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!

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

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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!

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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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Wool@Jct13 Yarn Festival


It’s not everyday that a wool show happens pretty much on your doorstep so when I heard about the Wool@Jct13, the new wool show for the Midlands, I knew I’d got to check it out.  The festival is held on a family run farm in the pretty market town of Penkridge, South Staffordshire and the very first show was this weekend (13 & 14 May). I pre-brought tickets for the whole family which were very reasonably priced at £6.50pp on the day or £12pp for the full weekend. Getting advanced tickets I got a further 15% discount and the other great thing was that under 16’s and parking for the day were both free.

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So what is Wool@Jct13 all about? Well the festival is described as a celebration of all things woolly for anyone with an interest in wool – whether it be spinning, knitting, crochet, weaving or felting. Over the two days you could expect to find food, drink and live music (we very much enjoyed The Haywood Sisters) alongside demonstrations, competitions and wool craft workshops – and of course lots yarn themed shopping opportunities!

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Outside the large tent full of stalls was a fab singer (John) who recited a little ditty of his own creation for their stand the Wool Zone. Little G had a whale of a time dancing to the tunes…John’s song however has since turned into a ear-worm for the whole family as we are all still singing ‘come on into the wool zone!’ 

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There was plenty for children to do, Little G was fascinated by the spinning wheel over by The Woolly Roadshow Griffith Mill and was delighted and then thoroughly absorbed with the task of spinning when she was kindly allowed to have a go herself.  

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She also got to feed a lamb some milk and we all enjoyed watching the sheep shearing demonstration. I couldn’t believe how chilled out the sheep were when they were getting their fleeces removed…

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And inside the the tent…oh my! There were a plethora of stalls for all interests…

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And so much lovely yarn as pictured here at the Bellica Yarns stall – and they actually invited me to squish it! What an invitation!

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Everyone I met was so friendly! I had a wonderful time chatting to the owners and helpers of Crafts from the Dungeon, Fig Tree Yarns, Luxuryyarns.co.uk, Ewe and Ply, Thread of Life, The Woolly Roadshow Griffith Mill and Cotswold Alpacas – this isn’t a full list of all the exhibitors just the ones I happened to speak to on the day; the full list of folks around on the day can be found here.

I was quite reserved in my purchases as I really need to finish off some WIPs before I start anything else. That didn’t stop me from buying a couple of goodies though, I bought a sheepy braiding disc kit from Crafts from the Dungeon which is a tool to make cord with. I also brought a lovely wooden drop spindle kit from Cotswold Alpacas which came with some lovely alpaca fluff for spinning into yarn yourself. I’ve always wanted to give it a try and was very grateful for the mini demonstration and discussion I had about how you can hand spin yarn.

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All in all we had a really great day – I can’t wait until next years show! To find out about future events you can sign up to the Wool@Jct13 newsletter, at the bottom of the page, on their website here and they also have a Facebook page here.

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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