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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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A lovely day sewing on #sewsaturday at The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley

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I’m guessing that a few of those of you reading this will already know about the Sew Saturday event that we have every year here in the U.K. If you are not familiar with it, it is an annual event, organised by Sew magazine, which enables us to celebrate our local bricks and mortar independent fabric store and haberdasher. Around the country, small fabric retailers sign up to take part, and offer various classes, workshops, events and discounted prices on the day.

My local fabric and haberdashery store is The Sewing Cafe, which is in the market town of Hinckley, Leicestershire. It is a friendly and welcoming fabric and haberdashery store which is owned and run by Fay and Becky. Not only will Fay, Becky and the team be able to help you with all your sewing needs, the shop also offers a huge range of sewing workshops suitable for complete beginners right through to more experienced sewists as well as the use of the machines by the hour if you feel like some social sewing.

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Last year I attended one of the free workshops and learned how to make a couple of these triangular pattern weights. I promptly went home and spent the rest of the afternoon making a whole bunch more and now use them for EVERY sewing project I make. I can’t remember the last time now that I pinned a pattern before cutting out – it’s so much easier to use my weights and rotary cutter!

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This year, for Sew Saturday, The Sewing Cafe were offering a free workshop making pretty little fabric purses like this one below – totally adorable and quick and easy to make whatever your skill level. I loved that you could choose a button or snap fastening and there was a great selection of fabrics available for you to choose from.

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Throughout the afternoon whilst I was there, I was able to watch a steady stream of sewists disappearing into one of the sewing workshop rooms and coming out half an hour later proudly waving their pretty new fully lined purses!  A free raffle ticket was being offered to each visitor on the day with the chance to win some fabulous sewing prizes,  and tea, cake and generous fabric discounts were also available. The shop was buzzing!

After enjoying myself so much last year, I was thrilled to be invited along this year to take part in a little ‘social sewing’ in the other workshop sewing space during the afternoon. Happy days! I promptly packed my current sewing project, which is another version of The Scout Tee by Grainline Studios, and headed on over to Hinckley!

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I was thrilled to be joined by some really lovely local ladies and we had such a great afternoon sewing, chatting, drinking tea and eating delicious homemade apple cake ( thank you Fay)! If I’m honest I was so busy chatting all afternoon that very little sewing was done by me but hopefully you will see the results of the Scout Tee that I started when the #owop17 challenge arrives at the end of November.

Two of the ladies were whipping up pretty fabric travel tissue covers ready to sell in a forthcoming charity event. They were gorgeous!

By strange coincidence two of the ladies were also both wearing handmade versions of the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern – one dress and one top. The top had been made in a super fleece fabric and has certainly inspired me to whip one up in a fleece for myself as the weather is now getting colder. As it happens the Coco is one of the sewing workshops offered by The Sewing Cafe – so if you are local and are interested in attending a Coco workshop or fancy a little browse through the other workshops the Cafe has to offer then you can click here.

During the afternoon we were also joined by some of the ladies that needed a little more time with their workshop purses, and before I knew it the afternoon had flown by and it was time to call it a day.

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Thank you again to Becky and Fay for making me so very welcome, and to all the lovely ladies that I had the pleasure meeting and sewing with. If you are ever in the Hinckley area I would highly recommend that you pop in for a little visit, and if you’re not local you can still have a little mooch through their fabulous fabrics, patterns and haberdashery items on their online shop which you can find on the website here.

If you’re a bit of an Instagram fan like myself, you might be interested to see what the Sewing Cafe are getting up to here.   This way you can check out their new fabric arrivals and get to know which events they are attending.

I hope that whatever you did for #sewsaturday that you had a great time and enjoyed the hospitality and sewing knowledge that our lovely independent fabric retailers can offer us when we call in to visit them.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x