Another revamp

Earlier this year I resolved to update some of my older patterns but after a couple of remakes I’m afraid I slowed down.

This week I decided I must catch up, so I chose another cowl which is a very quick make.  It uses one ball of super bulky yarn and you could make it in one evening.   The original also used some fun fur yarn to give it a fancy edge, but I decided against doing this for the second version.

So here it is:  Christmas Cowl version 2


It uses one ball of Debbie Bliss Roma, a lovely soft wool/alpaca blend.  I chose the colour Teal because I like blues (have you noticed?!).

It is slightly longer, narrower and, because of the lack of fun fur, somewhat plainer than the original

You can find the pattern here and it includes the pattern for the original design and version 2. As usual it is written in English and US crochet terms and has a chart.

I’ve now revamped 3 patterns, and they are all similar in some ways.  So the next revamp will be different – just wait and see 🙂

Happy crocheting xxx

Reviewing and updating

I started to publish my designs over 5 years ago (Phew! where did the time go?), and now I have a portfolio of over 150 designs and 10 ebooks.  But 5 years is a long time in the design world and my pattern layout has changed.  Also I didn’t start making crochet charts until September 2012 (when I purchased the software).  So one of my plans for 2016 is to review my oldest patterns and re-vamp if necessary.

I’ve already done my first review and re-vamp (and it’s not yet the end of January!).  I chose a favourite old pattern that I think doesn’t date and is very adaptable.   The Squeeee-easy Crochet Cowl:


The pattern is re-styled and now includes charts. I also re-made the cowl in some different yarn.  The original was made in lovely soft Mirasol Miski yarn (above), 100% Llama, which is still available but is pricey – the snug version of the cowl would take 2 skeins at a total cost of £13 to £14.

I chose a slightly thicker yarn for the re-make – Lang Sempione, a blend of Wool, Acrylic and Mohair – and I made a slightly larger size, using under 3 balls, and it is more affordable, but just as squishy, at less than £9 total.


The pattern includes details of how I varied it for size and yarn, as well as suggestions for how to adapt it further in size or for different yarns.

You a find the pattern on Ravelry here.  And as a special offer until midnight tonight, you can purchase it for half price, that’s only £1, if you use coupon code RENEW.

My next re-vamp is a more recent pattern, but I’ll save telling you  about that another day, until then

Happy crocheting xx

Here we go……..

Welcome to the Winter CAL 2015.   Today I’m introducing the CAL, providing information on requirements and the pattern for the first square motif, a ‘solid’ granny which should be pretty familiar and which will help you estimate your own requirements if you aren’t using the same yarn.

This post is rather long, so make a cuppa and settle down for a long read !


First let’s talk about yarn.  I’m using a double knit (DK) yarn and I’m making 2 blankets.

My first is a ‘sample’ blanket using 6 bright colours which cheer up winter and the second is also a bright colour palate but will be structured differently. I’m using the second colour set to crochet along with you.

Sample yarn:  John Arbon, Knit by Numbers DK, 100% merino, 100g/250m per skein.  2 skeins each of Blue (039), Pink (063), Yellow (052), Green (071) and Purple (029)  and 1 skein of Orange (015).  This is sufficient for a blanket 7 motifs square, so a total of 49 motifs and a small border.

John Arbon Knit by Numbers
John Arbon Knit by Numbers

CAL yarn: Stylecraft Life DK, 75% acrylic/25% wool, 100g/298m per ball.  I’m using 2 balls each of Teal (2416), Mint (2342), Aqua (2357) and Fern (2311) and 1 ball each of Daffodil (2394), Rose (2301), Melon (2359) and Zing (2356).    The blanket will be 7 motifs square also, the same as the sample, but I will put a larger border on this.

Stylecraft Life DK
Stylecraft Life DK


I am using a 4mm crochet hook (US G/6)


The motifs are square and each motif is approx. 19cm (just under 8in) square after blocking, using the ‘sample’ yarn.


You can use any yarn you like, as long as you use a suitable hook size.  And you can make it to any size you like.  It is a perfect stash buster.  Later in this blog I show you how to you estimate your yarn requirements.


Some of the motifs in this design work well in just one colour, others work well in up to 5 colours.  So whatever you choose, I recommend you have at least 5 colours of yarn.  I used 6 colours in my sample blanket and I’m using 8 colours in my CAL blanket.


There are 8 motif designs, and you can use as many or as few as you like.    The first 2 designs are free and will be published on this blog, so you could use just these 2. The first design is published today, the second design will be published on 26th December.

The other 6 will be published weekly thereafter and will be included in a comprehensive pattern which will be available to buy on Ravelry, it will be published initially on 26th December and updated as each motif is released. Photos of the new motifs will appear on this blog, along with my progress updates.


You can make the blanket any size you like.   The lap blanket I am making will be 7 motifs square – a total of 49 motifs.  It will be just over 1.3m/52in square with a small border.


This is an approximate way to work out your yarn requirement.

First make the motif in this blog.  I worked out it uses an average amount of yarn for all the 8 motifs, so is a good guide as to how much each motif will use.

Then measure your motif.  Using this measurement work out how big you want your blanket to be – so if the motif is 20cm and you want a blanket 120cm square then it will need to be 6 motifs square – that’s 36 motifs.

I prefer my blankets to have an odd number along each side, as visually I find odd numbers more appealing.  So you may prefer to aim for 7 by 7 (49 motifs), or 5 by 5 (25 motifs) or even 9 by 9 (81 motifs).

Whatever you decide, let’s just say the number of motifs you want is N

Now weigh your motif – it doesn’t matter if you weigh in grams or ounces.   Let’s just say that weight is W

For the motifs you need yarn with a total weight of N times W, but you need to add a margin for joining, colour matching/changing and a border.  I recommend a minimum of 10% (which works for a small border and if you are careful with colour matching) or 20% (which works well with a larger border) or 25% (if you aren’t confident about colour matching and/or don’t really know what you want to do for a border).

So take N by W, add 10%,  20% or 25% and then divide by the size (weight) of skeins/balls for the yarn you are using.

For my bright sample I had 49 motifs, each weighing an average of 20g – so 49 by 20 plus 10% is  1078g and the skeins come in 100g, so I need 10.78 – or 11.

The estimating works if you are using all the same yarn, if you use different brands of yarn then you should look carefully on the ball band to find out how many m or yd are in each brand – they vary quite a lot.  If yours vary, then you’ll have to do some more maths to work out your requirements.  Essentially you need to work out the meterage or yardage of your motif, rather than just the weight.  I’ll provide information on this in my Ravelry group here if you want it – so just join in the discussion and ask!

Now onto the pattern:

This is the first motif.  It is similar to one I used last year but this has more rounds in total, it’s a ‘solid’ granny square.


The pattern is written in English crochet terms.
St = stitch
Ch = chain
Tr = treble (US dc)
Ss = slip stitch
Sp = space
Ch-sp =chain space

Solid motif
Solid motif

I made 8 of these in a variety of colours:

Foundation:  Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), (3tr, 2ch) 3 times into the ring, 2tr into the ring, join to 3rd st of first 5ch with a ss.

Round 2: ss into 2ch-sp, (note for this and each subsequent round: this ss is to position the start of the round in the right place) 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr into the same 2ch-sp, 1tr into each tr along each side and (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in each 2ch-sp on the corner, finish with 1tr in the first 2ch-sp where you started the round and join to 3rd ch from start with a ss. You should have 7tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Rounds 3 to 8: Repeat Round 2.  Each round the number of tr along each side will increase by 4, so at the end of Round 8 you should have 31tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Break yarn and fasten off leaving a long tail about 3m long for sewing or crocheting together later.


In my sample blanket I made 8 of these motifs in just one colour each.   But you can use up to 8 colours, just by changing colour at the start of each round.  I will start my CAL blanket later today and I’m planning on using at least 2 colours on each of my 8 motifs.  I’ll post progress photos tomorrow.


The ‘solid’ motifs can be positioned anywhere in the blanket but I thought it would help to give structure to the blanket if I positioned them around the edge of it.  So here is where I put them in my blanket (shown as 1):

Solid motif locations
Solid motif locations

If you want to chat about this, there is a discussion thread on my Ravelry forum here.

Or you could just comment on this post.

I’m looking forward to seeing what yarns you choose 🙂

Until tomorrow…..

Happy crocheting xxx

Autumn Beaches…

This time a month ago I was very happy that I had 2 designs feature in 2 different magazines – I blogged about it here.

It felt wonderful!  And I really didn’t think it could get better, but it has!  My latest design for Inside Crochet (issue 69) has made the front cover.   This is Autumn Beaches, a motif scarf that uses just one skein of Yarns from the Plains’ Mobberley DK.

Photo courtesy of Nic, Yarns from the Plain
Photo courtesy of Nic, Yarns from the Plain

It is called Autumn Beaches because the colours of the yarn reminded me the shades in the ripples of sand created by the tide going out.  It is reminiscent of childhood holidays, playing on the beach (British beaches because we never went abroad for holidays).

However, this colour is called Malted Chocolate and I love chocolate so couldn’t resist!  When I saw the yarn originally it wasn’t the colour name that attracted me, it was the yarn base name – Mobberley.  Why? Because I live in Mobberley!    Nic who owns Yarns from the Plain lives not far from me in Cheshire and all her yarn bases have names of local villages and towns, and when I saw Mobberley I just had to have a skein (mmmmm……maybe I bought more than one!).  And when I touched the yarn it was so soft, it is made of 70% Exmoor blueface/30% British Alpaca and is entirely British.   So British yarn, dyed in Cheshire, using Cheshire names and reminiscent of British beaches – it all fitted together well for me.

The design of the motif is one I swatched last year, ok I say ‘swatched’ when what I mean is ‘doodled’ because that’s what I do with a hook and yarn in my hand, I make crochet doodles.   Originally I was thinking of making a small pincushion and the design was my first attempt at a crochet cover for it……..but it never made it to a pincushion.  You see I doodled it in DK, and I loved the look of it in DK, so I set it aside and waited until the right yarn came along.

And it did….and it was perfect.  So that’s how Autumn Beaches was created.  Whilst it is beautiful in the Malted Chocolate colourway, I think Nic has some fabulous colours in Mobberley DK and I would love to see the design in some of these – I love Libby and Sweeties, and my favourite is Bewitched.  What colour would you choose?

Happy crocheting xx

A round up!

The last few posts on this blog have been about the Anniversary CAL, but I have been doing a lot more than just finalising the pattern for the CAL.  Patterns are generally written well ahead of publication, then tested and refined – the publication hasn’t taken much of my time at all.

So today I will share a round-up of activity from the last few weeks.

First I was happy to have 2 designs published in different magazines both of which were released on the same day!  What a very happy co-incidence!   Again these were prepared and written months ago, but the excitement of receiving the magazines and seeing the designs in print (and beautifully styled) is immense.  And, of course, I give myself plenty of time to read the magazines over a cup or 2 of coffee!

The first item is the Lariat Belt I designed for Inside Crochet, issue 68. 

Lariat Belt
Lariat Belt

This one is a flexible design – it can be a skinny scarf, a lariat necklace or a belt – the perfect item to pack for holiday.   It is made in some of my favourite yarn, WillowKnits handdyed worsted silk, and it is relatively quick to make, so even if you are off on holiday next week I am sure you can make this in time.

The second design is a retro Boho Top for Mollie Makes, issue 56.

Boho Top
Boho Top

I had such fun making this!  It comes in 2 sizes and I designed it so it is made in one piece and requires very little sewing up.  I know that finishing a crocheted or knitted garment is generally one of the most disliked tasks, and I know of many pieces that languish in cupboards and drawers awaiting sewing up.   For the boho top the motifs are joined as you go and the bodice is made upwards from the motif section, the edging is incorporated into the bodice as you make it and there are probably less than a dozen sewing stitches required to  join the shoulders.    So once you finish hooking it takes minutes to finish the garment!

You may recall I mentioned a while ago that I treated myself on the spur of the moment to a set of Hamanaka crochet hooks from Janie Crow.   I had my eye on these for a while, they looked small and neat, and being double ended meant that I could carry a large range of hooks in a small bag.  They haven’t disappointed me at all.   I haven’t used anything else since I bought them!

I bought a set of 5 regular sizes, a set of 3 small sizes and a small case for them.   The hooks are lovely to handle and, for my small hands, a perfect size.   I added a small pair of scissors, some tapestry needles and stitch markers to the front pocket in the case and I now have a perfect little crochet kit.

Hamanaka - heaven in a hook!
Hamanaka – heaven in a hook!

I have been working on a simple granny square cushion in lovely handdyed 4 ply silk, and you can tell from this photo that I have used the hook a lot (evidenced by the dye accumulating on the handle near the hook shank – don’t worry, I know from experience that this will wash off easily).

Another thing I like about these hooks is that the 3mm and 4mm sizes are on the same hook, and these are the sizes I use the most – so if I want to travel light with crochet, that is the only hook I need carry.

I’ve also been indulging in some more mandala designing, this is a special mandala which is just in the pattern writing stage:

The special
The special

And I have been making some ‘mini bunting’ from a pattern by Emma Lamb published in Mollie Makes Crochet, another great selection of crochet patterns.  This now adorns the headboard of the spare bed.  Previously my Anniversary Crochet Flower mini bunting adorned the bedhead but I felt it was in need of a refresh and a narrower colour palette – 2 of Emma’s flowers from the book were perfect for this.

Mini flower bunting
Mini flower bunting

So what has been keeping you busy this last month?

Happy crocheting xx

Pastel Cowl

I’ve just been shopping, I don’t normally go on a Saturday as I can go any day of the week and prefer to avoid the crowds.  But today I had to go because I was desperate to buy a copy of the latest Mollie Makes, issue number 55.  I should have received a contributor copy but it hasn’t arrived yet and I just wanted to see it to check  it was absolutely true that one of my designs is in it!   And it is:


I have worked as the crochet tech editor for Mollie Makes for a few years now, and it’s a great magazine to work for, not least because all the people I work with there are truly lovely.  However, I have never submitted any designs before; you see I don’t submit designs to any magazine often as I like to work at my own pace and don’t want the stress of deadlines.   In this instance I was partway through making the cowl and just sent a photo of it to the Deputy Editor (yes, partially made with lots of loose ends – in fact the photo didn’t look at all good!).   So I was very happily surprised to find they wanted it!

Pastel Cowl
Pastel Cowl

Having the evidence of the publication before my eyes, I settled down to a cuppa and enjoyed reading it.  I can’t help lingering over my design though – the photography and layout is wonderful, they have done me proud.  The cowl was a dream to make, because the motif is straightforward, quick to learn and easy to join….and the yarn I used was Drops Baby Alpaca Silk which is sooooo soft (and great value for luxury fibres at less than £4 per ball).

I would love to see any cowls made to this design, so if you are tempted to make one please do share a photo with me.

Happy crocheting xxx


Supporting the Meadow Farm Wool Project

Towards the end of February this year something interesting popped into my twitter feed – rent a sheep through the Meadow Farm Wool Project.  It grabbed my interest straightaway and I popped over to the website.  Within minutes I was renting a sheep!

In due course I will receive yarn spun from the fleece of the sheep (well maybe not the exact one I am renting, but from the same flock).  I am not an expert on fleece but I know Jacob will be strong and probably good for hardwearing items.   This is a great project, with excellent provenance for the wool – grown in Somerset and spun in Yorkshire – British through and through, and by renting a sheep I am also supporting 2 excellent charities – The Teenage Cancer Trust and Headway.

The project will have ideas on patterns for the yarn in due course.   But I am impatient!    So I decided I should design a crochet motif for the yarn, and not just for me.  I think Jane and Annie (who established the project) would appreciate some pattern support, and I think their project is extremely worthwhile – so the design is for them.  They will be sending out the motif to all sheep renters.

Here’s a sneaky peek:

Meadow Farm Motif
Meadow Farm Motif

I can’t wait to receive my yarn, I think I will be making some lovely cushion covers with my motif.

Happy crocheting xxx

Share my Valentine

Last weekend I decided it was time for another tidy up in my ‘yarn room’.  I have an addiction to yarn; when I see something I like I tend to buy it even if I have no particular use in mind.  A beautiful skein of 4 ply yarn could make a shawl, so it doesn’t matter if I have no use in mind, as a use will come to me one day, won’t it?!

You can imagine that this addiction means I have a large stash of yarn. However, I am quite organised – I keep a list of what I have on a spreadsheet and I store it all in large plastic tubs in a large cupboard.

When the cupboard starts to strain at the hinges, I know it is time for a tidy up!   Last weekend’s tidy up meant I found about 15 balls of yarn that I do not think I will use.  So I bagged it up and took it to knitgroup to give to any friends who wanted it (in return for a small donation to charity), and the small remaining amount went to the charity shop.  3 balls of yarn that were bagged up came straight out again when I realised they were red aran, and perfect for a little Valentine!  You see even at the point of giving away yarn, I can still find a use for it!

So out came my hook and I made this:

Valentine Heart
Valentine Heart

It’s a simple design, and I thought I’d share it with you.  A little Valentine gift for you.

I used Aran weight yarn and a 5mm hook.  
This is written in English crochet terms:
St = stitch
Ch = chain
Tr = treble (US dc)
Htr = half treble (US hdc)
Dtr = double treble (US tr)
Ss = slip stitch
Sp = space
Ch-sp =chain space

Foundation chain
Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss.

Round 1 
3ch (counts as 1tr), 2tr in ring, 2ch, (3tr, 1ch) in ring, (3tr, 2ch) in ring, (3tr, 1ch) in ring, ss into 3rd ch from start to join.

Round 2
1ch (does not count as st), (1dc, 1htr) in top of 3ch, (1tr, 2dtr) in next st, (2dtr, 1tr) in next st, 1dc in 2ch-sp, (1tr, 2dtr) in next st, (2dtr, 1tr) in next st, (1htr, 1dc) in next st, 1dc in 1ch-sp, 1dc in each of next 3 sts, (1htr, 1ch, 1htr) in 2ch-sp, 1dc in each of next 3 sts, 1dc in 1ch-sp, ss to 1st dc to join.  Break yarn, fasten off and sew in ends.

Mine came out at 7cm tall by 7cm at the widest point.  And it is destined for bunting.  I also made a larger heart, which will be added to a pattern in due course.

Happy Valentines Day (yes a little early, but you need the time to make some Valentine hearts!) xxx



Hooking Up! final feature

This is the sixth and last design in the Hooking Up! ebook.   It is the Starry Night Blanket, another design by special permission of the designer Amanda Perkins.   I think it is the perfect first large blanket for a new crocheter.

Starry Night - smaller version
Starry Night – smaller version

Many people make a granny square blanket as their first major blanket project.  I am no different – my first blanket was a granny square design (in shades of blue).   But I have found so much more enjoyment out of making a more unique blanket.    I first saw this design in 2011 and I fell in love with it; it had been many years (too many to confess!) since I had made a blanket and I knew this was the one that would set me on the path of making them again.

The photo is the Starry Night I made; it is a smaller version of the blanket design. Why?  Well, Amanda’s blanket is a lovely shade of blue and uses variegated yarn to highlight the design but I decided I wanted a midnight blue and a sparkly star highlight for mine.  Unfortunately I had difficulty finding the yarn I wanted in the quantity required – but I improvised with the quantity of yarn in the colours available and that is why mine a smaller version.    I love the final effect I achieved, but I also love the original colours.  So it seemed perfect to fit this in the book because I could show you how to make 2 sizes. Those of you who are less confident may wish to go for the smaller size (approx 110cm square), or maybe you just want something a little smaller. The original large design is approx 140cm by 150cm.   So the choice is yours – large or small.

Another reason this is a perfect fit for the book is that it builds on the techniques you will have learnt as you work through the book.  The motif is hexagonal like the Cassia Cowl and joining is the ‘as you go’ method.   And it really does make up quickly once you have made a few motifs.

Amanda is the queen of crochet blankets, she has some beautiful designs in glorious colours.  Quite coincidentally she is running a mystery blanket club this year for a star themed design – Zodiac.   This club is now closed for those who want the complete package of yarn and design, but she has released the design (in monthly instalments) in her Etsy shop.  I will be blogging about my progress on this in another post – meanwhile if you want to learn more have a look in her Etsy shop.

I hope you have enjoyed following the designs in the Hooking Up! ebook. If  you have just learnt to crochet, then I hope it will help you grow your craft and I would love to see what you make.

Happy crocheting xxx

PS Starry Night is also available as a single pattern here.


Hooking Up! feature no 5

This is the fifth design in the Hooking Up! ebook.

It is included in the book by special permission of the designer Amanda Perkins.  You can read all about Amanda on her blog, she creates the most beautiful crochet designs and has a brilliant eye for colour.  I am proud to call her my friend and I am probably one of her biggest fans!

This design is the Cassia Cowl.


The photograph is the cowl I made for the ebook.  I used a different yarn to the one Amanda used originally, to show that it is adaptable and because I wanted to!  It is made with motifs that are joined as you go.  If you have followed the ebook through you will understand how to join as you go by the time you reach this pattern.   I love working with motifs, especially those that are hexagonal (six-sided or six-pointed) and this one is straightforward to make yet looks so beautiful.

This is a Mobius Cowl, so it needs careful attention when joining into the cowl shape.  The ebook provides detailed instructions of 2 ways in which you can do this.

This is not exclusive to the ebook, you can buy Amanda’s individual pattern here.

Tomorrow I will share the last design in the ebook, another by Amanda Perkins.

Happy crocheting xxx