Friday, 31 May 2013

Amigurumi, Anyone?

I’m thrilled to introduce Sara Scales, author of Mini Amigurumi, a collection of cute crocheted critters! She’s also an accomplished miniaturist and crafter. Read on to hear more about her work – and enter my competition to WIN a copy of Mini Amigurumi! {info on the competition can be found at the end of this post}

Mini Amigurumi by Sara Scales

Can you tell us about yourself and how MiniDreamz began?

MiniDreamz as a name has only existed for about 2 years. I decided I wanted to make my crafting and miniatures my life. I realised I was not cut out for working 9 - 5 and started to struggle with depression. I am now 46 years old, very happy, a mum of 2 - Charlotte (20) and Thomas (15) - and have been married to my husband, Shaun, for 21 years. We also have many pets: a dog, three cats and three rabbits.

I have a busy life, I run a craft/dolls house shop with my friend Julie, who is a paper crafter and jewellery maker. We also run many classes and workshops there between us. I also contribute miniature projects on a monthly basis for Dolls House Magazine. These projects are mainly miniature cross stitch (my other favourite craft) plus crochet.

mini amigurumi panda

What made you decide to work in miniature scale?

I think it is in my blood. From when I was tiny myself, my mum has recollections of everything I drew or made being small. Because I come from a long line of crafters the tools for me to create have always been there, so if I found a scrap of fabric I would start to make little things.

funny bunny amigurumi

How long have you been practicing the art of crochet, and what attracted you to Amigurumi?

I only started to crochet about 6 years ago and it was Amigurumi that attracted me to it - I mean, what is there not to love about it? It’s just sooo cute! I had to teach myself as this is the one craft my mum could not seem to get me to achieve when I was younger, although she is very accomplished herself. I feel now that this is because of the rigidity of old school methods on holding of yarn and hook, I hold mine very different to her.

When teaching a class this is something I try not to make an issue out of and I allow people to find their own individual way of working. Since I started I don’t think there is a day goes by when the crochet hook is not in my hand. And of course as soon as I had built up a bit of skill the obvious progression for me was to miniaturise it, as I by now already had a dolls house and had been creating other miniatures in different mediums.

cheeky crochet chicks

Who or what inspires your work?

What inspires me? Everything and everyone, I am one of life’s observers and I have quite a vivid imagination. It could be a flower, an animal, a person or a place. I love to be given a challenge and it’s great when people randomly ask if I can make something unusual. My answer is usually, “Why not, I’ll give it a go" - thankfully it usually works.

Do you have a favourite project from your book?

My favourite project has to be the kittens, although this is one of the simplest designs, it has a sentiment for me. The three cats symbolise my 3 cats, Jack (the black one), Poppy (the multicoloured one) and Thai (grey). As I said previously, we now only have two cats as we sadly lost Thai to cancer last year aged ten, I still miss her so much.

three little kittens

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is considering writing their own craft book?

Hard one this, perseverance, just keep trying, this book was not my first suggestion to the publishers. I basically researched the publishers to find out their requirements and then went straight to emailing them with fingers crossed. I think sometimes it is luck of the draw as they have so many submissions, so don’t be hard on yourself if you get a rejection it is not always that your work is not up to standard, perhaps I wore them down! No seriously, they were great even before I was accepted, giving advice and explaining the process. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of making the book but it is hard work. I don’t know if I will get another book accepted but I will live in hope that I come up with an idea they may like.

Crochet Kokeshi Dolls

Check out Sara's blog or you can follow her on facebook. You'll also find Mini Amigurumi, published by GMC Publications (The Guild of Master Craftsmen) on Amazon.

For your chance to win a copy of Mini Amigurumi, just leave a comment on this post with your contact details. Competition closes on the 15th of June at 12 noon (GMT). EDIT: Competition has been exented until midnight (GMT) on Sunday 30th of June!  A winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted.

P.S. This giveaway is open to all - I am happy to post the book internationally!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Casting Off

It's been a while since Knitting & Crochet Blog Week finished - and I didn't manage to do days 6 and 7 at the time because things were a little hectic, but I wanted to complete my posts - so here they are! [double post alert!]

KCBW4 Day 6 - A Tool To Covet

It's pretty hard to pin down my very favourite knitting tool...but I think there's a lot to be said for investing in a beautiful pair of knitting needles which make the art of crafting that little bit more pleasureable. Generally, straight knitting needles which are not too short are my thing, as I favour a style of knitting where you tuck one needle under an arm. I'm particularly fond of my bamboo, birch and rosewood sets of needles. There is something lovely and incredibly special about working with natural fibres on a beautifully carved pair of wooden pointy sticks.

Other tools I find incredibly useful are my (left-handed) scissors which are nice and sharp, some point protectors (stops me from jabbing myself! Or from getting holes in my bag) and a ruler or measuring tape. I also find I like to make little notes to keep track of my progress with a pattern. Not forgetting essentials like pins, sewing needles and some method of steam generation to finish things off nicely.

I enjoy looking out for unusual knitting accoutrements on my travels too - you just never know what little treasures you might find!

KCBW4 Day 7 - Looking Forward

Thinking about what I'd like to achieve over the next year or so, regarding all things knit, I suspect, as with every year, I won't quite manage to knit as much or as often as I would like to...but I do have a few aspirations.

I would like to actually finish off more projects that I start or have already begun, something which others who are "serial starters" can relate to I'm sure! I do tend to put off the final stages of blocking, darning in ends and sewing up. (Guilty!)

I hope to remedy this by revisiting some forlorn UFOs (unfinished objects, to the uninitiated!), some of which have been languishing for rather too long. After all, every knitter loves to reach the proud moment where they can show off their beautiful handiwork to the world (or maybe just the rest of Ravelry).

I'd also like to try out a few more stitch patterns - lace and/or cables - which I've been musing about. The other goal I hereby set is to actually write more knitting patterns. I've written a few to date, mainly baby knits, and would like to expand my library of knits.

Click here to check out the rest of my Knitting & Crochet Blog Week (4) posts... or view those from previous years: Year 3 - 2012 Year 2 - 2011 Year 1 - 2010