Fun food – just because


There are lots of brilliant things which I enjoy about crochet. I’ll be honest, what I really like is that it allows me do indulge in my playful side. In the last week I have been binge watching a programme on Channel 4 about the Duchess of Northumberland. She has the most amazing imagination and incredible drive. A few years ago we visited her incredible garden at Alnwick and it is the most amazing vision. The television programme charts her two year journey to create a fantasy play space for children. It is obvious from the footage that she has a mind that enjoys thinking about how children play and a desire to spark their imagination. I love that about her!

Frequently when I am designing I try to access the childlike part of my brain and imagine making imaginative items that I would have enjoyed as a little girl. Over 18 months ago Stylecraft yarns asked me to make some items with their organic cotton for a celebratory tea party for the Queen’s Jubilee. I so enjoyed making cakes and biscuits that I began to go down a bit of a crochet food rabbit hole… and so that is how the creative part of my new book began.

I have forgotten to share it over the summer. Mostly due to busyness – but that is a shame because I am so excited about the patterns in this book. For a beginner or someone new to amigurumi I think small engaging projects are really motivating. The graphics which the team have done are so brilliant as well. It has a totally different look to my other books.

Once I have made 25 items…25 count them and written the patterns… I kind of go off making any project which is similar. But then if I had small people to crochet for I might make a range of the food items to add to a play kitchen or pretend garden.

Of all the items that really attract people – the burger and fries really seem to prompt a giggle. I am a fan of the avocado … because its stone tummy pops out!

So – I am glad that we have created this book, the patterns are pretty simple for the beginner and there are more complicated makes like the pineapple if you want to stretch your skill. I try with all my books to make the patterns that I know I want to make. If I start to go back to those patterns for gifts or things for our home…I know it is a success for me. See what you think and do you think there is an item of food I have forgotten?

If you would like to buy a signed copy from me – then there are just a few copies still in the shop… I will also send you a couple of very cool stickers!

What have I been making? Shocking Pink

I like the fact that there is a seasonal rhythm to our year. I like the fact that in January I dedicate weekends to full blown marmalade production. Now at the end of August the trees are heavily laden with plums and my mind turns to sticky jam making. All is pretty pink and has soft tones in that late summer light.

This year has been very book focused. So much so that I have failed to share with you my latest book published in any detail. I promise I will. One book, started in the very early Spring is now finished. Things will happen in the background now and I won’t see it until Spring next year. Then over the summer I have been designing items for the next book. These are all things I can’t share with you as the develop, which makes for a very quiet and dull blogging life.

But….but… when I am designing, I also need my hobby projects. Items which have no pattern, no purpose apart from delighting me. Firstly lets talk about my new Granny Squares Jacket. I have called it my Dahlia jacket, as the colours are inspired by the vivid tones of glorious Dahlias. I made a red Granny Squares jacket years ago (2017!), way before the last seasons fashion obsession of our joyful classic squares. I love it very much and it often makes an appearance around Christmas time. This original jacket is made in Stylecraft Life DK and it has knitted sleeves using a double moss stitch pattern. I knitted the sleeves as I wanted to eliminate the bulk of a crochet stitch. But even as I was making it, I thought…perhaps I could create these sleeves in a crochet linen stitch for the same type of drape.

In early summer I went off the Black Sheep Wools for a book signing event and the evening before I thought…’it would be helpful if I had a summery Granny Squares jacket….something bright and colourful…’. The idea of the Dahlia version was born. I took the idea of the colours in our garden at that time and threw in a little bit of neon pink for added zing. Sitting with my family watching the TV, both boys would look across and then immediately avert their eyes, declaring…’argh! it’s too bright!’. Good I say. Exactly the look I am aiming for.


So I used my first jacket as a template, and made the set it sleeves in crochet linen stitch. I made this jacket slightly smaller as I always make my knitwear far too large. I am more than happy with it… it is bright and joyful. Looks great with white. I think it will work in the early autumn. I can only apologise to friends who are forced to spend time with me wearing it.


I know some people may ask, have I created a pattern? I am sorry that I haven’t. For a number of years I designed crochet garments for Inside Crochet Magazine, which I loved. But I found the sizing challenging and I am always very conscious that creating a design needs to encapsulate all sizes and shapes. Perhaps in the future I will work with a tech-editor on this design. In the mean time I will enjoy wearing the jacket in all it’s crazy colours.


For those who have interest – the colour recipe is from Stylecraft Special DK – I have used Bright pink for the base and added in Spice, Dandelion, Powder Pink, Vintage Peach, Pomegranate the real zinger is Fiesta… I adore it. I have used linen stitch for the edges and have created a collar, exactly like my first jacket. It hurts the eyes to look at. No photo really does the colour justice, but boy does it make me smile x

If you are looking for something simpler to make, I have seen that lots of people have returned to my free Autumn pumpkin pattern which is in my shop. This has been available for years and it is a really simple pattern for the season ahead.

Summer is made for Crochet

Get the pattern for this beautiful bag

So many people think that as yarn crafters we throw away the hooks and needles as the seasons heat up and the yarn is banished to all the normal hiding places for the short months of summer. But I love the changing seasons for my crochet. Yes I love to make snuggly blankets for chilly months. Come January I frequently make a new hat for the out-door pursuits. But then summer is just as inspiring.

The good people of Stylecraft asked their Blogstars designers if they would be happy to take their either their organic cotton yarn, or Naturals Bamboo cotton yarn and make something perfect for the Beach. YES PLEASE! In cottons I am most frequently attracted to the bright primary colours. I also love to make practical, helpful accessories.


I have chosen to make a bright and glorious Granny Square Beach Bag. The classic gawdy hues that make crochet so attractive and capacious enough to hold all the sandy towels at the end of a joyful day by the sea.

I will admit that I rather selfishly designed this bag so I could use it this summer. Yes it will get much use. I did not line this version as I was keen to get the stretch which crochet can give you. But I did sew some ribbon to the inside of the handles.

I have two top tips for you if you are making this pattern. Use the most colourful and joyful cotton colours you can find. If you find yourself on the beach – you bag will be unlike any other – meaning you will not lose it.

Secondly I do like to block my squares when I am finished. It really helps to get straight edges when you join the squares together. I have once again used my favourite slip-stitch join. It provides a clean and sturdy line between two squares.

There are many gorgeous patterns you can download for this Blogstars Beach festival. I just love the parasol made by the super talented Catherine Bligh. But then also look at Lucia’s fabulous Starfish bag! So much talent.

I will be releasing this pattern for just this week at a sale price on the blog shop and then it will go for sale at my normal pattern price. Please pop over to the blog shop for the pattern.

The very generous people at Stylecraft are doing a fabulous yarn give away for each project with the pattern, and all the yarn for each project. Keep watch on their facebook and instagram accounts for a chance to enter.

So now is the time to make your perfect summer bag for all the joyful gubbins for holiday adventures – if you do make one please do show me your version!

Pyjama Patrol and daring to dig

For days on end I have been out very early in the morning and peered down at very unpromising flower pots. Day after day nothing seems to appear. I was getting a bit concerned. We have had a very cold spring and I have been worried that I had planted out my dahlia tubers far too early. The cold and frosty winter ‘did-for’ last year’s tubers. Even though they still had their summer soil keeping them cosy and were wrapped in newspaper, their hibernation in the garage was disastrous. Not one tuber survived. Unwrapping my precious collection was like a very soggy version of a rotten potato Christmas.

So I started my collection again – some very reasonable sale bargains. My ‘Cafe au Lait’ tuber was a must at any price. All were placed in a pot of soil to ‘start them off’. But I have gambled with weather and with no cold frame or greenhouse, resolved to just place them near to the house on the patio.


So there we are daily pyjama patrol checking on the promise of floral glamour for the summer. Finally tiny, tiny little lime green shoots appeared on the surface…hurrah. Then like nothing I have ever seen. The shoots grow almost visibly. Another debate appears on the horizon. When do I turf the tulips out of their pots to make space for their summer cousins; the sweet peas, the cosmos and the dahlias. This weekend has seen the great change over. The whole process takes much longer than I think.

I allow myself to indulge in pure hobby inefficiency. It you were watching – you would witness how random and cluttered the whole process appears. I revitalised old compost with some new peat-free (OBVS) and dig deep into the pots to find hidden bulbs. Hours fly by and I almost forget about meals. Finally everyone is in their new home. Yes I have too many sweet pea plants. Surely they are the courgette of the flower world. Yes, in their new home the sweet peas are sulking. They always seem very unhappy to be moved in to larger, pots of beautiful yummy compost. Proper mardy.

The pot collection has grown… I don’t know how… really I don’t. But I do know that growing in pots has given me confidence with plants I would never had the courage to raise. I would never have put the tulips in the borders had I not seen the success in the pots.

I have added hollyhocks and and delphiniums to my collection this year. It is a daring thing to do. I love their cottage garden prettiness so much, that I can’t bear it when they get eaten. It is heart breaking, But we will see. If dahlias have taught me anything it is…who dares wins.


The image are some dahlias and cosmos from last year. I always forget how big they get and so I have put in the ugly supports in already – it will save me snapping stems unintentionally. I have top dressed the pots with Strulch. I love it (no ad/or gift here) I genuinely love it for my beds and copied my local nursery who have used it for top-dressing.

The Flower Patch

It has been too long my friends. Too long since I popped in here to chat about creativity and design and whatever is inspiring me. Lots of reasons. Mostly I have been completing designs and commissions. Things I can’t share. Then…a thing happened that I never imagined. Two commissions, destined for two different customers got lost in the post. A total of 6 crochet items. Just as I was about to raise my head from my secret making, I had to rewind and make all 6 things again. Speed crochet style. Well that is enough to make you want to go and sit in a corner and ignore your hook for a while.

The garden is my alternative ‘good place’ to melt away any concerns or stress. But it has been a very cold spring and for so many weeks, way too wet to be furtling about in the flower beds. Deeply frustrating.

The boots were a birthday gift from Poddy and Black

As Easter dawned the weather seems to turn a corner and I flung myself into long garden days. We spent time refurbishing the pond and adding a new marginal plants. I went mad a cleared a large bed of weeds and plants that were not pulling their weight. The cooped up energy burst out. in frenzy of planting, pruning and clearing. Good for the soul.

Last year in the early summer

I am always so grateful when I have remembered to plant bulbs in the Autumn. The late frosts have ‘done-for’ some of the tulips, but new daffodils are a triumph and I have resolved to start make some notes now – be a full adult – so that I can plan for next year. I don’t think my colour combination is as successful as last year but then every bloom is so very beautiful. I get to try again another year.

I know that I have mentioned it before but I must say that the wonderful book The Flower Yard by Arthur Parkinson has transformed my flower growing. Growing in pots seems to me far less intimidating and I am delighted that I can just move a plant which is just past its best.

So what about crochet? Well yes… sorry. I currently in between projects and so I am making a new blanket for the home. Inspired once again by patchwork. (One day I will make a quilt). I have been making a simple hexagon blanket in a ‘Grandma’s Garden’ pattern. I think I will call this my Flower Patch blanket. I have returned to pastel colours and a lovely cream as the contrasting base. Strangely I have been building the pattern in rows. It is giving a lovely idea of how the pattern will grow.

All well and good until I realised this morning that I am not happy with one of the colours. The lightest green looks sickly against the cream and has to go. Arghhhh! This is the mess that ensued. You might think I am mad to rip this out now, but if it is not right. It is not right. I don’t want to fall out of love with a project. So this evening I will be repairing the void. Tricky business where patience is required. Have you ever done this? At one point I wondered if the blanket would be irrepairable.

Crochet and gardening have so many similarities. Hobbies that require time and patience. Plus, if a flower is not pulling its weight, it needs to be hoicked out the patch. Make space for just the right flower. The flower patch will be better for it.

February is made for…hats and scarves

There is nothing more exciting than making an item of clothing that you actually wear…and actually like…and is actually useful. The kind of thing that half way through the day you think to yourself, ‘Well I’m glad I’m wearing that: hat/scarf/mittens…I think I might make another.

February is always my month for making accessories. We are post the Christmas rush and the marmalade weekends of January (see previous post). Now is the time to prepare and make cosy outdoorsy items for bracing walks and mountain views.

Since our little/towering boy was a baby, we have enjoyed a February visit to the lake district. If you have read this blog for a while you might recall February breaks and the hat making that feature in my holiday endeavours.

This year I might have cracked the holiday packing. I have a dream of being a minimal capsule wardrobe-ist. It is an absolute flight of fancy. But this holiday…I think I have succeeded. A base of wick-away dour black and then red…red…burgundy and red accessories. The suitcase was only half full. Hurrah!

Planning ahead I finished my last (I promise) Sophie Scarf from Petit Knit. This scarf has my highest accolade of being a ‘boon’. I adore the garter stitch, I adore the I-cord edging. I am also particularly fond of the red tweed yarn. It is Sirdar Haworth Tweed in West Riding Red. Tweed can feel a little bit itchy, but not this yarn. It is 50% wool and 50% nylon and is very soft and so suitable to wear round the neck. The flecked nature of the twist gives the knitting a lively kick. I know this scarf will be a favourite well into the Spring. It will go well with denim and navy. It is also a brilliant scarf for walking. Small enough tie tightly around your neck and none of the long ends which can be so annoying.

I have almost completely abandoned hat making for loved ones and friends. (Sulking pout). Whilst it is an expression of love on my part…thrusting enthusiastically made hats on friends can be received with an awkward…’Oh thanks’.

However as an absolute knitted swan song, I found the glorious Weekend Hue hat, again by Petit Knit. This pattern has a very ‘now’ shape. When I saw it I knew immediately that I wanted to make it for my fashion maven friend. She always has her finger on the style pulse and is particularly rocking saturated cobalt blue. I loved making this ribbed pattern. There is a generous double folded rib cuff brim. As I hoped she was utterly delighted by her gift and popped it on making it look cool, instantly. Both of us, very happy.

Back to the holiday hat, I chose to bring my Shetland Fair isle Katie’s Kep by Wilma Malcolmson. The pattern was the featured hat for the 2020 Shetland Wool Week. I’m a big fan of fair isle. I find the complications of working the yarn, a relaxing concentration. Working the pattern in pure wool also has lots of advantages. The fibres stick nicely together making it easier to knit. Plus the natural characteristics of the yarn make it almost waterproof.

Out and about and caught in a light drizzle, the hat is fine and less restrictive than a hood. I love pattern. You will have to take my word for it that the crown has stunning star design. It does. But for outdoor fun, my February hat just has to have a bobble…and what a bobble! I think the phrase – ‘a right bobby-dazzler’ is appropriate. If you want to jazz up any hat I would highly recommend a Toft Alpaca bobble. No need for a mountain flare…you can will be spotted miles away.

So I wonder if you are enjoying making hats, scarves and mittens at the moment. When the daffodils appear I think our minds turn to more spring-like pursuits. But for now the bobble hat reins supreme in the rain and the shine.

In anticipation of rest

Does it start on a Thursday night? Perhaps more frequently around 11am on Friday? The planning, the dreaming of weekend making. It is the agony of choice, decisions…decisions. The joy of mediative stitching is so physical so psychological that it needs planning. Have I got all the yarn I need to complete that scarf? What is my mood? Knitting or crochet? Shall I make that new pattern I spied on Instagram? Friday night knitting is the best.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of projects that I SHOULD be doing. But the start of the weekend is all about kicking back and enjoying the hobby. Poor planning can get you into mad dash territory. If you are particularly passionate about a project and prepare enough in advance then you can order yarn on-line or work in a visit to your local yarn store. I wish I was always that organised. Yesterday I felt a real yearning (yarning) to finish my most recent Sophie Scarf. This is a beautifully simple knitted neckerchief design by Danish designer Petit Knit. I have a burgundy version I have worn ALOT this winter. Last weekend I cast on my second in a red tweed. But…, but I have played yarn chicken * with this project and so very near the end I have run out of yarn.

Yes… yes… I should know better…my goodness I know… but this is why we all have yarn stashes of part used yarn. In the tiny gap between the school run and making supper I dashed to my nearest yarn stockist (not my favourite place) and was disappointed to find their diminishing stock and fairly bare shelves. Darn…Grrr….Mmmm. Plans are scuppered.

Now it is at this point that we need to get our yarn faces straight. Not a disaster…an opportunity. What is the plan?

Sometimes you will be saintly and return to that long languishing WIP (work in progress). Sometimes you might punish yourself with a …’well forget it all together… I won’t knit/crochet at all tonight!’. (Who am I kidding?). More frequently I will do what I did this weekend. Find a different colour and start the same project. Same mediative stitch, same excellent pattern, new colour. Result.

So you are set up now. A little cheeky date with your yarn. The lamps are on. Perhaps you will have a chilled glass of your favourite tipple. Perhaps you will have the last of the Christmas chocolate. Your place on the sofa is calling. What you really don’t want now. I mean really don’t want is that text/message/phone call. ‘Hey we are going out…do you fancy coming?’ Decisions…decisions. Who am I kidding? Break the ball band lets go!

* Yarn Chicken – is where you estimate that you have enough yarn to finish a project. You dare your self to get to the end. Most of the time we lose yarn chicken. Very rarely we win.

The Green scarf is the Sophie scarf from Petit Knit knitted in Stylecraft Grace. The Pink Blanket is my Soft Summer Blanket – yarn recipe in this blog post. The hexagon blanket is my Spring Garden Blanket which I have never written up.

Snuggling under your hobby


Right I am just going to say it – sometimes I just like making for making. Sometimes I have no intention of making a project into a published pattern and then it just becomes such a joyful make that I can’t help sharing it with you.

This is true of the Cosy Croknit blanket. Like many of my most favourite designs, the idea came following a few conversations and a little bit of necessity. I had received some Aran weight yarn in the post and I began making a few garter stitch squares to see how it behaved. There is something so tactile about aran and garter stitch knitting. So satisfying and joyful. I am not eloquent enough to explain. But if you know – you know.


Then I remembered a conversation with my Granny. She often collaborates with friends to create blankets for charity. They work on different squares, some crocheted and some knitted. Due to tension and style, the squares can be a bit challenging to align and sew together. It got me thinking…. could I write a pattern which combined both crafts? Could I create a pattern with an easy size guide, a basic colour scheme and plan which would include both crafts?


My mind began to whir… And that is how I began to work on the Croknit pattern. I have used the juicy Highland Heathers Aran from Stylecraft. If you are a knitter…you can just knit all the squares… if you are solely a crocheter why not just have a blanket full of granny squares. I have enjoyed combining both skills. I flitted between both crafts as my whim took me.


It wasn’t easy for me to decide how to join the squares. I had several aborted attempts. Then I landed on a zig-zag slip stich join. The crisscross motion allows for just the right amount of ease between the differing drape of the knitted and crochet squares. I also went for a linen stitch edging which is just intricate enough for interest but doesn’t detract from the beautiful jewel like colours of the squares.

The finished item has a pleasing amount of heft. So much so, that it is being argued over most evenings! Stanley is winning.

So whilst the pattern is very simple I have written it up for you with hints and tips on how to collaborate to get your squares to match. You also get the colour schematic and the edging stitch pattern.


Whilst it is important to give yarn suggestions for published patterns. In my mind, this pattern was always intended for stash busting and the pattern has stitch suggestions for DK yarn too.

Well I hope you like it. The Cosy Croknit Blanket will not be leaving our house I am afraid it is far to snuggly for that.

What do you think about patterns that combine knitting and crochet? There don’t seem to be many about. When you are working as a team…or a yarn bee, what are your handy hints or tips to make sure your blanket squares fit together? I would love to know.

**** I am hosting an instagram live about the blanket at 11am GMT on Sat 14 Jan 2023 if you would like to join me ***

Oranges save January


Eurgh…. don’t you just hate Janurary…?’ My friend had just popped round with a belated gift and like many friends could find no Winter light at the end of this tunnel we call January.

‘Yes I know what your mean…but honestly I think Marmalade has put a whole new perspective on this month. I can’t wait to get stuck in! The sticky performance might take up even 3 weekends!’.

Suddenly our conversation brightened and orders were placed and promises of spare jars were made. Very like the Paddington films; marmalade has transformational powers.

I first started experimenting with this sticky alchemy a few years ago. My first attempts went spectacularly wrong and dear blog readers pointed me in the right direction of brilliant recipe books and fail-safe texts. There is nothing I adore more for a weekend breakfast than a thick sliced piece of toast, lavishly spread with salted butter and topped with a ‘homemade’ (I stress HOMEMADE) marmalade. Be still my furring heart.


I first felt inspired to make my own because acquired jars of homemade marmalade were not getting me through a years worth of Saturdays. Like many valuable things in life. My very favourite jar is not made by me… but rather one of my dearest and oldest friends. Like a cup of tea, or a meal made by someone else, the fact that the jar has been cooked by her own fair hand – and not mine, makes it all the more delicious.

But it occurred to me that I could fill the gap by making my own and the seasonal window for the Seville Orange harvest makes January a very special month.

You need to be alert early in January to ensure you bag your special oranges. I popped out on the 2nd to visit my local grocer to see if he had a delivery. These oranges are not lookers. They look more lumpy and less orange than your fruit-bowl fruit. He spotted me immediately and with a knowing nod and a cheeky smile gestured to the box stacked out on the pavement – full of golden orbs from Seville. I was delighted and phoned home to enthuse. ‘I’ve got them…the hunt is off!’ I think all were relieved.


So for the next few weeks there will be a two day performance. The first day of juicing, scraping, slicing and soaking and the second of watching, waiting, measuring, peering, checking and pouring. All in a haze of sticky citrus. The final jars will be held up to the light, to see how clear the elixir appears.


If the first week goes well, I will move onto thick cut and dark marmalade. I have ‘NEVER’ made a consistent product. It saddens me. My Dad and my husband prefer this type and in recent years the taste has been grand but the consistency is sloppy….delicious but very below par. This year… this year.


I have also bought some pink grapefruits so I am thinking of mixing it up on the third weekend. We will see. The priority my friends is to make enough marmalade to last me a year of weekend breakfasts. In addition there are special recipients – people who value the process – people I love. This is perhaps a more accessible form of ‘creative gifting’. Let’s be honest, not everyone wants a knitted or crocheted item from me (HOW VERY DARE THEY!) but some love a jar of homemade marmalade and I am delighted to show my appreciation of our friendship with a ceremonial handing over of the jar.


So we have begun and I am thrilled. It is my scientific month-long sticky hobby. Delightfully it makes me look forward to January.

The World Marmalade Awards are held every year in Dalemain in the Lake District. If you feel inspired to make your own, why not enter a jar into the competition and join the band of this most delightful of traditions. You can also visit the festival which occurs in April this year.

Planted – Crocheted Houseplants

You know that my favourite designs are born out of…well laughter. If it amuses me…and make my son smile – it’s a win. Then, if you like it…if you want to make a design all the better.

I could never have dreamed that so many of you loved my first plant book – Crocheted Succulents. The fun we have had making cacti and succulents has been such a bonus.


It never occurred to me to make a sequel and then very slowly ideas started to come to me. The first design finished was the African Violet. A sort of ‘revenge project’…”Yes take that African Violet… you are so hard to look after in real life… I’m going to make a crochet version and that’ll teach you. Never again will me over-watering leave you as a soggy mess.”

Honestly the glorious Poinsettia fits into this category too. I find their falling leaves in early January too hard to bare. It feels like a less festive re-run of autumn. Now I can keep my beautiful red leaf plant for a following Christmas.

There are few new cacti for this book. We love them so much, why wouldn’t I add to the collection. I’ve had quite a lot of fun with flowers this time and even the Auricula which wasn’t meant to be part of the book has snuck in. Often the way. A last minute homework bit of luck.

It is difficult to choose favourites. I have many of the return projects out and about in our house at the moment. They always look incredible when mixed up with real plants… a yarn ‘trompe l’oeil’.


I’m going to be interested to see which ones you choose first to make. I suspect you might start with the cacti and then work up to inserting more wire and canes for gravity defying sturdiness.

In general – this is just so much fun. My great hero – Debbie Bliss told me that one of her first commissions was a knitted houseplant. She made it for a very famous national singer/songwriter. That feels like stepping into the footsteps of a very wise and generally hilarious woman and I am very fine with that.

Tell me which projects appeal to you. If you want to see a little video where I talk through the projects I have popped one on my YouTube channel.