TOFTfest 2016

So flicking through my latest copy of Inside Crochet magazine I saw that yarn company TOFT were celebrating their 10th Birthday and to mark the occasion they were to host TOFTfest.  The day was billed as fun for all the family and as they are based in Warwickshire, which is a couple of hours away from me in Staffordshire, I thought I’d take the KCACO.UK clan along to find out about all things TOFT.


I’ve got a golden ticket! (Okay peachy coloured ticket…)

If you haven’t heard of TOFT yarn before they manufacture high quality alpaca and wool yarn and knitwear here in the UK from British sourced luxury fibres.  And even if you aren’t familiar with TOFT yarn as a crocheter you may very well recognise the name of the founder of TOFT, Kerry Lord, who designs (almost other things) the fabulously cute amigurumi book series Edward’s Menagerie.


So back to TOFTfest…There were alpaca themed craft activities for adults and children, a NEW book launch and talk by Kerry Lord and alpaca walking for those that fancied it (which Little G certainly did!). Unfortunately my camera broke on holiday (sad times) so the only photos my husband and I were able to get were on our phones so not of the best quality…

We were really lucky with the weather on the day we went, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the alpacas were doing alpaca type things and looking cute and everyone seemed to be in a good mood (that’s the British weather for you!).


TOFT Alpaca Farm, Warwickshire

I just loved the TOFT farm studio.  It’s pretty much a heavenly place filled with yarn and little amigurumi hanging from the ceiling…


Blake the Orangutan says hello!

I say little amigurumi; one of the most amazing items we saw was a gianormous flamingo (called Sophia) which is used as a show piece. In her talk Kerry explained that Sophia had been completed in only 72 hours (by several crocheters) and that they were literally sewing up the head before their stall opened – just an amazing piece of work. Below you can see Little G, for scale, sorting out Sophia’s feet which had been scrunched up and she thought she should put them right again! 


Sophia the Great getting a pedicure by Little G

My highlights of the day were listening to the talk from Kerry about her new book..


Avid listeners! I’m somewhere in the middle…

and having the pleasure of meeting her where she was lovely enough to sign a copy of her new book. 


The lovely Kerry kindly signing her (my) new book for me.

The alpaca walking was definitely a highlight of the day for Little G.  She made friends with Tornado.  Alpaca’s always look as though they are smiling to me they are just so cute and fluffy! 


Little G and the most fluffily cute Tornado

I obviously couldn’t leave TOFT without buying some goodies – that would have just been rude!  


Oooo look at all my lovely goodies!!

My lovely husband treated me to some of TOFT’s pure wool range which is scrumptiously lush. For those that like the look of this yarn it’s definitely a luxury item; perfect for a special gift for someone (or you!).  With it being wool yarn, rather than say acrylic, it’s not cheap but it is so nice for crochet as it has great stitch definition.

The wool yarn comes in 17 different colours, 10 naturals and 7 colours.  I chose the coloured palette initially (though I have purchased more hues since!) as I have decided I want to make a special amigurumi each for my girls for Christmas.


DK Colour Bundle from TOFT Alpaca Shop

Little G loves parrots so Jack the Macaw from Edwards Menagerie: Birds will be project 1, and I think I’m going to make Georgina the Hippo for Little Miss as project 2 (as I already have the Edwards Menagerie book) – but more on that once I’ve hooked them up.  


Seriously how cute is Georgina the Hippo!!

Plus I need to have a go at making up something from the Imaginarium…always so much to crochet and so little time!

We all had a great day out at TOFT and as you can probably tell I can’t wait to have a go at making up some of the menagerie – in fact I may go and start something now!

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx


New beginnings…

Crikey! Where does the time go!?! I can’t believe Little Miss is seven weeks old already! This past month or so I have pretty much been locked in that new baby bubble; utter joy with my new baby combined with (the typical I believe in the early days) utter hopelessness about ever feeling normal again!  

What both my husband and I had forgotten is the intensity of having a newborn!  The feeling of general exhaustion, the roller-coaster ride of anxiety and happiness, the leakiness from both me and baby (I’m not going to gloss over the facts!) and the whole shake up of any sort of routine we might previously of had.  Sleep is a long distant memory and something I seem to crave constantly (along with chocolate) but luckily our baby is gorgeous so that makes it somehow okay –  I think the cute factor is a biological predisposition for new parents to survive the early days! 


Little G has been very excited about her new role as a big sister and we have been working hard to make sure she doesn’t feel left out with all the attention that the baby is getting.


It’s certainly a steep learning curve having two little ones now, but Little Miss is a good baby, apart from the fact she’s a little confused about which is daytime and which is nighttime, she only generally gets upset when she is hungry. 

Interestingly I’d personally forgotten how much stuff a baby needs, no longer do I have a small hand-bag, I now have a giant very heavy holdall, a pram, and various other accessories to contend with before I leave the house…and heaven forbid that it rains! Thus it now takes me roughly two hours longer to leave the house at all…

At the moment I’m at the stage of if I have a shower and get dressed and possibly squeeze in an afternoon nap then the day has been pretty successful.  Though we have been able to get out a couple of times as fresh air, in my mind (no pun intended), is important for me to stay sane!  

We enjoyed a walk around some lovely gardens…


and had a really fun day out at a farm where Little G got to hold some chicks and ducklings. 


And I know from experience with Little G that Little Miss won’t remain tiny for very long and the memories of this time will all too soon fade…so I am concentrating for now on enjoying my time with my little family and enjoying lots and lots of baby snuggles.


But don’t worry the crochet thinking cap has definitely not been cast aside (although not a massive amount of crochet is being done at the moment).  There are some exciting crochet plans ahead and new patterns to look forward to from me – hopefully in the nearest future!


My daughter’s fifth birthday…


I’m in a reflective mood today so this post isn’t about crochet for a change!  My baby girl is turning 5 today which is a pretty big deal to me!


Five seems like such a grown up age, a real milestone, an age where babyhood is left behind as she begins to do all sorts of things by herself.  She’s going to school now, she’s beginning to read, she can pretty much get dressed by herself, she’s lost her first tooth…the list of her accomplishments grows and grows.  


I’m so proud of her independence and how she is maturing yet I have the secret sadness (that I’m sure many mothers share) that I’m not prepared for the fact that she is growing up so fast!48.jpg

I have to say I thought she was pretty incredible at 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 and I know she’s going to continue to fill our lives with love, joy and laughter as she turns 5 (and older) but there is still a big part of me that wants her to stay little forever! I want her to keep her innocence, continue to believe in fairies, and still think that wearing a really twirly dress is the best thing ever (well do we ever grow out of that?).


As I see her getting older I know there will be a day where she doesn’t need me as much and whilst I know that will mean I have done a good job at the moment I can’t see that I will ever be ready for that day.  That said I know my memories of this time will fade, as these things inevitably do, as I concentrate on how fantastic my older child is.


But thank goodness we are not quite there yet!  Today I finished work early so I could be there when she finished school.  We’ve made fabulous ice-cream creations with her new Playdoh set, we’ve played with her other toys and then we’ve all gone out to her favourite restaurant for a birthday tea; lovely memories for all!


Well baby, I love you more than anything else in the world – even crochet! I hope you love your birthday as much as we love you!


WIP Finished | Ringo Raccoon Pillow by Sincerely Pam

Cue Abba’s Slipping Through my Finger and me hiding my tears; Little G started BIG school last week! This is a humongous deal for both of us! Though I’m sure that Little G will take everything in her stride – she’s a happy, sociable child who loves to learn so I’m pretty sure she is going to adore everything about school. 


How I feel about it all is a bit different…I’m happy for her, for this next part of her life, she is excited about it and I want her to keep that feeling rather than her dread going each day.  However, she’s only four and a half which I know is a normal age but it just seems so young – she looks so tiny in her proper uniform! I gaze around me in bewilderment at times alarmed at the accelerated manner in which  we seem to have got to this point. I look at her beautiful little face and see her as a baby; blink my eyes and there she is; long limbed and bouncing around like a colt ready to explore the meadow. As she is my one and only it also feels to me like this is the official end of her ‘baby’ years, the end of Mummy days together on a Friday – the end of an era!! I can’t help but be sad about that – but remaining positive I’ll now have about 5 hours on a Friday to catch up on all things crochet.

The nursery that she’s attended since she was 10 months old has been such a big part of our lives for the last 4 years.  It’s been a brilliant place for all of us and Little G has loved every minute that she’s attended there.  So I wanted to gift something special; I knew that I wanted it to be fun and, as there’s nothing better than a handmade gift in my eyes, I knew I wanted it to be something I made for them. In the end I decided on a cushion for the Pre-School story corner, Little G loves to read books so it seemed appropriate.  

For the pattern I choose Ringo Raccoon Pillow Cover/Bag by Sincerely Pam because it is just SUPER cute!  I made the Owl Be Your Buddy Pillow Cover previously for Little G’s bedroom and I loved how it turned out.


This was also one of the special pillows I said I had to do in my WIP confession list so yay another one ticked off the list, 2 down, 8 to go…

Heather x

June in a Nutshell (Part 2) Holiday in Brittany | 2015

We spent some blissful days at the end of June in Brittany, France (again!) on our big family holiday.  I think we are falling in love with the Brittany region; the sun, the sea, the bread, the cheese and wine…need I say more!  

We were blessed with beautiful weather and we did lots of adventuring around the various nearby cities and towns. One of my favourite places that we visited was Mont Saint Michel, which for people that don’t know, is a magical island topped by a gravity-defying medieval monastery and is easily one of France’s most stunning sights.

keepcalmandcrochetonuk.wordpress.comYes we climbed all the way to the top, even Little G and let me tell you it looked an awfully long way down from the top!  The people at the bottom look like teeny tiny ant’s don’t they!

So you remember me telling you about the Granny Square Crochet / Fabric Dress by Mon Petit Violon I was making Little G for her holiday? Well she wore the finished item the day we went to Mont Saint Michel.  I was really chuffed with how it turned out in the end especially as I’m the first to confess that sewing DOES NOT come naturally to me!

The pattern is very well written with clear written instructions and accompanying photos.  It comes in sizes 9-12 months and up to 3 years; as Little G is a very tall 4 year old I played around with the pattern a bit to match her measurements and used double knit rather than sport weight and a 4mm (US size G) hook rather than a 3.25mm (US size D) to help up the size.

The top half of the dress I made from Young Touch 100% Cotton DK from my stash which has sadly been discontinued (which is a shame as it’s lovely to work with).  The fabric for the dress part Little G and I fell in love with at a local haberdashery; it was so bright and summery it was just crying out to be made into a dress – and it matched the Young’s Cotton perfectly!Dress+Logo

What would a summer holiday be without a trip to the beach.  We had one full proper day at a pretty beach which Little G thoroughly enjoyed – the rest we were off gallivanting around Brittany.


Other beach trips were to look for treasures such a unicorn horns (twisty shells) and other exciting things – we got quite a collection of lovely scallop shells.


There was a most fantabulous pool / water-park at the place where we stayed so we spent many an enjoyable afternoon there all playing on the slides!  I think this is one of my most favourite pictures of the holiday – I love how much fun Little G and my husband are having just shines through the photo!


We all enjoy exploring where we were and taking in the sites of Saint Malo, Zooparc Tregomeur, Village Gaulois and Perros-Guirec.  Though we did have a couple of chill days to recharge our batteries.  I did take my crochet with me and before the sun came up and the day got too hot I luxuriated in some peaceful hooky time with a cuppa.  I have to confess that I finished off Little G’s hat for her holiday actually on the holiday as I ran out of time before hand!  

When I first saw the Create A Cloche pattern by JoAnne Grimm Thompson I just knew it was the perfect hat I had been looking for! The pattern includes instructions for 2 different body styles, 2 bands, 3 flowers, leaves and stem with leaves.  I chose the solid version with the giant flower but I actually forgot to take the pattern with me so had to improvise on the leaf part which is why it looks a little different.  It’s a great pattern, clearly written and comes in sizes 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years, 3-10 years, teen/adult and large adult and I know I’m going to be making more of these in the future!!


I love how this hat turned out!! The pattern called for Lily Sugar’n Cream Solids & Denimwhich isn’t easy to get your hands on in the UK so I used Drops Love You 5 100% recycled cotton. It’s the first time I’ve used this yarn and it’s a super lovely Aran / Worsted weight cotton usually available at a fabulous price and comes in lots of bright / fun colours – I created the ombre effect using three different shades.  As it’s recycled cotton it’s also a nice environmentally conscious option for yarn.


All in all we did manage to have a wonderful holiday whilst we were there and I’m so grateful for the time we spent away as a family.  I’ll end with a few more of snapshots…




WP13 WP12

Wonderful memories!

June in a Nutshell | 2015

Crochet wise it’s been another busy month for me; I released my free Doodle Zoo pattern Peggy Panda into the world (which I blogged about here) and the rest of the time I was busy working on other crochet projects.

I went completely out of my comfort zone this month and got out my sewing machine (eek!) to finish off the lovely Granny Square Crochet / Fabric Dress by Mon Petit Violon for Little G for our holiday and to complete a crochet / fabric hybrid Frozen inspired cape for a lovely customers little girl. I’ll share a photo of Little G in the dress another time but this is the finished off cape.  I really wanted a cape that went over the shoulders rather than around the neck and was pleased with how it finally turned out.  There is no pattern for the cape, it’s just made up with inspiration from various other patterns.  The pattern for the little snowflakes however is this one Teeny tiny snowflake by Elizabeth Dodd.


Using a sewing machine is something I DEFINITELY need more practice at; but I know I want to make another crochet / fabric dress for Little G, it’s so satisfying to see her in a full item of clothing that I’ve made for her – I even made a little bow for her hair out of the same fabric.  

I’ve been busy hooking up some more Star Wars characters by the fab Lucy Collins (which I blogged about here). I’ve hooked up another Yoda and a Stormtrooper but I’m seriously in LOVE with how Chewie turned out – I have learnt of a new way to make him a bit fuzzier which I’m going to have to try with a future one I’ve got to make for a lovely customer.  


I have also been hooking up Block 12 and Block 13 this month for the CAL and as always I have really enjoyed seeing the different blocks you have all been hooking up at home! Here are some collages of the wonderful squares everyone has been hooking up! I love how just a simple twist of colour can make the same square look so unique! Everyone’s end blanket is just going to be fabulous!



No9We also enjoyed our holiday in Brittany, France in June, but I’ve lots of photos I want to share so I think that will need to be a post on its own!  

Sadly at the end of June we had a family bereavement which has been very hard on my little family. My most wonderful Mother-in-Law lost her fight to cancer and she will be missed dreadfully by us all. In February last year I designed the Margaret’s Hug Healing Shawl / Prayer Shawl for her which is a free pattern. So far it’s been downloaded almost 20 thousand times.  I’m sharing it here again so others can see it and perhaps make a hug for someone who needs one. And if you would like to pass on the couple of pounds/dollars you would have paid for this pattern to Cancer Research then that would make you even more awesome!

Click on the following links to access the pattern here on the blog, add to your queue on Ravelry, here on Craftsy and there is now a video of the first few rows of the pattern available on my Youtube Channel.


May in a Nutshell | 2015

May started off rather horribly for us as my Dad was unexpectedly rushed into hospital, he was very very poorly with sepsis, which they think was caused by a pharyngitis throat infection, which caused his organs to start shutting down.  It was a super scary and very worrying time; my mum, brother and I pretty much camped out at the hospital for over a week but I am delighted and thankful to say that he is much much better now and back home.  BIG thanks to all the doctors and nurses that looked after him at the Royal Stoke University hospital!

We were supposed to have been going on holiday the day it all happened, obviously we cancelled but poor Little G was confused and disappointed as to why we weren’t going on holiday.  She is a bit too young to understand what was happening with my Dad – all she knew was that we weren’t going on holiday any more and that I wasn’t around much so it was quiet unsettling for her too (though she asked if we were going on holiday now every time she saw me).  Once my Dad was better we decided we would all benefit from a break away and some family time so we went on a one night mini-break to Youlgreave in the Peak District


We were thankfully blessed with good weather and the next day we had a delightful stroll down by the river.  It was so lovely to get out in the fresh air – I was sucking it down into my toes!


Little G had much fun with Daddy exploring a little cave that we found…we had an indepth discussion on the possibility that it was where the Gruffalo lives?


I enjoyed seeing the vibrant bluebells that were all around…I’m glad that these pretty flowers are protected in the UK and I’m pretty sure they have been voted as Britain’s favourite flower (correct me if I’m wrong!).  Little G asked me why they didn’t ring if they were bells; I told her they do ring but it’s so quiet only the fairy folk can hear them – what do you know she could hear them ringing after that!  Love that little girl!


Crochetwise it’s been another busy month; I have been busy working on orders for lovely customers including hooking up a couple of my Spring Grace Ponchette; I’m seriously in love with how the silver version turned out! 


I also finished working on another exciting design which will be available exclusively in the forthcoming summer edition of Happily Hooked Magazine. I finished up my Sophie’s Universe to the Garden part (blogged about here), hooked up a Yoda by Lucy Collins (pattern book review here) and released another free pattern for the Doodle Zoo gang; Ezra Elephant which I blogged about here. 

I have also been hooking up Block 10 and Block 11 this month for the CAL and as always I have really enjoyed seeing the different blocks you have all been hooking up at home!  

Another very busy month!

April in a Nutshell (2015)

So we took Spring cleaning to the MAX this month by deciding to decorate the whole house!  It meant that I pretty much couldn’t find anything for the majority of April as things were packed and moved into other rooms and we changed furniture around.  I seriously cannot believe how much STUFF we have accumulated over the years! DSC02673 I found 5 pairs of glasses of old prescriptions whilst cleaning!  Why I still have them all who knows but I have now donated them to Vision Aid Overseas, I also recycled some old mobile phones to Oxfam.  With all the decorating I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to go through and sort out drawers, wardrobes everything really before putting it back – that took infinitely longer than anticipated but at least we are now not only clean but we are also rather organised.  How long it will all last is another story!  We donated so much paraphernalia  to the MacMillan Cancer Support Charity shop down the road it was unreal.  But it was all good gear just that we no longer needed and I’d rather not throw anything away if it’s still useful. I’m rather ashamed that this stuff has been sitting around gathering dust in drawers for years – I should have done this ages ago!  It’s really a very cathartic exercise having a really good clear out!


I have to say though sorting out my stash was a part I enjoyed!  All safe and sound in my spare room we set up some shelves and cleared some space for my yarn babies. This bookshelf is pretty much filled with Sidar and Stylecraft double knit as that’s what I tend to work with the most and I had some of my special yarns (many different brands) on the second to top shelf, it’s really great to be able to see what I’ve got quickly.  All the rest of my stash is now in 5 x 7 litre tubs!  Is it strange that I love just looking at the shelves?

I knew I had a lot of yarn but I’ve never had it all in one place really until now.  My plan is to start using up some of the stash but it always happens that you will need a colour / weight of yarn you don’t have!  And its super hard when you get your hands on one of these…my new Stylecraft shade card – squeal! I LOVE IT!!!   I wish all brands did this, it would be sooooo helpful!


We also enjoyed an early Easter didn’t we in April and for once the weather, particularly on Bank Holiday Monday, was really lovely. As we were decorating we did our Easter in one day on the Monday, an egg hunt in the morning followed by a trip out in the afternoon to a local wildlife park then tea out at a carvery!  Little G loved the adventure playground the best; it really was just lovely to be outside without coats on for a change!


Crochetwise I have been very busily hooking away this month; I released into the world my new beaded make-up bag pattern exclusively available in Happily Hooked Magazine which I blogged about here, my Spring Grace Ponchette which I blogged about here and another free pattern for the Doodle Zoo gang; Finlay Frog which I blogged about here. I have also been hooking up Block 7Block 8 and Block 9 this month for the CAL. The UK weather remained obliging and I had a great photo shoot with the first 8 blocks – I’m thinking I need to add a bit more green though as it’s perhaps the colour I have used least.


I also did a pattern test for a cute little amigumuri which I’ll blog about soon!  Finally I finished up my Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds square for the Deramores Blog competition which I blogged about herephew!

Nothing like keeping busy!

Butterfly Garden Afghan – Ta dah moment!

So I did promise to show you a photo of the afghan I made for my Great Aunts 90th birthday didn’t I.  I had decided to make her a lapghan made up from 12 inch squares as I have never made a blanket with squares that big before (the CAL doesn’t count as it’s not finished yet!).

I knew I wanted a pattern with a fairly repetitive rhythm that I could work on in an evening whilst watching TV but something that wasn’t compromised on the prettiness. I have loads of crochet books so I had a look on my shelf and picked a block from The Granny Square Book by Margaret Hubert called ‘Butterfly Garden’.  My husband brought me this book a couple of Christmas’s ago and I have made a few of the blocks in it for different things, its a great book.  


I picked five colours to make my blanket and for the yarn I decided on Stylecraft Special Aran which is a 100% acrylic yarn in 100g balls.  The colours I chose are Cream, Camel, Gold, Copper and Dark Brown and  I must confess I adapted the pattern slightly to suit myself just because I wanted to get in my colour repeats!   


I love Stylecraft yarn, it’s definitely one of my go to yarns. The Aran in particular is chunky, smooth  and squidgy.  Its lovely to work with as it comes in a wide range of colours, it’s not too expensive when making a large blanket in multiple colours and it doesn’t split when you are working with it. I used about 10 or so balls in total to make my 3 x 4 square blanket only because of the multiple colours and I used some colours more than others (a lot more brown for joining and the edging).


The blanket seemed so much bigger in real life than I’d imagined it would be and it certainly kept me nice and cosy in an evening as I was hooking it up – I quite missed it when it was gone. 


I joined my squares using the flat braid join and the edging was from another book from my shelf called Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman (another fab Christmas gift from my husband from a different year – he knows what I like bless him!).

And so this is my final tah dah moment! The British weather was so obliging when I did my photo shoot providing me with a brilliant blue sky which made the blanket colours really pop.  


And my Aunt was thrilled with the blanket which is all I could have asked for! 


Feeling Springy!

It was a balmy 16 degrees here in Staffordshire today which for the beginning of March is almost unheard of!  There wasn’t a cloud in the blue blue sky and it was such a lovely looking day we decided to go out for an afternoon country walk.  


It was great to get outside and enjoy the fresh air!  You almost don’t realise how cooped up you can become in winter until you can go outside comfortably again; most recently here it’s been a case of only going outside if you have to because it’s been so cold and unpleasant.  

I noticed little bits of green showing through in the woods today which is quite exciting.  I know it’s not officially Spring for another two weeks but today it felt really Springy!  I felt that winter is finally over (or soon will be) for another year and hurrah to that!


When we got home we enjoyed a chocolate brownie, that Little G and I had made earlier, with a nice cuppa tea….yes they did taste as good as they look!


and as Little G played with her Lego (new found passion!) with Daddy I sat and had a little hooky time.  

And on my hook?  Well funny you should ask, it was something entirely unplanned and the folks in my Facebook CAL group are to blame for showing off theirs!  I’ve started working the Sophie’s Universe CAL by the most fabulous Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made.  


I’m a fair few weeks behind but I’m in no mad rush.  I’m just really enjoying making it!  I’m using a 4mm (US size G hook) and some 8ply double knit yarn from my stash (I’m trying to be good and use some up before buying more – we’ll just have to see how well I do with that!).  I’m only going to use the 7 colours (as shown above) in total so it’s going to be fun to work out the placement of my colours.  

I’m finding it really quite therapeutic working in rounds with the different stitches that complete each round – it’s certainly keeping my interest.  I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on as it gets bigger!