autumncolour14Last weekend I felt the need to blow the cobwebs away. Big and Little B had adventure plans and were kind enough to let me step out into the countryside and have a few hours to myself. I went to a local National Trust house and decided to take a walk  in the garden. Wow, if I was looking for colour inspiration it was there in abundance! I really enjoy the late summer colour combinations. I think it was the eminent gardener Christopher Lloyd and his garden Greater Dixter which made riotous colour combinations fashionable/acceptable again. It is the later blooms of summer and the changing colour of foliage that make these colour schemes sing.


This weekend I met two of my oldest friends in London…we had a fab time and one of the outstanding experiences was viewing the fabulous poppies at the Tower of London. This astonishing installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red marks one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. If you get a chance to see this wonderful mark of remembrance I would certainly recommend it.

I am constantly reminded that creativity and art has the power to communicate so succinctly ideas or feelings that are so hard to articulate. We were blown away by the sight. You can actually purchase one of these poppies and it raises money for the armed forces charities. What a wonderful creative idea. Colour – inspirational, soothing and evocative.



I’ve said it before… I know I will say it again. If you are keen to make homemade gifts for the house, crochet is the perfect yarn craft. Knitting has a softness and subtly that is perfect for the cosiest jumpers and hats. If you are using knitting for toys and cushions you need to know that you might get a bit of stretch.

The double crochet stitch (or single crochet in the US) is so strong and robust that it is my choice for household items. In the last few weeks I realised that I had finally got the majority of the doorstop designs back in the house. So I collected them together from their various door homes to photograph them together.


There is only one design I have never written up as a pattern. This house doorstop was created as a commission for a wedding present. When I come to think of it, all these doorstop patterns have been developed from my keyrings.


There are a couple more of these designs in my head, I just need the time to sit down and make them. Sometimes I am tempted to give the doorstops away. But if I am honest there is quite a bit of detail in each one and the thought of doing a duplicate is a bit onerous. I just need to come up with another fifteen designs and I have a ready made book….or not!



Sometimes my design work takes me out of the seasons, for example I have been doing ‘Spring’ work in the last few weeks. Oh yes, we are so over Christmas here! This mismatch of time means that I frequently forget to enjoy the ‘now’ of the season we are in. These photos are from across the summer. They omit some of the designs I can’t share with you yet. But when I think about this summer I was really inspired by the book Outdoor Living by Selina Lake.


We were really fortunate to have some landscaping work done on our garden. Work that I have dreamed about for the last five years. I knew in my heart that I wanted to celebrate the end of summer by having a few friends over to enjoy the garden.


I took inspiration from Selina’s book at the beginning of the summer and made a comfy den for Little B, this is our full English brekkie photo in the den.  When all the work was finished in the garden we made a picnic space at the bottom of the garden.


The blankets I had made throughout Summer 14 adorned our cosy space. I even decorated our garden gate with pom-poms and ribbon. Very festive. When I think back at this summer I will remember plenty of adventures and new garden beginnings with a little crochet thrown in.

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Most of my designs are inspired by a friend or a member of my family. My latest new free pattern was inspired by a good friend of mine who is a rock/pop/rapping star. Not all men can rock a cowl but if any man can – Lindz  can. I was browsing Black Sheep Wools and found a ball of Rico Fashion Pixel DK which has wonderful neon flecks.


I thought how amazing this would look in ultraviolet stage lighting. Obviously when you are jumping around a stage you don’t want a heavy woollen cowl round you neck, but I liked the idea that even in the evening after a performance this cosy cowl would help with the winding down and relaxing. I wonder if you give someone a gift which seem a bit left field this is actually human yarn bombing! I am not sure he will ever wear it – but away from the music scene and back in the yarn world this is a super little design which is perfect for the autumn weather.


So there you go – there is the inspiration.


Black Sheep Wools have now published this pattern for you for free and we have worked it up in Sirdar Smiley Stripes DK. I love the way this has turned ou! The patterning is beautiful and the yarn is really silky and easy to crochet. If you fancy making the pattern it is available here for you to download


frame31f0d3c7be469abc2020ff1af799082d589bd3d3I know I always force you to look a little ahead of the seasons – sorry about that but when we are talking knitting or crochet patterns we all need a bit of seasonal warning. Today has felt just a wee bit autumnal over here in good ol’ Blighty. My mind has been on new school terms, scarves and hats. I was reminded of the pumpkin hat I knitted for Little B when he was a baby. I then passed this jolly bonnet onto my nephew and it has brought huge joy to all who have seen it.

So as a quick reminder I thought I would point out that I have two pumpkin free patterns on the blog. The every popular pumpkin pincushion or table decoration. You can download that pattern here.


This is my crochet version of pumpkin hat.


I just love these tendrils – they make this hat and look hilarious on a sprinting toddler. You can download the pattern here


Finally my pumpkin teacosy is available in GMC’s Teacozies 4 book. A great fun autumn pattern worth taking a peek at if you see it in your local yarn shop or available to purchase here or here.


If you have any great pumpkin makes do share you photos with me – pop over to the facebook page and we can share our autumnal makes.


LGC64-EVDoes it seem a bit early for Christmas makes? No! Let’s Get Crafting issue 64 is out and it is a corker! if you are a maker who doesn’t normally buy magazines with the yarn included do check out the the Ravelry page. I am always very impressed with the design standard in these magazines. There is always some thing fun to make. Here is my design for this issue. Cute little stockings for the tree – both for knitters and crocheters. Lots of fun


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roma1You know I love Debbie Bliss – I have loved her yarns for as long as I can remember. Now I know her, my admiration has grown – not diminished. Let me just put it out there.


So I am not entirely unbiased when I approach her work and yarn. But my lovely friends at Black Sheep Wools asked me to review the new snuggly yarn by Debbie, Roma. I think they were sneaky with their colour choice. Obviously I was going to love it, Hot Pink! This 100g ball is wool heaven – 70% wool and 30% Alpaca, it demands to be put to the cheek test. In my estimation, if you need to restrain yourself from placing a ball of yarn on your cheek to check its softness, then you are on to a winner.


There are plenty of great new patterns that accompany this yarn launch. The chunky texture and fresh colour choices ensure that the styles are very ‘on-trend’. First on my knitting ‘to-do’ list is this wonderful Waterfall Cardigan. This is my perfect Sunday morning comfort cardi. I might make this is the classic Duck Egg or Rose, but should be more me go with the Hot Pink.


Obviously this cowl pattern appealed to me. If you are keen to buy a novice knitter the perfect present why not purchase the pattern book, and the correct needles and yarn quantity to make this cowl. They will thank you forever.


Ahead of the launch I had just one ball to try. Few people experiment with Super Chunky yarns for crochet – but why not? I used a 10mm hook and started my own cowl pattern. I loved it! So fast, so soft and when I purchase my second ball I will have a gorgeous vibrant super soft statement accessory which will take me right into the cold weather.

If you visit the Black Sheep Wools website you can view the patterns available for this season here. Or if you want to look at the colour range they are available here.

Roma is a wonderful addition to Debbie’s yarns and I just need to order those extra balls now.


budgarden5I love my garden – there are some big improvements this year and I really want to spend more time outdoors pottering around in the patch. I have tried to resist making large plant purchases, I know in my head that you should plan and plot where your structural plants should go and then ‘in-fill’ with your crowd pleasing blooms. Like I say, I know in my head….but my heart….


In the past few years I have had the the pleasure of discovering a local garden centre. My beacon of all things cool, the Fashionista put me on to it. Bud is a petite gem, tucked away off a busy artery road in our fair city. But one small step inside and I am transported into a beautiful haven of greenery. Little B is also a fan. He has a whole imaginary world that he visits up and down the paths of plants. We both enjoy a small detour to Bud on our way home from the school run.


I love this small space because the plants are always healthy and inspiring. However the real attraction for me is the friendly welcome and advice we receive when we visit. I sort of feel proud that we have this shop in our community. Funny thing really!


When all our construction work was finished I wanted to fill up the patio pots to take us through to autumn. We bought these gorgeous Echinacea Pow Wow daisies. They are so cheery. The daisies just keep coming and they are in my favourite colour.


I had a funny thought that came to me the other day when watering them. I realised that they are in my favourite shade of pink and of all the balls of wool in my enormous yarn stash this is the colour that dominates. Then I remembered Brenda and Bud and it occurred to me that very soon the autumn chill would begin. So inspired by our lovely daisies I made Brenda a ‘Pow-Wow’ hat. I made it in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend Fin, using my go-to hat pattern (Soon to be published for Babies!).



It was very easy to replicate the daisy it self with a crochet flower and just in case Brenda doesn’t want to wear the daisy everyday I have made it detachable.

While it is very easy and cheap to buy plants from large garden centres – Nothing is more pleasurable than building a relationship with a local company, who know so much about what grows well in our climate. I really hope Brenda feels warm and appreciated this autumn.



You know what? I am now struggling to close my scarf draw. My obsession with making natty cowls to brighten up an outfit has made that little space heave under the strain. Ah well. I am not sure I will stop, I just need to give more away. My recent creation uses a variegated yarn from Debbie Bliss, Rialto Dk print in Verona.  I spotted it on a recent trip to Blacksheep wools and knew exactly what I wanted to make.  I used two balls to create this small cowl using the very ‘on-trend’ V stitch. Although you are using just a few treble stitches the overall look is a funky zig-zag. Great!


This stitch is everywhere at the moment and if you are thinking of making a similar item Emma Escott in Inside Crochet issue. If anyone is interested I could write this stitch count up for you to make this cowl.

NEWS – I have written up this pattern and you can download it for free here

A cowl of this size is perfect for autumn. The variegated yarn brings colour and interest to a plain jumper or jacket, but you don’t have to do any complicated colour changes. I have a plain sloppy navy jumper which I will team with this woolly creation. Ready for the chillier mornings. Tell me what your must have autumn warmers are – or perhaps pop by the Facebook page – Emma Varnam Designs




In the last few years I have noticed a significant thing – generosity is always repaid and often many times over. On this little blog site I like to share with you books, designers and websites whose work I admire. If I get to meet those people in person and they are lovely friendly people I am always very keen to promote their work. People don’t pay me to be nice about their products or shops, and I have the luxury of just promoting the people who have given me really great experiences or customer service.

Blacksheep Wools is a website and a shop I discovered in the Spring. I enjoyed their shop. Their customer service is brilliant. All of the ladies and gents I have met at their yarn barn are lovely people. Since then I have got to know Sara and Steve and learnt about their great family business. If you have met them at one of the Knitting and Stitching shows you will know how much fun they both are and how knowledgeable they are about yarn.  Behind the scenes I have also met the gorgeous Lesley and Amy who keep you up to date with all the news and offers. They really are fabulous generous people.

Due to my own shopping experience I have been happy to promote this shop and website. This weekend totally out of the blue they have run a Bank Holiday competition where you can win my books and lots of yarn and accessories to get you started on the projects. Brilliant! I knew nothing about it and it is the best surprise ever. So get yourself over to their website to win.

Thank you Blacksheep wools x