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!

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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!

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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!

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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.

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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!

© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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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My visit to Spring The Knitting & Stitching Show 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everywhere you looked there was something new to see…

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A veritable feast for the eyes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Win tickets to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2019

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

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

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

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© The Knitting and Stitching Show

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

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

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© keepcalmandcrochetonuk.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

dame zandra rhodes. photograph by simon emmett. copyright zandra rhodes ltd

© 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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Sincerely Pam and Dear Ewe | Win Triangle Chart Mug

So regular readers of my blog know that, as well as doing crochet design work, this year I set up the company for creative folk called Dear Ewe.  Well I felt that I just wanted to share our first product review by the lovely Canadian crochet designer and blogger Pam (aka Sincerely Pam).

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© sincerelypam.com 2018

We know that people like to hear about products from actual people, so we are very excited to have received such a lovely review from Pam. As a new business it obviously means the world to us that people like our products!

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You can read Pam’s full product review post here – and excitingly you could enter her prize draw to win your very own Triangle Chart mug. Entries for the giveaway are direct through Pam’s blog – winner will be selected on October 24, 2018.

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We were also delighted to be part of her Makers Maven series with an interview where we shared a bit more about us and how Dear Ewe got started.

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You can read the full interview here and learn how gin was an integral part of the beginning of Dear Ewe and how Becky and I work together as a team as well as being friends.

To keep up with more Dear Ewe news you can follow us on the Dear Ewe BLOGFACEBOOK, or INSTAGRAM.

PLUS make sure you check out the blog post about the ‘Sheep on a Shelf’ Crochet Competition which will run from December 1st-12th 2018 and is going to be so much fun!

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.

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© 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…

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Have 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. 

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© 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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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!

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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).

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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…

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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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My visit to The Knitting & Stitching Show 2017

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Being a crochet blogger can certainly comes with it’s perks…like being invited to attend the biggest textile event in the UK!! I didn’t need asking twice let me tell you! So last Thursday saw me and my lovely mum, as my plus one, hot footing it down to London to attend The Knitting and Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace (aka the Ally Pally).

Firstly I should advise you, my lovelies, that this is going to be a bit of a long post with lots of photos so you might want to get comfy and grab a cuppa (or your favourite tipple) before we proceed…right…ready…then I shall begin.

I’ll also quickly say I’m not usually one for selfies but seeing as this is a post about my experiences of the show there are some actual photos of me (and mum – who kindly gave me permission to post her photo on the web). Mum was also there in the capacity of a financial adviser basically to try and help me curb my need to buy everything I saw (more on that later). All photos were taken on my phone as I thought my camera would just get in the way of my shopping bags (ha!) so I’m hoping the quality isn’t too bad.

After a 3 hour journey we got to the Ally Pally at about 10.30am on the 12th October which was the second day of the show and late night opening (till 7pm). The show actually runs for a mammoth four or five days usually so there’s plenty of time to attend one (or more) of the show dates.  The Knitting and Stitching Show actually runs in several venues across the UK with two dates in London each year – you can sign up for their latest news by subscribing to their newsletter (link on the bottom of the website).

The Ally Pally was a completely new place to me and wow what a BEAUTIFUL building it is! 

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The stunning building that is the Alexandra Palace – just look at that window!

Situated on top of a hill in North London it offers a fabulous panoramic view of the city below. My mum, bless her heart, had never been to London before so I think she was a little thrilled about the view.

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It’s London baby!

First stop was to go and get my press badge! Yes that’s right my. very. own. press pass…and the next photo shows me completely geeking out about said badge (cringe)!

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Then after a quick visit to the loo and a large cuppa for sustenance we went inside to see what we could see.  

The corridor to the main event room was lined with some of the winning entries of this years Festival of Quilts. These quilts were pretty jaw droppingly stunning! The photo of the following quilt in particular, called African Village, was my favourite. You wouldn’t quite believe it was a quilt unless you saw it up close (I wasn’t the only one going up for a closer look). I think it just looks like a painting – the attention to detail is just amazing – and don’t get me started on the colours! 

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African Village by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga

Now I’m still relatively new to craft shows, I’ve done Yarndale, WoolJ13 and TOFTfest) and I knew this was going to be a big show but I wasn’t quite prepared for how MAHOOSIVE it actually was. Sooooo many stands and sooooo much to look at and take in! 

We arrived just as the show opened so people were just beginning to trickle in and, although it did get busy, I felt that it was never too squashy or overwhelming – and the giant ceilings of the room also helped alleviate any feelings of claustrophobia you might have

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Early doors at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2017

There’s no distinguishable layout to the stalls that I could make out; they didn’t seem to be grouped by name or craft, and there was also booth’s with workshops and demonstrations dotted about in between the stalls. We did have a guide book that listed all of the stalls but we actually quite enjoyed just walking round and kind of ‘happening’ on things of interest – which was a lot!

I literally was that excitable child out with mum pulling her about saying ‘Ooo look at this’ and ‘OOoo look at that’.  She may have accused me of bouncing about and being hyper but my enthusiasm got us talking to some lovely people who were also visiting the show. It was great listening to other people’s experiences of the show; why they were attending and what bargains they’d got or what they were going to make with the things they’d bought. 

I also met some celebrities…of the crochet kind!

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The celebrity makes (from left to right): Sophie’s Universe by Dedri Uys (Look At What I Made), The Hygge Shawl by Kirsten Ballering (Haak Maar Raak), A Spicier Life CAL by Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart) , not too sure about the knit chevron blanket, then it’s A Spicier Life again in a different colourway and I think the last one is the Apre’s Ski Colour Pack designed by Sara from Black Sheep Wools.

After seeing so many of these blankets and shawls online seeing them made up close was pretty exciting! I think my mum was slightly stunned as I started reeling off the names and designers for ones I recognised. It also got us talking to more people who had made the blankets or shawls or were planning to make them – seriously loved the chatting to other crafters bits of the day.

The Black Sheep Wools stall was one of my favourite stands of the day.  Aside from displaying many of the blankets above they had basically set up a yarn sweet shop of Scheejpes Catona (which I love – look out for a future review and new pattern from me soon!) And I don’t know why I didn’t realise that the actual shop is not that far away from me…I see a visit coming on sometime soon!

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I mean come on! My purse didn’t stand a chance!!!

Another favourite stall of mine was the TOFT stand. I love the brand and designs anyways (see my previous posts about TOFTfest and my interview with Kerry Lord) and my mum just fell head over heals for this giant version of ‘Caitlin the Giraffe’. It is just amazing isn’t it! It was certainly drawing a lot of well-deserved attention.

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Caitlin with my lovely little mum for scale

Kerry Lord, the designer behind Caitlin, was there signing her new book; Edward’s Crochet Doll’s Emporium (look out for my review of the book coming soon) and the stand looked amazing with many other of her designs hanging up. 

Kerry is a definite source of inspiration to me! Not only does she produce gorgeous designs but she seems to have unlimited energy! I’d just seen on Instagram that she’d just literally come back from promoting in Australia and there she was at the show signing books and giving talks…and she’s got two young children – just amazing!

I didn’t go and say hi, as she was very busy with the signing books business, but mum and I did have fun with the Ed’s Dolls face stand in…

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Another part of the show we really enjoyed was The Women’s Institute display of knitting buildings. So much detail in each and everyone, they were incredible!

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Just incredible attention to detail!

I don’t know whether you can see but some of the houses and churches were decorated with little Halloween items like a pumpkin, witches hat and broom. Here’s another photo of my favourite house…

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Look at the cute little pumpkin!

Whilst at the show I’d also arranged to meet some of the people from Let’s Get Crafting Magazine. After working on commissions with the magazine for almost a year it was it was so great to meet the lovely editor Rosie and deputy editor Jess in person after so much chat via email. Mum and I were treated to a cuppa and we had a great long chat about past and future projects (some exciting stuff coming soon so watch this space!).

It was really good to develop a better understanding of the behind the scenes workings at the magazine – and I think they were interested to learn my design processes too. 

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Rosie, me and Jess

And then before we knew it, it was time to attend our workshop; Sewing a Quirky Creature with Miss Libby Rose

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The fab Miss Libby Rose and some of her Quirky Creatures

Now sewing for me, is very much out of my comfort zone! I can basically make easy things like a lining for a crochet bag…and maybe sew up something fairly square, but tackle things with shape – not on your nelly! That’s when the session at the machine usually ends up with tangled bobbins and lots of swearing. 

However, you don’t get better at things unless you practice and try new things and I would like to be able to sew better so I was excited to give it a try. 

Mum and I were joined at the class with the lovely blogger behind Elsie Pop (who you can just see in the background) and her other half (who turned out to be a natural secret speed sewer!).

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I obviously missed the memo about wearing matching tops…

The experience went a little as expected…it seems I develop a very heavy right foot as soon as I sit down at a sewing machine so things have a literal tendency to run away with themselves. BUT thanks to the most fabulous Miss Libby Rose, we did end up with half finished kitties for Little G and Little Miss….

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which we finished off at home, didn’t they come out cute in the end!

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Then it was time to go home! We literally left the show at 6.55pm just before it closed at 7pm. We’d spent a mega 8.5 hours at the show and yet it seemed like it went by so fast – I could have stayed longer!

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And what did I buy? Well mum epically failed to rein me in – but to be fair she didn’t really stand a chance! So I bought lots of pretties and squishies!

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For me the show was pretty much all about the yarn and the people I got to meet, but there’s fabric, sewing and embroidery stuff, beads, buttons and chances to listen to crafty talks and take part in workshops – pretty much everything a textile craft loving gal could desire! 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 thank the organisers of the show again for my complimentary tickets, goodie bag, workshop and for making me feel like a mini professional (rather than an blogging imposter) with my press badge! And for supplying five tickets free for KCACO.UK readers. It’s was very much appreciated!

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

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Designer Interview | Irene Strange

It’s time for my first Designer Showcase of 2017! Even before I started creating my own patterns I was curious about the process of designing crochet patterns and in previous posts I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some other fabulous fibre artists!

Today I’m excited to be speaking to Irina aka Irene Strange.

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Irina is a bit of a amigurumi expert whose fabulous designs have featured in the popular Zoomigurumi books (1, 4, 5 and 6!) and in popular publications like Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet, Inside Crochet and Crochet Now magazines.

Irina has a wonderful eye for amigurumi and creates wonderfully cute characters – I recently completed her little ‘Blossom Bunny’  for Little Miss and I’m seriously in love with her Clara The Unicorn pattern and her free Gracey the hippo ballerina

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It was great to get to speak to her and here’s what we chatted about…

Why are you called Irene Strange?

I used this name when signing up for my first email address all the way back in 2000,
my step-dad’s family name is Strange (what a cool name, right?) and Irene is an English version of Irina – we just moved to England and at the time it felt like a fresh start in a new millennium and a new land. I guess it just stuck! 

How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was little, I picked it up again
when studying for my degree. I was writing a paper on how brands use mascots and characters and came across some crochet toys on Flickr. People kept referring to them as ‘amigurumi’ so naturally I had to find out more about that! I tried making my own, a funny little mouse, and discovered I really enjoyed crocheting toys – from then on I was hooked.

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How did you become a crocheting designer? Is it your real job?

To start with I released a few patterns on Etsy just to see what happens, then an editor from a crochet magazine approached me and asked to feature some of my work. Then another editor asked if I’d be interested in writing some patterns to which I said yes, of course! At the time there wasn’t as many amigurumi designers in UK, at least not on-line, so one commission followed another quite fast. For a good few years I was writing as a hobby alongside a day job. After having kids I wanted to focus on crochet more, so now I write patterns in between playing with Lego and watching cartoons.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

It’s quite hard to pinpoint what inspires me most; I collect all sorts of objects, prints and photographs of animals or dolls – anything curious. I have to say seeing what other designers and artists share on Instagram across different crafts is also very inspiring, it is amazing how many creative people are out there.

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Tell us a bit about your design process…

When designing something for my pattern shop I might get an idea seemingly out of nowhere, which I will then sketch and mull over for days or even months. I will sketch the design many times, thinking about best way to make it. Then I make prototypes and sometimes get it right on first or second try.

Often a particular project will stay in my head for weeks, almost like an obsession – where I’ll keep coming back to it in-between different makes, trying something out and abandoning it, until I get it right.

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Many of your creations are animal themed amigurumis – are they your favourite things to make?

Oh yes, I adore all animals! Growing up in a big city not many people we knew had pets, so encounters with animals became very special. I love watching documentaries about the Earth, it’s simply amazing how many different creatures call it home!

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

I’m still exploring different styles and ways to make an amigurumi, looking for a balance of an object that’s interesting to look at but not too complicated for others to make. I think Hopscotch Bunny is the closest to what I like making.   

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Do you have go to hooks and yarn?

I have a strong preference for natural fibres, especially alpaca and cotton. Cotton is so durable and versatile, but alpaca gives the make a much more natural and soft look. As for hooks, I always use Clover Soft Touch.

Who gets your creations; you, your family, your friends?

At the moment my daughter is very quick to claim anything I make, often even before it’s finished. The rest gets given away to friends and family. If a visitor likes a particular toy most of the time they take it home with them.

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Where do you work? Do you have a studio space or do you work from your living room chair?

I’m a bit of a messy creative (just ask my husband!) so things end up scattered all over the house. We share a room as a studio where I have a wall of yarn to inspire me, and a desk for pattern writing and research. Curling up on a sofa with a cup of tea, a sketchbook and a film in the background is my favourite way to work.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m planning to make many more cute and unusual animals, but also some home accessories and decorations – there’s a book full of ideas just waiting to be made into new patterns.

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Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not crocheting?

When I’m not crocheting… I love going riding my bicycle, foraging around local woods for berries, visiting museums and fairs or just spending the day holed up out of the way somewhere reading a good book.

Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

I can make anything that comes into my head with just a thread and hook – it’s a bit like magic!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Irina again for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of what’s involved with in her designing process and hope you have too. I hope you will pop along to her website and ravelry page to see all of her great designs!

 

2016 in a Nutshell

I thought I’d do a little review of my hooky year in pictures…

January saw the release of the biggest thing I worked on all year. It’s also the item and design which I am ultimately most proud of. The Everything Is Cool and Groovyghan 2016 Crochet-A-Long is definitely the most challenging thing I have designed and shared so far and the finished groovyghans made by other crafters have just blown me away (you lot are amazing!). Although the crochet-a-long has now finished you can still make a groovyghan of your very own by checking out the details on the blog here.

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February and March I was busy growing a human which turned out to be quite hard work! So, aside from the groovyghan, there wasn’t a whole lot of crocheting going on…

Then in April my new shawl pattern, The Spring Blossom Wrap, was released in iLikeCrochet Magazine. Worked in a smooth 4ply cotton yarn and a 3.5mm hook I was really pleased with the floral look I eventually achieved on this shawl which I based on cherry blossoms.

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In May and June baby had finally arrived so I got back to a little hooking by working up some quick little hats and a headband for my new arrival. I just chose some patterns on Ravelry that I liked the look of and they actually turned out to be all free patterns. The hats and tie back I made include the Sedge Stitch Newborn Beanie, the Bonnie Bell Bonnet, the TopKnot Baby Hat and the 15 Minute Tieback.  The Bonnie Bell Bonnet was one of the first hats I hooked up. It’s such a cute design and as its worked in Aran (Worsted) weight yarn it’s very quick to work up.

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In July I hooked up a little Amineko cat for Little G’s summer fayre, such a fun design and super cute!

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In August and September I was working on some exciting patterns for October (more on that later) but I still found time to hook up a little Pumpkin hat for the baby and Baabara for this years Yarndale charity project

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and I finally finished a work in progress which had been started a year previously! The Corner to Corner Granny Stitch Throw  was a great pattern to use up loads of odds and ends of double knit in my stash…

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So October was a busy and exciting month; my RainBOW Clip Organiser was released in Issue 31 of Happily Hooked Magazine…and I was completely delighted to be asked to take part in the Stylecraft Blog Tour for 2016 for which I designed the Harmonious Hexagon Blanket (free pattern here).

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In November and December I hooked up several Christmassy items for my girls including some cute Elfin baby boots and some fabulous elf hats. I also hooked up a fab little mouse baby hat for a Micky fan – unfortunately this particular pattern is no longer available, there are plenty of alternatives out there though if you are looking for this style.  

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I also hooked up my special animals from my TOFT yarn and some awesome little Princesses for some gorgeous little girls; but I’m going to blog about those later so I’ll save those ta-dah moments for 2017!

Wow, I enjoyed that stroll down memory lane! I find when it’s all written down like this that I have accomplished more than I realised! Crochet is such a big part of my life that sometimes I forget what I have been up to in the year as I’m concentrating on the next design or project.  The most fantastic thing about crochet is that it continually brings me happiness, fun challenges, surprises, satisfaction at a job completed and most of all relaxation. 

So what can you look forward to in 2017 from me?

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I have so many plans for 2017! I’m extremely excited to be working with several crochet magazines this year on new designs, I’ve also got various exciting collaborations coming up, I’m going to be catching up with patterns that I didn’t finish due to being pregnant (and ill) and then having a newborn (for those waiting for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – this is at the top of the list!) AND we’ve got a brand new crochet-a-long to look forward to (starting in March) which is also in development behind the scenes as we speak.

Finally I’d like to say a mahoosive thank you to everyone who has followed me on the blog or on social media in 2016…

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My thanks is to everyone who may have brought and/or made any of my patterns, who have read my musings following me here on the blog and for those who have offered / or continued to offer their hands in friendship. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support, enthusiasm and your camaraderie and how much I love to see your finished work!

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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