I love yarn shops – there’s nothing like squishing the yarn and talking to someone who knows all about the  yarn and what to make with it – you can’t get that experience from an online shop!   Sadly, I no longer have a yarn shop that I can say is truly ‘local’ to me but there is one a mere half an hour’s drive away which is my favourite ‘almost-local’ yarn shop – Magnolia Tree Crafts.   The shop is very much like a studio – bright and light and spacious; and the Lucy, the owner, is very helpful and knowledgeable.  It is in Poynton, Cheshire which has a lovely array of local shops and good free parking (I tend to park behind Waitrose, an added bonus 😉 ).

So it is fantastic that my first yarn shop book signing for Cowling Around will be held at Magnolia Tree Crafts.  I’ll be there on Saturday 28th October, signing copies of the book from 10am til 11am. I’m bringing the samples for the book with me so you can see them and try them on, always helpful when deciding which one to make.  And watch this space – there’ll be special discounts on the day on yarn for making any of the cowls!

To celebrate the occasion, I have designed a special cowl based on Chameleon from the book – I’m calling it the Magnolia Tree Cowl.  It uses one skein of West Yorkshire Spinners’ The Croft Shetland Aran.  The yarn makes a beautifully cosy cowl which is perfect for autumn and the design is fairly straightforward to make, except you may need a bit of help with the border.  If you want to try this design, then why not join a short workshop at 11am – I will show you how to make a mini version of the cowl (which you can put to good use as a jar cosy!) including that not so simple but very pretty border.  The workshop includes the pattern, tuition and yarn for the mini cowl, it also entitles you to a 25% discount from a skein of The Croft.    Interested? – then book here.

Later that day I am tutoring another workshop at Magnolia Tree Crafts – the popular and colourful Crocheted Mandalas workshop.


Magical Mandalas

At this workshop you’ll learn the history of crocheted mandalas, hints and tips on how to make them plus 2 patterns you can work through.  All yarn is supplied.  More information and booking here – but be quick, there aren’t many places left!

I’m looking forward to spending a lovely day at Magnolia Tree Crafts – I hope to see you there.

Happy crocheting xxx


I love buttons!   I have a huge collection of all sorts of colours and shapes and sizes, yet I don’t use them often.  I think buttons look lovely in jars – like sweets!   And that’s how I store them, colour coded and looking (to my eyes) gorgeous!

But, as I said, I don’t use them often and sometimes I feel guilty that I haven’t got  a use for them all.

Last weekend I heard about an amazing initiative by a school in the lake district – their aim is to collect 6m buttons to represent the holocaust victims.

So tonight I have been rummaging in my button collection and put together this:


2 jars of buttons. I don’t know how many there are in each but tomorrow I will find out because I plan to count them before I parcel them up and send them to the school.  Hopefully my buttons will add to their collection and help them raise the 6m they want.

Can you help?  Please send any buttons to:

The Lakes School
LA23 1HW

Together we can make a difference and a memorial.

A great day was had yesterday – some lovely productive workshops and all sorts of goodies to buy.  Here’s a summary in pictures:

Happy knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and needle-felting! xxx

It is Cheshire Fibre Festival on Sunday 1st October and I am running 2 workshops on crocheted Christmas baubles (still a couple of places left in the afternoon if you want to join in!).  Between the workshops (at lunchtime) I have a mini-market stall selling a few crochet goodies and copies of my new book Cowling Around.

Whilst preparing for the mini-market stall I found a skein of yarn exactly the same as the one I used for Thistle – Cascade 220 in Shrimp.  So I’ve decided to run a prize draw on Sunday – anyone who buys a copy of my book then will be entered in the draw to win this skein of yarn – with which you could make your own Thistle:

I’ll be around selling copies of the book (and signing them) from noon til 1pm, and the draw will take place just before 1pm.

Come along and see the samples from the book, buy the book, browse and shop the other mini-market stalls and grab a coffee and cake.  You don’t have to come to a workshop to visit and shop at lunchtime 🙂

I look forward to seeing you then.

Happy crocheting xxxxx



This weekend is Yarndale, one of the best events in my yarn year!  I will be visiting on Saturday and I’m just thinking about my preparation.

Are you going to Yarndale?  If so here are my top tips.

The first part of my prep is a review of the exhibitor list and floor plan, both can be found on the website here.  I check the exhibitors then print out a floor plan and highlight the ones that I really want to visit, sometimes I end up with a long list of exhibitors and have to prioritise them (maybe using 2 colours of highlighter pen!).   This then helps me decide which route I should take through the auction mart.

Next is what to wear.  It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast, but even in hot weather the venue can be cold – it has open sides and concrete floor and is built on a slope which helps the air flow – so it can be chilly even on a warm day.  The floor means comfy shoes are needed, and nice warm handknitted socks.  I find trousers are best and ones with a secret security pocket, then lots of layers.  Also, some fingerless mitts are useful and something for around the neck (for me that means a cowl).

Normally, I would take a large canvas bag to fling over my shoulder, but this year there are bag searches and it will be quicker all round if I don’t take a large bag.   So I’m opting for 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.

For food I will take some lunch items, I’ll have some before I leave the coach (did I say I was on a coach?) and leave anything else on the coach (you can do this also if you have a car). I’ll also slip a couple of energy bars in my pockets for if I get peckish.

Also in my pockets will be some lightweight but strong shopping bags, these will be full by the end of the day!    If I find they get full early, then I’ll just leave them n the bag crèche until later.  And if I need another bag, well I can always buy a supply of the Yarndale bags!

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 possibly a 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!

One mention of security – it is heightened this year, and we should all be alert, not just for additional risks but also for normal risks, be careful of where you keep your money and phone and hang onto your shopping (this is the worrying risk – don’t leave any of your precious purchases anywhere!).

Finally, the night before I have an early night and I put the mobile on charge.

If you’re at Yarndale on Saturday, look out for me – I’ll be wearing my Ravelry badge.    And if you have any tips for Yarndale, please share them!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx

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Cheshire Fibre Festival is 4 weeks today!   Workshops run at 9.30am and 1pm and cover a variety of fibre crafts – look at the details here.

It is important you book in advance, if you just turn up you may not get a place.  Some workshops take only 6 people, others may take 8, and I know that some have already booked up – so don’t leave it long to book your place!  If you want to book on one of my workshops, then please be aware that I close bookings the week before, as I need time to prepare packs of materials and print notes for each participant.

The mini-marketplace is open at lunchtime; where you’ll be able to buy yarn, fibre and other goodies – Robert Mack will be bringing his exquisite hand made buttons!  And the Kitchen will be open for tea, coffee and cake in the lunch break – with all proceeds to The Christie.  So it looks to be a good day out, an opportunity to learn new techniques and have fun with yarny friends 🙂

I hope to see you there!

Happy crocheting, knitting, weaving, spinning and needlefelting!  xxx

At Cheshire Fibre Festival we cover many fibre crafts – weaving, spinning, needlefelting, crochet, hairpin lace crochet, modern Irish freeform crochet and knitting. This week I’m sharing more information on the knitting workshops.

These are tutored by Lynne Rowe. Lynne is an expert knitter and crocheter; she designs, teaches and provides technical editing services in these 2 crafts.  She has also written several books, the latest is called Knit Yourself Calm which I rushed to buy when it was published; it covers the health benefits of knitting and in particular how it can help you to manage the stresses of modern life.  It provides a variety of lovely knitting patterns to suit your mood and help you relax.

Lynne’s two knitting workshops at the festival are:

Knitting with Beads – 9.30am to noon.

Learn how to knit with beads/how to thread beads/work a beaded cast on and place beads to create patterns.  You will make a scandi-style christmas tree decoration. Suitable for a confident beginner who would like to expand their knitting skills
Cost £25, includes materials (needles provided for use on day)

Knitted socks – 1pm to 4pm

Learn the basic principles of sock knitting; knitting in the round using double pointed needles/how to knit a cuff/leg/heel/gusset/foot/toe shaping/Kitchener stitch.  You will make a small Christmas stocking using double knitting yarn.
Suitable for a confident beginner who would like to expand their knitting skills
Cost £25, includes materials (needles provided for use on day)

You can book these workshops by emailing Lynne (details on the Cheshire Fibre Festival page) or through her website:  Knit, Crochet, Create.

Happy knitting xxx


Nicola Rudd will be running 2 workshops at Cheshire Fibre Festival covering weaving and spinning.

Her morning workshop will teach you how to spin using a Dizzy Sheep spinner.

If you haven’t tried this then you will be amazed at how quickly you can learn to spin and you may become addicted!  Plus you will learn all the basics of spinning without having to learn how to use a spinning wheel (of course once you’ve learnt spinning a wheel may be in your future!).  The workshop starts at 9.30am and runs for 2 hours.  It’s suitable for absolute beginners, both adults and children age 8 upwards (no experience necessary) and costs £15 which includes hand dyed fibre. There is an opportunity to purchase a Dizzy Spinning Kit at a reduced rate at the end of the workshop if you wish.

In the  afternoon, Nic will be running a three hour workshop on weaving using a palm loom. The workshop will start with weaving a coaster or small piece of art (your choice!) in plain weave and will move onto more complex patterns. It starts at 1pm  and is suitable for absolute beginners, both adults and children age 8 upwards (no experience necessary) and costs £20 which includes hand-dyed yarn. There is an opportunity to purchase a palm loom kit at a reduced rate at the end of the workshop if desired.

If you wish to book a place on either (or both!) of these workshops, you can find them in the Nic’s shop Yarns from the Plain alternatively, drop her an email at

Nic will also have her shop open in the mini marketplace at lunchtime – a great opportunity to stock up on her luscious yarn and kits!

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Happy knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning xxx




This week I’m sharing information on 2 crochet workshops at Cheshire Fibre Festival. These are not ordinary crochet workshops but ones which teach you different techniques to help you extend your abilities.   Also, whilst they look amazing they are not difficult to learn provided you know how to do the basic crochet stitches.

They are Hairpin Lace Crochet and Modern Freeform Irish Crochet by Louise Croall.

Hairpin Lace Crochet uses a hairpin loom to make beautiful lacy strips of crochet that can then be joined together to make a large variety of items including scarves, shawls, clothing and blankets. Hairpin Lace can also be used to embellish a pattern giving it a lovely lacy alternative to conventional crochet or knitting.   In this workshop you will be given a quality hairpin lace loom and will learn to use it to make hairpin lace and then how to join them using a variety of different methods.  This is one sample of hairpin lace crochet (it’s part of an amazing scarf that Louise made!):


The workshop is suitable for beginners, who are able to tension yarn, crochet chains and make a double crochet stitch.

It runs from 9.30am til noon and costs £30 which includes the loom and the yarn to make samples.  All you need to bring is your usual crochet kit including hooks and scissors.

Modern Irish Freeform Crochet 

This workshop brings traditional Irish Crochet into the 21st century! Starting in Russia in the 1990’s using modern yarn in all sorts of colours; Modern Irish Freeform Crochet is a fantastic technique to learn. It’s extremely versatile and can be used for garments, blankets, household items or works of art!

Louise has made some stunning items in modern irish freeform crochet, the photo below is part of an autumnal table runner.   She has designed and made a beautiful floral top and is currently designing and making a sea themed top (I’ve had a sneak peek at some of it and I can’t wait to see the finished garment!).  She taught me the techniques and I am currently making a oolourful window pelmet.


You too can get started in this wonderful craft by learning the techniques to make a table centrepiece (for Christmas!).

The workshop is suitable for intermediate crocheters, ideally you will be familiar with making motifs.  It runs from 1.00pm til 4.00pm and costs £30 which includes the yarn to make the project.  All you need to bring is your usual crochet kit including hooks and scissors, a blocking mat will also be helpful.

If you wish to book either of these workshops email Louise at the email address shown on the CFF page, alternatively send a message through the Cheshire Fibre Festival facebook page.

Happy crocheting xxxx



The 2017 Cheshire Fibre Festival is being held on Sunday 1st October, that’s only 8 weeks away!  This year the festival is all about creativity; there are workshops morning and afternoon in a variety of fibre crafts, and a mini marketplace at lunchtime.

Today I’m starting a series of blog posts highlighting the workshops and hopefully whetting your appetite so that you book a couple!

First up is my workshops.

Crocheted Christmas Baubles


This workshop will teach you several stitch patterns and how to add beads to your crochet to make a variety of Christmas baubles.  We will work with double knit cotton yarn plus some sparkly yarn.

Suitable for Advanced Beginner; you need to know know how to work in the round.

Staring at 9.30am and runs for 2½ hours.

Cost £25, including all materials except your crochet hook (although hooks will be available to purchase), just bring your own crochet hook in the range 3.25mm to 4mm, plus a larger one about 6mm.

Design your own Crochet Cowl


This workshop will teach you how to design your own cowl, picking the style and sizing to suit you and how to combine stitches to create your own unique cowl.

Suitable for Intermediate; you need to know how to work in the round with confidence.

This workshop starts at 1pm and runs for 3 hours.

Cost: £30, including a skein of luxury yarn DK yarn, just bring your own 4mm crochet hook.

Both workshops include comprehensive notes.

To book either of these workshops email agrarianartisan@supanet.com

I will also have a small stall selling crochet goodies at the lunchtime mini marketplace. There will be some small kits, crochet hooks and copies of my new book: Cowling Around.

There is more information on the venue, all the workshops and how to book here.

Next week, I’ll focus on another 2 workshops.

Happy crocheting xxx





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