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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Designer Interview | Dedri Uys from lookatwhatimade.net


I’m so excited about my first designer interview! With the one and only Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made!!!  

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If you don’t know already Dedri is a busy working mum / crochet artist extraordinaire! She’s not only the author of a popular blog, Look At What I Made, she’s the author of a remarkable book of Anamani Puzzle Balls and the creator of over 60 fabulous patterns – some of which are the most awesomely inspiring motifs I have ever seen such as the Sophie’s Mandalas, Sophie’s Garden and now Sophie’s Universe. Translated into seven different languages crotchet-ers all over the world (including me which I blogged about here) are enjoying joining in with the Sophie’s Universe CAL which started in January and has just finished (though that stage might be a bit longer away for some of us i.e. me!)

Photo credit to Esther from itsallinanutshell.com

Photo credit to Esther from itsallinanutshell.com

Hot off the back of having a go at creating my very own large motif square and with an even greater appreciation of her talents (if that’s possible!) I thought I would see if she would kindly let me grill her on the process she went into when designing Sophie’s Universe – and she said yes!!! I’m super excited to share with you what we chatted about.

What got you started on the Sophie’s Universe?

Sophie’s Universe started with Chris Simon’s Lace Petals Square. When I was making the Lace Petals Square as part of last year’s Block a Week CAL, we were visiting my parent-in-law on their farm in South Africa.

unnamed (3) I don’t know if it was the actual pattern or the process of making and photographing it there that made it feel so special to me.  I contacted Chris to see if I could modify it and use it to create a mandala. She very kindly said yes. And so I started on my Sophie-journey.

What motivated you to do Sophie’s Universe as a crochet-a-long?

Kimberly Slifer (Admin for the Official CCC Social Group on Facebook and from http://www.justagirlandahook.com/ ) approached me to ask if I would consider “growing” Sophie’s Garden into a full-size afghan for a CAL. I immediately said yes, because I had already been working on the afghan design anyway. The CAL provided a brilliant way for people to tackle the pattern bit by bit, without being daunted by the magnitude of the project.

This is particularly important to me, because this pattern is specifically aimed at beginners (despite its complexity), and had we published it as a complete pattern, a lot of beginners wouldn’t have had the guts to try it.

Do you have testers doing each part as you go along or did you do it all in one go?

Kimberly Slifer tested the whole pattern before we started with the CAL. As I do the photo tutorials (about 10 days in advance), I send them on to the rest of the testers and translators and they then test it again to make sure that the instructions are correct and easy to follow. We change whatever needs to be changed before I publish each part.

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Did you have a concept in your head of the finished design or did it evolve organically?

Once I had a square, I still didn’t want to stop, but by this point lots of people had started growing their Sophie’s with optional rounds, so I knew that I would have to think outside of the box if I wanted to continue growing her in such a way that the design remained distinctive.

The actual design sort of evolved organically, but I had a general idea of what I was aiming for.  I decided that I would flip the garden into a central diamond. I must admit that I was scared, right up until the CAL started, that I had made a huge mistake in doing so.

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About a month before the CAL started I had to frog EVERYTHING back to the garden due to a fatal design flaw. I rewrote the whole pattern. Poor Kimberly had to frog a significant part of her work as well!

What comes first; stitches, colour or yarn?

Stitches and colour happen simultaneously. It is very hit and miss and I spend a fair bit of time frogging and re-making, both with different stitches and different colours.

In this case I made the prototype out of cheap acrylic yarn so that I wouldn’t feel bad about all the yarn I wasted during the design process. Once I’d completed it, I realized that I wanted to use a yarn that would last (and last well) for years. If I was going to invest over a thousand hours in a project, I wanted an heirloom at the end of it. I chose Scheepjeswol for all 3 my Sophie’s.

How long do you think it has taken you to design Sophie Universe altogether?

To date I have spent 1033 hours on this design and the related admin (checking videos, checking translations, designing, making, etc). That doesn’t include the time the translators, testers, Facebook admin, Jenny, and Esther have spent on it.

Do you have a favourite part of the Sophie Universe or a section that you are particular pleased with how it turned out in the end?

The corners in the original garden remain one of my favourite parts of the whole project. I am also very pleased with the central flowers on the “short sides”, the “diamond band” and the Scallops.

My most favourite part, though, and the bit that makes me smile every time I look at it, is the roses. I am absolutely thrilled with how they came out. I think they are well worth the hours (and hours) they took me to figure out.

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

Hehe…I work from my dining room table. My “photography corner” is set up in the children’s playroom (conservatory), which doubles as my “studio” and general dumping ground. In the summer it is too hot to work in, and in the winter it is too ridiculously cold!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere and anywhere! Street signs, fabric, tessellations, flowers, photographs (of anything). I always look at things and try to see what I can see in them that other people wouldn’t notice. I like thinking outside the box.  Pinterest is an amazing source of inspiration and eye-candy. So is nature!

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Now we’ve had Sophie’s Universe are you going to have a rest from large motif’s or do you see more in your future?

I am going to have a good long rest. I have promised the boys that I won’t be spending every Saturday and Sunday “working”. I have promised Christiaan that I won’t spend every evening “working”. So for now I am going to allow myself some time to crochet for fun. In a month or two I will start working on my next big project. I have 3 afghan designs I really want to get done, but before I do, I have to publish the rest of the Little Zoo Animals Anette Bak and I are working on. And hopefully write up a few more Amamani patterns.

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I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Dedri again for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions, I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of the process and I hope you have too!