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. 

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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
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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!

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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.

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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! 💕

mum-and-me-sscal18

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

SSCAL18-The-End

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:

Stitch-Story-Part13-Video-Link

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).

Joining

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

Corner

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

Schematics

Heather-Final-Blanket-Layout-SSCAL18

Jacki-Final-Blanket-Layout-SSCAL18

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

Esthers-Final-Blanket-Layout-SSCAL18

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

Irish-Blessing

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

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Ten Christmas Gifts for Crocheters

What do you buy a crocheter for Christmas? Well I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crocheter say that they don’t want anything to do with crochet – so that should make things pretty easy? No? Still not sure…well I’ve put together a list of ten fabulous treats for my husband to see that I personally would love to receive this Christmas.

1. Yarn

It’s not just a cliché! Crocheters pretty much love all the yarn! So as a gift you could perhaps try and find out if there’s some hand-dyed yarn they’d really like to get their hands on…or if they are a beginner crocheter why not make them up a yarn basket or purchase a yarn pack in a rainbow or their favourite colour! 

If you are looking for inspiration I bought (or had bought for me) some hand dyed loveliness from the following makers this year Montana Crochet, Urchindian, Miss Moffat Yarns and The Manchester Tart

Crochet-Gift-Ideas-Yarn

P.S I also wouldn’t say no to a Hot Cocoa Scheepjes Whirl Colour Pack…I don’t think I need to explain why!

2. Crochet Books

I’m a serious crochet book addict!  I love them! I tend to always get a crochet book at Christmas and this year I really fancy the Animal Friends of Pica Pau (which you can get here as a paperback or as a PDF if you perfect to view patterns on your tablet).

If you don’t fancy a whole book then what about the Scheepjes Yarnazine. I’ve had a couple of these for previous Christmas’s too; they are always a visual treat and contain gorgeous patterns. You can get the latest edition FOLK or the back issues of the other editions from most Scheepjes retailers.

Crocheter-Gift-Ideas-Books

3. Crochet themed Mug

Coffee, tea and yarn I think just seem to go together! If I get five minutes to sit down with my crochet then I WILL in all likelihood have a cup of tea next to me. Now I’m not going to apologise for this next shameless plug because I actually love our mugs from Dear Ewe and of course I use one everyday.

Crocheter-Gift-Ideas-Dear-Ewe-Mug

If you forced me to pick a favourite well I don’t think you can go wrong with either the yarn silhouette design, the classic granny square chart design, or the Yarny Ewe design for a crocheter.

4. Kits 

I do love a good crochet kit! I like that everything is supplied to me all in neat bundle so I don’t have to order yarn or sort out the pattern I can just start hooking! Last Christmas I did get the beautiful Scheepjes Hygge Shawl By Kirsten Ballering which I’m really hoping I get time to start this Christmas! 

Crocheter-Gift-Ideas-Kits

Another Scheepjes kit I really want to do at some point is The Sophie’s Stool Kit by Dedri Uys because it’s beautiful, fun and practical!

I think also because I like making amigurumi I’m quite drawn to ami kits. For a special gift you can’t go wrong with a kit from TOFT (I especially love the animals and birds) you could also try an extreme amigurumi like Mabel the Bunny from Wool Couture. I’ve made (and half made) ami’s from both of these and thoroughly enjoyed them (and time allowing that half finished one will get finished at Christmas!)

P.S I can’t help doing just another shameless plug for Dear Ewe as you may remember we’ve just released our popular Little Ewe amigurumi in our very first Dear Ewe crochet kit which I blogged about here

5. Magazine Subscription

When I first started crocheting my family often clubbed together to get me a magazine subscription – I love this sort of present as it’s one that keeps going every month!  Before now I’ve enjoyed subscriptions to Mollie Makes, Simply Crochet, Inside Crochet, Crochet Now and Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet Magazine.

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Many of these magazines also now offer electronic subscription if you don’t want the physical magazine – or if you don’t mind US terminology you could try Happily Hooked  or I Like Crochet e-magazines.

6. Crochet Workshop / Retreat

Without a doubt the main thing I ask for these days for gifts, if folks would like to, is a ticket to either an experience or a workshop. As I get older I find that I want to do more experience sort of gifts and try different things and so I personally really enjoy this type of present. For my birthday this year my brother has very kindly offer to pay for me to do a yarn dying workshop which is an activity I’m really looking forward to for 2019. 

And of course, if you can, you should definitely try out my favourite retreat The Crochet Sanctuary – I’m actually going four times in 2019! I can speak from experience about how fun these visit are (in fact I have here and here if you want a read).

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They are so much fun and I’m not the only person who is now addicted and greatly anticipates these retreats.  At the time of writing this all the weekends for 2019 were already fully booked – but don’t despair there are several day ticket workshop that have just been released – so grab one quick, they go fast! And if you happen to be going in February, June, August and November – I’ll see you there (did I mention they are addictive!).

7. Yarn Show Tickets

Mr. KCACOUK is a good’un; over the years he’s bought me various yarn show tickets or come with me to yarn shows and it’s always a fun gift to receive.  I certainly would never say no to this sort of thing as I usually have a fun day out even if I’m on my own! You can read about my visits to Yarndale, the Knitting and Stitching Show, the Nottingham Yarn Expo and Wool@Jct13 (here and here) for inspiration – but there are loads of shows around, though it might just take a quick search of interweb to find your nearest ones.

Crocheter-Gift-Ideas-Shows

8. Hooks 

Now I have my favourite hooks but I  think you can never have too many! For beginners I don’t think you can go wrong with an aluminium crochet hook set, that’s what I learnt with and I know many crocheters still prefer these types of hooks. If you are looking for an ergonomic set of hooks then you could try RITO hooks (which I blogged about here) or Clover Amour hooks which I also love to use.

Crochet-Gift-Ideas-Hooks

For chunky yarns I love the hooks from Wulla (see that neon blue chunky hook in the jar) and I really want one of her new ‘burnt’ hooks because they are just beautiful!

I have also heard so many good things about Furls Crochet Hooks over the years and so of course I’d love to try one; and I’d probably have the Olivewood (4mm) – just in case anyone (eh hem husband mine) would like to get me one.

9. Subscriptions

If you saw my last post I’ve just been talking about subscription boxes and I would recommend the Great British Textile Box by Three Bears Yarns as the yarn and pattern were so lovely.

3-Bears-08

And whilst I haven’t personally subscribed  to the Little Box of Crochet (only because I know my own time constraints) I have had a lucky dip box of theirs and have had bought for me a Not so Little Box of Crochet so I feel I can vouch for how lovely the contents in those boxes were. 

10. Project Bags

And finally, where would any crocheter be without project bags a plenty…if you could see by the side of my work armchair then you would see a big pile of my current works in progress. But it’s a pile I can call tidy as every project I’m working on is in a neat project bag.

Now they do happen to be Dear Ewe project bags (sorry for the plug again – but I just happened to start a company filled with stuff I actually use or would buy if it wasn’t me!). I personally prefer drawstring project bags as there is no zip to snag your yarn on and would always look for that kind for my WIPs. 

Crocheter-Gift-Ideas-Bags

And I like ours as they come in two different sizes; medium and large (note to self we should really do some smaller ones too!)

So that’s what I want think are ten great gifts for crocheters this Christmas, what do you recon? Have I missed anything that I should know about? Let me know!

Until next time! Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

 

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Stitch Story Crochet Along | Design 12 – The Bee Keeper

SSCAL18-Block12-Blog

Well ladies and gents it’s time for the final block of the Stitch Story blanket! Then it’s just the joining and edging to go and we are done for this year’s crochet-along, and you will have a fabulous blanket all ready to use or gift at Christmas! 

This next block is one of my favourites and was actually going to be the first block in the CAL as it utilises only very easy stitches, however it got moved to the end because it is one of those patterns that you have to concentrate on to get right, but I have included some helpful tips from my testers below.

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 was available by Iris from Een Mooi Gebaar (and a Dutch e-book will be coming soon to Ravelry). Link to Part 12 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 Part 12 is below:

Stitch-Story-Part12-Video-Link

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.

Stitch Story…

Honeycomb: The symbol of a hard worker bee. It’s a lucky stitch signifying hard work and sweet rewards!

Design 12: The Bee Keeper

Hook: 4.5mm / US size 7 or size needed to obtain 15cm/6” square 

Abbreviations (same for both blocks):

  • Chain (Ch)
  • Slip Stitch (sl st)
  • UK half treble / US half double crochet (htr/hdc)

Stitch Guidance (same for both blocks):

  • UK Half Double Treble / US Half Double Crochet (htr/hdc): Yarn over, insert hook in next st and pull up a loop (three loops on hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops on hook.
  • Working in the Back Loop Only: If you hold your piece of crochet in front of you with the Vs of the stitch on top, the part of the V closest to you is the front loop. The part of the V farther away from you on the opposite side is the back loop. When a pattern asks you to crochet into the back loop, insert your hook into the relevant loop and crochet as instructed.

15cm / 6 inch block:

Block12SML-SSCAL

Note: The ch1 at the beginning of a row, count as a st

Tip 1: If you struggle with twisting the row 1 try adding a row of dc/sc as row 1, then work row 1 as row 2 and so on (as seen in photo).

Tip 2: You might also find using stitch markers (or alternatives) to mark each row or where your last sl st, of each set of 5, helpful for this block.

Row 1 (WS): Ch 26, sl st into the 2nd ch from the hook and, sl st in the next 4sts * htr/hdc in the next 5 sts, sl st in the next 5 sts * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn (25 sts)

Note: From this point onwards work rows in the back loops only.

Row 2 (RS) : Ch1, htr/hdc in 5 sts, * sl st in 5 htr/hdc, htr/hdc in next 5 sts * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Row 3: Ch1, 1htr/hdc in 5 htr/hdc, * sl st in 5 sts, 1htr/hdc in 5 htr/hdc * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Row 4: Ch1, * Sl st in the 5 htr/hdc, 1htr/hdc in 5 sl sts, * repeat from * to *   until the end of the row, turn.

Row 5:  Ch1, * Sl st in the top of the 5 htr/hdc, 1htr/hdc in next 5 sl sts, * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Row 6-25: Repeat rows 2-5,  at the end of row 25 finish off and weave in ends.

Block12SML-SSCAL-CHART

The pattern does not use difficult stitches but it can be tricky to keep a tab on the rows so you know which row you are on.  One of my testers made this very handy chart (below) which you might find helpful:

Block-12-Row-Help

30cm / 12 inch block:

Hook: 4.5mm / US size 7 or size needed to obtain 30cm/12” square

BlBlock12_LRG-SSCAL18

Note: The ch2, at the beginning of a row,  count as a st

Tip 1: If you struggle with twisting the row 1 try adding a row of dc/sc as row 1, then work row 1 as row 2 and so on (as seen in photo).

Tip 2: You might also find using stitch markers (or alternatives) to mark each row or where your last sl st, of each set of 5, helpful for this block.

Row 1 (WS): Ch 52, sl st into the 2nd ch from the hook and in the next 4sts * htr/hdc in the next 5 sts, sl st in the next 5 sts * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn (50 sts)

Note: From this point onwards work rows in the back loops only.

Row 2: (RS): Ch1, * Sl st in the 5 htr/hdc, htr/hdc in 5 sl sts, * repeat from * to *   until the end of the row, turn.

Row 3: Ch1, htr/hdc in 5 sts, * sl st in 5 htr/hdc, htr/hdc in next 5 sts * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Row 4: Ch1, htr/hdc in 5 htr/hdc, * sl st in 5 sts, htr/hdc in 5 htr/hdc * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Row 5:  Ch1, * Sl st in the top of the 5 htr/hdc, htr/hdc in next 5 sl sts, * repeat from * to * until the end of the row, turn.

Note:  As you reach the later rows of your work please measure as you go along, depending on how loosely / tightly you crochet. 

Row 6-49: Repeat rows 2-5, at the end of row 49 finish off and weave in ends.

Block12LRG-SSCAL-CHART

Edging for all blocks: 

On the right side of your work evenly work dc/sc along each side of your block working 3 dc/sc in each corner (25sts for smaller block / 50sts for larger block).  Fasten off and weave in ends.

You do not need to use the same number of stitches I have for each square, you just need to evenly spread the single crochet border along the rows and edges.  Whatever number edging you use just keep the same number of stitches for ALL of your blocks – with the same count of single crochet border on each edge then they will line-up when its time to turn them into a finished blanket.

And that’s it!

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

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Skimming Stones MCAL | Finally Finished!

So today I’m going to celebrate the fact that I’ve finally finished off a WIP (work in progress) that’s been sitting by my chair for the last four months…which isn’t TOO bad I suppose. I’m sure I’ve got other WIPs that are gathering cobwebs in dusty recesses of hidden boxes and bags…but we won’t mention those. 

WIP-Skim01

Today it’s all about the WIP that is no longer in a state of incompleteness. Cue triumphant fanfare…my Skimming Stones Shawl is finally finished!

I don’t know if you remember but I joined the Crochet-Along (CAL) by designers Kat Goldin and Joanne Scrace (aka The Crochet Project) for their Skimming Stones Mystery Crochet A-Long that ran over June and July this year. You can  read about my start here but, as with most things that are for myself, it got put to one side whilst I had to work on other commissions and things. 

But I recently had a little bit of time to get it finished off, blocked and ready to wear. And actually as the weather is turning colder in this part of the UK it couldn’t have come at a better time!

SKIM02

I did a complete wet block for this shawl as it had been scrunched up in a WIP bag for ages. I left it pinned out over night on foam mats on the floor, which my family was really pleased to have to walk around, and the next day I did the fun unpinning part to see it in it’s new shape!

It turned out so pretty – I love this colour combination of Scheepjes Stonewashed together and I love the texture and the edging…

SKIM03

I was very lucky to get a bit of winter sunshine to take some photos – I hate this time of year when there’s very little natural light around (or it’s so grey outside it still seems like night time!) but Mr Sun was very obliging on this occasion…

SKIM06

We have a lovely wall of ivy in the back garden that stays green all year round, it’s one of my favourite places to use as a backdrop, and I think it really helps show you how the colours really appear!

SKIM05

My new shawl is going to keep me lovely and cosy! But I’ve still got shawl fever and want to make another one!

SKIM04

So I’ve been thinking about what other WIP projects I might start to work on in between other things. I’m not going to do another CAL right now but  I’ve got my eye on the stunning Grinda Shawl by Tatsiana Kupryianchyk aka Lilla Bjorn which was released as a MCAL by Scheepjes

grinda_14_medium2

That MCAL has finished now but I think the pattern is absolutely smashing and I have a Scheepjes Whirl (Black Forest Zinger) in my stash which I think has this shawls written all over it! Watch this space!

Have you made the Grinda Shawl? I’d love to hear about it and your top tips before I start.

Until next time! Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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