How To Crochet - Beginners Tips

So in a previous post I gave myself the task to create a crochet cactus plant. Since having started my crochet journey I thought I'd pass on my tips I've learnt along, along with a few useful links.

1. Choose a pattern 

Choosing a pattern is the first step in learning crochet, picking a project that you really want to complete will give you the determination to NOT GIVING UP! The patten I'm using for my cactus project is this one

2. Lean to chain stitch 

This is a very simple stitch (in crochet terms). The best video I found was by simply daisy on YouTube. She crochets super slow and her video is very easy to follow.

3. Practice, practice, practice

This may seem like an obvious tip but honestly the old saying is true "practice makes perfect". It took me a good three attempts to get my chain stitch to not have any gaps in it! When you go wrong just unravel what you've done and start again. Each time you practice you're one step closer to completing your project!

Keep an eye out for more crochet posts as I complete my goal of creating a crocheted cactus plant!

Business Cake - Come To My Hashtag Party

How to use instagram hashtags and where to find the right instagram hashtags

There’s so many things I could say about Instagram but I wanted to dedicate this article specifically to Hashtags; where to find them and how to use them.

According to Google, hashtags are "a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic"

I however personally like to describe hashtags as "those friends who invite you to a party to meet all their like minded friends but once you get to the party they don’t introduce you to anyone (they’re too busy getting drunk) and you kinda have to introduce yourself by smiling at people or starting a conversation".

There are so many hashtags out there with new ones being created each day like #LaurenWellandMakesAmazingCakes (I’ll get this trending one day) but to get your marketing game on you need to spend time researching the kind of people you want to hang out with, the kind of friends you’re looking for and the kind of hashtags that will get you to meet others with similar interests.

How to find the best hashtags for your business

1. Start with the people you follow. More than likely you follow people who are in the same industry as you and those who have the same interests. You want to start with those who have a great engagement (number of likes and comments). Check out their posts and make a list of all the hashtags they’re commonly using.
2. Start typing these hashtags into Instagram to find out what kind of “party” there is. Is this the kind of place you want to be advertising your stuff? Are the people here your target market (see my previous audience post). If so, pop this hashtag in your “to keep” list. Keep doing this with all the hashtags you’ve found.
3. Now you have a bank of hashtags that link with your business, start using them. You can use up to 30 in each post so I recommend using the ones that directly relate to your business most. Try pick ones that aren't being used my millions as you'll be drowned out. You can work out how many people are using that hashtag once you start to type it in, instagram will automatically show you recommendations and the number of people that are using them. Be consistent with using your hashtags and keep your eye out for any new hashtags that might bring you a better following. 
4. If you’re feeling rather excited, why not go ahead and start your own hashtag. Join up with some of your fellow Instagrammers who have similar audiences. This will not only help you share audiences (more info on that here) but you will be reaching your perfect audience because you’ve set the tone for the party.

I know these points can seem pretty straight forward but it’s surprising how so many people want to reach more people on Instagram but won’t put the time in to research the right kind of hashtags.

Give me an add on Instagram @laurenwelland to keep up to date with more Business Cake marketing advice.

Photo Credit: Oh Happy Day

To Be With You - Original Poem

Purple British Flowers

Your roots are my core.
I have grown you from just one single seed and yet I am nothing but your green fingered friend.

You did all the work, you battled the rain and the wind,
You tried your best to bloom on the date I prayed for and yet I wish it was me now, roots in the ground.
Longing to have the rain trickle down my cold face. 
To have the sun beam down to me like an escalator of warmth upon my nose. 

Outside you grow and yet inside I grow so cold, feeling left behind of what is new in the world, stuck in the daily routine of nothing and not realising how much I'm missing out on.

I yearn to be outdoors with you.
To have my toes in your soil. 

~ L.W

My 3 New Creative Goals

Having recently moved to Vancouver, Canada where I've been living out of a suitcase for the past 2 months, I'm itching to settle down, unpack and finally start work on some new creative projects. These 3 goals are inspired by my travels and things I've seen along the way.

In no particular order, my 3 new goals are....

1. Learn to crochet a cactus / succulent plant -  I saw some of these little beauties at Distill Gallery in Toronto and I knew I wanted to give it a go. These were created by artist Shannon Gerard and I thought they'd be the perfect present for all my plant loving palls. I'm hoping to pick up the needles and wool from some local thrift stores. If you know of any patterns or videos that will help me work out how to create these, please do let me know :)

Simple crochet cactus plants from Distill Gallery in Toronto, created by Artist Shannon Gerard

Cactus by Shannon Gerard, photo by Distill Gallery 

2. Create a watercolour painting inspired by Canada - I've created many watercolour artworks before but I'd love to give myself the goal of creating a piece specifically based on my trip around Canada. I have this idea of framing it in a cool frame from a thrift store (I'm on the hunt for one this week). Check out my Pinterest page to see more pieces that have inspired me. So far I'm liking the idea of a pastel abstract look which has lots of mountains.

Photos from my Pinterest

3. Learn to use oil paints - Having visited so many art galleries on my trip and fallen in love with paintings that used oil, I've gained a great urge to give oil painting a go. I love the texture it gives and feel they really bring paintings to life. My plan is to start small with only a couple of colours and a small canvas. This creative goal was definitely inspired by my trip to Vancouver Art Gallery to see the Monet Exhibit. Watch my "I fell in love with Claude Monet" video for a sneak peak of the exhibition.

The Claude Monet exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery - Pastel oil paints

Photo taken at the Claude Monet exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery 

Interested in what other creative goals I've set myself in the past? Why not check out my new year's resolution post.

Free Embroidery Patterns from DMC

I stumbled across DMC's amazing FREE embroidery patterns yesterday and I've been thinking about all the creative projects I want to use these with!

DMC Free Embroidery Patterns, Tiger

It's so simple to get your free patterns, simply visit their website, choose the pattern you like, enter your email and click download.

DMC Free Embroidery Patterns, jeans, stars, moons, planets

DMC Free Embroidery Patterns, mountain, cactus, moon, stars

DMC Free Embroidery Patterns, star signs, simple
I'm not sure how long they'll be free for so make sure you get downloading quick. If you create any of these beautiful patterns give me tag me on Instagram @laurenwelland as I'd love to see them.

Photos by: DMC 

Olafur Eliasson - Multiple Shadow House

Today I visited the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). It was so inspiring, especially the Olafur Eliasson exhibit. The MAC is presenting Olafur's first solo exhibition in Canada. His collective work applies scientific principles in order to explore our relationship to time and space, and after visiting the exhibition I really felt that.

Lauren Welland UK Creative Blogger.

I had so much fun at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. My favourite part of the Olafur Eliasson exhibition was the Multiple Shadow House where the walls are screens and shadows of visitors are cast from different angles, in a range of colours. I felt so relaxed stood in front of the screens, taking the time to just stand there and look at yourself creating shapes for a few minutes was really quite calming.

Lauren Welland, UK creative blogger

Below is a video I created using a range of video clips I took whilst in the Multiple Shadow House. Take a look at more videos on my YouTube channel.

Business Cake - Who Are They?

Without understanding who your audience is, it’s very hard to plan your marketing.

Let’s say you’re a T-Shirt company. You make ethical screen printed Ts with geometric pattens for women. The T-shirts are soft with bright designs and look amazing with a pair of mum jeans. You want to try and work out where best to market your T-Shirts.

To start, we shall answer the below questions about the T-Shirt business, you can also do this for your own business too. Just go with your gut instinct for these answers and who you feel you're aiming your product to.

Who is my audience?

What gender is my product for: Women
What age range is my audience: 18 - 40
Where do my customers live: UK
Media they use: Read magazines such as "Cereal", use Facebook and Instagram
What do my customers like to do: They’re creative people who like to feel creatively fashionable
What do my customers care about the most: That the product is affordable, ethical and high quality
How will my audience tell others about my product: They will tell their friends and family where its from because they're engaged with the brand and believe in the manifesto. They will share  information in person and via social media.

Once you have the above answers you can now make a 2D character for someone that really embodies your audience. Again, just make this up and go with your gut.

Name: Lily
Age: 32
Occupation: Illustrator
Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Polaroid Swing
Life: She’s a mum of two and owns very few “nice” casual clothes that haven’t yet been covered in yoghurt or baby sick. She wants to buy a top that fits with her ethical values and is stylish enough to wear on a night out with her friends.

There is no RIGHT or WRONG way of answering these questions or making this character. The above is the type of people you want to sell to.

Now we have the above information we can start filtering this down and working out what marketing you could do to target these people. Keep an eye out for more audience related posts coming soon.

For more Business Cake marketing tips click here.

Photo Credit: What Oliva Did

I Fell In Love With Claude Monet

This week I visited Vancouver Art Gallery to take a look at the Secret Garden exhibition by Claude Monet. I knew of Monet, having learnt about him in school, but I hadn't quite appreciated his work until now.

Pastel oil paintings

My favourite paintings were those that contained these gorgeous purple and pastel oils! These paintings were so large and although looking at them quickly you'd think it's all just been chucked on the canvas, getting up close you could see his meticulous brush strokes (see image above).

Secret Garden

I also loved seeing the layers of oil painting that created these beautiful swirl like shapes. 

Secret Garden

It's amazing how much going to an art gallery can inspire you. I'd love to give oil painting a go one day. I'm currently travelling around Canada but I'm secretly looking forward to settling down somewhere and buying a few art bits (my bag is so full at the moment, I just about fit a new notebook in it last week..!)

If you're in the Vancouver area, I definitely recommend you giving it a visit, you can find out more here.

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© Lauren Welland