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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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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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.

Wool@Jct13

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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And the winners are…The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2018

Is everyone ready! We have have ourselves some winners…but first I’d like to say thank you to everyone that submitted an entry, I really enjoyed reading your reasons why you’d like to attend and / or who you’d like to go to the show with.  And we also have to say a big THANK YOU to lovely people from the Knitting and Stitching Show for providing the ticket prizes. 

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So without further ado the winners are…

  1. Samantha Wormleighton
  2. Libby
  3. Posydog1
  4. Peter B
  5. Cheryl Gardner

Congratulations my lovelies! I’ll be in touch today to request your contact details so that the tickets can be posted out to you. 

And to everyone else sorry if you didn’t win this time but there’ll be more giveaways and special offers for you coming soon (if fact later today!)

And don’t forget the special discount for tickets still applies. Just quote KEEPCALM18 and you can save £2 on advance adult ticket price (or £1 for concessions)  which makes the tickets £11.50 instead of £13.50/£12.50).  You can buy tickets here or call 0844 581 1319.

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! 

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Win tickets to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2018

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It’s giveaway city here at KCACO.UK headquarters! Next week I’ve got my big blog birthday giveaway starting and this week I’ve got FIVE pairs of tickets, kindly donated by the lovely organisers of the Knitting and Stitching show, to giveaway to KCACO.UK readers!!!

The Knitting & Stitching Shows are the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design events and the Spring show opens its doors to thousands of crafters at Olympia London on 1st – 4th March 2018.

Shopping for fabric

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

From crochet to needle felting, embroidery to dressmaking,  there are over 200 workshops and free demonstrations hosted by expert tutors, covering every textile craft imaginable. Whether you’re a complete beginner, an expert or somewhere in between, there is something for everyone, and with nine workshop classrooms, it’s the biggest Spring show programme ever.

Jo Smith Crochet a Mandala Wrap

© The Knitting and Stitching Show – Jo Smith’s Crochet a Mandala Wrap

You can read all about my visit last year to the Ally Pally here (it’s a bit of a long post so make a cuppa first) – but in a nutshell it was really, really fab and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make the show at Olympia London (sad times) so I’ll be living vicariously through everyone else that attends…and of course if there’s any beautiful hand-dyed yarn that you want to send my way…

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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 the Spring show…

Campaign-for-Creativity-website-logo.jpgHave you heard about the campaign for creativity? It’s the aim to provide more and better opportunities at school for children to be creative and to think creatively, there’s a petition you can sign here, but the The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show are hosting a wall of embroidered signatures as a visual representation of the Creativity Petition. They are asking crafters to get creative and send your stitched signature (this can be crocheted, embroidered, knitted, cross-stitched, the more creative the better) to be added to their wall of signatures. Alternatively if you are attending you can bring your stitched signature to the show yourself. To find out where to send signatures to see the link here and don’t forget to share your crafty creations on social media and encourage others to get involved by using the #campaignforcreativity

Also this year the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show are hosting an all crocheted and knitted afternoon tea competition in partnership with Betty Blythe Vintage Tea Rooms. They are challenging visitors to crochet or knit any item you would find in a traditional English tea room, think knitted scones and jam, crocheted Prosecco flutes, cucumber sandwiches, tea sets and more. 

Knitted tea room

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

You can use a pattern or design your piece yourself. To find out more about the competition see the full details here.

Right let’s get on to how you can win tickets to the show shall we!

Giveaway

The tickets are for redeemable any day except Saturday 3rd March  for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show at the Olympia London which runs from 1st – 4th 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 Tuesday, January 30th at 5pm (GMT) with the winners being announced later that evening here on the blog. Good Luck Everyone!

Special Discount

But if you want your ticket’s RIGHT NOW I’ve also got a special discount for you! Just quote KEEPCALM18 and you can save £2 on advance adult ticket price (or £1 for concessions)  which makes the tickets £11.50 instead of £13.50/£12.50).  You can buy tickethere or call 0844 581 1319.

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! 

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

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My visit to the Nottingham Yarn Expo 2017

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Oooo I’ve just realised I’ve not told you all about my visit to the Nottingham Yarn Expo yet have I?

So my story starts back in June when Mr. KCACO.UK and I celebrated our 10th Wedding anniversary. The boy did good and along with a beautiful stamped tin heart necklace he surprised me with tickets to the inaugural Nottingham Yarn Expo which this year was held on the 11-12 November.  How he found out about it I don’t know as I hadn’t come across it before so I was super surprised! And it turned out there was a mountain bike trail not far away from the expo too which was handy…

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My family actually herald from Nottinghamshire, though we moved away when I was twelve, and I have fond memories of catching the number 90 bus with my Nana to go to the cinema in the Victoria Centre. Although alot has obviously changed since my childhood when hubby dropped me off to head for the trails I was able to find the expo easily enough.  Held over two floors in the Nottingham Conference Centre at Nottingham Trent University it’s about a 2 minutes walk from the Old Market Square (located in the heart of the City Centre).

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The conference centre is a fabulously big and airy modern venue and on the Sunday when I visited we were greeted by the delicate sounds of a harpist…which is exactly what you want! Nothing like wafting dreamily around yarn stalls eyeing up  wonderful yarn accompanied by the angelic sounds of the harp! Such a great idea! And I heard on the Saturday they had a string quartet entertaining the crowds.

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And oh my! Wasn’t there just a fabulous array of yarn! 

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And the expo, for the most part, was filled with gorgeous artisan and hand-dyed yarn…

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…okay stop drooling! I understand though, the gorgeousness of these yarns was something for the eye to behold!

And amongst the exhibitors I got to meet Caz fromWulla Yarn who was showcasing her wonderful meta yarn at the show. Although we’ve spoken by email, when we collaborated on the Wulla Wreath, we’d never actually met in person so it was great to put a face to the name.

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And she’d made a Wulla Wreath to display on the stall, you can just see it in the background there, I may have squeaked a little to see it, it’s always so fun to see a design you’ve created made by someone else.

Caz was super lovely and kindly gave me an impromptu spinning lesson as she had her spinning wheel with her. I really enjoyed having a go at spinning but found getting my hands and the feet moving in sync akin to trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. So in my case definitely more practice is required! 

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I also got to meet with designer Marie Wallin (whose book I reviewed here on the blog: Winter Crochet). 

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There are times where I wish knitting were my thing as her beautiful colour-work designs are seriously gorgeous! Even though I don’t knit I could certainly appreciate the mastery behind the designs and I really enjoyed chatting with her.

Over both days at the Expo there were some inspirational lectures from designers and artisans and also some skills workshops. I was so busy looking at everything that I forgot to actually look at my watch so I missed the talk I’d fancied going to and although I did look at the workshops to book before hand they seemed predominately targeted at knitters rather than hookers. I have seen recently though in the Expo Ravelry group that they are investigating suggestions for more crochet and advanced crochet classes for the 2018 Expo.

So what did I think of the Nottingham Yarn Expo? Well if you like luxury yarn then this is definitely the show for you!

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Lots of choice of hand dyed loveliness to choose from but there were only a few other stalls selling other things, there were some stalls for felters, and only one I could see for buttons or beads (which I was looking for on this occasions) so it would might have been nice to see a bit more diversity in craft products.

I actually ended up spending my money not on yarn but stationery! The fab Stationery Geek was exhibiting and all their crochet themed stationery is awesome! It’s so nice to see crochet represented! Sometimes it feels as if crocheters are knitters lesser-known cousin!

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I LOVE their crochet bible, which I have already started using for charted designs as it comes with handy squared graph paper, and I also ordered their Bloggers Bible which arrived yesterday – it’s going to help me be super organised in 2018 and it has stickers too!!

But back to the show. What I also really liked is that they had plenty of places to ‘sit & knit’ (or hook) in break-out areas which was a great idea (and there should be more of this at all yarn shows!). I also loved the inclusion of the live music. One thing that I hope will be included for future years is a floor plan of exhibitors and a little map of where the talks / workshops are being held. 

And what did I get? Well you know me! I find it almost impossible to go to any sort of craft event and not buy something! Well I was fairly restrained (as it wasn’t that long since I’d spent a small fortune at the Knitting and Stitching Show).

Well aside from the stationery and for saying it was a yarn show I actually didn’t buy any yarn at all (I can only say I was sickening for something) but I did get the beads that I needed for projects which I found in a little basket underneath some yarn, a new 2.75mm hook (as the hook monster has eaten my previous one), some new Clover yarn needles (possibly the sofa monster has eaten my others), a notions case, a fun crochet themed card, a cute little stitch marker and a fab new crochet project bag.  

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For me the show was again about the people I got to meet rather than my purchases but I will say if you get the chance to go to the Nottingham Yarn Expo in 2018 I think you’ll have a great day out.

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

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A pretty amazing weekend actually…

Although I’m currently a bit under the weather and feel like I have been like that for months (I blame little people and their germs) I need to tell you about the weekend before last as it was pretty fan-dabby-dozy and I shall tell you why in a rather longer than usual post.

Back in October, when I was down at the Knitting and Stitching show in London, I got chatting with the lovely Sara from Black Sheep Wools who told me about a special open day they were holding in November.  

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To celebrate becoming Scheepjes stockists they had arranged for Haak Maar Raak blogger Kirsten (think the Hygge Shawl) and Look at What I Made blogger Dedri Uys (think Sophie’s Universe) to come along and chat to people, sign books and run mini workshops.  Well after discovering that Black Sheep Wool are only about 50 minutes up the motorway from me I marked the date in my calendar to go along because yarn plus chance to meet amazing designers equals no brainer right?!

If you’ve never been to Black Sheep Wools  it’s a big yarn shop (with it’s own coffee shop) in Warrington who regularly hold yarny events and workshops in their craft barn. For me it was a little bit like stepping into a sweet shop – and I do so find it hard to resist squishy goodness…but more on that in a bit.

So with my lovely mum in tow (and my dad – but he read his book in the car) we set off early last Saturday morning to Warrington.  When we first got there the bloggers hadn’t arrived yet which was actually handy as I got time to squish and browse. I feel I must just bring your attention to the Christmas tree in the store foyer because I’m sure like me you will feel that you need it in your life! It had been decorated, amongst other things, with all the little Scheepjes Catona Cutie Pies and looked fantastic!

Christmas Tree

But it wasn’t long before I got to have a complete fan girl moment and meet the lovely Dedri and Kirsten. Now you may recall that Dedri was my first ever designer interview  (which you can read it herebut we had never actually met in person.

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When Heather met Dedri!

It’s so nice to finally meet someone that you have only met virtually and I’m going to add quickly, in case any of you have done it too, that all this time I’d not realised that I’d been saying her name wrong! In case you were wondering Uys isn’t pronounced ‘yus’ as I’d been saying it but should be pronounced more like ‘ace’. And whilst we are talking about pronunciations Scheepjes I also learnt should be said like ‘Shape-yuz’ not ‘Sheepes’! 

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When Heather met Kirsten…

Both bloggers were so nice, open and helpful, answering all my many questions and offering really good advice on ways of looking at colours, designs and blogging! They also kindly signed a couple of my books that I took along (Amamani Puzzle Balls by Dedri and Bold Baby Crochet: 30 Modern & Colorful Projects for Baby collated by Dedri and features Kirsten).

Dedri-and-Kirsten

Next mum and I took part in a mini workshop by Kirsten to make her fab Scandinavian Heart (get the free pattern here) with some yummy Scheepjes Catona. 

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Mum and I both decided to go for Christmassy sort of colours and had great fun making little yarn jellyfish to weave together to form the heart. It was really nice sitting crocheting and chatting about crochet in a little group. 

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But conscious that Dad was still sitting in the car (he was still happily reading) and we’d already been there for over three hours we decided it was probably time to leave. But of course as there there was soooooo much lovely yarn to squish and as it was a Scheepjes open day I thought it would be really rude of me not to purchase maybe a little something…

Schjeepes

I know! I know! I have a yarn addiction! I must hasten to say at this point that although it may seem that all I do is buy nothing but yarn I promise that everything I purchased was / is all for specific projects! 

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And some of it was a lovely gift! Because I was one of the first 50 customers in store I also got an exciting Schjeepes goody bag in which I got the purple Schjeepes Catona (this is fast becoming one of my favourite yarns to use for my ami’s), the really inspirational Schjeepes YARN Bookazine Tropical Edition (which I LOVE by the way), two mini Schjeepes YARN pattern books, the big Schjeepes window sticker and two great Schjeepes wooden buttons.

The next day mum and Dad came back round to my house to look after the girls as Mr. KCACO.UK and myself were off for a spa day! I know! Sooooo exciting! You may remember that this year we had celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary and as I gift I bought us a spar day. We usually aren’t so extravagant as this with gifts but ten years – it’s an achievement well worthy of a bit of a special gift. 

We ended up going to Mottram Hall in Cheshire which has an outside sort of spa bit with a hot tub and steam rooms. It was so strange to be sitting outside in a swimming cozzie in November but it was really fun, they’d decorated ready for Christmas and I have to say their tree’s were pretty amazing ranging from Harry Potter themed to Alice in Wonderland (which was my favourite).

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We also had fantastic back massages and enjoyed a most delicious afternoon tea.

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All too soon the weekend was over and it was back to reality with a Monday-ish bump.  But cake, back massages, crochet and yarn – it doesn’t get any better than that really does it! 

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

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