Stylecraft Unveils A Splash of Winter Colour

Colour is key in our latest launches from, with saturated hues and sophisticated pastels showcased in new yarn launches and patterns for garments and accessories.

Bellissima

Following the success of baby yarn, Bambino, last season, we have brought this fantastic multi-end yarn to the adult market with the launch of Bellissima.  After all, why should the grown-ups miss out? Bellissima has fantastic stitch definition, making it perfect for a whole range of techniques and styles, from classic garments to textures and cables.

There are 14 lovely shades to choose from so why not try out this great new yarn?

Colour Pool

You may have read about the trend for planned pooling and we are delighted to be the first of the big brands to embrace this fashion with our new yarn Colour Pool, where Argyll-style patterns magically appear when you crochet or knit. At the recent Blogstars get together this yarn caused quite a stir and we’re sure you will enjoy trying a bit of the magic for yourself.

We have created three free patterns for crocheters and there will be lots of hints and tips, including a video, on the blog and across our social media, as well as a special tutorial for knitters.

Head Over Heels Allstars

Did you vote in the competition we held earlier this year to choose the new Head Over Heels colourways as created by the Blogstars?  Their inspiration came from a visit to see David Hockney’s work at Salts Mill and are called Ossie, Woldgate, Saltaire, Pool, Red Pots and Splash. The winning six shades are now available with free printed patterns available from Stylecraft stockists

Special XL 

The trend for big yarn continues so we have increased the number of colours in the palette for Special XL with four new shades which feature in six new patterns.

Relaxed garments in simple stitches, slouchy hats and enveloping scarves make this collection the perfect choice for the colder months.

With all these colours and yarns to choose from, we’d love to see what you make over on our Facebook page.

Knitting and Crochet Groups

There is something really wonderful about getting together with like-minded people, which is probably why so many of us belong to a knitting or crochet group. Simply being with others who understand the passionate nature of our craft is uplifting.

In recent years the number of groups in the UK has increased dramatically. Some meet in libraries, others in pubs or cafes, or even at lunchtime at work.  They are a great forum for learning skills from others, getting help with your latest yarnie conundrums or simply a chance for companionship and a bit of ‘me time’.

When our group gets together we share news about new yarns, marvel at new patterns and we especially love to see what each member of the group is making.  The sheer variety of what we can make with needles and hooks is inspiring.

Groups are also a great way to make new friends that we might never have met if it wasn’t for the love of our hobby.  And it doesn’t have to ju

st be about the yarn.  Over the years our group has been running we have seen each other through births, marriages, divorce and even bereavement.  Together we have been through the exam stress of our kids, enjoyed hearing about each other’s holidays, shared family recipes and generally put the world to rights. As a group, we have taught people to knit and crochet at events and worked together on a number of charity projects. Craft groups have even been mentioned in the latest book by Helen Pankhurst (yes she is a descendant of the famous suffragette)!

Most of all knit and crochet groups are fantastic fun and something to look forward to each month or week.

If you are looking for a group to join in your area there is a map on the UK Hand Knitting website where you can also register your own group if you are looking for new members.

We’d love to hear more about what your group gets up to so why not let us know on our Facebook page.

Stylecraft Launches New Collection For Colder Months

With summer a distant memory we have our attention firmly focussed on the colder weather to come, with new yarns and patterns to keep all the family warm.

Cosy

A technical marvel for the season is our lofty, air-jet spun yarn called Cosy. A super chunky yarn with an amazing meterage – on average just 4 balls to make a garment – Cosy is a beautifully light blend of premium acrylic and alpaca accented with a subtle metallic thread. When knitted the yarn also features contrast colour flashes for a unique effect.  Easy-fitting feminine shapes, accessories and homewares appear in 7 new pattern leaflets.

Life Heritage 

For those who like the outdoors look in their wardrobe, Stylecraft is launching a new member of the Life family – Life Heritage.  Designs for both men and women showcase traditional fabrics, including cables, to bring out the beauty of this Fair Isle effect yarn in 5 blends of harmonious colours. So warm and wearable.

Wondersoft Stardust

Is it too soon to think about Christmas?  Not for Santa’s little helpers at Stylecraft HQ with the addition of two festive shades to the Wondersoft Stardust range.  To make the most of these shades our design team have created the most delightful patterns for babies featuring elves, penguins and snowflakes, all ready for a happy Christmas.

Cabaret

Always popular for the party season, Cabaret has 2 gorgeous new shades for autumn, perfect for accessories. They are supported by 2 new free pattern leaflets, available from all Stylecraft stockists. So why not bring a touch of glamour to your wardrobe.

Now available in your usual Stylecraft stockist there is something for all the family here.

How Crafting Helped me Cope with Grief by Helen Kurtz

When my husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly in October 2016, my whole world was turned upside down. I was in shock and felt completely numb, unable to think about anything except the trauma I was experiencing. I couldn’t focus on anything and had no interest whatsoever in knitting or crochet. My sleep was badly affected and I found myself waking up each night at the time Rowley had died, wide awake and my mind in overdrive. Sleep was impossible and I couldn’t concentrate on reading so I looked for something else to occupy me rather than just lie there tossing and turning. I had bought a blanket’s worth of Stylecraft Special DK the previous year at Ally Pally with the intention of knitting one. I wanted something mindless and soothing to work on, so decided to crochet a Granny Square blanket instead.

The repetitiveness of the crochet stitches was perfect. There was no special plan; I picked a ball of yarn at random to work each round. I didn’t need to think about what I was doing – the pattern was so familiar that it became automatic and I was able to work on it each night until I was ready to drop off again or it was time to get up. Crocheting helped to calm my mind and relax me. The blanket was my midnight companion and that’s how the name of the blanket came about. It sat in a bag by my bed, within easy reach and it was comforting to know that it was there, ready and waiting for me during those darkest of hours.

My crafting mojo returned very gradually. In the day time, I worked on socks. Nothing complicated though, just the good old plain vanilla kind of socks which let  the colourful yarns speak for themselves. I’m still not able to focus on complicated knitting and crochet that easily. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘bereavement brain’, and it appears to be quite common for people who have gone through similar experiences. This helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone and what I was feeling was perfectly normal.

Crafting can also help other people who want to do something to show that they are thinking of you in difficult times. Although I don’t belong to any knitting groups locally, I guess you could say that I am part of the world’s biggest group of fibre lovers – Ravelry. Within Ravelry, I am a member of lots of different groups and I was totally overwhelmed when I received a blanket that had been knitted by over 40 of my Ravelry friends, mostly living in the USA. They wanted to do something to show that they were thinking of me and the resulting blanket had love and good thoughts knitted into every single stitch. It felt like I was being hugged over and over again as I wrapped myself up in this beautiful, thoughtful gift. It was a tangible sign that people were thinking of me and it definitely helped me.

If you are experiencing any kind of stress in your life, I encourage you to reach out for your knitting needles or crochet hook. It will help you to relax and take your mind off the difficulties you are going through, allowing you some much needed time out, so that you are able to carry on with your life.

Written by Helen Kurtz

It’s going to be an exciting Autumn Winter season from Stylecraft

It may seem odd to be talking about yarns for the colder months when we are in the middle of summer, but yarn companies traditionally start to launch their new yarns towards the end of June, so that you can complete your pattern before the weather turns chilly

We have some exciting new yarns that will be in your yarn shop very soon, so we thought we would showcase some of them for you.

We are introducing a new member to the Life family, called Life Changes. Available in 8 rich, semi-solid shades, Life Changes is supported by 7 pattern leaflets including 3 for ladies, 3 for girls and 1 featuring accessories. The designs are simple yet stylish, with subtle dashes of texture to really bring out the beauty of this yarn. 

Life DK is a very popular yarn across a whole range of projects from garments to accessories and designs for the home. This season there are 5 new, deeply rich shades to enhance the existing palette, with 7 pattern leaflets for ladies and girls.  These classic designs are embellished with tipping and stripes, as well as textures and cables.  Perfect for any winter wardrobe.

What could be nicer than chunky cables for the chilly months ahead? We are launching 3 subtle new shades in Special Aran with Wool featured in 4 new designs, which showcase garments and accessories. So, whether you are planning long walks in the country or want an on-trend garment for everyday wear, Stylecraft has an option for you. These patterns for 400g balls are cleverly designed with matching accessories to use up leftover yarn.

Finally, we have an exciting exclusive for you. The delightful Sandra Paul, one of the Stylecraft Blogstars, who writes under the name Cherry Heart, has created a blanket and cushion combo using one of our most successful semi-solid yarns – Batik.  The crochet pattern features the kind of colours that Sandra is so fond of, put together in her own unique way.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our social media for more launches in the coming weeks.

Teaching and Sharing

Passing on skills is a vital part of the history of knitting and crochet. Without parents, grandparents and other family members passing on their skills, our crafts would quite simply have died out.

Today we pass on our skills in so many different ways, not just to our kids, but to work colleagues, friends and even the public at events throughout the country.

Teaching others can bring such a huge sense of satisfaction. To see someone who has struggled with a knit stitch complete a whole row makes us want to whoop. Being sent a picture of a crocheted blanket from someone who may have only just taken up the craft is a very proud moment for any teacher.

So, we turned to our Stylecraft friends to ask them about their experience of passing on skills and wanted to share their experiences with you.

“I taught my friend to crochet and now we have a girlie crochet night each week, and then we joined a group of knitters and crocheters and we are making a huge Poppy display for this year’s centenary of the end of the First World War, and we both then taught some ladies to crochet in the group and now crochet is part of their lives.”

“I run three crochet, knitting and yarn craft social groups in three towns close to where I live with help from my other half and my best friend. We offer a supportive, friendly environment and have met some wonderful people over the last 12 months. Part of what we do is encourage people to share their knowledge and skills.”

“I started to bring my projects (either knitting or crocheting) to work to make them at lunchtime. Few colleagues joined me – they were intimidated to bring theirs to work… I am a self-taught crafter and I don’t hold back to try a pattern or different techniques. I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the project.
Given that, I became the “go-to” person among our group (of 10 co-workers) for any project. I help them to read pattern and diagrams and to find where they missed and how to correct.”

“I spread the word and share the links to websites or FB groups to the crafters’ community. This is my way of giving back – my grandmother initiated me to crochet when I was seven, it’s a healthy way to get your stress level down.”

“I started my friend off on crochet. She was a better student than I am teacher. She now knits as well as crochets but I just can’t get the hang of knitting. I’m hoping to be able to help a couple of other people pick up crochet too after they’ve shown an interest, just hard to find the time we’re all free to do so.”

“I taught all four of my children to knit, crochet and sew. One is now a tailor and still knits and crochets, one crochets, one knits and my son didn’t take to either. I now teach crochet twice a week and am on the verge of going self-employed to teach crochet, knitting, sewing and multiple other crafts. I find my classes become like a mental health group too. Many of my students live alone or have stressful jobs so treasure their two-hour class to help them touch base and unwind and socialise.

“I belong to a mixed craft group. We meet every Wednesday and swap skills by running workshops to show fellow members our favourite techniques. I’ve taught fair isle knitting, crochet baskets, advanced crochet squares, to name but a few ……. and of course, learned loads of new skills too.”
Passing on skills is a vital part of the history of knitting and crochet. Without parents, grandparents and other family members passing on their skills, our crafts would quite simply have died out.

Today we pass on our skills in so many different ways, not just to our kids, but to work colleagues, friends and even the public at events throughout the country.

Teaching others can bring such a huge sense of satisfaction. To see someone who has struggled with a knit stitch complete a whole row makes us want to whoop. Being sent a picture of a crocheted blanket from someone who may have only just taken up the craft is a very proud moment for any teacher.

So, we turned to our Stylecraft friends to ask them about their experience of passing on skills and wanted to share their experiences with you.

“I taught my friend to crochet and now we have a girlie crochet night each week, and then we joined a group of knitters and crocheters and we are making a huge Poppy display for this year’s centenary of the end of the First World War, and we both then taught some ladies to crochet in the group and now crochet is part of their lives.”
“I run three crochet, knitting and yarn craft social groups in three towns close to where I live with help from my other half and my best friend. We offer a supportive, friendly environment and have met some wonderful people over the last 12 months. Part of what we do is encourage people to share their knowledge and skills.”

“I started to bring my projects (either knitting or crocheting) to work to make them at lunchtime. Few colleagues joined me – they were intimidated to bring theirs to work… I am a self-taught crafter and I don’t hold back to try a pattern or different techniques. I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the project.
Given that, I became the “go-to” person among our group (of 10 co-workers) for any project. I help them to read pattern and diagrams and to find where they missed and how to correct.”

“I spread the word and share the links to websites or FB groups to the crafters’ community. This is my way of giving back – my grandmother initiated me to crochet when I was seven, it’s a healthy way to get your stress level down.”

“I started my friend off on crochet. She was a better student than I am teacher. She now knits as well as crochets but I just can’t get the hang of knitting. I’m hoping to be able to help a couple of other people pick up crochet too after they’ve shown an interest, just hard to find the time we’re all free to do so.”

“I taught all four of my children to knit, crochet and sew. One is now a tailor and still knits and crochets, one crochets, one knits and my son didn’t take to either. I now teach crochet twice a week and am on the verge of going self-employed to teach crochet, knitting, sewing and multiple other crafts. I find my classes become like a mental health group too. Many of my students live alone or have stressful jobs so treasure their two-hour class to help them touch base and unwind and socialise.

“I belong to a mixed craft group. We meet every Wednesday and swap skills by running workshops to show fellow members our favourite techniques. I’ve taught fair isle knitting, crochet baskets, advanced crochet squares, to name but a few ……. and of course, learned loads of new skills too.”

“My daughter has problems with depression and I taught her to knit and crochet. She’s still learning but loves it and says it does help.”

“I have taught people at work to crochet and knit so they can make squares. We have a bit of a tradition for making patchwork baby blankets for expecting colleagues and staff always like to learn so they can join in.”

“I’m part of a prayer shawl ministry. We make shawls and prayer cloths for people going through a difficult time, and we welcome and help new knitters and crocheters.”

“I teach people both knitting and crochet at my volunteer workplace, a wellbeing/substance abuse counselling centre.”

“My daughter has problems with depression and I taught her to knit and crochet. She’s still learning but loves it and says it does help.”

“I have taught people at work to crochet and knit so they can make squares. We have a bit of a tradition for making patchwork baby blankets for expecting colleagues and staff always like to learn so they can join in.”

“I’m part of a prayer shawl ministry. We make shawls and prayer cloths for people going through a difficult time, and we welcome and help new knitters and crocheters.”

“I teach people both knitting and crochet at my volunteer workplace, a wellbeing/substance abuse counselling centre.”

Year of Wellbeing – Crafternoon

We are all becoming more and more aware of the health benefits of knitting and crochet, celebrated in our Year of Wellbeing, but did you know that one charity, in particular, has put craft at the heart of its fundraising.

Mind is the charity for mental health which believes that no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Their successful Crafternoon campaign has been raising funds for the charity for a number of years, and the idea is a simple one.  All you have to do is organise a date, time and place invite a few friends, family or colleagues to come along, spend time together getting crafty and raise some money for Mind.

If you haven’t come across this charity before, Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding, and more people have access to advise and support thanks to their amazing information and services nationally and locally, in England and Wales. The charity was established 60 years ago and currently helps more than 500,000 people each year.  They have a fantastic amount of high profile support from their president, Stephen Fry, and a group of ambassadors including Frankie from The Saturdays, Ruby Wax, Fearne Cotton, Denise Welch and Beverly Collard from Coronation Street, all of whom speak very eloquently about their own problems with mental health.

What could be more fun than using your craft skills to support their work? Mind have lots of resources to help you once you sign up for your fundraising pack, including a planning guide, craft templates and ideas, and a network of like-minded crafters via their private Facebook community.

On 18th June Mind will be kicking off its summer campaign so there will be even more materials and ideas for you to hold your own Crafternoon event including paper craft lanterns and a special Happy Jar designed by Emily Coxhead from The Happy Newspaper.

We are planning our own event and the moment.  As well as yarn, needles and hooks there will definitely be cake and lots of fun.

Heel Post

We love to knit socks, which is why we brought out our own sock yarn – Head Over Heels – just over a year ago.

There are so many decisions to be made when you embark on a pair of socks.  Will you knit it top down or toe up? What kind of pattern brings out the beauty of the yarn?  What kind of toe do you prefer?

When it comes to heels there are lots of different options.

The most popular is the French heel which has a flap.  Sometimes knitters get a bit flummoxed by turning this heel to achieve the shaping but this heel is really very straightforward and the slip stitch on the flap makes it nice and durable.

In parts of Europe, you might see this one called the strong heel or even the Dutch heel.  It is particularly good for people with a high arch and allows you to carry on your patterning across the heel.  The technique involves increasing on every other row before turning your heel and returning to the foot tube.

The after-thought heel is very useful if you are knitting socks for someone that often wears through their heels.  You knit the tube and work in a piece of scrap yarn to mark the position of the heel.  When you have completed the sock, you go back to the heel, pick up the stitches around the scrap yarn and work the heel in the same way as a basic toe, grafting to finish it off.  Some people prefer this method because there is no turning involved.  If the heel wears out, you can simply unravel it and knit a new heel.

There are lots of videos on YouTube that will give you more information about how to work all of these heels.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the new Head Over Heels Allstars – a collection of colour combinations from our very own Blogstars as voted for by you – which launched at the beginning of September.

Colour Therapy

What’s your favourite colour?  Have you ever thought why you are drawn to a particular shade?

Colour affects us all in different ways.  Red might be your favourite because it lifts your mood but for others, it’s just too intense a hue.  The way colours are put together might be harmonious for one person and clashing for another.

Your relationship with colour may be quite complicated, a mixture of personal experience and cultural bias as well as your current state of mind and emotions. In western countries, the colour white expresses innocence and purity but in eastern lands, it is the colour of mourning.  The colour blue has a cultural association with clear skies, a very positive image for us, but to our ancestors, it was even more important because it meant no bad weather. Colour is so deeply rooted in our history that it has even become a part of our everyday language in phrases like ‘seeing red’, ‘feeling blue’ and even ‘mellow yellow’.

So what is colour?  Without going into too much of the science, colour is light and energy which is visible to us through reflection and refraction.  The amount an object absorbs the light gives it its colour – isn’t that amazing?

The ancient Egyptians and Chinese believed that they could use colour to heal– a practise called Chromotherapy – impacting the body and emotions. They used red to stimulate, yellow to purify, orange to increase energy, blue to soothe pain and illness, and indigo for skin problems (!).

There is a lot of research out there that shows how colour can affect our moods and emotions.  Being shown the colour red can cause people to react with greater speed and force – great for athletes; in clinical trials placebo pills in warmer colours were felt to be more effective by the subjects; you may have noticed more LED lights in your neighbourhood because blue hues seem to lead to less crime.

Colour in the home and at work can enhance your mood, but it really is down to your personal preference.  A quick trip to your local DIY store and you will see a huge kaleidoscope of colours for you to choose.  When my kids were young I had a red feature wall in my bedroom which I found restful at the time.  Now my kids are older, I prefer a muted blue, so your life stage can also have a huge influence on you.

As knitters and crocheters we are exposed to colour all the time.  The way it stimulates our brains can be exciting and soothing at the same time.  Combined with the feeling of the yarn passing through your fingers, following a pattern and the anticipation of your completed projects, your craft is ticking so many boxes for our personal wellbeing.

Colour is an extremely personal subject and our only advice would be to enjoy as many or as few shades as make you happy, whether you are wearing them, filling your home with them or selecting them for your next project.

As John Ruskin said: “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.”

 

Stylecraft’s Year of Wellbeing – Intergenerational Crafting

How did you learn to knit and crochet?  The chances are your mother or grandmother taught you and that gives our crafts such an important link across the generations.

Knitting can be traced back to the 4th century – the Victoria and Albert Museum have some Coptic socks from around that time. Although, in previous centuries, passing on your craft to your children or grandchildren may have been an economic necessity, today it is much more of a leisure activity; a way of spending time together as a family and an antidote to technology – don’t we all need a bit of that sometimes?

What is the best way to pass on your skills if you have children or grandchildren that are starting to show an interest in your craft?  Finding a nice, easy project is a great way to introduce a child to the textures and colours of yarn.  Everybody loves to make pom poms and, while there are lots of gadgets to make them quickly and easily, all you really need is a fork.  Wind the yarn around the tines until it is nice and fat, then tie it in the middle and snip the sides. A bit of a trim and a roll around in your hand and you have a lovely pom pom.

 

Once they have developed a feel for yarn you might like to try some finger knitting which gets them used to the idea of stitches.  We have found that kids get quite addicted to finger knitting and you could end up with many metres of their work.  No problem, just think of it as a super chunky yarn and you can make bags, cushions or even try a bit of arm knitting.  Great fun!

If you think they are ready to pick up some pins or a hook there are always lots of books in your local library with basic patterns. A simple square is a good place to start.  The key is to choose a project that they can finish quickly and feel they are achieving something.  Before long, teddy will have a new blanket.

If you want to give them the incentive to keep going while you aren’t there, you might like to borrow this lovely idea from Germany called a Wunderknäuel or magic yarn ball.  Get a handful of sweets in wrappers, little plastic toys and a ball of wool.  Start with one of the toys and start to wrap the wool around it.  When the toy is almost covered add a sweet and continue winding.  Keep going adding toys and sweets until you have used all the yarn up and have a great big ball.  The idea is that your child has to keep knitting or crocheting until one of the goodies drops out of the ball like magic.  It is a great way to build that determination and ‘just one more row’ attitude we all have.

We hope you enjoy passing on your skills to keep them alive for the next generation.