Last Christmas I hosted a blanket CAL designed to keep your hooks busy during the seasonal holiday.   It was a spontaneous decision to do the CAL, and I was happily surprised when so many people joined in at such short notice.

This year I am planning another blanket CAL to keep you busy during Christmas and beyond.  The design has 8 different square motif designs and can be made any size you like.  My sample blanket uses 6 different colours of DK yarn but you could use as many as you like and, yes, it would be a good stash buster.

My colours:

Yummy Yarn!

Yummy Yarn!

My sample blanket isn’t quite finished yet, but the squares are well advanced in design.  The yarn is John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers, a lovely soft DK yarn, and I’m using 11 skeins.  I’m enjoying making the sample so much that I have just ordered some more yarn to make a second sample, so that I can crochet along with you when the designs are released.   This second yarn is Stylecraft Special DK, which is a much more affordable option.

Here’s a brief outline of the CAL plan:

Next weekend, I will provide details and the first motif design here on the blog.  The first design is a basic square which many of you will be familiar with.  It will show you the size of each motif and uses an average amount of yarn for the all the designs, so will help in showing how much yarn each square uses. You could then estimate your yarn requirements for the size of blanket you want.

On Boxing Day (Saturday 26th December) I will release the next motif design on the blog. You could make a blanket just using these 2 motifs in a checkerboard layout, which I think would look very attractive, so I would love to see someone do this!  The first 2 motifs are both straightforward and would suit someone fairly new to crochet.

The rest of the pattern (6 more motifs, layout etc) will be provided in a downloadable pattern on Ravelry.  This will be a paid for pattern and each week I will add a new motif to it until it is complete.   I will share weekly progress on the blog.

As a reminder of previous blanket CALs on the blog here’s a couple of photos from the last 2:

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014


Spring 21015

Spring 2015

I hope you join in the fun with this CAL.

Happy crocheting xxx

I’ve plenty of news for you today.

I’ve just returned from a knitting holiday in the lovely market town of Ludlow.   This was the Knitsford Knitgroup autumn retreat.  We stayed in a lovely hotel, The Cliffe at Dinham, where the food was good and the wine menu perfect ;-)  It was situated a little out of town, which meant it gave us just the right amount of peace and quiet for a good night’s sleep and lovely for a walk or even a run (yes, someone did go running each morning!). We worked on some projects together in self-help workshops at the local yarn shop, The Wool Shop.  The owner Jean has a lovely couple of rooms on the second floor which were perfect for our requirements and she was a fabulous host.  Holding our workshops in the shop was ideal,  we all found we needed something to help during the event and so it was extremely handy to be able to shop without leaving the premises!    The location was good as it was in the centre of Ludlow, which has plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants for lunch or just coffee and cake, a very wide range of lovely shops which are a delight to shop in with friendly and helpful assistants and a great market.  Of course the best part of the holiday is having a great time with knitting friends, we tend to laugh a lot more than knit !!

Just before I went to Ludlow I was very happy to see one of my designs in Mollie Makes issue 60.  Hexagons are my favourite shape for crochet motifs and at this time of year that means snowflakes.  So this is my design for a snowflake runner/coasters – 4 different sizes and 2 different centres mean you can make a unique Christmas centrepiece to your own design.

Photos courtesy of Mollie Makes

And today yet another exciting happening:  LoveCrochet have interviewed me on their blog and tomorrow they will feature a free download of one of my new designs – a lacy textured cowl.  Look out on their blog tomorrow for more information.


Photo courtesy of LoveCrochet

Exciting times, eh?

Happy crocheting xxxx






If you’ve been following my Ravelry group you will know that I have been making the Zodiac blanket this year.  It was a year-long blanket club designed by Amanda Perkins.  Each month part of the design is released; this is my blanket in January:



I continued adding to the blanket each month until recently when Amanda released all final parts of the pattern, so that I could complete the blanket well before the year-end.  And here is the finished blanket (with apologies for the light, it is a dull wet day here today):



You can find all the signs of the zodiac in this blanket if you look carefully :-)

I am particularly pleased with the border.  After weighing my yarn and doing a bit of swatching, I worked out that I had sufficient yarn left to do 4 rounds, one of double crochet and 3 of half trebles using the same colour sequence as the outer edge octagons, so it flows well.  Here’s my border:

The edge

The edge

This photo also shows the beauty of the crocheted octagons and squares.

If you want a zodiac of your own, then you can find the pattern here.  It is a lengthy project but is a work of art and will become an heirloom to love.

Happy crocheting xx


……… a wonderful retreat in Wales, and I am still full of excitement and wonder from the one I attended last weekend.

The hosts were Brenda Dayne (of Cast-On podcast, amongst other fabulous achievements) and Caerthan Wrack (of Triskelion Yarn and Fibre), both of whom provided inspirational instruction during the weekend.

The location was Beggars Reach Hotel, which provided just the right combination of support for excited attendees – sleep, food, service and ambience were all perfect.

Many of my friends have asked what happens on these weekend woolly retreats and, whilst I am bursting to give them minute by minute details, I would not want to spoil the fun for anyone attending a similar retreat in future.  Instead I will share some photos of the weekend.

Learning the alchemy of Indigo Dyeing, and being totally mesmerised by the whole process, we turned a little corner of Pembrokeshire into lovely shades of blue.  From preparation of yarn and fabric (poised inelegantly ready for the dye bath):

To the preparation of the dye bath, using all this:

To produce this yellow vat:

Into which all that prepared yarn and fibre is bathed and, eventually, through the wonder of alchemy, turning into multiple shades of blue which were hung on the railings to dry:

Loving the rewards of yarn preparation and Japanese Shibori resist dyeing techniques:

Using Jamieson and Smiths yarns in ombre knitting techniques – so many colours to choose from:

Being tempted at the tiny perfect marketplace:

But most of all, enjoying the company of wonderful like-minded yarn addicts from across the world.

Thank you to everyone who attended, presented, sponsored and helped along the way.  It was brilliant and I can’t wait for the next Gwlana which will be at The Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales next May, something different but which is destined to be just as great!

Happy knitting, crocheting and dyeing xxx

On the last day before we flew home, the plan was to visit a couple of museums and then do a little shopping before lunch.   The museums were excellent (Museum of Asian Art, an extensive collection of Asian artefacts and a great insight into the Hellenic influence,  and Casa Parlante, a living history museum).    The shopping aim was to try and find some oregano in a small terracotta jar.  We had bought one such jar 6 years ago but had broken it fairly recently.  There were lots of herbs and spices for sale in the usual tourist shops, but no little terracotta jars.  My memory told me we had bought it on a road somewhere near the old market and not a very touristy area.   So we were heading up to this location and were having no joy in finding terracotta jars when I suddenly spotted this sign:



The sun was bright making the window more like a mirror than a window, so I looked very closely and was amazed to find a it was a very lovely yarn shop!



Crocheted Autumn Leaves in the window

Crocheted Autumn Leaves in the window (or earrings!)

I was in there in an instant.   I think my enthusiastic entry surprised the owner Elli!    The shop is very new (only open about 3 months) and has little internet presence (yet).  There is a facebook page which I am certain will gain more followers.

I had a long chat with Elli, a lovely lady with excellent English who has set up a perfect shop:  fresh, new and very modern.  She has many English friends who are interested in knitting and crochet and she told me it is also a growing trend amongst the younger generation in Greece, very much like here.    I explained my search for a yarn shop and finding one in a lingerie shop which she said is the traditional way to buy yarn.      She has a small library of English magazines and books, which she wants to expand so that her English customers can have a good browse, but as we know knitting and crochet is international, especially charts and symbols.   And she plans to do workshops.

I promised that next time I am in Corfu I will have coffee with her for a much longer chat, in fact that’s a very good reason to book another holiday :-)

I asked if she had any cotton yarn and she took me in the back of the shop where the cottons are (as they are out of season now) and amongst the selection I found a linen mix in a lovely pale blue:

Pale blue linen mix

Pale blue linen mix

When I purchased she handed me a perfect little crochet heart as a present:

Crochet heart

Crochet heart

Pompon is located at 7, Velissariou and is near M&S.  With M&S on your left, head north and take the second turning to the left – that is Velissariou – Pompon is a short way up on the right.  It’s a short walk from everywhere – the shopping area, the old town, the old port and the new port.

I know there are plenty of people who visit Corfu Town on cruises, every day we were on holiday we saw one or two very large cruise ships in port.  I even know of some that do specific craft cruises – so if you are in Corfu Town, whether on a cruise or staying on the island, even if just for a day, pop by to see Elli at Pompon and enjoy her thoroughly modern yarn shop, a new gem to be found in Corfu!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

PS we never found the oregano in terracotta jar, so if you know where I can find one please let me know.



Whilst there is plenty to see and do in Corfu Town, Corfu has many lovely villages to visit and so a hire car was an essential for some of the holiday.  The first day we had the car we travelled up to Kassiopi, a small port on the North East coast.

It was quieter than we have ever known it, mainly because it was so late in the season but also because the economic crisis in Greece has had an impact on tourism (such a shame as the island remains largely unaffected and there is no reason not to go there on holiday to enjoy the best Greek hospitality).   However, we like quiet!   Plenty of space for a wander along the seafront, stopping to spot fish, watch boats and enjoy the views.  Time also for a leisurely latte by the water’s edge.

Thankfully, despite many businesses being closed already in October, the place I wanted to visit was open – Agathi’s lace shop.

Agathi's lace shop

Agathi’s lace shop

I have visited this shop several times over the last 20 odd years and it always had plenty of customers, but this time it was quiet.  Agathi was crocheting as I entered and I was the only one there, so it was an excellent opportunity to have a chat.   She had just started crocheting a top-down cardi in white cotton – she pointed at all the crocheted tops hanging up around the entrance – all made by her.    She makes so many glorious things:  garments, tablecloths, doilies, rugs – and in many different fibre crafts: lacework, crochet, traditional Corfu Venetian lace (a sort of tatting), weaving, cutwork, embroidery, ribbon embroidery, cross stitch – the list is endless, she is extremely talented.

Agathi opened her shop 43 years ago, in that time she has seen many changes.  The season used to start early (March) and end late (November), but it has changed many times over the years.  Today the season depends very much on the airline timetables and so do her sales – she has so many beautiful woven rugs but they will be too heavy for taking home on an airline and I expect many of her sales are for the smaller items.  Next time I go to Corfu I will pack light to save room for a rug!

Each item in the shop has been made by her (well, apart from the carved olive wood by her son!) and the range, quality and beauty of them is unbelievable – she is so very talented.

I purchased 2 beautiful square doilies, in very fine crochet:

Motif doily

Motif doily

This one is 4 motifs joined simply in very fine cotton.

Textured doily

Textured doily

This is a single motif, with texture.

Each one will have taken 2 days to make.  I explained that I crocheted as well and she suggested I should copy them!   But I won’t as I doubt I have the patience or talent to make such very fine work.  However, she has inspired me – and when I returned to the hotel I started swatching a motif based loosely on a simpler part of one of her doilies, it won’t end up anywhere as good as her work but it will remind me of how wonderfully talented she is.

Agathi’s is well worth a visit if you go to Corfu. Kassiopi is easily found and Agathi’s is on the main street down to the harbour.   Next time I’m in Corfu I will visit again, it’s a must!

Tomorrow I’ll post a final blog about my fibre adventures in Corfu…..the last day was a bonus which I’m keen to share with you :-)

Happy crocheting xx

I have researched yarn shops in Corfu before, and found a couple of blogs that suggested the place to find yarn in Corfu is a lingerie shop.  And I have tried to locate one in Corfu Town once a few years ago – to no avail.

However, this time I was determined to find it.  All I knew was that it was ‘around the corner from M&S’.  Yes, there is an M&S in Corfu Town!

I know where Corfu’s M&S is so my plan was to walk all the way around the block where M&S is located.   My husband is very supportive of my yarn searches and was happy to let me wander the streets a while looking for the lingerie/yarn shop.  I spotted a lingerie shop with the sign ‘Triumph’ outside (Triumph is a well-known UK bra manufacturer), but when I peered in the window I could see no yarn.  So I walked some more and then after prompting from Supportive Husband I went back to look a little more – right at the back I could see what I thought were buttons.  So in I went and YES there was yarn hiding at the back, along with quite a lot of haberdashery and some fabric.   There wasn’t much yarn, and it was mainly acrylic, but I found this:

Corfu yarn

Corfu yarn

2 large balls of aran weight wool/acrylic mix from Italy in very short variegations of blue (suitable best for crochet I think) and a 4 ply angora/acrylic mix from Turkey in longer variegations.

The purchasing process was interesting.  I had to take the yarn to the haberdashery counter for the yarn to be bagged and the prices to be written on a small piece of paper, then take the paper to the front of the shop to pay.

I bounced out very happy.

Unfortunately I have no photo of the yarn shop as it was on a busy road (and more congested due to roadworks) but this is the name on the bag:

Corfu Town yarn shop

Corfu Town yarn shop

And it is located at 14, Stamatiou Desila, very close to the open air market (recommended for a visit to see the most glorious display of fresh fish for sale).

We hired a car for a few days and took our usual route through town to get from the port to the seafront at Garitsa Bay, a route we have travelled many times which goes through the open air market and, yes, right alongside the lingerie/yarn shop – over the years I must have passed this shop so many times yet not realised it was a yarn shop!

On foot it is easy to find, it is just around the corner from M&S, walk south on Theotoki Georgiou with M&S on your right and take the very first right turn – the shop is a very short distance along on the left.

I have no idea what I will make with this yarn, but I chose blues because, as well as being one of my favourite colours, it reminds me of the blues of the skies and sea around Corfu.

I was very satisfied – I had found yarn in Corfu fairly early in the holiday (but was it the only one?!).

So my next adventure was to revisit a lovely crochet and lace shop in Kassiopi – more about that tomorrow.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

It’s a while since I blogged, but I have a good excuse – I’ve been on holiday.  Shortly after returning from Yarndale I was packing cases ready for a holiday in Corfu.

We love Corfu and have visited many times, normally in May or September.   This year we had a few logistical problems getting a date for holidays, mainly because there was something happening virtually every weekend throughout May and September.  However, it is still possible to fly directly to Corfu in October.

As we knew many holiday businesses will start to shut during October, we decided to do something a little different and book a hotel in Corfu Town rather than book a villa in the North East, hoping there would be plenty of activity in Corfu Town.

So that is what we did, choosing our hotel carefully so that we had a good view and a short walk to the old town.

This was the view straight out of our room:

The old fort

The old fort

The weather was good for October, mainly sunny and very warm.   Evenings were still warm and no jacket or jumper was required.  Our view to the left in the evening:

Spianada, Liston and Palace of St Michael & St George in evening light

Spianada, Liston and Palace of St Michael & St George in evening light

However, we did have a little rain, a few grey clouds and one magnificent thunderstorm. This is the view to our right on the evening the thunderstorm started to build (shortly after this shot the clouds thickened, the breeze turned to wind and the calm sea gained white topped waves…):

Garitsa Bay in the evening

Garitsa Bay in the evening

The hotel was the Cavalieri, in an old Venetian building of character and a rooftop restaurant (with those views!).  It was just what we wanted – not a large characterless box, no spa or gym, no pool but a tremendous location, lovely character, restaurant with a view and good service.

I am sure you will be wondering if I did anything yarny on holiday….well I did, but I’m saving up my Corfu yarny adventures for more blog posts – just watch this space!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxxx

Yarndale was fabulous!!!!!

It is a very popular event and people come in thousands.  So many people that I find it difficult to get any decent photos of the exhibitor stands!   This shot shows just how busy it can be (this shows about half the marketplace and was taken fairly early in the day):


The layout and decoration has improved again!  Well done The Yarndale team! These are some of the lovely Yarndale decorations to see:

The Bunting

The Bunting

Flowers for Memories (only a tiny sample of the display!)

Flowers for Memories (only a tiny sample of the display!)

The map of 'where you've come from' - including Australia, Japan, South America, Africa, the Falklands!

The map of ‘where you’ve come from’ – including Australia, Japan, South America, Africa, the Falklands!

I should have taken a photo of the mandalas, but I clean forgot!

The range of stallholders has expanded yet is also of a much higher standard than previous years.  There were lots of quality things to see and buy, and I found it very tempting.  But I controlled my budget by taking cash only, this made me careful in what I purchased.  Here’s my haul:

Yarndale haul

Yarndale haul

The basket is an African basket from Injabulo (I think I’m addicted to baskets), 2 skeins of the now rare Natural Dye Studio yarn from Amanda Perkins, one skein of luscious silk worsted from Willow Knits, 6 small skeins (200g total) of gorgeous Yeavering Bell DK from Whistlebare (a lovely mohair/wensleydale blend), 3 balls of linen and some linen material from Namolio, large pegs for my Swift from The Yarn Cafe and some brooches from Max’s World.

As well as shopping there so much to see and so many people to meet up that my head was in whirl half the time!     And this year I even had the opportunity to help Anne on the Willow Knits stand for fifteen minutes, having my first experience of what it’s like to sell yarn to hungry customers :-)

This year I took an hour out of the show and I went into Skipton on the red routemaster bus.  It was a lovely escape from the crowds which seem to be at the greatest from about 11.30 to 1.30, but also Skipton is a great little market town to visit.   I had coffee and cake with one of my friends in a lovely café she spotted down one of the ginnels:


Latte, fruit cake, Wensleydale cheese and apple – a delicious combination and great ‘fuel’ for the second half of the show!

I went by coach,organised by Lynne, Bernadette and Maxine, and Lynne did a splendid job of getting us on the coach and then into the show (always a bit tricky with 50 or so excited yarnies!).

I was exhausted when I returned home, so it was an early night for me…and then I slept in a bit later than I anticipated.    The exhaustion was well worth it.  But do I really have another year to wait for the next show?!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx


……and I’m getting excited!  Also, I am preparing for the day in my usual fairly organised way.  So I thought I’d share how I prepare as a visitor:

What do I wear?  It’s pretty obvious really – some comfy trainers (the floor is solid concrete and warm socks are a necessity), trousers (not a skirt as it may be chilly!) with a secret security pocket, lots of layers, a pair of fingerless mitts (excellent for being able to fondle yarn and get your cash out easily) and my favourite type of neckwear for shopping – a cowl.  When I thought about this I came to a bit of a standstill, you see I do like to co-ordinate what I wear and I’m taking some lovely crocheted fingerless mitts in blue but I don’t have a blue cowl!    So my last minute challenge was to stash dive and make a cowl that matches.   So that’s where I’ve been this afternoon – searching through piles of stash (which makes me wonder just why am I going to Yarndale!?).   I have found some lovely NDS dk yarn called Stardust in blues and lilac, not an exact match for the mitts but should be ok.  And my challenge for this evening is to make a cowl……wish me luck!

NDS Stardust

NDS Stardust

The next stage of my prep is to get the bag packed.  Ah yes, the bag – it is a good sized canvas bag which I can fling over my shoulder, not too large as I don’t want to inadvertently bump it into other visitors (which is very easy to do in a crowd).

I have reviewed the exhibitor list and floor plan already, so I have a printed copy marked up with my ‘must visit’ stands.  This is the first item to go in my bag. .

I always take a packed lunch.  There are cafes in Skipton and food stalls at the show, but the queues can be long.  So I find it easier to pack my own lunch – and a few snacks.  I’m travelling there by coach so I have a snack before arrival which helps keep me going until lunch!   So this afternoon I made sure I had sandwiches, snacks and some bottled water ready in the fridge.  They will all go into my bag just before I leave tomorrow morning.

Also in the bag is a market shopping bag, you know the sort of old fashioned string bag – you could crochet one yourself but I have a few ‘turtle bags’ so I use one of those.  It’s perfect as an overflow expandable bag.

A lightweight fleece is the next item – just in case it gets really cold.

The last item in the bag is a pack-a-mac.  I prefer this to an umbrella for two reasons – firstly it can provide an extra (and windproof) layer if it gets cold and, second, umbrellas can be difficult to manoeuvre in a crowd and possibly a bit dangerous!  I have checked the weather forecast and it looks good, but this is England so it is best to be prepared for rain.

Also, I have a small cross body handbag for money, phone, lippy, comb, small packet of tissues, keys etc.   It has some good little zipped pockets which are great for security.   I put my mobile on charge overnight, so it is fully charged for tomorrow.

Money is another thing to consider.  Some, but not all, stallholders have mobile visa machines but the signal isn’t always good, so it’s much better to have cash and cheque book.  I don’t keep cash all in one place which is why those little security pockets in trousers and bag are handy.  And it’s good to have small denomination notes and  a good supply of pound coins, stallholders love them!

Finally, an early night is in order.  I want to be fresh as a daisy tomorrow!

I’ll be wearing my Ravelry badge at Yarndale, so if you spot me you’ll soon tell if I won my cowl challenge, although I may still be crocheting it on the coach!

Happy crocheting xxx




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