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…

Pooches 4

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!

 

 

Knitting & Stitching Show 2015

 

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2014 was the first year that we took all of our yarny loveliness to a show and as it was such a success we just had to do it again. So on Tuesday 6th October we hopped onto the Stylecraft bus and headed down to London to the Alexandra Palace in NW London to the biggest of the Knitting & Stitching Shows. On Wednesday the doors opened and the madness began. Our stand was so busy and being the office dwellers that we are it was all we could do not to fall into bed every night at 8pm.

The calm before the storm!
The calm before the storm!
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Stand K32

 

Apart from our stand there is so much else to see – it’s not just somewhere that you can find every kind of textile craft represented (and many that you never knew existed) but there are also exhibitions to marvel at and inspire. We saw fashion by university students – sure to become big names in the design world in future, there were colourful printed silks and felted wall hangings, sculptural high fashion knits and an amazing knitted fish stall!

Kate's Plaice, The Stitchmongers
Kate’s Plaice, The Stitchmongers
Felted wall hangings, printed scarves & sculptural knits
Felted wall hangings, printed scarves & sculptural knits

There were so many highlights for us to mention and as well as meeting some of our #Clevercrafters and bloggers from the Blog Tour we were lucky enough to have two of our favourite crochet designers on our stand. Sue Pinner was an absolute hit as she not only talked about the process of designing her new blankets but also helped out with crochet queries – her hooks were always to hand hanging around her neck! We also ‘borrowed’ Jane Crowfoot from her stand, which was only a stone’s throw away, Jane designed the gorgeous Lily Pond Blanket CAL for us that started in April 2015 and ran for 16 weeks – you can still find the free pattern on our website here.

Blog Tour stars Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats and Helen From The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten
Blog Tour stars Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats and Helen From The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten
Designers Sue Pinner Jane Crowfoot
Designers Sue Pinner Jane Crowfoot

After five days our feet were aching and even though we were so tired that we could hardly stand we all agree that we must do it again next year and in fact are already looking forward to it!

(Put these dates in your diary for 2016 5th-9th October).

The Special DK Limited Edition Pack Blog Tour

There are a few of us here at Stylecraft who had never heard of a blog tour before ours started a few weeks ago, and we certainly didn’t know that they are usually associated with authors as a way of promoting books.

It all started back in March when the competition to suggest new shades for the Special DK range began. We asked you to send in colour suggestions and we received over 300 entries so the judges Sarah Neal (editor of Lets Knit Magazine), Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Lucy (Attic24 blog) and Annabelle (Stylecraft) had a really tough job to narrow it down to a shortlist of 10. We then asked our followers on Facebook to vote for their favourite of the shortlist and Duck Egg was the clear winner.

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As there was so much love for the other 9 shades we decided to add the two closest runners up to the Special DK range permanently too – Lobelia and Grass Green. Although we soon realised this wasn’t enough as there was more uproar and outrage at the loss of the other colours, so we set about making a pack of 10 x 50g balls of each shortlisted shade and the Limited Edition colour pack was born! It took a while to get these colours made and in that time we decided a blog tour would not only showcase the colours properly but we would also get to see some fantastic creativity from some very talented people.

On 25th September the virtual Stylecraft bus set off and made its first stop at Janie Crow’s site to see two cushion designs using the colour pack that was in progress. She also designed a small crochet bag and included the tutorial/pattern in the post which you can find here.

Janie Crow

The 26th was the turn of Helen at The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten. Hers is a delightful blog and the ripple cushion that Helen designed is gorgeous – a fantastic way to use your Ltd Edition pack or any combination of Special DK colours. The blog post is a must read; just to see the way she introduced us to the colours in her garden and to meet her gorgeous yarn loving cat, Florence. The pattern is available on Ravelry and on the day it launched it was in the top 20 most downloaded patterns, which is no mean feat considering Helen has never written and pattern before. Find it here on Ravelry and her blog post here.

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Sunday 27th was the turn of the designer Emma Varnam who treated us to not one but two designs and both to keep you warm this winter. She used the winning colour Duck Egg to make a lovely knitted hat with a cute ribbon and button instead of using a traditional pompom and then a jewel fan crochet scarf out of the brighter shades to add a bit of wow to any outfit. Find the blog post here and the updated beanie hat pattern here.

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On Monday 28th we pulled up at Crafternoon Treats who treated us to a delicious crochet bag – this was on display on our stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show and proved so popular – almost everyone wanted the pattern (which you can find here). She used an interesting stitch that we don’t often see which gives the bag the look of knitting whilst actually being crochet.

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The Twisted Yarn was our host for Tuesday 29th and Phil had been teasing us for weeks as she worked through her knitted bag pattern. She assures us that Carnival which isn’t as complicated as it looks, even though it is Fair Isle. Find her blog post including the pattern here.

the twisted yarn 1

Wednesday 30th was Day 6 so we were over halfway but not flagging as it was the turn of Heather at The Patchwork Heart. She treated us to the Paintbox blanket pattern using the colour pack and a few other shades besides. This project is simply gorgeous and the sample squares that she uses to work out the colours are a project in themselves – read about it here.
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We hopped over to the Lebanon to meet Angie at Le Monde de Sucrette on Day 7 for her crochet granny scarf with circle tassels. We knew she would create something fantastic as her other projects are so colourful and we weren’t disappointed. To read it click here.
Le Monde de Sucrette 1

Hand Knitted Things hosted the blog tour on Day 8 (Friday 2nd October) with gorgeous knitted hats with mixed colour pompoms using 8 of the 10 shortlisted colours. Although Julia’s Pathfinder pattern isn’t free it certainly is fantastic – find it here on Ravelry.  Click here to read the post.

 Hand Knitted Things 1

Day 9 was Sandra at Cherry Heart – you may have come across her before as she has designed the Spice of Life blanket and we have seen many gorgeous works-in-progress across t’interweb. Sandra’s post was great – she made little wraps of the new shades and slotted them into the existing colours perfectly. Read her post here.

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The penultimate was our very own Sue Pinner who featured at least five projects, we couldn’t count them all. Now Sue is an absolute genius with colours and when she popped in to see us this summer she just rearranged the colours in 3 quick steps and they looked so much better together. Find her blog here.

Sue Pinner 1

To finish in the manner we had become accustomed to Janie Crow was the final blogger and after 10 fabulous days it could have been a little bit sad… if she hadn’t designed 2 fabulous cushion patterns for us and using the colour pack. You will be able to find the free cushion cover patterns on our website in the Free Pattern category very soon.

Janie Crow 1

We hope you enjoyed our blog tour either at the time or by using the links in the text and we hope you got your hands on a Limited Edition colour pack too.

Innocents Big Knit

Innocent 1

Twelve years ago innocent came up with a great idea to raise money for Age UK to help older people whose lives are at risk during the cold weather because they don’t have enough money to heat their homes properly.  They asked the public to knit little hats that would adorn their smoothies in store – each little hat represents a donation of 25p – and so the annual Big Knit was born.

In the first year the hats numbered in the thousands, but the campaign was so popular that this year innocent are calling for 800,000 hats for the UK!

You may very well have seen the smoothies in your local supermarket or even knitted a few yourself.  What you may not know is that the Big Knit is also extremely popular in Sweden and Denmark.

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Juliet Bernard has been working with innocent, creating patterns and interpreting celebrity designs for 10 years. “It’s great fun and really pushes your creativity because each mini hat is just 30 sts by 16-18 rows,” she says.

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But this year the hats for Sweden are a bit different, Juliet told us “Innocent’s PR Company are very creative. I was asked if I could knit hats for 11 statues in Stockholm.  A couple of them needed to be around 2 metres in circumference and be very eye-catching using fruity colours.”

Juliet designed (and made) the hats you can see here, which were knitted on 20 cm needles using 10 ends of yarn.  She chose Special DK to get just the right colours. “Knitting on such big needles is quite tiring for your hands but with 10 ends, they do knit up quite quickly.”

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Making giant pompoms wasn’t quite so straightforward until she spotted a video on YouTube. “Luckily Stylecraft’s (Special Aran with Wool) comes in 400gm balls. By tying them tightly around the middle you can cut into the big ball to create the biggest pompom I have ever made,” she says.

The closing date for this year’s Big Knit is 11th December and you can find more information as well as lots of patterns here www.thebigknit.co.uk