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Sometimes I just want to make…dive in – create and not think about the pattern. Not make any notes… not think about the planning or the design. I know that does mean that if a design comes out successfully that becomes a bit of a pain for anyone who might like to replicate the pattern. Darn.

Well so a few weeks ago I had a little ‘ting!’ moment. You know when you identify a need and match it with some yarn and then a little ‘ting’ goes off in your head.

A young friend of mine has just started a Fine Art degree in Edinburgh. Having attended an east-coast Scottish University, I know that your scarf game has to be STRONG. E has a great sense of style. She is experimental, imaginative and has excellent colour-sense.

(Just writing this – it occurs to me…’what on earth were you thinking…making a scarf for an art student…you mad woman…the audacity). Anyway – foolhardy generosity, I thought it would be delightful to make E a Boho-influenced scarf. I have been working with the new Stylecraft Highland Heathers DK yarn. I love their muted tweedy finish.

Using the colours : Thistle, Thift, Grist, Gorse and Heather. I made 10 granny squares which begin as a circle and then morph into a square. I then made 2 triangles which I placed at each end. I slip stitched the joins together and then did 1 granny square cluster rows in Thistle and Thrift. I finished the whole scarf off with some outrageously chunky tassels.

Once the scarf was completed, I’ve got to tell you – I almost found it difficult to pop it in the post. The shades are not those I would normally wear so perhaps I will make my own version. But boy I did have fun.

You might think that the Granny Square is a difficult look to rock. You might be right. But using it in a scarf is perhaps the best place to start. Just enough detail and colourful interest…not too crazy. A few years ago I made a glorious Granny Square Jacket – it is in November and December that it comes into its own. I have to be in the mood to wear it. But I do love it. In January with the purity of Spring…it seems a bit much.

November is the month to replenish your scarf collection and this idea gives a cool accent which is both warm and brings autumn delight. I know that my art-student friend has already enjoyed wearing her bespoke design, and then is the ultimate goal. Designs inspired by love and makes that are fun to create. Happy weekend!

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If you are reading this…I hope you have found this article subtly and rather nonchalantly left open or shared your craft obsessed ‘loved one’.

Yes you could buy them something from a large retailer… but how much more delightful to shop small, bespoke and quite frankly clever. So here goes…

Gorgeous Gubbins from Beyond Meaure

These are fabulous gifts that will delight the knitter, crocheter or even sewist. Pop over to the joy that is Beyond Measure. Grace has a beautiful online shop and when I go to yarn festivals I always head to her stall to be tempted by the treasures she selects.

Winter 2020 edition of the Cohana mini snips.

These incredibly tiny scissors are so cute and are perfect for keeping in a bag, tool box or pencil case.

As always, Cohana have sought out the best manufacturers to create their vision of beautiful, high quality tools. These snips are made by Hasegawa Cutlery, a manufacturer of cutting tools established in 1933 and located in Seki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan’s foremost cutlery-making town.

The scissors work by gripping and pinching lightly to cut your thread or yarn.  Despite their small size, these cute mini-scissors have great cutting ability!

The small silk tassels are carefully handmade by Imasato, a specialist in tassels and knots founded in 1907 and located in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture. For over 100 years, Imasato has been making tassels for Yame Chochin paper lanterns, which are a traditional handicraft. 

Available with grey, gold, blue, turquoise or pink silk tassel, plus limited edition creamy beige/metallic version for Winter 2020

Each pair comes with a little leather pouch and in a beautiful Cohana gift box. Snips measure about 3.5 cm long.

£1 from each pair sold (any colour) will be donated to the Runnymede Trust who generate intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

Wooden needle cases

These are great for DPNs and crochet hooks

Made from wood, this lovely case from Serradura of Lisbon is ideal for storing your tools. With a push on lid, it will keep your crochet hooks, DPNS, or even pencils safe and neatly stored!

Measures 7.5 inch or 19 cm long. Usable inside length 3/4 inch or 2 cm diam by 7 inch or 18 cm long. 

Maybe the advent calendar would be a nice seasonal thing too?

Create your own Advent tradition with this beautiful Advent Tree from Jurianne Matter. 

Paper and Wood advent Tree

Build the tree using the wooden pieces then every day, select one of the 24 sweet decorations to adorn the branches, adding the star on Christmas Day.  Or add them all at once if you can’t wait and enjoy the tree throughout the winter season!

The tree comes in a special A4 storage box so it can be used for many years to come and also makes a wonderful gift to post!

Everything you need is in the package; no tools or glue required:

1 easy to assemble Advent Tree comprising one beechwood trunk (33 cm high), one beechwood base, and twelve ‘branches’.

24 pre-punched ornaments of traditionally crafted heavy-duty paper plus one star for the top of the tree.

Made with FSC-certified wood and paper and printed with vegetable inks.

Tiny Tins

I fell in love with these little tins by Yorkshire artist and jeweller Leigh Shepherd.  Leigh creates the little drawings herself and they are set in resin in the lid. Perfect for your pins, buttons, needles and bits and bobs.

Available empty or add a small pack of 20 copper bulb pins (great as stitch markers).  They also work well with their beeswax thread conditioner.

In tiny tins, choose from Beehive, Fern, Acorn, Sycamore, Winter Trees or hand painted Sprig designs and also available in our natural dye collection

Tiny Tin measures 5 cm long – fits pack of two small buttons or pack 2 acorns.

Beehive and Acorn tin also available in medium size, 6 cm long – fits beeswax block and pack of large/small beeswax buttons.

Tangled Yarn

My next top shopping tip is from the glorious Tangled Yarn. Very local to me – but actually an online shop, Rachel has impeccable yarn tastes.

Just this week I have ordered some important items to keep the inspiration going.

For Knitters I would suggest, ChiaoGoo TWIST Interchangeables are possibly one of the best Stainless Steel circular needles you will find. Beautifully presented in their own case, each needle tip has it’s own labelled pocket, so you know exactly where to find it. There are pockets for storing the cables and additional accessories too.

Also on my list would be the Cocoknits Accessory Roll is comprised of an outer wrap that encloses four removable triangular envelope-style pouches attached by snaps. The elastic bands hold the roll closed, and can be customised with any of three additional colours provided. Convenient at home or on the go, the Accessory Roll organises all your little essentials. Fill up each section with your knitting notions, craft tools, makeup, jewellery, earbuds, phone charger, and bottle opener – whatever you need to have at hand. Take the whole roll, or simply unsnap one or two pouches to toss in your bag and be prepared for your active day.

I have just ordered for myself two Toft Alpaca Fur Pom Pom’s They are the perfect way to finish off a hat!

Available in a range of bright colours, each pom-pom is attached to a press stud to enable you to swap between colours easily. To wash, remove the stud with the pom-pom and re-attach once your piece is dry. They are by far the fluffiest pom-poms around!

Also I purchased the utterly beautiful Fair Isle Weekend Book. It takes you on an exciting trip to Fair Isle, a windswept island in Shetland, famous for its traditional colourwork knitting. During her many trips to Fair Isle, Mary Jane has been fascinated and inspired by the island’s rich textile traditions, learning about Fair Isle knitting by looking at old textiles and sharing stories and knowledge around a cup of tea. Now, she has created a gorgeous collection of designs which she would take with her for a weekend trip to Shetland when a carry-on bag is all you take with you.

For Crocheters….

This is not cheap but then I use mine everyday; a set of beautiful hooks. Tulip Etimo Red Crochet Hooks are not only a thing of beauty but they are great to use too! If you crochet you will love these! They are ergonomic, with a cushioned support grip that fits comfortably in the hand making it possible to crochet for longer with less fatigue. The matte red tones of the hook tip do not reflect light and are gentle on the eyes.

Socks

At this time of year, sock knitting is a wonderful thing to do in the evenings.

Exmoor Sock by John Arbon is designed to be perfect for socks, whilst still having the versatility to suit garments and accessories that relish a hard-wearing, machine washable yarn. It comes in handy 50g skeins so is ideal for knitting stripes or colourwork!

A wonderful yarn Exmoor Sock enhances the durable character and bounce of the fibre from local Exmoor Blueface sheep – a crossbreed of the Exmoor Horn (full-bodied and hard-wearing) and the Bluefaced Leicester (renowned for its softness and lustre).

Another great idea would be to buy a book on Sock making. My friend Christine is the Queen of teaching beginners how to make socks. I can testify that she taught me and I use her method every time. Pop over to her website to grab a copy of her book: Super Socks.

Kits…

Ok I’m not going to pretend… a kit at Christmas is a glorious thing! And yes I am going to suggest that you buy one of mine from my Etsy shop. Because…well I have put lots of love and care into choosing the yarn and writing the pattern and I think they make a great gift.

For a beginner why not buy a crochet cactus kit and you can combine that with my Crocheted Succulents book for a cracking gift.

To melt the heart why not choose from one of my Baby Animal kits. Perhaps Bobby Bunny, or Sam the Lamb and now very popular is Tony the Pony. In the run up to Christmas you can get 20% off a Gertie Goose Kit to ensure you have a glorious goose for the festive period.

If you are on the Etsy Shop it is worth look at my book selection. How to Crochet is perfect for beginners and the Granny Squares books are also very popular. Pop over and see what you think.

Support your local yarn shop

All of the suggestions above support small producers, authors and online shopkeepers. If you are aiming to shop small this Christmas I promise you that every order placed will thrill an individual business owner.

But also in these lockdown times please don’t forget your local yarn store. You may not even be aware of what bricks and mortar shop is near to you. Well my top tip would be to pop over to the UK Handknitters Association website. They have an excellent search facility which helps you find your nearest shop. If nothing else, you can telephone or contact the shop to buy a gorgeous gift token. I promise you one thing, there is nothing finer than having the opportunity/excuse to buy new yarn in the New Year.

This is a good list my friends! Exciting classics that will thrill and delight! But what would you suggest? If you commented on my last blog post I cannot thank you more!

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Dear Blog, Can you believe it has been 10 years, ten years of you and me. Before I say anything, thank you. You have brought such joy to my life.

We both know that you would never have existed if Big B hadn’t set you up. He got so fed up with me saying I was going to do it… that he decided to take matters into his own hands. I am grateful for that – but let’s not forget that it was a clever move on his part. He was finishing off his PHD at that time and distracting me with a little bit of writing and a new project was a very productive way of me not noticing his study time. Smart.

Plus… and I am not taking this away from you – you couldn’t exist without the yarny exploits. If I didn’t knit or crochet there really would be nothing to say. But then you have expanded my yarn horizons more than I could have dreamed.

I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to write and publish books without you. I think we are currently on number 10. That is bizarre and utterly unimaginable a decade ago.

You have enabled me to meet so many wonderful people, some of them were heroes that have become friends. Others are followers of this blog and they have become friends. That is a wonderful and joyful gift. The yarn community is so friendly – you have helped me find them and share our passion.

There have been some years that I have found it difficult to post. Busy years with stretching times. In some cases posting on you dear blog has been a lovely refuge…at other times I haven’t been able to find the words.

Since we began our journey together, new pretenders have come on the scene….twitter (opinion, reaction and debate). Then Pinterest…beautiful, inspirational and then basically a search engine. Facebook…mostly connecting to old friends and some information sharing and then… Instagram – which really is a mini you, but there isn’t the same thought, the time to think. I still love you the most.

You are not one of those blogs that people really comment on. I am not sure why. Sometimes I have made efforts to play the numbers game. But if I am honest that calculated theory takes away the intimacy of our conversation. It becomes technical and less spontaneous. I am not entirely sure if people are still reading. It doesn’t matter. This is a space to be generous and conversational. The best times for blog writing are probably about 3am – sleepless nights. Far better to get the thoughts down than to stare at the ceiling. We have posted over 800 times. Will we carry on? Yes I think so – I am still making, creating and designing. There are still things to share and get excited about.

Well – thank you dear blog…you have given more to me than I can ever had anticipated, planned or dreamed. We have had fun…let’s keep going.

In the past 10 years this post is perhaps my favourite – written in the Christmas holidays of December 2015- January 2016 I was designing and writing Cute Crocheted Animals.

This week to celebrate 10 years of the blog I am having a ‘Giveaway’ of new printed patterns and a crochet kit on Instagram. I will also be surprising one lovely commenter of this blog with a ‘thank you’ gift.

If you enjoy this blog of yarny ramblings – thank you so much for following.

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I could never had imagined the fun I have had with crochet. I love to make as part of my relaxation…smoothing out my ruffled brain at the end of the day.

However there are plenty of moments that just make me laugh out loud. I can remember the day I made my first crochet cactus.

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My book editor had seen that Little B and I were enjoying growing Cacti and Succulents and she said; ‘Why don’t we see if you can create crocheted versions?’

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I thought…’don’t be ridiculous…that will never work…and then about 2 days later…the obsession began.

That weekend I had found the Rico Bubble yarn at my local yarn store (Black Sheep Wools) and I knew immediately what I would do with it. It was perfect for cactus spines. I sped home and immediately sat down in my favourite chair to start hooking. An hour later my first, crazy, spikey cactus sat on the mantlepiece. I began giggling away to myself at the pure joy of making something quite so ridiculous. Not long after my book was published and now there are copies in French, German and Dutch.

One of my greatest joys is to see photos of cacti and succulents posted on social media, People change the colours and the sizes and some even sell their woolly creations on market stalls.

Recently I thought it might be fun to create a small starter pattern for those of you who might like to dip your toe into woolly spikey plants. I have added a new downloadable pattern to my Etsy shop which has two basic patterns for your to follow. You can create a Ball Cactus with flowers and a ridged spikey cactus. I have also included the pattern for the crochet soil and all you need to do is pop them in a spare pot or teacup.

New exclusive kits will be available for purchase which have all you need to create this pattern. If you enjoy making these two cuties you can return and buy the book. To give you some help with the process I have posted a video tutorial in my tutorial section of my blog. But I have got to tell you… they are addictive.

Please do tell me what you think. I know that I will be beginning my Festive Cactus present making so very soon.

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There is a moment, perhaps half way through, more likely two thirds, when I am at my optimum project moment. For every substantial knitting or crochet project there is that terrible balance of enjoying the making and yet wanting to finish.

Do you know what I mean? I love the making but there is something really brilliant when you finally sew in the last end and hold up you finished woolly – that ‘TA-DAH’ moment.

My biggest struggle is found in knitting when I am making a garment. My latest project cast-off this week is a boxy fairisle cardigan made with Stylecraft Highland Heathers.

I have enjoyed using the yarn. The colour has a depth to it which is beautifully subtle, almost a tweed. The blue has flashes of pink and green. I also like the simple fairisle motif and the contrasting edge. Throughout I have been intrigued to see how the project will turn out. I have enjoyed the simple stocking stitch rhythms. So it is with mixed emotions that I have cast off the final sleeve. I don’t even mind the sewing up and this time I invested in using the magical mattress stitch. (FANCY).

Although I know this cardigan will be a welcome addition to my winter wardrobe, I now slightly grieve its loss.

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The crochet equivalent would be blanket making. My ‘V’ stitch Vintage Virus Blanket which I started at the beginning of lockdown has been my longest ‘WIP’ of this year. There were moments that I questioned why I started it at all. But then almost 50 rows from the end, I began to become quietly addicted. I was frequently found in a corner, secretly hooking away a few sneaky rows. When I had finished the blanket I missed its warm comfort and its familiar pattern.

In Homer’s Odyssey, the character of Penelope waits for her husband to return from war. She has many suitors in that time and she keeps them at bay by promising that she will not consider anyone until she has finished her weaving. Every night for three years she unravels the work she has done the day before. Well it might have kept the pesky chaps at bay, but perhaps she was also enjoying the simple pleasures of an excellent ‘Work in Progress’.

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As we head towards Christmas I have a number of commissions on the go and a few gifts that I want to complete. But I have yet to decide on a delicious ‘work in progress’ that tempts me into snuggle into the sofa and I cannot almost bear to finish.

The Cardigan I have made is 9794 by Stylecraft – I have used colourways Loch and Gorse and I made mine in the Medium size. I am a Stylecraft Blogstar so I am able to view and access Stylecraft yarns before they have been released.

The scarf in the photos is Arabian Nights knitted using West Yorkshire Spinners sock yarn. There is a post about that project here.

You can find my simple free pattern for the V-stitch blanket in this blog post.

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Oh my, oh my it is a little bit chilly isn’t it? Never mind…sweater weather… a perfect excuse for the yarny amongst us to get out the needles and hooks and work on new cosy garments.

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I was on one of the (endless) Skype meetings this week and found myself playing a brand new quiz: ‘Whose sweater game is strong?’

Being just ‘head and shoulders’ rather than a whole person, does really demonstrate who is head and shoulders in the ‘working from home’ outfit.

If you are being mean with the heating then a cosy jumper is just the thing. I’ll be honest the bright colours of a ‘top-down’ fairisle yoke will really catch the eye. How much more impressive would it be if you can admit you made it yourself? This the Birkin Sweater by Caitlin Hunter and I adore it. I finished in the Summer and it has made a few outings this week on the work meetings. I always worried that it would be too small. But surprisingly I was wrong and it has worked well.

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This week I have also delved into my drawers and found my cosy tanks. They have the advantage of keeping you body warm and yet you have the flexibility of movement. This zesty lime green tank is a design from Debbie Bliss (my darling friend) but when I make and buy her designs I pay cold hard cash for them…because I’m a discerning customer too and hey we all need to eat!

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The cardigan is always a good choice to stay warm. In a changing climate as you can take it on and off quite quickly without messing up your hair or make-up.

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Now you might think I am mad, but even in my own home I have found myself putting on a cosy scarf. Bear with me… having a colourful but thinish scarf around your neck can bring added warmth, jazzing up what is ultimately quite a boring polo neck or sweatshirt. If you use a 4ply sock yarn you can get lots of warmth without it being very bulky. Have a look at this post to see all the details of the pattern.

So what am I making at the moment? Well for a few weeks I have been making a Stylecraft pattern using their new Highland Heathers yarn. Being a Stylecraft Blogstar I am fortunate to view all the patterns ahead of the season. Annabelle and Juliet from Stylecraft always know that there will come a moment in the season preview that I will say…’ooooo I like that!’. That usually means I will will want to knit that design for myself. So I am making the romantically named 9794 in Loch and Gorse. I am a very big fan of this new yarn. It has a lovely tweedy quality and I am currently using it quite a bit for some new projects. Hopefully in a few weeks I will finish the cardigan and be able to show you.

If you have any ‘Zoom’ style tips, I would love to hear them. I think strength of colour and a little interest in the neckline is the way to go. Oh, and if you can manage it from 8 hours of screen time…a little smile.

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I almost don’t want to say it, but I think that this might be a difficult winter period for those of us living in the Northern hemisphere. For some of us – we have felt rather stuck indoors for a while. I seem to have a very selective memory and can easily forget those heady hot weeks of April and May. But bearing in mind: ‘the nights drawing in’, I have decided to get proactive.

A good friend of mine, sent me a link to this very interesting article in the Guardian this week. I found it helpful. Essentially it takes the good practice of our Scandinavian neighbours who have much darker and colder winters than the Brits. They acknowledge and embrace the season, focus on it’s characteristics and proactively get involved and organise activities that can only be done during this season.

Don’t get me wrong – up to now I have been fortunate enough not to suffer from S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder). I have many close friends who it effects deeply and they dread the long dark season. The newspaper article reminded me to dig out all the advice and joys of the ‘Hygge’ phenomenon that was very a fashionable a few years ago. So I have made myself a few little promises to get into the ‘hygge mood’

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  1. I’m going to dig out the fairy lights. They bring twinkle and sparkle to any dimpsy room and can instantly lighten my mood
  2. Get out in the daylight in the middle of the day. I can’t always do it but even if I could carve out 15 minutes at lunch time to have a stroll outside I know it will be beneficial
  3. Ensure we do an outdoor family activity every weekend. It might just be in our garden – but with warm/waterproof clothes it should always be possible
  4. Plan for a start cosy knitting and crochet projects. There is nothing better than snuggling up under a homemade blanket as your are working on it.

I’ve said it so many times – but I am blessed to have a yarny hobby and it is a real benefit to me in the winter months. I know I have lots of friends that want to learn to crochet. So this weekend I am running a ‘Giveaway’ of my book How to Crochet over on my Instagram account. If you follow, like and tag a friend you will be entered into the draw.

I still love and enjoy all the projects in that book and there a many patterns that I use and give as gifts every year.

What are you top tips for staying Winter Happy? I would love to know.

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I feel like I say this every year. If you are a crafter around the time of the new Autumn school term, your mind turns to Christmas. I know it’s way too early. But the benefit of darker nights is more time curled up on the sofa with either your hook or needles. Plus it does take time to make those handcrafted gifts.

It is a strange thing, I often do my most festive work around July. A totally topsy-turvy time. In the last few years I have designed a make-a-long for Knitting and Crochet Magazine: A stocking advent calendar one year and then last year I designed some Christmas Tree decorations along the theme of the 12 days of Christmas. They were a lot of fun.

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This year I have set my own little challenge. I wanted to create a collection of my own toy patterns that I would style and sell independently. It seems like a crazy idea for a time-poor creative…but then if not, now when?

I have really enjoyed sending off my kits to new customers and it has been fun to connect to people from across the world. I started off with the downloadbale patterns for my baby animals. Then I began adding signed copies of my books. Last week I added a range of 5 watercolour postcards of my Cute Crocheted Animals. I love these images and I hope you will too.

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Finally, in time for your festive making I have added a pattern and kit of a stripy Christmas stocking. I have very good memories of peeking at my Christmas stocking in the early hours of the morning. The best times were when you could see a new cuddly toy peeking out the top. It got me thinking…why not design a bespoke stocking that fits my new designs.

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So there you are. Who wouldn’t want one of these cute friends greeting you on Christmas morning? If you pop over to the Etsy shop you can see, that you can download all the patterns, or order them as a kit. If you buy the two together it does make sense as there is a bit of discount on the combined price. Tell me what you think about the kits and the designs.

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If you order this weekend I am adding a special gift for blog readers. If you enter EVBlog in the message whey you order I will send you a free set of the Cute Crocheted Animals Postcards as a ‘thank you’ pressie.

I am so glad that we can share this little adventure together – if you do make any of the patterns please do share your images. It delights your heart to see your makes.

Happy weekend!

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I was chatting with my husband only this week and we were talking about ‘the balance of life’- no small talk there. I was sort of being a bit apologetic that along with the day-job I have other looming deadlines.

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Luckily we are both fairly comfortable with the juggling of work/life/passions in our family life.

‘The way I see it – knitting/crochet is a bit like you breathing…you need it to survive’. He said it not in a dramatic way, but quiet and understated and I don’t think he is far wrong.

Survival

I seriously don’t think there is day that goes by when I don’t pick up the hook or the needle. At the end of a busy work day – the slow meditative stitching is important to process. The stitches smooth my thoughts back in order. Long journeys are made useful and even joyful with a yarn project. I will admit in this strange isolating times, I yearn for a long train journey. The more I am under pressure, the more important my creativity. I don’t really care what people think – if you know me well and we meet at a social occasion I might get out the wool – but I am always very much present – I can hear you – nothing is lost.

Solace

At the saddest or most challenging times in my life, I have NEEDED craft. Something quiet, distracting and ordered. My hands are very practiced at the repetitive rhythms – so no concentration is required… but something good is happening. I have come along-side a number of friends who are grieving or perhaps facing some difficult health or work issue. Sometimes I feel helpless to make any positive difference but I am thrilled to teach them to knit or crochet. The craft is a gift that must be shared not just for what it produces but how it can heal and soothe.

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Solution

Most of my making is prompted by one of two things. Either finding a practical solution…. ‘Wouldn’t it be helpful to have another potholder…?’ or ‘that beanie hat is looking a bit worse for wear…’ Make-do-and-mend is a great reason to knit and crochet. Oh the satisfaction of solving a practical problem by making the solution yourself.

Sharing

My design work is really about fun. There may be a new yarn or a new colour combination that has sparked an idea. The best bit of designing is that rush…the magnetic pull to start swatching. I don’t know if it has ever been claimed that crochet is and adrenaline fueled sport – but this bit – the race from idea to first stitches definitely pumps the endorphins. Funnily enough I have some memories where I can look at a design and remember where I was and what it was that inspired the idea. Once I am happy with the final product I’m really keen to share it with you. I love writing the books because they give me an opportunity to share the tips and tricks I have learnt along the way. Sharing our craft is a huge motivator for me and when I see one of my designs on social media or even better in the flesh…well that is an incredible thrill.

…to say I love you…

There a very few adults I will make for now. The pain of re-gifting is the ultimate craft betrayal. Too many re-gifting incidents can break the heart of a crafter. Better to send a bunch of flowers or buy a bottle and let your heart remain in tact.

Without a shadow of a doubt the very best people to make for are children. When you make a toy for a child and they grab it, kiss it, hug it and then name it….that my friends is the jackpot. That is woolly gold.

Children understand the currency of craft-gifting. If you receive a beautifully crayoned portrait of yourself drawn by a four year old, you know you have made it. Perhaps being a bit of a child at heart is why I make a lot of toys. Many of them have to be kept for photographs, some go on book tours, but my favourite are those who are created for a special person. Recently I was sent a video of one of my godson’s playing with a fluffy cloud I had made for him. The joy in his face, the passionate kisses he gave the cloud, the peel of giggles. I’m an old hand – but oh my the tears might have welled up a little.

I turned my phone round to show my husband the little film…’there you go darling…that’s the reason why….’

My blog has been nominated for the Love Crafts Crafties Award – If you enjoy my blog and would be happy to, I would love it if you would vote for it here: Vote

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Finally after many many weeks I have finished my Vintage ‘V’ Stitch Blanket. Right at the beginning of this blanket journey, I had grand plans to crochet a row of pretty ‘V’ stitches for every day of the Covid Pandemic. As is natural and normal it didn’t quite work to that plan. Some days I would crochet 10 rows – those would be lazy Sundays. Some weeks I didn’t manage a line at all.

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As in my previous post – the idea was to represent each day and then create blocks of 7 lines of colour seperated by a line of cream to create weeks.

In all I have worked 16 blocks (weeks). The overall blanket is about 200cm long and 160cm wide. It is large and heavy and generously covers a single bed. In actual fact it mostly covers a Super-King size bed.

To finish off the whole blanket I worked a linen stitch edge. This is a nice and simple edging and doesn’t add extra fussiness to what is a rather bright and clashing palette.

My intention has always been to honour the scrap blankets of the war-time era. A make-do-and-mend aesthetic. Grab what I had in my stash and work it into the design. But let’s be honest. There was a little order. I didn’t repeat a colour within a one-week block. By adding in the regular cream lines there is a subtle regularity to the design.

Nearing the end of a big project like this – there is a strange conflict. I was keen to get to the edge, try out how it would look. At the same time there is a sadness of saying goodbye to an old friend. Certainly I was very cosy under the mass of yarn as I finally finished off the design.

emma-varnam-v-stitch-blanket

The ‘V’ Stitch Blanket will now be our cosy blanket of choice for our bed during the Autumn and Winter months. That is if our son doesn’t adopt it in the meantime… there is a real possibility of that happening.

If you want to make your own version – please do use your stash of yarn. The majority of yarn I used was Stylecraft Special dk from my stash – to give you a list here are the colours: Cream, Dandelion, Mustard, Copper, Silver, Bottle, Apple, Duckegg, Petrol, French Navy, Lapis, Cloud Blue, Boysenberry, Bright Pink, Powder Pink, Bright Pink, Lipstick, Claret, Candy Floss.

You will need:

Lots of yarn of the same thickness (weight). I have used Double Knit yarn.

4mm crochet hook for the main pattern.

(If you have it, a 5mm crochet hook for the foundation chain)

Some small sharp scissors.

A tapestry need with large enough hole (eye) to thread yarn through.

Pattern

Using A and 5mm hook, chain 187

Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook, dc in each ch to end, turn. 186 sts.

Row 2: Using 4mm hook, 3ch, miss dc at base of ch, miss 1dc, (2tr, 1ch, 2tr) in next st, *miss 2dc, (2tr, 1ch, 2tr) rep from * to last 3sts,  miss 2dc, 1tr in last st, turn. (63 V clusters).

Change to yarn B.

Row 3: 3ch, *(2tr, 1ch, 2tr) in next ch sp, rep from * to end, 1tr in top of 3rd ch, turn. (63 V clusters).

Row 3 forms the pattern. Change the yarn colour every row. Weave in the ends as you go with your tapestry needle. Work until your blanket measures 180cm. The width will be approximately 160cm dependent on your tension.

V-stitch-pattern-emma-varnam

Edging

I crocheted 10 rows of linen stitch for the edging. I did an initial row of double crochet around the edge. Making 5 dc stitches for every two rows. Use a 5mm hook and this will avoid some puckering of the edge. Here is a basic stitch pattern for linen stitch. My advice is to work (1dc, 2ch, 1dc) into each corner.

If you start making a Vintage ‘V’ Blanket please do share your images over on the Facebook page or tag me in via Instagram. I would love to see them. Remember to really get the Vintage look the more colour clashes the better. In my blanket I have made every 8th row a cream row. But you could substitute this with a muted grey or even black which brings a little bit of neutral colour order to the overall look. Happy Making!

Abbreviations: st=stitch, sts – stitches, ch- chain, dc = double crochet (UK)/single crochet (US),
tr = treble crochet (UK)/double crochet (US), sp – space.

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