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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Win tickets for Stitching Show at Ally Pally!

It’s been AGGEESSS since my last giveaway hasn’t it – so I’m quickly going to rectify that now! How would you like to win FREE tickets to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace?

You’d love the chance – well awesome! Just keep on reading…

If you’ve not heard about the The Knitting & Stitching Shows before, and are wondering if you want to enter or not, they are the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design events. Events are run in various locations usually four times per year and there are LOADS of exciting features for crochet fans!

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But if you dabble in other crafts, alongside crochet, there are things for needle felting to embroidery to dressmaking –  in fact pretty much covering every textile craft imaginable. And the show is great for complete beginners, experts or folks somewhere in between, as there are demo’s and workshops to try, or you can just fill your boots looking at all the crafty and yarny goodness!

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In fact for this show, in The Creative Living Theatre, there are going to be free, 30-minute demonstrations to inspire future crochet projects including Tapestry Crochet: Fair Isle Techniques with Diana Bensted.

And for those visitors wanting to learn new skills, The Knitting & Stitching Show’s Learning Curve workshop programme is extensive! Offering over 250 workshops with top tutors where crocheters could have the opportunity to learn how to make seasonal snowflakes, Christmas baubles and mini amigurumi monsters or baskets, owls, scarves and fingerless mitts.

And there are over 350 specialist retailers who will be selling yarn, crochet equipment and craft supplies…swoon right!

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I’ve attended different shows, and really enjoyed each visit, so I feel that I can tell you about them with experience, but if you want to read my FULL experience of the shows (you may want to get a cuppa before hand) then you can check out when I visited London Olympia earlier this year here or the time I went to the show at the Ally Pally here.

I was excited to see that Italian textile artist and contemporary crochet designer Luisa De Santi, will be showcasing her amazing work again at the Ally Pally.

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I was amazed by her extraordinary exhibition when I saw it earlier this year. Magical Crochet Spells features colourful three-dimensional artworks, soft sculptures and jewellery that is just amazing and inspiring! Her work really is something to see – I also got the pleasure of meeting her in person too and she was lovely!

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Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make the show on this occasion, as I already had family plans on this date, but just because I can’t go doesn’t mean that you have to miss out because I’ve got FIVE pairs of tickets to giveaway hurray!!!

Giveaway

The tickets are for redeemable any day except Saturday 12th October  for the Knitting and Stitching show at the Alexandra Palace which runs from 10th – 13th October 2019.

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 Wednesday 18 September at 7pm (GMT). Winners will be contacted via the email supplied from their comment.

Special Discount

But if you want your ticket’s RIGHT NOW I’ve also got a special discount for you! Just quote KEEPCALM19 and you can save £2.50 on advance adult ticket price (£13.50 instead of £16.00 adult advance/£13.00 instead of £14.50 concessions), plus £1.95 fulfilment fee per transaction (£2.50 for posted tickets). 

This discount is for advanced bookings only and can be redeemed before 23:59pm (GMT) on Wednesday 9 October. Tickets can be booked online here  or by calling 0844 873 7343 and quoting the discount code. Full Terms and Conditions are available on the show website.  Information is correct at the time of writing.

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! 

Good Luck everyone! 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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Yarn Shop Day 2019

Yesterday Yarn Shop Day returned for it’s sixth year in the UK with over 200 shops sharing lots of fibre fun, discounts, free patterns and (probably) cake!

I was back at Abakhan Fabrics in Hanley (where I spent Yarn Shop Day last year), this time for the full day, where there was both cake and yarn galore!

I had a little table at the back of the shop where, in the morning, I held a bit of a crochet surgery so that anyone who wanted to come and ask crochet questions, or who perhaps wanted to learn how to crochet, could come and ask / or have a go.

Yarn shops are usually such a great place to get crafty tips as owners usually have such a wealth of knowledge. They often also run demos or classes where you can learn a new hobby too – just like the ones I’m doing this year (read more about those here and here).

And despite the really awful weather we had (that I thought might put people off venturing out), it proved quite popular so I actually ended up having a table full of people nearly all day asking questions and learning different techniques.

It was so lovely to meet the people who had popped into the store or who had found out about the workshop because of my blog (it’s very encouraging to know that there ARE actual people reading this out there!).

The people I met were folks who had always wanted to try crochet or others that wanted help with a particular crochet problem – and I’m also secretly a bit gleeful that there were some knitters that were giving crochet a go too!

By the end of the day there were two completed granny squares by people that had never crocheted before which is just so awesome! And will hopefully show anyone thinking of giving crochet a go that it’s not so scary – you can do it!

Luckily I wasn’t presented with something that I didn’t know (that could have been embarrassing!). The main things that we covered were how to make granny squares, how to join motifs, how to weave in ends, how to keep seams straight when working in the round, how to keep tension when crocheting, how to do the magic ring, and increasing and decreasing in the round.

The latter being all helpful tips for anyone that wants to try crocheting amigurumi…which brings me neatly onto the mascots for this year ‘s Yarn Shop Day.

They were a cute amigurumi whale by Sarah-Jane Hicks called Bubbles and a family of knitted turtles by Sachiyo Ishii – both of which were patterns exclusively designed for Yarn Shop Day and were available free in stores.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the crochet pattern before hand so I could make up my own whale to take along with me.

I used Ricorumi yarn and I think he came out looking really cute! My eight year old has now claimed him as hers.

As well as Yarn Shop Day being super fun for customers it’s also important for yarn shop retailers who say that the increased footfall and boosted sales of Yarn Shop Day really can help with keeping them going.

I never need an excuse to visit a yarn shop and I think it’s great to support local yarn shops all throughout the year. Yarn Shop Day is just a great reminder of just how much these shops have to offer – and that’s why I personally feel it’s important to support them in any way I can. I want to help keep these yarn shops on the high street so we don’t lose them altogether.

Did you get out for Yarn Shop Day? Or I’d love to hear what your Local Yarn Shop means to you? Let me know 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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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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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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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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A Very Woolly Weekend

It’s quite ridiculous how long it’s taken me to get this blog post written up! It’s been one of those posts that I half wrote, then got caught up with the launch of Dear Ewe, the Stitch Story CAL, my best friends wedding, Little Miss’s 2nd birthday, school holidays and unexpected hospital visits that I just didn’t get chance to finish. But today I sat down with the sole purpose of finishing this post as I really do want to tell you all about the very woolly weekend I had in the middle of May.  This is a bit of a mammoth post so may go grab yourself a cuppa and then I’ll tell you all about it.

Yarn Shop Day 2018

It all started off with Yarn Shop Day on the 12 May – have you heard about Yarn Shop Day? It’s an annual celebration, facilitated by Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines, which aims to honour Britain’s much-loved independent wool shops.  I personally think it’s incredibly important to support any small or local businesses, especially since becoming a small business owner myself,  but anyway who am I kidding, I don’t need an excuse to visit a yarn shop!

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You may remember that this year’s Yarn Shop day was also a bit special for me as I’d been asked to design the crochet mascot, Milo the Cat specifically for the day. Along with particularly produced knitted and crocheted blanket patterns, Milo and Dixie, the (knitted) Llama, mascot patterns were exclusively available in all participating stores. 

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This year Yarn Shop Day took place in hundreds of yarn and haberdashery stores across the country and I headed off to Abakhan in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent – which is luckily just a short bus ride away from me. 

Abakhan are a group of stores in the Midlands which stock a great range of yarns like Sirdar, King Cole, Stylecraft, James C. Brett, Wendy and Rico and they have also now  started stocking some American yarns like Caron.

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The Hanley store is pretty big and has a large range of fabrics, haberdashery items and craft items for pretty much every hobby you can think of. I love it in there, I always find some goodies of some variety or other and more often than not I end up in there on a trip to town.

I’d made a brand new Milo to take with me and we arrived just as the day started. In store there were lots of festivities including prizes for purchases made and there were store discounts on all yarn and accessories at different times throughout the day and there was also cake. Cake and yarn….what a winning combination!

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Milo felt quite famous…though we won’t talk about the fact that his nose got a bit wonky on the bus trip and I didn’t notice until after I’d taken all the photos…it doesn’t annoy me…much!

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The lovely Kim, from Abakhan, was busy giving demonstrations of crocheting Milo (complete with a straight nose) at the front of store so I spent sometime with her and the customers that came to talk about crochet. It was very exciting to see them picking up there free copy of the Milo pattern and I know I was tagged in some people’s Milo makes (see more below).   

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It was wonderful to be in the middle of the crafting community and meet people with shared passions – and I got to learn something new! We got chatting to too lovely ladies who were double filet crochet enthusiasts. Double Filet crochet is two inter woven layers of filet or net crochet in contrasting colours. It’s not something I’d heard of before but Wendy (far left below) was kind enough to give me a demonstration and even let me keep the little sample she made and it’s something I’m definitely going to investigate further! Never show a designer something new right!

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In the afternoon I spent sometime with Debbie who showed me her fabulous Tina Turner-esque creation – that hair is everything isn’t it! 

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And then Debbie got children of shoppers involved in making Pom Pom monsters – I love the fact there were crafts for the kids! Milo had fun making friends with the monsters too – AND I managed to straighten up his nose for his group photo!

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And then it was time for me to go! And what did I buy…well it’s pretty unusual for me not to enter a craft store and not buy anything…and of course I couldn’t make this the exception! I got a cute fabric bundle, I don’t sew but I do line crochet purses and bags with fabric so it’s good to have some in. I also got a extra long tape measure and picked up some cute Ricorumi mini’s which I wanted to try – and yes I also bought a giant peg. I had no specific use for the peg I just fell in love with it!

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And I just need to share some of the photos of some of the wonderful Milo makes I’ve seen – if you made a Milo please do share a photo as I’d love to see.

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Yarn Shop Day tends to be celebrated either the first or second week in May so keep a look out for the dates for next year. Just one final note about Yarn Shop Day – I just want to say a HUGE thank you to all the Abakhan staff, they made me feel very welcome and looked after me well whilst I was there.

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Then on the Sunday the 13th of May the whole family went along to Wool@J13, a yarn show set on Lower Drayton farm, in the midlands.  We went for the first time last year and had a great day so I’d already planned for the family to go along again this year.

It’s was an absolutely glorious day – blue skies and sunshine and, with things happening inside and outside, it was just the perfect setting for a yarn festival!

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This year there were a lot more vendors than last year so there were plenty of stalls to wander around. You can just see my two girls below walking hand in hand totally at ease with the yarn show vibes – such cuties!

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Little G had a go at Satori weaving with a lovely lady from SAORIMor, Wales who was incredibly patient and kind to her. Satori weaving is a japanese freestyle approach to hand-weaving which is supposed to encourage people to express themselves intuitively. Little G got really into it! And now wants to visit the studio in Bangor sometime.

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And it was really nice to see some friendly faces! Wulla Yarn were there with there fabulous mega yarn. You may remember I teamed up with Kaz (on the left below) to create the free Wulla Wreath pattern so it was lovely to catch up with her. I also treated myself to one of Kaz’s fabulous 15mm string theory jumbo hook (in neon blue) as I’d been eyeing them up for awhile!

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I’m also completely in love with her new fades range but I really want to have worked out the perfect project to use it on before I get some of that – so I didn’t get any on this occasion (but it’s on my list!).

I also saw Fay from Knit it, Hook it, Craft it. I met Fay for the first time when I went to the Nottingham Yarn Expo last year and she was so fun to talk to. She  was actually the first person to introduce me to the idea of creative podcasts – something I’d not heard of before. Fay does a monthly podcast, The Crochet Circle Podcast, which is available as audio and on Youtube and it was from listening to her, and her suggestions for other podcasters, that I now have a list that I listen to regularly. I find them great to listen to particularly when I’m typing up patterns!

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I also got to meet Lynne Rowe, from The Wool Nest, for the first time. It was great to finally meet her, not only do I have several of her crochet books on my own bookshelves, but we’ve worked together, so to speak, for Let’s Get Crafting magazine and we’d talked a bit through comments on Instagram.  She was just about to run a workshop for the Crochet Sanctuary (I’m running a workshop in September) so we were chatting a lot about that and just other general crochet things – it so nice to talk to people that share your passion!

I also very much enjoyed talking to Lee aka The Crochet Man who is such a lovely guy. I’d seen him through a feature in Simply Crochet (Issue 70) – so it was great to meet him in person.  

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He’s not been crocheting for that long but he’s designed a fabulous range of amigurumi patterns that you should really check out! I adore his rainbow sheep!

I was that busy chatting to people that I didn’t actually have much time for buying but I did pick up a few goodies. I fell in LOVE with this colourway from Manchester Tart which is a silky baby DK, 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk. It’s sooooo soft and I’ve got 200 grams of it…I don’t have a plan for it as yet but I just HAD to have it!

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Besides that I  bought myself a couple of mini skeins, some hooks from Black Sheep Wools (who I also enjoyed chatting too) and my hook from Wulla yarn. A conservative (for me) but fabulous set of purchases I think you’ll agree!

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We had such a great day out and I can see us going again next year. I really love the fact it’s like a mini festival, it’s got quite a laid back vibe about it and it’s a very family friendly show. 

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my very woolly weekend as much as I enjoyed attending Yarn Shop Day and Wool@Jct13. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Yarn Shop Day, did you do anything? Or what about yarn shows, been to any good one’s lately?

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

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My visit to The Crochet Sanctuary

Sooo today I want to tell you about the wonderful weekend I had at The Crochet Sanctuary  What’s this I hear you cry! What on earth is a Crochet Sanctuary? Is it a sacred place for humans to crochet all day long? Well yes – that’s EXACTLY what it is. The Crochet Sanctuary is a place for like minded people to congregate in a state of pure relaxation and enjoy crochet aplenty.

You may remember that the lovely Mr. KCACO-UK bought me a day pass last year as a treat for a weekend in February. So last weekend hooks in hand and in a wild state of anticipation I made my way to the beautiful Cranage Hall in Crewe.

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The Crochet Sanctuary is the brainchild of the very lovely Lisa from The Wee House of Crochet and Lynda-Rose of Lyndas Craftroom.  It runs from Friday evening at 5pm until Sunday afternoon with day passes, like mine, on a Saturday from 10am until 6pm.  All snacks, drinks and lunch are included along with unlimited yarn (!!!), and there is also workshops and guest designers. Too much awesomeness right?!?

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Anyway back to my day…I got to the sanctuary and I was shown the way into a side room (with crochet bunting adorning the door) and once inside I was initially rather taken a back to find a room  full of people all ready and eager to crochet. I don’t know why I was so surprised, that is after all what the day was about, but it was just a completely new crochet scenario I suppose as I usually crochet alone (boo hoo). 

I think there was about 25 of us in total and as the day was about to start I quickly made myself at home on a sofa that, like all the other chairs in the room, were made up with crochet blankets and comfy cushions. We were encouraged to bring slippers before hand which I thought was lovely and many people did.

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We went straight into our first workshop, which was to choose a wonderful TOFT Edwards Menagerie amigurumi kit, and then it was hooks a-go-go.  I didn’t really mind what animal I ended up with, though I thought it would be nice to make something I haven’t already made (Hippo and Parrot), and in the end I ended up with the extremely cute Simon the Sheep.

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So the rest of the morning was taken up with working on our respective amigurumi projects – or if that wasn’t something you were really interested in there was yarn and other pattern books available so you could work on something different.

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There were breaks for tea and coffee and snacks and  lemonade / pink lemonade to quench our thirst and a fabulous pick and mix cart full of sweets of which we could help ourselves too. Our hosts really had tried to think of everything to make us happy and then some! 

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We were all given a gift of an electronic row counter and the cutest gummy bear stitch marker to use on our projects. This unfortunately I promptly lost whilst I was there, it certainly didn’t make it home with me – it’s quite possibly down the sofa I was sitting on if anyone wants to check. 

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I so so enjoyed chatting with everyone around me – it’s so refreshing to speak to people who don’t glaze over when you are talking about crochet or yarn and enjoy talking about it as much as you. And then it was 1pm and lunchtime! The morning went sooooooo fast! 

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then it was back to a new workshop with the lovely Coastal Crochet who I’d been looking forward to meet.  We went back into the room which had been transformed by a most wonderful display of pebbles and yarn as Eleanora brought a bit of the seaside with her – and she’d also created a playlist to accompany the afternoon with seaside themed songs.

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Our workshop was to crochet around pebbles which I have had ago at before and enjoyed and as I have a bit of a pebble obsession was really pleased to try again. Eleanora had created five exclusive patterns for the workshop, and much to my delight, we were working with Scheepjes Catona which is one of my favourite yarns to work with.

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I made two of the most delightful pebble cosies (is that I thing – can I claim that?) and they are now adorning my desk at home and work as paperweights.

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There was a little bit of time left after that for chatting and working on whatever project we wanted to and then before I knew it (and way before I was ready to leave even though my time was up) Mr. KCACO-UK was outside ready to take me home.

Goodbye’s were said to all and with a goodie bag from the lovely Lisa and Lynda-Rose in hand I had to bid The Crochet Sanctuary a fond farewell.  All in all a thoroughly wonderful day which I was lucky enough to share with the most wonderful group of people!

Just in case you were wondering what happened to Simon the Sheep – I finished him off when I got home and he turned out SUPER cute!

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So if you are looking for a weekend of yarn, crochet, relaxation and just pure wonderfulness I can heartily recommend a visit to The Crochet Sanctuary. All the new dates for 2018 have now been added to the website here.

AND now I’m going to share my ultra exciting news!! If you’ve ever fancied finding out a bit more about the person behind these blog posts well now you can. The September Crochet Sanctuary 2018 will feature a workshop by ME! That’s right, I’m stepping into my presenting (crocheted?) shoes to deliver an interactive workshop with a brand new crochet design made especially for the day.  And I for one cannot wait wait to go back to  The Crochet Sanctuary. 

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

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