How to Choose Colour in Crochet!

Bright cakes of colourful
 yarn

Colourful Crochet

Playing with colourful cakes or balls of wool is up there as one of the most satisfying things about yarn crafts. I’m sure you’d agree that colourful crochet can put a smile on anyone’s face! But having to decide which shades to add to a new crochet project can be mega stressful too. How on earth do you choose the best hues to have?! It can be a bit of a head scratcher, especially if the doubt creeps in. But, please! Don’t be afraid of the big beautiful wool, learn how to play with it instead!!

I wrote a fairly decent blog post about how to choose colour in crochet back in 2016 and I’ve just read it. It still stands and I’m pretty pleased about that. However, since 2016 my palette has definitely evolved. In that post I mention about going for random selections of colour and yep, you can definitely see that that was what I was doing. I was clearly going through an Ugly Granny phase too. Not a bad thing.

I have learned an enormous amount from playing with random colour palettes, which has been, hands down, the best part of my crochet adventure!

So how has it evolved from there? The short answer is I dunno, it just happened! Hmm, what about a longer answer that might actually be helpful?

striped crochet mittens

Colour Evolution

My crochet adventures started in 2010 without much of a clue. Colour consideration wasn’t top of the list. I was too busy darting into yarn shops; grabbing balls in a panic! I didn’t belong and didn’t want to outstay my welcome. What a way to start a mindful hobby! It’s obviously absolute nonsense but I know others feel the same. That’s just anxiety talking, stamp that sucker down and be proud.

[OMG! Side moment: the penny has just dropped about why I was making Ugly Grannies! It was all the panic bought yarn being used up! Not quite the same mentality as my Nanna’s make do & mend approach, but kind of similar… Aaannyway…]

After a lot of years mucking about with different yarns I realized that I have two very definite colour personalities and I am so happy about that. My ultimate goal is to tinker and play to see where a mash up of both might lead. I love modern brights, love em! They are great in smooth merinos and fluffy mohair, and let’s not forget; perfect for top quality acrylics but I am also head over heels for natural tones and yarns too. I need toothy wool with bits of straw, and it’s exciting to use yarn when I know it has been spun just up the road from me. Just because I love crazy brights doesn’t mean I can’t also love an undyed alpaca. Natural, earthy colours aren’t boring, they are classics to be revered. They are the cool kids; the brights are kawaii cute.

What I will say is don’t expect to have it down pat right from the start. Using colour in your craft means having a certain amount an expressive freedom and you need to explore that to discover what works for you. I have always been guided by my mood, by the seasons and by what everyone else is up to. Who isn’t?! Trends have a role to play in this whether you like it or not. We absorb fashions like osmosis, we’re all influenced whether we know it, or not.

Essentially, it’s about getting knee deep in a lifelong experiment of matching colour with crochet. If you want.

a crochet shawl
The Grainbow Shawl

The Basic Principles of Colour in Crochet

The nutshell version: it’s all about balance.

You want to know more? Um, I’m not sure how to expand on the original blog post where I say balance warm with cool, and light with dark. Balance out your brights with a neutral, plop in a navy amongst your pastels. If you don’t want to bung them anywhere, think about their placement, even distribution is a safe bet.

If you use these principles as a basic starting point you won’t go far wrong. In 2016 I hadn’t refined the colour palettes I was using, instead, I just chucked all the balls in the air to see what landed where. Sometimes literally. Now I like to think my choices are more deliberate.

Whilst (arguably) using more polished palettes in 2021 I am not a fan of too many rules. Therefore, please don’t feel like you have to dutifully follow some strict formula. Ultimately, go with your gut. If it works for you and it makes you happy, then that’s a winner!

And just to contradict myself with another side note, I do have one rule when working with colour for crochet. The stitches of crochet don’t always look their best in colour-pooling yarns. Where this might create brilliant stripes in knitting, it creates a blocky pixel in crochet and I’m not keen. I will always bear that in mind if purchasing a non solid colour base.

colourful crochet blanket
Havana Nights C2C blanket.

Put it into Practice

I like big stripes of crazy colour combos but also a whole hotchpotch of them fighting each other too. If in doubt, try this: use your go to shades but swap out just one samey ball of colour for one that you’d not normally go for. Nothing bad will happen, honest! If you’re feeling queasy about diving straight in make a swatch first. Then perhaps make a smaller project like a bag or hat. Big blankets and garments can follow later.

This is part of a process, a journey if you like (ugh, I hate that word!). It’s not an overnight change.

Obviously Instagram is a great source of inspiration and I love to mindlessly scroll through Pinterest too but you’ll find it in nature, architecture and places you hadn’t even thought of.

Teh Perfect Crochet Cardigan
The Perfect Cardigan

As long as you remember that it’s all about balance then you won’t go far wrong. Also, use of colour in crochet is totally subjective! What I think looks awesome isn’t going to work for everyone. There are times when I’m not fussed about that thing other people say is the bees knees. It really doesn’t matter. Conversely, someone else will put together a crochet colour palette that will blow my mind! I wish that I’d come up with it! Wistful envy pops up to say hello but I try to remind myself that others feel that way about my dodgy choices sometimes too! A full circle of different ideas.

Each time you put a load of shades together you’ve learned more about what works and what doesn’t. And if nothing else it’s a very good excuse to buy more yarn. Keep going.

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Revival, a jumper design by HGDC. All the crazy colours in lots of neutral grey.
The best crochet cardigan. A JW Anderson inspired crochet cardigan.
A cardigan inspired by the Harry Styles / JW Anderson number
A colourful crochet purse
https://zeensandroger.com/2018/08/20/hotchpotch-c2c-crochet-bag/
Colourful crochet.
The Making of ZZ Block. My C2C baby blanket
How to Choose Colour in Crochet

Crochet Your Fade

Another day, another crochet shawl. I really don’t need this many shawls. No one does. I daren’t count how many I have. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the point. It won’t stop me making more; you never know when the next one will be “it”. You know the one, your new favourite and the one you’ll wear all year if you can. There must be “it” shawls for everyone, yes? I know there must be because I’ve found the next “it” shawl!  It’s the Crochet Your Fade by Julme of My Square Hat. Crocheters have a new shawl to rival the very best of knitted shawls!

I made mine as a pattern test for Julme. Nearly a year ago, I saw her post a pic of her new design on Instagram and knew I had to make it. A few months ago we “met” during an online Global Hookup (check out The Crochet Circle Podcast for news about what and when these occur). When she said it was nearly ready I casually offered to test it.  Of course, once I’d done that, I was immediately planning what projects to ditch in favour of this fancy fading shawl.

It is very much like Andrea Mowry’s Find Your Fade, which got bonkersly popular a couple of years ago. Whilst, this crochet version takes inspiration from the original, the stitches are unique. I have no clue about other things to compare and contrast because I’m not much of a knitter (although, thanks to a recent workshop I attended, I can now do both English and Continental style!! Goooo me!!). I have reason to believe that this isn’t as big as the FYF; everyone said that one was huge. This one is long but it doesn’t swamp. The CYF didn’t take very long either and I think it’d be quicker to work up than knitting. Everything crochet is quicker, isn’t it?! One day I would very much love to make that gorgeous, shlankety knitted number but I need to get good with the sticks first. This hooked up version has tempered my Fade urges temporarily, for which I am very grateful.

I used a mixture of different yarns, probably breaking some rules in the process. They were all 4ply and all from independent yarn dyers but the contents of each skein was a different make-up. I ended up with silky high twists next to earthy BFLs next to superwash merinos, and speckles against tonals against splodge colourways (what’s the technical term here, please!?). Basically, I put together a hotchpotch of yarn that was already in stash. If I had a hank hidden away for a future project, it got pulled out for this. Future projects be damned. None of them were safe. I also unearthed leftovers from my own fade design, Holey Smokes! (I now feel like  massive loser, Holey Smokes! isn’t a patch on the Crochet Your Fade).

Last week we went for a jaunt up on Dartmoor. Hound Tor is our favourite part. The boys love scrambling over the tor, which is popular with rock climbers. I didn’t know what the weather would be like up there. It’s only a forty minute drive away but that place is in a world of its own. I took my shawl thinking I might need it. Also took the camera for family snaps and persuaded Husband to take eleventy hundred pics of me with my new crochet fave.

So it has had its first outing and I’m very happy! I think it’s the first of many outings but to be honest, I just like looking at it when it’s hanging on the coat rack!

Here are the yarns I used: looking top to bottom we have: Galactic by Somerset Yarns, Lawn Flamingo by Wanderlust Hues (a gift from by friend Claudia of Crochet Luna), Georgia Rose by Hedgerow Yarns (a birthday present to myself!), I can’t remember what the next one is called but it’s Hand dyed by Kate (it was supposed to go in a second Holey Smokes! but I fell out of love with my own design), Midnight Rave is another Somerset Yarns (from my original Holey Smokes!) and lastly, a beautiful shade of blue from a set of minis I got from Devon Sun Yarns at last year’s Stitch Fest South West in Totnes. Phew!

Right, I’m off to find the next “it” shawl… 😀

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What Are These Crochet Alongs all about?! What is a CAL?

My first (and maybe only!) entry into the Granny CAL 2018

I’m hosting a Crochet Along at the minute and it has got me thinking. It’s easy to assume that every crocheter/maker knows exactly what a CAL is but it turns out that’s not the case at all. Since the beginning of the “great” Granny CAL of 2018 I’ve had a fair few folk ask me what it’s all about and I thought a more in depth look would make a pretty good blog post. Soooo…

What is a CAL?

The acronym CAL means Crochet Along, just as KAL is Knit Along and MAL is Make Along. Whatever kind of Along it is,  it’s usually a themed virtual get together where everyone makes the same thing. For fun.

The CAL I’m hosting is the Granny CAL and the idea is to crochet something in the granny stitch. That’s all. Nowt tricky. However, there can be loads of different sorts and loads of different reasons why a CAL pops up. Let’s have a look.

This is a spin off blanket from Cherry Heart’s Spice of Life CAL from 2016. This is Spicier Life!

The biggest element of a CAL I’ve discovered is the community. Joining in CALs really got me chatting away to other crafty people online and I’ve made new friends by taking part. I admit that this didn’t even occur to me when I first entered my finished crochet items on Ravelry. To be honest I just wanted to show off my new stuff and be in with the chance of winning a prize!! The social side was an unexpected perk but now it’s one of the main draws. I now know there’s not much chance of getting a prize (CALs are mighty popular and get super busy) but I’m genuinely not fussed about that.  The sharing of ideas, as well as tips and tricks brings a disparate bunch of enthusiasts together, enriching what can be a quiet and solitary hobby. In other words, it’s loads of fun hanging out with your crochet mates!

There are lots of different platforms you can choose to hang out on. I’ve seen CALs hosted on Facebook and Instagram whilst I mainly find them on Ravelry. Check out this thread from The Crochet Circle Podcast  which lists the CALs happening in 2018Also, have a look below for a few that are happening right now!

The Three Springs Shawl was entered into Addydae Design’s Accessories CAL last summer.

It’s an opportunity to try something new too. Perhaps you’re not crazy about handmade socks but don’t want to dismiss them. Why not try making them with others in a sock along? Maybe their positivity will rub off on you!  Want to make a snazzy shawl but not that confident? Join in the chat and you’ll be helped and supported by people all over the world! A CAL (not to mention the people participating) can give you focus and encouragement so you can achieve your goal without the energy wearing off.

There are other benefits too. It might be that the pattern or colour palette is picked for you so it removes the pressure of working out those details (that’s one of my favourite things to do but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea). And let’s not forget the potential for a prize or two!

My failed Winter Wonderland CAL attempt – this is still UFO so not the greatest example!!

There are also many reasons why people host CALs. In my case, the idea popped into my head one day, maybe I was just jumping on the bandwagon but a seed was planted. When I mentioned it on an episode of the Z&R Crochet podcast, there was such a wonderfully positive response that it would have been silly not to do it. The most important aspect was that it had to be fun and easy, with no pressure to buy a pattern or any extra yarn if you didn’t need to, the granny is the perfect stash buster after all!

A couple of squares for Lottie & Albert’s Squares for Grace.

It is also a fabulous way to raise money for charity. The host asks lots of people to contribute a small piece of crochet to make up one impressive, giant project.  And then there’s the publicity angle. What a great marketing strategy for advertising a new yarn, or pattern release. Whatever the motivation, every single time, it enables people to come together to do what they enjoy and there isn’t much wrong with that.

I don’t think CALs are going anywhere. Here are just a small handful that are happening at the moment:

What do you think of CALs? Have you taken part in one? A couple? Loooaads?! Let me know your thoughts. X

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Crochet Christmas

It’s December already!! How did that happen?! Fear not, there is still plenty of time to sort out a crochet Christmas if that’s what you want to do. In the past I’ve bust a gut trying to make something for everyone and to be perfectly honest, this year I just can’t be bothered! I’m still going to have a crochet Christmas though. ‘Course I am!!

First of all I’ve signed up to a couple of Secret Santa thingummies. One is for bloggy crafters (Stitching Santa) and the other is over on Instagram. Part of the deal for signing up is that you make handmade stuff.  The great thing is, is that I know that the participants will be as enthusiastic as me about handmade (whereas, who knows what friends and family think when I’m palming off handmade stuff on them?!).

Sooo first up I thought I’d make some wrist warmers. Quick, easy and very wearable. This year I’ve made a pair for myself and I’m making a pair each for my secret Santa peeps (the pair in the above pic are destined to be sent out). I used my own design from the Vintage Autumn set that I’ve got on Ravelry. I made the larger size as I want them to fit and whilst the small size fits me, I do have wrists like twigs. [In my last vlogcast I might have mentioned that wearing two lots of crochet at the same time was a bit like doing double denim, ie don’t do it! Therefore, the above picture amuses me as I manage three items whilst sitting on a crochet blanket!].

If making crochet presents is too stressy then you can always dec your halls instead. I’ve talked about these crochet baubles on the blog already and they have a post of their own Here. A brilliant use of scraps!

Some of my other favourite crochet decorations are some gorgeous Xmas puds from Planet June (you must check out all the other free patterns, including some more festive makes). I also found a toadstool decoration, I can’t remember if this is the pattern I’ve used but it looks like a good one. Toadstools look lovely on my tree!

I’m also doing a swap. I’m swapping some of my old makes with someone else’s, which is a brilliant way of getting something new and exciting for Christmas. Er, what else?… Well, there’s shopping! Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. Find someone/something on Etsy, Folksy or check out local craft fairs to find independent makes that other people have worked so hard to create. I’m endeavouring to do a bit more of this this year. So far I’ve only managed to buy things  for myself though…

What are you doing for your crafty Christmas? Have you been super organised, or have you left it to the last minute like me?!

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How to Crochet a Little Bag

bear-in-bagSo this is crochet video tutorial number 4! They’re trickier to put together than just my usual chats but there’s still a casual approach, which I prefer.

I decided to make a small version of my crochet beach bag for two reasons: one, I was curious about how it would turn out, and two, it would take an eternity to make and film the big version for a tutorial! I love what happened!! It’s such a cute little bag. Perfect for kids and perfect for those wondering what to do with that colour change yarn cake they’ve got stashed away.

Please take a trip to YouTube via this picture! Go on, give it a click!

I made the bag and poms poms and have just over 20grams left. The cake I used was Bernat Pop (140g) in Paisley Pop. My hook size was a 4.5mm but you might want to go down to a 4mm if you have loose tension.

There are some changes. The bigger bag used two 200g Caron cakes and has another increase round. The handles are also slightly different. Check out my blog post about that one here.

The PDF pattern is here: Crochet Beach Bag_zeens and roger

The changes? Well, this one only works up to Round 6 and then Round 6 is repeated 13 times. The next row after is half trebles. The handle has a couple of changes too: chain 71, and only work one row of treble clusters after the dc row. (remember that these are UK terms).

This bag measures approximately 28cm/11inches across and is 23cm/9inches deep. The handles (including the ends tucked inside) are about 47cm/18.5inches long.

Fancy making one? Let me know! And don’t forget to use #zeensandroger over on Instagram!

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A Farm up North. Holiday Part 2

It’s been just over a week since we got back from holiday but it already feels like it was a million years ago. Part 1 of my holiday adventures lives Here. It’s full of pretty pictures about what we got up to when we ventured away from the farm we stayed at. This post is all about our accommodation and why it was right up my street!

Imagine stumbling upon a farm house where the owner spins, dyes, and knits yarn that’s from the fleece of their very own sheep?! I couldn’t believe my luck.

A long lane takes you to Higher Gills farm in Clitheroe, Lancashire.  The sheep and surrounding fields you can see are all part of the farm and the hill in the distance is every witch’s and Quaker’s favourite: Pendle (see post 1 for that). The easiest thing for me to do is link to the farm’s website so you can read in more detail about the farm/accommodation/yarn shop. Freda and Darrell run the woolly/yarny side of things as well as the holiday lets, with other family members in charge of the farm management. In previous years they’ve had a stall at Yarndale as well as other yarn festivals but are now winding down. They’re still selling online and the holiday lets will continue but they’re retiring from the yarn events. I liked Freda and Darrell very much. They were both chatty and friendly but also knew when to leave us to it. Our accommodation was  one of two apartments converted from an old stable. It was described as rustic, which I’d agree with and pretty much had every thing we needed (I was fully prepared for sub-par wifi but we streamed Game of Thrones with no glitches –  super important in my book). My biggest gripe of the week was the too small frying pan that wasn’t non-stick. I let that go.

Views were pretty good. Directly in front of us was this. Not bad. And there’s a public right of way through the farm so you can walk through the fields and find more beautiful views.

The farm has sheep and cows, some rarebreed. I didn’t see many cows, just these cute babies. To be honest, I was more enamoured with the stone walls. I was supposed to ask what the jutty-out stones were but didn’t get round to it. Whatever, none of this was the biggest attraction for me, oh no. Before we’d even fully unpacked I was in there with the wool questions. Freda invited me over to her farm house on the Monday morning so I could get answers.

I absolutely loved Freda’s home. It was cosy with an eclectic mix of Stuff. I had a little tour and ended up in her craft room where we stayed chatting for about an hour and a half. I was allowed to have a rummage through countless tubs of yarn skeins, all of which were made from Freda’s Teeswater sheep fleece.  I bought a few too because I’ve learned over the last few holidays that yarn makes a great souvenir.

Freda’s craft room was full of experiments and projects. There was a loom next to a spinning wheel next to a table of trinkets and works in progress. What’s not to like?! I could have rifled through it all for ages. It was wonderful to see another person’s creative processes, it made me feel better about my own little corner of crochet “shame”. Non-crafty people tend to think we’re messy. It’s not mess, it’s art!

Here’s the fleece in its raw form. I don’t know how Darrell does it but he sat there for hours, painstakingly separating the very best tendrils from the unsalvageable. You can buy it like this too, they send it all over the world. The long tendrils are one of the reasons the yarn is so soft. No short poky strands to itch you. Apparently, being worsted spun as opposed to woollen spun is also the reason it’s a lot softer than other pure wools (or something like that). Mostly they send away fleece to mills to get spun and don’t make it into skeins themselves. Freda dyes it once it has returned home.

Here are my souvenirs! I haven’t decided what to do with them yet but I’d love to design a shawl with three of them. I think I’d like the red one to be a cowl with lacy stitches, like one I saw Freda knitting in the same colour. It was almost enough to tempt me into learning more advanced knitting but I’m wondering if I can come up with some pretty crochet stitches instead.

What a wonderful discovery for a yarn enthusiast! I learned new things and experienced a very different kind of yarn to what I’m used to. This is the real deal as far as I’m concerned and it’s fascinating. I can’t wait to use it.

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Blooming Marvellous – A Knit & Crochet Garden.

I love the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, it’s always welcoming and they have a really eclectic mix of exhibitions. A couple of years ago I went and saw a collection of Matisse paper cut-outs, which was great for a small town gallery (the Thelma Hulbert is in Honiton, East Devon). Sometimes we go just to use their fully stocked art and craft room. The kids love grabbing glue and making collages, or drawing the biggest pictures they can on massive sheets of paper.

I left it really late to visit their latest exhibition, the last day is this coming Saturday (24th June). I can’t believe I didn’t see that it was on until now.

Blooming Marvellous is right up my street because it is a knitting and crochet exhibition! It’s a garden of all things yarn. People from all ages, from all walks of life, hand stitched every item on display. I wasn’t sure if it’d be a bit cutesy but I was delighted to see it all! We also contributed by adding a few rows to some knitting that was there. Can you believe that there weren’t any crochet hooks?! I forgot to take crochet flowers with me. Annoyingly, I have some at home that would have been perfect to donate.

I went with my friend and our two youngest children. The boys had a great time finding things on a list they were given. A mole in a hole, tick! A ladybird wearing a lace collar, tick! A plate of prawns, tick! (The boys were also really pleased to find plug sockets hidden in the floor. But they are only four years old). After the exhibition one of the people working there told us to go and explore the gardens. There were plenty of strawberries to find and eat, she told us. It’s little things like that, that make me like the place so much.

Blooming Marvellous has been touring the UK for the past six years and I wish I could tell you where it’ll be next so that you might get to go. Sadly, I have no idea. Hopefully it’ll be on somewhere else soon. I did take pictures though…

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Crafting is My Therapy – A Creative Community

(A glimpse from April – Nicola’s collage with some of April’s contributors.)

About a year ago I stumbled upon a crafty link up called Crafting is My Therapy. It’s run by two crafters: Nicola of Me, You & Magoo and Jennifer of Jennifer’s World whose ethos is pretty self explanatory: it’s about craft as therapy! The link up has now moved to Instagram. More and more people are connecting through their varied crafting and we’re all in agreement that making and creating is definitely an oasis of calm in continually hectic lives.

Last month it was my blogging friend Maura of The Messy Brunette who co-hosted the Instagram hashtag. Read Maura’s thoughts here. This month it’s my turn. I’ll be checking out the hashtags as often as I can and choosing my favourites to post here and over on IG.

If you’re an Instagram user then make sure to tag your crafty projects with #craftingismytherapy_june

We’d love to see your work there!

What Nicola says: “The focus of our hashtag is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.”

This collage is from May and pinched from Maura’s post (whilst I work out how to do collages from other IG users….) starting from top left and its @ crafticland, top right @ yarnandblarney. Bottom left @shirleyrainbow_tb and bottom right is @knottyhoops .

How to Crochet a Beach Bag. Free pattern

At the very beginning of April I had an email from Hobbycraft asking if I’d be interested in designing a crochet project for them. It was really exciting to be asked and really exciting to learn that I could pick any materials from stuff they sold in their stores! Caron Cakes took my fancy, it’s self striping so no colour changes!! The brief was “summer” and what’s more summery than a bag for the beach?! The pattern pretty much uses two entire “cakes” including plenty for pompoms. Honestly, it’s a super easy crochet pattern and pretty fast to work up too.

Hobbycraft have an Instagram account and blog page especially for knitters and crocheters. The bag pattern is up and ready to grab over on Hobbycraft (see below). The best thing of all is that it’s totally free!! They’re asking lots of IGers to come up with patterns. It’s a lovely idea to include crafters who are already connecting in a virtual community. There are some fabulous patterns available and they’ve all been designed by us!

Crochet Beach Bag PDF : Crochet Beach Bag_zeens and roger

Or pop to Hobbycraft, here.

And if you spot my error, please keep schtum!! 😀  It was very late at night, I was tired and mistakes happen. I kicked myself for not noticing until it was beyond changing. What a silly sausage. Ah, you’re gonna seek it out now. Psshh.

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Episode 6. Crochet Vlog/Podcast

Hello there! The above screen shot will take you to YouTube for a crochet podcast /video web log experience you’ll never forget!!  Please do pop along and watch; it would make me super happy!  Anyway, what have you been up to? This vlog is pretty much what I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. I always have really good intentions about structure, format, order etc. As soon as the record button gets pressed, that all goes out the window! It’s just supposed to be a chat, not a presented programme. That’s what I tell myself.

Here are the links to stuff in episode 6. If there’s anything else you’re interested in please do ask. Cheers.

This week’s bluebell blog post

Japanese crochet books (and other various craft books) can be found here

Nanna Nostalgia. A blog post I wrote last year about my crafty heritage.

Keep Calm and Carry Yarn Podcast

Crochet Cakes Podcast

Crochet Luna Podcast

And here is some of the stuff I talked about this time round…