modern, debbie bliss, triangle, blanket, mid-century, rialto DK

My latest design for Debbie Bliss is this thoroughly Modern Graphic Crochet Blanket. Released as part of the Autumn/Winter 16 range, this blanket design has all the pattern appeal of mid-century modern interiors.

Often people think that crochet is just about the vintage Granny Squares. Whilst we all love that look, new interior fashion is looking to the styles of 50’s and 60’s. If this is your vibe then I know you are going to love this pattern. Plus how cute is this dog in the photo below? Best model ever!

modern, debbie bliss, triangle, blanket, mid-century, rialto DK

If you are a relative beginner in crochet, this is going to be perfect for you. Each square works from one corner to another. You increase to create a triangle in one colour, then swap your yarns and decrease in a second colour.

There are 35 squares in total and I used a colour combination of White, Mauve, Camel, Grey, Oyster, Indigo, joining and edging it all in Black. The yarn I used is the scrumptious Rialto DK with a 4mm hook.

modern, debbie bliss, triangle, blanket, mid-century, rialto DK

Some of the best designs are deceptively simple and easy to complete. If you have never found a crochet blanket which has matched you modern style living room or your stylish nursery, this could be the design for you. You can look at the new Autumn range on the Designer Yarns website and the patterns will soon be available in the shops. I hope to have some to give away very soon, so stay posted.

Next week I will show your some of the behind the scenes development stages of this design – I loved making it so much it just ran off the hook. Tell me what you think and if you start the blanket I would love to see the colour combinations you make.

modern, debbie bliss, triangle, blanket, mid-century, rialto DK

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Crochet Campervan Doorstop PatternThe Crochet Campervan Doorstop pattern has been my most popular pattern. Originally designed as a gift for an dear friend, this pattern proves to be an ideal gift for campervan fans.

A real campervan is quite an expense and so making this fun doorstop in crochet proves to be quite a handy alternative.  Campervan, Crochet, pattern, emma varnam

Over the years I have spotted many different versions of this pattern. The paintwork colour and the decoration changes. In my pattern I prefer to use sections of felt appliqué to create the window and license plate detail. But you could always crochet small rectangles for the windows and features if your prefer. The pattern is actually quite easy to do and really the key to making a successful cute vehicle will be spending time on the details.

I also like using a wide range of materials and have always used buttons within my work. I bought my wheel buttons in my local market, but if you are stuck why not try this link as an alternative.

Campervan, Crochet, pattern, emma varnam

I must say that over the years I have been asked to re-publish this pattern on average about twice a week. Finally I have got my act together and created my own down-loadable version which you can now purchase from the LoveCrochet – Campervan Crochet pattern website.

Campervan, Crochet, pattern, emma varnam

If you make your own version of the pattern please do send a picture or even post your photo on the Emma Varnam Designs Facebook page. I would love to see it.

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campervan, crochet, doorstop, vwI have a little teaser for you – get ready for the weekend. For all those crochet fans who have loved and wanted my most popular pattern.

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Finding inspiration for your crochet projects is easier than it seems. Why not use your holiday travels to spot colour combinations you might never have thought about. On our recent weekend trip to Barcelona I found inspiration amongst the fabulous mosaics of Parc Guell.

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I had a very specific commission in mind. My boy, my baby boy; Little B is growing up. He now stands next to me, eying me up – seeing how far it is, how long it will be before his gorgeous auburn head over takes mine. Not long I think, a year, maybe eighteen months. Since before he was born I have made him blankets. A knitted red heart blanket, a rather dreadful odds and end blanket for outdoor play and his most beloved ugly blanket. Recently he has diplomatically alerted to me that all of his blankets are: ‘how can I say it? Rather small…’ He has a point.

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The time has come to create a blanket for a ‘big boy’. The size of a single bed. I asked him what colours he would prefer and without missing a beat he said blue. Well it was fortunate that we were visiting the utterly glorious Barcelona that weekend. To my shame I have never visited before, but oh, what a city. There is to much to see, so much inspiration around every corner, however you cannot be surprised to learn that we adored Parc Guell, the utterly beautiful Gaudi park creation.

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The shapes of the architecture, the intricacies of the mosaic and the overall planting have been an inspiration to many. It seemed obvious to use the striking mosaic as a theme for Little B’s new blanket. So simple – so striking.

I have found using our holiday and high-days a brilliant discipline to stimulate new creativity. I am glad that we were able to visit this amazing city as a family. Hopefully B will treasure this blanket and even as a tall teenager remember this hot city adventure and the wonderful architecture he saw for the first time in the summer of 2016.

Where in the world have you been inspired by colour? Is there one colour that you associate with a special place? If so why not leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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Blencathra1

Have you ever glamped? – You know glamourous camping. No me neither. I have camped – as a family we are quite partial of a fair-weather camping trip. No, that is not correct. I insist that it must be nice weather for camping – my boys on the other hand are not fussed about the weather at all. I have also camped in a ‘hard-core’ sort of way, but do require some kind of award at the end of it. It should include words like ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ within the title.

Both of my boys, big and small like to be outdoors and not including camping in our holiday options is beginning to seem a bit cruel. I found an excellent compromise and made the suggestion of glamping. We didn’t want to go far and were happy to visit our beloved Lake District.

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We had a wonderful few days sleeping in our very own cosy shepherd’s hut. (I was living the Country Living dream). We had a beautiful kitchen/living area, which had the most amazing wood-burning fire. The bathroom also had a wood-burner for cosiness and worryingly the shower had better pressure than we enjoy at home. it was such a magical outdoor time. We were off-line, off-gadgets and on-adventure, on-reading. Bliss.

Of course one of the advantages of crochet is that you can make your own warmth as you work. I have been given a pack of beautiful Stylecraft Special Aran to test-drive. I chose some utterly romantic shades which chime beautifully with the subtle outdoor colours of the Lake District. The greens reminiscent of the hills and trees that surrounded our camp. Dusty blues remind me of our dear shepherd’s hut and a blush pink the tone of foxgloves and campion which decorate the hedgerow.

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I started my blanket using a favourite ‘V’ stitch design and I will be writing up this simple pattern for Stylecraft fans as part of a blogtour. Back at home the funniest thing is that the colours not only remind me of our glamping trip, but the pervading smell of evening woodsmoke wafts its way up to my nose. A delight for the senses and the memory; visual, tactile and fragrant. The perfect souvenir.

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zingfestivalshawl1

I am a lover of colour – bright joyful colour. I would love to be sophisticated about my colour choice, but my skin tone, my tastes, perhaps even my upbringing means that I am a primary tone girl. There are some colours I am constantly attracted to, pink, red, blue. Others like green, orange, purple I find more difficult to work with. But you know recently I have been challenged and inspired by the bright and cheerful tones of younger crochet designers. I love the joie de vivre of crocheters Frank and Olive and the pure sense of fun of Potter and Bloom. They are doing something fresh and innovative with our craft and I find the colour combinations inspiring.

zingfestivalshawl

Having set myself a mini-challenge of crocheting projects which were inspired by the colour of our holiday, I purposefully took some zingy colours with me to Mallorca. Being in sunnier climbs makes sense of brighter and clearer colours – turquoise and pink seem ‘just right’ in the sun. I wanted to make a fourth and final shawl for a good friend. She too is a woman of colour, she brings a party wherever she goes. She is bright, serious, hilarious, insightful and just too talented. I wanted to make her a shawl that reflected the zing she brings to the lives of the many people she knows.

When I finished the shawl, I knew that this garment needed an extra bit of zing-swing. So I added three colourful tassels, all trimmed with a contrasting wrap. I was giddy with how much I loved this gift. This shawl was designed to bring a smile, to be worn with the confidence of youth and put a little swing into the step. A-ring-a-ding-zing!

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pinkbunny

During our Mallorca holiday I was still very much in a shawl and toy making groove. I packed my first grey Lyme Bay shawl to wear in the early mornings and took a pink shawl I was mid-way plus some additional balls of yarn to potentially start and third.

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I have to admit that a benefit of getting a bit older is that I don’t need as much sleep. How I love to wake before the rest of the family, sneak downstairs, make a cup of strong coffee and sit happily in the waking sun with my crochet and my thoughts. Blissful holiday times.

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I am glad I chose to bring these soft pinks with me on holiday. They seemed to chime beautifully with the warm tones of the Mallorcan stone. The pink shawl used an aran weight yarn and is deeply snuggly. The chunkier texture required a plainer edging and I fell back upon my favourite shell for a pretty finish.

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Once that project was finished I moved on to making a new little bunny toy. Still inspired by blush pink and cream I began making a new little version of the all-in-one pink bunny toy. Now I may take an unusually large amount of craft gear with me on holiday but I still manage to refrain from packing polyester stuffing. Once all the limbs were made, I had a floppy forlorn pelt which had to wait until we returned home before I could add the finishing touches. So there your are a pink cosy shawl and Little Cecily Bunny – rather pretty in pink.

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mallorca16.3As crochet is a relaxing hobby for me, then it is logical that I want to enjoy many crochet hours during our family holidays. In the next few weeks I want to share with you a range of projects that I have planned and completed in my downtime. If you have a favourite go-to vacation project then please do leave a comment and I might add it to my endless list of things I must make.

I take my holiday packing quite seriously. I like to prep well in advance. I like to pack the suitcase in a freakishly efficient manner, (that is the inner curator within me, with memories of packing objects in the stores). I have come to the conclusion far too late in life that holiday clothes are much easier if you base all your outfits around one main colour. All of this attention to detail has one purpose, finding more suitcase space for yarn. This year I took a huge bundle of yarn on holiday and it still was not enough.

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When I don’t have a commission to complete, I aim to reflect the colours and the vibe of where we are going on holiday. Our main family holiday has been a return trip to the beautiful island of Mallorca. I wanted to make something light and easy to make on the beach so I packed a ball of Manos Del Uruguay, Marina from Rooster Yarns. This shade is Denim, isn’t this the most beautiful colour? It was perfect for sitting on the sand, watching my boys in the sea and happily relaxing in the shade. I started making a number of swatches to see how this lace weight would work.

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One evening I was sat under a metallic sunshade above the patio, and thought – ‘Wow that pattern is just like the granny square grid I am crocheting!’. The great part of being away from home is that the colours, the light and the inspiration is very different to the things you in your normal life. The extremes of the sun in Mallorca make the contrast of light and shade so dramatic. A change really is as good as a rest when new inspiration is needed. If you are looking for a beautiful lace weight yarn and indeed a compact holiday yarn companion I would certainly suggest looking  at the Manos Del Uruguay range.

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Tomorrow I tell you about the next holiday project that came off the hook.

 

 

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cca1

I am just a little bit excited to reveal the front cover of my new book – Cute Crocheted Animals. I have been working on this project since last summer, and it is wonderful to share with you the result of my secret hooking. In the next few weeks I’ll post more images from the book to give you a taster.

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hooks8Following my last blog post on hooks ‘Notes to a Novice Knotter’, I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick peruse of available hooks. My friends at LoveCrochet provided me with a selection hooks to trial.

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You might have guessed my go-to hook is the Clover Soft Touch hook. It is a distinctive gold colour and has a plastic handle with a small soft indent section for my thumb. The hook and metal shaft has a smooth matt covering which really helps with speed and accuracy. The tapering of the shaft and the depth of the hook makes all the difference and now this make suits my style. However, I like to think I am open minded and always want to test ride new hooks on the market.

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Next up is the Addi Bamboo hook. Now when I knit I always like to use a bamboo knitting needles as they don’t agitate my hands. This bamboo hook is smooth and very high quality and it you would prefer to use wood or bamboo I would suggest this make.

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Next up, the fabulous looking Addi Swing Ergonomic Crochet Hook. The handle has been specially designed to fit your palm. Actually the handle felt a bit heavy for the way I hold the hook, which is the knife hold. However if you hold your hook like a pen then I think this hook would be be ideal. You can choose the colours you would want for the handle and I think if you are beginning to get hand or wrist pain from your crochet it would be worth giving this hook a whirl.

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Finally, if I was ever going to be disloyal to my golden hook it might be with the Clover Amour Aluminium Crochet Hook. The thumb indent is in the same place, but the soft rubber covers the whole handle. I am used to the feel of a flat handle in my palm, so this feel slightly different. The real issue that I think you need to assess is whether the yarn slides effortlessly off the hook. With all the these hooks, the action is far more sophisticated and indeed faster than a basic metal hook, it is just a point of preference.

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You can have a look at the selection available via the links, but thanks to LoveCrochet I have a set of four hooks to give away. Please leave a comment about your favourite hook below and I will randomly choose a winner on Friday 1st July – Hooks Away!

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