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What's in your tin? (2019 Advent calendar)

Advent calendars for adults have really grown in popularity over the last few years and it's no different in the world of hand dyed yarn. In 2019 I decided to create my first yarn advent calendar and as Christmas is a time for reminiscing, it was important to me to choose a holiday tradition as my inspiration. The first thing that sprang to mind was a tin of chocolates - we always have one and it's a lovely part of Christmas, sharing them round the family, the smell of chocolate and the bring shiny coloured wrapping. Quality Street tins are guaranteed to bring a smile to my family's face and there's always a scramble for our favourite sweets - thankfully we generally all like different ones so the competition isn't too fierce! My favourites are the Green triangle and the Orange chocolate crunch - yum! I do like caramel too though, especially the caramel cup. The excitement when we open the tin and see all those colours - it's rainbowtastic and fills my heart with colour and joy.

When I created the advent calendar, I wanted to capture that colour burst through my hand dyed yarn so I based the 24 mini skeins on a mixture of the sweet colours, the characters that used to feature on the tins and on old advertisements to capture the nostalgia that Quality Street brings each year. I pinned lots of beautiful pictures on my Pinterest board and you can see them here.

Colours from top to bottom - A swirl of caramel, Dreaming of strawberries, What's in your tin?, A top toffee, The crème dream

One of my favourite colourways to come out of the advent calendar is What's in your tin? For me I grew up with the tins being used in the house long after the sweets have gone. My mum has a tin in her sewing cupboard which is full of ribbons and and I have tins full of buttons. The pleasure I get opening them and raking through to find the right size and colour for my project is huge, each tin is full of potential and possibility for me.

I also tried to include a little bit of information about the colourway/inspiration each day. One example is the colourway A swirl of caramel which was inspired by the sweet Caramel swirl - it was one of the original 1936 sweets which used to be called Toffee cup and has an almost liquid toffee centre.

Colours from top to bottom are - Crunching through the orange chocolate, A penny for your thoughts, Major Quality, Sticky fingers and Chocolate heaven.

It was really interesting to learn about the original design and production process while researching this advent. Launched in 1936, Quality Street was created to provide an affordable alternative to expensive boxes of chocolates. It was designed to be an experience for all the senses with each sweet looking, sounding, smelling and tasting different. Harold Mackintosh, the creator of Quality Street, decided to use their special toffee recipe and cover it in chocolate as a way to make a delicious selection whilst keeping costs low. The sweets were made and wrapped in different shapes, using different coloured wrappers and even different wrapping styles. Sweets such as the Toffee Penny (one of the few remaining sweets from the original selection) required a brand new machine which twist wrapped each sweet, but even with this machine, the toffee penny continued to be difficult to wrap as it would stick to the materials used.

Colours from top to bottom - Crunching through the honeycomb, A vintage tin, Knock your chocolate block off, A quality christmas tree, Noisette in green.

Colours from top to bottom: Knit one, purl one, A blue brownie?, E'clairly loves coconut, Makes a merry christmas, A purple nut

One of the most recognisable icons for Quality Street were the two characters who used to appear on the tins. Quality street was named after J.M. Barrie's play of the same name so the tins featured two characters from the play - Major Quality and Miss Sweetly - and of course I couldn't leave them out when I was creating colourways. Unfortunately the iconic characters were retired in 2000 but the modern tins still have a small symbol of them.

Colours from top to bottom: MIss Sweetly, No one says no, Fudging it, Magic moments.

There are so many beautiful advent patterns for knitting and crochet available nowadays and for this advent, there was one clear choice for me - the Land of Sweets cowl pattern by Helen Stewart. This cowl is perfect for 10g mini skeins and is full of interesting but straightforward stitch sections to make a beautiful cowl. I love shawls but when you spend a lot of time out and about, cowls are the perfect option for tucking inside a jacket and if they're super colourful, they go with everything!§

As well as the cowl, I had enough yarn left over from the 10g advent to make two pairs of scrappy socks (I did have to add mini skeins for heels and toes) as well as some mini squares for my battenburg blanket.

24 x 10g goes a lot further than you think!


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