Since I bought a wire sculpture from Becky Crawford at the Rotherfold artisan market in Totnes, I've been following her work on Instagram and regularly paying visits to her spacefruit Etsy shop. This culminated in my asking her to make a special commission and I also met up with Becky for a coffee and a chat recently. We decided it might be fun to feature her work on the yay retro! blog as I know lots of my customers will just love her work too!
above... A flowery wire sculpture by Becky Crawford of spacefruit on Etsy...
a long and bendy road to wire sculpture, with ceramics along the way....
Becky told me she's been messing about with wire for probably 30 years or more. She loves wire because she loves drawing, and sees her work with wire as kind of drawing. Surprisingly, her degree at the University of Central Lancashire was in 3D design, specialising in ceramics of all things. She had wanted to specialise in glass and jewellery but it turned out she couldn't do them both together, so opted for ceramics. This made sense as having been taken to craft shows since she was tiny, the potters always captivated her with their wonderful squidgy clay and potters wheels; she'd spend whole days watching them in amazement. She actually hung around the potters so much that they would give her lumps of clay to play with! In the end Becky's parents bought her a bag of beautiful red clay and she made lots of little creatures which sat on windowsills around the house for years. When she got to Uni, she found she still loved the feel of clay and the way you could change it from a lump into so many different forms. After graduating she saved to buy a kiln, glazes and equipment but as she always lived in temporary accommodation, she found it impossible to set up a proper workshop and it sadly all ended up in storage until recently.
jewellery making and selling her work in galleries...
Being unable to set up her kiln, it was easier to work with smaller materials. With parents who were makers themselves, Becky had often played with wire after her Dad had given her tools from a fairly young age; pliers and snips and solder and things to play with. She wanted to make silver jewellery so started with what she could afford; wire, beads and sequins. Her work however, was always very unique and creative.... one of the first pieces she made were crazy ladies with hair made from fishing line scrumples that she found on beaches. She sold these through galleries, saved up and eventually bought some silversmithing equipment. She says: "I loved making jewellery and I sold a lot for many years, in some fairly prominent galleries around the country".
above....Becky's wire 'doodles' which become wire sculptures when put together...
working from a garden studio to make 'wire doodles' into wirework sculptures...
Becky now works in a lovely studio in her back garden. As mentioned before, she sells her work via her shop called spacefruit on from Etsy
, and she also sells work through galleries, artisan fairs and shows. Working from her garden means she is often inspired by the things she sees around her, she says: "The chickens in the garden make me smile and inspire my wire bird pieces. Flowers, the shapes of leaves, patterns of stems in gardens, hedgerows, my local woods and being on the Devon cliff tops all rattle around in my head and influence the shapes I make in wire. I LOVE the time I spend in my studio... I always say that I actually barely notice what I'm making, my things tend to 'make themselves' if that makes any sense... I'm there listening to some amazing music or something on the radio but the wire or pen or whatever is actually doing the work itself!"
above.... spacefruit cork and bee sculptures, bring to mind warm sunny days...and have raised money for charity
Much of Becky's work features bees, hares, birds etc...She says: "The natural world is very important to me, so it does feature a lot in my work. Without the natural world we have nothing, and I worry about the future of our planet and what is going to be left for my daughter. Last June I started donating £2.50 to the Bumblebee Conservation Society for every bee on a cork or bee on a block I sold; in 6 months I managed to raise over £50!
Customers who collect her work and commissions...
Becky says: "I have customers around the world who collect my work. A lady in Australia collects my mobiles and buys them for her family members as well, another lady in America who collects wire artwork now has quite a few of my wire pieces. My work gradually changes over time and new ideas come along so there's always something new for people to buy". Becky is also available to make commissioned pieces. I asked her to make a sloth hanging from a branch for my daughter in law for a gift, and the result was fabulous! It arrived in a beautiful package and was exactly what I had hoped for!
above....coloured wire hanging sculpture....lovely to prop on a shelf or hang in a little nook or window...
Personally, I love the characters in Becky's work, and I wondered if they have names? Becky told me: "I don't exactly give them names, but they definitely have conversations with me and each other, and have very real personalities; I've done a lot of people watching in my time and real people do seep into my work. When I'm making a commission like a portrait I like to get an idea of personality and character and even taste in clothing before I start. My friends and family also probably don't realise that they've been turned into wire characters!"
above....a roller skating lady - full of movement
Mobiles, cards and much more...
Becky also creates mobile artworks, she started making these way back in 1999 by picking up rubbish from beaches in Cornwall and turning coloured bottles into jewellery. However, when she started working in a recycling centre she suddenly had access to many more colours, and started turning the waste plastic into mobiles instead. She says: "I do find some of them quite tricky to make – all that working out of balancing can take a lot of brain power!"
above...one of Becky's mobiles with one of her drawings behind...
In her spacefuit Etsy shop, you'll also see that Becky sells cards, and even instantly downloadable colouring in sheets. So it's certainly worth a visit. Becky says: "My work develops and changes all the time so there are always new designs. I've done a few bespoke wire family portraits recently which I would like to make more of this year. I would also like to develop some designs for paper based products."
The artist at home...
I asked Becky to tell me all about her home and she explained: "Our home has lots of handmade items in it, as it's quite hard doing shows and not coming away with lovely things from neighbouring stands! I've always collected beautiful vintage plates from the 1930s – 1970s, and used them daily until I moved into this house. Sadly they all got broken when the shelf they were on fell down! I was utterly devastated at the time, but they are all in a box waiting to be turned into mosaic things; so far I've made a bathroom mirror from them with more ideas yet to come. Our house is also full of beautiful paintings and things that our young daughter has made".
Becky talks yay retro! and crochet...
"I love bold bright flowery patterns from the 1970s as they remind me of my childhood; same with all yay retro!'s gorgeous crochet stuff, as all our childhood photos have some kind of crocheted item in them made by my Mum or Granny!"
Visit www.yayretro.co.uk for the last of the vintage items for sale.
I am currently stopping selling vintage, the past year has been practically impossible, along with the High St Big Brand names, small businesses are also suffering dreadfully with the down turn, even online ones.
I have consequently lost the joy of it and am no longer confident to invest time and effort into buying more stock. It's incredibly sad as yay retro has been my successful baby for 6 and a half years. But the past 12 months has been heartbreaking.
I will continue to sell crocheted items on the yay retro website and a few pieces from my personal vintage collection from time to time. yay retro will also remain very active on social media crochet-wise. I may send the business in a different direction when things pick up again.
Thanks so much to ALL of my loyal customers over the years xxxx Sue
All Vintage Stock Must Go!
yay retro! is undergoing a change...Everything vintage has to go!
Once it's gone, it's GONE!
I never thought I would see the day that I would wish to sell my stunning 1957 vintage kitchen larder unit. But here we are it's for sale in the yay retro! online vintage shop right now. This has it's original glass, chrome handles and enamel worktop inside, all in amazing condition. It's so fabulous it looks like new!
Resto-worx in Cornwall professionally stripped this down and fully restored it for me and I have to say it has brought me so much joy over the past couple of years! It holds all of my food and ceramic cookware with room to spare - it is very much a Tardis! It is also useful as an extra worktop when I have loads of people over and am doing a lot of cooking. Because the worktop is enamel, it is ideal for rolling pastry out on as it keep it cool. The larder is in stunning condition inside and out, t and is painted cream and mint green in a satin finish. Incredible condition and very well looked after. COLLECTION only from Totnes in Devon.
Find out more and buy here.
Reason for selling is that I am having a new kitchen installed and this no longer fits with my design. So here is it, my first properly written crochet pattern! I have a real addiction to making circles in crochet at present and wanted to make extra large ones into a blanket. I've had a play about and made this Huge Polka Dot Circle lap blanket or throw. Have a try using the free crochet pattern below and let me know how you get on (do let me know of any hiccups as this is my very first pattern)!
Buy this ready made blanket here.
yay retro! Huge Polka Dot Granny Square Blanket - a free crochet pattern
This pattern uses UK Stitch Abbreviations & DK yarn:
st = stitch
ch = chain = yarn over, pull yarn through stitch on needle
sl st = slip stitch = insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull yarn through both loops on hook
hdc = half double crochet = yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull yarn through all 3 loops
tr = treble crochet = yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull yarn through 2 loops, yarn over, pull yarn through 2 loops
dtr = double treble crochet = 2 yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook), *yarn over, pull yarn through 2 loops*, repeat * * twice
TO MAKE EACH CIRCLE POLKA DOT in DK yarn
Ch 4 and make into circle /‘sliding loop’ or ‘magical loop’:
ch 3 (counts as 1st dc)
Round 1. 11dc into ring and then you pull the beginning tail - Join with a sl st into the 3rd of initial 3 ch. (12 dc in the ring including ch)
Round 2. ch3 (= 1st dc), 1dc into same st, 2dc into next st, repeat until end, join with sl st into 3rd of initial 3ch (24 st)
Round 3. ch3, 1dc into same st, 1dc into next st, *2dc into next st, 1 dc into next st*, repeat until end. Join with sl st into 3rd of initial 3ch. Break of yarn. (36 st)
Round 4. ch 3, dc into same stitch, dc into next 2 st, *2dc in next st, dc into next 2 st* , repeat until end, join with a sl st into 3rd of initial 3ch. (48 st)
Round 5: ch 3, dc into joining stitch, dc into next 3 st, *2dc in next st, dc into next 3 st*, repeat until end, THEN add 2 more stitches in final space before joining with a sl st into 3rd of initial 3ch. (62 st)
TO SQUARE THE CIRCLE
Round 6. Make your first corner Ch4 counts as dtr, 2 dtr in same stitch, ch2, 3 dtr in next st. *Miss 2 tr, 3tr in next st, miss 2 tr, 3htr in next st, miss 2 tr, 3 htr in next st, miss 2 tr, 3 tr in next st, miss 2 tr 3 dtr in next stitch, ch 2, 3 dtr in next st*, repeat three times. On final row you need to slightly change the missed stitch count to complete. This does not affect the overall look of the blanket….So after the final corner, Miss 2 tr, 3tr in next st, miss 1 tr, 3htr in next st, miss 2 tr, 3 htr in next st, miss 1 tr, 3 tr in next st, miss 1 tr join with a sl st into 4th ch of initial 4ch.
Now you can use the join as you go method to add further squares or simply stitch them together. You can see how to join-as-you-go by following Bella Coco’s instructions on YouTube here. Remember I am using a variety of stitches in my pattern, but you should get the idea of how to join-as-you-go from this video.
FOR THE BORDER
Round 1. Evenly dc a round, with 3 dc at each corner and ss to join
Round 2 - 5. htr in each stitch with 3 htr at each corner and ss to join
Round 6. htr in back of loops, 3 htr at each corner and ss to join
Round 7. tr in back of loops, 3 tr at each corner and ss to join
Round 8. htr in back of loops, 3 htr at each corner and ss to join
If you decide to make this blanket show me your makes using the #yayretropolkadotcrochetblanket
If you would like to buy this blanket ready made, click here.
Yarn used: Stylecraft Special DK, Wondersoft Merry-go-round Rainbow and other DK from my stash.
This year I've added a 60's style crochet section to the yay retro! vintage shop. Items are selling well and I will be adding more crochet homewares in 2019. With crochet being all the rage in the 1960s and 70s it's no wonder vintage lovers are snapping up my handmade items to go in their modern vintage homes.
I choose and also create my own designs which suit the modern Scandi styled home. Choosing the softest yarns and the best vintage inspired colours. If you would like to see all the crochet both sold and for sale search 'crochet' on the website.
Did you receive my newsletter stating the last posting date for 2018 is Saturday 15th December! My vintage sale continues until 25th December, so now is the time to scoop up a bargain, whether you wish to give it as a gift, treat yourself or resell. It's well worth popping in to yay retro! now.
If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter click here.
I've just recently invested in a blocking board for my crocheted Granny Squares. It's by Millward and I know a lot of fellow crocheters wonder about blocking so thought I would write a review of it. First I'll talk a bit about Blocking and then about the Blocking board itself.
What is Blocking in Crochet, and how can it be done?Blocking is a term for when you wish to neaten, shape or 'finish' a piece of crocheted work to a certain size. It doesn't have to be done, but many people like to do it to square off things like granny squares, and it is also used on shawls and blankets. Up until now I have used various other methods of Blocking. Firstly I used a little chopping board with brass pins for my granny squares (below), however this was tricky as I needed to rearrange the pins regularly according to the size of square I was working on. This was cumbersome since I was using a pair of pliers and a hammer!
Another more traditional method is to pin out the work and hover a steam iron over it and leave to dry. I have done this on my ironing board and for larger pieces on a clean carpet or rug. Other people use foam mats which can be specially made for crocheters or the toy foam mats work just as well. Although this is the way forward for large works, this is not conducive to a relaxing afternoon session of crocheting Granny squares and so a Blocking board was the answer.
Should I invest in a Blocking board for Crochet?
What I love about the Millward Blocking Board is the quality of the board and it's flexibility. It's 30cm square and made of what appears to be a beech ply. Drilled with nearly 200 holes it comes with 12 dowels which enables you to block different sizes of Granny square. Squares can be blocked during their different stages of development, and there's room for several Granny projects to be pinned to the board at any one time. I know a lot of fellow crocheters like to make their squares in batches, maybe making all the centres first and then all then adding subsequent rows again in batches. So the blocking board allows you to stack the squares together in a pile, all being blocked to the same form before the next stage of your make.
This is particularly useful with an open pattern like the one above on the bottom right. This open design benefits from blocking after working to get it into the optimum shape before the next rows are added. I did find the dowels to have some rough edges, but these have improved the more I've used it, and I guess you could sandpaper the ends before use if you preferred. I also would have liked more dowels and have used upended crochet hooks on occasion for blocking larger work.
(above a stack of Grannies on the Blocking Board)
The board is a very attractive way thing, which I'm happy to have lying around mid project, and it kind of frames the work enabling you to consider the patterns and colour choices as you work.
Are there any downsides to Blocking Boards?
There are a few factors I had not considered, which have come to light now I've got a blocking board:
1. I actually use the join-as-you-go method when making my Crochet Blankets and Crochet Hot Water Bottle covers. This means that I would not actually not be able to block a very small square prior to it being joined, and with larger squares they need to be blocked before the final joining row.
2. The board is only just big enough to block the front of a hot water bottle cover and I ran out of dowels and so needed to use upended crochet hooks - you could easily make more dowels I would imagine.
3.If your Granny square has 'closed' corners the dowel won't fit through without quite a bit of poking (and you may not wish to open up the stitches in this way)
4. Larger pieces still need to be blocked on a foam mat or clean carpet as described above
I got my Millward Blocking Board online from Woolwarehouse. Click here if you would like to take a look at my crochet for sale at yay retro!
Recently I purchased a wonderful display shelf to show off my vintage ornaments and collectables. I bought this from Devon based furniture maker Peter Lanyon after seeing him at the Rotherfold Craft Market in Totnes. I fell in love with the curvaceous shape and high quality finish of the shelf, and saw it as the ideal artwork to invest in. I wanted something that would become a family heirloom and that could house my most precious finds.
What I love about it is the fine delicate woodwork and the way it draws and holds the eye. It’s beautifully light yet strong and sits perfectly in an alcove in my lounge. Speaking to Peter I found out that the shelf is made of a steam bent ash hoop, with wild English cherry shelves. I think you’ll agree it looks fantastic with my most favourite ornaments on it.
I first came across the work of Peter Lanyon in my local town of Totnes in Devon, when he created the Rotherfold bench which is a feature in Rotherfold Square. This was created with the help of 16 volunteers and put in place in 2015. When I bought the shelf I had no idea that he was the maker of the bench, and also the award winning furniture maker of the gorgeous seating on the Sharpham Estate (pics below Rotherfold & Sharpham Bench Projects).
I’ve now gone on to find out that Peter uses sustainable, home-grown British woods in his work and that he creates a wide range of furniture for the home. Some of the designs I would love to have in my home include the stunning hand-split and shaved legged desk which has a minimal Scandi feel and the sculptural dining table which would make a superb feature in any kitchen, dining room or open plan hallway. I think these up-to-the-minute timeless designs would really withstand the rigours of everyday living, and become part of the family.
I also really like the Double Stem Standard Lamp which has an organic feel, since each piece has been cleaved out from a log and then hand shaped into restful curves. If I had one of these I would have it displayed prominently in the room as an artwork.
The Tall Beech stool would be great as a side table as well as a stool and is a handy piece of furniture to have when guests descend! When not in use it’s clean lines would make a very pleasing addition to a lounge diner. All of Peter’s work is hand crafted in his Devon workshop and it’s worth knowing that you can buy his work online, great news if you are out of area. Why not visit Peter Lanyon’s Furniture shop here?
You can find out more about Peter's furniture making courses in both Devon and Portugal and his other community furniture projects on his website here.
yay retro! now sell handmade 60/70s inspired crocheted wares, including blankets, mandalas and hot water bottles. These hot water bottles are the perfect gift or treat, and are individually & uniquely made to my own design.
Take for example this cutie which has snowflake patterns in sparkling white wool! Whether you are wanting to keep your toes warm or wishing to ease away aches and pains, these are the ideal gift or treat for yourself which lasts all year round.
Here are a selection of bottles for sale at yay retro! now. Take a look at the crochet in my shop here.