We left off last time with the naughtily named cardigan that inspired the start of my true crochet addiction. My confidence was sky high, I kept crocheting and making and crocheting and making and sewing ends in and collecting yarn and going crazy about this craft... and then I found Knit Nottingham. I'd messaged at the start of the year to ask if there were any jobs going, but in early April I had replied to a story on the Insta page, something about credit cards (Eleanor remembers the deets, but I don't). Eleanor messaged me, said she vibed with my answer, and let me know that a position was going to open up soon in the shop. Here's the cardigan I wore when I went for the interview. I was really hoping to stand out! I think it might have worked?
I had no idea if I'd be able to do what the shop needed, especially joining halfway through the advent of the new website (and you know how much of a nightmare that was last year). I was absolutely terrified on my first day but I quickly realised that this was the place I was meant to be. Katie was lovely, Eleanor was vibey, and they both still are such massive inspirations to me. They helped me up my skills even more to the point where I was churning out crochet garments almost every week, because I was just so obsessed. Below is the first crochet top I made and the first paid pattern I ever followed! Good old King Cole. It's pattern 4763, in Riot DK, and the hat on the back is also a great make.
I was told, however, that I was going to need to learn how to knit, not just crochet. That scared me quite a lot. My knitting, as you know, was literally always just dropped stitches and holes and wiggly edges and too tight tension. I was knitting English style when I first started trying to knit for the shop. I had challenged myself but it just was not working for me. But, miracle of miracles, someone on Instagram again posted about continental knitting and it completely saved my hands AND my tension. From then on, I have actually been able to knit! Here's the start of some socks I was making with my own hand-dyed yarn (thanks, Knit Nottingham Dye Days!)
It was shaky in the shop for a while, but the one thing that kept me going was my passion for this craft. Now there is literally nothing I won't attempt, though I'm still a bit wary of cables. Katie says they're easy, so once I've actually managed to FINISH A KNITTED GARMENT (I know, I have so many on the go and yet I've never finished one...) I'm going to try them out. I'm even knitting a jumper right now in DK yarn. A top down, raglan jumper. KNITTING IT. It's going to be so ridiculously vibey, I can't wait.
Crochet and fibrecrafts as a whole have quite possibly saved my life over the past couple years. It's been a shaky few years for me, and after my Dad died I thought I wouldn't be able to keep making, let alone keep working in the shop. But, I pulled through, and I'm still going and I really do have fibrecrafts to thank for that. I think it's how meditative it is and how it can distract you from anything. Plus, there is nothing like the gratification you get after making something and then being able to WEAR IT. FOREVER. It's just so positive. A lot of people with mental health issues seem to be drawn towards crafts, and the expression you find within art. Make no mistakes, this is art. You're an artist. Be proud of that.
The community has also been a great factor in my fibrecrafts journey. I was a part of it online before I joined the shop, but the community this shop has built has really kept me going. You're all so lovely and you all mean so much to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting me into this community and for supporting me and the shop when we need it!
Eleanor's told me to write about my whole crochet journey but I think the most important thing to remember is that the journey is never over. Even if you leave your hobby and come back to it a few years later, even if you keep making mistakes, even if you know everything you think there is to know about creating. There's really no end and there is also no end to what you are capable of. Remember that, and you're going to have a bloody brilliant time.
Love, Casper x
(Blog thumbnail is an improvised pattern by me, using Pricewise DK held double)