Discovering what lies beneath

A little break in service from my normal crafty blogging – but important just the same

Who knew? Who knew that under my progressively blonder hair there were the most extraordinary brunette stripes. Regular, quirky about 1 inch from the very front of my hair line. They are so very individual. This year…no, these two years have been full of surprises. Sometimes we don’t even know who we are and what lies beneath.

I have, my friends, been going grey since I was quite young – for nearly half my life. I started disguising the wisps of grey hair with highlights. It was expensive hobby which became annoyingly time consuming. As I became increasingly grey my hair was dyed lighter and lighter. True confessions; I began to be frustrated by having to touch up the roots so frequently. I could see it was damaging my hair. I also saw some photos and thought…’argh that colour just does NOT suit my face’. I am too lazy to be on-it and too vain not to care!’

I have in my adult life known some utterly fabulous grey haired women. My own grandmother has a gorgeous grey pixie cut. My closest work colleague, Cathy, has the most admired hair of any woman I have known. Salt and pepper when I first knew her 25 years ago and now a thick mane of silver. Glorious!

In the craft world I have always admired the style and chic crops of Debbie Bliss and Juliet Bernard. Natural, edgy…cool.

But lets be honest until recently, the fear has always been…grey hair ages you. You will become seen as too old, too invisible and irrelevant. But the nagging inauthenticity of how I looked started to shift something. Before lockdown I shared an open-plan office with a much younger woman who had a glorious salt and pepper bob. I never told her how much I admired her look – her hutzpah. But she gave me courage. The wonderful growing community of #silversisters and the #grombre phenomenon on Instagram showed me there was a changing mood for grey. Let’s be honest if Sarah Harris of Vogue isn’t cool – then who is?

I had always said that at my next significant birthday I would take the plunge and stop dying my hair. But then Covid and lockdown came upon us and I realised that our enforced housebound existence was the perfect opportunity. I think many women thought the same.

I really wish that I had recorded the date of my last dye. I think it was probably February 2020. Now eighteen months on I am nearly dye free with my mid-length locks. There seem to be two schools of thought. Go for the chop, have a buzz or pixie cut and then grow your hair to your favoured length. I went the more torturous route, watching the grey roots work their way down my scalp. Honestly the most painful part was not that difficult. In lockdown I barely saw anyone – and it is really hard to see people accurately on Zoom meetings.

Nearly at the full transition how do I feel? Some days I have my doubts. I think that there are friends who think my new tone ages me. Some days I care…mostly I do not. Will I be invisible? Will I be overlooked for job opportunities? Will I be seen as irrelevant? Well we will see, but luckily I don’t think with my hair. To quote a good friend and an excellent t-shirt – ‘Underestimate me…that’ll be fun’.

The good news is my hair is falling out less, my skin tone looks more like me and I have both more time and change in my pocket. The biggest delight is discovering what was always there, hidden. My quirky dark stripes. Not dyed, not placed, just naturally there. It brings a smile to my face. When I have faltered then I have found new confidence in wearing brighter colours, stronger lipstick, fun jewellery. I have never wanted to be mousy and I am not about to start now.

This is my own journey and we are all very different. Making this decision was hard but logical. The timing was right for me. For others it will be different. However if you are looking for courage to embrace the grey then I would encourage you firstly to look around. So many women have taken lockdown as an opportunity to emerge as a Silver butterfly from a Covid chrysalis. If you are on Instagram it is worth following the hashtags #silversisters and #grombre. Also check out the account of Luisa a wonderful Australian model and photographer @thesilverlining_1970. I have also been encouraged by the author Viv Groskrop, the Fashion Icon Sarah Harris and more recently actors Andie McDowell and Dawn French.

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Will I keep my new silver locks? I think so – it’s such a transition that the thought of doing it again seems ridiculous. Thankfully the ‘silver fox’ concept doesn’t just belong to men and the idea of what is beautiful, trendy and chic is changing. I have found my new badger stripes, why on earth would I want to cover them up!

Getting Festive

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Every year I put together a few little lists of great gifts I have spotted for crafty friends. Sometimes I message their partners and helpfully hint that I might have solved their gift dilemmas – all they need to do is read my blog.

This year I have loved expanding my online shop and pattern range. I don’t think it is too indulgent to point you in the direction of the gifts I have put together for my blog readers and lovely customers.

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Firstly lets talk kits – my favourite kind of gift. The sort of present that illicit ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’ from crafty people. The sort of present that is perfect to start on boxing day curled up in front of the fire with a festive movie. I put together a Beginners Crochet set – all the things you need to get going with this wonderful hobby. The set includes a signed copy of my book – How To Crochet and the yarn, stuffing and toy eyes to complete the amigurumi bunny pattern inside. You also get two splendid balls of cotton yarn and my favourite 3.5mm Clover Soft Touch crochet hook. With this yarn, beginners can start having a go at granny squares and practicing their stitches.

If you really want to spoil someone, why not purchase the Premium set which includes all those items and a gorgeous craft bag and beautiful needlework scissors. I cannot think of anything nicer.

For the seasoned crafter, then the beautiful hand-turned pin cushion is just the thing. Made by my friend Joel – I have just a few bespoke pincushions in my shop. I always need my tapestry needles and pins to hand that I have almost a pincushion in every room. The base is hand-turned in oak and the centre has sustainable cork to keep pins and needles firmly in place. A thing of beauty, I am sure this pincushion will become an heirloom.

If you are not crafty but love to give handmade items as gifts, then I might be able to help you out. These are the items that I love to give. A jaunty handmade crochet cactus. Sat amongst other houseplants it always amuses visitors to our house – is it real….is it woolly?

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Every year I make a few knitted Christmas Pudding hats for the small people in my life. My son and nephew still wear theirs in the run up to Christmas. I wonder how they still fit! But there is nothing more delightful to keep your ears warm in December.

Finally for the tea drinker in your life. Why not put a handmade tea-cosy in your basket. Very practical, but also very heart warming to see on the kitchen table. Surely there is nothing nicer than a handmade gift!

For my followers I have added a new downloadable pattern and kit. I made the ‘Driving Home for Christmas Car’ as a tree ornament as a gift for my son. But finally…finally after much nagging I have written up the pattern. You can buy this either as a downloadable pattern or buy the kit with all the bits and pieces included. I do hope you like it.

So there you go – a few little items to add to your list. Do pop into the shop to see what you can find. There are of course the signed books, postcards and my best-selling toy kits. I just love seeing what you make!

Happy Festive Preparations!

Soft Summer Blanket Yarn Giveaway

I am so thrilled that so many of you said lovely things about my Soft Summer Blanket. Many of you have already begun to make the blanket. That makes me so happy.

I am thrilled that my lovely friends at Stylecraft have been willing to sponsor a Giveaway. They have generously given us 2 balls of each colour – so that is a stupendous 14 balls of yarn. You will also get a beautiful shade card for this blanket from Simply Shade Cards.

So if you would like to enter you can either leave a comment/like & tag a friend on my instagram account. Or you can leave a comment at the end of this blog post. I would really lovely to know who you would like to make the blanket for.

The blanket pattern recipe is available for free in this blog post.

I would like the yarn to go a good home and someone who will be thrilled to make the blanket. If you haven’t caught my Instagram Live September series – then do pop over to Instagram and have a look in my IGTV and there are a series of hints and tips.

The Giveaway finishes for entry at 6am British Summer Time on 24.09.21 – Good Luck!

Pretty Flower Puff Teacosy

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I have a little confession – I don’t drink tea…never have…never will. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like teacosies. I love them! I love the shape of a traditional teapot and I love the fact that a cosy is practical and a brilliant gift for all tea drinkers.

Over the years I have made and designed quite a few cosies. I have even co-authored a book on the subject. I have a few go-to patterns that I make regularly for tea drinking friends. Well as we get cosy for Autumn I have rummaged in my yarn stash and started cosy making.

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I thought it might be fun to share with you a new textured crochet pattern for a cosy and top it with some yarny flower puffs. The is certainly not a new idea – it is an old vintage trick. There is an excellent knitting pattern and explanation in the book ‘The Gentle Art of Knitting’ by Jane Brocket. A book that is a real favourite for me and worth borrowing from your Library or ordering your own copy.

If you would like to make the cosy for yourself. Below is the pattern recipe and a few photos to help you make the flower puffs.

Pretty Flower Puff Teacosy

Sides (make 2)

Using a 3.5mm hook and some DK yarn – I have used Stylecraft Special DK – Warm Grey, make 29 ch sts.

Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook, 1tr in next ch, (1dc, 1tr) rep to end, turn. (28 sts)

Row 2: 1ch, (1dc, 1tr) rep to end, turn. (28 sts).

Repeat row 2, 22 times – working 24 rows.

Fasten off leaving 20cm tail of yarn. Attach sides together at the top and the bottom of each side to create 2 large slits. Then use a large length of yarn to gather the top of the teacosy together using small running stitches.

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Flower Puffs (make as many as you like)

You will need some large knitting needles (I used 2 x 10mm) or thick pens. Also some left over yarn from your stash.

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Holding the needles together and with your thumb holding the yarn down at the end, wind the yarn over both needles about 20 times. Cut off this yarn.

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Then using another strand of yarn about 20cm long, pull it between the needles and tie over the centre of the wound yarn. Make one knot

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Slip the yarn off the needles and secure with a second knot. Neaten all the ends and sew securely to the top of your teacosy. Ta-dah!

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So pretty. I have shared a little tutorial on Instagram if you would like to watch me doing it in real time. But it is fairly simple and a really fun way to use up the ends of your yarn.

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If you like this little pattern and find it helpful – please do share and I would be delighted if you use the ‘Buy me a Coffee’ button in the Shop. But also comments and suggestions are so welcome below. Happy Making!

Soft Summer Blanket

A few weeks ago I told you about a blanket I was making. The original plan was to make a boxy granny square cardigan. I made the cardigan – it looked appalling. I very nearly threw it in the bin – in a fit pique! Luckily sense prevailed and I didn’t. I un-picked the majority of seams and managed to salvage the majority to form the beginnings of a new blanket. The Soft Summer Blanket.

So what did I do since last we spoke? Well I have quite a few lap blankets for outdoor evenings and indoor sofa snuggling. I thought it might be nice to add some granny stripes and make a blanket large enough for a British single bed. Approximately this works out at 130cm width by 180cm length.

I have placed the squares in the centre and then worked the rows of granny striped around. The colours are soft with pinks and duck egg, but there is a zing with the yellow and a little low tone with the denim which knocks out all the sickly sweet colours. A few of you on instagram have asked me about the colours and have been keen to see if the finished result. For me this isn’t so much a designed pattern but more of a riff on a theme. The seasoned crocheter could easily copy what I have done – but for the beginner I thought I would just note down here more of a recipe.

If you do make a version do send me a photo – but also please do comment below and link to the blog post if you like it – I love to hear your feedback.

Soft Summer Blanket Recipe

I used my favourite 3.5mm hook and approx 2 ball each of Stylecraft Special DK – Pale Rose, Powder Pink, Denim, Cloud Blue, Cream, Duck Egg and Mustard.

Stage 1:

Make 36 x Granny Squares which have 6 rows. Make rows 1-5 in different colours and try to make sure there are equal distribution of colours. Don’t use pale rose in rows 1-5 but use it for Row 6 (the last row) for each square.

Basic square

Using 3.5mm hook and A, ch 4 sts, sl st in first ch to form a loop.

Round 1: 3 ch, 2 tr in loop, 3 ch, (3 tr, 3 ch) rep twice more, sl st in 3 ch. (4 tr clusters).

Round 2: Change to B, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp, 3 times, sl st in 3 ch (8 tr clusters).

Round 3: Change to C, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (12 tr clusters).

Round 4: Change to D, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 2 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 2 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (16 tr clusters).

Round 5: Change to E, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (20 tr clusters).

Round 6: Change to Pale Rose, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 4 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 4 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (24 tr clusters).

Fasten off and weave in ends. I blocked each square at this stage as I find it helps with accurately joining each square together. With Pale Rose I slip-stitched the squares together to make a 6 x 6 square.

Stage 2

Starting with the Duck Egg I then worked 16 rows of a granny square clusters around the outside of the 36 squares. Each row was a different colour – however the 2nd row, and following 2 x 5th rows were cream.

Stage 3

I then added more single rows to each end of the blanket to turn it from being a square into a rectangle. Starting with a cream row, I added 14 more rows. The first and every following 5th row was cream. I repeated the colour striping on the otherside of the blanket.

Stage 4

Finally I worked an linen stitch edging around the blanket.

Round 1: With RS facing using 3.5 mm hook, join cream to the top of any treble 1ch, 1dc into each tr, and ch st around, work (1dc, 1ch, 1dc) into each corner, sl st first ch. Fasten off. 

Now you will work 3 rows of linen stitch. Use a different colour for each row.

Rounds 2-4: With RS facing, attach yarn A, 2 ch, miss 1dc at base of ch, (1dc in next st, 1ch, miss 1 st) rep around, work (1dc, 1ch, 1dc) in each corner, sl st in first ch. Fasten off and weave in ends.

There you go – a Soft Summer Blanket. Perfect for a single bed or it looks lovely at the bottom of a King Size bed. I have used the normal crochet abbreviations in this free pattern and if you need any further help with learning to crochet do have a look at my book – How to Crochet which has a great introduction to the Granny Square Technique or my book Granny Squares Home which has some lovely patterns for bed spreads and lap blankets and all the techniques and stitches are explained in detail.

I don’t mind telling you that I am rather thrilled that I have been able to redeem this previously failed project. I have already dragged it outside for evening snuggles and found Stanley claiming ownership a couple of times. I suspect that come the autumn months it will have pride of place at the foot of our bed. Now what else can I fix?

Hidden in plain sight – the Crochet Cactus

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In the town where I spent my early childhood there was an amazing game which the local shops played. It must have been during Carnival week, in the early autumn. Each shop window displayed an item which was totally unrelated to their business. The competition trail asked children to spot and name all the incongruous hidden gems displayed in the windows. I loved this trail. I am sure it was never as extensive as my memory serves – but the joy of spotting something hidden was an utter thrill.

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When I worked in museums – staff knew that there was nothing I enjoyed more than treasure trail and we took the game of my childhood and would hide tiny woolly sheep or teddy bears amongst the exhibits and display cabinets. My inner child is never very far away. I think it is this penchant for whimsy that makes me so fond of making crochet cacti.

When I made my first crochet cactus I became almost giddy with delight – I popped it in a teacup and sat it on the mantlepiece amongst my other house plants. It sat there, in disguise for many months. Only a few guests spotted it was not real. During that time I added to my woolly plant collection for the book Crocheted Succulents. Each completed plant tickled me. They were fun, quick projects – but most importantly wilt due to neglect or more likely overwatering.

In the years that have followed I have seen hundred of photos of completed cacti by readers of my books. Each one is a joy to behold. Last year I launched a beginners kit and pattern for anyone who wanted to dip their toe in the crocheted succulent pond.

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A few of my friends have sheepishly admitted that they have no intention to learn to crochet…but ‘hint, hint’ they wouldn’t mind one of my Cacti. Well I have made a few and there are a small number available to purchase in my shop. If you visit our house – you will spot a few homemade cacti dotted amongst the bookshelves and nestled next to my real houseplants. No one can resist picking them up – and a broad smile stretches across their face. ‘Oh to have plant you can’t kill!’

Baby Lambs and flocking to farming

During the past year I have become obsessed by farming programmes on the telly and consequently sheep. The lambs, breeds and the wonderful farmers that raise them have become a renewed fascination. My own baby sheep design – Sam the Lamb has become a new favourite.

There are so many programmes that cover farming on British telly – that you could spend many hours, many evenings immersing yourself in the wonderful stories and landscapes. My own family poke fun at me and say that they think if I needed to I could deliver a lamb, solo.

I don’t think that is true… but my evening past time has highlighted a number of issues for me. Farming is such hard work and is not ever just a job, but has to be a passion and vocation. It shocks me how little a farmer gets (if anything) for the shorn fleece. Wool – once a prized commodity has almost no value – yet it is such a wonderful material. It keeps you warm when you are cold and has wonderful wick-away properties when you are hot.

I won’t pretend that I have stayed loyal to wool. I do love to wear it. But I have plenty of fleece in my wardrobe. I have also enjoyed and used lots of synthetic yarns and certainly blends using cotton and bamboo in my yarn work. But watching the programmes has made me think.

What has made me laugh is that for some breeds the farmers seem to do a full wash and blow dry on the wool coats before a show. In other parts of the country the stray fibres will be plucked from the sheep’s face like a full beauty session. They will then have the lovely cream fleece rubbed either with peat or sprayed with a colour to turn a cream down to a slightly darker beige. This means that the colour of their head and legs stand out! My word these woolly divas get the full treatment.

The opening of my eyes to new breeds across the nation has encouraged me to make my little sheep in a new colour. I think my Lamb looks rather fetching in their county-show style fawn wool. Certainly very cosy.

I have put this new colourway in my kit selection which you can find in the shop. You might have noticed that part of the blog has a new shop feature. This will enable me to launch some new patterns and new products straight to you. Tell me what you think.

Watching the farming programmes has made me think of animals that I have yet to try. I haven’t yet made a cow and it might be very wonderful to create a highland cow. So whilst it might seem a very idle past time watching very hard working farmers from the comfort of my sofa, the crochet hook is always in hand and the yarn is ready to celebrate another treasured animal.

Billy Bear – My first crochet toy

The first toy you ever have – always has a special place and for a maker is a gift of love. I have updated my Billy Bear pattern to create my very best guide of a first crochet toy.

People often ask me what they should make if they are just starting to make crochet toys. If you have begun crochet making a granny square then the jump to working in the round or making ‘amigurumi’ can seem a bit daunting. Perhaps it is just the name. But essentially you are just working the most basic double crochet stitch in a spiral to build up a seamless shape.

Billy Bear with his striped jumper and simple legs and arms is a brilliant introduction to all the techniques I use in my other toys. My preference in all my toy designs is to incorporate the limbs into the fabric of the crochet. This will ensure that no matter how much play a treasured bear might have – their arm will not unravel. I also like joining each leg together before you work the body. Before you have your first go – this technique might seem complicated. But never fear it is actually quite simple.

I have written the pattern for you with helpful photos and honestly I am keen for you to fly with you toy making and to feel confident with all the techniques. If you are are a real crochet starter and not sure that this will be your thing, I have introduced a few simple kits to my shop so that you can buy just a few of the items you need before you start building a huge stash. You can choose from a beautifully classic duck egg colour or the softest powder pink. One of my customers messaged me to ask if I had a bespoke colour that she could use and I was able to help her and pop it in the kit. So if you have different stripe in mind, do message me.

Followers to this blog will notice a little change. I have added my own shop to the blog so that you can buy kits and books directly from me. It’s a new exciting venture and I am so delighted to connect with you and help you develop your crochet.

Pop over to the shop to have a look and tell me about any other items or patterns you would like to see.

Make New and Mend

Sometimes the things I make don’t work out…I mean they are really not good. I see a pattern, an image and I think… ‘Oooo that would look lovely!’. My little brain starts whirring and before you know it, the hook or the needle are out and I have ferreted in the stash to find some appropriate yarn.

It tends not to happen with toy making. The projects are small enough that I can make alterations as I go. But more frequently when I am making clothing… I can fall in love with a look and a shape and right near the end I have that little niggle in the back to my mind…’is this going to look dreadful?’

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We can all make a fashion mistake – entranced by a look that is very now. But when we try it on realise it does our body shape no favours at all. Don’t get me wrong…we must wear what we like…but let’s not feel uncomfortable or self conscious. In the past few weeks I have been making pastel shade granny squares. Soft hues with a pop of yellow. I have a fetching mustard coloured skirt and I thought it might be fun to match this with a little Granny Square Bolero. Pretty.

All well and good until I had sewn all the squares together, slip-stitched the seams, made the edging and sewn in all the pesky ends. As soon as I slipped the new cardigan on over a t-shirt, it wasn’t such a Tadah! moment but rather Na Naah! moment. The hems hit my figure in all the wrong places and instead of looking funky and cute, I looked quite uncomfortable and a little unhinged.

I was so unimpressed with the final garment that I cannot find even one of photo of it in its finished state. There are choices. I can either throw it away in a fit of peak. Or let it lie there languishing in a pile (that’ll teach it…or me) or … see the value of what is already there.

I cannot lie, this project really foxed me. I was so close to throwing the whole thing in the bin. But I loved the colours so much it pained me to do so. On Friday night I decided to grasp the nettle and unravel the joins and make the majority of the squares into a 6 x 6 square blanket. This needed patient work, re-stitching seams, weaving in new ends. But I so love the tones that it has been worth the dedication. Something rescued, restored and repurposed. That it the work of the artisan. Not make do and mend – but make new and mend.

Having reset the squares I am delighted that they will have a much longer life as a blanket. In fact I have decided to set them as a central motif in a much larger blanket that will fit a single bed. A happy joyful outcome from a frustrating jolly mess. I often think – my yarn hobbies teach me quite a bit about life. You can intend to make one thing, an ideal vision. But circumstances mean that the result isn’t quite right – you can throw it away – all of it – but if something can be rescued, mended, and lovingly repurposed…perhaps a new beautiful thing can be created. Worth a try don’t you think?

If you are looking for the colour recipe – many of the yarns I have used were in my stash. I am a Stylecraft Blogstar and so have access to many the Stylecraft yarns as a gift. The yarns I used are – Stylecraft Special DK – Pale Rose, Powder Pink, Denim, Cloud Blue, Cream, Duck Egg and Mustard.

The Sneak-off Projects

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There are chores to do…washing up, laundry, weeding, hoovering, a wipe round of sinks. Oh my why am I making this list? It all needs doing! Opening doom laden brown envelopes…sorting school uniform… all stuff that needs doing…some that really does need doing now… and what would I like to do? Yes my current crochet project is calling me. Rather loudly I might say.

My current project is the perfect kind of project – a sneak-off project. If you are a regular crafter you will immediately recognise the type – or have memories of the feeling.

Let me explain. There are some craft projects that you start full of enthusiasm, full of vigour and then…then you make a mistake. Suddenly all that ripping back and remaking takes the shine off a previously captivating design.

There are some that quite frankly just plain boring. They begin to languish in a hidden project bag. In fact to assuage the guilt – you begin to hide the project bag. But it begins to peep out and stare at you from the corner of the room. You can’t quite decide whether it would be easier to rip it all back and use the yarn for something else – or just leave it for another 2 months, 6 months….2 years.

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Then there are ‘promise-to’ projects that you seem to be a slave to – often a sort of loose commission – a jumper, hat, baby blanket that needs to be finished for the imminent celebration or arrival. Knowing that you need to knuckle down and finish the gift, you begin to find distraction techniques to avoid having to get on with the make. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, cleaning the oven seems the most important thing to do rather than your relaxing hobby. You mutter to yourself…’never again, never again, I will never make a blanket for another relative however much they flatter me with … Oh but you make them so beautifully… I will retort…buy one from the supermarket!’ You don’t of course, but only remember your previous resolution when you hands are aching again from the almost sweat-shop speed of crafting.

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But the goal – the ‘once a year’ rarity is the ‘sneak off’ project. This is the most joyful combination of relaxing familiarity with enough interest in it to keep you inspired. You will like the colours and and the pattern. Once you have done just a little you will enjoy setting it down on your lap to admire the pattern and the stitches. You will enjoy this so much that you might admire your progress perhaps once an hour, maybe more. You will know immediately that once finished this item will not be gifted to anyone else. This is a ‘me’ project. Then it will start to happen, you will begin thinking about sneaking off and working on your project when really you should be doing something else – quiet joyful satisfaction. Outside lockdown you might be invited to a social occasion and think twice about whether you want to go…because you had planned a whole evening of crafting.

I have a ‘Sneak-off’ project at the moment. I know aren’t I lucky? It is a growing stash-busting hexagon blanket. The motifs are standard enough. A plain treble hexagon of 4 rows. I can’t conjure up what prompted me to start. What I do know is that I wanted to make something pretty – go to a pastel place. I have called it ‘The Spring Garden Hexagon Blanket’ – it has a freshness of the the early garden season. What is unusual and shouldn’t be shared is that I am combining two different yarn weights; 4 ply and almost as sports weight DK. I had a rather expensive hand-dyed 4ply sock yarn languishing in storage for too long. The base colour is a rather joyful pink, but there are flecks of green and yellow which peek through. I decided it would make a beautiful centre of the motif – and it does. I then have used some Stylecraft yarns Bellissima and Bambino which is in my stash for the following rounds. At this moment in time I am not sure how large I will make it. Perhaps the size of a British Single Bed – but that works well draped at the bottom of a Kingsize bed. This weekend I plan to sneak-off several times to add a few more rows. Utter bliss.

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What are you sneak-off projects? Do you have a favourite from years past? Perhaps all your crochet or knitting fits into this category. I would love to know.

Yarn Colours – The sock yarn is a discontinued colour – but an equivalent would be West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Flamingo. I have also used the following colours in Stylecraft Bellissima – Single Cream, Mellow Yellow, Double Denim, Overly Olive and Precious Posy. I have also used Bambino (it is the same yarn) Little Boy Blue, Heather and Sage.

Have a Happy Crafting Weekend!

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