Thursday, 3 November 2011

Crochet Christmas craft ideas by HappyBerry - Holly Wreath

Stuck for ideas for Christmas craft projects? Fancy crocheting a little something different?

Then why not try your hand at your very own holly wreath made from our holly leaf pattern.

You will need:

• Worsted (aran) weight or DK yarn in green and red
• G/6 (4.0mm) Crochet Hook or any size to make larger and smaller leaves.
• Yarn needle for sewing
• Some chicken wire, tinsel and any trinkets you'd like to add.

Holly Leaf

Round 1
Using G and a G/6 (4.0mm) crochet hook, ch12, starting in 2nd st from hook *1sc in next st, 1hdc in next st, 1dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 2tr in next st, 1tr in next st, 2tr in next st, 2dc in next st, 1dc in next st, 1hdc in next st, 1sc in next st* ch4, sl st in 2nd st from hook, 1sc in next st, ch1, sk last st, repeat from * to * around foundation row.

Round 2
Ch9, sl st in 2nd st from hook, sl st in next 7sts, ch1, *1sc in next st, 1sc in next st, ch3, sl st in 2nd st from hook on chains, 1sc in next st on chains, 1sc in next 3 sts on leaf, [ch4, sl st in 2nd st from hook on chains, 1sc in next st on chains, 1hdc in next st on chains, 1sc in next 3 sts on leaf] repeat from [ to ], ch3, sl st in 2nd st from hook on chains, 1sc in next st on chains, 1sc in next st on leaf, 1sc in next st*, sl st in next 2 sts, sl st around tip to opposite side, sl st in next 2 sts, repeat from * to * til end, fasten off leaving a long tail to tie onto wire.
Berries (make 3)
Round 1
Using R and a G/6 (4.0mm) crochet hook, ch4, sk 3 chs, 4-st tr cluster in 1st ch, ch2, sl st in 2nd st from hook, fasten off and sew onto holly leaf.
Repeat this pattern as many times as you like to make lots of holly leaves then wind some chicken wire into a circle shape and tie your leaves onto the wire. Wrap some tinsel around the wreath if desired and add little trinkets if you wish! Then hang on your front door come December and enjoy!

Crochet ideas by HappyBerry

© HappyBerry This pattern can not be reproduced in any way without credit given to HappyBerry. This includes copying and pasting into another blog or website, and filming the pattern for use on YouTube. You can however print it off for personal use or for use in a crochet group. Thank you.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Latest yarn bombing found - Hay-on-Wye

We last discovered some yarn bombing down in Cornwall whilst visiting the beautiful gardens of Trevarno but just yesterday, upon a visit to the lovely 'town of books' Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales, we came across this more recent yarn bombing at the Castle Book Shop, a fantastic open air book shop with lots of old, slightly damp and worn books which you can pick up for as little as 30p by dropping a few coins into their honesty box.

And hidden on a post by one book shelf was this cute little purple heart by Yarn Craft Rebel at http://www.yarn-craft-revival.blogspot.com/

The yarn bomber describes her mission as "The intention ... to inspire a Yarn Craft Revival and put a smile on the faces of the Locals, as well as the Visitors to our lovely town."

Well it certainly put a smile on our faces! What do you think? Is yarn boming meaningful or just a waste of perfectly good yarn? Let us know your thoughts! (^-^)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Lil' Elf Slippers - Perfect winter slippers for all ages!

These gorgeously soft Lil' Elf Slippers are the latest crochet creation by American crochet designer Thistles and Tulips Crochet and we at HappyBerry are very berry happy to show them to you!

Easily whipped up in no time they make stunning Christmas gifts. Why not try them in white, pink or blue or more festive colours like green and red, add some pom poms or tassles, the possibilities are endless!

Designed for ages 3-6 months; 6-12 months; 18 months to 2 years; 2-4 years; 5-8 years; and 12 years they are sure to fit any little angel in your life.

Available for only $3.99 at Etsy. Click here to download now.

Halloween Crochet Patterns at HappyBerry Crochet

As the colder months draw near and we slowly say goodbye to those lazy summer evenings we start to think about the wonderfully spooky festival of Hallowe'en.

I am sure many of you have already been busy crocheting those pumpkin hats but if you fancy something a little unusual why not check out our latest Halloween specials!

Our Spindly Spooky Spider Beanie

This fun little Halloween constume hat is just perfect for your little ones to enjoy either as a hat or as a toy.

The pattern works up really quick and the effect is really fun! His googly eyes make hiim adorable but watch out he might wiggly all over you!!!

This pattern is in US terminology and is written for ages 6-12 months, 12months to 3 years and 3-10 years and is available via our Etsy shop or via our Ravelry store for a fantastic Halloween special price of $1 (usual price $3.50). Don't miss out !!

Devil Horns Headband

Or why not check out our devilishly vibrant Devil Horns Headband for ages  6-12 months, 12months to 3 years and 3-10 years.

These scary little horns are just fun for any Halloween costume. They work up really quickly and look fantastic! Enough to terrorise any neighbourhood!

This pattern is in US terminology but is not recommended for absolute beginners. It is also available for FREE on our Facebook page for our likers along with many other free crochet patterns, so do join us and reap the rewards!

Happy Halloween everyone and happy crocheting!!

Friday, 30 September 2011

How to start a crochet business. Here are some top tips..


Over the last few months I have met many crocheters wanting to start their own business and I've come to realise that there are some key ingredients to not only making your business successful but also to keeping you sane.

Baby Wash Cloths Crochet Pattern
www.happyberry.co.uk
I think the first and probably most important thing to remember is, dont try and do everything at once.

You may have looked at other crochet businesses and thought that's what I need to be doing but you will only find that you quickly become over-whelmed and over-worked. Instead take a more relaxed approach and perhaps, sitting down with a cuppa and a notebook, write down your strong points, what you enjoy crocheting the most and start from there.

Start thinking about your target market. You may want to do everything for everybody but sometimes its best to just focus on one area, even better if no-one else does much of it, such as boy's clothes or teen stuff. Start a folder on your computer named ideas and start saving images on google of the things you like or save items you like on Etsy for inspiration.

Once you have your planned projects written down, start thinking about a name. Perhaps this could be something personal to you, or related to the items/patterns you wish to make. If you plan to move on to different things in the future, think about if your brand will move on with you. Perhaps design a logo if you have some technical skills.

You don't need to worry about a website but it's a good idea to start setting up a PayPal account if you don't already have one as hopefully you will want to take payments. Open up some accounts on Ravelry and Etsy, these will also require a PayPal account. And start a Facebook page if you havent done so already.

The next step which I find is where most beginner crochet entrepreneurs are at is they get this far but now they start worrying about how many Facebook likes they have. Sadly these don't come over-night and people with lots of likes have probably been around for quite a while and have worked up a good network around the various social media sites.

Some good tricks though to think about to get those numbers up is to promote free patterns. Not everyone can afford to do this but it is an incentive for people to join your page. You could sell patterns on Ravelry and say they are free on your Facebook page if they like your page or offer discounts and coupons for items you sell.

Show off your work on other people's pages, share your ideas and thoughs on a blog, tweet your thoughts and ideas on twitter and link everything to your Facebook page.

But when it comes down to it, Facebook isnt the be all and end all. Your work is and the more you design and make and show off, the more people will find you and the more likes you will get so get working! (^-^)

Photography is another sore point I find. Many people assume they need a professional photographer to show off their work. This is a fantastic opportunity but isnt necessary. It can also come with many pitfalls such as photographers taking your work and not supplying you with images. Just get yourself a good camera, find some natural sun light and work up your own photo shoots. You will be amazed at how well you can do with just the basics. If you know of children or babies then ask if you can take some photos with then. If you don't, perhaps pick up some poly heads to show off your work, even dolls. The most important thing to remember though is a good shot and sometimes just laying your work down in a pretty setting is just enough, without the need for models. There are hundreds and thousands of photos on Etsy that just show the product without a model. The above picture is a fun way off showing off some wash cloths, all types of objects can be used as props!

As you build up your portfolio you will soon get used to how you want to work and what works best for you. Do get ideas from other people's work but don't fret about needing to copy everything they do. Think about your work, your style and before you know it you will become one of those you use to envy. Good luck!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Is crochet a form of meditation?

It may just be my Mad Hatter's ramble but I was just thinking to myself, is crochet a form of meditation do you think?

Ok, so most of the time we crocheters spend our time going over and over stitch counts, working out really badly written patterns (hopefully mine not included) and wondering why no matter how hard you try you still seem to have one stitch too many or one too short, but what about the other times? The times where we are monotonously repeating the same stich over and over again, to the point where our monkey minds wander onto bizarre thoughts.

I often find my mind drifting in an almost trance state and coming across really odd thoughts, thoughts about an old work place or an old friend who I havent spoken to in years or that funny time like when I was caught short out on a walk in the forest.... What on earth made my mind think about that occasion? Maybe I am truely a Mad Hatter and my rabbit mind just jumped down a rabbit hole...

Then I realise that my breathing is restful and I am in a calm state of being, even sleepy, in fact I could probably fall asleep right now if it wasnt for the fact that the mere thought of doing so would make me become one of those old biddies who fall asleep whilst knitting. I'm not that old yet am I?

So is crochet a form of meditation? I know one thing, and thats it's one of the very few, if only, repetitive tasks that I do that doesn't make me repeat the action over and over in my head as soon as my eyes close, not like when I've wasted eight hours of my life playing the SIMS. I often wonder if the green diamond will be permantly embedding in my mind after too much gaming.

At least one thing has come from my Mad Hatter thoughts and that is this blog post. I wonder if other crocheters feel the same? My mind is off again...

Now what stitch was I at?...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Want to get married in a crocheted wedding chapel?

You think you've seen it all when it comes to crochet but then you're amazed at the latest bizarre creation.

Well, this wedding chapel, part of the Villa Escamp, the temporary city hall for the Escamp district in The Hague, is actually two kilometres of crocheted white flexible ventilation tubes which are believed to create an atmosphere of soft acoustics and beautiful lighting according to the architects DUS in Amsterdam.

Covering six metres in length, the chapel is said to house up to 50 people and couples can actually get wed in the bizarre chapel but it is also hoped that the chapel will create a place where people can show commitment towards the planned new developments in Escamp as well as each other.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

So what is Amigurumi? or rather 編みぐるみ?

As a crocheter myself and a lover of everything Japanese it comes to no surprise that I love everything amigurumi but where does the art form really come from?

Well... no-one really quite knows. Some believe that they originated in China, as crocheted or knitted dolls have been around for centuries but in fact amigurumi have only been around since the last 10 or 20 years or so.

The Japanese craze for everything cute began in the late 1970s really as a marketing tool. It was believed that the vast majority of people watching television during the day or off out shopping were women and it was believed that if a product was made cute then it would sell. And it worked. Even today you will notice in Japan that cute creatures appear on almost everything, even serious objects such as warning signs or political notices. You may even recognise some of them too such as Hello Kitty or Miffy. It was thought that if something was made cute, then it would get noticed.

In the 1980s the news channel NHK ran a show titled Ami and the amigurumi craze was believed to have been born around that time.The term 'ami' means crocheted or knitted and 'nuigurumi' means stuffed doll.

The Japanese suddenly realised that they could take this cuteness craze to a new level and make their own adorably cute dolls. The craze has grown ten fold too with people all over the world now wishing to make these adorable creatures, collecting them and designing ever new bizarre combinations.

So what defines an amigurumi? Well, amigurumi are typically animals but can range from all types of creatures such as mushrooms through to raindrops, there really is no limit to what you can create but the key ingredients are their human like anthropomorphic features of an over-sized head on a cylindrical body with undersized arms and legs.

You got this part designed then you're well on your way to making your first amigurumi!


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Continuing to raise money for Japan


As the world slowly begins to forget the terrible tradegy that hit Japan earlier this year the disaster is still very much fresh in the minds of the Japanese. Even more so after the recent typhoons that have left 54 dead in Western Japan.

HappyBerry is still continuing to raise money to Global Giving projects and has raised another $25 from recent sales of the Kokeshi Doll pattern which can be downloaded here: Download Now for the NGO project AAR JAPAN who are responding to the devastating earthquake and tsunami by distributing food and basic goods, as well as providing mobile medical services, repairing institutions which serve the elderly and people with disabilities, and providing long-term socio-psychological assistance to displaced people.

AAR in particular focuses on the elderly and those with disabilities because of their extreme vulnerability during and after these disasters - over 65% of those killed in Tohoku were over 60.

We hope to also be designing some new Japanese themed crocheted patterns in the coming months to help aid these wonderful projects that are doing so much to help our friends in Japan.

Follow all our projects and receive many free patterns and discounts on sales on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/happyberrycrochet

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wool Week 2011 kicks off today as the UK embraces The Campaign for Wool

As Wool Week 2011 kicks off today the UK is embracing The Campaign for Wool for 7 days of wool focused activity.

The highlight of Wool Week this year is an exhibition titled WOOL MODERN which will be launching at La Galleria in Pall Mall, London. The exhibition will be focussing on the modern, innovative and avant garde use of wool, a true celebration of wool in the 21st century.
Thierry Mugler, YSL and Sonia Rykiel will open up their archives to showcase designs alongside contemporary work by Mark Fast, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and David Koma.

Highlights include Giles Deacon’s structural woollen “egg” coat and a specially commissioned red-carpet design by Erdem.

"In these days when we're threatened by encroaching climate change, wool is a very sustainable fabric," says Vivienne Westwood, who has worked in the medium for much of her career and loaned several pieces to the show. "People will not want man-made fibres any more and luxury will be seen in the great, traditional natural fibres."


Wool Week 5 – 11 September. Visit campaignforwool.org
Wool Modern, 7 – 30 Septemner, La Galleria Pall Mall, 30 Royal Opera Arcade London SW1Y 4UY 

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Crochet Cowl Scarf Pattern

Crochet Cowl Scarf Pattern

Don't miss this gorgeously scrumptous cowl pattern by HappyBerry Crochet.

This cowl is made from a luxurious blend of Baby Alpaca and merino wool and is made using a brand new technology which creates the ultimate “bulk without weight“ making it perfect for this cowl snood.

Quick and easy to work up you will be wanting the winter months to hurry up so you can wear this gorgeously soft snuggly cowl!

This pattern is in US terminology and is available for free on our Facebook page so do join us and reap the rewards!

I shall also be selling these cowls shortly on my Etsy store here so do pop by and keep an eye out! http://www.etsy.com/shop/HappyBerryCrochet

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Vintage Crochet Styles

As a big fan of everything vintage, especially as the women in my ancestry were all dress makers and milleners, I was enthralled to see these adorable photos of some vintage crocheted works via nancy oram.

Do check out this blog piece of some stunning vintage crocheted designs! http://chocolatewater8.blogspot.com/2011/05/vintage-crochet-knit.html

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Free Flower Applique Crochet Pattern by HappyBerry

Well, at HappyBerry we had a free five minutes and thought what crochet gorgeousness could we whip up and share with you in just a few minutes? and thus this little pretty flower came about, just perfect as an applique on a hat or bag. We'll let you decide!

You will need:

G 4.0mm Hook and any DK yarn, we chose some DK cotton yarn in 2 shades of blue and some green and white.

1. In white crochet 8sc into a magic circle, pull to tighten, sl st to join (8)
2. 2sc in ea st around, sl st to fasten off (16)
3. Join your dark blue yarn with a sc in a front loop of your last round then crochet 1dc into the same st, 1dc and 1sc in the next st, repeat this method around until you have 8 petals by crocheting [1sc, 1dc in next st, 1dc, 1sc in next st] Sl st in 1st st to fasten off.
4. Now join your light blue yarn in a back loop of step 2 (the white) with a sc and crochet 1dc, 1tr in the same st, 1tr, 1dc, 1sc in the next st, repeat this method until you have 8 petals by crocheting [1sc, 1dc, 1tr in next st, 1tr, 1dc, 1sc in next st] sl st in 1st st to fasten off.
5. Now you want to create some leaves so get your green yarn and ch11, 1sc in 2nd st from hook, 1hdc in next st, 1dc in the next 2 sts, 1tr in the next 2 sts, 1dc in the next 2 sts, 1hdc in next st, 1sc in last st (10).
6. Turn your work clockwise and crochet into the foundation row's chain spaces with 1sc in the first ch sp, 1hdc in the next ch sp, 1dc in the next 2 ch sps, 1tr in the next 2 ch sps, 1dc in the next 2 ch sps, 1hdc in the next ch sp, 1sc in the last ch sp. Fasten off and sew onto your flower underneath, hide your tails. Make another leaf if desired for added beauty.

Have Crocheting !!

© HappyBerry This pattern can not be reproduced in any way without credit given to HappyBerry. This includes copying and pasting into another blog or website, and filming the pattern for use on YouTube. You can however print it off for personal use or for use in a crochet group. Thank you.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

HappyBerry continues to raise money for the Japanese tsunami survivors


Since our last donation to the Japanese Red Cross we have raised another £46 in aid of the Japanese tsunami appeal from our Kokeshi Doll crocheted pattern sale on Ravelry.com - You can find the link here >>

Since Google has dis-continued helping us to donate directly to the Japanese Red Cross we are now donating all funds raised to Global Giving to help with the various relief efforts in the affected areas. This time the money has gone to Tohoku Kids' Support Project which will help orphans rebuild their lives post-tsunami, here is their story...

"There are approximately 100,000 displaced children (according to Save the Children estimates) as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that took place on March 11, 2011. Although there are relief organizations in the Tohoku region currently providing food, shelter and crisis counselling support, many orphans will need longer-term support to help restore their lives and renew their spirit. Many orphanages (in and around) northeastern Japan will now have new orphans under their care.

Tohoku Kids' Support Project will directly address two-tiers of support at those affected orphanages. By working closely with orphanage staff, local prefecture wards, and children's homes associations, we will address the specific needs at each orphanage. Tier one support will replace those personal items that were lost in the disaster such as clothing, footwear, school supplies, books, toys, phones,bikes, etc. Tier two support will address child counselling needs and therapeutic activities."

HappyBerry will continue to raise money and you can help by buying our pattern on ravelry here! So far nearly £200 has been raised and donated.

Happy Crocheting (^-^)

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

*Simple Designs* - Crocheted Balls

Crocheted balls are used in these dolls heads but also variations of the ball pattern is used in their bodies and their hair too.
Sometimes just having a simple crochet pattern available to hand can be so useful and this is why I want to post a really quick and simple pattern for a crocheted ball which can be worked up into amigurumi dolls and other toys, used in pompoms or necklaces, imagination is your only limitation!

So here it is, a simple crochet ball pattern.

1. Crochet 10sc into a magic circle, pull to tighten, sl st to join (10)
2. 2sc in ea st around (20)
3. [1sc in next st, 2sc in next st] repeat until end (30)
4-8. 1sc in ea st around (30)
9. [1sc in next st, sc2tog] repeat until end (20)
10. [sc2tog] repeat until end (10)
11. [sc2tog] repeat until closed, sew up any remaining gaps with remaining thread.

Enjoy and share your work on our Facebook group.

© HappyBerry This pattern can not be reproduced in any way without credit given to HappyBerry. This includes copying and pasting into another blog or website, and filming the pattern for use on YouTube. You can however print it off for personal use or for use in a crochet group. Thank you.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Beautiful works by crocheters using our patterns!

I have often been stunned by the amazing talents of HappyBerry crocheters from around the world and I wanted to showcase some of their work here which they have shared on Ravelry.

I am often so delighted to see their beautiful creations and wonderful ideas and additions, colours used. I hope these photos too inspire you to try out some of our patterns too! Happy crocheting everyone!!

Image Copyright ©smm99 on Ravelry.com
I was so delighted when I saw the work by this crocheter. Sadly she doesn't say much about who she is but her work is truly stunning. This beautiful take on our Baby Sun Hat and Sandals are just gorgeous with their bright white and orange colours. I just love them!

Image Copyright ©sandrella on Ravelry.com
I love these Baby FlipFlops by crocheter sandrella (username) who is from Serbia! Her addition of a sea anemone instead of the original flower I think works even better adding a wonderful touch of vibrant colour. A very talented young lady indeed.

Illori's Baby Cloche Sun Hat

Now I didn't want to post a copy of this ladies photo because of the personal element but I still wanted to mention her work from our pattern Baby Cloche Sun Hat. This adorable variation is just perfect for boys with its upturned brim and masculine colours it really does make this little boy look pretty cool and it goes to show that any of our patterns can be easily adapted for boys! Check out her work here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/illori/baby-cloche-sun-hat



Image Copyright ©Asjav on Ravelry.com

These beautiful tulips from our Spring Tulips pattern were crocheted by the very talented Asjav (username) from Russia. I think these are a wonderful addition to any vase! don't you?!

Image Copyright ©ColoradoMom on Ravelry.com
This is just one of the many Kokeshi Dolls crocheted by our crocheters on Ravelry but this one is still very much my favourite and to be honest I think goes above and beyond the original design! This Hello Kitty styled Kokeshi Doll is the work of the very talented ColoradoMom (username) from Colorado in America. Her profile reads that she is very modest about her talent but I think she is just one amazing lady!

Image Copyright ©socalsnow on Ravelry.com
I've mentioned this chap's work before but I want to add his work to this blog post as well because these trainers are a truly stunning version of our Baby Boy Trainers pattern. Reduced in size these little booties measure only 2inches and were made for a little baby boy who sadly died at only 22 weeks. I was touched by his story that I feel so honoured he chose a HappyBerry pattern. Socalsnow is from California in America.

And that's it folks. I think with all this wonderful work I may have to start to think about a competition! I hope by sharing the work of these very talented crocheters that it inspires you to get those hooks out and give our patterns a try!

Happy crocheting folks!!

All of the patterns mentioned here can be found on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happyberrycrochet or on Ravelry.com. Just search for HappyBerry!!

Laura Eccleston @HappyBerry

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Rivera loves to crochet!


Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Rivera might want to get back to football, but the NFL lockout is allowing him plenty of time to crochet.

Really? Yep.

"People say 'crochet, isn't that something old ladies do?'" said Rivera, "Football is masculine and testosterone driven, but I think it shows you can do other things and be well rounded."

Rivera picked up the hobby on a trip to Guatemala, where a former classmate was teaching. His first attempt at a stocking cap took 15 hours, but soon he mastered the skills needed and started cranking out hats in about an hour. After returning from Guatemala he visited his friend Mike Harrity, a Kansas associate athletic director in charge of community outreach, and presented a tiny crocheted hat as gift for his baby daughter, Grace.

"It looked like something you'd walk into the mall and pay $25 for because baby stuff is expensive," Harrity said.

Harrity knows a good thing when he sees it. And he's helping to keep Rivera, who played on KU's 2008 Orange Bowl team, busy during the NFL lockout. He helped Rivera get in touch with the local Boys and Girls Club and earlier this month the linebacker began teaching crochet to 8- and 9-year-olds at Hillcrest Elementary in Lawrence, Kan.

The 250-pound linebacker, who prefers backwards caps and jeans to helmets and pads, is nimble with the needles.

On a recent visit to Hillcrest Elementary School, Rivera brought a special guest -- his mother, Judy, who brought treats for the kids. He introduced himself simply as "Michael."

It took his students nearly two days to realize that they were learning a craft traditionally taught in home economics from a professional football player.

"Football is just something he does, and does really well, but it's never defined who he is," Harrity said. "He's always used football as a platform to help the next generation of folks."

Rivera, who doesn't watch TV or play video games, spends most of the time he's not working out volunteering in the community and said he's considered setting up a website to sell his hats as a side project and thinks he will end up in teaching when his football career is over.

"I love being able to see the growth in a young kid," Rivera said. "He starts somewhere and learns some things and you see the improvement. It's just something I know I want to do at some point in my life."

Thursday, 7 April 2011

What's in a name? More than you think sometimes!

What's in a name? More than you think sometimes!

When I first started out the HappyBerry brand it was actually meant to be called NannyBerry. A name I think I will always be fond of. It is actually a fruit but its quirky name I felt was a happy nanny character which went well with the baby and children brand I was looking to create.

Sadly, even though I had checked the domain name was available, it had been snapped up before I had a chance to design the brand. Rather than pay a greedy domain name grabber I decided to take the sad decision to think of another name and the Happy Berry brand was born. A similar fun name!

The fun story doesnt end there though. Even though I have been a fan of Japanese culture for many years and have spent time over in the Far East I later discoved that Happy Berry is in fact a fictional fashion brand in a Japanese comic series! How exciting I thought and what a coincidence !! Just as adorable too.

Neighborhood Story is a manga by Ai Yazawa. It was published by Shueisha from 1995 to 1998 in the magazine Ribon and went on to become a movie in 1996, as well as a drama CD and soundtrack.

So what is it about, well, Mikako Kōda and Tsutomu Yamaguchi are two students that attend Yazawa Geijyutsu Gakuen, a special high school for the arts in Tokyo (named after the author, who makes a cameo appearance as the school's principal) and reside in the same apartment building as neighbors where they have built a long-standing friendship since infancy. Mikako Kōda is driven by her dream of becoming a fashion designer and having all the stores sell her handiwork under the brand name "Happy Berry", Mikako is at her most conspicuous when she is inspired or in a stormy mood for one reason or another!

So there you go, what's in a name? Sometimes something much more than you think and maybe what can seem a negative at first can turn out to be so much more exciting and happy!! (^-^)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Polish artist crochets her surroundings, one thread at a time


On the second floor of Christopher Henry Gallery on Elizabeth Street, you'll find a room covered entirely in crochet. 

From far away, it looks like a kid's playpen cloaked in colorful baby blankets. But close up, the viewer finds that everything is real — in a corner sits a crocheted toilet and sink; across the room is a bed with the results from a fake STD test crocheted over it.

The 33-year-old Polish-born artist, who asked that her first name not be used because everyone simply knows her as "Olek," said the piece isn't about crochet.

"It's about making art," she said, her long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders, matching her long flowing skirt, which, of course, is also crocheted.

Lining the walls of the makeshift studio apartment are crocheted text messages that Olek has received in her past, complete with the date and time they were sent. As we talk, Olek tidies up the soft room, readjusting cupboards and bedsheets, then perches on the bed herself. She has been extremely busy working on new projects, she said.

Probably lost in the speed of her hard-working fingers, which have crocheted over an enormous amount of surfaces over the past eight years, are countless miles of yarn. Olek has recreated crocheted cars and costumes, but perhaps her most well-known pieces are her crocheted street bicycles.

"I have always been making street art, doing things on the street," she said. "I want to make pieces that get to a bigger, broader audience, because galleries are sometimes limited."

The first bike Olek crocheted ended up distinguishing her approach to her future street work.

"Everything I put in public is temporary, and when I first put this bike up in front of a market it was bright pink-colored, and everyone loved it," she said.

Eight months later, the bike disappeared and it wasn't until later that Olek found that it had been taken down because it had become dirty and had lost its original glow.

"The older things grow, the more people want to get rid of them," she said. "New York is all about the new pushing out the old. I want my work to be ephemeral."

Growing up in Silesia, Poland, Olek was always creating and winning art contests. But in eighth grade, a teacher who valued conservative art discouraged her from entering an arts high school and ultimately an art college. She continued working on her own, however, and moved to New York in 2000, joining an artist residency.

Here she has thrived and exploded with energy — crocheting entire rooms, costumes, bicycles, cars, bridges and even trees.

"I take something with me wherever I go," she said, referring to the crocheted street installations she has brought to various cities around the world.

Rather than judging how long it takes to knit her projects by the hour, Olek said it took her "12 movies" to crochet just one bike.

"I watch movies while I crochet," she said. "My fingers work so fast I can constantly look at a TV screen. I don't even look down at what my hands are doing."

And perhaps this is why Olek's main quote on her website reads, "A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet. Life and art are inseparable."

The exhibition, "Knitting is for Pussies," is up until May 2011 at Christopher Henry Gallery at 127 Elizabeth St.

Over £140 ($225) has been raised for the Japanese Red Cross

March was a terrible time not only for Japan but for the Mad Hatter too as we watched the news reports closely and tried desperately to contact our friends and family in Tokyo. Thankfully everyone was confirmed as safe but the disaster touched us so personally that we wanted to do our bit and so decided to design a very kawaii kokeshi doll to help raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross.

And what a success it was! Thanks to the kindness of our friends around the world we managed to raise over £140 around $225 which will help feed, clothe and keep warm the families that have been affected.

The charity sale which took place on ravelry.com has now ended but if you wish to still help them why not pop by the pattern page which is now listed for free and make one to perhaps send out to friends or family you know that are living in Japan to show that you are thinking of them and their continuing struggle.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kokeshi-doll-2

Thanks again everyone!! (^-^)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Online wool and yarn retailers in the UK

Since becoming a crocheter in the UK I have discovered that one of the biggest disadvantages I face as a Brit is finding decent online retailers of wools and yarns.

One of the best US retailers I have discovered is by far Lion Brand Yarn who do export to the UK but what if you want to buy locally? Where do you start? Well here are a couple of retailers we have found over the last few months which excel not only in their selections of yarns but also in their prompt delivery times and customer support.





Deramores is by far one of the best online retailers today with their user friendly website, choice, a good choice of inexpensive yarns and customer support which can clearly be seen with their online customer feedback. The only sad point is their lack of SEO with Google as it took me longer to discover them!

It wasn’t until I was searching for Alpaca wool, which they seem to be one of the few that do supply this type of wool in the UK online, did I find them. They have a great selection of clearance and low costs yarns; they also supply super chunky and fashion yarns as well as patterns and needles and other various accessories.

They also have free delivery when you spend over £15, which, lets face, is easy to do! Id also like to mention how pleased I was with their after sales care, as they popped me an email just to make sure I was happy with my order. You can't get better than that!

Pop them a visit here: http://www.deramores.com

Our second online retailer is Kemps Wool Shop. Although their website is rather dated and doesn’t look very appetising they do have a good selection of yarns and seem to be one of the few that supply sparkly Lurex wool. Their prices are low, delivery times quick and have never disappointed so far!

You can visit them here: http://www.kempswoolshop.com

If you yourself would like to recommend an online yarn retailer then leave us a comment! We'd love to know who you buy from and why whether you're in the UK, US or wherever. Happy crocheting!