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After the success of her first book Mabel Bunny & Co Claire Gelder, who you might recognise from Dragons’ Den, has embarked on a brand-new crafty adventure with her second book Robyn Octopus & Friends. We caught up with Claire to find out a bit more about her new book and how she’s been doing during lockdown.

How are you Claire and how are you coping with everything that’s happening?
I was really bad but I'm much better now. We had to close our business, Wool Couture, for three weeks to try and change the way we were working. I hired a new management team, redesigned the whole workspace and now I am working from my brand-new caravan. You can follow our adventures on Instagram.

We’re so exciting about your new book Robyn Octopus and Friends! You have designed some really cute projects, which design is your favourite? Which one was the most fun to create?
My absolute favourite is Patrick the Puffin. Have you ever seen a puffin that is so cute?! I just love his big fat belly. I guess Joan the Seahorse was a really interesting challenge. When we agreed to have her in the book, I had no idea how she would look knitted! I’m over the moon with her and her swirly whirly mane is amazing!


Your last book Mabel Bunny & Co. has been extremely popular since its release last September. How does this book differ from that one?
All the projects in Mabel Bunny were crocheted. When we launched Mabel, everyone asked.. can we have a knitted one? So, the customers wish was my command! All the projects in Robyn Octopus are knitted.

Are there new animals in this book?
Yes, apart from the main 2 characters Mabel and Robyn – every character is new!


Do you have a favourite room at home to work in?
I have a converted double garage. It’s basically a big white room so I can craft in there and also use it as a photo studio!

The projects look quite big and daunting, are they suitable for beginners?
Absolutely. There's a comprehensive techniques section at the front of the book and we have all of the instructions, written and photographed, so that even if you are a beginner you will be able to complete the easy projects. There's a selection of patterns for beginners, intermediates and advanced, to suit knitters of all skill levels.

Do you have any tips for beginners?
Take your time, learn how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. This forms the basis of all patterns and once you feel confident with this, you will be wanting to have a go at all of the patterns. Everything you need to know about knitting the animals is in the book!

How long does it take you to complete an average piece (from the book) from start to finish?
Oh, it really depends on the pattern and your skill level, but say you pick it up every evening for a couple of hours. You will have it completed very easily within 2-3 weeks. Much sooner if you have experience.

What are you working on at the moment?
Everything… you see I like most crafts, so I work on knitting, crochet, weaving, macramé and now we are moving into embroidery as well!

Do you have any exciting plans for 2021?
Yes, we're currently working on our next book which will be a crochet animal book. A follow on to Mabel Bunny & Co. Stay tuned!

No matter how we look at it, the world has changed over the last 6 months. Having experienced anxiety and depression for most of my life I know how important it is in these times to be mindful. I can honestly say that crafting over the years has been my salvation and I hope that many can find time to enjoy the therapeutic value of craft in these challenging times.

Robyn Octopus & Friends
 is available to buy here. If you like to crochet don't forget to pick up a copy of Claire's first book Mabel Bunny & Co here.


Join our Search Press Craft Group and try an exclusive free bonus project designed by Claire and her team at Wool Couture!

Although she does not feature in the book, Claire the panda is one of Robyn the octopus’ best friends. We are offering this exclusive project to all members of our Search Press Craft Group on our Facebook page.

Follow the link below to become a member and try your hand at making this adorable panda! Don't forget to share photos of your finished piece! Tag us @searchpress and use the hashtag #SearchPressMakes for a chance to be featured in our Made by You highlights on Instagram.

Search Press Craft Group is a space for fans of Search Press to show us what they've been making from the books, meet a community of other like-minded crafters and discuss what they’re currently crafting - best of all, it's absolutely free to join! 

Click here to join the Search Press Craft Group now for FREE!

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