My Woolswap Experience

If you are reading this in real time then if you’ve received a parcel recently then you’ve probably had to put it in quarantine due to Covid-19. It’s a very strange (but needed) thing to do, and it actually led to exciting ‘opening’ anticipation – because I signed up for my very first fibre swap experience.

I’ve never tried a yarn swap before so thought I’d try one as an experiment; the one I chose to go with for my first time is called WoolSwap. I’d heard about WoolSwap through Dear Ewe (as we’d signed up to give a discount for woolswappers) and thought it looked really fun.

Swapping

If you are unfamiliar with yarn-swapping programmes in a nutshell you pay a fee to be part of a swap, you are paired with someone, and then you swap your yarn. The fee part is there to help cover anyone that doesn’t end up getting a present for whatever reason, so I didn’t mind paying that, plus it’s all organised for you. Through the swap you get the opportunity to meet someone new, and get a fun yarny present in return.

As it was a trial run for me I signed up to the small package deal which was $8.00 / £6.45 with a minimum of 100g yarn to swap. Then you wait for your match with the person you are sending to being the person you will also receive from.

My Match

My match could have been anyone in the UK (though I chose to keep just to the UK this time rather than worldwide) and I had to laugh as I was paired with the lovely Jane who lives about 13 miles away from me.

I got a little bio about her from the Woolswap team, with her details, which gave me some details of the sorts of things she liked. She said that she was a crocheter (which was good for me!), that she liked greens and purples and she’d love some heavier weight yarns as she had a lot of sock yarns already in her stash.

Although the minimum was to send 100g you could decide on an amount to send each other, and we chatted a bit over Instagram before we made the initial swap. That was the only thing I found tricky, not the talking to Jane (who seems lovely), but I would have loved for things to have been a bit more specific, only because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, and I was a bit unsure how things were supposed to be with it being my first swap.

What I sent

I totally forgot to take a photo of what I sent Jane, as I wanted to get things sent off, but I decided to go with ‘green’ as my theme (as I do so love a theme). I sent 500g in total in all DK and Aran weights including: 2 x West Yorkshire Spinners Aran – Aire Valley in Mojito and one of the same brand in a corresponding solid green called Emerald. I thought 300g would be enough to make a good shawl or small lap blanket.

Mojito, Emerald and Forest Heather

I also sent a 100g skein of Cascade 220 Superwash DK called Heather’s just because it’s called ‘Heathers’! I chose a gorgeous green called Forest Heather (and I may have treated myself to some Heather yarn for myself too -ooopss!) and a 100g skein of hand dyed DK yarn by the fabulous indie dyer Siobhan Crafts which I want to say was called OOAK mermaid (but I could be wrong).

And as little gifts I sent her some Dear Ewe goodies including a WIP project bag, as I thought it would be a handy place to put her new yarn, some WIP project cards, for all her new projects with her new yarn, and some of the yarn lovers prop cards, for photo opportunities once she has made some lovely things from her new yarn.

What I received

When my box came out of quarantine I was super excited to finally open it, I even did an unboxing on IGTV filmed by my lovely 9 year old. Yarnwise I received 2 x 50g of Hobbycraft ‘Catch a Wave’ yarn which I’ve never tried before, I got 2 x little 10g yarn and colors mini’s to try (green & purple), which again I’ve never used before and a 25g ball of White Ricorumi which I use a lot so that will come in handy.

I was also gifted 2 hand dyed mini skeins which I think were both from Mothy and the Squid; one is a 20g which is variegated reds with black flecks called ‘Red Octopus’ and the other looks to be 10g mini that is orange with black flecks (this one I couldn’t see a label, though I might have thrown it away by accident in my opening frenzy). I’ve always wanted to make an amigurumi in hand dyed yarn and these might be fun to use for that with them just being little amounts – maybe I should take inspiration from the yarn name and make an octopus!

Then the pièce de résistance in terms of yarn was an absolutely gorgeous 100g skein of RiverKnits hand-dyed yarn called ‘Mermaid’ which is a Superwashed Blue Faced Leicester yarn. I recently purchased from Provence Crafts the Positivity Spiral Cowl as part of #OperationSJW and because it’s gorgeous. It uses 100g so I think I’ll use that to make the cowl, and it seems highly appropriate as if you’ve ever watched Faye’s Crochet Circle Podcast you will know she’s a big fan of RiverKnits yarn.

The rest of the parcel was filled with fun little knick knacks including; a little crochet cactus amigurumi, Clipper organic sleep easy tea bags, a grey faux fur pom, some Easter Caramel Shortcake bits, a little cactus print mini project bag, some mini Little Box of Crochet pattern books and goodies, some stitch markers, some crochet hooks, mini notebooks and pen and a thriller book.

All the gifts were beautifully wrapped, with little handmade messages on, so it felt like Christmas! Jane also sent a gorgeous handmade felted scene card which was beautiful.

Final thoughts on Woolswap

I really enjoyed the whole WoolSwap experience. I had great fun putting together a parcel for my swap partner, and have a little more ideas of things I could include in future swaps. It’s been a great way to get to know new people as Jane and I chatted about other things other than the swap including kids in lockdown. And aside from the fun of just receiving a gift / parcel just for me, it’s been really fun to receive yarn that I’ve never tried before.

All in all it’s been a very positive experience and a fibre swap is something I will definitely consider doing again in the future. Have you done fibre swaps before? How was your experience? Would you recommend any particular one you’ve tried? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

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Yarn Shows 2019 | Wool@Jct13

Wool@J13 is the most local yarn show to me so I’ve started to mark it on the calendar each year. This year was the third time the show has run and subsequently my third visit to Lower Drayton farm where the show is held in May each year. 

For an avid crocheter a day out to a yarn festival is great for your sense of well-being and feelings of harmony with like minded souls. If you’ve not been to a yarn show before you probably need to prepare yourself for so much yarn (all of which you will probably want) and lots of people talking about yarn and knitting and crochet!

As yarn shows go Wool@Jct13 runs over two days (a Saturday and a Sunday) but it isn’t massive, and this year it was smaller than the year before. The stalls for the event are all held in a big structured tent with rows of stalls at each edge and along the centre which you get to walk around in a big sort of loop.

The last two previous years have been blessed with tremendous weather for the shows. This year it was a grey and cloudy so it was great to see lots of people still turn out for the show. Luckily the weather was still warm enough to sit outside and listen to the outdoor music by various artists.

Food-wise there are picnic tables available but most people seemed to just be buying lunch as there were quite a few food stalls at reasonable prices – we all enjoyed sampling pizza and tea and cake over the course of the afternoon.

My girls loved the bands and we were able to sit around and chill as they danced along to each track which was nice. That’s one thing I really love about Wool@Jct13, it’s extremely family friendly – you can just see my two girls (below) walking hand in hand through the stalls and even my husband was quite taken with the colours of the yarns available and by the artistry of some of the felt pictures we saw.

My girls also loved all the animals and the play-park that they have on site. In fact my husband played with them on the play-park whilst I got to have a first leisurely look at stalls then we all went round the stalls again together later. The kids also loved the fact that they got a tractor-trailer ride (there and back) to the show! My three year old was very impressed by the big wheels!

On offer at the show was mainly hand dyed yarn, things for spinners and needle felters, and products celebrating ‘wool’. Actually it is a very WOOLLY show, which based on a farm I think it was bound to be, there are sheep around and also fleece shearing demonstrations which are really interesting to watch. You certainly get a sense of where the yarn is coming from!

In the main tent there was just so much yarn prettiness to drool over that if I had all the money in the world I could have gone crazy – because I pretty much wanted everything I saw!

And I did buy yarn, I can’t lie, I felt it would be rude not to when at a yarn show! I just fell in love with the colourways of five skeins of yarn that had to come home with me. The first two are from Siobhan Crafts and the last three are from Bellica Yarns.

I just loved the speckles and flecks on the first two which are 75% SW Merino and 25% Nylon Double Knit. Together they make 200g and the colourways are OOAK – Prism and Mermaid Scales which I think will go beautifully together in an, as yet unknown, future project.

The gorgeous yellow toned yarns I had to have because I just envisioned them in a summer shawl. I’m going on holiday next week so I’m thinking of caking it up and taking it with me. The vivid block yellow is 100g and the smaller two lovely speckled variegated yarn are 50g each so I have 200g in total which should make a fair sized shawl. There were no colourway names on the labels but both are 4ply 75% SW Merino and 25% Nylon – perfect for a light and airy design I was thinking!

So all in all we enjoyed our visit to this years show and I’m sure you will find us back at Wool@J13 next year! If you are in The Midlands you might want to check it out. But actually if you love yarn then I hope you’ll go along and support any local yarn show, they’ll only be able to keep going if we help keep them running – if that’s not a good excuse for having to buy yarn I don’t know what is!

If you are looking for a yarn show near you I’ve found this comprehensive blog post, by the Travel Knitter, which seems to list all Yarn Shows for 2019 which is just fab (thanks to her for doing that!).

Are you visiting any yarn shows this year? I’d love to hear which ones you are going to and why you’ve chosen that particular one… feel free to drop a comment below.

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

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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!

Wendy

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

Debbie

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!

Pom-Poms

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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Yarn Shop Day | 6 May 2017


Yarn-Shop-DayHave you heard about Yarn Shop Day? It’s an annual celebration supported by Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines which aims to celebrate Britain’s much-loved independent wool shops.  This year Yarn Shop Day took place today, on the 6th of May, in hundreds of yarn and haberdashery stores across the country. 

I don’t know how I’d missed that this day existed previously (!?!) but as soon as I learnt of it’s existence I thought I really should pay a visit to one of my local participating shops on the day.  I personally think it’s incredibly important to support any local businesses and shops – but I don’t need an excuse to visit a yarn shop… So anyway earlier today I headed off to The Little Shop of Crafts which is luckily just down the road from me.

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The Little Shop of Crafts is a lovely little shop which stocks a great range of yarns from Sirdar, James C. Brett and other Designer Yarns, it also has proper crochet cotton from Coats. As well as yarn they cater for cross-stitchers and have a range of haberdashery items and fabrics. 

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Today the shop celebrated Yarn Shop Day with a charity raffle, 10% off all yarn purchases and a crafternoon group session full of lovely ladies.  

Little G, who wanted to come with me to the shop, held court with the ladies telling them all about the birthday party she had been to (hence the streamers on her top)…and pretty much everything else that was happening in her life – which allowed me plenty of time to shop!

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The crafternooners were busy hooking up some of the special freebies which were designed especially for this years event. Debbie Bliss designed an exclusive (Knitalong) blanket pattern that was given away free, along with Rainbow the Unicorn (knit by Sachiyo Ishii) and Coral the Mermaid (crochet by Sarah Shrimpton) amigurumi patterns.

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Little G loved the ones that had already been made and was delighted to be given the opportunity to name them (and in case you were wondering she named the unicorn Sparkle and the mermaid Lorelai!)

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And the fantastic thing is that even if you missed Yarn Shop Day the patterns will be available throughout the year so if your local store doesn’t have them, you can get them from a different store later if you’re visiting another town or city.

And what did I buy…well I just had to get myself one of the new Sidar colourwheel yarn cakes (Shade 201: Colourama) because I drooled on it a bit, kidding, but it is most delicious isn’t it – and so squishy! I may have hugged it a bit on the way home…just need to decide on what to make with it.  I also got some other little bits and bobs I needed and the most amazing unicorn fabric which I’m hoping I can transform into a dress similar to the one I made Little G when she was younger (this one).

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Both Karen and Tracy, the proprietors of the shop were lovely and helpful and I want to say a HUGE thank you to all the crafternoon ladies who chatted to Little G – she had a great time. Unfortunately though she doesn’t quite understand that they are not going to be there every day – she’s already asked when she can go back and see everyone!

lyys_300x300Well we both thoroughly enjoyed our first Yarn Shop Day! I think it’s now going to be an annual event in my calendar. Craftiness always deserves to be celebrated so whether you love crochet or the two stick-ed thing Yarn Shop Day is a must for your diary.  So if you can next year please do go along and support your local yarn shop.

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

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