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A few months ago I was asked to go to London for a mystery meeting with a yarn company.  All that I knew was that I'd have to sign a disclaimer to say that I wouldn't say a word about it to anyone.  I literally had NO idea what it was about, so of course I went. I mean, who could say no to that?!

Amazingly, it turned out to be an opportunity to provide some input in to new range of yarns.  Paintbox Yarns invited designers and bloggers who live and breath yarn, to be part of the production of their new ranges.  There were a whole variety of yarns of different textures, weights and ply's, (it really is astonishing the variety that you can get with acrylic, you would have no clue that they were all made of the same thing), and I got to really play and fiddle with them, hooking up different stitches, ripping things back to see how they coped, trying different size hooks  and techniques. 

What we came to at the end of a couple of very enjoyable hours, was a shortlist of yarns that are ideal for crochet.  Durable, soft, pliable and hardworking (and it turns out fantastically economical too, go check out LoveKnitting or LoveCrochet). 

The other thing that they've been able to do, is provide a really gorgeous palette of 60 different colours.  For me, as a colour collecting obsessive, it's awesome.  A couple of days ago all 60 shades turned up on my doorstep, and I have compulsively started creating colourways with them already.  In fact, it's made me think of trying to make a colourway a day, celebrating the season (late summer, my fave) and whipping up a little granny square in each.  Having made a couple already, it's given me a chance to really work with them, and they are a good, solid, economy acrylic, that really does handle being ripped back a couple (ahem, 5 or 6) of times, yet still works up cleanly.

I would happily commit to making a whole blanket with this stuff, it would be affordable, and the colour range means it could be anything you wanted.  And even more gloriously they make a cotton as well, all 57 colours of which landed on my doorstep this morning, so once I'm back from a final summer holiday jaunt, I'll be seeing what that can do too!

I also have to add (as a stationary fanatic) that the graphic design, font type and packaging totally tickles my modernist sensibilities.  It's WAY cool.

Here's the yarn porn, people (I've literally been having THE best time making it over the last couple of days!) and maybe the start of a late summer collection (let's see how much crochet work I have to do first.)

Oh, and on another note - totally keep on with your instagramming and blogging guys.  I'd never have been given this opportunity if I hadn't stuck with it.  Just be ready to say yes to whatever comes your way, and something super exciting will come to you too.

So you'll have noticed a definite theme over the summer - short, quick, I've only got 10 minutes to myself makes!  I've been solidly sticking to pimping and customising existing things rather than trying to whip things up from scratch.  It's just as gratifying but takes way less time!

The key to this is, don't be afraid.  Taking a pair of scissors to a top, sleeve, waist band can be intimidating, so maybe don't try it with your lovely Boden tee.  However, a quick scout around a charity/thrift store, or everbodies favourite - Primani, and a bargain grabbed for small change, and you'll happily do anything to it!  (I'd totally advocate the charity shop route though, you can actually find things made with really good quality material or much more interesting patterns than the plastic nonsense from cheap, high street stores.)

Want to do it yourself?  I'd recommend working up your crochet piece before chopping bits off.  That way you can pin it in place, and mark it up nicely before you actually make a cut.  If you're going to do cuffs or sleeves, then use the first one that you cut off as a 'template' for the second - so lie it in place and mark where it come sup to on the sleeve.  If you're going to do a yoke on a tee, then once you've marked it up, fold the tee in half and cut the neck line that way, so it's symmetrical.  (Otherwise you can spend AGES nibbling bits off to try and make it even.)  Also, make sure you give yourself a little bit of seam allowance.

Here's my fave thing I've been attacking this summer.  My denim jacket has now almost become a crochet and stitching sampler, and the more I add to it, the more I love it.

This week the summer hols was starting to get to me.  The littlest has come down with the pox, we are now housebound and all the fun, super-mum style activities have long been used up in the early weeks of the holidays.  but then, something happened that changed all that.

Today a freaking GORGEOUS surprise turned up at my door, one of the new 'Crochyay!' boxes.  Here's how they work: you pay a monthly subscription, they send you a surprise box of crochet treats with patterns each month, full of yarn and makes form all sorts of excellent designers and companies. 'Crochyay!' have a very bold, contemporary style (think geometrics, monochrome, you get me?), and this month was a super cool ice cream make, and a chunky yarn bracelet.

So far, so crochet, but look, we all know I'm a complete yarn junky, but I also have a lesser know,  massively inappropriate stationary fetish. The packaging, paper and stickers in this box of wonder are to DIE for.  I mean really.  I would buy it just to squeak over the tissue paper, it literally brought me out in hot flushes.  Totally check them out, it's a proper treat and has totally made my day!

It's nearly ready for sale people!  SO ridiculously excited!! xxx
I am so lucky to do the job I do, but trying to do it with two feral boys tussling all over the house is flipping hard work!  So instead of taking on enormous projects, I've been working up part-crochet-part-upcycled pieces.  This way I can make the fun part, and then use the body of something that would otherwise have ended up in a charity shop to finish it off.  It's also a PERFECT way to use up single skeins of pretty yarn that aren't really enough for a whole garment, and we all need more excuses to buy those!