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Learning to crochet granny stripes at Toft.

Since learning how to knit recently, it seemed only polite to give crochet a go!

Several years ago, I kind of taught myself how to crochet using YouTube tutorials. I enjoyed it at the time, but over the years have let that hobby go and convinced myself that I have forgotten how to do it.

There is no reason why I couldn’t just go back to YouTube to brush up on my skills, but I decided to treat myself to a workshop at the Toft studio in Warwickshire, not far from where I live. The studio is set in a pretty rural location at the end of a quiet lane in Dunchurch, and the barn style decor is warm and inviting. When I arrived, there were several people knitting and chatting inside and others enjoying cake and coffee at the picnic benches outside – it was a lovely warm afternoon.

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Beckee was my tutor for this course and she was super lovely. Offering me a drink on arrival and making sure I had everything, I was surprised to see that there was only one other lady on the workshop with me. Whilst I believe that there was space on this workshop for more, I think that they do keep their workshop attendee numbers quite small to make sure that everybody is able to receive as much attention as they need, which is great.

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Such a great teaching area.

The granny stripe crochet workshop teaches you how to create the basic stitches of chain, double crochet and triple crochet. You are also shown how to understand crochet abbreviations and follow a chart.  Changing your yarn colour was also part of this workshop and was surprisingly simple. Becky was friendly and patient and helpfully guided us through each step by using a chunky yarn and larger hook so that we could see what she was doing.

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Coffee and delicious cake is provided halfway through the lesson and it was a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. The other lady that was learning with me was keen on amigurumi  (which I was surprised to hear is slightly different from regular crochet), and when she mentioned this, Beckee very helpfully shared with her some tips regarding stitching and stuffing the toys. The company hold free workshops to help sewing up and stuffing your toys on Fridays I think, which is impressive customer service. Several video tutorials are available on the website for those that aren’t local to the studio and I very much get the impression that this company are keen to provide you with as much support as you need following your purchase from them.

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The shop is beautifully displayed and very tempting. If I thought I had a problem wanting all the sewing patterns and new fabrics, then I can totally see a whole new yarn and yarn pattern obsession developing. Time to save up my pennies whilst deciding on a project that I can put my new found skills to use on. I am really loving the look of the animal kits – this bunny kit is so cute and I would love to give this a go one day, whilst this granny stripe blanket would be the perfect way to put my beginner skills to the test.

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Before leaving, I took the opportunity to visit the alpacas which had recently been sheared. How could you not love a face like this!

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The workshop price included a tote bag to take home your crochet sample in and I was really pleased that the yarn that I hadn’t used up during the afternoon was given to me to take home so that I could carry on. Such a good idea as I know if I learn something then I definitely need to keep repeating it or else I’m sure I will forget! Needless to say, as soon as dinner that evening was finished and cleared away, I started another sample again. I’m hooked! Ha!

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I’m so glad that I have discovered the joys of knitting and crochet. I feel these more ‘portable’ hobbies are such a lovely way to still be creative but without being tied away at your sewing machine.

Are you #teamknit or #teamcrochet ?

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

(Before I treat myself to a lovely kit from Toft, I decided that it might be a good idea to practice my stripes, so last night I found a free crochet blanket pattern online, and I’m giving it a go using some cheap yarn that won’t matter if I make a few mistakes. I’m currently about 6 or 7 rows in and I’m loving it)!

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The Summer Skirt – a ruffle skirt from Wardrobe By Me

I’m sure that we all know that Love Sewing magazine is always packed full of good stuff. Not only do you have at least one printed pattern included, but there are always several great downloads and instructions for other lovely patterns.

Issue 65 which was out a couple of months ago was no exception. In addition to the two free patterns that were included with this issue, there were a couple of other great pattern downloads inside that I was really interested in. Both are skirt patterns, and the one that I have chosen to make first is this faux wrap ruffle Summer Skirt from Wardrobe by Me, an independent pattern company with a Scandanavian feel.

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These ruffle skirts are EVERYWHERE at the moment and I absolutely love them. I did have a concern that the length may swamp me – I’m 5’2″, but whether or not it does – I’m loving it and wearing it regardless! Whilst we are on the subject of height – I took three inches out of the length of the skirt.

I must admit I did come across a few hurdles in making this pattern, and there were certainly a few moments where I was scratching my head. I’ll explain.

This pattern has 8 pieces. It is a printable download from Love Sewing Magazine. The instructions are found within the magazine. It is such a beautiful pattern and if you have issue 65 and you will find it on page 49.

The first thing that I noticed was that the ‘layplan’ or cutting layout shows it for only 7 pieces. Initially I worried that in order to cut out the 8th piece not shownon the plan, (one of the ruffle pieces), I would need to buy more fabric – until I noticed that the ruffle piece shown on the layout is only cut on a single piece and doesn’t need to be placed on the double layers of fabric as shown. This way the other ruffle piece (that wasn’t shown in the drawing) can be cut out of the other single layer of fabric – doh! Obvious really but just had me puzzled for a while.

The ruffle pieces are incredibly long (they are joined together at the centre back), so this is a bit of a mammoth gathering task – not my favourite sewing job at the best of times! I must look into a gathering foot for the machine sometime..

With all the confusion in the cutting out of the ruffle, somehow I managed to cut them out ‘backwards’. What I mean is that the wrap on my skirt is now from left to right rather than from right to left. Small detail and I don’t suppose it really matters – unless there’s some wrap code that I don’t know about – don’t tell me if there is!! Ha!!

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I think I must have been having some kind of bad day when I made this pattern as I also struggled with the waistband. The elastic in the waistband is inserted just in the back and stitched in place. This ensures a nice snug fit and a flat waistband at the front of the skirt which is lovely. I had it in my head that it was elasticated all the way around and couldn’t work out why the elastic length that they instruct you to cut was so short. What is wrong with me!

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The back – I forgot to raise my t-shirt so that you can see the elasticated back waistband – whoops!

I must admit I wasn’t a fan of how the waistband was attached either, again after quite some time making sure that the placement of it was correct. I really struggled with this one – despite the notches, it took me a couple of goes to get it right. I have seen a gorgeous version from Wendy over on Instagram where she has adapted the waistband a little and I think I might do this next time too. Isn’t her animal print fabulous!

The fabric that I used to make this is an adorable ditsy print floral fabric (a viscose I think)? that I bought from The Sewing Cafe when I was in Hinckley last week. It looks brown, but is in fact a very dark sage green colour, so pretty. The drape on it is stunning and it has just the right amount of swishyness for this pattern!

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These pattern review pics were taken at stunning Calke Abbey today. I usually take my pics inside but it seems such a shame to do so when the weather is so beautiful, and as myself and my husband have recently become National Trust members I thought we would combine a trip to this stunning property with taking some pics of my latest make.

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So despite all my struggles on this one, probably mostly my fault, I am absolutely in love with the outcome! It is exactly what I wanted and I really enjoyed wearing it today. More will definitely be made as I especially would love a red floral version – so nice for holidays!

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Another pattern download from the same magazine is a tiered skirt and I hope to make this one up soon too. I’ll let you know when I do.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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A Floral Washi Dress from Made by Rae

My latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is now live and I’m really pleased to be talking about The Washi Dress, which is a dress that I have been wanting to make for a long time.

As always with my Minerva makes, I will link the full review here and you can read all about it over at Minerva Crafts.

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Using this really cute ditsy floral cotton poplin gives it a vintage feel, and it worked out really great – the fabric has a nice amount of body to hold the skirt pleats beautifully.

I chose to purchase the expansion pack from Made By Rae which gave me the small bow feature at the neckline. The expansion pack gives you a couple of bow options, a collar and sleeve variations too.

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The shirring technique used at the back of the dress was great fun to sew and it makes for a really comfortable fit.

Unfortunately this month will be my last make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network for the time being – in order for me to focus on my jewellery business I am taking a break from the Blogger Network but do hope to dip in and out of occasional blog posts as part of the Minerva Makers team.

Huge thanks to all at Minerva for their wonderful support and generous supplies that have been sent to me to review over the last couple of years.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x