved Angel scarf, I'm still being asked for the pattern nine years after I first designed it. I've misplaced the original sample, somewhere in one of our numerous moves, or maybe I gave it away it was so long ago

Anyway to celebrate my pattern rewriting achievement I've created 4 collections in my Ravelry shop. 

You can find the collections at the top of the page,
Each collection has a different selection of patterns.
Simply add 5 patterns from the same collection to your basket and you will receive a whopping 50% discount.

Happy Crocheting

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Etsy & my books

Yesterday I posted the following post on my website blog.

I have just removed all my books and blankets from Etsy and listed them all in my website shop  instead. I'm afraid this is the only place you will be able to buy books from me in the future.
The following rant explains the reason why.

Over the past couple of years Etsy has changed, it used to be all about supporting makers and giving them a platform to sell their hand made products, now its all about how much money it can make as a company.

There have been several changes the first one I remember was to change the price of listing items, originally it cost 20 cents per item listed, Etsy made a fuss about how they were going to charge us only 20 cents for a listing that contained as multiple items. It sounded like a benefit to shop owners, but what Etsy didn't emphasize was that when you sold one of the items they would charge you another 20 cents to relist it, so in reality nothing had changed.

Then this year (or maybe it was last) they implemented a payment account, meaning our customers had alternative options to paypal, it sounded like a good idea, but actually meant I don't get paid for several days or I could choose to wait a month and be paid a lump sum. 
Earlier on this year Etsy decided to cut out paypal completely, they didn't give the sellers a choice they just did it, it means my earnings sit in their bank account earning interest until they decide to pay me.
The thing I object to more than anything is being forced to do something I didn't want to do.
Like a lot of Etsy sellers I'm a small seller earning a little bit extra money to help with household costs and having a little bit of extra money sitting in my paypal account gives me the comfort of knowing I have an emergency fund if the car breaks down or we have some other disaster.

A couple of weeks ago Etsy informed us that it would stop promoting sellers who didn't offer free postage and would drop their items to bottom of the categories, whilst promoting sellers who did offer free postage.
I feel this is another strong arm tactic to force sellers into doing something they don't want to do, obviously its all about Etsy earning more money for its shareholders, but I haven't worked out how yet, as they already charge us 5% on our postage costs.
I could either absorb the postage costs and carry on selling my books at the prices they are listed meaning that I would hardly earn any profit.
Or I could put up the prices to incorporate the postage costs, it would mean Rainbow Crocheted Blankets would cost 24 pounds, my UK customers would have to pay the same price as my US customers even though the postage is actually over 5 pounds cheaper.

Etsy used to be about homemade, artisan products, Etsy used to support their sellers, now its all about earning more money for its shareholders without any thought to the people who pay them.

I will continue to sell my pdf patterns on Etsy, until Etsy comes up with a new scheme how squeeze more money out of its digital sellers.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Desirable Crochet Motif's 2019

I self published my first book in 2012, it was called Desirable Crochet Motifs, volume 1, a year later I published volume 2.
The books each contained 20 motif patterns, most of them already published for a motif club that I ran from 2008 to 2012.

My pattern writing and design skills have come along way in the last 7 years, so I have decided to write a new book called Desirable Crochet Motifs, the complete collection. It will contain all of the 40 original patterns, redrawn, rewritten and revamped, plus 20 new ones.
There are a lot of crochet motif books on the market, I need to do something different to make it stand out, so the book will contain blanket patterns, I'm not sure how many yet, but hopefully there will be at least 3.
The new Desirable Crochet Motifs book is going to take me a least a couple of years to finish.
Each motif pattern will take about a week to write, I need to re-work the design, crochet several swatches, take photo's and draw charts.

I also need to design, make and write the patterns for 3 blankets, it normally takes me 2 to 3 months to design, make and write a blanket pattern.

I thought as the book is going to take so long you might get bored waiting, so I have decided to run a CAL/Club type thing, it will feature some the motif patterns. I'm planning to run it on Patreon, so you can decide how long you want to be in the club. There will be different tiers of membership, all including a monthly motif pattern, some include the blanket CAL instructions and the yarn and the book when its finished.
I'm still working on the details, but will let you know as soon as the club subscriptions are open.
However first I need to do a lot of work on the motif and blanket patterns.
The first blanket will be a kaleidoscope blanket design, similar to the kaleidoscope blanket club I ran in 2014

The new blanket design has a different layout and rather than solid triangles motifs it will be made with 10 different motif designs. I'm not sure how its going to work yet, but the blanket design I have in my head is going to be amazing, fingers crossed I can make it work.

The CAL won't start until I have finished all 10 motif designs and written the blanket pattern. When I ran the Kaleidoscope club I was working on the blanket a month ahead of the club members, I did a lot of panicking and kept my fingers crossed that it was going to work and the members wouldn't run out of yarn. I want to be a lot more prepared this time, so far I've made and written 2 motif patterns, but they're not finished as I still need to crochet more stitches and draw charts.

So watch this space.......

Happy crocheting
Love Amanda

If you want to stock up on some yarn before the CAL/Club starts I am using Coop Knits Socks Yeah 4 ply, its slightly thinner than the normal 4 ply that I use, but its beautifully soft and has an amazing stitch definition, plus comes in a beautiful range of colours, plus it comes in 50 gm skeins, which makes it easier to buy if you are on a budget.


I've just logged on to write a post about my crochet motif project and realised I haven't told you the most important news of all!!

Following my last post about being a Grandma I am delighted to tell you I now have 2 blond, baby vikings in my life.

Magnus was born nearly three weeks ago, his birth was a lot easier than his brother's even though he was a massive 9lb 2oz baby.
Magnus is very different to Bert, he sleeps and eats and occasionally wakes up and looks confused, Bert had a difficult birth and colic and cried a lot.

 Even though Bert is slightly out of focus in this photo, you can see how proud he is to be allowed to hold the baby. I look forward to seeing their relationship develop and I can't wait to have them both running around playing together.

 Magnus in his first blanket. I will at some time in the future write the pattern.

 But for now I'm far too busy cuddling my new baby boy to concentrate on pattern writing :-)

Happy crocheting 
love Amanda

Tuesday 12 March 2019

On being a Grandma

I've always wanted babies, in fact most of my early life they were all I wanted.
During career's interviews at school I lied and said I wanted to be an astronaut or F1 driver, however my memory is hazy, so I probably said something a lot more achievable, but what I wanted to say was that I wanted to be a mother.

In my early 20's I got my wish and had 3 beautiful babies, that grew quickly into 3 beautiful people

These are the yearly photos, this photo frame is one of my most treasured possessions, as it shows how my family grew, it spans from 1986 to 2004. By 2004 I had stumbled on a career path and built my own indie dyeing business, I had ambitions, drove my business and certainly didn't even think about the possibility of grandchildren.

My babies carried on growing and turned into beautiful adults, they still make me proud to be their mum every day.
Then just over 2 years ago my middle baby Daisy told me she was pregnant, even though I was over the moon and excited for her, I felt a sadness that I was now officially old.
As her bump grew so did my love for it, I felt the baby kick and watched it move, memory's flooded back of my own pregnancies. But I was terrified for her, because I knew what she had to go through to bring her bump into the world. As her mummy my job is to protect her and there was nothing I could do to save her from the pain.
As it was she had a horrible labour, much worse than mine, 24 hrs, 3 hrs pushing, a stuck baby that even the midwife couldn't pull out with forceps and an emergency cesarean.
But at the end of it she and Adam were the proud parents of Albert Theodore.

I didn't expect to feel maternal love for anything else as much as I did for my own babies, but as soon as I cuddled him waves of  love poured out for him, it was almost as if he was my 4th baby.

We and his other grandparents are so privileged to live in the same small village as our grandson, Nanny Jo and I are good friends and enjoy each others company. I don't feel jealous of the time she spends with him as I know she loves and nurtures him as much as I do. We are both lucky to be such a big part of his life.

I see Bert most days (especially at the moment) and have watched him grow and turn into a inquisitive toddler. Its a completely different experience than motherhood, with my own babies I was too busy and too close to see each tiny development. With Bert, I can watch him learn, how to crawl, how to walk, how to talk etc He stacks duplo, reads books, plays with balls and loves dogs. This week he gave me a  first hug, a proper intentional hug, which melted my heart.

I have a life when Bert's not with me, I can cuddle him and give him back, so I haven't given up my life for him. I've carried on working and published a book of baby blankets for Bert.
To have a career and a baby to love and cuddle is the best of both worlds, I look at grandparents with different eyes and am happy to be one.

Last summer Daisy became pregnant with Bert's sibling, (the due date is in 12 days time)
She has a gigantic baby bump and is struggling to walk, pick up Bert or do anything too physical. Since she went on maternity leave a few weeks ago we are spending even more time together than we normally do. I am just as anxious for her, probably worse this time due to her last labour, so I'm not really working, I'm too busy helping out with Bert and worrying about things I can't change.

I'm not even doing much crochet, I can't concentrate,  I feel like my life is on hold, sometime in the next 4 weeks it will change when grandbaby number 2 arrives. 
In some ways its worse than waiting for your own baby, at least you know how your body feels, all I can do is watch and wait to cuddle Bert's sibling, who will be loved and cherished just as much as its older brother.

Friday 1 March 2019

Cross roads

I've come to a crossroads in my life.
Do I follow my career as a designer fighting for success or do I sit back and enjoy a stress free life?

I've been part of the wool world for nearly 20 years. During that time I built a successful hand dyeing business and became an author of several successful books, but even though I've be successful its never been easy I've had to fight every day to earn a living.
We are blessed with 3 beautiful creative children and 33 year old happy marriage, but the rest of life hasn't been kind to us. We've struggled from one disaster to another, redundancy, losing our house, being homeless for a year, another redundancy, moving into 5 different rented houses in 7 years
I've finally reached a point where I have succumbed to mental exhaustion, I've lost my ambition, I don't want to fight anymore.
I think its because I have reached a happy place. I'm live in an amazing, beautiful, unspoilt part of the country in a tiny flat with a tiny courtyard that I love, I have one grand baby and another due in a couple of weeks, who live in the flat above us.

I need to stop looking at my contemporary's and their successes, which will stop me feeling like a failure the whole time. Reading about everybody's CAL's and exciting crochet ventures makes me feel inadequate, so I need spend less time social networking.
Looking at photo's of yarn shows makes me sad because I'm not there. I used to love shows, spending time with our woolly friends and  meeting our lovely customers, but I hated the worry of whether we would sell enough yarn to cover costs, breaking down after the show, being exhausted from standing on your feet for 9 hours, so really I don't miss them at all.

Over the years I have been repeatedly told not to worry about everyone else's success and concentrate on my own, its very good advice if only I could of put it in practise.
I want to put it in practise now, and only do the things that make me happy.
I will never stop obsessively making art (blankets) and creating books which are a part of the process.
But I want to stop feeling guilty because I'm not social networking every day, chasing publicity, chasing wholesale possibilities, trying to compete with the competition.

So I've chosen to take the path to relax and enjoy what I do guilt free, sit in the sun, drink cocktails by the sea, play with my grandbabies and run my dogs on the beach.
I have a new motif project planned for later in the year that I'm so excited about. Once my grandbaby is born I can get a bit of head space back and do some serious designing and planning.

Friday 8 February 2019

2018 Books

2018 was my year of the book.

After deciding to start self publishing my books I thought I'd better do a test run before I published a new book.
So I re-wrote, edited and formatted Madder Triangles which was originally published as an e-book for The Natural Dye Studio in 2013, I even gave it a new name because search engines have no idea what Madder Triangles are, so it became Crochet Madder Triangles.
Producing the manuscript for a book to be printed was a huge learning curve, but worth the effort, its nothing like producing a pdf pattern and takes a lot more work and attention to detail.
I published it in May 2018 and am proud of the result, I learn so much in such a short space of time and it was amazing to see it in print as a proper book.

It features 8 crochet patterns, 3 blankets, 3 scarves and 2 shawls and you can find it HERE on Amazon either as a paperback or the kindle version.





The second book is Bert's Crochet Baby Blankets and was published in December 2018.
I'm so proud of Bert's book, I learnt even more about producing a manuscript, there are a few things I would do differently, but it's almost perfect, no doubt when I publish my next book I will look back on it and find mistakes, but for now I'm happy with it.

Bert's book contains 8 crochet blanket patterns, plus size and colour variations giving you 80 designs to choose from. You can find it you can find it HERE on Amazon either as a paperback or the kindle version.





Wednesday 30 January 2019

Re-post Anxiety & Depression

Originally posted in December 2018 on my website blog, which has since become a news page. 
I feel this is an important post to re-post before I delete it from my website as it charts a couple of years of my journey.

This is a cathartic outpouring that a need to write so I can move on, so you can stop reading now if you don't want to read doom and gloom.
I'm very anxious, but excited at the same time, I invest a lot of time and emotion in my books and have come to realise writing books makes me anxious and depressed.

July 2015
I cried for the last 6 months of writing Rainbow Crocheted Blankets, at the time I thought it was due to having to shut NDS and found it very difficult working with an editor who made changes to my manuscript I didn't like, I felt out of control as I was powerless to do anything about the bits I didn't like as the editor had the last say. Don't get me wrong she was a lovely girl and doing the best she could with a difficult author and produced a beautiful book, but it wasn't exactly the book I would of published.

December 2015
The day the final manuscript went to print was the day the world became a better place and I stopped crying. After the experience I vowed never to write another book.

I self published a couple of booklets of blanket patterns and in October Rainbow Crocheted Blankets was published, it was a huge success, by this time I'd forgotten how depressed I'd been and started thinking about a new book.

January 2017
I was approached by an agent and started making blankets, the new book was going to be called Watercolour Crochet Blankets and focus on the colour blending technique I used in my blankets.

May 2017
A couple of publishers weren't interested, but a third publisher was really enthusiastic and I went to a meeting. The meeting was fantastic, the publisher was excited and keen to work with me, she wasn't keen on the watercolour idea, said I should make blankets I want to make rather than try and stick to a theme, so the new version of the book became Circles Crochet Blankets. I came away feeling rejuvenated and full of new ideas. The only down side was the final decision would be made by the US office and they wouldn't have a commissioning meeting until September.

September 2017
Bert was born and my life took on new meaning.

December 2017
September came and went, October came and went, November came and went, all without a decision. The US office had the meeting in December and loved the book, the UK office started planning photo shoots and layouts, but still no decision.
During this time my beloved Billy cat died, I was heartbroken and retreated into myself a little.

January 2018
After long negotiations with my agent the publisher decided not to go ahead with the book because even though I'd sold over 30,000 copies of Rainbow Crocheted Blankets the numbers didn't add up and they weren't prepared to pay me the price I asked for.

February and March 2018
My agent approached several more publishers including my existing publisher, they were all keen and made offers, BUT none of them would improve on the deal I already had.
This left me feeling worthless and empty that no one considered that my book was worth investing in. But I was not prepared to work for a pittance to pay for some else's skying holiday while we struggle to make ends meet, so I turned all the offers down.

April 2018
I decided to self publish on Amazon, I did a test run with Madder Triangles, which I renamed Crochet Madder Triangles so the search engines would pick it up. I wish I could say it was a huge success, but it hasn't been, so even though it didn't fill me with joy I was really happy with the book its and proud that I produced it on my own. So I started work on the manuscript for Circles Crochet Blankets.

May 2018
My beloved Loki dog died and we were/are still devastated, I still can't look at a German Shepard without crying, his death has broken us all. I didn't realise it was possible to grieve so much for a dog, but like Billy he had been with us through all our trauma's of the past. Probably the worst part was watching Tinks grieve, she didn't understand and had lost her life long companion, she stopped eating, playing, didn't run anymore just lay on the sofa and sighed.
We were told our house was going to be sold and couldn't afford to buy it so needed to find a new home, this broke me even further, but I kept writing the book, often through tears and anxiety that we wouldn't be able to find somewhere new.

June 2018
We found and moved into our new flat and even though I miss my big garden its perfect for the 2 of us and has a south facing courtyard, my mood lifted a bit and I enjoyed the summer.

July 2018
I watched Bert trying to pick the circles up off one of the blankets and realised that I should be making a book for him. So Circles Crochet Blankets was split in 2, I only had 8 blankets which wasn't enough for two books, so I chose eight of my existing patterns (four for each book) which fitted with the themes of the two new books, which are Bert's Crochet Baby Blankets and Moorland Crochet Blankets which will be published next year.

August 2018
We brought home Oberon (Ron) our new lurcher puppy, Tinks hated him, 3 months later she's still not that keen, but when she's not snapping at him they play and run together and best of all she isn't grieving anymore. Ron has brought new energy into our life, he'll never be loki or Billy, but he helps fill the gaps they left and given us someone new to love.

November 2018
The Beast my beloved land rover died. I know most people won't understand why I feel sad about a car, but I've always loved driving and my cars are an extension of myself, plus the Beast was one of the few things I had left of NDS.

By this time I'd almost stopped social networking, I haven't talked to several close friends for nearly a year, I've buried myself deeper and deeper in my pit of self doubt and depression.
I have nothing new or interesting to say, why would anyone want to buy the book? I'd decided to publish Bert's book and the Moorland book and then give up writing patterns completely, maybe edit a few of the old ones, but quietly fade into obscurity, no one would notice.

December 3rd 2018
Today is the day I upload the manuscript and press submit on Bert's Crocheted Baby Blankets, I can already feel the world is a brighter place, even though I'm on my second attempt at uploading the file, the first pdf writer I used corrupted the file ....grrrr
Maybe its helped writing this blog post, maybe I've cried all the tears I have left, maybe its because 2 years of disappointment and heart break are over.
I feel the fight is still within me,
I have at least another 2 books in me after Moorland Crochet Blankets, I need to rewrite and re-publish Desirable Crochet Motifs and Bert is going to be a big brother in March so I will need to do another baby book for my second grandchild.
Moorland Crochet Blankets isn't going to be anywhere near as  big an emotional roller coaster that Bert's book has been.
In the past year I've watched Bert grow from a tiny baby into a naughty but charming toddler,
I've always been surrounded by my loving family,
I have naughty Ron to love and cuddle (even though he's all legs and going to be a lot bigger than we thought.
I have a tiny flat I love and am really happy in.
And we've got another ridiculous car that drinks petrol, this one doesn't have a name, but goes very fast and is totally unsuitable for life on the moor

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Back again & 2018 update.

Dear Followers

I have decided to start writing this blog again and turn my website blog into a news blog for grown up business posts. But don't worry there will still be a lot of crochet here :-)

So much has happened since my last blog post back in November 2017, this is a long recap post, I was going to add my crochet updates at the bottom, but have decided to do a second blog post.

When I last wrote I had a 2 month old baby grandson, now I have a 17 month old toddler grandson and am expecting a new grandbaby in the next few weeks, I can't wait to meet Bert's baby brother or sister, the arrival of new life is so exciting especially when its your own flesh and blood.
This is Bert, his mummy & baby sibling bump on our visit to the tallest tree in England yesterday

In the foreground there is a strange looking dog, who is our new puppy Ron.

We lost 2 of our beloved pets within 6 months of each other, firstly Billy the Maine Coon cat died just before Christmas 2017 and then Loki our beautiful GSD died in May last year, I still can't think about them without tears welling up in my eyes.
So at the end of August last year we brought home a tiny 8 week old lurcher puppy, he has the same Dad as Tinkerbell our existing lurcher, but his mum was a greyhound x. We were expecting him to end up as a bigger version of Tinks, instead of which it looks like he is going to grow up to be pseudo greyhound, he's a lot bigger than he should be and has a smooth coat rather than the rough coat we expected, plus he moults!! But we love him regardless.
Bert really loves Ron, Ron really loves Bert, together they are a nightmare bundle of chaos with 6 legs, 2 hands and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth.
Ron has grown so much in 5 months, he's still got a lot of growing to do, hes going to be massive, he's also impossible to photograph as he's a camouflage sort of brindle colour


In June last year we moved house again!
I was heartbroken to leave our big roomy house and large garden, but didn't take long to fall in love our new small ground floor flat and south facing courtyard.
The courtyard is long and thin, I decided I wanted to turn it into a Mediterranean courtyard, so as it was my birthday soon after we moved and I was given a olive tree, a grape vine and fig tree, they were so beautiful......
But Ron has since eaten the grape vine and fig, they are both stumps I have my fingers crossed they will both grow back in the spring and Ron will have outgrown his destructive phase.

In October my beloved Beast died, I know most of you will read this and think why the fuss, its only car, but to me a car is so much more than a big metal box. I genuinely love my cars, they are kind of big metal pets. 

I love driving and the sense of adventure when I get behind the wheel, we could go anywhere and do anything, the Beast was an extension of me, big, lumbering, middle aged and slightly broken.
So we had a new (old) car, which was a slinky and speedy BMW, but it didn't feel like our car and as it drank petrol every time you accelerated we couldn't afford to keep it. So last week we traded it in for a Mercedes, which is the poshest car we've ever owned, but quite old so not as expensive as it sounds. We took it on a road trip to Cornwall at the weekend and fell in love, its big, middle aged, not lumbering, only very slightly broken, with surprisingly good fuel economy and very very posh, so we've named it the Posh Beast.

Emotionally I have been up and down like a yo yo, so much grieving and sadness, but so much new joy, I'd really like 2019 to be calm and stable.
I had written a cathartic post about being my traumas and being depressed on my website blog, but I've deleted it and re-posted it HERE