Lucia’s Eastern Jewels Workshop at Poppy’s

When we were given the opportunity to attend a workshop by Lucia of Lucia’s Fig Tree, we jumped at the chance. Little did we know that it would be in the most perfect setting.

On Saturday 18th of November, we set off to a place only 5 minutes away from the mill, ideal. We were heading to Poppy’s, a yarn shop with a difference. This was no ordinary workshop, this was a retreat.

We pulled up at a rural farmhouse with magnificent views. We had a boot full of Stylecraft goodie bags for the other participants and headed into the kitchen where were greeted by Helen, who runs Poppy’s, with her husband Peter.

After a warm welcome and a little tour around, we could see this was going to be like no other workshop. We all met in the dining room for coffee and an introduction where we were told to make ourselves at home. We all introduced ourselves and Lucia told us what we would be doing over the next two days.

Lucia has become a crochet sensation after recolouring some of Jane Crowfoot’s designs, most recently recolouring Persian Tiles into Eastern Jewels. She is also a wiz with designing blankets and working with colour and texture.

We then piled into the living room where the fire was lit and Lucia’s blankets were piled high.

Along with the Stylecraft goodie bags, we also had a Poppy’s goodie bag which was most exciting! We really were spoilt! There were baskets of yarn and boxes with yarn wraps strewn all around us making us feel very at home.

Then it was time to begin. Lucia started by showing us her blankets and talking about border and joining shades and how it can have a huge impact in the feel of the blanket. She advised us to think carefully about the tone and shades – Alpaca yarn has a more muted shade, whereas Special is more solid and defined.

Lucia trained as an architect and has worked in interior design for many years, so choosing colours and texture is second nature to her. She brought some mood boards which she had made for a client to show us how she pics out shades, tones and textures which was very interesting. She had also brought along her scrapbook which showed us her ideas and how she plans a blanket. She showed us a blanket she had made for her bedroom by picking out colours in her curtains. You can clearly see how the blanket and curtain ties coordinate.

Lucia referred to the book ‘Around the Corner’ by Edie Eckman for great borders to use. She also suggested learning to read crochet graphs which enables you to read international patterns with ease. After the talk on choosing colours, we all began working on our Eastern Jewels blanket, surprisingly, there were not many of us who had started the blanket so many of us were new to the octagon. This kept us quiet and in deep concentration for the next half an hour or so.

Then, it was time for lunch! We headed to the dining room for a feast of sandwiches, quiche, salad and soup followed by all kinds of delicious cakes. After much chatting, it was time to get back to crocheting where many of us got sidetracked and wandered off into the amazing shop.

Poppy’s is a farmhouse which has had an extension built to hold crochet retreats, so although you feel like you are in someone’s home, it is purpose built, just for comfort and crochet. There is also a shop, but this is no ordinary shop. People who attend the retreats can use it as a normal shop but with the added bonus of being able to make many visits and swap things as you go, paying for it at the end of your visit. Although this shop is not open to the public, it is just as well organised and displayed. There is, however, an online shop which sells all of the wonderful things in the shop, and more, which you can find here.

The darkness set in and it was time to retire. The other ladies had another day of workshopping, lunching and crocheting, but unfortunately Stylecraft could not attend, but don’t worry, we got the lowdown and what Sunday had in store for them.

We asked the ladies to sum up Sunday and the overwhelming response was ‘Understanding the power of colour, making it pop.’

Lucia shared her design from her blog for November which she is making. Hygge is a blanket that was inspired by IKEA designs for clean living and the current craze for a natural palette. The girls then learnt how to get balance across the whole blanket and how to select the next colours for each square.

The lunch break as was a traditional Yorkshire steak pie and peas with mint sauce which was a great success.

The afternoon was a session that looked at different joining stitches; how to join the Eastern Jewels and how to join another of the patterns from Stylecraft the Batik Elements pattern by Annelies Baes that a number of the ladies were working on. It was concluded that the best description of how to do this came from another Stylecraft Blogstar, Heather from Patchwork Heart, a friend of Poppy’s and someone who had created a number of the pieces displayed in the shop.

Throughout the day there were plenty of one on one consultations in the shop with Lucia and Helen, to help select the wool for their next projects, here there was a real interest in learning to mix different wool types together.

Another successful day and a reluctant set of ladies leaving at the end of the day with bags of inspiration and wool to start their new projects.

The quote of the day came from one of the ladies, Louise, who said she felt inspired and empowered to be confident on her own with colours and shapes as there are no rules.

The Knitting and Stitching Show

We are gearing up for the Knitting and Stitching Show which will be running from October 11th- 15th. We fondly refer to it as Ally Pally and it is the only show we got to, to meet our wonderful knitting and crochet public.

Held over 5 days, it’s definitely a marathon – we are so busy that our feet don’t touch the ground from 10am each day. The whole team will be there including Annabelle, who is in charge, Dani, who is completely tireless, Lisa, who looks after us, Emma, who makes us laugh, Sophie, who masterminds our social media, Anna, who likes to tidy shelves and Juliet, who makes more work for everyone else. On Friday and Saturday we have a very special guest.  Lucia from Lucia’s Fig Tree, who created the amazing colour combination for Eastern Jewels, will be on the stand, so make sure you swing by to say hello.

It may be tiring but it is such fun to see which yarn you choose, which patterns you like best, and to hear what you think of our yarns and colours. Lisa always makes sure we have some tempting sweets at the till, so when you have bagged your bargain, make sure you nab a little reward.

Don’t forget that when the dust settles after Ally Pally we launch our annual Blog on 16th October. Each of our lovely Blogstars has been given a special pack of Batik and Batik Elements pack to come up with some yummy new projects for you to try – and there are 16 posts so you’re sure to find inspiration. The packs will be available at your local yarn shop or favourite online store.

If you are going to the show, please do come and see us.  We are at stands H41 & F31… Look for the Stylecraft balloons!

Bring on the Cold Weather

Boy, do we have a bumper launch for you this month, with lots of new yarns, shades and patterns to try and enjoy.

Life Vintage Look

Launched last year, Life Vintage Look is a beautiful melange of harmonious shades that knit up to give a subtle striped effect.  We are launching six pattern leaflets featuring beautifully wearable jumpers, cardigans and accessories, showcasing our three new shades – Moorland, Prairie and Volcano.

Alpaca Tweed

We know how much you love the Alpaca Tweed family of yarns so we have news shades AND new patterns for you.

Alpaca Tweed DK welcomes two new shades – Orchid and Marine featuring in designs which have a distinctly modern feel with unusual cables twists, cropped tops and fluted sleeves. But it’s not just about the garments, we have essential accessory designs including two ponchos, featuring lace stitches, and two colourful shawls, perfect for wrapping yourself up in.

We have added two new classic shades to the Alpaca Tweed Chunky palette – Blush and Emperor.  This yarn is just right for the colder weather and our lovely patterns feature richly cabled jumpers and cardigans to keep the chill at bay, as well as cosy shawls and a wonderful geometric cushion design by crochet superstar Annelies Baes.

Weekender

What a feast of patterns we have to offer you in Weekender, a delicious super chunky yarn.  The collection includes textured sleeveless tops, cardigans, a jumper with a bold lace leaf design as well as super-cute bags and a special cushion and blanket set by Annelies Baes.  The Weekender palette has expanded to include three new colours – Greenstone, Old Rose and Silver.

Swift Knit Mega

For that catwalk-ready, over-sized look you can’t do better than Swift Knit Mega.  Not only is this a sumptuous yarn but its combinations of colours are designed to fit into any wardrobe.  The cosiest of designs include garments, an on-trend wrap, scarves, cowls, hats and gloves.  Or why not bring some texture into your home with our cushion designs.  For this season there are five new shades – Ash, Flint, Heather, Peony and Wedgewood

With so much on offer, we are curious to know which yarn you will try first. Tell us by leaving a comment on our Facebook page, by the 31st of October, and one of you will win some lovely yarn featured in this blog!

Blogstar Takeover with Get Knotted Yarn Craft

The Stylecraft Blogstars have so much knowledge and experience between them. We have decided to let them take over our blog from time to time, so that they can share some of their tips with you.  The first is Angela Armstrong from Get Knotted Yarn Craft with some fantastic ideas about colour. Over to you, Angela.

Angela

Inspiring Colour 


One of the most common complaints or issues that I see in the yarn world is colour. People begging for colour help, or swooning over other people’s work and wishing that they had such good colour sense.

I’m writing this post to tell you that it is not as hard as you think, in fact YOU HAVE AN AWESOME EYE FOR COLOUR!

That’s right, you heard me, you do! It’s much more likely that your issue is confidence in your choices and that you are unaware of your awesome potential.

It’s going to be OK, because I’m going to give you some fabulous tips and tools to help you out.  So, let’s get started.

Top five tips to easy colour inspiration. 

  1. Open your wardrobe and take a look.  If you’re anything like me, you stick to a range of safe colours.  That’s perfectly fine.  Pick your favourite one, even if it’s black. Now, go to your browser and search for “[insert your colour here] and colour geometric patterns”.

For example: green and geometric patterns.

Now switch to image results and start scrolling. They may be all monochromatic to start with, but as you keep going you will find variations and combinations that you would never dream of.

  1. Look around your house.  You have surrounded yourself with things that you like.  So, look more closely at them.

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The pattern on your grandmother’s China cup, the Lilliput Lane cottage, the print or painting on your wall, your carpet, throw/rugs, cushions and even your favourite coffee mug and fridge magnet.

You have been making bold and enlightened colour choices for years without realising it!

  1. Look in a catalogue.  Even if it’s just groceries.  Advertising agencies and marketing gurus spend millions on developing brand and colour recognition.  So take a leaf out of their book and use their researched ideas.  That cereal box that has too much sugar has a great combination.

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  1. ‘The thing I’m making is for my great uncle John who is a real curmudgeon and his house is a mish mash of colour and design’, you wail.

OK, look at what he wears.  Jackets, cardigans, socks, ties even his glasses frame. Pick the two most common colours, even if it’s black and grey, you can still work with that.

Choose a third colour to give him joy, some corner of his soul will appreciate it. It doesn’t have to be lurid pink, it can be subtle like gold or cream.

  1. If it’s a commission or mystery gift and you’re given a single colour, you’re way ahead of the game. Try and get the person to be specific.  Fire engine red, cornflower blue, or the same purple as that dress that actress wore on the red carpet.

Go to your favourite yarn brand (Stylecraft of course, lol) and look at their purple shades. If you have a specific shade you can match, awesome.  But if you’re worried about being off enough to clash, then look at contrasting colours using the tools below.

Tools

  1. Colour calculator

Once you have a basic colour, it’s time to get the other shades. There are some great sites out there that can teach you about colour theory and harmonics, but if you don’t have time or aren’t inclined,  this site is for you;

https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator

You choose the colour on the wheel, the depth or intensity on the bar beside it, and then you can choose what kind of accompaniment you wish – opposite, harmonic, contrasting etc. It then gives you the ideas for the right shades

  1. Design Seeds

If you have no constraints and are simply looking for a palette, then you cannot go past this fabulous site. The designer takes gorgeous photos and then analyses them to show the palette contained.  Just go look, it’s well worth it.

https://www.design-seeds.com

  1. Granny Square Colours

Now, now, bear with me.  It doesn’t have to be a square. You’re looking at how rounds of colour work together. So if it’s a granny square, a detailed square, a Mandala, a doll, whatever. You can use this tool to show you how to mix it up and what different versions look like.

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(Firenze Afghan Block by Julie Yeager, images sourced from Ravelry)

http://granny-square-colors.com/

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(Sourced from Granny Square app using 7 colours)

  1. Random Stripe Generator

This is a seriously awesome tool.  I’ve used it for bedspreads, shawls, gloves and a jacket concept design.  You’re only limited by your stash.

This is another tool that you can fool around with for ages and never hit the same combination twice.  Plug in your colours and the maximum stripe width and off you go!

http://www.biscuitsandjam.com/stripe_maker.php

There you are, a swag of ideas and tools to equip you to shine with your own inner awesomeness.  Seriously, the only thing holding you back, is you!

So, go on, get knotted. I mean get knotting.

#GrannySquareDay2017

Did you take part in Granny Square Day? It’s a wonderful event already in its 3rd year.

This year, Granny Square Day was on August 15th, and thousands of people uploaded their granny squares to Instagram to build a virtual blanket. Crocheters take a close up picture of a Granny Square they have made and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #GrannySquareDay2017. You can find all of the Granny Squares here.  

Our wonderful Blogstars took part and we have made our own Stylecraft Blogstars Granny Square Day blanket too!

SC Blogstars granny blanket

Stylecraft Pampered Pooches

Meet Buster, he is here to help us celebrate our Stylecraft Pampered Pooches competition with a lovely dog biscuit recipe…

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Stylecraft Pampered Pooches is running throughout January 2017, so you can show off pictures of your beloved pets in handmade coats and accessories and be in with a chance of winning Stylecraft goodies. If you would like to enter, send a pic to creative@stylecraftltd.co.uk or use the hashtag #StylecraftPamperedPooches on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, stating which category you would like to be in-

Best knitted dog coat

Best crocheted dog coat

Best Pampered Pooch

All Creatures Great and Small (for pets other than dogs)

Best of Breed for the overall winner

We have set up albums on Facebook so you can see all of the fabulous entries so far. We would also like to add that Many Tears Animal Rescue will be receiving a yarn donation as voted for by the public, this kick starts our Charity 12, which you will be hearing more about throughout the year.

Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s treat our friends to some homemade doggie biscuits!

Dog biscuits recipe

They say the way to a loved one’s heart is through their stomach and our four legged friends are definitely no different!! Here is our recipe for some scrummy homemade dog treats that will have your furry friends doing backflips for more! Super healthy and also fully edible for humans, we sampled them dipped in a cuppa and were actually quite addicted too, ha ha!!

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Ingredients:

150g rolled oats

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

1 banana

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (fan oven). Grind up the oats in a food processor until they are a fine powder (we used our NutriBullet, which did a grand job!) and set aside about a tablespoons worth for later. Add the banana and peanut butter to the oats in the food processor then whizz up until a dough forms. Scatter the oats you put aside onto a clean work surface or greaseproof paper, pop your dough on top and combine in the oats a little before rolling the whole lot out to around 1cm thick. Take your cookie cutter (bone shaped is optional!) and cut out the biscuits before transferring them to a greaseproof paper lined baking tray. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes, until just browning around the edges. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking tray. Once cool they are ready to eat, so summon your puppies and share a biscuit or two!

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And the verdict is… They went down a treat!

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If you make any of these for your fluffy friends, then please share with us on social media, we would love to see!

Thank you to Juliet Bernard for treating Buster to the lovely biscuits and thank you to Kayti Peschke at Caboodle Magazine for the wonderful recipe.

 

Blog Tour

So, Stylecraft have decided to take part in the Blog Tour this year and present you with a pattern! We decided to get Juliet Bernard on board to help design and make this fabulous decorative tablet cover. We have chosen the Special Chunky Silver pack and HERE is where you can enter to win 10 balls in these wonderful shades…

Silver

The competition ends at 11:59 PM tonight and we will be announcing the winner tomorrow. We will be visiting Le monde de Sucrette’s blog tomorrow, very exciting!

So, here is the pattern, we hope you enjoy it! …..

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Tablet Cover Pattern

Using Silver and size 8mm needles cast on 55 stitches.
Starting with  knit row work 43 rows. Leave the stitches on the needle.

Macrame
You need to measure out 2 metre lengths of your chosen colours and fold them in half.  We chose Empire, Denim, Storm Blue, Sage, Meadow, Pistachio and Saffron (2 lengths of each).  This will be enough to decorate the front of the tablet cover.

Using a crochet hook, pick up the loop between two stitches.

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Starting at the edge, and pull the yarn through as per the picture to secure.

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Miss the next loop between the stitches and then pick up the next loop to attach  your next length of yarn to.  If you prefer you can loop the yarn through every other live stitch.
The knots we have used are very simple double knots and these step by step pictures show you how to tie them.

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Tie a double knot on each set of four strands.  To tie the second row of knots set the first two strands aside and then tie a double knot in the next four strands you see. Two strands will be of one colour and two will be from the next colour along.
Keep tying knots in this way until you have the lovely mesh you see here.

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Now return to the knitting by working one row of purl followed by 6 rows of 2×2 rib before casting off loosely.
Fold the knitting in half and sew up the side and bottom being careful not to trap any ends from the macramé.
To finish, using a crochet hook, pull the loose ends of the macrame through a loop at the bottom seam that roughly corresponds to where the strands were joined in at the top.  We have pulled 4 strands through at a time. Tie a knot to make the tassel.

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Blogstars

Blogging is a great way to share your crafty world. We have chosen what we think are some of the best crafty bloggers around to work with, we are calling this Stylecraft Blogstars! Not only will we be telling them our latest news so they can tell you, but also being part of a group like this enables these fantastic bloggers to collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other. We had our first Blogstars meeting a few weeks ago to do just that.

We think the main thing that the Blogstars took from our meeting was inspiration, and this is what we want you to get from Blogstars too! There is nothing like being inspired; when you just can’t wait to get home and pick up those needles or hooks! They were all so enthusiastic and eager to work on new plans.

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Featured in the picture above we have, back row, from left to right- Sandra Paul from Cherry Heart, Julia Marsh from Hand Knitted Things, Helen Kurtz from The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty and Sarah Shrimpton from Annaboo’s House.
Front row, from left to right- Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats, Heather Leal from Patchwork Heart, Phil from The Twisted Yarn, Lucy O’Regan from Attic24 and Sue Pinner from Shropshire Scrapper Suz.

There were three Blogstars that couldn’t make it to the meetup but are by no means less involved! They were Jane Crowfoot from Jane Knits, Angela Armstrong from Get knotted Yarn Crafts and Emma Varnam.

Check out our new blogstar area on the website where you can fill your boots with lots of crafty inspiration from our fabulous Blogstars.

stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/blog/designers/

Knit a Million Stitches in March

We were lucky enough to be able to spend some time with local celebrity and super knitter extraordinaire; Julie Bruce, last week!

Julie has stitched her way into the record books, by knitting and purling 1 million stitches in the month of March! What started out as a gesture from a friend who donated his late wife’s stash to Julie, soon turned into a charitable effort to honour his goodwill and generosity. Julie came up with the catchy idea to ‘knit a million stitches in March’, and from there the wheel was set in motion!

Running a local convenience store full time meant that spare hours weren’t exactly easy to come by for Julie, but in true Yorkshire style; with grit and determination (and lots of help from her son Chris), she managed to fully complete the mammoth task….just 15 minutes before midnight, on March 31st!

Generous Julie decided to take on the challenge to raise funds for the Kirkwood Hospice and has done just that, the charity will be collecting their cheque this week, thanks to all of her hard work (long days and sore fingers!)

Doing this extreme challenge hasn’t put Julie off knitting just yet however, as she is still selflessly making blankets for preemies charities and local hospitals in her (albeit limited!) free time!

 

Julie Bruce Image

 

So, the question remains – just how long do you think it’d take you to knit (or crochet!) a million stitches?

Leah’s Work Experience

My name’s Leah-Mae Weatherhead and I’ve just recently finished two weeks of work experience with Spectrum Yarns (that’s the company that owns Stylecraft). The reason why I’ve decided to write this blog is to share my many experiences with you, you could say some are funny, some are life changing and yet some just have to happen to everyone, no matter what.

Leah

Week 1

Day 1 – I woke up to catch a bus at 7.20am to get to the mill for 9.00am. Disaster! The bus I was due to catch went straight past me (we’ve all been there). Mum came to the rescue and dropped me off in town so I could catch the next bus. Finally, I arrived. On time but only just! I explained to Dani, who was mentoring me for my work experience, what’d happened and she burst out laughing quite hysterically. She said “at least it can’t get any worse tomorrow”. She wasn’t wrong!!! After I was introduced to the packaging department where I was responsible for preparing and dispatching orders. Overall my first day was eventful!

Day 2 – The following day (no bus problems) I attended a Stylecraft team meeting with Dani and the team to discuss new types of wool they are looking at bringing into the range. A couple of cups of tea and biscuits later (you don’t get this at school) the meeting finished; I never knew there was so much to discuss about wool!

Day3/4/5 – Over the next three days I worked alongside Alison, Emma and Julie who are all a part of either Stylecraft or Glenbrae teams. Glenbrae is Spectrum’s knitwear brand.  Emma introduced me to the social media side of all the brands and how they interact with the public – which I really enjoyed. I also got the opportunity with Emma, to take photos of different products, which have been posted onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Alison then explained and showed me how Glenbrae garments are packed and dispatched to customers all over the world! Julie then showed me the day to day running of the Stylecraft business which included placing orders, how the in-house systems worked and learned about all the different types of wool – which I found really interesting.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first week of work experience it was fascinating. And as they say “time flies when you’re having fun”; and it flew by.

Week 2

Day 1 – No problems with the bus this morning (I must be getting good at this!) Today I worked with Alison in packaging, putting stock away (Glenbrae) and organising them into sizes, colour and the type of garments.

Day 2 –  I arrived at work and was involved in a meeting with a marketing agency: Propaganda. The meeting was to discuss a potential photo shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed this because I’m currently studying GCSE photography at school and it was fascinating to see how it can be applied in business.

Day 3 – This morning I worked with the girls from Stylecraft in despatch. I was responsible for putting customer orders together and ready for dispatching (I hope I got all the orders right!). In the afternoon I was given my own work space in the office to put prices onto a spreadsheet.

Day 4 – Today I spent all day out of the mill (lucky me!) and I travelled all the way over to Belper with Dani and Richard Brown who own the business, for a meeting. After this, I visited the dye house where all the Glenbrae garments are put through a colouring process, which is a lot harder than it sounds (as I found out).

Day 5 – My last day… To say thank you to everyone at Spectrum Yarns I brought in a box of chocolates and a cake for everyone to enjoy on my last day. And when I say everyone, I really mean me ha-ha! Today I’ve had a 5 hour meeting, long I know, to discuss the different ways of getting the knitwear brands as established as possible.

The thought of going back to school next week kills me but unfortunately it’s something I have to do… Whilst being here I’ve kind of forgotten what it feels like to go to school and to be honest it’ll be weird getting back into the routine,  but if I had a choice whether to go to school or work at the mill full time it’d be a no brainer – working at the mill obviously!