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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January SALES!!🎉


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The start of the new year traditionally brings with it all the January sales so of course I need to let you know about mine! Why not bag yourself some amazing bargains with my special offer in my Ravelry store which will hopefully start off YOUR 2017 in a good way…

Hopefully there is something for everyone’s taste; whether you like hooking amigurumi, blankets, pillows, hats, scarves, shawls, afghan squares or bags – I’ve got over 50 patterns you can choose from…

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So what’s the special offer I hear you cry? Well I’m offering 40% discount from NOW until Wednesday 4 January 2017 only on Ravelry, no coupon code is required, so quick grab yourself a bargain!

Happy Hooking & until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Book Review | Winter Crochet (Collection 7) by Marie Wallin


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Winter Crochet is Marie Wallin‘s seventh book which includes a collection of eight beautiful contemporary crochet patterns.  Many of the designs combine knitting and crochet together which is perfect for bi-stitchual crafters.  The blend of knitting and crochet creates a group of very wearable winter clothes including, amongst other things, jumpers, cardigans and a jacket. 

Each pattern is written in English Crochet terminology but US alternate details, along with photos of close ups of each design, tension, sizing, finishing and aftercare is included in the back of the book.

The book is a bit of a work of art! The photos of each garment are gorgeously set alongside a charming seaside background. I love the rustic looking colour palette that has been used, very much my type of colours, which compliment the natural surroundings perfectly.  

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The yarn used in the book is Rowan Felted Tweed and Felted Tweed Aran but if you didn’t want to use that you could try substituting with KnitPicks City Tweed Aran, Katia Maerino Tweed, Berroco Inca Tweed, Cascade Yarns Melilla, James C. Brett Rustic With Wool Aran, Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed with Wool or Stylecraft Aran with Wool. Remember to always swatch to measure your gauge if using a different yarn.

All the patterns in the book have been given lovely Celtic names ;  

  • Gael (Knit & Crochet) – Jumper
  • Caitlin (Crochet) – Jumper
  • Keela (Crochet) – Jacket
  • Finnoula (Knit & Crochet) – Jumper
  • Meara (Knit & Crochet) – Jumper
  • Siobhan (Crochet) – Cardigan
  • Niamh (Knit & Crochet) – Jumper
  • Catriona (Knit & Crochet) – Jumper

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There are some really interestingly intricate stitch details, all of which have been clearly explained throughout the book, but the beautiful motifs used to create Finnoula caught my eye. Just stunning!

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I love how versatile crochet is in that you can re-invent or re-use elements of one thing to turn it into something else.  I decided to use one of the motifs from Finnoula, which reminded me of a poinsettia, to make a small ornamental mat which I could sit my actual poinsettia on.

The motif worked up beautifully with some spare Aran (Worsted) weight cotton I had in my stash. The pattern was clear and easy to follow and I had no trouble at all making the motif. My little mat was just perfect for my Poinsettia and will now come out every year for that purpose.

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If you are interested in having this book for your very own it is currently available for purchase via laughinghens.com

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

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Disclaimer:  I received a sample copy of the book to write this review. I have not been financially compensated by the supplier, book company or the designer to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own and based on my own experiences of using the book / pattern.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…


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Only 4 more sleeps until Chrisssstttttmmaaassss!!!! I’m totally writing this post listening to Christmas carols, eating turkey, wrapping presents, baking mince-pies, sipping Baileys, trimming a tree all with a Santa hat on – well the carols are playing at least.  I do so love, love, love Christmas -it’s definitely my most favourite time of year. I love how decorations appear everywhere and twinkly lights adorn everything, (my inner magpie is totally satisfied), and as always I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

So as far as Christmas and crochet goes I’ve been busy making some presents, which I can’t share details of yet, and I found the most amazing wrapping paper to wrap my gifts in…

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Love this fabulous knitted Santa wrapping paper!   

I have also hooked up a few seasonal items for my gorgeous girls. I had in my head that I wanted to do a photo shoot with the girls for family Christmas cards; plus they were a couple of Christmas parties scheduled where I knew they would need dressing up outfits.

Little G chose the theme of Santa and his elf; she was to be a lady Santa and Little Miss was to be her helper.  We found some costumes but they needed some accessories – cue Mummy with her magic hook 😉

First off I made the Elfin Baby Booties by DIY Maven for Little Miss. The booties are a super cute free pattern for sizes 0-6 month made in Aran (worsted) weight yarn which are really quick to hook up.  As Little Miss is a beautiful big baby I did go up from a 4mm to a 5.5mm hook size to accommodate her tootsies, which meant the booties then fit perfectly, other than that the pattern is very easy to follow and the result is a fab set of booties perfect for any pixie babe.  

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The yarn I used for the booties was the new Paintbox Yarn which, if you are a yarn addict like myself, you have probably seen photos and reviews of floating about on the web and social media. 

The yarns come in acrylic DK, aran, chunky and cotton yarns and are exclusive to LoveKnitting.com and LoveCrochet.com and comes in 60 fabulous colours. 

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I have been waiting for the right project to give this yarn a try and I have to say it’s super lovely yarn to work with. The ‘Grass Green’ was the perfect shade, I thought, for my little elfin booties.

Next they both needed hats; a Santa hat for Little G and an elf hat for Little Miss. I’d had the free Crochet Elf Hat by Repeat Crafter Me saved for ages as I thought they were really cute and oh my goodness they were so awesome when they were finished and looked fabulous – just how I wanted the hats to look with a nice long tail and chunky pom pom! I used the Aran (Worsted Weight) Paintbox Yarn again (in ‘Paper White’ and ‘Pillar Red’ along with the ‘Grass Green’)

And the finished result…well after many outtakes we managed to get the most lovely photo, I was so pleased with how they turned out.

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Well I think all that’s left for me to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

I’ve got lots planned for 2017, including a new exciting crochet-along to start Feb/Mar 2017, but I’ve still got one more post next week before the New Year kicks in.  You can read it in your pyjamas if you want – I’m hoping I’ll be writing the post in mine!  

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

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Tales of a Craft Room| Part 2


So you may remember me talking about the building work that we are having done at the moment…well it’s still an on going mission!  Unfortunately, due to a spate of bad weather, my dreams of it all being finished for Christmas are long gone.  Who knew that cement had an attitude problem and would only do it’s job under certain conditions! 

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Lots and lots of cement foundations! This building should survive anything!

We also hit some other snags; foundations had to be dug much deeper than anticipated, which meant more concrete (still with an attitude!), deliveries of materials not arriving when they should, skip men not coming to collect the rubble on time, wind, rain, frost – you name it, we seemed to have it.

However slowly but surely we finally saw progress…the floor went down. Baby and I had great fun watching the men ankle deep in cement smoothing it out, then covering it up (got to treat that concrete right!).

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A floor! A floor! So exciting if you are me!

The bricks arrived and the walls started going up quite quickly! 

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Then all of a sudden the walls were finished and we got roof rafters! Next we wait for the roofing chaps to come and fix the roof, then we can add doors and windows – oh I can’t wait!  

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It’s never easy having any sort of work done to your house or garden, and I am thoroughly sick of the mess but I can now start to visualise in my mind how it’s going to look and how I’m going to lay everything out – I can’t wait!

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

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Free Pattern | Superbly Simple Baby Blanket


What’s a crochet designer to do when they are having a baby – design a new blanket pattern of course! So without further ado I’d like to introduce my new free pattern to you; the Superbly Simple Baby Blanket. The great thing about this blanket is that it works up quickly and looks more complicated than it actually is!  This baby blanket is a great for beginning crocheters to use for their very first crocheted afghans.

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Worked in double knit this lightweight blanket is easy to memorise making it a perfect pattern for relaxing hooky time! However you may use any yarn type and hook size of your choice with this pattern (it’s that simple) so no need to worry about meeting a specific gauge.

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Make it a baby sized blanket, as shown, or go as big as you like by simply adding more rounds! The addition of a simple border finishes off the blanket nicely.  

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For my blanket I used Stylecraft Special DK from my stash, which is lovely and soft, in white, lemon and grey – great unisex colours when you aren’t sure if it’s a boy or girl (which we didn’t). There are so many options for how you could arrange colours on this blanket and it would also make a fab stash buster for using up odds and ends. 

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This pattern is definitely my new favourite go-to blanket for new babies or a last minute baby shower gift. 

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Little Miss certainly loves her blanket.

Click the following link to add the Superbly Simple Baby Blanket to your 💗 Favourites and Ravelry Queue or keep scrolling for the pattern.  For a print friendly version of this page please scroll to the bottom of this post and click on  the Print & PDF button.

Pattern:

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Yarn: Weight #3; 4 x 100 g / 1200 m / 1300 yards 

Hook: 4 mm / US size G

Gauge:  6 tr/dc sts or 2 clusters = 1.5 inches / 3.8 cm

Establishing the correct gauge is not critical to this pattern. Pattern will work in other yarns though gauge/size will be different.

Size: 36 x 36 inches / 91.4 x 91.4 cm

Make it a baby  sized blanket, as shown, or go as big as you like by simply adding more rounds!

Abbreviations:

  • st(s) = stitch(es)
  • sp = space
  • sl st = slip stitch
  • ch(s) = chain  
  • dc/sc = UK double crochet / US single            crochet
  • tr/dc = UK treble / US double crochet
  • Cl = 3 tr/dc
  • V-St= 1 tr/dc, ch 1, 1 tr/dc
  • [ ] = work pattern in brackets into 1 st

Stitch Guidance:

  • Slip Stitch (sl st): Insert hook in st indicated, yarn over and draw through all loops.
  • Double Crochet/Single Crochet (dc/sc): Insert hook in st indicated and draw up a loop (two loops on hook), yarn over, draw through both loops on hook.
  • UK Treble / US Double Crochet (tr/dc): Yarn over, insert hook in next st and pull up a loop (three loops on hook), yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over, pull through remaining two loops on hook.

Pattern:

Rnd 1: With YARN A, Ch 4, sl st to form a ring, sl st into the ring, ch 3 (counts as first tr/dc), 2 tr/dc into the ring, ch 3, * 3 tr/dc into the ring, ch 3*, repeat from * to * twice more, sl st to top of ch 3 to join, then sl st to the nearest ch 3 corner (12 sts + 4 x 3 ch sps)

Rnd 2:  [1 dc/sc in to the ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc/sc into the same sp], * ch 3, [1dc/sc, ch 3, 1 dc/sc] into the next ch 3 sp * repeat from * to * twice, ch 3, sl st to top of beginning dc/sc to join, sl st to the next ch 3 sp (8 sts, + 8 x 3 ch sps)

Rnd 3: [Ch 4 (counts as first tr/dc + ch), 1 tr/dc ch 3, 1 V-St into the ch 3 sp], * 1 V-St, in the next ch 3 sp [1 V-St, ch 3, 1 V St] into the next ch 3 sp * repeat from * to * twice, 1 V-St in the last ch sp, sl st to the 3rd ch of the beginning ch 4 to join, sl st to the next ch 3 sp  (12 V-Sts + 4 x 3 ch sps)

Rnd 4: [Ch 3 (counts as first tr/dc), 2 tr/dc , ch 3, 1 Cl into the ch 3 sp], * 1 Cl between each of the 2 V-Sts of row 3 (there should be TWO Cl in-between each corner), [1 Cl, ch 3, 1 Cl] on the next ch 3 sp * repeat from * to * twice, 1 Cl between each of the 2 V-Sts of row 3, sl st to top of ch 3 to join, then sl st to the nearest ch 3 corner (16 Cls + 4 x 3 ch sps)

Rnd 5: [1 dc/sc in to the ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc/sc into the same sp], * ch 3, 1 dc/sc between each of the 2 Cl’s of row 4 (there should be THREE ch 3 + dc/sc in-between each corner), [1 dc/sc, ch 3, 1 dc/sc] on the next ch 3 sp * repeat from * to * twice, 1 dc/sc between each of the 2 Cl’s of row 4, sl st to top of the first dc/sc to join, then sl st into the ch 3 sp (20 dc/sc + 20 x 3 ch sps)

Note: Rnds 3 – 5 make up the repeats of this  pattern. You will just increase either the number of V-Sts (rnd 3) or Cl (rnd 4), chs (rnd 5) in-between each corner.

Continue working rows until you have worked 47 rows in total.

For the blanket shown in the photos I worked the following colour change repeats; YARN A: 9 rows, YARN B: 9 rows, YARN C: 6 rows

Edging:

Begin edging in any sp between Cls; * [dc/sc, ch 3, 2 tr/dc] into same sp * repeat from * to * in each sp around the edge and in each corner.

Designer Interview | Kerry Lord from TOFT / Edward’s Menagerie


I’m thrilled about my next designer interview because I actually had the pleasure of meeting her in person!!  Kerry Lord is the author of the extremely popular Edward’s Menagerie series which feature her designs of extremely cute animals, Birds and, in her new book: Imaginarium, all sorts of fabulous creatures.  She is also a busy working mum and the founder of British luxury yarn brand TOFT which specialises in alpaca yarn.

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Recently I attended TOFTfest, which celebrated the 10th birthday of TOFT yarn (which I blogged about here), where I met Kerry and I thought I would see if she would kindly let me find out more about her designing process – to my delight she said YES!  Here’s what we chatted about…

How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?

When very pregnant with my first child Edward I decided to teach myself to crochet in order to distract me from going back to work. As soon as I had mastered the double crochet stitch an elephant flew off my hook and into existence. I think the Edward’s Menagerie shape had been living in my head for a while but my knitting skills didn’t allow me to achieve them.

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

My real job is running the company TOFT and everything that this involves. Designing crochet animals and clothing patterns is part of this role, but by no means all – I have to source and design the yarns first!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get lots of my inspiration from feedback, both from my family, colleagues and customers.

Tell us a bit about your design process…

I usually just pick up my yarn and start making when designing amigurumi. If designing something to wear it’s a far longer process as I sketch and swatch first before doing calculations to work out the pattern.

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Many of your animals, birds and creatures have names (like Georgina the Hippo), how do you come up with them? Do you get people requesting names?

Some of them are people I know, whereas others are truly fictional characters. This is the most fun part of my job!

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

I am very fond of Blake from Edward’s Menagerie, but Kerry the Chameleon from our recent hand-dyed project makes me feel very proud.

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Do you have go to hooks and yarn? I’m guessing TOFT yarn is your favourite; but can you pick a favourite TOFT yarn?

I am lucky enough to design my own yarns and hooks, so of course I choose our own ones. My favourite TOFT yarn to make things for myself to wear is our DK Silver.

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

The studio!! Most of my crochet goes on display, but every now and again I find the time to make something for my children.

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Now we’ve had animals, birds and imaginary characters can you tell us what might be next for Edward’s Menagerie?

I can’t let that secret slip just yet, but book four is well underway!

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

I do have my own room of yarny chaos (and lots of cacti), but more often than that I’ll work from the sofa.

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

When not at work or crocheting I am having fun with my family. We enjoy muddy walks around the farm and plenty of messy crafts.

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Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

It makes other people very happy.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Kerry 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.

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

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