Another fabulous weekend at The Crochet Sanctuary…


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What an amazing weekend I’ve just had at The Crochet Sanctuary!! It’s going to be hard to try and explain what a refreshing, relaxing and just downright fun time I had, but I’ll give it a go! 

You may remember that in February Mr. KCACO-UK bought me a day pass to The Crochet Sanctuary at the beautiful Cranage Hall in Crewe (which you can read about here). It was whilst I was there that the lovely Lisa and Lynda-Rose did me the very great honour of asking me if I’d like to host a workshop. I was delighted to be asked and of course I said YES please!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really have many crocheting friends that live close to me – or they are more dabblers in crochet rather than a self proclaimed addict like me. The majority of my crochet buddies I’ve only met virtually via social media so the opportunity to meet up with other creative folks that share my passion for crochet – and love to talk about it as much as I do is absolutely wonderful!

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I would describe myself as a bit of an introverted extrovert if there is such a thing. There are times where I feel a little awkward in social situations, but I also really love to chat once I get to know people. I love how the crochet sanctuary always makes me feel so welcome and straight away they seem to put everyone at there ease. 

On this occasion we were a nice cosy group of about 15 people and our room was a circle of comfy chairs covered in crochet blankets and cushions where we could make ourselves at home. There was also a spinning wheel of sweets (yes really!), prosecco, water, tea/coffee or locally produced cordial to drink, snacks galore and of course lots and lots of lovely yarn!

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We started off with a really fun ice-breaker to get to know each other which included being sorted by a talking Harry Potteresque sorting hat (I was Ravenclaw!).  And waiting for us on our seats was a giant goodie bag full of our first project.

We were given a complete Mabel the giant amigurumi Bunny by Wool Couture which I was very excited about. This was my first time making an mega large ami and the pure merino yarn was just soooooo squishy! The colour chosen for us was ‘mink’ which is what the original Mabel was made of and away we started hooking…

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We hooked until 7pm then it was time for a three course meal down in the restaurant (which was delicious) and then we went back up to the room for more crochet and chatting…and I may have just stayed up until 1am!! Time seriously just flew by! But everyone could have a lie in the next day until 9am (which when you think I usually get up at 6am – or earlier with my two early-bird girls was heavenly).

After a scrummy buffet style breakfast it was back up to the room for our next project and we were joined by some more people that had a day pass. This time our Lisa and Lynda had designed hot-water bottle covers for us to make. There were two different applique designs to choose from, either butterflies or stars, and we were also given a hot-water bottle and all the yarn we would need. I was pleased to see the Scheepjes Softfun Denim (which you may remember I used for the Stitch Story CAL) and some Scheepjes Catona (which is some of my favourite yarn to use) and by lunchtime I’d hooked up one completed panel of my hot-water bottle. Then it was off for another delicious two course lunch (we were so well fed the whole weekend!)

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Then it was time to get ready for my workshop…squeak!!! I was rather nervous but I’d taken along some of my favourite designs to talk about including the Leafy Boughs Shawl (on top) some crochet blankets I’d made for Simply Crochet magazine, the Stitch Story CAL blankets and various amigurumi…

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I also chatted a bit about Dear Ewe and our products which had it’s up close and personal debut that weekend with folks attending the sanctuary…

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And then I introduced the design we were going to be working on for the rest of the afternoon. Lisa and Lynda let me decide what I was going to do for my workshop, though they did suggest they’d maybe like to see an amigurumi. I thought long and hard about what I was going to do when I happened upon this photo…it was a serendipitous moment where the photo  just seemed to encapsulate perfectly what I wanted for The Crochet Sanctuary. Something fun and something to convey how the sanctuary made me feel – just completely relaxed!

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From that inspiration I came up with the design for Relaxing Ralph (pattern release coming soon), complete with optional hammock (and stand made by my lovely Dad).

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My chosen yarn for Ralph was Scheepjes Stonewashed XL combined with normal Stonewashed DK and some trusty Catona. It was super fun to watch everyone begin their cats – and a relatively new experience for me to be present when someone actually makes one of my patterns.

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The rest of the afternoon until 6pm-ish (when the day people left us_ was taken up with making our kitties, then we all had a little rest before meeting for another scrumptious three course meal in the restaurant at 7pm.

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Then for those that wanted to we all went back up to the room to do some more crocheting, and there was wine and gin (and soft drinks) shared around and oh my word just such belly laughter! Such a fabulous evening where something will just never be referred to in the same way ever again! Then before I knew it, it was 11.30pm and I really needed to sleep! 

Sunday until 3pm (when the Sanctuary finishes) was given over for time to finished off our projects (and of course another delicious breakfast and lunch). It was wonderful that nearly everyone wanted to finish off their cats and before I knew it Ralph was joined by Regina Phalangi, Hilda, Jasper, Cinnamon, Heather, Reba, Gary, Julian and Gordon! We couldn’t resist a little photo shoot with all the cats…

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Everyone did such an AMAZING job with their cats! And before I knew it the cats were getting up to all sorts of mischief! Sliding down banisters…

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and checking out the cat local population!

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And then there was just time for a fabulous group photo on the steps before packing up our belongs to go home (with some many goodies in our bags!).

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All in all a thoroughly wonderful weekend which I was lucky enough to share with the most wonderful group of people!

If you are looking for a weekend of yarn, crochet, relaxation and just pure wonderfulness then the The Crochet Sanctuary is definitely the place for you. As testament to that the dates for 2018 are all now sold out and the dates for 2019 are selling out fast – but you can book on the remaining dates here.

I have to say I’m totally getting addicted to these weekends and may have just booked on a few more myself for this year – I’m looking forward to my next day visit in November.

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

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Yarn Review and New Project | Scheepjes Stardust


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I love it when I find a new yarn to play with! Stardust yarn was released by the Dutch company Scheepjes at the end of 2016 but it was a new yarn to me. I came across it when I was searching the web for a particular yarn to make a wedding shawl (more on that later) and when I saw this yarn I just KNEW it had been what I was searching for. 

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I really wanted something a little special for this project and Stardust contains really fine sparkling fibres that add a gorgeous shimmer when they catch the light. I must confess I was a bit worried about the scratchy element,  like some sparkle yarns can be, but I need not have worried, when this yarn turned up it was super soft without being scratchy.

So let’s check out the yarn’s vital statistics we: 

  • Weight:  Double Knit (3)
  • Blend: 11% mohair, 11% wool, 75% premium acrylic, 3% metallic polyester
  • Yarn Ball Weight: 100g
  • Yarn Ball Length: 540m
  • Wash instructions: Cool, gentle hand wash only.
  • Price: £5.80 (at the time of this post)

Stardust is available in 9 solid and 5 long variegated shades, each named after a star constellation – which I love! Who doesn’t want to hook up the stars!

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I chose Capricorn (Shade 653) for my particular project but it just might be that I have since purchased some more Stardust since then…

I may just have bought some Pisces (Shade 654), because I fell in love with the gorgeousness of the blue, and maybe some Virgo (Shade 664) also fell into my basket because I was born in September so I had to! What can I say…I know I’m a yarn addict!

I’m not usually much of a pink person but the Virgo is such a delightful variegated combination…and you can just make out the hint of shine I was talking about. 

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It’s hard to catch the lovely sparkle in a photo, this yarn is much better in real life and when it’s made into a garment it’s best – it needs movement to make it really shine! 

Stardust comes in large 100g / 540m balls which means you could easily make a project out of one ball. The particular blend of different yarns creates a lovely lightweight fabric when worked up with a lovely drape –  just perfect for a shawl or wrap. For my wrap I ended up using 3 balls which still isn’t going to break the bank – especially for a luxe handmade shawl.  

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I so enjoyed the effect this yarn creates when worked up, seriously can’t say enough about the sparkle, so decided to stick with a fairly simple design to let the yarn do the talking. Like most fluffy yarns it’s not the easiest to frog if you go wrong which was another reason I kept the pattern simple.  I’ll let you have a little peep at the design I came up with…

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The free crochet pattern for the Shining Light Wedding Wrap will be coming to the blog soon!

Have you worked with Stardust yarn – what did you think?

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

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Stitch Story Crochet Along | CAL Planning


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So in this post I wanted to talk a bit more about how I came to design the Stitch Story Crochet Along (starting on 4 July) and I also wanted to talk a bit about yarn and finished sizes before we begin. However don’t worry if this is the first you are hearing about this CAL, it hasn’t started yet and you can find the full schedule here and a link to the crochet along page here.   

This years crochet along was inspired by the myths and legends of Geansaí Árann jumpers (sweaters) that originate from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. There is a lovely romantic theory that the stitches in those types of jumpers have a special ‘meaning’ and I loved the idea of creating a design that conveyed something a little extra. Traditionally, an Aran jumper is made from undyed cream-coloured báinín (pronounced “bawneen”), a yarn made from sheep’s wool, but I wanted to find something a bit more accessible to make my blanket with…

When I started designing this years crochet along I had quite a clear idea in my head of what I wanted to try and achieve with the final look. I really wanted to create a classic yet contemporary style for this blanket whilst also still pays homage to an aran jumper which is why I decided to make it in a single solid colour. 

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I wanted the yarn to have a ‘heritage’ feel about it because that was such an integral part of my idea for the design. Scheepjes Soft Fun Denim yarn gave me exactly what I was looking for! Although it was a brand new yarn for me the subtle colour variation gave me just the right combination of traditional / modern feel that I was wanted and the cotton / acrylic mix meant it was comfortable enough to be cuddled up in yet eminently practical if it got dirty and needed washing!

Using colours…

Although I chose a single colour I knew the pattern would also look great in multiple colours. So my lovely mum made another version of the blanket using six different shades of Scheepjes Colour Crafter. I’m a big fan of Scheepjes Colour Crafter, as a premium acrylic is is just soooo soft and it’s available if over 90 shades – it just makes it harder to pick which ones you want! My mum chose colours she wanted to match in with her living room.

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If you are looking for some inspiration on how you can pick and put different colours together I can certainly recommend the Design Seeds website for beautiful colour collections. I can’t wait to see what colours you choose!

For the full yarn amounts needed please see my first post about the CAL here.

Size and Layouts:

As I mentioned last time there will be two sizes of each square that you can choose from – either a 15cm (6″) block or a 30cm (12″) block. Which size blocks you make will be totally up to you but I have put together some layouts, similar to mine, below to help you plan. You could also play around with the blocks to make a smaller size square or rectangular blanket. Both my mum and I created our blankets with Schematic 3 as we wanted to make both size blocks. 

I’ve also saved these schematics on the CAL Pinterest Board and they will also be available in the e-book on Ravelry.  The first instalment of the downloadable 46 page PDF e-book is now available for a small charge (payable once) and will be released in instalments along with the CAL so as not to spoil anyone’s fun. This PDF has the full pattern descriptions, charts and information all in one place without adverts (as requested). 

Support:

And there’s more support for anyone that needs it with the accompanying videos by Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell that accompany this CAL will be released AFTER each new block release. And excitingly I’m now working with the lovely Iris from Een Mooi Gebaar who, for all the Dutch speakers who want to join in the CAL, is translating it for us! See her first post here.

Big thanks to Scheepjes, Esther and Iris for helping bring this CAL to life for everyone!

And I’ll just quickly mention again my KCACO-UK Community Facebook Group which is a great source of support and helpful tips from fellow Crochet-a-longers.

Not long left to wait…part one starts 4 July

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

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Stitch Story Crochet-Along | Announcement


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It’s taken a bit longer than I anticipated to get it all together but the crochet along design I’ve been working on for over a year is finally ready for us to start hooking together! Are you excited? I know I am!!

Following the poll I conducted in my Facebook group for the theme for our next Crochet Along (CAL) *drum roll please* the clear winner was to create something like a samplerghan blanket. So I put on my (crocheted) thinking cap and came up with, what I think, is a unique design that you will enjoy making and which I’m quite eager to share with you.  

I have already shared the pattern with someone though – and that person is my lovely mum! This is because she has made her own version of the Stitch Story blanket so I could show you how the design looks in a single colour (as I made mine) and how it looks using a selection of colours (as my mum made hers). 

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Right then, are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin with some of the information about this years design which I’m super-duperly thrilled to say has been sponsored by Scheepjes yarns, it’s been tough holding in my excitement about that I can tell you, but the most important bit to tell you is that… 

The Stitch Story Crochet Along starts Wednesday 4 July 2018!

I’ll be telling you more about the inspiration for this crochet along in my next post but let’s first go over some of the specifics. This CAL will run for 13 weeks and in that time you can create a blanket either the same as mine or unique to you (I’ll explain more about that in a moment).  Square motifs will be released every two weeks (on a Wednesday) here on the blog and I will guide you through the process of learning new stitches and techniques until you have a lovely multi-textured heirloom blanket of your very own – all finished by Christmas. 

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This is a CAL with a bit of a difference; bi-weekly you will receive a pattern for one of twelve differently designed squares. There will be two sizes of each square that you can choose from – either a 15cm (6″) block or a 30cm (12″) block.

Which size blocks you make will be totally up to you! Make your blanket all one size or mix and match, whatever takes your fancy!  This afghan will be completely unique to you with lots of stitches so it won’t get boring!  After we have made all of our blocks the last few weeks will include instructions for joining your squares together and adding a border.

The patterns will be available in English and American crochet terminology and a free English step-by-step video tutorial will also be available by the fabulous Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell blog

This is an ideal project for a beginner who would like to move on from the basics of crochet, but those with more experience in hooking should enjoy it as well.  

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Yarn Amounts:

For the Stitch Story crochet along if you wish to make the same size blanket as me (which is the largest size) you will need at least 1800g  (36 x 50g balls / 5,040m) of yarn. The larger sized finished blanket (as shown in the photos) measures 1.8m long x 1.2m wide / 6 foot long x 4 foot wide so suitable for a single bed.

  • I used Scheepjes Soft Fun Denim yarn (Shade: 507) for my blanket which is a cotton / acrylic blended yarn that has a subtle colour variation in it much like aged denim (hence the name). 
  • My mum used Scheepjes Colour Crafter which is 100% premium acrylic yarn which is incredibly soft (and hypoallergenic). She used the following shades and amounts;  Hasselt (Shade: 2010) x 2, Vlissingen (Shade: 1723) x 2, Ermelo (Shade: 1710) x 2, Veenendaal (Shade: 1064) x 3, Haarlem (Shade: 1054) x 3, and Breda (Shade: 1029) x 3.
  • Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell blog is using  Scheepjes River Washed yarn (Wheaton / Shade: 950) which is a dual toned soft woolly feeling cotton yarn. She has estimated using 1000g (20 x 50g / 2600m) for her smaller square blanket.

Hooks:

Hook sizes range from 3.5 mm to 4.5 mm (US size E to 7). The size for each particular block will be indicated on the relevant pattern. 

CAL Details:

  1. There is no charge to join the CAL; anyone can join in as long as they have some yarn and a hook. 
  2. You can favourite / add this project to your Ravelry library here.
  3. All featured pattern elements in the CAL will be FREE of charge pattern on this blog
  4. However following requests this time round I will also be offering a downloadable 46 page PDF e-book for sale containing the full pattern in one printable file (without advertisements) on Ravelry for a small charge. During the duration of the CAL this pattern will be released block by block, via Ravelry updates, so as not to spoilt anyone’s fun.
  5. Also following requests I have created a chart for each block design (for both block sizes) which I’ll include in each blog post.
  6. For those that like a deadline I will be adding new details about each square every two weeks on a Wednesday at 8.30pm-ish (GMT time) – see below for full schedule. For those that want to hook when they have the time then that’s fine too; there’s no pressure to this CAL it’s all about having fun!
  7. I will be using both UK and US crochet terminology in the pattern (UK/US) so you can pick your preference. I will also always include any helpful information about each element including links about special stitches with the release of each new section.
  8. The videos by Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell that accompany this CAL will be released on the subsequent Friday AFTER each new block release.

The Schedule:

 6 June 2018 – TODAY CAL details
 20 June 2018 CAL Planning
4 July 2018 Design 1: The Gauge Block
18 July 2018 Design 2: Irish Moss
1 August 2018 Design 3: Diamond Pop
15 August 2018 Design 4: Pilgrim’s Pathway
29 August 2018 Design 5: The Institution of Marriage
12 September 2018 Design 6: The Ladder of Life
26 September 2018 Design 7: Blarney Bobbles
10 October 2018 Design 8: Garden Trellis
24 October 2018 Design 9: Fisherman’s Basket
7 November 2018 Design 10: Cabled Ropes
21 November 2018 Design 11: Six Stitched Braid
5 December 2018 Design 12: The Bee Keeper
19 December 2018 Joining the blocks together and the border

As well as posting information on this blog I’ll also be linking the information in my KCACO-UK Community Facebook Group, which if it’s anything like last year, is a great source of support and helpful tips from fellow Crochet-a-longers.

Social Media Links:

The hashtag for this years CAL is #SSCAL18 for Twitter and Instagram. Though you you can join in with any progress photos by linking your projects on your favourite social media sites: Ravelry, Facebook page or Facebook group and Pinterest.

I am so looking forward to seeing everyone’s blankets develop over time! 

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

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Dear Ewe | Launch Day News and Discount Coupon


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FOLKS, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! DEAR EWE IS A GO-GO!!!!

Through hard work, focus, learning, grit & persistence my business partner Becky and I have finally launched our new online shop for crafty folks – Dear Ewe – the NEW place to shop for craft inspired products. 

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At Dear Ewe our aim is to celebrate your crafty life with a range of quality products which have been inspired by the handmade and everything has been designed with crafty EWE in mind.

We’ve worked hard to try and create beautiful and functional products for crafters which includes mugs, bags, framed craft room decor, photo prop cards and greetings cards.

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And for those of you that love to make things we have some crochet patterns too – all available as an instant digital download from the website. At the moment there are just two designs (available in UK or US crochet terminology) but I have big crochet plans so watch this space!

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We’ve got a launch special offer for anyone that enjoys a bit of retail therapy in our store. Our prop cards are a must have for crafters or bloggers who want to spice up their social media feeds! 

Buy two or more products from DearEwe.com from 28 May and you’ll receive two FREE lucky dip photo prop cards with your order.  

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We’ve chipped away at the dream for awhile now and it’s amazing to see all the hard work finally become reality. Personally the learning curve for me has been massive! But I feel very proud of what Becky and I have accomplished. 

And of course I’ve got a little something for you my lovely KCACO.UK readers, just enter KCACOUK4EWE at the Dear Ewe checkout for 10% off your final order (valid until the end of June 2018) – happy shopping folks!

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Until next time, keep calm and crochet on my friends x

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Simply Crochet Magazine |Sierra Summer Diamond Blanket


Yay! Simply Crochet issue 71 and I’m very excited to say that I’ve got a brand new blanket pattern inside which is perfect for summer picnics.

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I’d like to introduce the Sierra Summer Diamond Blanket…

 

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Add a little touch of flair and warmth to your outdoor parties with my fun geometric bold granny diamond blanket…

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Made with Stylecraft Special Double Knit this blanket is made up from lots of lovely diamond motifs made in the round and then joined together. I do so love a motif, they are small and relatively fast to hook up so you feel like you are accomplishing something quickly and they are easy to take out and about with you. 

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Move over orange and black, the way forward is definitely orange and navy!

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As well as my blanket there are some other great patterns in the magazine, it’s got a very  sporty vibe this month with, amongst other things, a fab stylish sporty t-shirt, some great socks (I still need to crochet me some socks!) an uber-cool Tunisian jean trims pattern from my lovely friend Eleonora’s from Coastal Crochet and I just adore 

the adorable Jammy Dodger tape measure free kit with the print edition – I’m definitely going to be making that at some point!

Simply Crochet issue 71  is now available both in-store at and online and they also offer worldwide subscriptions!  If you do make the Sierra Summer Diamond Blanket I hope you’ll share a photo with me on social media (facebooktwitter or instagram) – I love to see it!

Until next time, keep calm and crochet on my friends x

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Dear Ewe | Behind the Scenes


Squeek! The launch day for  Dear Ewe is getting ever closer…only 16 days and 17 hours to go and probably even less by the time I’ve finished writing this up and posted it! I seriously feel that all of a sudden the days have started speeding forward to the deadline date and just where on earth did April go?! 

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If this is the first time you are hearing about Dear Ewe it’s the online company and shop that I have formed with my friend, and now business partner Becky, that’s launching at the end of this month on Monday 28th May.  The shop will sell a variety of products  including bone china mugs,  bags, crochet patterns, prints and cards that all celebrate creativity and the world of handmade. 

We know that there are shops out there (not including the small handmade product providers) that have products for crafters but it’s often either only a small part of what they do or it’s a cheap import that’s not that great.  So we wanted to change that. Dear Ewe’s sole purpose is to create good quality products inspired by crafts designed exclusively for crafters.

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With launch date growing ever closer I thought it might be nice if I shared a little behind the scenes look at how we’ve been preparing for the big day and a bit more of a peep at some of the products that are going to be on offer – including some of my person favourites!

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As you can imagine we’ve been planning and working incredibly hard behind the scenes to design and source our products.  Sourcing our products close to home and supporting local business owners and our local community was something we were both very keen to do. We’re proud to live in Stoke-on-Trent, which is officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics, so it made sense that we should be able to find locally produced fine bone china – and we did with the fabulous and supportive Heraldic Pottery

One of my favourite days so far was when we were invited to go behind the scenes at the factory to see some of our first mugs being created. You can watch a little video that we took here, but I’ll pop a couple of photos below too…

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I can’t quite explain that feeling of having seen something that was 2-D for so long and then how it felt actually seeing it as a real product – it was so exciting! 

Every single one of our mugs is hand decorated by skilled lithographers, and when we got the opportunity to watch them, well it’s unbelievable how skillful they are! I love the fact that our mugs have that ‘handmade’ touch because we’re all about celebrating that aren’t we!

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Another of my favourite days so far was a fantastic photo shoot at the stunning venue of The Upper House with Clara Lou Photography. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, there were flowers everywhere, it was just such a lovely place to be – and it provided so many wonderful backdrops for some of our products shoots. 

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You can just see one of our bags in shot there. I LOVE our bags…shall I tell you a little secret…I’ve already bought several for myself (there’s definitely perks to being a business owner). But they are just so nice and handy and sturdy if you know what I mean!! I did a little bit of a yarn stash tidying exercise recently and oh my were the draw string bags great for that. But I digress…as well as (two different sizes) of draw string bags we also have our fabulous tote bags…

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And I think I’m going to leave it there…that’s enough sneaky peeks for now, but I will just quickly mention again that as well as our mugs and bags in store we also have our fantastic photo prop postcards, some beautiful framed print designs for your craft space, greetings cards and of course a couple of exclusive crochet patterns (designed by moi).

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Our official launch is 28 May 2018 but you can stay in the loop with details by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on social media (all links on the website).

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

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