2018 Friends Around the World CAL (FATW3) part 2

In the last week I have been blown away by the many Noughts squares which have been shared on the CAL – Crochet A Long Facebook page.   Seeing so many different colour combos has been fabulous!

This is week 2 of the CAL and you can’t have Noughts without Crosses can you?  So I am once again delighted to publish the next square in the CAL called Crosses:


For those who may be a bit puzzled – in the UK we have a game called noughts and crosses, which is called Tic-Tac-Toe in other parts of the world, so for me it is fun to have a square that creates the matching element in the game.  One of the great things about Noughts and Crosses is that you can combine them into one square if you like, giving you even more variety of squares – 2 Os and 2 Xs, or 1 O and 3 Xs, or 3 Os and 1 X!

The pattern for Crosses can be found on Ravelry here – it is available in UK or US crochet terms, just make sure you download the correct one.

A reminder on how to join the CAL: The CAL is being hosted by the CAL – Crochet A Long Facebook group . You must join the Facebook group first and then join the event so you won’t miss a thing. It’s always fun to share your photos as you progress through the CAL. You may do so on both the event page and the group wall.

Important note:  once you have completed Crosses (which includes 3 rounds of border that I designed) you must then add the extra 3 rounds of border from the Friends Around the World Blog post.

Please join me in giving HUGE thanks to the team who have worked tirelessly testing the squares and doing so much admin behind the scenes.  The CAL would not exist without all their hard work.

Now the race is  on…..who will post the first Crosses square?  I am looking forward to seeing more colourful combos in the next week – but I am also excited to see the next square which will be revealed next Friday so keep an eye on the blog and event page for the CAL where the designer and square will be revealed!

Happy crocheting xxx

CALs galore!

I’ve said before that November is a busy month and there’s a lot happening in the next 48 hours!  Here’s a quick heads up:

Tomorrow (Friday 23rd November) square 2 of the Friends Around the World 3rd Anniversary CAL 2018 is published – at 4pm UK time.  More info here.

Tomorrow the Ravelry-hosted Indie Design 2018 Gift-a-long kicks off with a sale of over 6000 Ravelry patterns – at 8pm US EST.  The Gift-a-long sale runs until 11.59 US EST on 29th November.  The KAL/CALs run until 11.59pm on 31st December.  I’m pleased to say that I am a participating designer.   More info here.

On Saturday (24th November) the Advent CAL 2018 starts with the publication of the first 3 patterns in the CAL – at 2pm UK time.  More info here.

Stay tuned…………..

2018 Friends Around the World CAL (FATW3)

Do you remember the Friends Around the World CAL from 2 years ago?  I was so pleased to be part of it, it was an amazing collaboration of designers organised by the CAL –  crochet-a-long group on Facebook.  If you need any help remembering here are 2 blog posts:  Octoghan and Flower Compass.

If you are reading this you may already know that there is a new Friends Around the World CAL  and I am absolutely delighted to announce that I have designed 2 squares for it.  Once again this is a collaboration of designers from around the globe and promises to be another showstopping CAL that any keen CAL crocheter will want to join.  I predict it will be bigger and, dare I say, better than the first Friends Around the World CAL.    You would not believe the amount of effort that has gone into making this CAL happen – I think the designers have an easy job compared to all the admin and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure this is a great CAL.   I want to give them my heartfelt thanks.

This week the first square is published and I am blown away that mine is the first one again!  I am sure you’re impatient to see it so here it is:


This is called Noughts and it is a square of squares – 4 make up the centre which are joined and then edged with a border to make the complete square.  You can find the pattern on Ravelry here.  It can be made in one, two or more colours.  Like all squares in the CAL it is designed to be made in aran weight yarn on a 5mm hook which makes it about 12″ square.  But you can make it DK if you like – it will just be smaller, and here’s one I made in DK with a 4mm hook:


A reminder on how to join the CAL: The CAL will be hosted by the CAL – Crochet A Long Facebook group . You must join the Facebook group first and then join the event so you won’t miss a thing. It’s always fun to share your photos as you progress through the CAL. You may do so on both the event page and the group wall.

I’m so excited – I can’t wait to see the first Noughts square!   Come on get hooking !

Happy crocheting xxx




Another CAL!

This is definitely the season for crochet and knitting, there are CAL/KALs aplenty out there!   Here is one starting very soon, and one I am so honoured to be involved in :

The Friends Around the World 3rd Anniversary CAL 2018 (lovingly referred to as FATW3) starts on Friday, November 16th. The CAL is a collaboration of crochet designers from around the world and will be hosted by the CAL – Crochet A Long Facebook group . There will also be videos for the CAL. A few of the designers have created their own, the rest will be by made Stephanie Shelton.

Be sure to join the Facebook group first (link above) and then join the event  so you won’t miss a thing. It’s always fun to share your photos as you progress through the CAL. You may do so on both the event page and the group wall.  And feel free to share your colour choices prior to the CAL starting.

Want a sneak peek?


The afghan is made up of 30cm (12″) squares using Aran/Worsted weight yarn, (25cm/10″ squares if you use DK weight yarn). There are 33 squares in all, designed by 29 designers. The links to the patterns will be shared weekly on the CAL – Crochet A Long Blog, at 16.00 UK time on Fridays.  And I’ll share mine here on my blog upon release as well.

The CAL will run through early June, 2019.  This one is sure to be fun!

Happy crocheting xxx

Advent CAL 2018

It’s time to announce the Advent CAL 2018!  This is my third Advent CAL and is bigger than ever before.  It is called the 12 Gifts of Christmas and includes 12 patterns for items that can be made as gifts.   Advent starts on 2nd December this year and normally that is when I commence the annual Advent CAL.  However, if anyone decides to attempt all 12 patterns a start date of 2nd December does not give much time.  So I have decided to start the Advent CAL a little before Advent – on Saturday 24th November 2018.

On each Saturday from 24th November to 15th December I will release 3 patterns for the CAL.  Each week will be a different theme with the more time (and yarn) consuming being released first, as follows:

Week 1 Accessories – comprises 2 scarves and a neck warmer, all in double knit yarn and requiring between 225m and 400m, that’s from 100g to 200g of yarn.   You can use one colour or more, and there is some interesting texture:


Week 2 Homeware – comprises a cushion and 2 tableware items. The cushion requires chunky yarn (over 225m and several colours could be used) and the tableware items double knit (preferably cotton).

Week 3  Pretty and personal items – comprising a pin cushion, something for the shower and a gift bag.  The shower item is best in linen yarn – anything from fine to double knit, the other items need small amounts of double knit yarn and maybe a few beads!

Week 4 Quickies – 3 little things for decoration or tiny presents, these would work well in double knit yarn but anything will do, and they need very little yarn.

The 12 Gifts CAL will be provided in an ebook of 12 individual patterns – 3 being added each week.  It will be available on Ravelry only.  The price of the 12 Gifts of Christmas will be £12 but with a discount for early birds.   Only £3 (that’s a massive £9 discount!) for the first 24 hours (I’ll make this a little longer to accommodate those on different time zones), £5 for the following week and full price thereafter.  In due course most, but not all, patterns will be available as individual patterns at prices ranging from £1 to £4.

The CAL will be hosted in my Ravelry group. There will be prizes; anyone completing just one gift by the end of the year (and posting a photo on the FO thread in the Ravelry group) will be in the prize draw for patterns and those completing 3 or more different gifts will be in an additional prize draw with prizes including yarn and an ebook.  To be included in the prize draw you must buy or be gifted the 12 Gifts of Christmas ebook and be a member of the Ravelry group.  More details can be found on the Ravelry discussion thread which is where you can post any questions and chat about the CAL.

I do hope you join us – it will be fun 🙂

Happy crocheting xxx


November is proving to be a very busy month and I have so much to tell you, so be prepared for a flurry of blog posts!

First some exciting news about Festiwool.   Festiwool is a one day yarn show on Saturday 10th November – that’s only a few days away.  I won’t be attending, as you know I’m trying to avoid as many yarn shows as possible at the moment in an effort to control my stash!   Even though I won’t be there, you will be able to see some of my designs there.  I am so pleased to tell you that I have a brand new design for a lovely silk scarf called Silk Sorbet, this is available as part of a kit on WIllow Knits’ stand.

Anne at Willow Knits hand dyes the most gorgeous silk yarns.   The Silk Sorbet Scarf is a lovely airy 2 colour lengthways design and uses 2 x 25g skeins of beautifully soft 4ply silk yarn.  It is included in a kit with the yarn and a pretty stitch marker, for £10.   There are 4 lovely colourways to choose from as shown in the photo above.  This is a lovely kit which would make a fabulous present.

As well as the Silk Sorbet Scarf kit, Willow Knits also patterns and kits for the Queen of May Wrap and Ruby Lace Scarf, as well as copies of my book Cowling Around.


But that isn’t all!   You will also find some kits on Yarns From The Plain’s stand –  including the ever popular Sigrun’s Scarf for which Nic has just dyed up a new batch:

If you visit Festiwool please pop and see Anne and Nic, as well as the kits they have some fabulous squidgy yarn 🙂

Happy crocheting xxxx


What a lovely day I had yesterday!  The weather was kind, it was almost wall to wall sunshine which made the coach journey lovely as we could all see the views clearly.  As one friend remarked – one of the joys of a coach trip is sitting higher up than in a car and being able to see those views!   It wasn’t too hot though, so the layers I was wearing worked well.

As usual Yarndale was busy.  There were queues to get in but as we were on a coach and already had wristbands we could zoom straight in.  Even so it was busy from the moment we entered.  Although after lunch (our usual trip on the red bus into Skipton) it did seem a lot quieter than usual, this may be because of the Northern Rail train strike.

My first stop was at the Oxfam stand as I had a large bag of yarn to give to the Yarn Amnesty.  Then, very conveniently, virtually all my ‘must visit’ stands were on the same aisle – so I was able to do all my planned spending within the first hour.  Then I was able to wander more leisurely and enjoy the sights – here are a few of them:

I popped in to the Knit and Natter Lounge and had a lovely chat with Lucy of Attic24.  I remarked that it seemed lighter and she told me the whole of that central building had been demolished and rebuilt this year – so that made it lighter and brighter and provided a better layout.  All her blankets were displayed perfectly along the front railings and the Charity Sock Line (200 socks) was along the upper railings.

There were several pens of animals – the ones that let us use their fleece and fur for yarn.  I particularly love the angora rabbits – there were 4 in the pen, all different colours, but 3 of them were very shy.   I didn’t spot any alpacas this year but there is a large herd of them 10 minutes walk up the lane from my house so I do see them regularly.

The Exhibition Hall was very colourful.  As well as the usual bunting display (my word they need long ladders to attach that!), there was a very poignant poppy display by the Knitwick and Yarnhill knitting group (a huge cascade of knitted, crocheted and sewn poppies) and this year’s Creative Community Project of crocheted and knitted butterflies – one from each contributor was placed on large boards with the contributor’s name and home place below, the rest were available to be ‘purchased’ by a charity donation.   One of mine is on the board above and if you saw my previous blog post you may spot which one it is 🙂

I took my large Cheshire Bag with me and it was full before I entered because of my contribution to the Yarn Amnesty.  It was less full on the return journey because I was very good and did not over indulge.  Here’s my stash:


I was limiting myself to 400g of yarn but ‘overspent’ by 100g – so I need to crochet and knit faster.   The reason I overspent is because I found some new-to-my-eyes Shetland wool by The Border Mill – the gorgeous North Coast Tweed.  The photo above does not do the colour justice; it is deep blue, teal and green – just the colours I love.   The other yarn was planned purchasing: Triskelion Scylfing 4ply, Willow Knits 4ply silk and The Knitting Goddess Britsock Colour Wheel.  The book by Joy Macmillan was on my wish list and has some lovely quick knits which will help me ‘stash down’ quicker.  The fabric on the left is linen and will be used for little linen bags.  The wooden tube towards the front is a beautiful needle holder and the metal object is the smallest (and vintage) wool swift I have ever seen and perfect for knitting holidays as it packs down into a tiny box.

One of the things I love at these shows is that there is a lot less plastic use; most people use their own bags and if a bag is offered it is frequently paper (and sometimes recycled).  Other than the book (which came in a plastic sleeve) I took home no plastic. Together with the fact that I travelled by coach, I think this is one of the most environmentally friendly shopping trips I take.  However, I do wonder why there are so few coaches organised – we have fun on the coach, it is more relaxing, the views are great and it saves space on the road as well as fuel.

Overall it was a great day, I saw lots, enjoyed fondling yarn and absorbing the colours, collected a few leaflets and cards from businesses that I will buy from in future, and brought a lovely (mainly planned) stash home.

Did you go to Yarndale?   If so I hope you had a grand time too.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

Yarndale ahoy!

The only yarn festival I am going to this year is Yarndale – and it is on this weekend. As it is the only one I am going to you can imagine the excitement is building!

I supported the annual community project by making some butterflies:


I am looking forward to seeing how they display the butterflies, I am sure it will be spectacular.

If you visit Yarndale you will spot me (and my fellow coach travellers) because we will be wearing our Knitsford Yarndale 2018 brooches.


This has become an annual tradition for Knitsford – this year I helped Jenny (who is organising the coach) by designing the brooches and hosting a prosecco afternoon tea where we made them (so apologies to any fellow coach goers whose brooch may be a tad wobbly!).  You may have seen us featured in Inside Crochet.

I will also be wearing a Ravelry name badge (my Ravelry name is vbracegirdle) – so please say hello if you spot me.

With 3 days to go I am getting organised.  I have  printed the floor plan and marked which stands I must visit.  There are surprisingly few ‘must visits’ this year and that is because I am working hard to keep my yarn stash under control.  I will not allow myself to buy much new yarn, only that which I can immediately think of a use for and I must be firm in my resolve!  However, I will allow myself to buy new tools, small items of haberdashery, pattern books and presents.  Yes this will be hard 😦  However, it does mean I can browse as much as I like and log the best things for future purchases (I’ll have a notebook).

The weather forecast is sunny but cold, so I will layer up as it is cold in the auction mart.  This blog post has other tips for Yarndale.

As you’ve probably worked out, I don’t have a stand at Yarndale, but if you want to see any of my designs then you will find some designs, patterns, books and kits at 3 different stands: Willow Knits (G103), Yarns from the Plain (J177) and Lynne Rowe Knitting & Crochet (J164).

Are you going to Yarndale?  If so I hope I see you there 🙂

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

It’s another wrap!

As part of my re-found love of kidsilk blend yarn I have designed another wrap.  This is Cloud Line Wrap:

It uses 4 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but any kidsilk blend yarn would work and you could mix and match them as I mentioned in this blog post.  It is designed to have an inbuilt fringe so that you have no ends to sew, which is a deliberate bonus! The yarn is so fine that the fringe needs something extra to give it substance and I thought there would be no better way than to add some beads because this also adds a touch of glamour.

I used 4 balls in my stash – colours Jelly, Liquer, Steel and Fern.  And I used approx. 100 lime green silver lined size 6/0 beads.  The wrap is approx. 220cm by 45cm (excluding fringe) and weighs only 100g.  The beads go so well with the colours, especially the Jelly colour, and I have 2 balls of Jelly left in my stash so I may well make another – did I mention it’s a great stashbuster?

The pattern costs £3 and can be found on Ravelry and LoveCrochet.  It is written in UK and US terms, and has some photos to help with the beaded fringe.

I would love to see this is other colourways – which colours would you choose?

Happy crocheting xxx

Another little step…..

One of the most successful plastic reduction campaigns in the UK in recent years has been the introduction of the single use plastic carrier bag charge.  Sadly the UK was one of the last European countries to introduce it in 2015 (Ireland and Denmark being the earliest in 2003).   However, already the introduction has reduced single use plastic carrier bags from major UK retailers by 85% on previous levels and appears to have had a significant reduction (some estimates at 30%) on plastic bags on the seabed.

Long before the charge was introduced I was using reusable bags of many types – including hessian, fabric and crocheted.  Some of my bags are over 15 years old and they will last for many years to come.  So I do not often need a new shopping bag but when I do I always turn to crochet.  I find the best types of crochet shopping bags are those that can expand easily – so anything with a loose or netting structure works best.    This one is a favourite:


It is called the Cheshire Bag and is made using granny stitches.  You can make it any size you like but mine is big enough to take 2 blankets, try out lots of colours (even do some Stashbusting) and I can guarantee it will not be mistaken for anyone else’s bag!

You can find the pattern here and until midnight GMT on Sunday (26th August) it is on offer at half price, if you use the coupon code PLASTIC at checkout.

Happy crocheting xxx