Join us for a trip to Anna­boo’s House to meet de­signer and au­thor Sarah Shrimpton as she en­ters a new, yarn-in­fused chap­ter.

Simply Crochet - - CONTENTS -

For Sarah Shrimpton, grow­ing up in a craft-lov­ing fam­ily meant there was no short­age of ex­po­sure to the de­lights of knit­ting. Cro­chet, how­ever, was a dis­cov­ery Sarah needed to make on her own – and she hasn’t looked back since!

“It’s quite strange re­ally – I only have early mem­o­ries of knit­ting!” she says. “My mum is a knit­ter and I re­mem­ber she would make jumpers for my brother and I, and clothes for our toys. She tried to teach me to knit, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it – my ten­sion was al­ways aw­ful and I re­mem­ber the sound of the yarn squeak­ing on the nee­dles.”

The next time Sarah picked up some yarn was a few years ago, when her daugh­ter was a baby. “I re­mem­bered those dis­as­trous at­tempts at knit­ting and de­cided to learn to cro­chet in­stead,” she says. “So I armed my­self with some books and some blogs and taught my­self.”

Sarah was keen from the out­set to find her own route into the pos­si­bil­i­ties pre­sented by cro­chet. “I don’t think I ever fol­lowed a pat­tern ex­actly, even when I first started,” she says. “I could al­ways see how I could ad­just some­thing, or change the shap­ing to fit what I wanted. As my chil­dren were very lit­tle, I started with toys.”


At first, Sarah tried adapt­ing pat­terns to suit, but soon re­alised she could cre­ate her own pat­terns from scratch. “From there, I be­gan try­ing new tech­niques and ex­panded into cre­at­ing other cro­chet pat­terns.”

It all fed beau­ti­fully into Sarah’s thriv­ing blog, Anna­boo’s House. “I set up Anna­boo’s House ini­tially to doc­u­ment my cro­chet jour­ney,” she ex­plains. “But now it’s be­come a place where I share free pat­terns and tu­to­ri­als, and it gives me the op­por­tu­nity to re­view books and prod­ucts, too.”

Sarah launched her Etsy shop around the same time, sell­ing com­pleted items she’d de­signed and cro­cheted. “This de­vel­oped into a pat­tern-only shop,” she says. “I re­alised that mak­ing mul­ti­ple ver­sions of an item was not some­thing I re­ally en­joyed – it was the de­sign­ing stage that I loved.”

So­cial me­dia is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant when it comes to spread­ing the word. “My blog is where I go when I have some­thing to write about, but in terms of

ev­ery day, I use In­sta­gram,” she says. “I find it’s the best place to share pic­tures of the projects I’m work­ing on. I’ve found In­sta­gram to be a bril­liant place to con­nect with other de­sign­ers and mak­ers.”

But what prompted the name? “‘Anna­boo’ is the nick­name we called our daugh­ter when she was lit­tle, and it just kind of stuck!”


Re­cent de­vel­op­ments with Sarah’s busi­ness have in­cluded a new yarn-based ven­ture. “I’ve started dye­ing my own yarn,” Sarah says. “I’d been to a few yarn fes­ti­vals and had fallen in love with the beau­ti­ful hand-dyed skeins I was see­ing and was keen to try it for my­self. ”

She was de­ter­mined to teach her­self, so she in­vested in a few kilo­grams of undyed yarn and some ba­sic equip­ment, started dye­ing in her kitchen at home, and tested her re­sults out on her friends.

Sarah was keen to use nat­u­ral plant ex­tracts and dyes, and launched into her own in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “One of my most in­ter­est­ing dye ex­per­i­ments has been av­o­ca­dos – the skins and stones cre­ate the most beau­ti­ful blush pinks and so I’m dye­ing gra­di­ent sets of mini skeins to re­ally show these off.”

Along­side yarn de­vel­op­ment, Sarah con­tin­ues to love de­sign­ing new pat­terns for Anna­boo’s House and shop, and, luck­ily for us, work­ing with Sim­ply Cro­chet. “I was also asked re­cently to join the Style­craft Yarns team of blog­gers, called the Style­craft Blogstars,” she says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “This has been a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence and I have the priv­i­lege of trav­el­ling up to the mill in York­shire twice a year with my fel­low Blogstars to see the new col­lec­tions, try lots of new yarn and take part in some amaz­ing work­shops – it’s bril­liant fun!”

Sarah has also pub­lished rather a lot of cro­chet books – a chap­ter of her work life that she finds par­tic­u­larly ful­fill­ing. “Ev­ery­thing took off rather sud­denly,” she tells us. “A com­mis­sion­ing edi­tor from a pub­lish­ing house ap­proached me and asked if I’d like to write Be­gin­ner’s Guide to Cro­chet. I was ab­so­lutely sur­prised and, of course, agreed!”

She found the whole process fas­ci­nat­ing. “I had the op­por­tu­nity to de­sign 20 projects to guide a be­gin­ner through those early phases of learn­ing to cro­chet,” she says.

“I had to pro­vide the text for the book, too, which took a lot of work, but I re­ally en­joyed the writ­ing.”

In con­trast, Sarah finds the de­sign process one of her more re­lax­ing tasks. “If I’m just start­ing out, I sit on my comfy sofa at home, sur­rounded by my yarn and with a cup of tea nearby and the ra­dio on in the back­ground,” she says. “My essen­tials are kept in a bas­ket within easy reach and con­tain the ne­ces­si­ties: hooks, scis­sors, tape mea­sure and my phone – par­tic­u­larly use­ful if I want to check a stitch or re­fer to a tech­nique.”

This is a vi­tal part of the process when Sarah is try­ing out new ef­fects. “I’m re­ally into mix­ing up stitches in de­signs at the mo­ment, and us­ing bands of dif­fer­ent stitches to cre­ate tex­ture and show off what the yarn can do,” she says. “When I’m work­ing with some of the gi­ant yarns, I’ve found that us­ing sim­ple stitches gives the best ef­fect.”


Cur­rently, Sarah’s en­joy­ing de­sign­ing pat­terns to use with her own hand-dyed yarns. “I want to cre­ate a se­ries of pat­terns that my buy­ers can make from the yarn they buy from me,” she says.

For the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, Sarah aims to con­tinue do­ing ev­ery­thing she’s cur­rently en­gaged in, with a few pos­si­ble ad­di­tions.

“I’ll be de­sign­ing, of course, and I would love to write an­other book. I’m re­ally en­joy­ing dye­ing and sell­ing my own yarn and have plans to de­velop this fur­ther with some chunkier lines. I’ll also make sure that there are plenty of free pat­terns of­fered on my blog, as it’s the place where ev­ery­thing be­gan.”

Writ­ten by Judy Dar­ley

Find out more at www.anna­booshouse. and Anna­boosHouse

Turn over to page 58 to find Sarah’s spring­time ombre cowl made us­ing her own avo­cado-dyed mini skeins of yarn.


Sarah’s favourite part of cro­chet­ing is the de­sign process.

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