01 September 2015

Shambala 2015 - the crochet master returns

Hi world. Well it's happened, I teased you on twitter, I hinted at the amount of neon yarn and I got beads and wool everywhere......I'm back from Shambala 2015, and now you finally get to see the pictures (and be prepared, there's a lot of them).

Yep, this is it! My second entirely crocheted outfit. After about 2 months work and a hell of a lot of mess, it was time to freak out some squares.

For those of you that are new to my crochet shenanigans, me and my besties have been going to Shambala festival for 8 years now. Every Saturday of the festival is the fancy dress day, and being the creative fella that I am I like to go all out and make my costumes myself.

This year I decided that I wanted to make another fully crocheted outfit (I defined it as a robe rather than a dress as it has buttons....but I think we all know it's a dress really). I have a magic hamper where I store every bit of left over wool from all my projects, so I cracked that out and used all the different odds and ends to create this madness.

As well as the robe (dress), I also made two armbands (both with beaded decorations), a plaited crochet necklace, a beaded headband (made on a loom), a bag to cover my boring looking camera bag, and of course......

.....my magic (light-up) staff.....you gotta have a magic staff, for casting spells and doing rain dances etc. Although one thing to note, you don't half get some funny looks when catching a train before the festival with a neon beaded staff.

As well as going nuts with neon wool and beads, I also got to use up a load of my buttons from my massive button jar. You'll notice that there are loads of different stitches going on here. This was perhaps the part of the project I enjoyed most, every row I would think "which stitch next?", and with a little help from my various stitch books would just try different stitches to see what worked best with the wool.

This lead to my favourite conversation/anecdote of the festival. A lady came up to me and asked where I got my outfit....when I told her I made it myself, she didn't believe me. So she decided to quiz me on the stitches, and her face was priceless when I started reeling off and pointing out all the various different stitches. Looking completely shocked and taken aback, she simply said "ok, you win, that's amazing".

Oh and of course, I did say a complete crochet outfit! So needless to say, I knocked up some crochet footwear too. I had a pair of old slippers hanging around from a spa day me and my wife went to, so I cut off some of the strap so it was like a pair of flip-flops, and then added a load of crochet straps to make sure they stayed on my feet while dancing.

Speaking of dancing.....

I dance like an over-excited idiot toddler that doesn't know what to do with his arms, and look like I could fall over at any second, so combine that with the costume and you can see why I stand out in the crowd.

The music as Shambala is always a bit of a mix, and normally good for a dance too (hey it's pretty much the only time during the year when I can get a good shake on). Me and my friends do have some 'specific' tastes when it come to music, and in some ways previous years have met those tastes a bit better than this year (a bit too much 'hip-hop' and beatboxers for us)...but there were still a good few bands that should probably get a mention for, you know, being amazing!!

Go Go Penguin were probably, in my opinion, one of the most interesting bands from this year. Comprising of piano, double bass and drums - you'd be thinking jazz right? Well you're kinda right, but then imagine them making it sound like electronica with their rhythms and beats, and what you end up with is nothing short of awesome.

Another stand-out performance was by The Electric Swing Circus, Swing music meets electro equals a good old fashioned knees-up in the traditional Shambala style. I haven't had a dance like that for quite some time....well, at least in the last year anyway.

Anyway, back to the costume. I wore it for the entirety of the Saturday, and surprisingly it wasn't too hot. In fact, it kept me at the perfect temperature right until the end of the night. I was also really impressed that everyone that talked to me about it knew that it was crochet rather than knitting....it seems the public is learning the difference (yay!!!)

You may also have noticed that, yes, I am wearing make-up. This is pretty standard at festivals, especially at Shambala, we loves the glitter!!! I'm sure all you girls and beauty bloggers would love to know how I do it. Well basically smear a load of neon eye-shadow colours on your upper eyelids, cover your lower eyelids with blue and black glitter eye liner, and top it off with some metallic temporary tattoo dots on your cheekbones....and voila, you too can look like a nut-case.

So yeah that's pretty much all I can say about the costume. As you would imagine, much drinking occurred (not that I'm condoning binge drinking - remember that I've had years of experience at this). So hence there's a couple of those sort of photo's, I call this one 'Two Drinks Matthew'

And by the time it gets dark and I get to switch on the light on my staff, I'm a little worse for ware and my make-up has smudged considerably. The light is a simple camping bulb style light that I gaffer-taped onto the top of the stick, and then covered with crochet so it would stay on.

So I think that's enough of my beardy face for now...what else happened. Well my regular readers will remember from previous years that I normally give out a present to a random stranger. This year I decided to use my recent phase of jewellery making and beads to make this random crochet necklace with a bell on it.

I generally always have the gift I intend to give easily to hand, and scour the crowd looking for that perfect someone. This lady was this years chosen recipient, the main reason I gave it to her was I noticed her earrings and thought the necklace would compliment them well.

 I approached her in my usual style, proclaiming 'you have been chosen!!!', and handed her the necklace in a little box with my business card in it. She said thank you graciously, and after looking in the box and seeing what the gift was, came and found me again to ask if I was sure she should have it and to tell me she loved it. She even spotted me again the next day and came over to tell me she would never forget it. It's so nice to be able to just do a little something special to make someone happy.

I also felt as the necklace was probably destined to go to an adult lady, I should also make something to give to a child, as Shambala is such a family friendly festival. The day before leaving I quickly knocked up this little Saturn-style planet type of thing, as the festival theme this year was 'cosmic chaos'.

And the chosen recipient for this, a little girl in a double buggy with her brother. I could see that the little boy wouldn't sit still and kept getting out of the buggy, his dad was trying to deal with him whilst having a conversation with someone else, and the little girl was being good and sitting still but starting to get a little upset. So I slowly walked over, opened my cupped hands and presented her with this. She picked it out of my hands as soon as she saw it and held onto it like it was a treasured possession. As I went back to my own business I glimpsed over to see the dad walking them past and he silently mouthed 'thank you' to me.

Alright so we're nearly done now (this is going on a bit isn't it). Finally I thought I would show you some of the crafty decor that goes on at Shambala, as it's always something that massively impresses me.

In a tiny yurt-style tent in the 'healing meadow' you could find the koo kou's nest tent, hosting a mix of world music. These paper-crafted birds in the roof of the tent were amazing, and some clever lighting meant not only did they glow in the UV lights but also changed colour.

It was quite hard to get a good picture of all of the birds, due to the UV and being inside a tent, but you might be able to see from this picture that there was loads of them, and each must have taken a huge amount of work.

There's something to look at in almost every tent, from these wicker (at least I think thats what they were made from) dragon flies....

....to the crazy UV decor in the dance tents. If you can say one thing about Shambala its full of colour and art. The enchanted woods are always good for this sort of stuff too, this piece was one of my favourites this year...

It's a ton of lipsticks hanging from a tree, with a spotlight lighting them up and creating a magical effect that looked like you were squinting at lights even though you weren't.

So yeah, that was Shambala 2015. Loads of fun, great people, great music, great food. Oh and remember that crochet footwear I made....they ended up looking like this.

Finally, I gotta say it wouldn't be half as fun without my best mates Ben and Ben, these are the guys that keep me going and stop me from getting in too much trouble.

That's all for now, hope you've enjoyed it. Peace out!


  1. Awesome 😊 The robe (dress) is fantastic 😜

  2. Was great to meet you at Shambala if only briefly. For anyone who didn't get to see it, I can definitely say the robe was as impressive as it looks in real life!! Well done man and glad you had a great Shambala.

    Love that you create beautiful gifts for people at Shambala... gifting is such a great part of the community and I'm glad you do it! :D I love handing things out to people and everyone is always so grateful! :D

    Hope to see you around at other festivals!

  3. The whole outfit is pretty darn awesome! And I love that you gave away handmade gifts.

  4. I just showed this robe to my husband and he asked for me to make it for him. I knew he would love it add soon as I saw it. Is there a pattern I could get?

  5. You brightened my day here in Pennsylvania, USA, after out blizzard of yesterday. Thanks!

  6. You brightened my day here in Pennsylvania, USA, after out blizzard of yesterday. Thanks!