Summer festival review: Woolfest

What a summer it’s been!  Amazing!  I’m talking not so much about the weather (of course), but rather about the wonderful events and festivals that p/hop has been at over the season.  Autumn is now upon us, and it’s a good chance to review where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to.

Back in June we headed up to Cumbria for the fabulous Woolfest.  By “we”, I mean me (Larissa) and the fabulous Emma (knittinginthestow).  The organisers of Woolfest have always been huge supporters of p/hop, and it’s great to be there every year.  Although I’ve been to Woolfest a couple of times before, this was the first time that I’ve run the stall.  I particularly enjoyed meeting so many people who make a point of coming over every year to see what new patterns we’ve got.  People always seem to remember exactly where our little stall is located (milk stall at the end of Aisle J, if you’re keeping note) and greet us like an old friend.

The stall is a very quirky space, and Emma and I had great fun converting it from a functional cow pen, in to a knitting emporium.

phop at woolfest


woolfest stall

We had enough space to spread out across tables on either side of the stall, so people could browse the patterns more easily.  Several times people would be ready to leave with a collection of sock patterns under their arm, only to realise there was another table of patterns for shawls and scarves!

It wasn’t all work though:  the lovely Jane Lithgow came over to help out on the stall so Emma and I could have lunchbreaks and a chance to look at the other stalls.

One of my favourite things about Woolfest is that it is held in a working agricultural hall, and this allows stallholders to bring along their livestock (sadly p/hop is yet to set up its own woolly farm).  Without a doubt, the absolute stars this year were these Valais Blacknose Sheep from Prendwick Farm.  They were so sweet and friendly, and I can’t believe they tolerated so many people patting and photographing them.  If my car was bigger, I would have been very tempted to engage in a bit of sheep rustling, and take one home with me.   Words can’t describe their cuteness.

Valais Blacknose

Of course after all that work, we deserved a little glass of wine with the travelling Teeny Tiny Ted:

teeny ted having a little drink

We had a great time over the two days, spoke to hundreds of knitters and crocheters (and I even did a little radio interview with BBC Radio Cumbria!)  I am very pleased to say that Woolfest-goers were incredibly supportive, and raised a whopping £910.35 for MSF.  A huge thanks to everyone!

Dates have already been set for next year’s Woolfest, so make sure to put 24-25 June 2016 in your diaries folks.



P/Hop needs you!


Lighting the Knit Signal!


There are lots of brilliant ways that you can help P/Hop to raise funds for MSF.  P/Hop was set up as a community project, so that lots of people could get involved.  I donate one day a week plus additional work when we have shows to do, but there is so much more we could do with your help.

Besides downloading our patterns for a donation, or giving us a donation at a yarn show, there are several other ways that you can help raise funds for, and awareness of, MSF:


Get in touch / spread the word / Social Knitworking

We are always open to new ideas and fund-raising suggestions.  If you have a brilliant idea we would love to hear it.  Either start a thread in our Ravelry group,  email us, tweet us @msf_phop or post it on our Facebook page.  If you do have a great idea, we’d like you to help run it – there’s only me volunteering for one day a week so we’d like all the help we can get.

We’d also love you to share amusing or interesting knit/crochet/yarn – funny cats etc so please do.


 Ask your LYS to stock some P/Hop patterns

The lovely George and Louise from YarnGarden have a selection of our patterns available for donations – we think this is a great idea.  So, if you own a yarn store or rung stalls at various shows (or are friendly with someone who does), perhaps you could download a selction of our our patterns, direct from our website, and make them available in-store for a donation to MSF.  You could also use our patterns to showcase your beautiful yarns.  We’d be happy to send you some MSF literature and a collection box.  Please email us if you would like more information.

George & Louise at GsoY

George and Louise from YarnGarden handing over their pattern donations


Volunteer to help run a stall for an hour or two

P/Hop currently have stalls booked at the following events and would love some helpers:

Woolfest in Cockermouth, Cumbria Friday 27 & Saturday 28 June

Unwind Brighton Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 July

Firbre East  near Bedford Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July

I will be going to both Woolfest and Fibre East and would love some of you to help for a while – to get to meet you and so I can take the odd loo break! 😉

Sadly I cannot make it to Brighton.  We have a few volunteers already, but I need to make sure that we have enough to cover the whole event.  The wonderful Hilltop Katie from Hilltop Cloud has offered to take our stall things to and from the show, but we’d like a couple of volunteers to set up the stall (it’s really quite easy and I’ll give you full instructions) and to take it down and pack it away.  Please email me if you think you can help.  Kate Ellis, p/hop Coordinator –


Me (Kate) standing proudly in front of my first P/Hop stall

Me (Kate) standing proudly in front of my first P/Hop stall


Run a P/Hop stall at your local yarn show

Whilst we’d love to attend all the wonderful fibre events around the country, we simply don’t have the resources.  However if you would like to run a stall at a yarn fair for P/Hop we would love it.  We’ll be able to guide you and send literature on MSF, collection buckets and stickers and some sample knits etc.  Please email us if you are interested.


Hold a P/Hop Yarn Swap or other event

Get a few like minded people together in your area and hold a yarn swap – well any kind of swap really.  If each person takes some yarn or craft books which they no longer want they can swap them for something that someone else has bought.  You can ask everyone to make a donation to be able to take part.   Check out the yarn swaps that have already raised loads of money and awareness for MSF.

If you are holding a knitting, crochet or other fibre related event for MSF please let us know, we would love you to write a blog post about your event, both publicizing it and writing a review of it for this blog.  We can help share your event on Twitter and Facebook.


Design and donate a pattern

We wouldn’t get far with our fundraising if we didn’t have lovely designers donating their patterns to us.  We are always looking for new patterns, so whether you’re an experienced designer or just starting out, please get in touch if you’d like to give us your pattern.

Our submission guidelines are here.


Whip up a sample

We find that patterns are more popular at shows if there’s a sample or two of the fnished article on display.  We are currently looking for samples of the following patterns, but any samples are always greatfully recieved!

High Line


The Diamond Dot Scarf

Retro Baby Buggy Blanket
October Leaves


This is a community project, the more knitters and crocheters put in, the more MSF and the people they help get out.

Thank you.

Happy New Year! Happy New Shawl!

Wishing all our wonderful P/Hoppers a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2014!

My fist day back in the MSF office and there’s been loads to do.  Two invites to shows were in the inbox with all the form filling that that requires to apply for a place.  The first is Woolfest in Cockermouth, Cumbria on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 June, followed by Fibre-East in Redborne, Bedford on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July.  Both are lovely shows.  If any of you would like to volunteer to run the P/hop stall at either of these shows, I’d love to hear from you.  Either drop me a line at or contact me through Ravelry – I’m Katestwirl!

November 2013 021

We were also lucky enough to have the final bits of information needed for our latest pattern, which has been very kindly donated by Karie Westermann.  This gorgeous shawl is called Eyre Shawl and is now ready for download on the Eyre Shawl pattern page, where you can also read all about it.

It is perfect for keeping you cosy in this stormy weather while you’re sitting indoors reading the classics!  Think of poor Jane Eyre in that drafty school and pull it a little tighter!

Here is what Karie had to say about her inspiration for the shawl:

I first read Jane Eyre when I was fourteen. I had this mad, mad notion of ‘reading all the classics’ before I turned fifteen. I did not get far, of course, because I read indiscriminately and without any real understanding of what I read. Jane Eyre was one of the books I did read and I remember thinking it was ‘okay but a bit dull’.

Then I decided to revisit Jane Eyre last year and the novel took my breath away. What an intelligent, passionate, fierce book it is. It is both a Victorian literary equivalent of a Mills & Boon novel (“Reader, I married him”) and a proudly feminist book about the importance of knowing your own mind. The many knitting references were just cherries sprinkled on top! I swooned and cheered.

There was even a lovely bit where the housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax, says something in the vein of, “Oh, hang on a sec. Must. Finish. This. Row. before you dash off with the Master” – any knitter would smile in recognition. So, how could I resist designing a shawl to match Mrs Fairfax knitting away?

Please don’t forget to donate for patterns which you download.  Evey little bit helps MSF to help those in need wherever they may be.


Yarn Festival Season

Laura having a well earned rest before the rush!

Wow! It’s very busy at P-Hop now that we are well and truly in festival season. Woolfest was a couple of weeks ago and Fibre East is only a couple of weeks away on 27 and 28 July, in Ampthill, Bedford.

Jane (ProbablyJane on Ravelry and designer of the ever popular Cranford Mitts) and her team of merry helpers had a very busy time at Woolfest, raising a whopping £744.55. They “sold” lots of patterns, which means I’m busy printing new ones for Fibre East.

Jane said: “Woolfest was full on but great fun – I’m secretly glad we were so busy as it stopped me spending a fortune on yarn and fibre I don’t need!” I know what she means – I’m saving up for Fibre East, but my stash is already 2 baskets full, but as baa baa black sheep has 3, I’m probably doing ok…right?

Laura was a fabulous help to Jane. She drove Jane and all the boxes of patterns all the way to Cumbria, helped on the stall for both days, and drove all the way back to London again. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she donated lots of books for the swap too! THANK YOU LAURA!

Others who gave up their valuable yarn shopping time to help were were Sadie (Whitehart on Ravelry), Joy (Thimblina) and Jude (Paraknit) and the wonderful Natalie (theyarnyard) donated a big pile of yarn and fibre. THANK YOU SO MUCH LADIES!

Joy was chatting with a fellow supporter, who said that she first heard of MSF through the P-Hop stand last year and that she now makes a monthly donation. That’s great to hear. You too could set up a monthly donation to MSF or you can check out the other ways to give here.

Hoping to meet lots of you at Fibre East – it’ll will be my first show and I am getting very excited! :) Please wear your p-hop creations and pop to the stall so I can take your photo. Here’s a couple from Woolfest!

Sadie’s (Can)tabs. We love her shoes too!

If you’d like to show off your talents, then you could always join the Shinybees P-Hop KAL/CAL and then wear your efforts at Fibre East. Jo from Shinybees will be joining my on the stall for a bit of Saturday – so you could meet us both!

Joy’s Cranford Mitts – love the colourway!

Woolfest preparations

Woolfest is only a couple of weeks away (28th & 29th June) in Cumbria and we are very busy here at P/Hop sorting out all our patterns so that we can spread the P/Hop love!  The fabulous Woolfest people have kindly invited us to participate once again.  We’re thrilled – Thank You so much Woolfest!  We really do appreciate you donating the stand at your wonderful show!

If you haven’t been to Woolfest, which is a fabulous festival of all things wool (knitting, crochet, spinning, sheep – you name it)  before, you can read all about it: just follow this link!

Sadly I (Kate) cannot be there, but the lovely Jane will be there supported by a small army of friends/volunteers and if you fancy helping out, your assistance will be gratefully received.  Jane and her pals would like some time to see the brilliant stalls that the show has to offer – not to mention the odd sit down and a cup of tea (we are all tea-aholics!), so if you’re going to be around and can spare an hour or so, then please let Jane know on our Ravelry page: here.

If you’ve made a p/hop item before please bring it along as Jane will be capturing photographs of p/hop patterns in the wild!

So come along and say hi, we’ll be in the Milk Stand (J225a) again!  We’ll have new patterns and big smiles!!

Eventful Woolfest 2012

Woolfest. Woolfest. Woolfest. I love Woolfest. It was the first knitting show I worked at with p/hop and I love the way you can see the whole process from sheep to sweater in one show. This year I roped (should that be woolled?) MSF’s web intern Nick into coming with me.

While Nick isn’t a knitter, I think the fumes from all the yarn on my desk have infiltrated his brain, plus he hadn’t seen the Lake District. We were planning to camp, however the weekend before Woolfest showed a low of 2C plus ALL THE RAIN was forecast. Luckily my lovely knitting friends came to the rescue with offers of floor space for sleeping on, saving us from hypothermia and saving MSF money.

So on Thursday evening we set off from sunny London in Nick’s car, laden down with our beautiful samples and a couple of thousand knitting patterns and headed north with a cheerful sense of optimism. If only we knew what lay ahead…

After an uneventful journey we arrived at around midnight to find Larissa casting off a Jacqueline Mitt for our display. After a good night’s sleep we headed to Woolfest bright and early to set up our display. We had a rather unusual stand, the milk stand. As we weren’t going to do any milking we had to disguise the milking stalls. The upside was there were lots of places to tie washing line too and drape sheets over, plus Nick is six-foot-a-lot tall, so after a few tweeks and occasional inspiration we converted the stand from this:

to this! Ta daaaaa!

The space worked really well as we could fit two tables into the space, which we needed as we’ve now got over 40 patterns.

Its always interesting to see which patterns ‘sell’ at shows. The shawls and mittens are always popular, though the samples make a huge difference. BasilBogwoppit (love people’s Ravelry names) dropped off a beautiful pair of Ermintrude Mitts for us to borrow as a sample. As soon as they went on the stand the pattern flew off the table and we’d run out of copies in a couple of hours.

The teeny tiny teddy was also a big hit, which isn’t surprising as they are rather cute. Then there are the flurries of sock knitters who come to the stand, which I can relate to as I’m a rather avid sock knitter. To my shame I hadn’t brought any of my own hand-knit socks with me and I really could have used a pair as by the end of Friday the show was rather nippy. The storms that had been forecast had arrived and we could see sideways rain lashing across the car park, the continual river sound on the roof of the Livestock Centre and the wind howling through the aisles. Luckily fibre-folk are made of stern stuff and plenty of people came to the show. I was pleased we weren’t camping.

After a good first day Nick and I headed into Cockermouth, sampled some excellent Cumbrian beer as well as chatting with some interesting locals, had dinner and met up with other stall holders. We were staying with my friend Larissa in the cottage she had hired for the week, halfway between Kendal and Cockermouth in a lovely little village called Thornthwaite.

As we drove back along the A66 we discovered the first turn-off to Thornthwaite was closed due to the road now being a river. No problem we thought, we just carry along the A66 to the next turn-off. That easy drive became rather exciting/worriesome when the A66 became a lake. The rain was driving down hard and while I was tempted to open my passenger door to see how high the flood water was I was pretty sure that would let water into Nick’s car. After a seemingly endless slow slow crawl through deep water, our fingers crossed, with Nick’s car juddering forward, we came out of the flood. Luckily the second road into Thornthwaite was fine so we collapsed into Larissa’s cottage in a nervous heap. I was pleased we weren’t camping.

Needless to say we all slept well.

On Saturday morning we were ready to leave the cottage to head to Woolfest when we spotted a river, coursing down the side of the hill, that hadn’t been there the day before. On further inspection there had been a landslide just down the road (the only way out) and the road was now a river, complete with mud and tree debris. Nick was very MSF, put his wellies on and went out to help clear the landslide. It turned out the course of the new river was beneficial as it was stopping people’s homes from flooding, so the decision was made to leave the road blocked, with no plans to clear it until Sunday. WE WERE STUCK. We were also without a phone signal or internet. Imagine, four Londoners stuck without twitter! The horror, the horror!

Luckily text messages worked so I sent word to Jane and Natalie and hoped they would be able to set up the stand at Woolfest. I only had a pair of flip-flops and a pair of plimsoles (I’ve spent too long in London and lost my Northern common sense) so I was neither use nor ornament. While we were short of food (we had an egg, a tiny chunk of cheese and a portion of porridge between four of us) the neighbours were lovely and we weren’t going to starve, so I settled down to knit. I’d knit about one row when Nick came bounding in saying “the road’s been cleared”. Excellent news! We could even see the top of Skiddaw across the valley. We had an adventure-free drive to Woolfest, checked on Jane and Judith who had done a brilliant job of getting the stand up-and-running, and wolfed down a delicious Cumbrian breakfast in the Woolfest cafe.

The rest of Saturday went well, the weather was better than Friday and those of us who had been affected by the weather compared stories. I was pleased we hadn’t camped!

In the evening we stayed with the lovely Guild of Longdraw Spinners, introducing Nick to another realm of fibre-fanatic with talk of spinning styles and crimp. We walked into town, sampled a different type of Cumbrian ale, and taught Nick how to knit. Again, we had an encounter with an “interesting” local, who was fascinated by our knitting. He’d sampled rather a lot of Cumbrian ale and took to patting me on the head while I knitted. No really, he did. He also wanted a go. The thought of a lively young man wielding DPNs in a cosy pub was to much to bear so we managed to distract him and he went on his merry way. In the meantime Nick mastered the sticks.

The rest of our stay was relatively uneventful, aside from Nick trying the Cockermouth delicacy of curry with cheesy topping. On Sunday we drove back south via a visit to the pencil museum in Keswick which I’ve always wanted to visit (yes, I have another obsession) and got to see some Lakeland scenery.

Now for the important stuff: We raised a fantastic £906.44 at Woolfest! BIG THANK YOU to Woolfest for donating our stand, everyone who helped on our stand, Nick, Larissa, Heather and the Guild of Longdraw Spinners, and Jane and Judith for leaping into the breach when we were stuck behind a landslide. £906.44 will buy 3124 packets of Plumpy Nut, a is a nutritional supplement used to treat child malnutrition. That’s a lot of kids we’ve helped. Nice work fibre-folk!

Huge thanks to P-Hop Clare and hello to P-Hop Jane!

As I am sure many of you will know, Clare Storry, who has been our person at the Medecins Sans Frontiers Head Office for the last couple of years, has moved on to new and exciting challenges with MSF. Don’t worry, as a knitter and enthusiastic supporter of P-Hop, Clare will still be around but I’m sure you’d like to join me in a massive wave of the needles and hooks to Clare for all the fantastic work she has done to build P-Hop into the important fundraising campaign that it is today.

With Clare moving on, MSF needed someone else to join the team to continue to support P-Hop and I am delighted to say that they asked me! My name is Jane Lithgow, also known as Probablyjane on Twitter and Ravelry. I have been involved in P-Hop since it began, have designed some of the patterns, the most well known of them being the Cranford Mitts and have volunteered at a lot of festivals up and down the country. The photograph above shows me and our Intern, Nick at Woolfest last month where we raised over £900 despite Nick and Clare being trapped by floods at one point on an extremely wet and wild weekend even by Lake District standards!

I am really looking forward to working with you all, look out for some new patterns and activities and if you have any ideas , reports from swaps that you have organised or just want to say hello I really look forward to getting to know you better.

Woolfest 2012

This weekend I’ve been busy unearthing our beautiful samples from their storages boxes, organising pattern printing and checking the weather forecast for p/hop’s annual outing to one of our favourite knitting shows, Woolfest!

p/hop has been a regular exhibitor at Woolfest since 2009 and so far you lovely fibre people have raised £2765.37 for MSF at Woolfest. Brilliant!

This year we will have several new patterns on our stand as well as your favourites. Another new part of our stand is MSF’s lovely website intern Nick, who is new to the knitting world, but he knows loads about MSF’s work helping people in need of healthcare. Please come and ask us questions about MSF’s incredible work as well as our fab knitting patterns.

As well as our patterns we’re hoping to raffle two gorgeous blankets which have been made with love and care by p/hoppers around the world. There’s the log cabin blanket (above) and barn-raising blanket (below). Ros, one of our talented designers who you can see in the photo above, is sadly not included as a raffle prize but she will be helping on our stand for part of the weekend.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re coming and we’ll keep an eye out for you.

See you in Cumbria!

If you can’t make it to Woolfest p/hop will also be at Fibre East on 14th and 15th July and at the Glasgow School of Yarn in October.

Full report from Woolfest

Ray, MSF Logistician writes of his adventures at Woolfest..

When I got the request from Aisha to help at a festival in June, I wondered which bands I might want to see, and would my steel toe-cap wellies be too much for Glasto. Then I saw “Woolfest” WHAT??? I imagined a big knitting circle with old ladies in coats, making oversize jumpers. How wrong could I be? The venue is huge, a massive modern barn usually being employed as a livestock auction room. For that weekend there were about 150 stalls with a serious display of variety, and showing me that there was a lot more to wool than I thought. There was everything from live sheep, alpaca and some other things I couldn’t identify (large rabbit like creatures), through the spinning, weaving and knitting bits, and including finished clothes, buttons and every imaginable item that could be used with wool. A group was knitting squares to make blankets for Afghanistan. The Red Cross tent stayed quiet, thankfully. All others were regular hives of activity. We were placed right next to the ice-cream seller. “What does ice-cream have to do with wool?” I hear you ask. This delicious ice-cream was made from ewes milk, of course, and was selling like hot-cakes. (I couldn’t think of a worse simile than that).


Aisha giving out patterns

I even got involved with a little impromptu knitting, as the mood overtook me. Logistician’s big, fat sausage fingers, combined with my ineptitide, were too much though for such a delicate art.


Sonja and Ray

The reception was beyond warm, and so many visitors/donors stated that MSF was the only cause they found worthy of their support. Some emotions ran higher, and even rose to tears when one lovely lady spoke with Sonja (our midwife) about the work she had done.

Gavin, Ray and Sonja at Yarn Yard Stall

Gavin, Ray and Sonja at The Yarn Yard Stall

The aim of the two days was well and truly acheived, as the message about our work was thoroughly well spread among the knitting community. Who would have thought that MSF and knitting could be linked like this? Whatever next? I look forward to any new ventures along these lines. Any suggestions anyone?

One similarity to Glasto……we camped. Thanks to great weather, and to a site full of spinners, the festival continued into the night.

A big thanks to all involved, lovely people, all of them, who won’t mind being called a little wooly on this occasion!

To the next time.

£894.78 raised at Woolfest!

Over the course of Woolfest last week, a staggering total of £894.78 was raised for p/hop! Special mention to the Kindred Knitters for their generous contribution and Joy Edwards for donating the Forest Canopy Shawl as a raffle prize.

A full Woolfest update from Ray to follow shortly.

Thanks for all the support! 


Woolfest Stall

Ray, Sonja, Aisha and Lou