Saturday, 12 March 2016

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Cultivating a Healthy & Creative 2016

I love the feeling of a fresh start that the New Year brings - a lovely blank slate that I can doodle all over with plans for the year. If you saw my New Year's post last year you'll know I'm not keen on making New Year's Resolutions as such, but I do like to have a short list of things I'd like to achieve, and I like to have a couple of life enriching principles/philosophies in mind.

Last year I was inspired by Paloma Faith's song Ready for the Good Life as an invitation for fostering optimism & positivity and being receptive to 'good stuff' instead, and I wasn't disappointed. 2015 was a fantastic and successful year for me, particularly on the hand-knitting front. I publishing my first Knitting book, Elements, with other half of the Smith & Jones Knits collaborative,  Alison Crowther-Smith. However it was also RIDICULOUSLY crammed, so much so that many other areas of life, such as home and physical fitness have been sorely neglected, so for me 2016 will be about redressing that balance. 

I had also intended to undertake a major declutter - and I made some headway with this in the early part of the year but this all came to a halt as I got so busy with other priorities - so it's going near the top of the list again......

This year my theme is Cultivation - I intend to cultivate some helpful habits, replenish my reserves, weed out anything that is not joyful, and trim back any dead wood ready for new growth.

This will mean taking a little more time for some rest, tending to my health and well being and ensuring I get some rest as well as physical exercise. It'll involve getting out in the fresh air more which will recharge the batteries and also provide inspiration - like many creatives I am hugely inspired by nature, and a good old 'soak' with the 'green stuff' does wonders for my energy levels. 

There will be careful 'weeding' of what currently fills up the space of my life, in terms of physical environment as well as what takes up time. So that's where the decluttering will come in - and I live in hopes of rediscovering the surface of my studio table which I think will require a major excavation!

Look away now if you are of a nervous (or OCD) disposition.....................................!

This will then allow space and energy for some new growth, and this year I'm planning to:
  • Get up to more creative antics with Smith & Jones Knits - you can take a peek at what we have planned here
  • Learn some new skills including improving my computer tech skills and getting to grips with creative programmes such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Teaching some new workshop topics such as Entrelac knitting
  • Develop further artistically and create some exciting creative textile pieces for the Swansea Festival of Stitch in August
If you have any plans, resolutions or themes for 2016 I'd love to hear about them, so do feel free to leave a comment below.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

As 2015 comes to a close....

Christmas is a busy and exciting time for most of us that celebrate it, with all the preparations and 'to do' lists and parties and events (if you're the social type, or a parent of social kids!), or if like me you may prefer to keep things simple, once the whirligig of gift shopping and preparations ceases, I batten down the hatches with my husband and moggy to enjoy some rare time for quiet and reflection. As one year comes to an end and a new one begins, it seems a very natural time for taking stock, resetting the compass and making plans for what I'd like do over the forthcoming year - yeah, I know how to party!!

Highlights of 2015

It's been a hectic and exciting year for me. I've continued to enjoy teaching workshops in Swansea including Magical Christmas Knits. We had a really fun and relaxed day in November making small gifts and ornaments including these beaded baubles -and one of the participants (who wishes to remain nameless) really got the bauble bug and has made several more, ringing the changes and making each one slightly different - aren't they great?

Another workshop highlight was Fathoming Fairisle where those that were brave also took scissors to our knitting to cut steeks. This proved to be a highly popular workshop with several folk left disappointed at not getting a place, so I'll be repeating it in April. Here's Clyde, the steeked version of the fairisle cowl I designed for the workshop.

I love teaching workshops and get a real buzz out of inspiring and enabling others to master their craft, and also learn a lot and find inspiration from others in the process. I'm looking forward to next year's workshop programme which which I've now put up on the website.

Another highlight of the year has been publishing my first book Elements in collaboration with Alison Crowther-Smith - we are known collectively as Smith & Jones knits and we have plenty of other collaborative projects in mind for the future. I designed 12 projects for Elements including the Cockleshell Cardigan featured in The Knitter magazine, shown left.

One of my favourite designs is of course the Garden Song Cushion and Blanket - I love colour work and was really pleased at how this heirloom piece turned out. Many of you have seen this design in progress and endured my shameless (and endless) tit jokes!

The book has been well received so far, and I can't tell you how exciting it is to see my designs being brought to life when I see them knitted by others. It was also a first for me to do a fashion show of all the designs with Alison and also the wonderful Martin Storey who's a pleasure to meet and is as lovely in person as his designs.

In addition to publishing Elements I've also been involved in pattern checking and tech editing for other designers and publishers. I enjoy this immensely as, not only do I get to fully indulge my inner nerd, it's really satisfying to work with others in this way to ensure the patterns and instructions are as clear as they can be, which ultimately feeds into my love of enabling other knitters to enjoy and master their craft.

As well as knitting I've continued to enjoy making textile art with Stitches Coven, a creative textiles group that I help facilitate. We held A Stitch in Time, our 3rd annual exhibition over the summer, which focussed on memories including a joint project we donated to the Alzheimer's Society. You can read more about it on our blog, and here is one of my pieces, Irka's Gingko which relates to my Polish Grand Aunt Irena.

I've had a pretty full on 2015 with some really steep learning curves, and am grateful for all the support I have been given by others - it's been a great year for me in terms of meeting new challenges and having a fun time with other folk in the process. I'm looking forward now though to having some much needed rest & recreation over the festive period. I'll also be making plans for 2016 which I'll share with you in my next post. in the meantime I hope you have a lovely Christmas if/however you choose to celebrate it, and I'd love to hear about it so do leave a comment below.

See you next year!

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Changes Afoot..........'s going to be goodbye fyberknitics and hello Donna Jones Designs.

You'll be seeing some big changes to my website over the next few weeks as I have taken the bold decision to change the name and have a bit of a face lift! After quite a bit of thought I really think its time to lose the name fyberknitics which I've had for many years, and to run instead with the more personal Donna Jones Designs - if nothing else it's easier for people to spell :-) The new web address is, but don't worry, the old web address will still apply during (and for a good while after) the change to the new one.

So don't be surprised to see some odd things happening on the site and across my social media platforms as the changes happen and evolve over the forthcoming weeks. Please do be reassured though that these changes are merely cosmetic and will not affect any of the workshops or services I currently provide - I am definitely here to stay but, thinking for the longer term, I just need to make these changes which will improve the appearance and usability of the website etc.

Thanks in advance for sticking with me during this transition.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Smith & Jones knitting book, Elements, has gone to the printers

As some of you will be aware I have been collaborating with knit designer Alison Crowther-Smith  over the last year to produce and independently publish our new knitting book Elements. It was only last May when Alison & I were doing a workshop together at Swansea and  we had the first inkling of doing a book together. Over the summer our seed of an idea began to take shape and we had decided on a theme and design board for the book, and after a very intensive 11 months or so we have now just had our book sent to print - Hoorah! Here's the front cover - I can't tell you how exciting it is to see our ideas materialise in this way.

It's been a very steep and exciting learning curve, on which I will reflect more in further posts, and a wonderful experience to work with some very talented creatives such as Sarah Hatton and Emma Chapman. We're really delighted with the outcome and hope you will be too. We have also been busy behind the scenes building a designated website - - which we will continue to develop over forthcoming weeks so be sure to drop buy regularly for news, events and updates. Elements will be available from Rowan Stockists and our website from the beginning of Oct, and on Fri 25th September there will be a preview event at Swansea Bay Yarns, 6-8pm. In the mean time look out for sneaky peeks of the projects and news of the chance to win a copy of Elements on the Smith & Jones Knits blog and our other social media hangouts including Pinterest and our Facebook page.