Blogstars Meet-up

Early February usually means we have some very special guests visiting our Yorkshire mill.

There is a buzz around the office as though royalty are on their way. On February 3rd we had our highly anticipated Blogstar meet-up.

This is where all of our Blogstars come and join us for a chat, lunch and usually a little workshop to feed their creativity.

The activities start on the Friday before when some of the bloggers arrive and we go on a visit to somewhere crafty. This time we visited The University of Huddersfield’s Textiles Department. Well known for its fantastic textile courses, we thought it would be the perfect place to take a bunch of textile loving bloggers. Two students called Liam & Echo showed us around where we saw samples, swatches, fabrics, machinery and yarn!

It was brilliant to see the inner workings of the department. They have around nine different courses from Textile Crafts and Art to International Fashion Buying Management. It was safe to say the Blogstars enjoyed their visit, apart from when the fire alarm went off and they had to stand outside!

That evening, the Blogstars all met for a meal where much eating, drinking and crafting was to be had followed by a good night’s sleep ready for an early start on the Saturday.

We all met at the mill for around 10am. Within seconds, the yarn from the Blogstars goodie bags was out and the mill went from being very quiet to being a hive of activity.

What’s this? There’s a new Blogstar sat at our table! Meet Helen Shrimpton, with a wealth of super crocheted blankets, motifs and knowledge, she is a great addition to the team.

We all said ‘hi!’ to our overseas Blogstars who were attending the meeting via Skype. We had Anne Schueler, Julia Marsh, Michelle Westlund, Polly Plum, Zelna Olivier and Angela Armstrong.

We began with a general chit-chat and a feedback session followed by the very exciting Spring/ Summer collection and new releases (shhh, top secret!) This always creates a buzz in the air as you can almost see the Blogstars conjuring up ideas of what to make with the new yarn! We discussed new competitions, giveaways (watch this space) and magazine articles, so keep a lookout for a Blogstar popping up on paper.

We got to meet Sandra of Cherry Heart’s Forget me Not Dots Blanket in person <3

Then we moved on to what some people see as the best meal of the day… lunch. We mainly like lunch as it gives us a chance to drink lots of tea or coffee, play with yarn and chat about yarn! Not to mention the lovely food and cake… yes! Cake.

With all the important things out of the way, it was time to move onto our relaxing Dorset Buttons workshop run by Juliet Bernard.

This was not too taxing with brilliant results.

The charm is that it isn’t very difficult to master. This is a great technique for making buttons to match your knitted or crocheted garment if you can’t find the perfect button. You can use matching yarn! Perfect.

It was then time to say goodbye, until the next time, Blogstars!

From left to right we have Emma Varnam, Sarah Shrimpton, Phil Saul, Helen Kurtz, Lucy Attic, Sandra Paul, Kathryn Senior, Helen Shrimpton, Lucia Dunn & Heather Leal.

Unfortunately, Jane Crowfoot, Catherine Bligh & Julia Marsh could not attend, but we hope to see them next time. We would also love to meet our overseas Blogstars in person one day too.

To find out more about our Blogstars, follow this link to their profile-  https://stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/blog/designers/

 

First New launch of the Year!

Welcome to 2018.  It looks like it’s going to be an exciting year at Stylecraft so we thought we would kick off with a quick look at the first of our launches for the spring summer season.  It may still be chilly and gloomy outside but we hope our new yarns will give you a taste of the warmer, sunnier days ahead.

Bambino

Bambino is a lovely new yarn for babies in a sophisticated, yet muted palette of eight gorgeous colours. The yarn is beautifully smooth and comfy for baby, is anti-pilling and of course machine washable, so super practical. There are 9 knitting patterns for jumpers, cardigans and accessories as well as some super-cute dungarees.

 Head Over Heels Boho

Head Over Heels was a big hit with knitters and crocheters last year and we have really enjoyed seeing all your projects across social media.  This season we are launching a completely new range called Boho, which features a monochrome faux Fair Isle strip in among the yarn’s characteristically fun colour stripes.  The 6 new yarns, all named after famous rivers, are supported by three free patterns – a lovely shawl, a baby jumper and a new sock design by Stylecraft Blogstar Josie Kitten, which you can get hold of from your local yarn shop.

Jeanie

Jeanie also launched last year with a range of traditional denim shades that proved very popular.  For 2018 we have extended this aran weight yarn’s palette to include four muted pastels to complement the existing range. The problem we are having is which lovely new colour to try first in one of the 6 knitting patterns for ladies we have designed – easy-to-wear garments that are sure to suit any wardrobe, with gorgeous textures including cables and lace.

An Interview with Betsan Corkhill

Welcome to the Stylecraft Year of Wellbeing.

As a knitter or crocheter, you probably know that your craft has lots of health benefits alongside being huge fun.  Over the next 12 months, we will be exploring the many ways that knitting and crochet can enhance your life.

There is only one place we could start the year and that’s with the amazing Betsan Corkhill, and the organization she founded called Stitchlinks.  It’s well worth having a look around the website to look at the research and the science behind therapeutic craft.

Betsan began her career in physiotherapy. “Until 2002 I was a Senior Physiotherapist, working in the community. Many of the patients I saw were so demotivated I knew they wouldn’t do the exercises I’d taught them or carry out the lifestyle changes I advised. Mrs Smith wasn’t getting out of her chair because she had no reason to,” she explains.  “I felt we needed to take a step back with these individuals. They needed to develop an interest in the world, an aspiration to improve their wellbeing and an opportunity to enjoy social contact before any self-management approach would be successful.”

She left healthcare to work in the magazine sector and it was there while pulling together Simply Knitting’s letter pages that she noticed one theme coming up again and again. Anecdotal evidence of how knitting had helped readers with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, pain and any number of other symptoms. The medic in Betsan was so intrigued she decided to find out more and Stitchlinks was born.

As well as publishing a number of books and helping to establish a clinical trial into the benefits of knitting for chronic pain sufferers, she also gives regular talks all over the world. She is off soon to Sydney to run a three-hour workshop for an audience of clinicians, academics and people living with long-term pain on behalf of the charity Pain Australia.

So why knitting or crochet? According to Betsan therapeutic knitting and crochet can deliver so many health benefits to everyone regardless of whether you have a chronic condition or simply want to improve their general wellbeing. We all have the power to change ourselves neurologically or biologically and therapeutic craft helps facilitate that change, which is such a hopeful message.

But persuading the medical community to take her seriously was the first hurdle she had to overcome. She had to transform the activity of knitting into a phrase that clinicians would take more seriously to get her foot in the door. Bilateral rhythmic psycho-social intervention is what Betsan came up with. Doesn’t that just trip off your tongue?  And it worked!

What her research boils down to is based on hard scientific fact. When we take part in craft we use our hands.  The simple act of bringing your hands together requires a phenomenal amount of brain processing power and strengthens links in different areas of our brains:  looking at, or picturing, a colour stimulates the visual cortex; thinking about the pattern you want to knit promotes forward planning, and links to your anticipation and excitement; completing a project gets the reward centres firing away.  Every aspect helps to improve your brain’s flexibility which is essential to everyone’s psychological resilience to help us through life’s ups and downs.

Craft, knitting and crochet, in particular, are safe, non-threatening, portable and can deliver a profound sense of success quite quickly, which is why Betsan is so passionate about them as a therapeutic solution.

She has just launched a new venture with Callie Lasch – a media professional who has curated many exhibitions exploring the hand brain link.  It’s called The Institute of Therapeutic Craft and Creativity and you can view some of Betsan’s talks there.  They are completely fascinating. Currently, she is doing some filming with BBC Wales for a live programme on ‘Making Wales Happy’, broadcast on January 23rd at 8pm-9pm.

It is hard to do Betsan’s work justice in a short blog post, but hopefully, you will want to follow the links we have highlighted, and we will definitely be revisiting Betsan’s ideas throughout the year.

So, next time you feel guilty about not doing the dusting and sitting down with your needles or hook, remember that your craft is not just your hobby – it can take care of your wellbeing in so many amazing ways.

Books by Betsan Corkhill:

Knit for Health & Wellness:  How to knit a flexible mind and more

Knit Yourself Calm

Crochet Therapy

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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