03 December 2015

OMC on TV (with a crocheted tree)

Hello you lot. Well.... did you see it? On Tuesday I had my TV debut on 'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas' On Channel 4. If you missed it, you can catch up on All4

Screenshot from Kirsties Handmade Christmas/Channel 4/RTRP
Perhaps wisely, in the edit there wasn't a whole lot of me talking (probably cos of my low mumbly voice and the way I cover my mouth when I'm nervous), so I figured you might like to know a bit more about my tree decorations and how this came about.

The production company (Raise the Roof Productions) contacted me a few months ago after seeing some of my images on twitter, asking if I'd like to take part in any of their Christmas competitions. Initially, I turned them down - I was worried that the deadline was too short for me to complete something I'd be happy with. But they didn't give up on me, they sent me a really lovely encouraging email saying how much they'd love to see what I could do. And that was it, I changed my mind, and now had a two-week deadline to make enough decorations for a 5 foot tree (which maybe explains my comment on the show of how I crocheted for 15 hours straight to get it finished - I have a full time job and only really had two weekends to get this all done).

We were informed that the tree decorating would be judged on wow factor, originality, design, composition and individual decorations. But even with this in mind, it was only ever going to be completely made out of crochet. Now, here's the truth that didn't get aired (and with good reason) - I'm not a big fan of Christmas!!! I hate the cheap plastic tat that ends up on most people's trees, I hate the way people annually buy this tat for one months usage only to put it up in the attic then end up breaking or losing it and so then they end up buying more tat again next year, and I hate being restricted to those standard red, green and white Christmas colours. So I thought, why not cover that tat with crochet? Why not make something vibrant and colourful? Why not make decorations that aren't restricted to being used once a year? I came up with the idea of covering normal spherical baubles with crochet and transforming them into droplet style shapes, and once I'd made a few I decided to change the colours in layers up the tree.

When thinking about lights (obviously important on any Christmas tree), I wanted something bold and constant, but without that seizure inducing brightness. I came up with the idea of covering a rope light, as this would allow me to spiral it around the tree (and as it's already safely encased in plastic, less of  a fire hazard). Just to make my work even harder, the rope lights I had had some big plastic bits on the end, so rather than making a tube I had to make one long crochet piece and sew it around the lights at the end. One downside of filming during the day is that you didn't really get the full effect of the lights - but luckily for you I've taken a shot of them in the dark.

My tree topper was a bit of a last minute addition, I didn't want to go for the usual star on top (or even an angel - no chance of that happening). I had some nice neon yellow chunky yarn, some red glittery twine type thread, a plastic hoop and some wire, so knocked up a quick gold ring.

So, I managed to get everything done....just in time! And then before you know it, it was time for filming. I arrived at 'Christmas HQ' early in the morning, was introduced to the many members of the production team (who were all absolutely brilliant, so supportive and accommodating), and told of our schedule for the day. I got to meet the three girls (Sara, Rika and Jess) that were to be my competition, and I couldn't have asked for a nicer group. We spent most of the day laughing and generally supporting each other.

Screenshot from Kirstie's Handmade Christmas/Channel 4/RTRP
We were given a fair amount of time to prepare our trees, but as all of my decorations were pre-made it didn't take me long to get it set up. The downside of this is maybe that I ended up faffing with it a bit too much, the perfectionist in me wished I'd taken a spirit level as I struggled to get all the baubles perfectly in line. But overall I was happy with the way it looked, this was of course the first time I'd seen everything together on an actual tree.

As you'd imagine, they film A LOT more than you end up seeing on screen, and this was where the geek in me came out. I loved seeing all the cameras and technical bits. Being filmed overhead by the drone camera was particularly exciting (even if it did sound like a giant swarm of bees about to attack you).

Screenshot from Kirstie's Handmade Christmas/Channel 4/RTRP
We did some shooting with Kirstie during the morning as we were setting up the trees, and were then treated to a bit of lunch (gotta say they had an EXCELLENT catering crew). We had a little more time to add finishing touches and then it was time for the judging.

We were whisked off to a room where we couldn't hear what was being said as to keep the result a secret. Now, honestly, I never expected for a second to even be considered as the winner. I knew my tree was abstract, unconventional, would divide opinion, would defiantly not be what a large proportion of people would want in their home. But that wasn't why I made my tree the way I did - this was my tree, I made what I would want in my home, crochet is my passion and this is what I do! I got this into my head so much so that I tried to push out even the slightest thought that I could be in with a chance of winning - and really, I'm not a competitive person. This wasn't about winning, it was about having my craft and ideas appreciated, it was about fun and the challenge of it, and if I'm really honest, it was about exposure.

So the moment that our judge (designer Sue Timney) said my name and declared me the winner, I nearly choked, but this meant the camera got a good genuine shot of my reaction. After all that I was done for the day, time to go back to normality and keep that secret win hidden until it went out on TV. Since the show aired I have had so many nice positive comments about my tree and my crochet, from old friends and new. I know that what I did might not be to everyones taste, but if it inspired just one person to take up or try something new with crochet then it was worth it. And my response to any negativity about what I did - "It's easy to hate, but it takes hard work to create".

I hope all of my followers enjoyed the show, and hello to any new people that found my blog through it. You'll be hearing more from me soon, until then - peace out x

Screenshot from Kirstie's Handmade Christmas/Channel 4/RTRP


  1. wow go YOU! brilliant post and great to read what goes on behind the scenes: now I have to watch it on catch up! big up OMC :-)

  2. Hi! It was a great episode- I loved your tree, particularly the cool lights. It's interesting to hear a behind-the-scenes account.
    My tree isn't elegant & I'm not one for buying new or colour-coordinated decorations each year, but it is full of decorations my children have made over the years, ones we have been given by loved ones or have bought on holidays so mostly they have sentimental value. I love getting them out each year & we laugh about the stories behind them. Some of them don't make it onto the tree- sometimes they do crumble in the loft but it would be hard to throw them away and the kids love the ritual even tho the eldest is 20!
    Look forward to your next inspiring post!

  3. Just watched the programme. Loved the tree, but I have to admit what really stole the show for me was your jumper. It's amazing!

    Is it one of your creations?

  4. I've been following your blog for about a year now and love to see all the colourful and quirky things you make, but haven't got around to commenting. I was so excited to see you on Kirstie's programme, and thrilled that you won. Well done you - keep flying the flag for individuality!

  5. I thought your tree was absolutely fantastic!
    I am not a fan of x-mas at all, but your decorations were so colourful and inventive, I've been inspired into approaching Christmas totally differently this year. Mostly, with crochet rope lights...

  6. It's easy to see why you won. Such an awesome theme with the neons and just 2 basic elements of the droplets and rope light. I loved it. I dont get that show down here in Kangaroo land but it would have been great viewing. Im working with neons myself ATM. Trying to create a popart budgie cushion from a picture I drew. Hope you publish the patterns of your tree decs!

    1. Oh and how do your neon decorations look under one of those black lights? Could take it to a whole new level of awesome.

  7. I am now officially a fan of OMC :-) I found your blog after watching you on Khc and can honestly say you have inspired me to do something different with my tree. It's too late for this year but I have been inspired for next year. Thank you x

  8. I am now officially a fan of OMC :-) I found your blog after watching you on Khc and can honestly say you have inspired me to do something different with my tree. It's too late for this year but I have been inspired for next year. Thank you x

  9. i hope you will be sharing your patterns and yarn choices for the christmas decorations. they're fab, congratulations.