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  1. Earlier in the year I was asked to pattern test a reversible baby hat by the very talented pattern designer Katie of Sunshine Crochet Gifts.  We got chatting through Instagram and I was immediately struck with how easy going, kind and helpful Katie was. 

    Sunshine Crochet Logo

    I would call myself an intermediate crocheter who has LOTS to still learn about this craft.  I favour crochet amigurumi, which is essentially 3D crochet, such as soft animals or toy, decorations etc.  I hadn’t made much clothing prior to this.

    The pattern was easy to follow, and like many documents that require proof reading there’ll always be typos to correct.  However, the thing I really struggled with was the photographs in the pattern.  Why?  Well, they were for right-handed crocheters. 

    White hat with yellow trim

    There is a difference between left and right-handed crochet, as in left-handed crocheters work from left to right and right-handed crocheters work from right to left.  This means that some patterns must be worked back to front for left-handed crocheters, and the photographs can be difficult when they are essentially in reverse.

    White Hat with Green border

    I discussed this with Katie, as I was struggling on a colour change stitch because I couldn’t decipher the photograph which was in reserve for me.  This was something new for Katie to consider, which she would openly admit to you now. 

    Like a true professional she went away and adjusted the pattern and added the ‘left-handed’ photographs in, by simply reversing her right-handed photographs.

    This change immediately had an impact of my understanding of the pattern, and I was able to complete the hat quite confidently.

    White Hat with Blue border

    Katie then designed a reversible cardigan to go with the hat, which was more of a challenge for me as I’d never made a cardigan before. Katie took on board my comments about left-handed crocheters and ensured that she included photographs and instructions for both.  During this pattern test, I joined a community of other pattern testers who were also testing the cardigan.  It was great to be able to share ideas, solve problems and learn lots from other crocheters around the world. I was really pleased with my cardigan and so grateful to have had the help from not only Katie but the other pattern testers who have now become my ‘go to’ group for any crochet issues I need help with.

    White Cardigan with Yellow Trim


    White Cardigan with Orange Trim

    I am currently pattern testing a beautiful shawl for Sunshine Crochet and I can’t wait to share the finished result with you.  

    You can follow Katie on instagram: @sunshine_crochet_gifts

    You can follow Needle & Fred on instagram: @needles_and_Fred


  2. As a small business, there is no reason why I cannot support a charity within my business. I might not be able to donate thousands of pounds like large corporations can. However, what I can do is firstly raise awareness of that charity, then look into fundraising.

    How do you know what charity to support?  There are literally thousands out there, so how do you narrow it down?  It really depends on what is important to you both in your work and personal life.  Do you want to support the environment? People? Animals? Medical Science? There are so many worthy charities that I want to support.  Currently I support a local Animal Shelter, A Gorilla Foundation and I volunteer once a week at a local Charity Shop for a Hospice.

     TfL Pulau Pari

    Indonesia Indah Foundation

    If you’d asked me who the Indonesia Indah Foundation were at the beginning of the year, I would have honestly told you I had never heard of them.  However, when I did discover them, something really resonated in me when I read about what the foundation does.

    This is the opening statement about the Foundation, from their website:

    Indonesia Indah Foundation has a dream of a sustainable, clean and even more beautiful Indonesia, on land and at sea.

    Taking the experience learned from seven years of organizing mass-scale cleanups in Jakarta, we have grown into a multi-faceted environmental sustainability foundation.

    TfL Pulau Panggang

    We should all care about our environment, we only have one planet and we should be mindful of this.

    Not only do the foundation run Conservation and Disaster Relief programs, they run programs of which I believe are the most important kind – Educational programs.  We should be educating not only our future generations, but all generations about the importance of a sustainable environment.

    The foundation, in their conservation program, are planting Mangrove trees to protect mangrove forests in Indonesia. 

    I’ll tell you why the mangroves are so important in a moment,  but firstly to answer the question why this resonated with me.  Going back to 2009 I was in Borneo on my honeymoon and one night I was out on a sunset boat trip with my husband.  No one else signed up for the trip, so it was just us and our guide, who was incredibly knowledgeable about the environment and the wildlife.  They took us to the mangroves and it was just magical.  The fireflies made the trees almost sparkle, the  proboscis monkeys were curiously spying on us, the water’s edge was teaming with fish,  birds were singing in the trees, there were dolphins swimming out in the bay.  It was incredible, it was like a sensory overload, but it was a memory that I will forever cherish, and I want to be able to go back and visit those mangroves on my 25th wedding anniversary, but right now, if we don’t act, that won’t be possible.

     TfL Pulau Pari 2020

    So what actually are the mangroves and why are they so important to our ecosystem?

    Pound for pound, mangroves sequester more carbon than any other tree on the planet – crucial in the fight against climate change and adapting to rising sea levels. They also serve as nurseries in a vital food source for marine life and provide critical habitat for endangered species, from the Proboscis Monkey to the Fishing Cat and the Dugong.

    Mangroves have specialised root structures (breathing roots or pneumatophores) as a result of their physical adaptation to oxygen-poor or anaerobic sediments/soils. Mangrove forests are rich in biodiversity, providing a habitat for wide varieties of animal and plant species, including cranes, crabs, and even monkeys.


    They are dynamic areas, rich in food. Live and decaying mangrove leaves and roots provide nutrients that nourish plankton, algae, fish and shellfish. Many of the fish caught commercially in tropical regions reproduce and spend time in the mangroves as juveniles or adults. Mangroves also help other species survive, forming dense forests that shelter animals as well as shellfish and brightly coloured corals.


    Indonesia is home to 20 percent of the world's mangrove forests. Unfortunately, due to illegal logging and land conversion, the nation has lost 1.8 million hectares of its mangrove forests, which is causing serious coastal erosion and abrasion. Indonesia Indah Foundation has a goal to reforest 1 million mangroves by the year 2025 in an effort to fight climate change, prevent further coastal erosion, and provide crucial habitat for many fish, bird and animal species.

     TfL Pulau Panggang (1)

    What Can I do?

    It's understandable that to reforest one million mangroves will take time, but what can we do to help?  I propose to educate people on this side of the world about the importance of the mangroves and to raise what funds I can by designing and selling my own crochet and card items. It may only be a small contribution, but it is a start and it’s better than doing nothing.  If you would like to learn more about the Indonesia Indah Foundation you can access their website through this link.  If you would like to help educate, fundraise, or purchase one of my fundraising products please don’t hesitate to contact me.


    “From every acorn grows a mighty oak.”

    Baby Shark