Catwalk Inspiration

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Co-authoring a crochet book with my friends Cornel and Elsbeth is an experience in every sense of the word. It’s scary, challenging, exciting and exhilarating all at the same time. There are days of sheer frustration. Days when I question why I ever agreed to do this. But ultimately, when I stand back and reflect, I know that this experience is cementing friendships, creating proof of a craft we all love dearly, building character and stretching our dreams.

This process has taught me to seek inspiration in everything around me.

The three of us have created secret boards on Pinterest which reflects our own individual style.   We refer to these boards on a daily basis while creating and crafting new patters for our book.

The catwalk has been a source of great inspiration, from Valentino, to Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Francis Montesinos to name but a few.

I know the designs below will inspire you to create your own yarn magic!  Have fun while exploring…

Frances Montesino

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Looking forward to sharing our really interesting crochet designs that will be published in our book early in 2017.

For more inspiration follow me on Instagram!

Have a fabulous week

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Crochet Olympics 2016

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This was our fourth Crochet adventure in St Frances (or as we like to call it the Crochet Olympics). It’s a time we all cherish! It’s here that we get to cook wonderful creative meals while sipping on bubbles and wine. We crochet (Liesel embroiders) and talk about our daily lives, we discover new topics such as square foot gardening, the joys and benefits of eating only organic and everything about permaculture and so much more…

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It really is a time to restore one’s soul and reflect on the exciting adventures we all have ahead of us. Each year we go back home feeling fulfilled and blessed in the knowledge that life is so much better when its filled with happiness, creativity and the many exciting ventures that lay ahead.

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Cornel has the most beautiful home in St Frances and this year our weather was amazing, Melanie and I went for a walk on the beach every morning. It’s during these walks that we re-discovered the beauty of St Frances.

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Each one of us got a turn to dish up something delectable. Most of the time it’s a group effort with Liezel (our official food photographer) snapping away at every morsel created. What made this year so special is the fact that all our food was organic, sourced from a local supplier. We all agreed that the food was soulful, colorful and so much more sumptuous as a result.

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Of course our visit would not have been complete without a trip to the wonderful Nomvulas. We tend to spend all our money in this store (without any regrets). It’s filled with the most beautiful yarn and we find ourselves spending hours just exploring. Liesel even bought a ball of yarn this year and Cornel made her some awesome mittens for the Winter.

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Cornel, Elsbeth and I are busy working on our crochet book, which is scary, exciting and rewarding all at the same time. We can’t share too many photos of what we crochet on our trip. But I can tell you that we are working with some of the most fantastic South African yarns available. For a sneak peak in the months ahead you should follow us on Instagram. Anisa, Cornel, Elsbeth

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The poem below sums up how the Crochet Olympics team feel about our life passion… crochet, food, conversations and a happy ever after.

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have a fantastic fun filled weekend!

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Bell Sleeve Revival

I loved wearing vintage clothing in my teens. I used to scour the local vintage stores and visit Rocky Street in Johannesburg to find the most beautiful vintage items. My favorite was any item that had either bell bottoms or bell sleeves. So it was to my absolute delight that I discovered that the bell sleeve is experiencing a revival. From Victoria Beckham to Rosetta Getty – two of the worlds renowned designers have included the bell sleeve in their collections.

Victoria Beckham always a trend setter, launched her version of the bell sleeve jersey in 2015.

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Take a look at Rosetta Getty’s  fall 2016 collection where she showcases her beautiful knitted bell sleeve jersey.

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And just because I could not resist, take a look at some of Rosetta Getty’s beautiful crochet items

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Gigi Hadid looks super chic in one of Rosetta’s designs

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Here are a few Emma Bell designs to inspire you

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There are some interesting bell sleeve knitting and crochet patterns to be found on etsy.com.

 Have a fabulous weekend creating something spectacular!

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BOHO Crochet

So what does it mean to be bohemian…  I think it’s someone who tries to live by the ideals of truth, freedom, love and all those beautiful-sounding concepts.  I also think its someone who kinda does their own thing and as a consequence has a kinda weird fashion sense.  To expand further, its someone who leads an alternative lifestyle, they are not necessarily hippies because they can have an extremely wide range of different tastes in music, fashion, art, literature etc.  they are usually very creative  people.

Above all they are optimists!

They like wearing a mixture of unique and different fashions, and they love crochet or knitted items.  They know that anything handmade is unique, special and has been created with love in mind.

I love everything that Bohemain represents, and you all know by now that crochet is one of my passions.  I’m sharing with you some of my favourate Bohemian crochet photos sourced from my three favourite Instagram friends.

Here are some truly spellbinding photos from Spell Designs:

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I also simply love the designs from Australian design company FirstBornKnits:

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Another of my favourite sources of bohemian clothing is Reloved Treasures Vintage

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 I hope you are inspired!

Go on it’s a dare crochet something unconventional, nonconformist, avant-garde, offbeat, original, artistic and eccentric.  Be bold be Bohemian!

Happy Easter everyone.

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Fashion for your Pooch

In February Cornel did a fabulous post all about Marc Jacobs and the extra ordinary crochet detail that forms part of his 2016 Fall collection.

 Winter is on its way (I know it’s awful) and that got me thinking, how am I going to keep my four legged babies warm this Winter?   Last year I bought them a few outfits from our local pet store.

My one sausage dog “Biscuit” paraded around as if she was the queen of the castle while my tiny baby “Lilly” promptly started chewing hers off (by day 2 it was in shreds).

So this year I thought why don’t I crochet something for them. And so I started to explore the internet.

Take a look at some of these cute outfits I found. Over and over again I was “ooohhhhing and ahhhhing” – you know what I mean.

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Here are some fabulous patterns that I found as well.

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Chevron Dog Sweater

I particularly love the vintage jerseys below. I think I’m going to give the sausage dog sweater a try.

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 Here are the patterns for the vintage creations shown above:

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The Turtle Neck

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The Granny Square

And for those of you that just want to buy something cute, take a look at these delightful creations from PetDogApparel

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Now this will surely make you laugh – check out the cute Guinea pig with its beautiful jacket.

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Have a fun filled weekend and be sure to share your gorgeous pet creations with us on our Facebook page

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Beautiful Tapestry Crochet

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I’m always up for a challenge!  On a girl’s day out with my besties Cornel and Elsbeth I told them I was looking for something challenging to crochet.  Cornel had just returned from her fabulous trip to Morocco and she brought back some awesome crochet mandalas for me from Morocco (they now have pride of place in my study).

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We got chatting how most of thecrochet work in Morocco was done using single crochet.  This got me interested and so I found myself looking on Instagram for some amazing patterns using only single crochet and that’s when I discovered the beautiful art of tapestry crochet.  Also known as hard crochet and also sometimes called jacquard crochet, intarsia, mosaic, Fair Isle, and colour work.

While on Instagram I discovered MochilaMilano – an upmarket boutique that specialises in offering their patrons some really beautiful handmade tapestry crochet pieces.  I contacted them and got chatting to Silvia Ferrari who was so gracious in sharing the Mochila Crochet story with me.  In fact it was the beautiful products that they stock that motivated me to crochet my very first tapestry crochet bag using the Blossom Drawstring Bag pattern by Marina G.  Read a little about MochilaMailano…

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What inspires you?

Trips (I travelled a lot when I worked as a buyer and I am travelling now too for buying my products), film festival, design and fashion events, Milano it’s really a city full of inspirations

Tell us a little about your beautiful crochet bags

All the bags that belong to my collections are 100% handcrafted by a Colombian indigenous community called Wayuu, they are living in the Northern part of Colombia. I am selling unisex bags and since last year I created a special collection for kids.

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The Wayuu (pronounced “Wah-You”) people are an indigenous Latin American group inhabiting the visually striking desert of La Guajira Peninsula which borders Colombia and Venezuela.

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The Wayuu live in small settlements called “Rancherias” which consist of five or six houses.  Within these Rancherias, the Wayuu people are able to preserve a way of life that has been passed down through the generations and remains unscathed by modern culture.  Organized in matrilineal clans, the Wayuu children carry their mother’s last name, making the Wayuu women not only the centre of the family but cultural leaders as well.  One of the most significant aspects of culture that the Wayuu women practice is the art of crocheting Mochilas Wayuu bags.

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I personally select all the bags that have to be characterized by the very high quality of the material, original shapes and amazing colours that can give emotions to the customers. Each piece is unique.

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How did it all begin?

A few years ago I fell in love with the original products and began a course about loom weaving in Florence held by a famous master and then discovered these beautiful bags called “mochila”

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

I love products handmade by Loom and also handmade house wares

I adore the Italian ceramics of Faenza and Vietri

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Where can our readers find you?

I am mainly using Facebook and Instagram, and since last August I opened a shop on the new platform of Indipendent designers called Wardroba, please find attached the links:

Https://www.Facebook.com/mochilla.milano

Https://www.instagram.com/mochilamilano

http://wardroba.com/it/store/mochilamilano

 

I very quickly learned that there are a few techniques to tapestry crochet that are important to master if you want to produce a product that is as unique as those made by the Wayuu community.  Most tapestry crochet is done with single crochet stitches, but the slip stitch, half double, and double crochet stitches are also used. Yarns are either carried inside the stitches, dropped and picked up when needed (also called intarsia), or they run along the back of the stitches.

The crochet hook may be inserted under both top loops or under one loop (also called Fair Isle crochet); colors may be changed before the stitch is completed or afterwards, all of which produce different results. Tight stitches produce a stiff fabric with hidden carried colors, while loose stitches show the carried colors and produce a fabric with drape.

Some fibers may be loosely tapestry crocheted, then felted in a washing machine – resulting in a dense fabric patterned on both sides.

With bead tapestry crochet, beads of the same color are strung onto individual yarns. To produce the motifs, yarns are switched and beads are placed on some or all of the stitches.

I am so enthralled by the art of tapestry crochet that I have just purchased my second pattern.  I no longer think that the single crochet stitch is boring or tedious.  In fact I find it an absolute challenge and so exciting to see how the beautiful patterns unfold one row at a time.

You should try and crochet one for yourself.  After all it’s so much fun!!

much love

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Life is like a Patchwork

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Patchwork is defined as something composed of many different elements so as to appear variegated. A great analogy for the journey of life don’t you think.

I love patchwork in all forms; as upholstery, in the traditional needlework form and of course the every beautiful granny square blanket. Patchwork reminds me of our life journey, each patch representing an event in one’s life – á journey filled with spectacular turns and experiences. And when you look at a patchwork creation once its complete it holds many hours of magic – representing a point in time in the artist’s life journey.

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I’ve been extremely busy of late and have not had time to really crochet or knit. I’ve missed it so much. It was Friday last week I was sitting in my garden looking at how the blossoms on a jacaranda tree were unfolding. It was a patchwork of mauve hues and texture. Immediately I was inspired to do something that represents both the colour and patchwork of my blessed life. I was inspired by this beautiful flowing jersey by Daniela Gregis.

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It’s simple, has texture and depth yet it’s all about getting back to basics. I’m using the gorgeous Malabrigo yarn I bought at I love Yarn. It drapes beautifully. I’m only a week into the project and it’s “a learn as you go” experience for me. No pattern, winging it as one would say. Loving it, the freedom to just experiment. Ill share the finished product with you soon!

Take a look at some of these really gorgeous pictures of patchwork in all its forms.

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I found this beautiful poem and thought you would love to read it.

Beautiful handmade, Patchwork Quilts… Made over time, and precisely built.

Made with pieces of cloth, various patterns or lines. Reminds me of people’s lives, representing periods of time.

Some pieces are pretty black, with various sizes or shapes. Remind me of times in my life, when I just wanted to escape.

Other pieces are dark blue like a dark, rainy sky. Remind me of times in my life, when I would just cry and cry.

Other pieces are very red, like a big sign of danger. Reminds me of times in my life, when my ex was like a stranger.

Then some are beautiful white, very shiny and bright. Remind me of when I was saved, and finally saw the Light.

So many times in our lives, represented by a different hue. But all these times of our lives, make up a beautiful you.

For each moment in our lives, adds up like a house built. Step by step we are made, like a homemade patchwork quilt.

Though individual pieces of cloth, may not be beautiful one by one. It’s beautiful when put together, and its purpose in life has just begun.

Esther 4:14

Have a happy weekend everyone!

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Wool or Synthetic? that’s the question

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When I first learned to crochet and knit I used acrylic yarn and as I progressed with my craft I started sourcing what some would call the “luxury” yarns, such as pure wool etc.  Recently we celebrated granny square day and the Hellohart team decided to replicate a granny square blanket that my Grandmother Wally made.  In doing so we all three had to go back to using acrylic yarn.  It has been a very interesting and humbling experience for all of us.

Below are a few photos of Cornel’s beautiful acrylic granny square blanket

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Yarn is made from many different fibers – animal, plant and vegetable. Animal fibers include wool, mohair, angora, silk, cashmere, llama, alpaca and qiviut (musk ox) and are made of mostly protein. Cotton, linen and ramie are vegetable fibers.  Synthetic (man-made) fibers include acrylic, nylon, polyester, metallic’s and microfibers.

Each fiber has its own qualities, and they are often blended to take advantage of the best properties of each.

And so that’s how I got thinking about the whole concept of wool versus synthetic yarns.   Immediately Dalena White came to mind.  Dalena works for Cape Wools SA and understands the finer nuances of wool and all that is luxury about yarn.

Dalena then referred me to Odette Wright who is Operations Manager at the Wool Testing Bureau of South Africa.  So that’s how I got to learn about some fascinating differences between the real deal and the synthetic yarn option, polyester.  Odette shared the following fascinating information with me.

Lets start by exploring the difference between Polyester and Acrylic yarns

both are synthetic fibers, but acrylic is more frequently spun instead of extruded, so would produce a softer “hand” or how it feels.  The material type listed on the tag really doesn’t tell you how the yarn or fiber if constructed so the most accurate answer without knowing about a specific type of yarn to compare to another specific yarn is: it depends.  Acrylics are synthetic fibers made from cellulose, and polyester is a synthetic made from petrochemicals, and if you need something to last a very long time in rough conditions, polyesters are going to hold up longer than acrylics.

Wool versus Polyester

It is difficult to make a comparison between the two fibres as wool is an animal fibre and polyester is petrochemical fibre or plastic.

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All animal fibres such as wool, mohair and cashmere, to name a couple, have unique properties that cannot be replicated by man.  There are many different sheep breeds and the wool from these different sheep are used for different purposes.  The coarser types of wool are used for furnishing and carpets whereas the finer types such as Merino are used for clothing.

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(photos courtesy of Cape Wools SA)

Merino has evolved across millions of years to provide natural protection. Created by nature to protect against harsh environments and extremes of weather, Merino is the natural choice for clothing babies and young children.  It is soft, fine and smooth on sensitive skin, and is safe to wear too. And because Merino is both renewable and biodegradable, it is also gentle on the environment.

An efficient temperature regulator

Merino wool is naturally breathable making it a very efficient temperature regulator.  In particularly hot or cold situations, babies can struggle to regulate their own body temperature. Merino helps overcome this problem, making it an ideal choice for sleep and bed wear.  It works by absorbing moisture vapour next to the skin, keeping babies dry and less clammy. The vapour then moves away and evaporates, helping maintain a constant, comfortable temperature.

Healthier and safer

Parents can rest assured that Merino is one of the safest fibres for children. Merino is naturally fire resistant, won’t melt and stick to the skin, and even puts itself out when the source of the flame is removed. This makes it a safer choice for both clothing and bedding. And being a natural fibre evolved to protect against the elements, Merino provides better protection from UV radiation than most synthetics and cotton, so your whole family will be safer wearing it on sunny days.

Watch this fascinating video illustrating the natural fire resistant characteristics of wool.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKuAl_HzCjs

Synthetic bedding often prevents your baby’s skin from breathing naturally, making them feel uncomfortable.  However, thanks to wool’s natural miracle properties, wool cot bed duvets, mattress enhancers and wool pillows can all manage your baby’s personal micro-climate in bed.  This keeps your baby cosy and warm, but also ensures he or she does not overheat. It also helps give them 25% more stage 4 regenerative sleep, recharging their energy for the day ahead.

Merino has the capacity to remove large amounts (up to 35% of its own weight) of moisture from the skin surface before the fibre even begins to feel wet.  The ability to absorb moisture is an important function and attribute of Merino fibre. Equally important is its ability to release moisture. In contrast to most synthetic fibres.

Cape Wools has recently approved a sponsorship  of Cobus Oosthuizen.  Cobus is an extreme athlete and will be running in the desert in pure wool – a testament to wool

Easy to care for

Raising children can be a messy business, but keeping their Merino wool clothing clean is surprisingly easy. Every Merino fibre has a natural protective outer layer that resists dirt and prevents stains being absorbed, so clothing and bed wear is easy to clean. Merino is naturally odour resistant too, keeping your children’s clothes fresher for longer and requiring less frequent washing. And when they do need washing, many Merino clothes can be safely machine washed and tumble-dried for even more easy-care convenience.

Dalena shared some really interesting insights and reading with me.  The following links are a fascinating read:

http://wwhttp://www.coremerino.co.za/w.campaignforwool.org/about-wool/

http://nz.icebreaker.com/en/why-icebreaker-merino/what-is-icebreaker-merino.html

Some amazing studies have been done on wool and the quality of your sleep.  The facts are fascinating.  http://www.woolmark.com/globalassets/inspiration/interiors/sleep-on-wool/sleep_better_with_wool_flyer.pdf/

Cape Wools are investing in some amazing sustainability projects.  One such project is the work that they are doing with the Olive Leaf Foundation  where they are looking at rectifying the problem of over grazing in the Western Cape.  Watch this amazing Ted Talks video of Allan Savory.  He’s a grassland ecosystem pioneer who has devoted his life to stopping desertification.

Read this insightful blog post on synthetic fibres.  A gentle warning though, you may find yourself a little appalled at its content.  https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/category/fibers/synthetic/polymer-chemistry/

Some of my very first crochet and knitted blankets were made from acrylic. I love them as much today as I did when I made them some years ago!

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I’m of the opinion that whether you use pure wool or synthetic yarns it’s a personal preference.  I do believe each product has its place and at the end of the day it very much depends on what you are trying to achieve with the end product.  I must confess though when I am making something that I will be wearing I do prefer the luxury yarns that are so readily available to us today.  But then again my granny square blanket is truly special and beautiful in all its acrylic glory.

At the end of the day the choice remains yours!

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Magical Stones

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Stones are magical. Ancient cultures believed that some stones have their own character and spirit, while others believe stones are powerful empty vessels capable of absorbing negative energy which blocks the human body and mind. Stones have been used for centuries to help heal the body. I’ve just qualified as a hot stone therapist and have come to realise the true magic that a stone holds.

Now imagine how incredible it is to combine a stone with crochet. We’ve all come across the combination of crochet and stones but when you speak of mastering this art then I consider myself so fortunate to have met Monica (on Instagram of course). Monica really transforms yarn and stones into art and I’d love to sprinkle some of her magic by sharing with you an interview I had with her.

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What inspires you?

My dreams. I would like to say my dreams are filled with memories of loved ones, sounds of nature, animals and beautiful scenery, but my dreams are filled with original crochet patterns, designs, shapes and colors. I am inspired by so many things but mostly by very fine details. I can stand and stare at the old art, carved wood, iron work, architecture of Europe etc. for a long time.

When did you start crocheting lace on stones and who taught you?

It was my very creative mother who had the patience to teach me at a young age. We were very involved in 4-H  growing up and loved putting many projects in the fair every year. For my sisters and me, the goal was champion ribbons and our favourite thing was participating in the fashion revue.

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Tell me about your concept

Mostly I create handmade lace stones. I revise vintage patterns and some of Patricia Kristoffersen’s beautifully detailed patterns as well. I also create my own original patterns. It’s easy to tell if you look in my shop which patterns are my own creations. They have a uniquely wild and crazy look to them. Although some of my patterns have a romantic feel. Some are flower encrusted and some look like ferns. Service is very important to me. I only add the highest quality creations to my shop and I ship quickly. My concept is to create what I love to create and hopefully others will enjoy my work as well.

 How did it all begin?

Quite oddly, to be honest, for I am an obsessive creator. It began in 2007. At the time I was painting. I was creating one painting after another after another and stacking the paintings into a corner. I was completely enjoying the creation process, not really realizing that I had no outlet for them. One day my friend, Jennifer Dotter, came over and asked me, “What are you going to do with all of these paintings?” To which I said, “Well I am not sure.” She said, “You should open an Etsy shop.” Then time went by and she visited again and asked me the same question. This happened several times. Every time she asked me I said “no.” Until one day I looked into Etsy and decided to give it a try. I have had my shop for 8 years now. And it has opened up a whole new world for me. I have loved being a part of this artist community and have my friend to thank.

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft (especially your area of expertise)?

It’s difficult to say really. Lately for me I have started creating crocheted lace stone jewellery. Also I have really gotten hooked on creating beads from clay. I love adding all the details to a blank canvas, so to speak. I like starting with some basic materials such as crochet thread, stones, and clay. I paint and design it from start to finish.

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

FreeFolding – ceramics and porcelain – shapes, designs & colours.

Erinswindow – clay, fibre, paper -for her unique creativity.

Clothandthread – handcrafted – so cute.

Chinasquirrel photography – dreamy work.

Anne-Laure Charlier – ceramic, porcelain – amazing work.

Zebrakadebra – paintings and things – interesting and unique.

Wincsike – Lace – love lace.

DottieAngel – handcrafted – Adorbs.

Where can our readers find you?

Etsy-   http://www.monicaj.etsy.com

Blog – http://dearprairieflower.wordpress.com

Instagram –  lacestonesbymonicaj

Twitter – http://twitter.com/thedrawingroom

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/thedrawingroom/

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What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?

Well, I must say Hellohart is pretty amazing! It has been such an honour to be invited to do this feature, thank you ladies. I’ll be checking in often to see what’s new!

 If you had more time on your hands what would you do?

Create more crocheted lace stones and jewellery! For a year now I have been trying off and on to create a pattern for a large stone, 13 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. This stone is oblong, amazingly smooth and awesome. I have attempted a few different patterns but have not been happy with them. So I continue to look at it. It is a challenge that I will one day have showing in my shop.

Have you bought something online and if so what?

I love buying handmade! One of my favourite recent purchases is a set of handmade ceramic dinner plates from seedlingclayworks on Etsy. They make me smile. And a lovely little silver and copper ring from Monkeysalwayslook on Etsy which I wear all the time.

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What magazines do you buy?

I don’t really subscribe to any magazines, but occasionally I will purchase something creative from the bookstore. I am very thankful to have been featured in these 3 magazines this summer and fall: Belle Armoire Jewelry– I find this to be very inspiring to look through. They give step by step instructions from original artists. Also Jewelry Affaire– they give instructions and techniques and inspire so many ideas. Interweave Crochet has great ideas for making handmade gifts.

Would you buy a pattern, or the whole kit online?

I also love to sew and do buy sewing patterns. The latest pattern I bought and made was DottieAngels awesome dress pattern.

I haven’t purchased kits online but one that interests me is Yoolas knitting with wire kit.

What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why?

I must say Hobby Lobby due to the wide variety of items they carry. My friend, Kim Moore, and I once spent a solid hour there in the paper aisle. We live in the middle of nowhere, with Hobby Lobby and Joanne Fabrics an hour away. But I can get there, and anywhere else, much faster online.

I will definitely be trying out some crochet lace on a stone.  How about you?

Let me end off with the following extract from The Discovery of Self through Native Teachings by Jamie Sams…

Stone People

Record Holders of the earth

Will you please explain?

The history that gives us birth

The truth you do contain?

Like your cousins of the seas

The shells that let you hear

Sacred whispers are the key,

To the history we hold dear.

Teach us the ancient ways,

So we may build a future

Based on prayers and praise.

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