26 September 2015

My Mollie Makes Patterns

Hi blog fans. This month has been huge for me - as well as the Handmade Fair experience, I've also had not one but two patterns published by Mollie Makes!!!

Mollie Makes Issue 58 - also comes with a free loom!
This is a massive deal for me as these are my first 'published' patterns. I've been a fan of the magazine since it started, and recently I feel it's gone from strength to strength, hosting an ever-widening range of crafty projects. Now, if you know my crochet, you'll know that a lot of what I do is quite abstract, so when it came to writing my first patterns I wanted to keep it nice and simple, using my love of shapes and geometry.

The first pattern is this impossible triangle necklace. The art aficionados among you will recognise my influence here - I've always been a fan of M.C.Escher. Ever since I was an awkward teenager failing maths at school, I was perplexed by the posters of his work on the walls. I always struggled with maths but at the same time wanted to be good at it, and this frustrated me enormously. But on the other hand, I've always been creative and artistic. I think this is why Esher speaks so much to me - even if you cannot understand how it is done, you can still appreciate the visual qualities. For any kids reading (or parents for that matter), I truly believe that sometimes young minds just aren't ready for maths, but you should never give up on it - I scraped through a GCSE in maths and I failed miserably at A-Levels, but now as an adult - I love it!!! I'm not gonna pretend I'm super clever, string theory and quantum mechanics are beyond my grasp, but if anything crochet has shown me the importance of numbers and the patterns that you can spot. Marcus du Sautoy is a bit of a personal hero, his book 'The Music of the Primes' made me realise that I could be interested in maths again after decades of struggling with it.

Anyway, the second pattern is this infinity symbol necklace, which Mollie Makes published for free on their blog/website - which can be found here

Again, this pattern played on my love of mathematical shapes, and although this pattern is very simple, I really pushed myself to get it precision perfect. I know that you could achieve a similar effect with a mobius strip, but I wanted the finished item to lie completely flat with no overlaps. The Mollie Makes team did a stunning job with the photography, and choosing the graph paper styled dress on the model was a spot of genius.

So here's the deal, I didn't want to just do a blog post being all 'look at my patterns', so I thought I would give you some extras (like my approach to making them and a few alternative colour-ways). As I was saying above, with the infinity symbol I really wanted to get it mathematically perfect. This was something that took some trial and error, but I knew that it was entirely possible, it was just a case of getting the maths just right.

My sketchbook notes proved essential for this. I knew that to make it a flat piece and with turning the rows, the direction of increases and decreases would change each time you turned the work. The fact that I also had to allow for the gap in the middle took me a while to overcome. There were quite a few moments of, 'I know this should work, where am I going wrong?' - and for some reason it took me far too long to click that it should be the same amount of stitches on each row (I was trying to account for the angles when I didn't need to), but eventually I cracked it. The triangle design was a lot easier for me, as I've made triangle and diamond shapes hundreds of times before. So with that pattern I already knew the exact angles I was working with, and the ratio to use on my squared paper, so I simply had to draw it and then translate it into crochet. That said, I still had to tweak a few bits and pieces to make the pattern sit nicely.

I'm a total perfectionist when it comes to this sort of stuff. I made various versions and experimented with different threads and tensions until I got to something I was happy with. Here are just a few of those:

Initially I thought I would use standard embroidery thread, and for the triangle design tried using colour schemes that complimented each other (this was after my first attempts that were done in monochrome). The problem I found with using standard embroidery thread was that you really had to use PVA on the reverse to get it to lie flat and have a solid feel. Although this does work, I wasn't quite happy with it.

Through trial and error, the other problem I discovered with standard embroidery thread is that the PVA could seep through, and could slightly darken the colours and almost blur the colour divides. So this led me onto trying pearl cotton embroidery thread. This does work a lot better as the strands are more tightly wound and less likely to split. You still need to use some PVA to make it solid, but it works a lot better.

This orange and blue combo used the pearl thread and as you can see the stitches are still clear and defined despite having PVA applied to it. It was while buying more of these threads that I spotted the metallics, and instantly knew that these would keep their shape a bit better as well as adding a nice bit of bling.

These last two images were the versions that I submitted to Mollie Makes when offering the patterns. They came back saying they would like to use both, and I was over the moon. They just asked me to tweak the colours of the triangle design to be all copper tones, and that maybe I try also using metallic thread for the infinity symbol two. Both of these were wise suggestions in my opinion and I was only too happy to make those changes.

I hope you've enjoyed reading a bit more into the back-story of my creations, and I hope you enjoy the magazine and the free pattern on their website too. I plan on writing many more patterns in the future, and I am so thankful to Mollie Makes for giving me this first opportunity.

That's all for now, peace out y'all x


  1. Those necklaces totally rock! Awesome job on designing and congrats on having your design accepted by the magazine!
    The thing I really appreciate is the insight you've provided into how you designed the necklaces and approached the publishers. Ive only recently discovered this and a few other UK crochet mags (im in Kangaroo land ) and have started thinking about designing something to offer as a submission to these magazines. Once again awesome work!