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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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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Getting Crafty | Paper Flower Chrysanthemums


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Our amazing cake made by http://www.cakeholetutbury.co.uk

Last weekend it was a flurry of activity in the KCACO-UK home as we not only had Little G’s birthday happening (how fast another year has gone!) but we also held a naming ceremony for Little Miss.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what a naming ceremony is…well it’s a non-religious alternative for a service such as christening to mark a child’s arrival. We held one for Little G when she was a baby and now it was the turn of friends and family help us welcome Little Miss into the world.  The naming ceremony was facilitated by the British Humanist Association (who were fab) who designed the day to be personal to us – and what a happy, fun and relaxed, wonderful day spent with family and friends it was!

But before that I had decided that I was going to get creative and make my own decorations and things for the party. As I’m a massive fan of Pinterest I created myself a board and got pinning…and lost several hours of my life!  The main thing I decided I wanted to make were paper flowers as I thought that would be something Little G would enjoy making with me.  

Next it was off to the craft shop where I picked up, amongst other things, everything I needed to make paper flowers. There are loads of different ways to make paper flowers but I’m going to show you how I made mine to look like a chrysanthemum. To make them yourself you will need:

  • At least 8 sheets of tissue paper 
  • Scissors
  • Longish Pipe cleaners (if making with younger children) or craft wire 

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Next you need to cut your tissue sheets into squares – the easiest way to do this is to take the corner of your paper and fold it to the opposite edge to make a triangle. Cut off the excess tissue paper at the top, unfold and you have your squares! Make sure non of the squares are joined anywhere so you have eight individual squares.

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Next you need to fold the paper into a concertina…

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Next fold the concertina in half and then wrap your pipe cleaner or craft wire around the middle securely.

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Next you need to trim each edge to create the petals, to make the chrysanthemum your edges should be fairly rounded…

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The next bit can be a little tricky; so you might have to help little ones. Carefully separate each layer of tissue paper to create the fullness of the flower on each side… 

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And that’s it! You should be left with a beautiful paper chrysanthemum. Make smaller squares for mini flowers or make giant flowers with big squares.

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The lovely thing about paper flowers is that you can easily dress up a party or room yourself. I added my flowers to some jam jars wrapped in hessian and twine and cut out some petal shapes from the left over tissue paper and scattered those on the table. I was really pleased with how they turned out in the end.

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Let me know if you give tissue paper flowers ago!

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

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Vintage buttons are just the NICEST thing!


Beautiful buttons are just the nicest thing to add to a project so you can imagine my absolute delight when a most lovely friend of mine, who knows I enjoy all things crafty, gave me a bag full of the most gorgeous vintage buttons.  Just look at these beauties! Aren’t I lucky!
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I’m a bit of a button hoarder and have several jars and boxes of nice buttons, including ones I have inherited from family and brought in places like France, but some of these have a real WOW factor! You can completely imagine them on a 1940’s box coat or adorning a shiny mink coat can’t you.  

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A beautiful button can turn an ordinary crochet project into something special and unique!  But how am I supposed to pick from all these beautiful buttons? Though I must confess some of them are whispering designs to me…

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I love that these buttons have a history about them; and I love that these buttons are going to get a lease of new life when I add them to something new.

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Thanks again Alison! These buttons will all be put to good use I promise!  And just one day I’ll finish off that tea cosy for you; though I’m thinking now that it perhaps needs a button on it somewhere!

And if you are looking for some fun crochet button projects you should check out the blog post by www.crochetconcupiscence.com who has put together 15 fun ideas to do with buttons – I’m personally loving the broach idea!

Getting a bit crafty with string eggs


So as it’s nearly Easter I swear that string eggs are everywhere! As they look so cool I thought Little G and I would have a go at making some as the one thing I do have a lot of is spare yarn lying around.  

If you want to have a go at making them here’s what you will need:

  • PVA kids glue
  • A saucer or a bowl to put the glue into
  • Wool or String
  • Scissors
  • Small Balloons (or water balloons)
  • Some treats (in wrappers)
  • Apron (it does get messy!)
  • A tray to put your string eggs on to dry

1. Make sure you have an area you don’t mind getting messy and I would suggest aprons for anyone involved!

2. Stuff your treats inside the deflated balloon and then blow up to the size you want your string eggs.   The treats I had brought were like chocolate coins so it turned into a fiddle-fest to get them inside so I would definitely suggest roundish treats!  

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It’s only natural that not all the chocolate will make it inside the balloons if you are working with small children…

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3. Next put your glue into the bowl, you will need quite a bit as you need to soak the string or wool thoroughly.  

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4. Then start to wind your gluey string or wool around one of your balloons; this bit gets extremely sticky and there is likely to be glue splash! You don’t have to wrap your eggs too neatly; cross the yarn in lots of different directions to make an interesting ‘cage’.  You will need to wrap the balloons enough so that your treats won’t fall out.

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5. Once you have finished wrapping your balloons you will need to set them aside on a tray to dry; we left ours for a couple of days…

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6. Check to see if the yarn feels hard and if it does pop your balloon.  You may need to snip the balloon a bit to release the treats this can be a bit tricky.  Once the treats are free you can then pull out the balloon bits leaving the chocolate behind and that’s it, place on a shelf and admire!

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I really love them!  I have now added them to my Eastery looking shelves ready for Easter weekend! Hope you all enjoy a lovely holiday with your family x

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