Our newest sponsor – hurrah!

Yarn And Colours are my new fave.

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They quite literally make yarn that makes my mouth water. The colours are unrivalled and, quite frankly, I want to eat them.

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In fact, in their Must-Have range, there are ONE HUNDRED shades of gorgeousness. Yes, really.

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Im currently doing a little happy dance because they’ve only gone and sent us a huge selection of their yarns for the retreats! If you haven’t already booked your place on the retreat then I’d suggest you drop everything and do so immediately, because the yarns we have on offer are MEGA. I’m not even kidding when I say it’s unlimited use of yarn all weekend, it’s true! You can crochet with lush yarns until your little heart is content.

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We are so lucky to have such fantastic brands on board with us who send us such amazing yarns to play with – and often a cheeky discount code for our guests too. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the main room at the retreat where the workshops are held on Instagram and Facebook, but being there in person, surrounded by so much lush yarn, is something pretty special that no photo can quite capture.

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We have spaces left on the June retreat (9-11th), which I’m offering a super special discount for 😉 so send me an email to hello@frankandolive.com for deets. After that, we have our 2nd birthday retreat on July 7-9th! Can you believe it? My baby is turning 2! We have some extremely exciting VIP guests coming to help us celebrate and run some mini workshops (I’m not name dropping BUT I’ve been in touch with the likes of Katie Jones, Make.e, Kath Webber, Mollie Makes and loads more!). There’ll be cake, ridiculously over the top decorations, loadsa booze and a sh*t ton of amazing yarns.

BOOK NOW. Just sayin’….

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Supersize Crochet

I’m pretty sure you will all have heard about Sarah Shrimpton’s new book by now, Supersize Crochet? I mean, wow.

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It’s not often I come across a book that contains so many designs that I would actually make (come on, admit it, most books have a load of designs in them that are weird or just plain boring). Sarah has compiled so many great designs that are quick and easy, mega fun and that look awesome too. As a massively impatient crocheter, this book is right up my street.

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I wanted to choose a design to make for this blog post, following Sarah’s pattern, to show you how great they all are but I didn’t want to simply replicate what has already been done. I wanted to show how you can take a fantastic pattern and make it your own, to suit your own home and you’re own style. So instead, I have taken inspiration from Sarah’s mad skills and have created my own enormous wall hanging, taking on board her epic ideas and making something a bit mad (and a bit awesome).

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I completely fell in love with the supersize wall hanging. Just look at it. So squishy and fluffy and so stupidly quick to make – winner! I loved Sarah’s chic and simple design, but it would just a get a bit lost in my super colourful house. So, I decided to get in touch with my friend Andrea from Woolly Mahoosive and arrange a visit…

The amount of enormous balls of supersize yarn at the Woolly Mahoosive HQ was quite literally insane. It was floor to ceiling and it was glorious. With help from Andrea, I chose some of my fave colours and shoved them into massive bags to take away with me. Pure heaven.

IMG_3367It was pretty hilarious when I got it all home because I couldn’t even fit the giant balls in the work room and the kids just stood open-mouthed watching me struggle to get them into the house… it’s amazing how heavy they are!

IMG_3138So, armed with my enormous 50mm crochet hook (which could probably kill someone), i sat down to make a giant granny square. With a respectful nod to Sarah’s original design, I was butterflies-in-my-tummy excited to create an enormous granny square with a hook as big as my forearm. I knew it was going to be a whopper. I had it whipped up in no time at all – an hour tops – and I could. not. wait. to put it up on the wall (confession: I haven’t yet found something worthy, or strong enough, to hang it up with BUT it is eventually going to be hung proudly above my bed so that I can admire it every morning).

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The book is literally filled with amazing designs that can be customised for your own home and trust me, it’s the most fun EVER. Here area few more of Sarah’s gorgeous designs from the book…

Who doesn’t want to fill their home with enormous crochet? You can buy your own hard copy of the book here AND I’m also running a giveaway – Yay! Head on over to @frankandolive on Instagram to enter and be in for a chance of winning a free PDF copy of the entire book!

pssst! You can also find Sarah on Instagram – follow @annaboos_house 🙂

FREE Cactus Pattern

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Materials

– 1 x Patons Extrafine Merino aran ‘Chartreuse’
– 1 x Patons Extrafine Merino dk ‘Forest’
– 1 x Patons Extrafine Merino aran ‘Canary’
– 1 x Patons Extrafine Merino dk ‘Pink’
– 4mm & 3mm hooks
– Tapestry needle (for attaching pink flower)
– 8cm metal plant pot

Special stitches

Bobble st: Join using slst and ch1. *YO and pull up a loop* 4 times, YO and pull through all loops on hook. Slst to secure then slst back to the st you are joined to. Fasten off and tie both loose ends together twice (tightly) before trimming.

Big Cactus

Row 1
(Using ‘Chartreuse’ and a 4mm hook) Ch26, 1htr into second ch from hook and into each across. Ch2 and turn. (25sts)
Rows 2 – 12
1htr into each back loop (bl) across, ch2 and turn. (25sts)
Row 13 (fastening)
Fold work in half length-ways and match up the sts from row 1 and row 12lst. Slst the sts together on both rows, to create a cylinder shape. Fasten off, leaving a long tail. (25sts)

Finishing
Attach the tapestry needle to end of the long tail and sew a running stitch around the end of the cylinder. Pull the tail to pucker the opening and secure in place using tapestry needle.

Stuffing
Turn work inside out and stuff using toy stuffing. Once stuffed, use tapestry needle and a length of ‘Chartreuse’ to sew the bottom closed. Flowers
(Using ‘Canary’ and 4mm hook) work 3 bobble sts on the top of the cactus. See special stitches.

 

Medium Cactus

 

Row 1
(Using ‘Chartreuse’ and a 4mm hook) Ch18, 1htr into second ch from hook and into each across. Ch2 and turn. (17sts)
Rows 2 – 10
1htr into each back loop (bl) across, ch2 and turn. (25sts)
Row 11 (fastening)
Fold work in half length-ways and match up the sts from row 1 and row 12lst. Slst the sts together on both rows, to create a cylinder shape. Fasten off, leaving a long tail. (25sts)

Finishing
Attach the tapestry needle to end of the long tail and sew a running stitch around the end of the cylinder. Pull the tail to pucker the opening and secure in place using tapestry needle.

Stuffing
Turn work inside out and stuff using toy stuffing. Once stuffed, use tapestry needle and a length of ‘Chartreuse’ to sew the bottom closed. Flowers
(Using ‘Canary’ and 4mm hook) work 3 bobble sts on the top of the cactus.

Small Cactus

Row 1
(Using ‘Forest’ and a 3mm hook) Ch21, 1htr into second ch from hook and into each across. Ch2 and turn. (20sts)
Rows 2 – 12
1htr into each back loop (bl) across, ch2 and turn. (25sts)
Row 13 (fastening)
Fold work in half length-ways and match up the sts from row 1 and row 12lst. Slst the sts together on both rows, to create a cylinder shape. Fasten off, leaving a long tail. (25sts)

Finishing
Attach the tapestry needle to end of the long tail and sew a running stitch around the end of the cylinder. Pull the tail to pucker the opening and secure in place using tapestry needle.

Stuffing

Turn work inside out and stuff using toy stuffing. Once stuffed, use tapestry needle and a length of ‘Chartreuse’ to sew the bottom closed.

Flowers

Rnd 1
(Using ‘Pink’ and 3mm hook) Ch4 and 1tr into furthest ch from hook, 11 times. Slst to first st and ch4. (12sts)
Rnd 2
Slst to first st, ch4, then slst to next st. Cont to slst to each st around, working 4ch inbetween. Slst to first st and fasten off, leaving long tail. Finishing (attaching)
Attach tapestry needle to end of long tail and use to securely sew flower to the end of the cactus.
Now squish your 3 cacti into the plantpot!

We’re so on trend right now.

Has anyone else noticed the incredible amount of varied crochet designs there are on the Highstreet this season? Well, I have, and it’s ruddy brilliant that crochet is FINALLY being seen as the stylish and versatile craft that it is – and seems to have lost the gross granny rep that we, as Frank&Olive, have tried so so hard to shake off.

I’m not gonna lie, some of the stuff available right now is really cool, and I’d totally rock it BUT it’s such a disastrous shame that they are literally all made out of the yuckiest yarn known to man. As a designer, and absolute yarn addict, it frustrates me no end thinking “Gah, imagine if that was made using Debbie Bliss Paloma…” . But let’s get real. There’s no way in hell that these massive companies mass produce these garments, using quality yarns, and give their makers the wage and recognition that they deserve. I mean, an entirely crocheted, multicoloured dress for £9.99? I wouldn’t even be able to source enough yarn to make the thing for that money.

I’m so chuffed to see that crochet is now cool, because I’ve already known that for some time now, and of course, it’s going to help our brand and our designs reach the mainstream fashion market evenually….I just hope this doesn’t mean the end of Indie designers being able to sell their handcrafted work. It’s important that people understand that this type of crochet can’t be produced on, or by, a machine and that it simply HAS to be made by hand. If you’re paying a tenner for an entirely handmade item, do you really, honestly, believe that you’re doing the right thing by saving a few quid? Support indie designers! And I’m not just talking about crochet – seen something awesome in a Highstreet store? Somebody, somewhere will be handcrafting something similar, but with oh so much more love, sweat and care. Why not commission an incredible, handmade design from a small business that is, not only truly unique, but also made using luxurious, quality materials. Sure, it may be twice the amount (or more), but so what? We all need to look after eachother.

Ok, sorry, I’ve gone off on one a bit. I’m not trying to guilt trip anyone (I too occasionally shop in Primark…) I’m just trying to air my frustrations and my worries. What I’m trying to say is this:

Yay for crochet. Nay to unfair pay.

Learn to crochet, the Frank&Olive way – part 1.

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People are forever asking to watch how I crochet, I think, because I do it a little bit different to everybody else.

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I LOVE teaching crochet. To get to show a person (who starts off saying “good luck, I’m hopeless at this sort of thing”) how genuinely easy it is once they know all the tips and tricks, is awesome. Especially when they go on to be crochet designers themselves 😉

I’ve taught the Mollie Makes girls how to crochet (shown above), then taught alongside them at both the Folksy Summer School and Kirstie’s Handmade Fair, Tilly Walnes (from The Great British Sewing Bee, shown above), men, women and children of all ages and from all over the world, but the trickiest group was definitely this lot…

A couple of years back, I took on some amazing crocheters from all around the UK, to teach Frank&Olive workshops for Frank&Olive, and I gathered them all together to show them how I do it. Well… as you can imagine, telling a group of very talented women, who’d been crocheting for years (some 20+), to “forget everything and try it like this”, went down like a lead balloon. They all hated me, but kept on practicing my technique nevertheless. A few days after the meeting, one by one, the crocheters began to get in touch with photos of new projects and little samples that they had made using my technique – and they genuinely couldn’t believe how quickly they could knock it out, how perfect their tension was, how neat their work turned out AND how they didn’t get any cramp or discomfort whatsoever, even after hours of crochet. They were converted – and to be quite honest, not one person has gone back, once they’ve mastered crochet ‘the Frank&Olive way’.

So, after being asked by so many people about crochet tutorials, we decided it needed to happen. Kimberley and I both believe that crochet is easy, and that learning to do it shouldn’t be as complicated and as scary as many of the YouTube videos suggest. There are also TONS of American tutorials available, which is awesome, but sadly the different terminology for UK and US crochet is just mind-boggling for beginners – I know it was for me when I was teaching myself through watching videos and flicking through books!

When Coats approached us, about producing some tutorials, it was like they’d been reading our minds. Together we chatted about the need for bright, to-the-point, quick and simple videos, showing people our technique. So that’s what we did 🙂 I hope you enjoy them!

 

Sounds silly, but the hardest bit is just getting going, so I wanted to show you how I do the slip knot. (This method comes in handy later)

Ok, so this is the good stuff; this is how I hold my hook and yarn. Worth a try, even if you’d consider yourself a pro. You never know, you might just prefer it 😉

I hate the magic circle. I think it’s difficult, confusing for beginners and, to be honest, not overly secure. This is what I do instead, whenever a pattern tells me to do a magic circle. So again, even the pro’s might find this one useful…

There’s not loaaaads of stitches in crochet, but that exactly what the averge non-crocheter thinks when picking up a hook for the first time – usually after a brief (and scary) look on YouTube. Here’s a quick and simple run-down of the different stitches. You don’t need to master all of them to be a brilliant crocheter and make epic crocheted things, everybody has their favourite stitch and you can experiment!

 

Stay tuned and subscribe for the second installment of ‘How to crochet – the Frank&Olive way – part deux’. And don’t forget, it’s ALWAYS so much better to be shown in person and to not stress yourself out, so why not come along to The Retreat and I can show you myself (while you relax with prosecco!).

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Go Shorty It’s Ya Birthday!

IMG_7706Who can believe that in July it will have been a whole year since we launched The Crochet Retreat?! We have made SO MANY amazing new friends (that just keep on coming back for more!), played with the most beautiful yarns, eaten one heck of a lot of the most delicious food (thanks Ava!) and created some pretty awesome crochet. In a year we have come quite a long way, going from that lightbulb moment whilst trying to get to sleep one night, to selling out in less than a fortnight – leading us to confirm one retreat per month for 2016, new collaborations with our fave yarn companies, a handful of amazing magazine and blog features and now, the launch of our gorgeous new venue.

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To celebrate, we are hosting a special edition of the retreat with even more crochet, even more beautiful yarn, even more exciting workshops AND (the thing I’m most excited about) limited edition gift bags – containing goodies from our fave brands, mags and makers! Here’s just a little taster of our gift bags…

We have absolutely gorgeous glitter crochet hook necklaces made especially for us by Trick Of The Stitch, latest editions of our fave mags, luxury yarns from designer brands, our exclusive John Lewis cushion pattern, adorable crochet brooches from Max’s World, insanely cool crochet hooks from HiyaHiya and SO MUCH MORE!

Even after all of the freebies, there’s still stacks of awesome stuff happening. On the Saturday, after the guest workshop (where we will be making the gorgeous necklaces pictured above), we’re getting our party on.  So once the bubbly has been popped open, we will be joined by Simply Crochet, One Man Crochet (pictured below, from when he won the Christmas Tree decorating challenge on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas) and Coats and we are also hoping to see our friends Tilly And The Buttons & Stuart Hillard (The Great British Sewing Bee). We are also hoping to add Kat Goldin, Erika Knight and Lucy Tiffney (Great Interior Design Challenge) to our guestlist! Be sure to wear your party gear!

You can book your place on the July retreat by clicking here – and if you’ve been to the retreat before, don’t miss out on your super special return guest offer (email us quick ‘cos it’s a whopper!).

Can’t make it to the July retreat? Don’t panic, we have lots more dates lined up! Hop on over to the website for all the details, and you can secure your place for just £100, PLUS if you bring a friend, as with the July retreat, you save £150!! Don’t delay, we are filling up fast…

Bunny love

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Happy Easter everybunny!

Olive is getting a rabbit, a really bloody cute Netherland Dwarf rabbit, and she’s decided to name it ‘Little Rabbit FouFou’. No, I’m not kidding. Anyway, because of the new addition to the family, we’ve all gone a bit cray for bunnies. As it’s Easter bank holiday weekend I felt an overwhelming urge to crochet some fluffy friends for Olive’s room, in anticipation of the arrival of her new actual real-life rabbit. Because I love you (and rabbits), I thought I’d wish you all a wonderful weekend and share the pattern with you for FREE!

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(How epic is this Lindt carrot?! It’s actually filled with Lindt bunnies and eggs! Boy did good this year.)

Frank&Olive Bunny Bunting

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Materials

This pattern uses UK terminology.

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Rnd 1

Ch4, 4tr into the first ch (furthest from hook), ch3 and slst back into the post of last 1tr worked. 7 more tr into same ch as prev 4tr. Slst to first st and ch4. (15sts incl ch)

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Rnd 2

2dtr then 1tr all into first st, ch5 and slst to the post of last tr worked. Fasten off and weave in ends. (9sts incl ch)

Make 6 bunnies and thread onto length of ribbon. Knot the ribbon after each bunny is added, to secure it in place.

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Please please show me your finished bunnies on Instagram, using the tag #frankandolivebunnies – I would LOVE to see them!