Over To You

On Sunday, this blog quietly turned three, which gives me an OK-ish excuse to wheel out pictures of the cake that the Stoic Spouse secretly had commissioned ahead of this site’s first blogiversary, in 2014. (Way back in the mists of time, he also proposed via a cake. Are you spotting a theme in this man’s primary means of communication? If he ever decides to ditch me, it’ll probably be via an ‘I want a divorce’ cake.)

blogiversary blog cake knitting

The blogiversary cake was large, and rather delicious. I wish I could have given you each a slice because your kindness, generosity of spirit, and humour, have made this blog. Also, it was damn fine cake.

Seriously though, thank you. Whether you’re a loyal long-termer, or whether you only came across The Twisted Yarn at 3am this morning because you’d already read the rest of the internet and this was the only thing that remained, I really do appreciate your visits, and your comments.


Anyway, I was thinking about how quite a few of you are bloggers yourselves, whilst others are on the look-out for interesting yarn-related stuff to read. So I thought, why don’t we all have a little party right here on this page? If you’re a blogger, feel free to shout out loud about what you do via a comment at the end of this post. If you’re a reader and you know of a blog or two that the rest of us should definitely be reading, please tell us why!

Meanwhile, this year’s Stylecraft Blog Tour has just kicked off, promoting lovely new shades in chunky and aran ‘Special’ yarn. Emma Varnam has shared her blanket, and Jane Crowfoot has taught us about colour. Still to come, are Keep Calm And Crochet On, Sue Pinner, Annaboo’s House, Hand Knitted Things, Cherry Heart, The Patchwork Heart, Crafternoon Treats, and Le Monde de Sucrette. Oh, and I’m in there too, on 31st October to be precise. Hurrah!

So let’s hear about your blogs!    ↓Comments!↓


Filed under Blogging

It’s Not A Popularity Contest! Oh, Wait, Actually It Is…

Hello blog. Just a short one today.

Thank you for all the kind comments that you’ve left lately, you lovely yarny lot. On Sunday, this blog will be three years old. Three! I can scarcely believe it. In my experience, three-year-olds are obstreperous and independent little spirits, prone to embarking on unhinged adventures and removing all of their clothes on a whim. So read here at your peril.

Talking of the blog, I discovered by chance the other day that I’ve been shortlisted for the British Craft Awards!

British Craft Awards

Good grief! I’d have fallen off my chair in surprise at the news if I’d been sitting on one at the time. Anyway, now that the shortlist is out there, the winner is to be selected by public vote. (Can you tell where I’m going with this? What, you can?!) So I would be hugely honoured and grateful if you popped over to their site in order to wang me a vote. And if you’re in the UK, you stand a chance to win big chunky Amazon vouchers, too, just for the trouble of entering. The link is here. Select the Knitting And Crochet option, and then within the question about your favourite blogger, you’ll see this very site listed as an option. If you’re kind enough to vote for me, I’ll pop round and weave in all your yarn ends as an act of gratitude, because I’m not above a little bribery and corruption when it’s needed. Um, thank you.

So has there been knitting and crochet? Well yes, there most certainly has. There’s also been a fair amount of frogging, but I’ve tried to be all adult about it and tell myself that frogging a dozen hours of work is just bringing me closer to the eventual much better outcome. Unfortunately I’m not falling for that rubbish. I’m busy designing something for the Hobbycraft chain of shops and it just wasn’t working. It looked very nice in my head, but the reality was a little less splendid. So I sat in my usual spot at the twinnage’s music group and began to thread my needle many rows down, ready to rip out a lot of stitches. (For privacy reasons, photo taken whilst all the children were out of shot gathered round the teacher’s piano.)


Onwards, my friends, onwards. I shall not be defeated by a pesky cowl.

May your crochet and knitting be more successful than mine.


Filed under Blogging

Thank You

This post is mostly a ‘thank you’ to all of you who sponsored, encouraged, or at the very least grudgingly tolerated me as I prepared to run the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. The big race was yesterday. Nine thousand of us lined up in the centre of Oxford under a beautiful blue sky, to await the starting klaxon. Guess what: I didn’t win. (But my friend Chris did come 15th out of the 9000, which just boggles the brain: he’s fast.) Still, I ran all 13.1 miles (21km), for which I got a nice heavy finisher’s medal:-

Oxford Half Marathon

But I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s go back to the beginning. Most of my running posts on here have been about various disasters, and it was starting to look as though yesterday would be no exception. Some tough stuff has been happening in the last week or so: my grandmother died suddenly, one of my sons was rushed to hospital in an ambulance in the middle of the night with breathing difficulties (he’s fine now) and – on a vastly more trivial note but still incompatible with running – I just have not been able to shake off the stubborn cough/cold that I developed about a million years ago. Also sleeping through the alarm on the day of the race wasn’t a great start. But somehow, we got ourselves organized-ish, and arrived in Oxford under a brilliant blue, but very chilly, sky.

The old limestone buildings in the heart of Oxford were positively glowing in the autumn sunshine. I’d planned to take lots of photos on the day to show you, but in the end that didn’t happen, what with running an’ all. I did, however, manage to snatch a shot of my feet. Just in case you don’t know what feet look like.

These feet were not made for walking. Or running.

These feet were not made for walking. Or running. Or anything, really.

Nine thousand competitors is a lot of people, and the centre of Oxford was crowded. (Those thirteenth-century street planners didn’t really consider the needs of twenty-first century race-runners.) But there was such a joyful atmosphere, and there were brass bands playing, and spectators cheering and handing out jelly-babies to passing runners, and everyone seemed so excited. This was my first ever race, and when we crossed the start-line, it felt very, very, odd to be on the inside of the barricades instead of being one of the spectators cheering on a friend. At first, squeezed into narrow streets between the barriers, it was all a bit too crowded, but later in the race there was far more space.

Oxford Half Marathon Nasio Trust

That’s me with the plait and the blue trainers. Photo credit: Selma at https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

Yes it was a race, and I’m sure there was a certain amount of hard-nosed competitiveness up near the front (you’ll have to ask Chris), but back where I was, it was more like a group of folk enjoying a run together rather than a race, and it just felt happy. I was running as part of a small team for the Nasio Trust, led by my friend’s daughter Ella (proud mum post here on my friend’s blog), and we mostly ran together, an orange-clad band of five with matching balloons. Hang on, I’ll just blag a couple more pictures from Ella’s mum so that I can show you them.

Ella, leading from the front. (Me on the right at the back looking knackered!) Photo credit: Selma at https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

Ella, leading from the front. (Me on the right at the back looking knackered!) Photo credit: Selma at https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

It was fun to be racing up and down a city that I know so, so, well. We ran past the college where I did my first degree, and the college where I did my doctorate, and very near my first flat, but my plan to take photos as I went just didn’t happen, because it turns out that 13.1 miles is actually rather a long way, and I was busy concentrating on keeping moving. Had I stopped, I might never have started again.

Anyway, WE DID IT. Two hours and twenty-four minutes (including an eight-minute loo stop) after setting off, we dragged our weary feet over the finish line and boy, were we ready to stop.

Team Nasio. That's me on the left looking like death, and Ella in the middle of everyone else all looking as though they've had a gentle stroll in the park. Photo credit: https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

Team Nasio. That’s me on the left looking like death, and Ella in the middle of everyone else all looking as though they’ve had a gentle stroll in the park. Photo credit: Selma at https://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

So THANK YOU for all your support. So far, you’ve contributed £437.50 (including Gift Aid) to this fantastic cause. There is still time to donate! The link is right here, and every penny will help improve the life opportunities of disadvantaged children.

And now, let’s get back to the knitting.


RIP Alma Merritt – mother, grandmother, war survivor, knitter, genealogist, historian, and lover of the written word. I thought about you the whole way round the race.


Filed under Outdoors

The Mindfulness In Knitting, A Book Review

It’s fairly rare for my day job (clinical psychologist) to collide with the knitting thing, but today a new book is published that spans both of these worlds, and I’ve been given the chance to review a copy. “Well if you absolutely insist,” I said. Actually, that last bit is a lie: I jumped at the chance. Allow me to introduce you to The Mindfulness In Knitting by Rachael Matthews, published TODAY by Leaping Hare Press.

The Mindfulness In Knitting Rachael Matthews review

It’s rather a beauty, don’t you think? Not that I’m superficial enough to judge a book by its cover…

Mindfulness – just in case you haven’t made its acquaintance – is a set of techniques derived from traditional Buddhist meditation. The purpose is to free oneself from angst about the future, the past, and the unknowable, by learning to tune in acutely to all of your senses in the present moment. (Melded with cognitive therapy, it’s created an approach that’s achieved a pretty impressive evidence base in treating recurrent depression amongst many other problems.) Mindfulness is mostly the brainchild of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a man who looks so uncannily like George W. Bush that it’s tricky to concentrate on anything he says because one is so busy marvelling at the resemblance. I once attended a ten-day conference-workshop with him, so I speak from experience.

But I digress.

This is no dry textbook, and I had to switch off my impatient day-job brain. It’s a series of reflections on the meaning of knitting, the purpose of knitting, the role of knitting, and the benefits of knitting. Reading each chapter (whilst knitting, of course) felt like a meditation on an aspect of our craft. The author hails primarily from a knitting and knit-activism background, rather than from a mindfulness/therapy background, but I can’t help respecting a woman who’s been thrown out of the bar of the Savoy for knitting.

The Mindfulness In Knitting Rachael Matthews review

The whole book feels like a peaceful space into which you can step at will to reflect on the significance of the stitches on your needles. Matthews recognizes that the process of knitting is particularly compatible with mindfulness. In her own words, “The utterly absorbing process of creating textiles provides us with an informal meditation space while connecting us with a heritage we cherish and ultimately a universe we understand.” And both knitting and mindfulness are increasingly recognized for their health benefits.


The six chapters each address an aspect of the craft, considered mindfully. There are accompanying exercises designed to help you bring mindfulness deeper into your knitting, for example one contains a list of questions about the place that knitting occupies in your life right now. For me, these exercises were the least interesting part of the book, and I was far more absorbed when reading Matthew’s anecdotes and wisdom.

My favourite chapter is Knitting Circles And Craftivism, perhaps because Matthews’ background is rich with interesting experiences in this area. This section is a meditation on the implications, the politics, and the power of knitting in public, and knitting in groups – especially groups set up with the purpose of using knitting as a form of activism. Like the Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl McPhee) before her, Matthews writes about the unifying nature of making textiles, irrespective of the makers’ origins. It’s true, though: I’ve met knitters of many ages and backgrounds, but whilst we’re knitting together, we’re sisters (or brothers) in yarn.

The Mindfulness In Knitting Rachael Matthews review

I enjoyed this book most when Matthews wove in anecdotes, material from history, and other information. Early on, she considers her relationship with our knitting forebears, and – further back in time – with the practitioners of naalbinding, a frustratingly slow precursor to knitting that tested even Matthews’ yarn-related patience when she gave it a try. As she says, “the knitting experience is as much about the occupation of mind as it is the working of fingers”. Too true, as anyone faced with the instruction to knit acres of monotonous garter stitch can attest.


There were reflections, too, that caught my attention, for example about how “someone, somewhere was probably knitting with us in mind in the months leading up to our birth”. I wonder what that person was hoping, expecting, and dreaming. My mother is a knitter, my grandmother was a knitter, but I’m not sure what if anything they created in the weeks before I arrived. I was also drawn to the section on the complexities of knitting for others, how a gift can in fact be a weapon when it arrives, hideously inappropriate but with the firm expectation that it shall be worn and appreciated. Knitting for others is a minefield, and we’ve all probably got some horror stories from times when we’ve been the giver or the receiver. Matthews is wise in her unpicking of what exactly is going on when we give or receive a hand-knitted gift.


I like this book. It’s not what I expected, but once I sat back, put my feet up, cast on, and lost myself in each of its six meditations, I enjoyed it very much. And since I finished reading, I think I’ve approached my works-in-progress in a more mindful way, thinking beyond the immediate demands of knit or purl.

The Mindfulness In Knitting, Meditations On Craft And Calm by Rachael Matthews, is published today by the Leaping Hare Press, hardback UK price £8.99, and is also published in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia. Enjoy.




(Usual disclaimer: I did not pay for this book, but all opinions are my own.)


Filed under Knitting

Back In The Crochet Garden

Dear blog,

I’ve neglected your regular silliness business, what with all those giveaways and other stuff.

So I thought it was high time to drop in on a project that’s been slowly (very slowly) progressing in the background whilst I’ve been on here chattering about other things.

Yes, if you’ve been reading here a’while: you’ll know the one. The over-ambitious furniture-related one that began with a house, and which is now slowly (oh-so-slowly) acquiring a garden. It’s so close to the sewing-up-and-revealing stage that I’m starting to have even more ambitious ideas about how to embellish its craziness. Would you like to see the latest additions?

I’ve been crocheting all sorts of flowers and shrubs, making it up as I go along, but a lot of the leaves are longer-thinner/shorter-wider versions of this. Also, I’ve made lavender (using Stylecraft Batik, in shades that couldn’t be more perfect for lavender if they tried):-

make lavender with yarn

Planted in its new home, it looks like this:-

make lavender crochet garden embroidery

And stepping back for yet another gratuitous shot, here it is again with the picnic blanket in the background:-

crochet garden lavender embroidery

Would you like to see a little more around the rest of the garden? There aren’t many bare patches left to fill (which is more than can be said for my progress on the real garden that I’m supposed to be redeveloping). Here’s a selection of views, taken as we stroll across the lawn and beside the pond.

crochet knitted circle pond garden

The flower beds are nearly full:-

crochet garden embroidery flowers

…though this one is still my favourite:-

crochet garden embroidery flowers

And the vegetable garden is neatly regimented. I’m particularly proud of the cauliflowers:-

crochet vegetable garden cauliflower lettuce carrot

Let’s have one more shot…

crochet garden embroidery flowers

Meanwhile, there’s still time to sponsor me for the Oxford Half Marathon that I’m running on 9th October in aid of the wonderful Nasio Trust and their work supporting disadvantaged children in rural Kenya. More details are in this blog post. So how’s training going? Well… the good news is that I’ve already run the whole distance (13.1 miles / 21.1 km) in a training run a couple of weeks ago. BUT the less-good news is that I’ve had a horrid cold-cough for the last 10 days, and I currently can’t run very far without hacking a cough that suggests most of my disposable income goes on tobacco. (No, I don’t smoke.) I’m determined to complete the race this Sunday, and to do so running, but this one’s gonna hurt. I will, however, definitely be able to run faster and further if lots of people are generous enough to sponsor me for this for this fabulous cause. Any amount, large or small, will make a real difference to children’s lives. A huge THANK YOU to those of you who have sponsored me already from both near and afar. The page where you can do so is right here. Many thanks.



Filed under Crochet

Getting Cosy

Our letterbox is a mean and fearsome beast. Unusually narrow but psychopathic of nature, I swear that I’ve heard it growl on occasion. Postal staff approach with dread, and if you saw the state of the few letters that make it as far as the doormat, you’d be forgiven for assuming that we owned a very large and ill-tempered dog.


Beware Of The Letterbox

So when I was contacted about a company that claims to deliver vacuum-packed, letterbox-friendly yarn, I said, “Yeah, right. Charming idea, but you haven’t met our letterbox.” At the very least, some innocent postal worker would lose a finger or two in the attempt.

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” they said. “We’ll send you some yarn.” But the physics just didn’t add up: large, fluffy balls of wool versus bity, mean-mouthed, letterbox. I was pretty sure I knew who’d emerge triumphant and un-shredded from that battle.

I was curious, though, so I investigated a little more. The company is called Cosywool, and they supply yarn, patterns, and knitting/crochet equipment worldwide via mail order. Their website is here. Yarnwise, they’ve got a nice broad range from eighteen of the major producers (including Stylecraft, Rowan, Rico, Debbie Bliss, King Cole, Noro, Red Heart). The number of shades stocked for many of the yarns isn’t (yet) quite as humungous as for some of the other major online yarn shops, but their prices are about as low as you can get, e.g. a ball of Stylecraft Special DK is only £1.65 (up to 34p cheaper than from other major online suppliers), and Rowan Felted Tweed DK is £6.35 (up to 94p cheaper than elsewhere). These prices are good. Very, very good.

The needles, hooks, and accessories are all by KnitPro* and Pony, with the emphasis on the Symfonie range from KnitPro, and knitting accessories from Pony. There is only one range of crochet hooks available at present. From the history described on the Cosywool website, it sounds as though this firm is expanding fast, so perhaps more crochet tools will follow soon.

But their big, shiny, distinctive, ‘thing’ is that they vacuum-pack their yarns just before despatch, so that the package will fit comfortably through your letterbox whilst you’re out, rather than sitting on the doorstep being liberally watered by a passing cloud. “Hmm, OK,” I said, eventually. “Send me some yarn. But you’ll regret it, and so will Colin the Postman.”

The next day, I came home from work expecting to see the shredded remains of a package – and possibly of a postman, too – on the ground outside my house. But there was nothing. So I was very surprised to open the door and see this:-

cosywool vacuum packed yarn wool

After a brief tussle (pictures too violent for family viewing so not included here), I managed to prise the package from the jaws of the rabid letterbox. Look! Now that is thin.


I’d say no more than a centimetre thickness, max. Even our letterbox is wider than that. It was genuinely difficult to imagine that this pack included real yarn. But it did!

I've eaten pancakes that are thicker than this.

I’ve eaten pancakes that are thicker than this.

Time to fetch the scissors and set the yarn free. As soon as you begin to cut, the balls of yarn magically** begin to swell.


Yarn! Real yarn… that within seconds returned to the normal proportions you’d expect from two balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky, especially when you give it a little squoosh:-


Also, in the package they send you a mint. At least it looked like a mint. I ate it, just to be sure. Yup, mint. Fresh breath and yarn: what’s not to like?

The website is attractive and user-friendly, which only increases the danger of people like me buying all the yarn. They aim for same-day despatch, too.

To be serious for a rare moment, I was genuinely surprised by how well the vacuum thingy and the returning-to-normal-fluffiness thingy worked for this yarn. The balls of wool are sitting beside me as I write this post, and the only visible sign of harsh treatment is that the ball bands look a bit folded. But hey, you don’t knit with the ball bands, do you? Opening up your vac-packed yarn doesn’t feel quite as nice as when you burrow into an oversized box to find pristine, organza-wrapped skeins of perfection, BUT that’s a trade-off I’m happy to make if it means my order doesn’t have to do time on the doorstep in the company of the local cat population.

If you want a unique, hand-spun skein of something for your glass-cased stash, then you might want to go elsewhere, but if you want speedy low-cost deliveries of major brand yarn to knit/hook (and a mint!) then I seriously recommend looking at this supplier.



∗ That’s Knitter’s Pride to you in North America.

∗∗ Disclaimer: no actual magic is used in this process, as far as I’m aware.

Please note that this is a sponsored post, but all views are very much my own. What? Why are you looking at me like that? A lass has to top up her yarn budget now and again. Yarn doesn’t grow on trees, y’know. Well, except rayon maybe – sort of…

Also, I’m not exaggerating about our letterbox.


Filed under Yarn

So Who Has Won Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium?

Another week, and another giveaway closes. I’m truly sorry that this one was UK-only but don’t worry international folk, there’ll be plenty more sharing-the-yarn-around to come.

So, do you remember me introduciing this marvellous book that’s just been published?

edward's crochet imaginarium book review toft

Within these flip-book pages, you’ll find everything you need to design and create the unique monster of your dreams – or nightmares. Up to you.


A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review with a contest to win a copy of this fine book. The contest finished yesterday at noon, so it’s high time we found out who’s won, don’t you think? And just in case you don’t get lucky this time, the book is now available to buy in all the usual places – Amazon.co.uk for example.

Edward's Crochet imaginarium

Between here and Facebook, we had 55 entries. The usual Twisted procedure applies: I’ve numbered every entry so that we can consult the oracle that is random.org. So, random.org, pray tell us please who has won this marvellous book? What’s that you say? Number 20? Hurrah!


…And consulting my list, I’m happy to say that…

The winner is GEMMA!

Congratulations Gemma! I’ll be in touch today to ask for your address, which I can then pass on to the publishers so that they can send you the prize. Happy hooking!

Also a huge thanks to everyone else who entered, and to Pavilion Books for generously providing the prize.



Filed under Crochet

So Who’s Won All These Beautiful KnitPro Needles?

Well goodness, an above-averagely-sized THANK YOU to all 270 of you who entered the KnitPro Royales needle review/giveaway before the gong sounded earlier today.* You left some lovely/funny/witty/kind/interesting comments with your entries, too.

knitpro royales knitters pride

And a great big woolly THANKS to KnitPro for providing the awesome prize. (I made cautious enquiries as to whether they’d be prepared to provide 270 prizes so that everyone could have one: they gave me a look that suggested I was pushing my luck.)

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

So there can be only one winner. As usual, I numbered all the entries before consulting the oracle that is random.org. And the result?

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

Do you recognize yourself in those digits? Well you should if you’re SUE MCDONALD. Congratulations Sue! YOU’VE WON!

I’ll be in touch within the next day or so to ask for your address, so that I can pass it on to the lovely folk at KnitPro. You’re going to love this prize. Happy knitting!

And thanks again to everyone else. If you’re in the UK, there’s still time to enter this giveaway. And don’t worry, there’ll be more competitions soon for everyone. Meanwhile, I’d better go and do some knitting after all that excitement…

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

∗Either here or on Facebook. Apologies for the vanishing Facebook post that caused some confusion. But I mopped up all your various entries from the various corners of the blog’s Facebook page and included them in the draw.


Filed under Knitting

And Now For Something Completely Different


(By the way, do remember that there’s still time to enter the Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium giveaway.)

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to do something helpful via this blog, something for charity. The idea hadn’t progressed very far when a plan came along of its own accord and plonked itself in my lap. It’s a ludicrous idea, and the friend who suggested it wisely did so after I’d had a couple of glasses of wine, in which state I can be talked into pretty much any kind of shenanigans. If she’d asked me when I was sober, my response would have been a very firm NO. She’s not stupid, my friend. Two glasses down and having taken leave of my senses, I gave her my word that I would help.

So here’s the thing.

On October 9th 2016 I’m going to run the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. That’s 13.1 miles (21.1km) of pure pain. More about the Nasio Trust in a moment. (It occurred to me to walk the entire route, knitting all the way, but that might take rather a long time. Besides, I knit and walk most days, so where’s the challenge in that? Running it is, then.)

running and knitting in public

The cool thing is that I have pockets in my running tights that are big enough to hold a ball of yarn. Sadly I can’t run and knit. YET.

I’ve never in my adult life run a race before – well, apart form the parents’ sprint at the twinnage’s school sports day, in which it’s fair to say that I didn’t cover myself in glory. I’m not built like a runner either mentally or physically, and if the route passes any yarn shops, I’m doomed. But in the year since I got serious about running, I’ve progressed from a gasping, tracksuit-clad, lump of idleness who hated every second of the experience, to one of those contemptible people you avoid because they wear lurid lycra and stare smugly at their fitness trackers to check how many calories they’ve just burned by jiggling up and down in the queue at the Post Office. I no longer hate every second that I spend running. In fact on a good day, I only hate about two seconds out of every three, with the remainder being merely mildly unpleasant. So that’s progress.

Thirteen miles, though! Man, I feel tired from just driving that distance, let alone running. Yet I’ve been quietly clocking up the miles in training. (Ha! I used the word ‘training’! That almost gives it an aura of dignity!) Last week I ran twelve miles in the midday heat, and although I spent the rest of the day feeling like death, I was still – technically – alive. I’m not good at running and I never will be (remember the times I got lost, or fell out of a tree, or had to survive by foraging for blackberries?) but I can run, and I want to put it to some use. I’ve been trying to view it as a bit like knitting: you just have to keep making small movements, over and over and over again, until you get somewhere. Easy! Knitting is a lot less lung-hurty, though.


So what’s the Nasio Trust? You probably haven’t heard of it, because it’s a relatively small British charity. It works in very deprived rural parts of Kenya, supporting vulnerable and orphaned children in their own communities (rather than isolating them in orphanages) via healthcare, education, and nutrition. The Trust was set up after one of the founders discovered an abandoned baby in a sugarcane plantation, and took the child in to raise him herself. Today, the charity’s aim is to break the cycle of poverty in these areas by equipping children with the skills and confidence that they’ll need to make their own way in the world. Examples of projects completed by the charity include building a fish farm to increase food self-sufficiency amongst local families, or funding schools and healthcare which would otherwise be unavailable to these children.

Nasio Trust

Nasio Trust website

(Oh, and the friend who asked me to run? Her daughter is heavily involved with doing voluntary work for this charity, so I’ve heard and seen via my friend how much amazing work is going on.)

I was in two minds about whether to post about all this on my blog. I didn’t know whether you’d mind. But then I remembered that knitters and crocheters are a big-hearted bunch, so I’m going to say it here: I would be grateful, honoured, and humbled if you would consider sponsoring me for the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. Any amount, however small, would be received with enormous gratitude, and would directly help to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Kenya.

If you would like to make a donation, however large or small, the page where you can do so is here.

Thank you.

Now, shall we get back to the knitting?



Filed under Outdoors

Giveaway Review: Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium

And another review with a giveaway! Wa-hey! (This is part of a blog tour organized by Pavilion Books – more on that at the bottom of this post.)

So I’m guessing you’ve noticed that there are lots of knitting and crochet books around these days. Like, loads. If you’re as untidy as I am, you probably trip over a pile of them every single time you stand up to water the cat. (See those bruises on my shins? They’re knit-book-related injuries. Life is tough.) Some of these publications are more genuinely ground-breaking than others, it has to be said. But this week, a new crochet book has come out that really is clever in its originality. Meet Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium, by Kerry Lord, published by Pavilion Books in the UK.

edward's crochet imaginarium book review toft

It’s a book about crocheting toys – monsters, specifically – but you get to design the toy. Do you remember those picture books from childhood where all the pages were split horizontally into three so you could interchange the head of a police officer with the torso of a scientist and the legs of a farmer? Well here’s a pattern book that works on the same principle. Genius, huh?


You’re given the generic pattern for a delightfully pot-bellied torso and a head, and then you flip through dozens of options to choose the style of the legs and feet, the arms and hands, and the embellishments for the head. The pattern for each element is provided opposite its picture, and the spiral binding ensures that the book actually stays open where you left it, at least until your children discover it…

A pretty cool idea, huh? Dang, why didn’t I think of that?

The is the third book by author Kerry Lord, who also runs TOFT yarns in Warwickshire in the UK. So I grabbed some pure wool DK-weight TOFT yarn, and started hooking.


My monster options were chosen by the twinnage, who are five. I have to say, the book really caught their imaginations and I witnessed some entertaining intra-twinnage debates about the relative merits of webbed feet versus claws. I loved the way that they were thinking this through together, and my hard/cynical ol’ heart melted just a tiny bit…

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

…Which leads me to the thing that I like most about this book. Lord is aiming to be inspirational rather than prescriptive. She wants you to let your imagination off the leash so it can scamper freely all over the place and cause joyful mayhem. In addition to all the potential configurations of body parts, she offers suggestions for making use of colour in your monster, and adding a tail, or hair, and how to make your monster in different sizes. Why, for example, should your monster have only four limbs? And have you considered making it spotty? And there’s a charming gallery of suggestions to inspire you.

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

But this is The Twisted Yarn, and if you’ve loitered in these ‘ere parts afore, you’ll know that I’m prone to getting nit-picketty in my reviews, because nothing is perfect and I want you to know all the pluses and all the minuses before you decide to part with your hard-earned cash. The book is billed as being suitable for anyone, whether they’re a beginner or an expert. I think a beginner would struggle a little though, particularly because the book could’ve used a tad more copy-editing. There are errors and omissions in the patterns that really aren’t a problem if you’re used to working from crochet patterns, but if I was a complete beginner who was still trying to work out which was the business end of the crochet hook, I would have struggled. For example, the generic body pattern doesn’t tell you how to begin, but instead starts with an instruction to work into loops that are already there. Do you see what I mean? No biggy if you’re experienced enough to know what to do anyway, but very confusing if this is your first ever pattern. The wording of the instructions takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get yourself on a wavelength with the author, you’ll be fine. And there are little minor errors. (I’m not surprised – the amount of work that must have been gone into producing this book just boggles the mind.) An example: foot pattern number twenty talks about hands and fingers, because it’s clearly been copied and pasted from the hand pattern of the same design.

Who cares, though, when you’ve got such an inspirational resource? Just maybe put this book on hold if you really are a total beginner, OK?

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

Now for the giveaway. I’m really sorry but unlike normal, this one is for UK readers only. (If it’s any consolation, you’ve still got plenty of time to enter the KnitPro/Knitter’s Pride needles competition here, regardless of which portion of the planet you call home.) But UK folk, if you would like to win a copy of Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium, leave a comment below. And if you’d like an additional entry, hop over to Facebook, ‘like’ The Twisted Yarn’s page, and leave a comment with some way of contacting you if you win (eg Ravelry username). OK? The contest is open RIGHT NOW until noon GMT on Sunday 25th September 2016. When the giant gong sounds to announce the end of the giveaway, I shall consult the oracle that is random.org to determine the number of the winning entry. I’ll then contact that person to request an address which I will pass on to the publisher so that they can send out the prize. OK?


edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord


So tomorrow, mosey on over to The Little Room Of Rachell to see her review. And if you fancy travelling back in time, go take a look at yesterday’s review at Crochetime. Enjoy, my fine fibrous friends. 🙂



Filed under Crochet