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Kasha

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Yarn Shop Day will be here at the weekend. There’s plenty going on here so do call and see us if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I will be getting ready for the workshop I’ll be running in the afternoon by preparing some instructions for people to experiment with putting some love into their knitting using heart motifs and I will also be doing ALOT of baking on Friday to feed those hungry knitters.

In the run up to Yarn Shop Day we have been running a prize draw on facebook. It’s quite simple, you need to ‘like’ our facebook page, then you need to ‘share’ one of the competition posts we’ve been doing. There’ll be one every day this week so shouldn’t be too hard to spot one! Finally if you comment on the post you’ve share with the word ‘KASHA’ then I’ll put you into the prize draw and announce the winner on Saturday.

The prize is a fantastic ball of Sirdar Kasha yarn. Kasha is a beautifully soft slubby, textured yarn. The  blend of 78% acrylic, 12% mohair and 10% polyester makes it wonderfully warm and totally snuggly. It comes in a range of opulent colours, including both fashion shades and neutrals. Each massive 300g ball of Kasha comes with a free pattern for a throw on the ball band, it is perfect for generous wraps and scarves too!

We have a choice of 3 colours and this weekend I finished off knitting up a sample of the free throw pattern which comes with it. I seem to have had a weekend of finishing off things. On Friday I almost completed a sewing project which I began some time ago at Sew It’s Friday and I also finished sewing up and adding buttons to a cushion at the weekend to go with my giant cushion made earlier this year for my garden bench.

It’s very satisfying to get things properly finished off isn’t it and it also means that something new can be started. Doesn’t it? Watch this space!!

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Summer Fun with Sew It’s Friday

On Friday evening we held the first in our series of 3 Sew It’s Friday sessions in which we will be doing some summery stitching.

The idea is to make a co-ordinated set of items, similar to those shown in this picture, beginning with the book cover.

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We were a small group this time but we had a very pleasant evening with an unexpected result.

Whilst Karen had produced this fun design for the set, we are also keen to encourage creativity and developing your own ideas. During the introduction Karen suggested alternative ways of decorating the bookcover such as embroidery and using different motifs. She had a little dog shape with her which she was thinking of using herself. All the ladies loved the dog so much that they all decided to applique him onto their books instead of the flip flops!!

The finished books looked great and each one very individual even though they had all gone for the same motif.

I was very restrained and decided not to make a book cover as I tend to spend so much time throughout the evening making drinks for people I seem to end up with lots of unfinished projects. Instead I dug out one of those incomplete items and did some more work on it. It was  a lovely felt heart which I had only sewn the letter onto. I now have it all sewn together. Just some stuffing, a ribbon to hang it and some buttons to decorate and it’s ready to hang up in the shop.

Who knows maybe I’ll get it done ready for Yarn Shop Day this Saturday?

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We’d love more people to join us for the next couple of sessions when we will be making a beach bag and a sunglasses case. You can use Karens design or apply your own ideas. My husband wants the sunglasses case so need to find out what he would like me to put on it!!

 

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My Crochet world with Helen Jordan

We are really looking forward to our next Beginners Crochet class in May with Helen Jordan.

Helen visits Needlecase regularly to deliver fun and lively classes, usually with beginners but occasionally we offer ‘next steps’ sessions for those who would like to learn more.

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I recently met up with Helen at the P-lush show and asked her some questions about her passion for the wonderful craft of crochet. Her answer were, typically of Helen, both amusing and knowledgeable

Who taught you to crochet and when?

My cousin Jan showed me how to work a granny square – I think it was in the summer holiday at the end of the Lower VIth (now Year12) school year.

In 1988, I started the (now) International Diploma in Crochet, founded and managed by Pauline Turner of Crochet Design, who was for many years running the only solely crochet business in the UK.  That has really opened my eyes to the amazing breadth and depth of the incredible craft of crochet.

What was the first thing that you made?

I used up all of Mum’s spare yarn from knitting sweaters and slipovers for my Dad, to create a large granny square to form one side of the cover for a floor cushion.  The subdued tweedy colours were ideal for the floor side.  The other side was made up of sixteen squares from a pattern in one of the weekly women’s magazine.  I think I taught myself to follow the pattern.

What is your favourite thing that you have crocheted?

I’m torn between the ‘seascape’ that was a runner up in the International Crochet Awards in 1999 – I think – (see photo) and an approximately life-sized parrot that I made for a dear old friend (sadly now deceased) who had to have a leg amputated – he absolutely roared with laughter when he received it!

What do you love most about the craft?

Where do I start?  Its versatility; creativity; relaxing and paradoxically stimulating nature.

Where is your favourite crocheting spot?

Anywhere and everywhere!  My favourite armchair is probably the place where I do most of my crafting.  Although to be fair, our local Wetherspoon’s has seen a fair bit of ‘hooky action’ on Wednesday evenings over the past five years or so.

Do you have a crochet ambition which you haven’t yet fulfilled?

To complete Part III of the aforementioned Diploma course.  I’ve opted to work on a foolishly large scale, so it’s a bigger commitment than it need be.  I’m interpreting Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’.  My Bong Tree (see photo) is based on a garden parasol.

 

  • What do you think is the most important piece of advice for someone learning to crochet?

Remember that the learning process takes time and that little, tiny steps are necessary – you’ll be at pre-school or kindergarten to start with and you won’t be able to jump in at ‘post-graduate’ level.  Get to a course or workshop if you can – it’s a lot easier than trying to learn from a book, blog, website or U-Tube – oh, and do remember to make sure if you’re looking at instructions in UK or USA terminology!

Who do you most admire in the world of crochet and why?

There are loads – just a few of the most inspiring are…

Pauline Turner who has written dozens of crochet books over several decades and has inspired students at workshops, seminars and through her distance learning course for over thirty years.

The late, great, Sylvia Cosh and her crochet partner James Walters – if you look at their website www.crochet.nu you’ll be able to download their fabulous worksheets, which were very innovative in their time and are still full of inspiration.

Prudence Mapstone is an amazingly talented exponent of the lively art of freeform crochet.

Jennifer Hansen aka Stitch Diva, because she has designed some beautiful garments in hairpin crochet (my favourite technique).

All the wonderful crocheters (and knitters) I’ve met over the years, especially the yarn shop owners who have allowed me to run workshops for their customers.

The incredibly helpful folks at the Knitting and Crochet Guild.  Their knowledge and willingness to share information is breath-taking.

Who/what inspires you when you are designing?

‘All of the above’, it can be a stitch in a pattern, the wonderful qualities of yarns, shapes, you name it.

Have you ever had a big crochet disaster?

Far too many to count!  Using scratchy Lurex-type yarn for the bikini in which I strutted my stuff on the sheepwalk at the 2014 Wonderwool Wales show was a big, uncomfortable mistake!

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Do you have a favourite yarn or fibre to use in your work?

I have a real soft spot for mohair, especially blended with silk.  Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze and its variants is lovely.  Knitwitches’ Absolutely Gorgeous is another stunner!

Thank you Helen for answering my questions so brilliantly and for allowing me to use these marvellous pictures.

If you are interested in joining us at Needlecase to learn to crochet you can book a place right now through our website.

 

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Yarn Shop Day 2nd May 2015

logo2It’s not long now until the second ever Yarn Shop Day organised by Let’s Knit magazine.

I really like the concept because it highlights that need to support us little shops who are here to help you and show you how to do the things you’re not sure about. Buying yarn online is very useful and we love it when that people all over the country can buy from us. I think this is especially useful when a yarn has been discontinued and someone is trying to hunt down that certain something and they don’t have to be just down the road but they can get just what they want by using the internet and ordering from our little shop. Of course not everyone is able to get out or may be at work when we are open, and about and online shopping is fantastic for them as well.

I will always feel that there is absolutely no substitute for being able to see, feel, smell and generally interact with a yarn before you buy it. Visiting a physical yarn shop is such a treat and should be enjoyed, savoured and appreciated. It is so inspiring to be able to see garments knitted or crocheted in the yarn you are going to purchase or chat with the staff in the store about your next project or how to overcome a certain difficulty or just share your love of yarn with a like minded person.

That is why I like the Yarns Shop Day slogan ‘love your yarn shop so much’ because really you must. Wherever it is you need to love it because one day it might not be there!logo1

Last week I re-dressed our window to let everyone passing by know that yarn shop day is on the way and what we will be up to on the day. I got out the bike that our knitting circle ‘yarn bombed’ last summer for the Tour de France and decorated it with my own ‘love your yarn shop’ banner. I thought it was especially appropriate to use the bike for this as besides being a very fun example of knitting it celebrates the fact that on the same weekend the cyclists will be back here in Yorkshire for the first ever Tour de Yorkshire. I am very pleased with the look of it. What do you think?

What will we be doing on Yarn Shop Day?

Well you can actually get involved right now. Visit our facebook page and you will find some posts about our competition to win a ball of Sirdar Kasha. This is a chunky yarn which can be used with any chunky pattern. The ball of yarn is an enormous 300g and comes with a pattern to knit your own lovely snuggly throw. I have been working on knitting one up but it’s not quite finished yet!

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The yarn is very fluffy with 12% mohair and comes in a nice range of colours as you can see above. If you like our facebook page and then share one of the competition posts putting a comment below using the word ‘KASHA’ you will be entered into a prize draw which will be drawn on the 2nd May 2015. Good luck.

We will be having a workshop from 1-3.30pm on the day on the theme of ‘hearts’. This was inspired by the ‘love your yarn shop’ logo and I have been doing some experimentation around the idea of including heart symbols in your knitting. This is what I have come up with so far.

I spoke about knitting hearts back in February when thinking about Valentines Day and I think there is such a strong link here. After all we often knit for loved ones and when you are knitting that item you are putting something of yourself into your work and maybe thinking about the person you are knitting for. When they are using or wearing the finished article I do hope that they can feel the love that has gone into it anyway but if there is a heart on it somewhere then it is almost like throwing your arms around them and just saying ‘I love you’. Only the other day a lady bought a pattern for one of my cushions with a cable heart on the front to knit as a wedding gift which I thought was very appropriate.

If you would like to come along to our workshop and have a play around with knitting your own hearts please visit our website and book yourself a free place so that I know how many cakes to bake!

If you’d rather not do the workshop that’s fine but please do call in and see us on Yarn Shop Day as you can still have tea and cake and 10% discount on any full price yarns bought throughout the day.

 

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Playing with colour

Last week I was lucky enough to be in Scotland with my family.

I have to admit that when it was planned that we should spend Easter in Scotland to celebrate my in-laws Golden Wedding Anniversary I was a little apprehensive, fearing that we would get snowed in at the very least!

As it turned out, we had the most gloriously sunny days and some fantastic walking in the beautiful countryside. We saw all sorts of wildlife and spring was definitely springing.

On the last day of our holiday we decided to take one last walk in the hillsides around Loch Tay. On the way up what was a short but very steep climb, I took several opportunities to look at the view as I needed an excuse for a rest! As we were returning to the valley I started noticing what was closer by and became slightly obsessed by all the variety of colours and textures of lichen on the rocks. I began photographing all the different ones I could see and once I’d started found it hard to stop.

I often like to play a little game when I’m on my own in the shop, trying out different colour combinations and seeing how many different ones I can come up with. This morning I’ve been looking through my holiday pictures and using them to create colour schemes with some of our yarns.

First of all I looked at this picture of part of a drystone wall and immediately went for these 3 balls of Sirdar cotton 4ply.

This picture made me think of this laceweight combinations of Sublime and Sirdar Hush. Maybe it could be used to make a fancy shawl or flowing jacket. Then I went to the Snuggly DK shelf and picked out 4 colours, wouldn’t they make a fabulous modern baby blanket.

These Countrystyle DK yarns seemed ideal for this fabulously speckled sample. I’m thinking moss stitch stripes would look great in these colours.

This little patch on this rock is amazing. I have no idea what it is but really wanted to find some yarn to match with it. I love the spicey colours of these West Yorkshire Spinners DK’s which are 75% british wool but we don’t have a creamy colour like the one on the rock. I found a slightly off-white Countrystyle but it’s a bit too pink really.

I could have played around all day looking for colours to go with this fabulous sample. First of all I grabbed some balls of Hayfield Fiesta and Baby Sparkle which are quite bright but they look scrummy together. I made my way to the Sublime baby cashmere shelves as there were some softer colours which match the original a bit better and took some pictures which remind me of ice cream. Then I spotted some Calico DK, the orange shade is just right don’t you think?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little game. Here’s my favourite photo from the day.

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Nursery Knits for Boys (or beep beep roar roar)

bk4871When we were shown this book I thought it was just great and that we had to have it in the shop. I wish I could knit loads of things from it and make a window display because I think it would look fantastic but I fear that there may not be enough days in the week to achieve that – we’ll see!!

The book contains 17 hand knit designs for toys and garments on a dinosaur theme. I think the photos really do speak for themselves.

If you’re not into dinosaurs, or just fancy a bit more variety then just take a look at this cute play mat with lots of textured stitches which make it more fun for baby and more interesting to knit. Plus you can create all kinds of accessories,there’s even a knitted car!!

Call into the shop or visit our website to pick up your copy of this truly inspirational book.

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Knitting in the garden on skis.

This is a post in which I am going to talk about some of my favourite things.  

Lets start with the garden! I could write a whole blog about my garden and it’s predecessors but I won’t because I need to get to the knitting. There are lots of things I like about gardening but it all comes down to colour in the end and lots of it. Many years ago I bought a copy of this Geoff Hamilton book Paradise Gardens. Ever since then I have been striving to achieve a garden which looks a little bit like this front cover and, since we’ve moved house twice in that time, each time to a house without what could be described as an actual garden, this is still a distant aim which I refuse to give up.

A few years ago our current garden had a big overhaul and we decided that we needed a bench for it. We wanted to put the bench in the last bit of the garden to get the sun in the evening in the summer but we just couldn’t find something we liked at a price we wanted to pay.

This is where another one of my favourite things comes in. My family has one thing that we love to do altogether and that is to ski.  What has that got to do with garden benches you may ask? The answer to that involves me remembering 2 things. Firstly this bench we’d seen in Switzerland made from snowboards and probably part of a ski-lift.

 

The second thing I remembered was that we had a stack of old skis which we didn’t know what to do with. Add these 2 things together and a bit of creativeness from my husband et voila…

 

one ski bench.

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t resist just showing this one from springtime where you can see how it works in the corner of our little garden.

 

 

 

 

So now I get to talk about my knitting!! Whilst the bench looks fantastic, it’s not exactly comfortable to sit on and I’ve often said it would be good if I made a cushion to go on it. A few months ago I needed to make a decision in relation to a City and Guilds course I am doing in Knitted Textiles. I needed to make an ‘item for interior use’ which would be accessed and I thought it would be fun to make a cushion for our bench. I asked if it would be ok to make something which was going to be used outdoors and the tutor said that would be fine.

I chose to look at images of old fashioned ski resort posters as my inspiration. This kind of thing…

 

and I came up with a few ideas for designs.

Once I’d chosen the design I liked, and after consulting my tutor, I got on with knitting some samples in different yarns and trying out various needle sizes. I wanted the cushion to be practical and hard wearing so yarn selection and stitch tension were crucial.

Whilst I was going through the design process, I decided to try to make the cushion pad myself. I found 2 old duvets and used them to make a pad in the correct size and then I used an old sheet to make a cover for it in the correct size. I was very pleased with the results and proud of my up-cycling efforts.

 

I also took the precaution of painting the design full size onto the back of some spare wallpaper just to check how it looked on the bench before I went any further.

 

 

Finally I was ready to knit my cushion. I had chosen Sirdar Country Style DK because I liked the way the design worked in my samples. It is a good quality yarn with some wool content, but will also be hard wearing and easy to care for as I can wash it in the washing machine. I also chose one shade of Click DK as we had the right colour in the shop and it is a very similar yarn.

The cushion is enormous. I had to knit a piece 36cm wide and 140cm long on dk yarn using 3mm needles, so it did take quite a long time in those dark winter evenings. I knitted the sun motif onto a blue background in 3 different colours (red, orange and yellow) using a mixture of intarsia technique and stranding as in fair isle knitting. I chose the colours to match the colours in the skis on the bench as I wanted it to be a really fun item.

The cushion is 10cm deep so I knitted a 10cm wide strip, inspired by the mountains of Switzerland, using a combination of garter stitch, moss stitch and reverse stocking stitch to give it variety of texture. The underneath of the cushion is knitted completely in garter stitch in blocks of colour designed to match up with the side of the cushion.

Having sewn the top, bottom and sides together, I knitted a narrow strip along on long edge of the underneath of the cushion and attached small plastic press studs to fasten it up and make it easy to remove and wash when needed.

The pattern has been written up for the City and Guilds course but I am doubtful that anyone else will want to knit one. I am intending to do a smaller version and make the pattern available before the summer.

It was a very exciting moment when I was able to try out my cushion on my bench, and although it was a cold and windy day I managed to get a photo of myself trying it out.

I can tell you this is the most comfortable cushion I have ever sat on and I am very pleased with the finished results.

We have even managed to get it out again and sit on it with a cuppa.

 

 

 

 

Now I just can’t wait until the summer when I will be knitting in the garden (sitting) on skis!!!

 

 

 

 

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Alpaca my bag.

I had a grand day out on Friday.

I visited the a lovely show called p-Lush which was an Alpaca show and trade stands selling gorgeous yarns and related items.

Don’t you think that Alpacas are fabulous? So cute and they produce such fantastic yarns and fabrics. Here I am with family and friends doing a spot of Alpaca trekking a few years ago.

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I’d heard about his show on twitter and thought it sounded lovely but maybe a bit far for me to venture on my own. I’m just not used to traveling very far alone these days!! Then when Helen Jordan visited us in February to teach our Beginners Crochet class, she told us that she would be having a stand there.

So I thought if she could go then so could I!!

It was lunch time when I arrived so I relaxed for a while and had something to eat. Then I wandered around the lovely stands looking at all the beautiful colours and having a bit of a squish of all the gorgeous fibres.

The show was not crowded with people like some shows can be and it was a very relaxing yet inspiring experience.

It was great to see Helen on her stand. IMG_0794

 

 

 

 

 

There was the opportunity to sit and knit for a while, making a contribution to this lady in red.

IMG_0795I was feeling a little shy so instead of joining the crowd of ladies happily knitting together I sat quietly by myself, picked up some knitting needles and a ball of red UK Alpaca yarn which was delightful,  and created a something that I hope they will have found a little place for. I don’t mind admitting that I wish I’d been brave enough to sit a and chat but never mind…

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I had a little wander around and looked at the beautiful animals which were being shown.

There was a nice atmosphere to this show

I was very pleased with myself for making the effort to visit this show and I could not have come home without adding to my stash. I am studying for a City and Guilds qualification in Hand Knitted Textiles and we have to knit lots of samples. I need to use a variety of types of yarns and fibres and, although I have a choice of fantastic yarns at Needlecase, I like to collect samples of special yarns, especially from small and independent spinners and dyers. I didn’t make it to Woolfest (where I often pick up lots of goodies) last year and we had a stand at the British Wool Weekend, but I didn’t indulge in any yarn so my stores were looking a bit depleted. I seem to have quite a bit of 4ply and laceweight though so was keen to lookout for some thicker yarn weights, especially chunkies. I found a reduced bin on one of the stands, Rosies Moments, and had a great rummage, coming up with some treasures.

I also picked up some interesting mixed packs

IMG_0808and some Camel hair yarn in one of my favourite colourways.

 

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I headed home very pleased with my newly acquired stash!!

 

 

 

 

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Look holes- and now it’s a Bunny Bag

Karen has been catching the knitting bug…

”When I was at Needlecase teaching the last Sew it’s Friday Garden Patch embroidery earlier this month Judith showed us some gorgeous Easter Bunny Bags she had made. Having then written a free knitting pattern for them several of us were tempted to have a go so Judith kindly handed us all a copy.

I haven’t knitted anything since I threw a bootee across the sitting room when I was about 20 years old, I was struggling and struggling again with the shaping and it got the better of me!

That was about 25 years ago or so and I swore I would never knit again.

Anyway getting back to the Bunny Bag; I have been thinking about picking up the knitting needles again but worry that I just don’t have the time and energy for another aspect of making but I just couldn’t kick the idea out of my mind.

Well when I saw the Sirdar Americana cotton blend double knitting wool in a gorgeous pinky, cream and duck egg combo I just couldn’t resist!

I cast on and got started and couldn’t believe how the therapeutic clicking and wrapping of the wool around the needle came back to me – loved it. And when I’d made my row of holes!! Whoopee! Sorry, I know you clever knitters will probably think I’m a bit silly getting so excited about a row of holes but believe me those bootees have haunted me off and on throughout my adult crafting life – I had been defeated! But not any more!!

Everyone in my household have been very impressed at my cleverness – except my mum who calmly declared “we’ll of course you can knit, I taught you and it’s like riding a bike, once you know what to do you can do it” (I had been hoping for a bit more of a wow but I suppose she is my mum…)

I looked through my scraps of wool, bits I collected together after I’d been on The Introduction to Crochet workshop Judith regularly runs at Needlecase a year or so ago, in order to knit the inner ear in and came up with a pleasing shade of purple.

Bunny knitted up very quickly though I did find all the counting a little hard to do when I was on the last purple ear and I was tired. At one point I did have to ring Judith though as my knitting all became ‘reversed’ and I has the nice smooth knitting on the back and the bumpy bits were on the front. A couple of unpicks, recounts and knit agains soon sorted that out thankfully and this Bunny didn’t fly across the room – oh how I have matured and grown up!!

I followed Judith’s advice on blocking my knitting before stitching up.  Here it is all pinned out onto the back of one of my cutting boards.  I sprayed with water and left it to dry.  How clever and simple that process is.

It took me a couple of good sessions to knit it, two evenings worth of time maybe and I made it up last night. Instead of using a running stitch to sew the ears up as Judith suggested I used a blanket stitch which I’m pleased with as it means that you get to see the plain purple wool colour on the outside of the ears.

I also found some matching purple ribbon in my stash that I’ve threaded through those lovely holes. The ears are a little bit over stuffed I fear, so they are a bit heavy but perhaps he’s just eaten a lot of chocolate. I have to say I’m not certain about this Bunny’s expression though, as I took these photos I wanted to shout and encourage at him ‘smile’, ‘say cheese!’ as he does have a bit of a solemn – or do I mean sullen face?

Never mind I am chuffed to bits that I have knitted something after all these years and a craft you once enjoyed has got to be worth a revisit at some stage.

Will you be able to find time to knit a cute Bunny Bag in time for Easter? Have you ever had break from a craft and come back to it with renewed energy? I know Judith and I would love to see your Bunny Bags, do share.

Happy Easter

Karen x”

 

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Nursery Knits for Girls

We recently received 2 gorgeous new books in the shop, Nursery Knits for Girls and Nursery Knits for Boys.

Nursery Knits for Girls is described 19 hand knit clothing, nursery and toy designs for little girls from birth to 3 years in Sirdar Snuggly DK.

The book begins with this fabulous blanket 486 Blanket smallin a very colourful palette (just to note that the new snuggly colours are available in the shop but at this time not on our website although we can do mail order if you’re unable to get here!).

 

 

Turn the page and you come to this lacy angel top and stripy leggings  for your little one, and a ‘dolly snuggle’ knitted in Snowflake DK. Love the curly hair on  the dolly and how about some of those leggings in adult sizes?!!

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The little girl in your life can have a dolly with clothes to match hers 486 Doll small

 

486 yellow shoes small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and little shoes too.

 

 

 

There is a bit of a birdie theme going on – there’s a padded mat to go on the nursery floor, 486 bird rug (2) small

 

a sweater, a cushion

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and a toy! 486 bird toy small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it continues, a bib, a hat, onesie, adorable blanket, cot bumper and fabulous mobile for the nursery.

486 bird bib small 486 bird blanket small  486 bird hat small   486 cot mobile small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely book packed full of lovely things!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if all of that is not enough, you can make this pretty raglan cardie with dollies border and, finally this lacy blanket in any colour you like!!486 doll cardi 1 small 486 purple blanket small