The most wonderful time of the year…Christmas at The Crochet Sanctuary

When I was asked if I might like to do another workshop at The Crochet Sanctuary, and this time the Christmas one, I may have squealed a little bit in my head! Christmas is my MOSTEST favourite time of the year and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to come up with a fun festive design.

If you’ve not heard about The Crochet Sanctuary before it’s a crochet retreat set in the beautiful Cranage Hall in Crewe. The hosts of the sanctuary, Lisa and Lynda-Rose, always plan an amazing weekend for their guests and it’s usually extra special at Christmas – and this time it was no different!

On this occasion we were a nice cosy group of about 20 weekenders (to be joined by roughly 5 more day guests on the Saturday). The room we were in, as always, was arranged with a circle of comfy chairs covered in crochet blankets and cushions to make ourselves at home.

Excitingly this weekend myself, with my Dear Ewe hat on, and fellow small business owner Mrs G Makes had a pop up shop in the room, and Amanda from Craftopia had a pop up shop in her van!

It was really nice for me to let people see the Dear Ewe products up close as I think it’s a totally different experience from seeing them just on your computer screen. And it gave me a chance to try out my new stall display format as Dear Ewe is hopefully going on the road in 2020 to some yarn shows near you….

We started off the afternoon with a really fun ice-breaker to get to know each other with us having to confess a time when we’d been naughty. Santa presided over us and checked his list to see if he agreed that we’d been naughty or nice! Apparently I was naughty – I’m sure that can’t be right!? And then we were all given a present…if you are Instagram you need to check out this video to see our reactions!

Inside the parcel was our very own Scheepjes Whirligig which was just unbelievable! I’ve been drooling (like so many others I’m sure) over these since they were released earlier this year. These decadent gigantic yarn cakes (1000m / 450g) are a super soft blend of alpaca and virgin wool and have gorgeous long repeats. Mine is the pink to plum version which is a pale pink that transitions to rich plums and deep purples. It was definitely love at first sight!

We were given two patterns to choose from, either the Scheepjes Valyria Shawl by Johanna Lindahl or the new Nolkag Wrap pattern designed especially for the weekend. I chose the Nolkag Wrap which is just a deliciously mindful pattern with a pretty cabled texture. I enjoyed working on the pattern, and with the yarn which just glides through your fingers, so much that I found it really hard to put it down the whole weekend!

But a gal’s got to eat so we hooked until 7pm then it was time for a three course meal in the restaurant (which was delicious) and then we went back up to the room for more crochet and chatting.

I was a bit more sensible this time and was in bed for 11pm (not the usual wee hours of the morning) and before I knew it it was time for a buffet style breakfast then back up to the room for our next project which was completely awesome! We were given everything we needed to make giant baubles! I still need to finish mine so I’ll have to share a photo when I’m finished.

Next it was Christmas dinner for lunch and with all of us feeling full and maybe a tad sleepy it was time for me to do my workshop! Lisa and Lynda had let me decide what I was going to do for my workshop, and when I’d suggested a stocking design they thought that was great – I think everyone was thinking it was going to be another amigurumi!

I came up with the Starlight Stocking design which I think would make a great addition to those handmade decorations you bring out year after year.

My chosen yarn for the stocking was the new Scheepjes Chunky Monkey yarn, which is becoming a fast new favourite of mine, so soft, combined with Scheepjes Catona and Scheepjes Lizzy (for a bit of bling). You can just see them hanging in situ below on one of the gorgeous Cranage Estate fireplaces!

As always it was great fun watching everyone get stuck into making the stockings (I don’t usually get to see that part!), we had a break for the evening meal until 7pm-ish (when the day people left us) for another scrumptious three course meal in the restaurant, then it was back up to the room again to continue with the stockings.

As always much belly laughter was had (you pinocchio nose people know who you are!)…then it was time for bed again, the weekend really does seem to just fly by so quickly!

Sunday until 3pm (when the Sanctuary finishes) is normally when we have time to finished off our projects but Lynda and Lisa had another fun project in store! We got to have a go at making our own custom shawl kilt pin and I got to use a glue gun for the first time. I now kind of want to glue aallll the things because I REALLY enjoyed using the gun. I chose some festive felt balls and bells to adorn my kilt pin to match my Nolkag Wrap.

After that it was wonderful to see that nearly everyone wanted to finish off their stockings…and some did get them finished or nearly finished over the weekend. Everyone did such an amazing job with them!

And some more stockings modelled with the gorgeously decorated fireplace!

I’m a bit addicted to attending The Crochet Sanctuary days / weekends they have throughout the year. It’s always such fun and I get to just talk crochet till I’m fit to burst which is especially refreshing because no one’s eyes start to glaze over – they are just as enthused as me!

It was a thoroughly wonderful weekend, which I knew it would be, that I was lucky enough to share with the most wonderful group of people! Just a lovely occasion to catch up with old friends and make some new ones!

If you are looking for a weekend of yarn, crochet, relaxation and just pure wonderfulness then the The Crochet Sanctuary is definitely the place for you. As testament the weekend dates for 2020 have already completely sold out – but you can still book the remaining few day dates that are left here.

I’m going back for a day visit again in February as a guest which I’m already looking forward to! How many more sleeps is that….

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

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New for Ewe! Yarny Stationery Range

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a complete yarn addict but what you may not know about me is that I also love stationery. Like a brand new ball of yarn I find there is something quite special about a new notebook that makes me feel that almost anything can be achieved.

So when I was thinking about what products to develop next for Dear Ewe I knew I needed to combine my two loves together to create some fun stationery that everyone could enjoy.

I do enjoy thinking of things that could come next for Dear Ewe that I think people will like and of course I make sure that I like them too! I knew without doubt that there had to be a notebook in the new products.

When I’m designing patterns I write everything I do, in pencil, in a notebook, and I personally like notebooks that have a fastening or elastic around them as I sometimes stick in bits of paper or other notes that I don’t want to lose.

Yarn Whisperers Notebook

Each Yarn Whisperer notebook is made from soft touch PVC covered recycled cardboard and has a ribbon page marker and elastic closure. It’s A7 size means it fits easily into a handbag (for yarn shopping notes) or your project bag.

Yarn Whisperers Notebook

Keeping with the yarny theme there’s also a range of Yarn Lovers Die Cut Vinyl stickers which will allow you to add your own personal woolly touch to almost anything! As a kid I loved stickers and I realised I never grew out of that love!

Yarn Lovers Sticker Pack

Give people a little idea of who you are and what you love by sticking these yarny vinyl stickers to your notebooks, your laptop, your luggage or anything that you like! Available as a pack of four stickers or individually – I’m going to be sticking them everywhere!!

Individual Yarn Addict Sticker

And finally the perfect stationery addition to help organise all of your yarny projects! The Work in Progress (WIP) Crochet / Knit Project Cards are here to help you organise your WIP projects, because I’m assuming like me that you might find something like this a handy tool?!

Invented partly because I have a personal issue with so many WIPs scattered in various places in the house, (15 or so – that’s not bad right?), and I thought I can’t be the only one that would find the postcard size memo’s a handy thing to have around.

Each pack contains eight (8) individual WIP cards for your different projects and they will mean no more forgetting what that project was all about or what yarn you were using! You just write down the necessary details on the card, pop it in your project bag, (you can even add a yarn sample in the holes provided), then when you next go to that project (in few days, weeks, months or years) you’ll have everything you need, to know what to do next.

It’s getting to that time of year now when folks are starting to think about Christmas and all the stationery range are priced to make excellent stocking fillers for yarn lovers, crochet addicts, knitting fanatics and fiber artists. So if you’re thinking of presents for a crafty friend or as a treat for yourself I hope you’ll take a look at the new range of Dear Ewe stationery.

So what do you think? Like them? Love em? Already bought some? I’d love to know.

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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I Like Crochet Magazine |Cosy Cabin Patterns

I’m just catching up with patterns that have been released whilst I was ill and I think there’s still enough time to tell you about the October issue of I Like Crochet. You might just be able to spy one of my new designs peeping out on the front cover…

Imagine yourself in a log cabin in the woods and you’ve got this issue in a nutshell and I came up with two designs to fit in with the theme.

Plaid seems to be quite synonymous with the outdoors and cabins doesn’t it – does it stem from lumberjacks maybe? I’m not sure? But when I started thinking about the topic that’s what came to me and I kind of knew that I wanted to make a basket…well because I just love crocheting baskets.

However I wanted to play around with the traditional buffalo plaid ‘squares’ design. I still wanted it to be recognisable as ‘plaid’ but I wanted the design to by more inspired by than directly copied. So I decided to go with repeating rectangles that I would create by colour changing as I worked.

© I Like Crochet Magazine – October 2019

The basket is worked holding two strands of Rico Design Creative Cotton Aran yarn together at a time which makes it a nice sturdy basket and is worked in continuous rounds. The only fiddly bit is working with so many different colours at a time but once you find your own rhythm it all comes together easily.

I think the Perfectly Plaid Basket would be perfect for storing washcloths on your bathroom counter, or yarn in by your crafting chair, or even pine-cones as decor.

SAVE PATTERN ON RAVELRY HERE

The next design I created for the magazine was an amigurumi inspired by a woodland creature. Meet Birch – this usually secretive woodland dweller who will come out of hiding for cuddle by the fireplace.

Worked in the traditional amigurumi style using Deramores Studio DK he stands about 29cm (11.4in) high when he’s all finished. He’s quite fond of his baby antlers and hopes to grow up to be a big strong buck one day.

This sweet little deer might be my favourite pattern I’ve made this year, and he seems like the perfect make for autumnal crafting.

SAVE PATTERN ON RAVELRY HERE

As well as my cabin inspired patterns the October issue features over 22 patterns and a range of interesting articles. SUBSCRIBE TODAY for a copy of the magazine straight to your desktop or iPad.

If you hook up the Perfectly Plaid Basket or Birch the Deer please share your photos with me on social media (facebooktwitter or instagram) – I love to see it! 

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Dear Ewe | 1 Year Birthday SALE and Giveaway!

Dear Ewe 1st Birthday Sale! 30% Discount to all items in store.

Exciting news! Dear Ewe my little fledgling business has turned ONE!! And we are doing a big ole sale to celebrate it! It’s often said that more than half of new businesses fail during the first year but we’ve made it and that’s another reason to celebrate too I think!

Dear Ewe Being Creative Tote Bag for crocheters and knitters

This year, we’ve had some truly epic experiences! From actually starting our business in the first place and then welcoming our first stockist, to having our products featured in some amazing magazines and had the pleasure of collaborating on some exciting products.

Dear Ewe Crochet Chart themed mugs

It’s super scary trying something new – fear, uncertainty and self-doubt all the way! And that step into the unknown was a BIG step, especially for me, but I’m proud of the fact that I took a step out of my comfort zone to try something new. And thankfully you all seem to love our mugs, bags, prints, photo prop cards, greetings cards, patterns and kits – for which we are so very thankful and grateful!

Dear Ewe creative prop cards - home is where the yarn is!

So we wanted to say a big thank you for all the support that everyone out there has given Dear Ewe in it’s first year! Which meant we had to line up some treats!

Dear Ewe Just for Ewe greetings card

There’s a 30% discount running on all items sitewide – so if you’re thinking of presents for a crafty friend or as a treat for yourself now is the time to grab them – but get them whilst you can, offer ends 21 July 2019.

And if you pop on over to either the Dear Ewe Instagram Page or our Facebook page you could enter our giveaway to win 5 of our fun greetings cards.

Hurry for that one as it finishes on 17 July!

There’s also a free crochet pattern coming up on the Dear Ewe blog too that’s birthday themed so you might want to look out for that one.

Well that’s it from me! Until next time folks! Happy hooking, keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Designer Interview | Zeens and Roger

I’m dead excited about my next designer interview because I had the pleasure of actually meeting her recently at The Crochet Sanctuary – and if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my fan girl moment in my stories. It’s the lovely Rosina aka Zeens and Roger !!!

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I’ve been following Rosina since I was told about her vlogcasts on Youtube. Her down to earth, say it like it is, podcast episodes are amongst my favourite podcasts to listen to and watch.

You will have also no doubt, if you are a crochet fan, have seen her awesome Instagram feed and come across some of her lovely designs in magazines like Inside Crochet. She has also, more recently, branched out (pun intended) into hook whittling in her new collaboration Kirk and Roger creating some beautiful handmade hooks.

Kirk and Roger Handmade Hooks
© zeensandroger.com

With so much going on I wanted to find out a bit more about Rosina, how she does it all, her inspiration and her designing process. Here’s what we chatted about…

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I grew up in Southampton but I’ve spent half my life in Devon. I moved to Exeter in the late 90’s to study Art History at uni and never left. For the last ten years I’ve lived in an old town just outside of Exeter. It’s sandwiched between the countryside and the coast. I love it!  I’ve worked at a cinema (I still love the smell of popcorn), in social housing (I was rubbish at it) and in HR (interesting stuff). I still dream about working at the cinema even though it was nearly twenty years ago.

How did you discover crochet?

Let’s not count the failed attempts as a child. Instead, I think I can really only say that it was a year after I had my first baby, so nearly 9 years ago. It’s probably a familiar story amongst crafters. Something about starting a family kick started the creativity again (after years of not doing anything crafty). My baby boy received handmade blankets from my family and I wanted in on the action! I started to crochet because I wanted my children to have things I’d made for them.  I bought a beginners book and found a YouTube video that I liked and began to make a very long and very uneven chain. 

© zeensandroger.com

How did you become a crochet designer?

I don’t remember a time that didn’t have me going “off pattern”. However, the first thing I properly designed was a little granny owl decoration. It was the first time I’d written out a pattern anyway. That was around four/five years ago. I remember fretting that I’d never get another idea again. But the wondrous thing about being a crochet addict is that you always want more! The more you do it, the more ideas you get.

In the autumn of 2016 I sent out a few emails to magazines offering my ideas. I was thrilled that one of my ideas was accepted by Inside Crochet (my favourite crochet mag). It was such a buzz and a huge confidence booster!

One Way or Another Shawl
© zeensandroger.com

Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

I honestly don’t have a clue half the time. Colour is a biggy as I expect it is for everyone. I’m inspired by what my peers/friends are doing too, I think we’re all influenced by the same trends and it’s fascinating to see how we all interpret them differently. My favourite ideas are often the ones that pop in my head from nowhere. But it might be a holiday, pretty wrapping paper or a bonkers conversation and all of a sudden you’re presented with an image of a thing that you have to make and you have to make it NOW!

© zeensandroger.com

What does your design process look like? Do you sketch things out first, or do you just like to grab a hook and go?

It’s haphazard! I don’t have a particular routine but I do like to make sketches. The starting point might be the pretty wrapping paper but it might also be a crochet stitch I’ve never seen before. If I fall in love with it I have to use it in something. Or I might lust after some special yarn I’ve seen, which has to be turned into a shawl or blanket.

Release the Hounds Shawl
© zeensandroger.com

Do you have a favourite creation that you’ve designed?

I often end up hating the designs I’ve come up with and can’t wait to see the back of them! (I probably spend way too much time with the frog/rework process to have any love left). It’s not always true though, I do have pieces I’m very proud of. My C2C projects make me happy. All the yarn tangling of Havana Nights was worth it in the end! At the moment my favourites are two shawls, Release the Hounds and Hinterland, mostly for their simplicity. Sometimes simple is best! 

Havana Nights Blanket
© zeensandroger.com

How and why did you start making your own hooks?

I’d seen other crocheters explore the idea and fancied having a hook for myself. I asked my friend, Paul to make one for me as his hobby is woodwork. He showed me how to make them and also suggested selling them. It’s quite addictive but I break a lot of sticks trying to make the perfect hook (and I get blisters!). I really should leave the hook making to him and I’ll stick to crochet! Kirk & Roger is a small sideline for us both, it’s fun and no pressure. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed working with someone else. We’re a good team!

What made you decide to start your own podcast?

The number one reason was because my friends in real life reeaalllly weren’t interested in hearing me blather on about crochet all the time. I get way too excited about yarn, patterns, design work etc and you can see eyes begin to glaze over. I thought it’d be a nice outlet for me to find like-minded people to engage with. For me it’s easier than blogging; I just sit down and hit record. I’m more of a talker than a writer. 

How do you fit everything in that you want to? Are you strict with yourself and your time or is it a struggle to juggle?

I don’t fit everything in. Not by a long shot. I’m a world class procrastinator and am not strict on myself at all. I reckon I could double my output if I only learned how to be more disciplined. It can be very tricky to stay motivated when you work from home. I force myself to sit at the computer and write those patterns! It’s much easier when working to a deadline for a magazine, there’s an end goal… But I’ll still leave it to the last minute.

© zeensandroger.com

What advice would you have for any budding crochet designer, small business owner or podcaster who might like to follow in your footsteps?

Just do it. Start today. If you want to do it, just give it a go!  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I can confirm that there is never a right time. None of what I do ever looks as good as the next person’s, there is always someone out there who does it way better. But I love it, so I do it anyway. I’ve definitely improved since I hit publish on that first episode, but I am always working towards getting better.

Tomorrow you step outside and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning £100 million. What would you do?

Buy a house big enough to have a craft room. Pay someone to write up my patterns and pay another person to sew in ends. I’d also like to have a yarn and craft shop, supporting local makers and creatives. Oh, and it would be amazing to go to all the yarn shops, all over the world. I want to see what’s out there.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Rosina again for taking time to answer these questions. I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of what’s involved with in her designing process and hope you have too!

You can follow Rosina everywhere on the web:  BLOG, YOUTUBE, INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK and you can buy her patterns on RAVELRY and ETSY

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

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Yarn Shows 2019 | Wool@Jct13

Wool@J13 is the most local yarn show to me so I’ve started to mark it on the calendar each year. This year was the third time the show has run and subsequently my third visit to Lower Drayton farm where the show is held in May each year. 

For an avid crocheter a day out to a yarn festival is great for your sense of well-being and feelings of harmony with like minded souls. If you’ve not been to a yarn show before you probably need to prepare yourself for so much yarn (all of which you will probably want) and lots of people talking about yarn and knitting and crochet!

As yarn shows go Wool@Jct13 runs over two days (a Saturday and a Sunday) but it isn’t massive, and this year it was smaller than the year before. The stalls for the event are all held in a big structured tent with rows of stalls at each edge and along the centre which you get to walk around in a big sort of loop.

The last two previous years have been blessed with tremendous weather for the shows. This year it was a grey and cloudy so it was great to see lots of people still turn out for the show. Luckily the weather was still warm enough to sit outside and listen to the outdoor music by various artists.

Food-wise there are picnic tables available but most people seemed to just be buying lunch as there were quite a few food stalls at reasonable prices – we all enjoyed sampling pizza and tea and cake over the course of the afternoon.

My girls loved the bands and we were able to sit around and chill as they danced along to each track which was nice. That’s one thing I really love about Wool@Jct13, it’s extremely family friendly – you can just see my two girls (below) walking hand in hand through the stalls and even my husband was quite taken with the colours of the yarns available and by the artistry of some of the felt pictures we saw.

My girls also loved all the animals and the play-park that they have on site. In fact my husband played with them on the play-park whilst I got to have a first leisurely look at stalls then we all went round the stalls again together later. The kids also loved the fact that they got a tractor-trailer ride (there and back) to the show! My three year old was very impressed by the big wheels!

On offer at the show was mainly hand dyed yarn, things for spinners and needle felters, and products celebrating ‘wool’. Actually it is a very WOOLLY show, which based on a farm I think it was bound to be, there are sheep around and also fleece shearing demonstrations which are really interesting to watch. You certainly get a sense of where the yarn is coming from!

In the main tent there was just so much yarn prettiness to drool over that if I had all the money in the world I could have gone crazy – because I pretty much wanted everything I saw!

And I did buy yarn, I can’t lie, I felt it would be rude not to when at a yarn show! I just fell in love with the colourways of five skeins of yarn that had to come home with me. The first two are from Siobhan Crafts and the last three are from Bellica Yarns.

I just loved the speckles and flecks on the first two which are 75% SW Merino and 25% Nylon Double Knit. Together they make 200g and the colourways are OOAK – Prism and Mermaid Scales which I think will go beautifully together in an, as yet unknown, future project.

The gorgeous yellow toned yarns I had to have because I just envisioned them in a summer shawl. I’m going on holiday next week so I’m thinking of caking it up and taking it with me. The vivid block yellow is 100g and the smaller two lovely speckled variegated yarn are 50g each so I have 200g in total which should make a fair sized shawl. There were no colourway names on the labels but both are 4ply 75% SW Merino and 25% Nylon – perfect for a light and airy design I was thinking!

So all in all we enjoyed our visit to this years show and I’m sure you will find us back at Wool@J13 next year! If you are in The Midlands you might want to check it out. But actually if you love yarn then I hope you’ll go along and support any local yarn show, they’ll only be able to keep going if we help keep them running – if that’s not a good excuse for having to buy yarn I don’t know what is!

If you are looking for a yarn show near you I’ve found this comprehensive blog post, by the Travel Knitter, which seems to list all Yarn Shows for 2019 which is just fab (thanks to her for doing that!).

Are you visiting any yarn shows this year? I’d love to hear which ones you are going to and why you’ve chosen that particular one… feel free to drop a comment below.

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

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My visit to Spring The Knitting & Stitching Show 2019

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Howdy folks, how was your weekend? Mine was a greatly creative one! Mum and I went down to The Knitting and Stitching Show in Olympia London for a weekend away and we had such fun! 

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I’m feel that I should start with a photo of one of the showstopping photos I took of The Enchanted Wood by the Norfolk Knitters just to entice you in…

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Though you might just want to grab a cuppa before you start to read the rest of today’s post, as it’s a bit of a long one with lots of photos… right…you all sorted..then I shall begin. 

Have you ever visited a craft show? For a craft lover it’s like a little slice of heaven! The Olympia London may not be as grand a venue as The Alexandra Palace we visited a couple of years ago (you read about that here) but it was still a jam packed with lots of stitching themed loveliness! 

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After a uneventful journey from Staffordshire (which is always the best kind of journey) we got to the show about midday on the Saturday which was the third day of the show. All the knitting and knitting show events run for a whopping four or five days so there’s usually plenty of time to attend one (or more) of the show dates.  

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As we were going to be there for two days we decided to be fairly systematic in our approach – the venue was kind of split into two sections, so we thought we’d spend the first day in one half and the second in the next. This worked out pretty well and we got time to see everything we wanted to and have a bit of time to chat to folks – which is the bit I love!

Guess what! We got to chat with the very lovely Katie Jones of Katie Jones Knit

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If you follow Katie, as I do, on Instagram (KatieJonesKnit) you will know that she’s a lover of vibrant bright designs and bold colour combinations. So as you can imagine her stand was just a fantastic pop of colour…and isn’t her t-shirt just the most awesome thing!

We got to see a close up of her amazing Blooming Bomber (which is a FREE download from Katie’s website)…

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and the stunning Casa Kahlo Blanket which I just adore (this is ALSO a FREE download from Katie’s website). 

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She was such a delight to talk to, she’s done so much and worked with so many different people, and was telling us a bit about her history in the fashion industry and how she’s now concentrating on her Make-It-Yourself collections. 

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We then thought it best to stop monopolising Katie’s time and go and see some of the other things on offer.

Around the corner from Katie’s stand was the Zandra Rhodes exhibit, which was a showcase of garments celebrating iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes’ 50th anniversary.

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Zandra Rhodes is well known for her bold iconic prints and this collection was no exception, really interesting to see these statement pieces up close. So much inspiration!

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The next stand I was excited to go and see was the fabulous exhibition from the Italian textile artist and designer Luisa De Santi with her Magical Crochet Spells.

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Up close it is just the most stunning work! She was explaining to us that everything she crocheted for Crochet Magic Spells was with sort of embroidery cotton and a 2.5mm (US size C/2) hook! Some of her pieces are really quite big so I can’t even imagine the length of time it took to create them.

Crochet Magic Spells (of which you can buy the book of here from Luisa’s website) is just such a wonderful fusion of crochet and embroidery! She was so kind in taking some time to tell us more about her pieces – she’s such a lovely lady.

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Much of her work, she says, is just created in an organic way, she may sketch a rough idea but she just lets her pieces develop and grow into the fantabulous pieces of art that they are. Her work is just so intricate and seeing it all up close it just amazing as you can really see and appreciate all the detail, it really was a magical collection.

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Around the corner from Luisa was some of  Catherine Kaufman’s sculptures. Catherine is a sculptor but not in a traditional sense as her medium is wool. She spins it and needle felts it into large scale sculptures that are just unbelievable!

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We did some more browsing of stalls and then found ourselves at Sue Strafford’s stand. I’ve seen Sue’s name a lot in Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet magazine so it was really lovely to put a name to a face. And actually my yarn purchase from the show came from her stand!

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I completely fell in love with the yarn colourway (by Skein Queen) that she’d used on her Voltage Shawl – so I bought the kit for the yarn (Sue didn’t mind)! The knitting pattern actually hasn’t gone to waste as it went to knitter mum who’s going to have a go at making it (though not with the yarn because that’s all mine!). Just take a look at these beauties!

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Meet urban graffiti, charcoal and neon kiwi! Every time I look at them it makes me ridiculously happy! Aren’t they just gorgeous! Sadly I don’t have the time to play with them at the moment, as I’m working on commissions, but I can’t wait till I do! I’m thinking some sort of shawl but the design hasn’t come to me yet!

After all that it was pretty much the end of day one! We’d walked our legs off and needed a bit of a rest! For the start of Day 2 we had already decided we were going to do a workshop.

I always like to take the opportunity at craft shows to try a craft that’s completely different to my own. I’ve found it’s really enjoyable to attempt something I probably wouldn’t otherwise and so that’s how we found ourselves at the RowanDean Embroidery stand.

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The workshop was to play around with some techniques that the lovely Katrina from RowanDean has developed in her book Hand Stitched Landscapes and Wild Flowers (available here). And what fun it was! Mum and I spent such an enjoyable couple of hours creating our little wild flower scenes – who knew that french knots could be so addictive!

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Both mum and I bought a little hanging hoop in which we can display our finished pieces and once I’ve just added a few more french knots (they really are ever so addictive) I’m going to hang mine above my desk at home.

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And now if you were pulled into this post by the Enchanted Wood image at the start then you’ll be delighted to know that, that was our next stop! And can I just say WOW! It was just unbelievable! Fairies, elves, unicorns, gnomes to name a few in a stunning magical knitted and crochet setting.

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Everywhere you looked there was something new to see…

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A veritable feast for the eyes!

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Such a wonderful collection of creativity – and I really also now want to make a crochet tree!

Next it was my complete and absolute delight to meet the one and only Erika Knight! Erika, as you probably well know, is is a highly respected knitwear and crochet designer, who has published more than 20 booked on knitting and crochet. Her designs are always classic yet modern (if that makes sense) and are what I would class as wardrobe staples that you’d get a lot of wear out of. I’ve got to admit I was a bit intimidated to meet her but she’s so lovely!

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We were chatting for ages about various things including my goal (to some day) crochet myself a wearable garment, my mum’s crocheted wedding dress and Erika’s love of supporting British manufacturing and wool.

As well as designing Erika also has her own yarn label and she asked me if I’d like to try some yarn that she’s designed especially for crocheters. I squeaked my surprised thank you at her lovely generosity and she allowed me to pick a 50g hank of her Studio Linen to try. I picked the colour Velvet which is a rich, dark heather / auberginy sort of purple.

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I’m thinking maybe some lacy summer mitts or maybe a skinny scarf when I get a moment to play!

There’s was so much more than this that we saw over the weekend and so many wonderful other people we met but I think that this blog post is getting quite long enough!

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Hopefully you get the general idea about the show and maybe fancy attending one yourself.  The Knitting and Stitching Show runs in several venues across the UK with two dates in London each year, the next one for London is in October – you can sign up for the latest news about the shows by subscribing to the newsletter (link on the bottom of the website).

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I had my step counter on whilst walking round the event and over the two days we walked the equivalent of 9.6 miles (15.6km) so it was great exercise whilst enjoying ourselves! Aside from the yarn and the frame for my embroidery I bought myself a few bits and bobs including some new scissors, some copies of magazines I hadn’t got, a fun £20 note themed hook case, some material that I wanted and some more safety eyes – I didn’t go too crazy (for once).

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Like all the craft events I’ve attended the show is not only about the pretty things I have the opportunity to buy it’s about the people I got to meet. If you get the chance to go to a future Knitting and Stitching Show I can thoroughly recommend it.

Before I finish off this post I’m just going to say a quick thank you to the organisers of the show for my complimentary tickets and goodie bag and for also giving me a press badge – I seriously will never lose the glee of that! 

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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The Crochet Sanctuary | February 2019

Howdy folks, how are you all? I’ve been in crochet heaven as last week I went to join in the fun and frolics in a weekend stay at The Crochet Sanctuary.

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©  The Crochet Sanctuary 

Unbelievably it was their 1st birthday (the mind boggles at the fact that my first visit was a whole year ago). This time I was there for the whole weekend and we were well and truly spoilt as always.

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The theme for the weekend was birthdays and unicorns so as you can imagine there was lots of cake, of the crochet kind and the edible kind! There was also a pinata and pass the parcel and bubbles in party bags and just so much yarny fun and laughter!

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On the Friday we were given Stitch and Story Miffy slippers to try… I didn’t finish mine. I’ll be honest and say that I fell out a bit with the pattern whilst I was there, it isn’t written in what I would class as a standard format, but the yarn is gorgeous so I may give it another go when I’ve got a bit more time to concentrate!

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Then on the Saturday morning we made the fab crochet cupcakes and as Amanda, from the Little Box of Crochet was also attending the weekend, I also got to see the brand new Learn to Crochet Beginners box by Little Box of Crochet. I was very excited to see this box as it’s rather special! It includes one of our Dear Ewe project bags (you can read more about the box on the Dear Ewe blog here). 

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© The Little Box of Crochet

I’m not just saying it, because it contains a product from Dear Ewe, but it really is a gorgeous box that I wish had been around when I first started crocheting! A full set of lovely ergonomic crochet hooks, gorgeous yarn, scissors and more – what’s not to love!

Then on Saturday afternoon we had a wonderful crochet workshop with the lovely Lindsay from Lottie and Albert.

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If you love crochet then I don’t think you can have failed to see (or be inspired by) the rainbow blanket CAL that Lindsay is currently hosting. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I’m joining in with a lemon sorbet version…

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And for our workshop we were given the choice to create the rainbow blanket or a chunky love heart belly basket.

It was super fun to get a master class from the creator!  The first thing I learnt was how much easier it is to wind six balls of DK yarn together standing up rather than sitting down like I did with my yarn ball at home! I would never even thought of it – but sooooo much easier!

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We were all given a really pretty pastel pallet of Scheepjes Colour Crafter  to work with and I started making the basket…which is nearly finished, I just need to add some pom poms to the front, I love the clever way that Lindsay has created these – which you can find out at the bottom of this post here.

Sunday was spent finishing off our projects and enjoying some good hook and chatter time. I love just watching everyone and seeing how enthused they are with crochet and yarn – definitely my kind of people!

Before I knew it the weekend had flown by and it was time to go home with loads of goodies, including a gorgeous wooden 20mm hook, and an extra special treat of Amanda Bloom’s The story so far book – and as Amanda was there attending the sanctuary I even got my edition signed!

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The book is gorgeous, with a lovely tactic cover, and features 15 of the best loved designs from the Little Box of Crochet. I’m seriously going to have to find sometime to make The Woodland Wreath by Kate Eastwood  because it’s such a beautiful nod to autumn which I just adore! 

So in a nutshell another fabulous visit at The Crochet Sanctuary.! I think you’ll know by know how much I love my visits by the fact I can’t stay away! I can’t recommend how great it is! The atmosphere of the weekend is lovely and we are spoilt rotten by our hosts Lisa and Lynda! Just a wonderful abundance of food, drink, yarn, laughter and of course crochet! I can’t wait to go back again in June!

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Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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KCACOUK CAL 2018 | Stitch Story CAL Inspiration

Our stitch story crochet along journey is at an end! But don’t worry if this is the first you are hearing about this CAL you can find the full schedule here and I promise to keep all the details on the blog FOREVER.

Now it’s time to fold up my blanket because I’m going to share some of the amazing finished Stitch Story Crochet blankets made by YOU!

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But first I need to share Esther’s, from It’s All in A Nutshell, finished blanket! I know many of you really enjoyed Esther’s accompanying videos to the CAL and the link to her tutorials on her blog here (I’ve also added the link on the main CAL page). It’s so pretty in that colourway isn’t it (Scheepjes Riverwashed Shade Wheaton)! 

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I love that people have chosen to make blankets all in one colour like mine or multicoloured like my mums. All the colourways that were shared with me were fantastic and pretty but I have just selected a few different for inspiration purposes. So without further ado here are some unbelievably gorgeous blankets to feast your eyes on – and I’ve also added some of the stories the blanket owners have shared!

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Made by Gerda for her daughter 💕

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Made by Barbara and for her son who likes to steal this blanket to snuggle under! 💕

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Ruby took joy in the creating of her beautiful blue blanket 💕

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Made by Linda for her daughter who loved the gift 💕

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Made in different tonal blues by Sara 💕

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Lynn hooked 3 of each of the large blocks for her pretty blanket 💕

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Elizabeth made only the little blocks and chose a lovely grouped arrangement 💕

Aren’t they just all stunning! Thanks again to everyone that joined in the CAL with me this year and that shared their beautiful work with me! I loved seeing your finished blankets 💕

I need at this point to say some quick thank you’s! I’ll try not to turn it into too much of an Oscar speech but I feel it’s important to acknowledge all the people behind the scenes that helped make this CAL happen!

Many thanks to Scheepjes for supplying the yarn for both blankets and so I could make this pattern for you. I need to thank Esther (It’s All in A Nutshell) for making the wonderful CAL video tutorials and to Iris who wonderfully translated the CAL from English to Dutch (which you can find on her blog Een Mooi Gebaar links to all the posts are here).

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I need to say a MAHOOSIVE thank you to all the testers that helped with the colossal task of turning my scribbles into something legible for you all to make! Big shout outs to Jean, Steff, Dianne, Peggy, Kim, Leanne, Olwyn, Kimberlie, Jenn, Dulcy and Marie! 

Thanks as always to my eldest daughter for posing in photos for me (even without marshmallow bribes!) and to my husband for driving round to find that perfect spot for a photo!

And I can’t write this post without thanking the lady without whom I just wouldn’t have ever finished two blankets in time. My lovely mum! I love the fact that we did this together and thank you for helping me with my crochet story, for your weaving in ends prowess and for rolling up your sleeves to just help me get it done! 💕

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To be the first to find out about the crochet along for 2019 (later this year) you might like to subscribe to the blog here (if you haven’t already), sign up to my newsletter and / or join the KCACOUK Community Facebook group.

Until next time thank you for hooking along with me!

Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Stitch Story Crochet Along | Joining and Edging

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Nearing the end of a CAL is a bit like the end of a journey, many things will have happened since we started, and you will have undoubtedly woven some of your own stories and memories into your blanket. I hope you have enjoyed crocheting along with me, and I can’t wait to see your finished blankets.

If this is the first you are hearing about this CAL don’t worry the details will remain on the blog here pretty much forever so you can make your own blanket when you are able. You can find the full schedule and Scheepjes yarn amounts here and a link to the crochet along page here. More photos and the specifications and charts for the CAL can be found on the CAL Pinterest Board!

So let’s just quickly run through some of the pattern particulars…

Pattern:

This pattern is free here on the blog but it’s also available in an e-book on Ravelry.  There is a small charge for the downloadable 46 page PDF e-book (payable once). The booklet has been released in instalments, along with the CAL, so as not to spoil anyone’s fun. This PDF has the full pattern descriptions, charts and information all in one place without adverts (as requested).

Through the course of this crochet-along I have provided you with patterns to make twelve different blocks, each in two different sizes. Which one you make is totally up to you! Make all one size or mix and match, whatever takes your fancy!  However to give you a helping hand I have included some schematics which you can see on this post here.

Support:

  • The KCACO-UK Community Facebook Group  is a great source of support and helpful tips from fellow Crochet-a-longers.
  • A Dutch translation will be available by Iris from Een Mooi Gebaar (and a Dutch e-book will be coming soon to Ravelry). Link to the joining is available here.
  • For support with the Stitch Story CAL on  Ravelry there is a thread facilitated by Reimy.
  • Accompanying CAL videos are being created by Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell. Link to to her video is below:

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Social Media Links:

The hashtag for this years CAL is #SSCAL18 for Twitter and Instagram. Though you you can join in with any progress photos by linking your projects on your favourite social media sites: RavelryFacebook page or Facebook group and Pinterest.

Joining your blocks together

First you will need to work out how you want your finished blanket to look. The schematics that I used and my mum used for her blanket are below if you’d like to use those. You may find that playing with your squares on the floor and / or working out the layout of the blocks on a piece of paper helps enormously with working out your finished design. 

Then to join each block together you can either sew them using a whipstitch or crochet them together using a sl st through the back loop of each st. I used the crochet method but I’ve put the details for crochet and whip-stitching the blocks together below. You could use another method for joining but you will need to make adjustments for the border.

Top tips for joining:

  1. When possible you want to match the stitches one-for-one; when sewing the ends of rows / corners of blocks together you’ll need to look at the spaces for where to join and strive for consistency.
  2. When the edges you’re seaming together are long, I’d advise using knit clips or stitch markers to hold the edges together so you can keep your work even.
  3. Join your blocks in long strips where possible to keep the seams as neat as possible.

Whip-stitch:

  1. Firstly put your two squares together with the wrong sides facing, when sewing the squares together, you will need to work under the BACK LOOPS (on the outside) only. Working in the BLO means there will be a less bulky seam.
  2. With your sewing yarn in the needle insert the needle into the middle stitch (of your 3 dc/sc in each corner) of both blocks and begin stitching pulling the yarn through the loops and making sure to pull the entire length all the way through. Leave a tail of yarn about six inches long hanging from the end. Later, when you are finished whip stitching the squares together, you can to weave this end into the back of the closest block.
  3. Insert the needle into the (back loop) of the next pair of stitches from bottom to top (or top to bottom which ever you find easiest for you) and pull gently to tighten
  4. Repeat across your blocks, weave in ends and finish off the yarn.

Slip stitch join:

  1. Put your two squares together with the wrong sides facing, you will need to work under the BACK LOOPS (on the outside) only. Working in the BLO means there will be a less bulky seam.
  2. Insert your hook into the middle stitch (of your 3 dc/sc in each corner) of both blocks and begin slip stitching across the blocks, do not pull your sl sts too tightly as the seam will then bunch together.
  3. Repeat across your blocks, weave in ends and finish off the yarn.

Post Stitch Rib Border

I thought that a post stitch rib border using front posts and back posts would be a perfect edging to tie everything in the blanket together. Post stitch ribbing produces a chunky border but do not crochet too tightly as you do not want the edge to become stiff and inflexible. Using a larger crochet hook might get you a softer, more flexible feel – see what works best for you.

Rnd 1: To set the blanket up for the border you need to be working in a multiple of 2sts. For my first round I evened up my sides by joining my yarn to a corner st (of a 3dc/sc corner) and worked 1 tr/dc in the back loop of each st around.

Note: If you have ended up with too many stitches for any reason this is the perfect time to decrease/increase where needed.  I worked a tr3tog/dc3tog on each square seam (see photo on right) and in each the corner I worked 3 tr/dc (1012 sts).

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Rnd 2: Ch2 (this counts as the first post st), * 1fptr/fpdc around the post of the next st, 1 bptr/bpdc around the next st * repeat from * to * working 3 tr/dc in each corner (see photo below) until the last st, sl st to join

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Rnd 3: Repeat row 1, fasten off and weave in ends

Schematics

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If you made a smaller blanket with less blocks then you may find Esther’s blanket schematic useful…

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And that’s it! I hope you have enjoyed creating your very own unique blanket!

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

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