I am really excited and honoured to kick off the 2016 Stylecraft Blogtour. There are so many fabulous blogs that you can visit in the next few weeks. So many crafty places to inspire your making.

Back in the summer Stylecraft asked me to road test their new shades of their Special Aran and Chunky range. They have added some new shades to the range including; Empire, Pistachio, Storm Blue, Sage, Saffron and Pale Rose. I chose the Silver collection of yarns to create a design and I cannot lie that amongst my favourites are Storm Blue and Pale Rose.


The Great Outdoors

If you visit this blog regularly you will have spotted that I took this project with me on our early summer glamping holiday in the Lake District. I knew the softness of the yarn would make a cosy blanket. For as long as we can during the summer and autumn Big B and I love to sit outside in the evening. The ever growing pile and crochet blankets make this much more comfortable. The ideal scenario is to have a blanket on your knee, a shawl across your back and be creating a new blanket heirloom on your lap.


The shades of the Silver pack collection were a perfect match for our Lake District holiday. The soft blues and greens which are so very pastoral and British, with the added pinks of foxgloves and campion.

Blencathra-blanket-crochet-stylecraft-aranThe pattern

For the pattern I have used a very simple open ‘V’ stitch repeat. I wanted to make a larger blanket than I usually work up. I went for the dimensions of a single bed blanket. This means you need two balls of yarn in each shade. However the thickness of the yarn and the larger gauge makes this project a little less daunting.


So cosy

I know many of you already love the Special range from Stylecraft. What I can’t get over is how do they make it so soft? The aran weight is particularly squiggy. Now I have edged this blanket, it has migrated to our living room for a cosy autumn snuggle on the sofa. Our son, Little B has now chosen this blanket as his new living room favourite. Apparently it is even more cuddly than the faux fur which has previously been his preference.Blencathra-blanket-crochet-stylecraft-aran

Getting hold of some yarn

For those of you who fancy making your own version of the Blencathra Blanket you can download the pattern for free here. I would love it if you would subscribe to my monthly newsletter as well. If you would like to win a pack of the yarn then please do go to the Stylecraft Competition page and enter **here**. I should hear who has won the prize tomorrow!

There are twelve designers and bloggers involved in the blogtour who have used the news shades of Special Aran and Chunky as their inspiration. That means twelve chances for you to win a pack of yarn and get a unique free pattern. Tomorrow please visit the awesome Jane Crowfoot on her blog to see what she has created.

Other bloggers involved include my lovely blogstar friends; Crafternoon Treats, The Twisted Yarn, Patchwork Heart, Le Monde de Sucrette, Hand knitted Things, Cherry Heart, Sue Pinner, Annaboo’s House and Keep Calm and Crochet on






Look I totally get that the yarn you have chosen for your first project is fabulous…I mean it has been handspun, it has beautiful earthy tones and in itself is indeed a thing of beauty. Let’s put aside that it is in a ‘hank’ so we will have to hand-wind this into a ball before we even start. You need to make sure you are kind to yourself with your first projects – let’s at least have a fighting chance.

Light and Bright

Firstly, while charcoal and navy are terribly chic, they are difficult to see in the dimpsy evenings of autumn. Learning where to put your hook will be much easier if you go for a light colour; a white, a cream and perhaps even duck egg if you are really style conscious.

From Fairy cobwebs to unwieldy rope

I would also suggest that you aim for a mid-weight yarn. Ok let’s not get too technical but the width and the weight of the yarn has a name. Stay well away from ‘lace’ weight. Yes it is pretty, sometimes it might even have mohair within it and look like it has been spun by fairies. But it will drive you cross-eyed if you are just beginning your crochet journey.

Don’t if you can avoid it go to the other extreme. It can be tempting to pick up a super-chunky or t-shirt yarn with an enormous hook and begin to wrestle with the stitches and yarn. This type of yarn has great stitch definition, but unless you have got great guidance and a super pattern to follow you can end up making a hard mat of nothing. You will begin to wonder how you will ever find a practical use for it. Eventually two weeks later when it has gathered dust and some sort of sticky substance, you will throw it in the bin.


So, ok what shall we used as a beginner project. Let’s go with a 4.5mm or 5mm hook and a light coloured aran. The biggest issue here is choosing a yarn that is well spun. It’s doesn’t matter if it is cotton, wool or acrylic. What it must not do, and I cannot stress this strongly enough – it must not split easily. This choice will often decide whether you pursue your crochet journey or not.

In the Fray

The best way to check a yarn before you buy it is to just take the end and see if it frays or unwinds easily. If you can see the seperate strands of the yarn appearing very quickly then you need to avoid this yarn for your beginners project.

My suggestion would be to buy a couple of 50g balls of aran yarn that you like, but are in light colour.  For wool try Patons Merino ExtraFine Aran or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

When you are thinking about cotton have a look for a cotton with a nice gloss, I really like Rico Creative Cotton Aran or Schachenmayr Sun City.

If you are really finding it difficult with splitting yarn think about a tape yarn which can’t be split by your hook, but whatever you do, do not go too chunky. So there you go – essentially try to ensure your first forays into crochet are not filled with frays. You might just do what I did on my first crochet lesson – throw hook, yarn and your patience across the room, with inimitable cry, ‘It’s Splitting!’

‘Notes to a Novice Knotter’ is a series of short essays about beginning to crochet – they are intended to be a bit of fun and not crochet law – feel free to get involved in the conversation via the comments.

Previous essays are here: Thinking about… and Hooked



I am celebrating the fact that my new books seems to be well received. Just so you can start making for Christmas, I will be giving away one copy to a reader of this blog. Would you  like to win a copy for your own book pile? If so please leave a comment below with a suggestion of a new animal or piece of clothing. I would love to hear your suggestions.

The winner will be picked at random on 1st November – Happy Thinking!

Additional Note: Lovely US friends, the US version of the book with your crochet terminology is available from Barnes Noble on 20th Oct 2016 – Great News.



garter-stitch-cowl-hayfield-bonus-super-chunkyIt occurs to me very often that the simple things in life are often the best. I enjoy learning new knitting and crochet techniques. I am still delighted that in the summer I had fun with the corner-to-corner crochet technique. However when it comes to chunky wool and snuggly accessories you can’t beat a basic garter stitch.

Just to be very plain – garter stitch is using a knitting stitch on every row. When you use a chunky yarn like this Hayfield Bonus Chunky yarn the stitch definition looks really good. I got this yarn from Hobbycraft and used just over 1 ball to create this basic but luxurious Autumn Cowl. Each ball is only £2.30 at the moment, so makes a very reasonably priced present.


This pattern is so simple I am not even going to write it up in my normal format.

I used: 2 balls of Hayfield Bonus Chunky in Cinder. 1 pair of 9mm knitting needles. 1 large tapestry needle for sewing in ends.

Cast on 22 stitches. Knit every row until your knitting measures 60cm (23.5in). Cast off.

Make a simple twist once with one end. Then sew the cast on and cast off edges together to create a circle.

garter-stitch-cowl-hayfield-bonus-super-chunkySimple Details

Little details in knitting and crochet make all difference to your finished item. When I work garter stitch and scarves I always slip the first stitch of every row. This provides a lovely neat edging and changes your work from looking ‘beginner knitter’ to ‘proficient knitter’.

Weekend project

Most knitters can master the garter stitch and this weekend project will provide you with a quick and easy accessory that you can wear with pride on Monday morning.

What projects are you making this weekend? Don’t forget to drop me a line below to tell me what you are making


The yarn used for this project was sent to me by Hobbycraft – you can buy the yarn via their online shop. If this is the first time you have visited my blog and have come over from Hobbycraft – Hello it is nice to see you – please pop by again!




Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Right up front, I had a wonderful time at the Knitting and Stitching Show. You might have worked out that I was really quite nervous about my stint on the GMC stand. But I shouldn’t have worried, I had such a fab time and met some lovely, lovely people. When I arrived at Ally Pally on Friday, I knew exactly how I wanted to organise the day. I made a bee-line for the GMC stand in the larger hall, and left my project bag and coat with the lovely GMC staff. Then I took on the rows and rows of stalls, walking with purpose up each aisle.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

One of the first stops was the Stylecraft stand.  I met the lovely Sue Pinner for the very first time in ‘real life’. She was demonstrating her very popular Carosel CAL and giving advice to knitters and crocheters alike. It was also great to congratulate her on winning Best Crochet Book at the British Knitting Awards for her book Granny Squares. I said hello to the lovely Stylecraft staff, but I didn’t linger long because it was already super busy and I didn’t want to get in the way.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Celebrity Spotting

I spotted the amazing Vickie Howell on the Deramores stand. She has just brought out a new yarn with them. Vickie is like yarn royalty in America and spotting her was quite like bumping into a Knitting version of Taylor Swift. I do hope she was not too freaked out with my gushing enthusiasm….Yep, awkward.

I popped by the Black Sheep Wools stand to say hello to Sara and had a lovely hug and a friendly chat. On the Rowan stand I saw the gorgeous Sarah Hatton. She was mad busy, there were so many people buying yarn from them. I met the fabulous Jane Crowfoot who had an incredible stall. So many people were buying yarn and packs. I also caught up with the beautiful Emma Wright, who is a very talented knitwear designer but also a gorgeous person. She had her lovely Mum and Grandma with her and we had such a giggle.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

I then spotted another yarn hero of mine, Louisa Harding. She has just launched her own yarn brand; Yarntelier. British spun Cashmere, utterly gorgeous. I will be doing a proper blog post about this yarn, but I just had to mention this beautiful stand, it had all the ethereal beauty of her designs.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Good Shopping

Other stalls worth mentioning were Sincerely Louise. Louise’s animal heads and knitted taxidermy patterns are so cool. I know at Yarndale she sold out of her pattern packs. I also spent some pennies on the gorgeous Tall Yarns stand and enjoyed looking at the material and felt at CoolCrafting, where I met the inspirational Sarah Heel.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Book Signing

At around 1.45pm I headed back to the GMC stand and was reunited with my little chaps. It was so lovely to see them after all this time. Lots of lovely people came to say hello and I was able to demonstrate crocheting in a spiral, which is how the ‘amigurumi’ technique is worked. It was great that a few readers of the blog came to visit. Lizzie and his sister Kat popped by.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

We had been introduce via twitter and she promised me that she would pop by the stall as my sole blog reader! Thank goodness. Well if I met you on Friday and you were kind enough to say ‘hello’ and buy a book – then I hope you enjoy making and please do send me photo of your gorgeous creations. I did have a revelation when signing books, you really need to concentrate – there were several times when I nearly wrote, ‘Happy Christmas’ in someone’s book – if I did do that in any of the books I signed on Friday, I can only apologise. I obviously can’t talk and write at the same time.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Amazingly we ran out of books on the stand, I couldn’t quite believe it. What a great visit to Ally Pally. As usual meeting yarn people is always such a pleasure and there is always so much you can chat about. As I sat on the train on my home, I had a huge smile on my face.






Nearly ten years ago I went to my first Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally, London. I had won a design competition in Knitting Magazine and come 2nd….. It was such a thrilling time and I could hardly imagine that a decade on I would be signing copies of my own book at the same show. How crazy is that?

Knitting and Stitching Show

So on Friday I will get up early with a huge bag of yarn, equipment and a little bit of trepidation. I am hoping to spend the morning scouting round the stalls. I will happily spend a few hours looking at new yarn and inspirational designers.


Stylecraft Selfie

I will definitely pop by the Stylecraft stall and take a quick Stylecraft selfie – you ann.rockcottage@gmail.commust do this if you visit the stall. Hopefully I will hook up with some of my yarny friends. Each year I like to have a good rummage in the yarn-dive on the Black Sheep Wools stand. This is almost an institution and you can pick up some bargains there.

Say ‘Hello!’

Finally between 2pm – 4pm I will be on the GMC Stand H32. I will be doing some demonstrations from my new book Cute Crocheted Animals. So if you want to have a one-2-one surgery on the amigurumi technique I would love to see you. Please do pop by for a chat and perhaps you could also give me some new ideas for additional animals.




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I find that if you ever feel stuck in a rut, then the best thing to do is to learn something new. Better still, do something you have previously feared. In my case it would be ‘steeking’. Steeking is a technique which allows you to cut your knitting.  You knit in the round, by that I mean a continuous circle. As part of the pattern you create special section which you will later cut to reveal a flat piece of knitting.

If you can imagine, it is like knitting a tube and then cutting the front opening to create a buttonhole band for a cardigan. All very risky and it would be easy to think that your knitted stitches would ravel away. I don’t do a lot of knitting now, but have always wanted to crack steeking. Face the fear and do it anyway.


Juliet Bernard

This Saturday I had the utter treat of joining other knitters at Black Sheep Wools for a Steeking Workshop with Juliet Bernard. Juliet is a very accomplished knitter and designer and for many years was the Editor of the much admired Knitter Magazine. With me were a group of fabulous knitters. These were ladies with skills; Lucia, Lesley, Nancy, Pat and Helen. I was in auspicious company.


Juliet is a wonderful tutor, really patient and encouraging. Firstly we started knitting in the round using the fairisle technique. Now for a while I have wanted to learn how to knit fairisle continental style. Some of us used double pointed needles. Lucia and I persisted with the continental style. Lesley and Helen showed me their technique of using the ‘Magic Loop’.

steeking-juliet-bernard-workshop-knittingWhat is wonderful about a workshop like this, you not only learn from the tutor but in discussion you pick of tips from your fellow classmates. Throughout the day we had lovely coffee and tea available. A sumptuous lunch appeared half way through the course, topped off with some stunning cakes.

steeking-juliet-bernard-workshop-knittingTop Tips

During the workshop we knitted a tube of fairisle, using Rowan’s Felted Tweed. We were creating a fairisle mug cosy. We used a schematic graph to follow the pattern and Juliet generously lent us some of her highlighter tape to keep track of where we were. I have got to order some of that tape!

After lunch Juliet showed us how we could crochet two over-locking lines down the length of the cosy. We then took the scissors to our knitting. Frightening stuff. I must admit that cutting through the fabric was quite exhilarating and there were several rounds of applause.

We all managed to finish our cosies, picking up and knitting a picot edge binding. The wonderful Helen demonstrated how she attached and cast off her binding at the same time.

steeking-juliet-bernard-workshop-knittingOne of the joys of the day was just chatting, laughing and sharing tips and patterns with my fellow pupils. I came home with more yarn, due to the suggetions of super-chic Pat. I am now knitting an Arabian Nights shawl in beautiful yellow toned sock yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners.

Knitting and Stitching Show 2016

Don’t feel you have missed out. This week Juliet will be teaching ‘Steeking’ at the Knitting and Stitching Show in the Creative Living Theatre.

Thursday 6th Oct – 15.00-15.30

Friday 7th Oct – 14.15-14.45

Saturday 8th Oct – 13.30-14.00

Those of you are going the Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday 7th Oct – will you come and see me on the GMC stand between 14.00-16.00? It would be lovely to see you.

If you live in the North West of England and fancy a little bit of learning then I would suggest looking at the Black Sheep yarns workshop page and booking on Juliet’s course on cabling on Friday 28th October – I had the most wonderful time and met some lovely people.






This last month has been wonderful and crazy.  To celebrate the publishing of the new book and welcome new followers by having an Autumn Giveaway,  I will be giving away some gorgeous orange toned Paintbox yarn which is available from LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet. Added to this pack will be giving the current issue of Simply Crochet and Crochet Now Magazine. Crochet Now magazine this month features my foxes pattern from the new book.


Free Patterns

Available with the give-away will also be a printed patterns of my Autumn pumpkin pincushion and my Mr Fox Doorstop. I am so thrilled that so many of you have got excited about the characters in the new book so it is great to be able to share some of the love with you.

If you would like win this giveaway please leave a comment below, telling me your favourite thing about Autumn/Fall, (perhaps even subscribe to my newsletter- although that is not compulsory). I will draw a winner randomly on Monday 3rd Oct and 6am.

Thanks for being part of this journey with me. x

Thank you all for leaving your lovely Autumn Comments – the random generator chose ’14’ which is Ann – congratulations – your goodies will be in the post soon.





Seeing as this week we have had ‘International Pirate Day’ I thought it only fitting that I should introduce you to a star of my new book Cute Crocheted Animals. If any animal has the swagger and daring zeal of a pirate, surely it must be a fox. Ahoy there Ben Fox!

The photo is my original drawing for the design and you can see how he turned out – not too far off the mark.

In the book I introduce both a girl and a boy in each animal. I had in mind our son for the character of this cheeky chappie. Little B has the most amazing playful imagination and can quite happily spend an hour in his own company thinking of stories and adventures to embark upon.


The head of each animal is worked in the round.  Both fox faces have a more advanced technique of changing the colour mid-way in the round to create the flash of white fur on the chin. Even I need to use stitch markers for this process – so don’t feel discouraged. But the over all look is well-worth the patience.


The Clothes

I hope you can spot form these photos that the trousers and the shorts have a cheeky wee hole where you can pop the tail through. For climbing the rigging on your pirate galleon you will need a swishy tail for balance.crochet-fox-ben-cute-crocheted-animals

Most weekend I am found in a Breton stripe t-shirt and so this was one of the first garments I made for the new book. Ben Fox also has a rather jaunty pirate bandanna, with handy holes for his ears. If you know me – you would guess that designing these little clothes made me giggle. The basic question; ‘What would a pirate fox wear?’ just tickled my sense of humour.

If you have spotted a favourite animal in the last few weeks do tell me. Indeed if you have any animal ideas for a future book I would love to hear.













Crafty Superstar

Isn’t that image above hilarious – Superstar….ha! Thank you to Cut Out and Keep for the honour.  The really exciting thing is that every day this week I will be sharing a project on the Cut Out & Keep website. They have loads of great free tutorials and patterns over there. I have already picked up some great recipe ideas.


Plus if you are interested there is a little interview with me on the blog.