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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Vanishing Act and Foxes

Hello!!! I’m so sorry for my absence on the blog – in the third week of September I came down with what I thought was a stomach bug and which actually turned out to be a gangrenous appendix complete with abscess and perforation!

After a long hospital stay, where I was pumped full of IV antibiotics, I can thankfully say that I’m now home. I’m still working on my recovery, but I’m beginning to be much better than I was, thank goodness! It’s been rather a scary time!

From being ill it’s probably been over a month in all since I picked up a crochet hook, which is a pretty long time for me, and as I’ve been feeling better I’ve been looking forward to crocheting. It was actually really nice to pick up my yarn and hook – like greeting an old friend!

I wanted to start off with something small and it coincided with my eldest daughter asking me if I would make her a fox hat. So I went looking in my stash and discovered that I’d got some lovely Scheepjes Chunky Monkey anti piling, in a rust colour, that was just the perfect colour for a fox.

If you aren’t familiar with Scheepjes Chunky Monkey anti piling it’s a new aran / worsted weight yarn that compliments the colours in Scheepjes Colour Crafter. Classed as hypoallergenic premium acrylic it’s lovely and thick and squishy! And as it’s anti pilling it’s just perfect for children’s hats which will be in frequent use no doubt this winter.

I let Little G decide which style hat she wanted and she chose the Fox Hat by Sarah Zimmerman which is actually a free hat on Ravelry / or her blog. I just love the little cheek tufts on the side, makes it look very foxy!

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After I’d made the one for Little G (with a few modifications for her specific head and comfort) I realised I had enough left to make Little Miss one too so I made a slightly smaller second hat. I do love to see my girls in matching things sometimes (only if they are happy about it of course).

I was really pleased with how they turned out, both girls have been wearing them round the house (pretty much as soon as I made them) – you can’t get a bigger compliment than that can you! The only thing left for me to do is I’m going to make a bow for each hat of their favourite colour as an accessory for ease of knowing who’s hat is who’s in a rush.

It was nice to end up with two finished items, I’m terrible at collecting WIPs, but I’m looking forward now to catching up with a couple of projects that had to be put on the backburner whilst I was poorly.

I hope you have been enjoying good health and a hooky time – what have you been making? I’d love to hear about 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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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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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Crochet Workshops at The Artisan Boutique 2019

Crafty classes I think are a wonderful resource for both beginners and experienced crafters aren’t they. The weekend before last I was in the driving seat though, so to speak, teaching a lovely class for beginners how to crochet bookmarks at the Artisan Boutique in Stone, Staffordshire

 

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I so enjoy teaching these classes, yes there are books and videos out there, which is definitely an invaluable resource, but I would say that it’s easier to learn when you have someone to show you how things are done. I know if I’m personally looking to learn a new craft that’s the way I learn best.

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It was a really nice sized class; of nine of about nine of us in total, and we covered holding the yarn, making chains, UK double crochet and even some decreasing – we also had fun making some pom poms.

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It was lovely to have one lady come back to join us who had attended a previous granny square class – since the class she’d gone on to make a whole granny square cushion and a half, she was hooked! Such a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve started something that someone is really getting some enjoyment out of.

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By the end of the class I was so proud of my hard working students many of which had completed their very own bookmark!

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It really was a most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning!

I’ve got some more workshops coming up in the future at The Artisan Boutique if you are in located in or around Staffordshire and fancy taking part in a crochet class…

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The workshops that I’m facilitating in 2019 are listed below:

Intermediate Crochet Mandalas, Sunday 12th May: 10.15am – 12.15pm, £30pp

In this fun and relaxed class we will build on your existing crochet ability to create a crocheted mandala. De-stress from life’s difficulties by working on a pattern that requires focus, stillness, and attention to the present moment – key components of mindfulness meditation. Take home a beautiful mandala by the end of the session.

Beginners Class: Learn to Crochet a Bookmark, Sunday 18th August: 10.15am – 12.15pm, £30pp

This class is ideal for beginners or for anyone that wants to refresh their skills. In this class you will learn the basics of crochet such as holding the hook and yarn and some basic stitches. By the end of the session you will have a fun bookmark to take home with you.

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Beginners Class: Learn to Crochet Granny Squares, Sunday 22nd September: 10.15am – 12.15pm, £30pp

This class is ideal for beginners or for anyone wanting to refresh their skills. Through the morning you will crochet a granny square and learn how to treble crochet and change colour, as well as how to read a crochet pattern. By the end of the session you will know how to make a classic simple granny square and have started a project, to complete at home, using your new skills.

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Crochet Christmas Mini Stockings, Sunday 3rd November: 10.15am – 12.15pm – £30ppp

You will be learn all of the techniques and shaping you will need to make some gorgeous mini Christmas stocking decorations. Choose your own colours and personal finishes. Take home a couple of decorations by the end of the session.

With each class you get the yarn and hooks, and anything else you need along with a drink and cake – which is always delicious!  The minimum age for the workshops is 13 years old and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

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If you are in the area and fancy a class I hope you will join us. It’s such a nice relaxed atmosphere and such a sociable and friendly pass time when you work on a project together. Bookings can be made directly to The Artisan Boutique.

And I think I said before that if you love a crafty workshop you should really check out the full list that The Artisan Boutique has available! Susan is very active on Facebook and often links all her workshops there – so if you want to be kept updated please hop over and follow The Artisan Boutique Facebook page or Instagram profile.

I hope to see some of you at a workshop soon!

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

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Crochet Workshops and Yarn Shop Day 2019!

Yarn Shop Day is coming soon folks! This year’s event will take place in participating yarn shops across the UK on Saturday 27th April 2019.

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Now in its sixth year, Yarn Shop Day is a successful, industry supported annual event that celebrates bricks-and-mortar yarn shops and is part of the wider ‘Love Your Yarn Shop’ campaign.

I think it’s such an important thing to try and be the advocate for any small shop owner AND to support local where you can. It’s something that I do in my business and my personal life because I care about my local community and I want my local economy to have a chance to thrive. All these little shops are also usually the place where you find little gems and the expertise of local makers with their own experiences, skills and creativity – that’s something we don’t want to lose do we!

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Each participating store usually hosts their own special event, with all sorts of fun activities taking place. I’m very excited to say that I’ve been invited back to Abakhan Fabrics in Hanley, which is one of my local yarn shops, to join in with all the fun and frolics for this years Yarn Shop Day. 

They have another great day lined up with:

  • 15% off yarn, books, patterns and accessories all day
  • free demos (such as mine!)
  • balloon prizes
  • free cake!
  • free patterns and more!

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It was a great day last year (you can read about it here) and this year I’m going to be around from 10am-4pm. In the morning (10am – 12.30pm) I’m running a crochet surgery where I’ll try and help you with any crochet conundrums you might be having, and also show any beginners that want to learn a few tips on how to crochet. Then in the afternoon (1pm-4pm) we are going to be working on this years Yarn Shop Day mascot and I’ll be sharing some tips on creating amigurumi. The crochet pattern for this years Yarn Shop Day is such a fun one (I’ve seen a sneak peep) but I can’t tell you about it yet as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the day.

So I hope you’ll mark the 27 April on your calendars with that date to join us at Abakhan in Hanley, if you can, or keep an eye out on the Yarn Shop day page from a digital guide of shops taking part – making it super easy to find your nearest participating shops!

I’m also extremely thrilled to say that I’m going to be running a series of FREE crochet demonstrations in store too this year! 

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The first one is on 6 April and it’s an amigurumi for beginners session from 12pm-3pm where we are going to be working on some fun bunny egg cosies that use amigurumi techniques like working in a spiral, using stitch markers, increasing and decreasing and sewing things together.

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The other FREE crochet demonstrations that I’m facilitating in 2019 at Abakhan Fabrics are listed below:

Learn to Crochet Mandalas – Saturday 15th June: 12pm to 3pm

In this fun and relaxed demonstration we will be looking at the mindfulness meditation that can be achieved when crocheting a mandala. A mandala is a circle made up of different stitches and colours which you can use as a decorative piece, a coaster, or a potholder. We’ll be looking at how different stitches can make a variety of patterns within each round and that there are endless possibilities when you combine any number of crochet stitches and colours to make something truly spiritual and unique!

Ricorumi Animal Amigurumi – Saturday 13th July: 12pm to 3pm

Prepare to get hooked on amigurumi with Rico Ricorumi yarn! Designed specially for creating cute crocheted or knitted amigurumi characters, we are going to be looking at some cute Ricorumi Friends. We’ll be examining amigurumi techniques like working in a spiral, using stitch markers and increasing and decreasing. By the end of the session you will know how to make one of the Ricorumi Friends like the fox, hedgehog, squirrel or duck.

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Ricorumi Baubles – Saturday 26th October: 12pm to 3pm

Get ready for Christmas and make your Christmas tree look gorgeous by crocheting yourself a set of Christmas baubles. We are going to be taking a closer look at amigurumi techniques like working in a spiral, using stitch markers and increasing and decreasing. By the end of the session you will know how to make a bauble and have started a project, to complete at home, using your new skills. 

If you love a crafty workshop then Abakhan always have several classes and workshops available in their stores (in Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Manchester, Liverpool, Altrincham and Shrewsbury) including dress making, sewing machinery, creative sewing, knitting and crochet and patchwork and quilting.

I hope to see some of you at a workshop soon!

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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Win tickets to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2019

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EDITED: GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED, congratulations to Heidi Bradshaw, Sharon Bowles, Candida Carvalho, Cristiana Alexandra Ferreiro do Vale,  Jackie Walter and Michelle Smith! 

Hey folks, would you like a chance to win some FREE day tickets to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia? 

I’ve got FIVE pairs of tickets, most generously donated by the shows organisers, for all you lovely readers – plus they’ve also set up a nice discount on ticket prices for anyone that doesn’t win (more about that in a moment).

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show

If you love a good craft show, which of course I do, and you aren’t familiar with the Knitting and Stitching Show then you are really missing something. These shows are the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design events and the Spring show will open its doors to thousands of crafters for FIVE whole days at London Olympia on Thursday 28 February until  Sunday 1 March 2019.

You may remember I went to one of the shows back in 2017 with my lovely mum  and we had a blast (you can read about that visit here). So we are going back down to the show  together again this year for more crafty fun!

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© keepcalmandcrochetonuk.com

Any hoo, if you want to go straight to the details on how to win tickets scroll to the bottom of this page, if you’ve got a few more minutes I just want to tell you about another couple of things that’s happening at this years Spring show…

I for one am extremely excited to see the amazing work by Italian textile artist and designer Luisa De Santi who is bringing her extraordinary knit, crochet and embroidery work to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show. Her exhibition called Magical Crochet Spells sounds like something not to be missed out on! I’ve seen some of the photos of her work and it’s just so intriguing!  

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show / Magical Crochet Spells by designer Luisa De Santi

Lucia creates complex and colourful 3-D modular structures that are amazing and mind-boggling, weird and wonderful all at the same time and I can’t wait to see them in the flesh! 

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show / Magical Crochet Spells by designer Luisa De Santi

I’m also looking forward to seeing The Fashion and Textile Museum who are hosting a 50 Years of Fabulous. They are doing a showcase with a collection of garments from its forthcoming exhibition celebrating iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes’ 50th anniversary. Although I don’t sew I do admire those that can (and I LOVE The Great British Sewing Bee) so I bet that’s going to be a whole lot of  fabulous fun to see!

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© Photograph by Simon Emmett. Copyright Zandra Rhodes Ltd

I also can’t wait to see the stunning Enchanted Wood – an elaborate scene of
knitted and crocheted magical creatures created by the Louise Hamilton Knit and Yarn Group and Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers. It looks so amazing doesn’t it!

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show / Enchanted Wood

Ooo the more I’m writing about it, the more excited I’m getting! As well as all these exhibits there’s going to be over 150 exhibitors selling specialist craft supplies (including yummy yarn that needs to come home with me), and there’s going to be hundreds of workshops and demonstrations too. I’m still looking at the full workshop list deciding what to do as there are so many I just want to do!

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show

Spend a day re-stocking your yarn stash, learning to knit, mastering the art of tailoring and just so much more. There has never been a better excuse to go to a show – it’s been designed for us to enjoy to the max!

Right enough enthusing from me, I think you get that I’m quite excited about going, let’s get on to how YOU can win tickets to the show…

Giveaway

I’ve got FIVE pairs of tickets to giveaway and the tickets are for redeemable any day except Saturday 2nd March. These tickets are only for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show at the Olympia London which runs from 28th February until 3rd March 2018.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment on the bottom of this blog post about why you’d like to go to the show.  The competition closes on Thursday January 31st 2019 at 7pm (GMT) with the winners being announced later that evening here on the blog. Good Luck Everyone!

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show

Special Discount

But if you want your ticket’s RIGHT NOW I’ve also got a special discount for you! Just quote KCACO19 and get £2 off any advance adult ticket or £1 off any advance concessionary ticket.  This means that tickets will be £12 instead of £14/£13 (please not there is a £1.75 fulfilment fee per transaction). 

This discount is for advanced bookings only and can be redeemed before 23:59pm on Wednesday 27th February.  Tickets can be booked online https://www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/spring/ or by calling 0844 581 1319 and quoting the discount code.  

I’d like to say a big thank you again to the shows organisers for offering this special deal to my lovely KCACO.UK readers and maybe we will catch up with some of you at the show?

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

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Another fabulous weekend at The Crochet Sanctuary…

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What an amazing weekend I’ve just had at The Crochet Sanctuary!! It’s going to be hard to try and explain what a refreshing, relaxing and just downright fun time I had, but I’ll give it a go! 

You may remember that in February Mr. KCACO-UK bought me a day pass to The Crochet Sanctuary at the beautiful Cranage Hall in Crewe (which you can read about here). It was whilst I was there that the lovely Lisa and Lynda-Rose did me the very great honour of asking me if I’d like to host a workshop. I was delighted to be asked and of course I said YES please!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really have many crocheting friends that live close to me – or they are more dabblers in crochet rather than a self proclaimed addict like me. The majority of my crochet buddies I’ve only met virtually via social media so the opportunity to meet up with other creative folks that share my passion for crochet – and love to talk about it as much as I do is absolutely wonderful!

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I would describe myself as a bit of an introverted extrovert if there is such a thing. There are times where I feel a little awkward in social situations, but I also really love to chat once I get to know people. I love how the crochet sanctuary always makes me feel so welcome and straight away they seem to put everyone at there ease. 

On this occasion we were a nice cosy group of about 15 people and our room was a circle of comfy chairs covered in crochet blankets and cushions where we could make ourselves at home. There was also a spinning wheel of sweets (yes really!), prosecco, water, tea/coffee or locally produced cordial to drink, snacks galore and of course lots and lots of lovely yarn!

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We started off with a really fun ice-breaker to get to know each other which included being sorted by a talking Harry Potteresque sorting hat (I was Ravenclaw!).  And waiting for us on our seats was a giant goodie bag full of our first project.

We were given a complete Mabel the giant amigurumi Bunny by Wool Couture which I was very excited about. This was my first time making an mega large ami and the pure merino yarn was just soooooo squishy! The colour chosen for us was ‘mink’ which is what the original Mabel was made of and away we started hooking…

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We hooked until 7pm then it was time for a three course meal down in the restaurant (which was delicious) and then we went back up to the room for more crochet and chatting…and I may have just stayed up until 1am!! Time seriously just flew by! But everyone could have a lie in the next day until 9am (which when you think I usually get up at 6am – or earlier with my two early-bird girls was heavenly).

After a scrummy buffet style breakfast it was back up to the room for our next project and we were joined by some more people that had a day pass. This time our Lisa and Lynda had designed hot-water bottle covers for us to make. There were two different applique designs to choose from, either butterflies or stars, and we were also given a hot-water bottle and all the yarn we would need. I was pleased to see the Scheepjes Softfun Denim (which you may remember I used for the Stitch Story CAL) and some Scheepjes Catona (which is some of my favourite yarn to use) and by lunchtime I’d hooked up one completed panel of my hot-water bottle. Then it was off for another delicious two course lunch (we were so well fed the whole weekend!)

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Then it was time to get ready for my workshop…squeak!!! I was rather nervous but I’d taken along some of my favourite designs to talk about including the Leafy Boughs Shawl (on top) some crochet blankets I’d made for Simply Crochet magazine, the Stitch Story CAL blankets and various amigurumi…

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I also chatted a bit about Dear Ewe and our products which had it’s up close and personal debut that weekend with folks attending the sanctuary…

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And then I introduced the design we were going to be working on for the rest of the afternoon. Lisa and Lynda let me decide what I was going to do for my workshop, though they did suggest they’d maybe like to see an amigurumi. I thought long and hard about what I was going to do when I happened upon this photo…it was a serendipitous moment where the photo  just seemed to encapsulate perfectly what I wanted for The Crochet Sanctuary. Something fun and something to convey how the sanctuary made me feel – just completely relaxed!

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From that inspiration I came up with the design for Relaxing Ralph (pattern release coming soon), complete with optional hammock (and stand made by my lovely Dad).

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My chosen yarn for Ralph was Scheepjes Stonewashed XL combined with normal Stonewashed DK and some trusty Catona. It was super fun to watch everyone begin their cats – and a relatively new experience for me to be present when someone actually makes one of my patterns.

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The rest of the afternoon until 6pm-ish (when the day people left us_ was taken up with making our kitties, then we all had a little rest before meeting for another scrumptious three course meal in the restaurant at 7pm.

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Then for those that wanted to we all went back up to the room to do some more crocheting, and there was wine and gin (and soft drinks) shared around and oh my word just such belly laughter! Such a fabulous evening where something will just never be referred to in the same way ever again! Then before I knew it, it was 11.30pm and I really needed to sleep! 

Sunday until 3pm (when the Sanctuary finishes) was given over for time to finished off our projects (and of course another delicious breakfast and lunch). It was wonderful that nearly everyone wanted to finish off their cats and before I knew it Ralph was joined by Regina Phalangi, Hilda, Jasper, Cinnamon, Heather, Reba, Gary, Julian and Gordon! We couldn’t resist a little photo shoot with all the cats…

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Everyone did such an AMAZING job with their cats! And before I knew it the cats were getting up to all sorts of mischief! Sliding down banisters…

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and checking out the cat local population!

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And then there was just time for a fabulous group photo on the steps before packing up our belongs to go home (with some many goodies in our bags!).

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All in all a thoroughly wonderful weekend which I was lucky enough to share with the most wonderful group of people!

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 to that the dates for 2018 are all now sold out and the dates for 2019 are selling out fast – but you can book on the remaining dates here.

I have to say I’m totally getting addicted to these weekends and may have just booked on a few more myself for this year – I’m looking forward to my next day visit in November.

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

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Bluestar Crochet | Autumn Accessories Kit Review

Disclaimer: I received a free sample of this kit however I have not been financially compensated by the supplier to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own and based on my own experiences of using the yarn and kit.


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I have to say I really love a good crochet kit, over the years I’ve had several bought for me and I’ve even had the pleasure of designing a couple myself. I love the fact that it’s a whole project that you can just get on with as soon as you like – no fuss, no bother, just away you go! Personally working from a kit is an enjoyable escape for me from crochet designing. I’m following someone else’s pattern, the decisions have all been made for me, it’s all extremely relaxing! So I was delighted to be asked to review the new crochet kit by The Blue Star Crochet Company, by the lovely Veronika.

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You maybe familiar with Veronika’s work; as the designer behind the The Blue Star Crochet Company she’s had many designs feature in different UK magazines. In March this year she teamed up with The Mermaid Purse Yarns and released the Sea Shawl Crochet Kit, and now they’ve teamed up again with yarn and patterns for a an Autumn Accessories collection. Instead of offering just one pattern Veronika has teamed up with two other designers this time round to offer three different accessories. There’s a pattern by the lovely Eleonora Tully from Coastal Crochet (who you may remember I interviewed – check it out here) and Alison Holloway from Petals Crafts and Me – but more about all the designs in a moment, let’s first have a look at the kit…

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The kit contains everything you will need to complete the project aside from the tools, so you will need your own crochet hooks, scissors and yarn needle etc. Each kit comes with:
  • 100g hank of hand dyed yarn
  • pattern leaflet containing three designs
  • teabag and sweet treat
  • 2 x wooden buttons
  • exclusive discount code for Dear Ewe online store 

You will get all 3 patterns and one skein of yarn inside each kit and there is an upgrade option available to choose additional skeins of yarn to be able to make all 3 patterns as a set if you want to.

So what are the designs? Well I’m glad you asked! 

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The first is a fabulous Fall in Line hat designed by Veronika. The hat is worked in short rows and is customisable to get the perfect fit. Then there’s a pair of gorgeous shell stitch Autumn Seas wrist warmers by Eleonora and finally the showstopping Fleur Amore flower motif bandana scarf by Alison. I loved all the designs but I settled on making myself the pair of wrist warmers because I really wanted the them for me! But first I need to mention the yarn…can you say OOoooooo!

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The hand-dyed yarn by in the kit is 100% super-wash fine merino in a double knit weight (225m / 100g) and is such a unique colourway! It’s hard to describe all the subtle colour variants that have been included in the autumnal mix but I could recognise hints of grape, aubergine, lilac and flashes of dusky pink and a pop of russet! So gorgeous, and as I worked my wrist warmers the colours pooled beautifully. So without further ado let’s say hello to my lovely new wrist warmers…

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These wrist warmers were an ABSOLUTE joy to make! They were a great quick project, which I loved and found extremely satisfying – my pair was easily completed in a day. An awesome design for last minute gifts or craft fairs – I’m sure I’ll make some more! I also only used 54g of yarn in total for both wrist warmers so I’ve got a little bit of yarn left to use for something else.

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I was really pleased with how they turned out so I had a mini hand photo shoot – quickly learning it’s incredibly hard to take photos of your own hands! Luckily Mr. KCACOUK came to the rescue and helped me out and luckily I just happened to be drinking a cuppa in a Dear Ewe mug which made a very handy photo prop 😘 

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I very much enjoyed this kit and I’m sure you might to! The pre-order for these fabulous kits is open NOW, but it’s only open for 3 weeks! Use coupon BSCCBLOG10 for 10% off your pre-order from the from Blue Star Crochet Company Etsy shop. All kits will be dispatched from 24th September 2018. 

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

 

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