February Spotlight:: An Interview with Charlie Blackman

Welcome to my new monthly feature – Spotlight!

 Spotlight will be an interview with an artist whose work I admire. It could be a knitter, a crocheter, a carver, a painter – anyone! I want to shine the light on amazing crafters/artists/creatives all over the world.

First up is Charlie Blackman, a knitter from Australia. I fell in love with her knitted movie scenes when I stumbled across her on Instagram. Her dynamic use of composition, fun bright colours and pop culture caught my eye and I couldn’t resist getting in touch.

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– Please introduce yourself and your work
I’m a crafty girl from Melbourne, Australia. I’m currently living in Montreal with my boyfriend who is working as an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil’s new show. I’ve always loved to knit and make things and have taken advantage of this time living in a cold, snowy winter where I’m indoors all the time to create worlds out of wool – Woolly Worlds.
– What inspired you to create these amazing scenes?
I’ve always loved knitting and crafting, particularly making smaller things by hand that I can give personalities to and create stories around. I began years ago by focusing on knitting toys that I would give away as gifts, but then found it more creatively satisfying to work on more intricate projects, such as movie sets. Discovering stop motion was the next natural progression in my attempt to bring what I make “to life” and to tell stories through my craft.
– How do you develop/choose the ideas for scenes?
To be honest I don’t have a systematic approach, instead I have a list that I update constantly, adding and re-prioritising ideas based on what I’m most excited about in any given week. I absolutely love pop culture, film and music, so find inspiration in what I watch and listen to. I also find this an effective starting point, as people can usually look at something I’ve made and relate to what I’m referencing.
– What kind of preparation goes into a scene?
Everything you see has been entirely made by hand. I predominantly knit, however also dabble in clay, papier mache and paints. Before I start to make anything I brainstorm the idea and sketch out how it might look, then find a way to translate this into original knitting patterns. This and the stop motion element are extremely time consuming, but also very satisfying.
– I think my favourite image of yours is Fear and Loathing 1 – there’s such movement in the image – I feel like I’m along for the ride! Which one is your favourite?
My favourite is probably “Sandra in Space”, based on the film Gravity. It’s sentimental as it was one of my first scenes and I love how much expression I was able to convey given the lack of detail.
– Apart from creating awesome little knitted scenes what else do you like to get up to?
I’m a juggler in my spare time so have been enjoying living at Cirque du Soleil and having access to their training facilities.
– What are you planning for 2017?
I’m hoping to publish a book with some of my knitted patterns so that other people can create their own Woolly Worlds!
Thanks so much for that Charlie!
Instagram:: @woolly_worlds

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Saturday Finds

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Musician:: I’m listening to Maggie Rogers this week, a little obsessed! I saw the youtube video of her and Pharrell a few months ago and looked forward to what sort of work she would produce! Loving it!

 

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Reading:: I’m trying to start up a book club with some friends, I choose the first book of Atwood’s Handmaid Tale as I haven’t read it in ages and I thought it was about time for a re-read! Also a few of my friends haven’t read it either.

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Admiring:: The millions of women (and people) around the world standing up for what they beleive in. What a powerful moment the marches were, I’m keeping up to date with it as I couldn’t go on a march -I had a sister who had her 7th birthday party at the same time – but I do want to get involved with anything that’s coming up! Watch this space.

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Artist:: I’ve got my eyes on Jennifer Cronin this year! Her realistic oil painting of everyday intimate moments are awesome.

 

Have an awesome weekend!

 

2016:: Year in Review

 

2016 got off to a shaky start. I arrived back from an amazing five month trip around Europe to a gloomy England and living with parents again. It was a long stretch of not really being creative because I didn’t have the space or motivation and struggling to find what I wanted to sink my teeth into. But after lots of hard work October rolled around and everything changed. I got a flat with E. It had room for my own creative corner (a lovely huge desk where I have everything I need to be creative to hand). I began volunteering at an art gallery which really fuelled my desire to not only continue to be creative (ramping it up tenfold) and experiment with art but also my ambition to work within the arts. One of the best experiences at the gallery was the opportunity I got to organise, plan and curate an exhibition featuring over 13 artists (which I also got to exhibit in and be interviewed for!)

Slowly but surely my friends are creeping back to this city and it feels good to be surrounded by such a wonderful bunch of people (though there are one or two around the world who I miss dearly)

I’m knitting and hooking ferociously, trying to actualise all my different ideas and projects as they come to mind so quickly.

I’m writing short fiction still and attending my writing group, developing and improving my pieces and hoping to enter more competitions this year!

2017 has so much in store that I’m looking forward to and 2016 was such a good step in a positive direction for me!

 

Happy New Year!

Spotted:: Saturday Finds

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Artist:: I stumbled upon Lucy Storrs on Instagram (@lucystorrs_artist) and was immediately infatuated with her incredible woollen paintings (pictures?). The shadows and the illuminations in the pictures are astounding. From a distance these almost look like acrylic paintings and it is only up close that you realise it is wool, a beautiful deception. If I had some disposable income I would love to have one of these creations on my wall, but, for now, I will ogle at them online!

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DIY Project:: I’m still looking for projects and things to brighten up our flat, slowly but surely this place is really beginning to feel like home. I’ll be trying out this DIY  Yarn Wall Hanging project over the weekend.

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Crochet Pattern:: I have been following One Man Crochet for a good few years now and I just love everything he creates. So unique, so bright so original. He creates his own trends. Here is a link to his Human Kind scarf that he created based on those  little paper chains of people holding hands. Love it.

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Comic:: I follow Catana Comics on Instagram and I just love her cheesey yet every day romantic moments. Go take a look!

 

Well those are my Saturday Finds from around the web for this week!

Dominique

Tutorial:: Freeform Crochet

Recently I have been experimenting with freeform crochet. I was struggling for ideas for my postcards for the International Postcard Show. I was only limited by size (10cm by 15cm, depth of 5mm)  I had tried and frogged and tried again. Then I decided I wouldn’t be limited by counting stitches or rows, patterns or rules and go a little crazy (well only 150cm² of crazy) and  play around with freeform.

Here’s my finished postcard:

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Title: Freeform

You can see more examples and other WIPs on my instagram @dominiquekmitchell

I really like the aesthetics, it was fun to make and very relaxing! I didn’t have to count endlessly and worry about missing stitches. I have since decided to make four larger freeform (around A4 size) pieces that I’ll frame and hang up somewhere in my dinky flat to bring a pop of colour.  I’ll post about that when I’ve finished.

Anyway, I thought I would make a little freeform tutorial for anyone out there wanting to experiment, or for anyone wanting to take a break from rows and stitches.

Freeform Crochet Tutorial

Difficulty:: Intermediate (Requires colour changing , magic loop, HTR stitch) 

Stitches::

sl st [slip stitch] :: insert hook, yarn over, pull the loop back through the stitch, then through the loop on your hook.

htr [half treble crochet] :: yarn over, insert hook, yarn over, pull the loop back through the stitch (threeloops on hook), yarn over and pull through all three loops on hook.

Equipment:: Crochet hook, scissors, yarn of your choice in multiple colours.

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As long as the crochet hook is appropriate for the yarn choice the freeform will work fine.  I’m currently using 2mm crochet hook and 2ply cotton yarn from woolwarehouse. I feel like it gives a lot of detail but obviously it takes longer, you could go for aran yarn and a size 5mm crochet hook and make something double the size in half the time!

The beauty of freeform is all in the name, free. So, I guess this “tutorial” is kind of paradoxical but hey ho.

You can start however you like but this time I decided to begin with a magic loop.

Round 1:: Chain 4, sl st into the fourth chain from the loop to make a ring. Work 11 htr into the ring. I joined the last htr to the first.

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Round 2:: I crocheted 2 htr in every stitch around, again joining the last stitch with the first stitch with a sl st.(22st)

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Round 3 :: Chain 2, htr in same space, *chain 2, htr after two stitches*, repeat * until you are back to the first chain 2 and sl st to join.

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Round 4 :: Chain two, htr in same stitch. 10 Htr in each stitch around. Chain 10 and join to htr using slst to a stitch three gaps away.

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Round 5 :: I worked so many htr across the chain then chained again and connected that to another half treble.

I lose track a little around here!

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You see, it’s very random and mostly based on feeling. Where do you think it should go, where does it look good, what fits and what doesn’t. There isn’t really a set pattern. I recommend just experimenting with some yarn and a hook.

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Round 6 :: Continue to htr across the chains.

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Round 7 :: Continue chaining and working htr across the chains.

Now you can see it growing and it’s looking good.

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Round 8 :: Keep going! But I think that’s enough orange for now.

TOP TIP:: Avoid adding too many stitches in one area or it will cause the piece to pucker and ruffle (unless that is the look you’re going for – I wanted mine to lie flat) occasionally lay out your piece to see if there is any puckering.

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Round 9 :: Attach another colour yarn and chain 2, htr in the same stitch. Then continue as before, chaining and htr everywhere.

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Round 10 :: It’s growing even more! I’m not really thinking too much about what I’m doing. I’m just hooking and adding chains and stitches where I think it looks good and until I’m bored of the colour.

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Round 11 : I added another colour and I’ll keep going as before until I reach the desired size.

End of tutorial! I think that gives you a good idea of freeform!

Here are some other examples I’ve made (these will be framed once large enough):

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I haven’t woven any ends in, I like to save that job for last!

So that was a quick tutorial about freeform. Sorry if it was a little confusing!

I recommend you experiment with different stitches (trebles, popcorn ect) and different fibres (mohair, alpaca, t-shirt) and see what you end up with.

In this tutorial I’ve stayed simple using one stitch and one type of yarn (cotton) because I prefer the end result but you’re welcome to root through you’re stash and  mix it all up!

This is a great stash busting project!

Hope this was helpful and I’d love to see any of the freeform projects you make, tag me as @dominiquekmitchell on instagram and I’ll come and have a look.

Here are some futher links about free form crochet:

CROCHET ARTIST:: One of my favourite crochet artists, really uses hooks and yarn to paint masterpieces. Check her out here.

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Thanks for reading

Dominique

Stash Bust: Project 1

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I have quite a lot of yarn hanging around in my study and I decided it was time to start busting through it. Odd skeins here and there that I don’t really have any plans for and sort of lurk about with no purpose. Skeins that have been hanging around forever, so in between other, larger, WIP projects, I thought I’d finish a few smaller projects, simultaneously adding more colour and brightness to the room.

I was given a few succulent cuttings from a friend and I’m trying to propagate them. I’m using this post from needles and leaves for propagation. It’s clear, with good pictures and the best one I’ve come across so far. I’m not sure whether they’ll grow so instead of forking out for some pots I decided to have a root through the recycling and use some old tin cans. They looked a bit grim with the paper torn off and I knew a crochet jumper would be perfect  for them.

I followed Attic24’s flat circle tutorial and then just stopped increasing when the circle was as large as the bottom of the tin. From there I continued to crochet in the round until it was tall enough.

These little tins with handmade crochet covers are sitting on my windowsill home to a few little succulent leaves. If they do grow I’ll do a progress post. I kind of envisage tapping away in the middle of a jungle in a few months time.