Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

Northern Yarns

I was pleased to be visiting Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the first time this year, especially pleased as we finished moving the last of the studio items on Thursday evening – Friday and Saturday were something of a luxury!

So come on, show and tell time… I took my trusty Northern Yarns tote and carried it with pride. Thanks Kate.

Northern Yarns

I travelled up early on Friday morning, and met a fellow KnitBod, which was unexpectedly lovely. We found another knitter (or did she find us?) so we travelled together and chatted whilst playing ‘Spot the Knitwear’, a popular pastime it seems!

Once at the Corn Exchange I had a quick sweep around to get my bearings, then started to investigate. I had my map, on which I had noted my budget (ha!), stalls to visit and my wishlist in order of priority.

Oh ok, time to see what’s inside the bag…

My shopping EYF2017


I really wanted some better hand carders – I found some at Once Upon A Sheep (who were lovely). 9″ short circulars were on my list too, since being converted to them for socks. No more Second Sock Syndrome for me – now I can knit 2 at once!

I looked for some fingering weight yak to contrast my green, but only found double knit weight, so I decided to buy the crochet shawl book instead.

It was had to resist the Dorset button kits from TJ Frog (have you heard her podcast? Super stuff). I stopped resisting and bought a kit, since one of my goals for the visit was to learn something new.

I bought some combed tops too for spinning – beautiful, soft and clouds, rich Blue Spruce and Pomegranate.

Yarn wise, I bought some Tamar from Blacker Yarns, after being so impressed with the way the small ball I bought blocked, and also some small balls of 3 ply by Jamieson.

The two wooden things you can see on the right are tapestry bobbins. I’ve been working on a large weaving and thought they would be useful, so I have one from Dovecot Gallery, which I visited on Saturday, and one from the Threshing Barn at EYF.

The podcast lounge was very busy but I spoke to a Louise (@KnitBritish) briefly and shouted “Quiche!” at Louise from @CaithnessCrafts, which was fun.

On Saturday I had a little walk around Edinburgh and recorded a podcast to share with you as I wandered. I’ll try to get that edited this week.

It was a smashing break and I met some wonderful people from all around the world (Scotland, Italy, America…), visited some fun places and spotted some fantastic knits. Thanks Edinburgh, I’ll be back.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Ok, bit of a surprise for you, so sit down and grab a brew while we chat.


The landlord of Oxheys Mill Studios has decided that it’s time to sell the building. Sadly, this leaves us artists with the mammoth task of emptying our studios and putting into storage things we want to keep until we find new premises.


I am relocating classes which were to be held at Oxheys, or where that isn’t possible, cancelling them and refunding people. It’s going to take some time to find somewhere new, and while that happens I’ll be working at home. I don’t think it’s fair to continue booking places while I’m on the move, so just for the moment, I am closing the shop.


I will have some things for sale (materials, yarns, etc) at the Oxheys closing event to be held on Thursday 2nd March 6-8pm. Anything that isn’t sold on the night will go to auction on my Facebook Page on the Friday.


I will be back next month with updates, and hopefully new regular venues. Onwards and upwards!

My favourite crochet class

During the 6 years or so I’ve been teaching knitting and crochet, I’ve tried various classes. Some, I run quite often because there is a demand for them, others, rarely (only when there are enough people interested), and the odd one or two I have changed or just ditched altogether. I’m pleased there aren’t many of those.

In the spirit of February, love and cuddly things, I would like to share my favourite class with you and why I adore it.

Sensational Crocheted Squares was the first ‘real’ crochet class I developed, back in 2011. I know it’s a bit of a mouthful to say, but I’ve resisted changing the name because

1. they are awesome

2. most of the motifs are squares

3. It’s crochet, and if I say ‘crocheted square’, lots of people know what I mean (it’s a classic)

A granny square has a simple, repetitive rhythm, making them perfect to relax with and infinitely soothing – a real zoning out project.

I added other squares and hexagons to the class so that people could learn other techniques in the same course. All of the motifs are very portable and quick, so they are ideal for busy people or people who like to complete one little thing each night.

On a more personal level, I love the Sensational Crocheted Squares course because at it’s heart, I’m passing on the patterns and skills I learnt as a child. It feels great.

One of the things which drew me to crochet was my Great Nanna, with her basket of colourful squares, quickly joining them together as I picked out the next one. It was a warm, cosy holiday in her little cottage, and I learnt things like how to light a coal fire using newspaper (safety first, kids, I must have been about 5!), and what the names of the wildflowers were which grew down the side of the canal.

This reminds me of family history and the interconnectedness of women through the generations. In a sense, the stitches and textiles made form the fabric of our lives, surrounding us, cocooning us and keeping us safe like a magical spell.

I would love to hear your thoughts about how crafts and textiles fit into your life – find me on Facebook at happymakesart or on Twitter at CarryYarnCaro.

Caroline. x

If you are interested in the Sensational Crocheted Squares course, I will have more details soon. Follow me on Twitter!

UK – US Crochet Stitch Conversion Chart with symbols

Something I hear a lot is how it’s so confusing using UK and US crochet terms and stitch names. Let’s face it, when you are a beginner you don’t need to be learning the lingo too.

No more confusion!

Banish those blues!

Here’s a new stitch conversion chart for you (updated from my popular old one). Just save the image, print it in landscape, then flip the paper over and print the other side.

Bingo! You have 3 charts, 1 for your essentials bag, 2 for your mates (or keep them as bookmarks).

Folded, they are less than credit card sized and perfect for keeping in your purse or wallet so you can check the wraps per inch before you buy that impulse yarn, or double check how to make a UK double crochet stitch.

Making the most of craft classes

Caroline's squares class

A short while ago I read an article about how to make the most of knitting, crochet, or other craft lessons, and it got me thinking and reflecting on my own experiences as a teacher and a student. (I’m sorry, I can’t find the article to link to. When I find it again, I will add it).

I meet a wide range of students during classes – some are ultra-organised, only just short of breaking out highlighters (no doubt some of them do at home). Other people roll up late, can’t find the doorbell, or have young kids and sometimes just getting themselves there is an accomplishment. I’m not mocking anyone, I have a secret stationary thing and keep a bullet journal, which helps with the chaos in my head.

Choose a suitable method

Top of my list for making the most of your craft lessons is to make sure the class suits your needs. Yes, that class 10 miles away might look great, but if you have to drop the kids off, can you get there without being flustered? Flustered is never a good look, and you need to ‘have the right head on’ if anything from the class is going to sink in. Also, people learn in different ways. Some people will applaud your efforts, and tell you to look at this website, or use these videos… great, it worked for them, but people have different learning styles.

I won’t go into too much detail, but I studied this when I was looking at learning styles for my PTLLS – some people learn through being shown something, others need it to be explained, others need to do it for themselves, and most people learn through a combination of these methods. You need to understand that that fantastic book just might not work – don’t be disheartened. You are not your friend. You have a different brain (obvs) (my kids hate me saying that).

Anyway, my message – use the resources there for you, pick what works for you. Nothing works sat in a drawer, and sometimes you can’t beat someone sat next to you, pointing “there!”

Caroline's squares class

Check the class details

Before you book onto the class, read up about it. Yes, getting students on a course is great. It’s even better when the students on the course know what is expected of them. For instance, if a course says “You need to be able to do x and y before you start”, and you can’t, do ask before booking on. There’s a reason the teacher has said that – for example class management or time constraints. Personally, I don’t mind helping someone get up to speed before a class, as long as it’s arranged beforehand.

If the course says it involves homework, make sure you will be able to commit to doing work in between classes.

Arrive on time

If you have chosen to take a class, please get there on time. Not an hour early (that might be prep time, the teacher might not have time to chat), not 20 minutes late. Classes start promptly and you might miss something, especially if you are new to the technique. If missing the start is unavoidable, it’s nice to call ahead before the class.

Be organised

The best system I’ve ever seen in a class belonged to my now-friend Rachel. She broke out the plastic pockets and gave each of her samples a pocket, alongside each handout embellished with notes so she can refer back later… sigh. Beautiful stuff. I love it when my handouts are valued. Please write on them. They are working documents for your benefit, not souvenirs.

A few other people have brought different tote bags dedicated to each class. This is clever because you can put the essentials (hook, markers, scissors, pen, etc) in a small makeup bag which can be moved between totes. When you need to work on a project, grab the appropriate tote and your makeup bag.

During the class

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get clarification and make notes. You will understand more and the teacher will know what level you are working to. For instance, if someone is making good progress and asking clever questions, I will often give them an extra technique to help them out, or include a bit of maths or extra resources.

Write down what you find out (forget what everyone else is or isn’t doing, who cares?) and keep a note of patterns people mention so you can look at them later. Some people track their progress using a notebook (like an art journal).


Write up anything you need to refer to as soon as possible, while it’s fresh in your mind. If your teacher has given you bonus material or references, make a note and schedule the time to visit the website. Do any homework you need to do, otherwise remember to practise.

Some teachers ask for feedback about classes. Sometimes this is required (with Lancashire Adult Learning there was a questionnaire every class), sometimes the teacher is asking for their own benefit. Your opinions help them to refine the course so that it helps future students.

One last thing – many teachers are self-employed. It’s a great help to them if you tell friends when you’ve had a good experience. They might be looking for a class, or might know someone who is, and word of mouth gets around. It’s a very kind thing to do and results in your friend getting an awesome lesson, and the teacher getting an awesome student, so they can continue doing something they love which helps other people.

Enjoy your crafting!