I am resolved not to be too silly. I do like to make quite a few of our Christmas pressies, but this year work is very hectic and my book project needs to take precedence. I have never really been a ‘last minute’ Queen, but can feel myself being distracted by quick and easy present ideas for Christmas gifts. So I thought I would gather together my top makes for this year.


Firstly I have returned to the chocolate orange cosy. I know many of you will be frustrated that I haven’t written up the pattern. Sorry I just have not found the time to do it this year. There are lots of different versions on the web so have a look for a pattern if the mood takes you. Last year these little beauties brought a smile to many a face.


If the Christmas pudding takes your fancy I do have a reliable potholder pattern which is free to download here. This is an ideal ‘thank-you’ gift if you are visiting relatives before Christmas and they can then adorn their kitchen with a little Christmas kitsch.


I will always extol the virtues of a teacosy, practical and personal. There area a couple of friends who I know would be delighted to have a new version this winter. So I need to get cracking!


Finally I love the new pom-pom slipper pattern by Amber Francesca in issue 71 from Inside Crochet. I have already made four pairs and plan to make a couple more. These are a quick and easy make using super-chunky yarn and a 10mm hook.  I meant to create my own version of this idea for such a long time and now I don’t have to. When you make them, they look quite small but they fit so perfectly and are just ideal to keep that early morning chill at bay. I really do like a home-made pressie. As I get older I think the practical really does appeal and if you are asking…marmalade and jam. Yummy.

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I really do love making gifts for babies on their way. When Little B was a ‘bun in the oven’ I knitted a cute heart blanket to keep him warm in his buggy. In fact, when I think about it, this might have been one of my first ‘developed’ designs. I used the basis of a blanket designed by Zoe Mellor, changed the colours and swapped the cloud motif for a heart motif. He still has this blanket in his room. It is still a favourite. The yarn is soft and luxurious and the colours are not gender specific or babyish.


Don’t get me wrong, I love a heritage baby blanket, but in recent years I have begun making baby blankets which might have a longer shelf-life. When I make for my expectant friends I try to think about their colour scheme; their living room, what colour their like to wear and then match my colour choices to their spectrum.


I am thrilled that so many people have enjoyed making the zig-zag blanket I designed for Debbie Bliss. The original colour scheme (here) is useful because you don’t have to hedge your bets on whether the stork will bring a girl or a boy. I have since made two more versions of this design. One as a teachers gift and another in preparation for a new little girl who will arrive around Christmas.


The yarns I have worked with are blues and greens and I have really enjoyed working on this scheme. What I am hoping is that this blanket will translate well from buggy into a lap blanket, a snuggly comfort for sofa cuddles. A more mature colour scheme for a longer blanket life.




I realised just this weekend that this month my blog is 5 years old. Five years! It probably needs an update. It has only been during this autumn that I have found it hard to post more regularly. Family and work life have meant it has been more important to put this small space further down the priority list. I always promised myself that I would try to avoid posting for posting sake. Generally I stay true to that ideal. When I first started general craft projects featured and not just knitting or crochet. I also included more baking or cooking. Quite quickly the crochet design work picked up pace and really that is the focus now. I still like to share with you ideas, photos or books that inspired me. At home, the garden has grown in my dreaming, creativity and weekend life. Logically that also means that it appears in this space as well.

Perhaps if I have time I will share some of my favourite posts and projects from the past five years. When I first started Instagram and Facebook were not part of the picture. For me they seem to be a different kind of blog or community. But this space, dear friends is still my favourite. I have thought many times about whether I am missing a trick. I have never really wanted to change this from being a personal space into a commercial space. I have also not really ‘worked’ the brand. There are really no idealogical reasons for that, merely time and priorities. I imagine that the images and the inspiration will develop, change and evolve. But for now it still works and I am happy to share with you what I am currently making or creating at home. If you have thoughts on how blogs are changing and developing and perhaps want to chat about things you think should be different here – please feel free to leave a comment.

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Thank you to so many of you who got in touch about the mistake on the Duck Egg Hat. I have now updated the pattern and it should make more sense. For those of you who have suffered in silence. Thanks for your patience. The updated pattern is here, along with lots of my other free patterrns.



Many moons ago I told you about a competition hosted by Yarn Stories to design a square of knitting or crochet inspired by the archives of the Knitting and Stitching Guild. It is an amazing institution and their collection of knitted items and patterns are a wonderful resource for inspiration and research. Why not pop over to their brand new website to have a look.


Well all the entries were short listed and 10 finalists were chosen. I was lucky that my design was in the mix, inspired by their black and white fair-isle items I designed a black and white crochet heart square. I was so thrilled that when the competition went out to public vote, my square came in third.


I actually spotted the final blanket at the Knitting and Stitching show and it is a thing of great beauty. The overall winner was this cable design by Bronagh Miskelly.


But like many of you I loved the fair-isle pattern by Gail Coles.


Anyway if you did vote for me – thank you and it is great to be part of something that will raise money to protect the great collection at the Knitting and Crochet Guild.


knitandstitch15.6~ Warning – there will be yarn name dropping in this post ~

If you follow this blog you will be aware of my undisguised devotion to Debbie Bliss and indeed the Bliss family. Literally some of the kindest, generous and funniest people you can meet. Over the years my devotion has grown and have had fab opportunities to collaborate, learn from and just generally giggle with Team Bliss.


Last weekend I had the awesome opportunity to join Debbie, Nell and Theresa (Conway Bliss) on an exciting trip to Alexandra Palace for the astounding Knitting and Stitching Show. Wow, Ally Pally is an amazing venue and the show is packed full of exhibitors. I didn’t see all I could have seen. But I did pop by the fabulous Stylecraft and Yarn Stories stand. I saw some of my favourite people there including Annabelle from Stylecraft and Juliet Bernard on the Yarn Stories stall.  Like so many visitors I loved the Toft Alpaca stand and I bought a lovely alpaca pom-pom for Little B.


I also popped in to see my good friends at Black Sheep Wool and witnessed the astounding sight of the yarn dive. I have never seen this before – but basically you can pick up so many bargains from this stall. Now I have a few rock-n’roll friends and they do like to partake in the odd bit of crowd surfing – but this my friends in ‘Yarn-surfing’ you can’t get more rock-n’knit than that.  I also got to see my Garden Route Blanket on display and it make me smile to think how many miles this blanket has travelled. Throughout South Africa and so many places in England. It has a life of its own.


One of my main reasons for visiting London was to celebrate with Debbie her award for Best Designer in the British Knitting Awards. We had lots of fun meeting local yarn store owners, their passion is infectious. I was delighted that our Yarn Day Event this year at Black Sheep Wools won the award for best Yarn Day.


I also met some lovely people from West Yorkshire Spinners. What a wonderful company and they have an exciting new vision for their brand. I am going to have to investigate their yarn more! You have to look at the new designs by Emma Knitted – really scrumptious.


On the Friday I got to meet knitting royalty like Nicky Epstein the the super elegant Erika Knight. Basically I acted in a very un-cool gushing manner, ‘Oooo, wow, I have admired your work for so many years……..’ In the end I returned home, happy, tired and inspired. I was reminded again of the generosity and enthusiasm of the yarn community and once again so glad that this is my passion too.


sizzles1When I first started designing it was mainly knitwear. In fact this weekend I am returning to where it all started. My adventure in design began when I came second in a design competition for Knitting Magazine. I travelled down to London at the famous Ally Pally to the  to receive my prize, with my very small son, my husband and my mother-in-law in tow. It was a fun weekend in London and we have so many treasured memories of spending time together in Regents Park. The show itself seemed to pass by in a blur. The huge exhibition hall wasn’t much fun for a toddler or indeed for his Daddy valiently keeping tabs on him amongst the crowd. This weekend I will return to catch up with gorgeous friends, yarn companies and knitting shops. I am looking forward to it so much. Sensibly my boys will be very satisfactorily entertained at home.


After a number of years designing knitting patterns I began to experiment with crochet. My crochet adventure really began when I wanted to replicate the vintage blankets made by my husband’s Grandma. I also wanted to make small toys to entertain Little B. It is these gifts of love which continue to thrill me. Over the years many of the small amigurumi designs have been inspired by real little people. In the last few weeks I made a cute little dachshund for one of my favourite 8 year olds. When I handed over ‘Sizzles’ the huge delight and love on her face thrilled me right to the bottom of my heart. It is the making for ‘love’ that constantly inspires me. As we get older I think we lose the real meaning of gifts. I think kids get it. They see through the pounds and dollars and see the heart of the giver. I am busy with lots of projects at the moment, but if I can I want to return to making cheeky wee things for my son – to make him laugh and giggle, just before he grows too old for such things. However if we raise him well…he will never lose the thrill of someone creating something special and unique, be it a dinner, a card or a crochet toy.


I am delighted that Sizzles has found fame on the gorgeous Dotcom Gift Shop – my blog is featured on their 10 creative needlecraft blogs – thanks guys, I am very honoured.


palomacowl1Why do I do it? I don’t need more yarn, I really don’t. In fact last week I gave a huge bagful to some of my colleagues who have been knitting for charity. Maybe I was feeling a little jealous of all those lovely yarn fans going to Yarndale, but I decided I needed to pop over and see my friends at Black Sheep wools and see what was new.

I went up and down the aisles and spotted some lovely Paloma chunky yarn by Debbie Bliss. Big wool for quick and funky creations. It is very, very soft. However as I was chatting with the lovely assistant she told me that she had enjoyed combining Paloma, with a lovely angel weight yarn. This gives the overall look a little bit of fluff. I knew I already had a very pale pink in my stash, so we then matched  the navy and the coral.


This little beauty of a cowl was a two hour project in the silent hours of Sunday morning, whipped up with a 10mm hook. Whilst I am working on my book, I always need a few distraction projects to keep the creative juices flowing. I need to count how many cowl pattens I have designed we are nearly at a book quantity now! This cowl will be such a boon over the chillier months, so soft, so snuggly. Even though it has the evil ‘Mummy Pink’, Little B popped it over his head and refused to remove it.

If you are interested the combination I used: Debbie Bliss Paloma – 1 skein of each School, Coral and Light Pink & Debbie Bliss Angel – approx 100m each of Midnight, Coral and Buttermilk

I shall be sporting this beauty when I am down at the Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday 9th October – hopefully I might see some of you there.

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I find that sometimes a tight brief or set of colours really does help to release my creativity rather than restrict it. Not more than three weeks ago, the lovely people at Stylecraft sent me a pack of their limited edition DK yarn.

As I said in my previous post, these sumptuous colours were chosen as part of a competition. Hundreds of knitters and crocheters sent in scraps of colours and the winning colour ended up being Duck Egg. The short-list was so good that Stylecraft decided to release all ten colours as a limited edition collection.


When the wool popped through the door, I was so keen to rip the parcel open and see what was inside. Immediately I was inspired by the ‘Jewel’ shades. These bright rich colours reminded me so much of the colour in the last of our flowering plants in the garden. I swatched up a repeat fan pattern using; Lobelia, Mustard, Fuschia Purple, Kelly Green and Empire.


It did cross my mind to revert to my go-to accessory of a cowl, however I knew within a moment that a scarf would be better as I could use nearly all of the 50g of each ball and the ends would look ever-so jaunty with pom-poms sewn at the ends.


Our new cat, Stanley has rather enjoyed the process and is not adverse to the crochet draping over his fur as we sit together. Usually I have a plan to give away my samples to friends or long suffering relations. But this one is mine, all mine. I know I will team it with a dark or grey polar neck and it will bring much needed zest to winter day.

stylecraftesp15.6If you want to make your own version you can download the pattern free from Jewel Fan Scarf


I probably agree with the judges an my favourite colour is the Duck Egg. I couldn’t let that ball just hide away in my stash, so I designed a quick and easy adult slouchy beanie. It has a slip-stich rib and a lovely even decrease. On a previous baby hat I used the finishing touch of a ribbon and button and decided to use the idea again for the adult version.


Quite cute and different for topping detail. If you fancy making the hat but want a more mature topper why not look to a faux fur pom-pom instead. Download the pattern for the hat using this link Duck Egg Adult Beanie  and used my fab new Knit-Pro Zing Needle which are super-super fast.

So if you like the look of these colours Stylecraft has put together Special DK packs of 50g balls of all 10 colours
which will be available from all good yarn shops from mid  October and will be showcased on Stylecraft’s stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace from 7 th -­‐11 th October 2015.  However if you can’t wait then why not try and win your own pack using my exclusive link here – Good Luck


There are also many other opportunities to win if you follow the blogtour, tomorrow the excellent Crafternoon Treats will be live with her blog tomorrow. If you visit all 10 blogs you could perhaps win 10 times! Tell me what you think, I can’t wait to hear.




Earlier this year the yarn company, Stylecraft held a competition to choose a new colour for the incredibly successful Special DK range. Hundreds of people sent their ideas in, little fragments of textiles, several bottles of nail varnish and a red sweetie wrapper. The judges including Lucy from Attic 24 and Phil from The Twisted Yarn managed to narrow it down to 10 favourites which were then put to the public vote.

It didn’t surprise me that the clear winner was Duck Egg but all the other shades looked so good that Stylecraft has put together special Special DK packs of 50g balls of all 10 colours which will be available from all good yarn shops from mid -­‐ October and will be showcased on Stylecraft’s stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace from 7 th -­‐11 th October 2015.

To celebrate, Stylecraft asked a number of bloggers to take the packs and create their own designs using the colours available. I loved the combination so much that I have designed two free patterns. One which is simply and ode to the iconic Duck Egg shade and another which has a lovely colour kick for winter. My speacial blog will go on-line a week today on Sunday 27th September – there are some great bloggers involved to check in with Stylecraft on their facebook page to see who is releasing a new free pattern each day. Stylecraft will be giving away a pack each day so it is worth checking in with each blog.