outdoor, living, pom-pom, inspiration, garden

I have chosen my four top books that will inspire your outdoor living and creativity as we edge into an Indian Summer. I always find that September can be one of the best months to enjoy entertaining in the garden. Even though the holidays have to come to the end, weekends and evenings are still deliciously sunny.

Firstly lets look at crochet. I simply love this book Granny Squares by Sue Pinner. Sue is one of the Stylecraft Blogstars and her Carousel CAL is going to be a huge favourite. Her colour combinations in this book are fresh and vibrant.

outdoor, living, crochet, inspiration, garden, sue pinner

There are a fine range of projects. Her jam-jar tealight cover is very similar to the one I made last year for our garden. If I can in the next week, I will be making some more. I do really like there blanket patterns in this book and there are a few that I would put on my must-do list.

If you are on instagram I would certainly recommend following Sue’s account. She shows you the pretty designs she has in progress. It is also worth mentioning that this book is up for an award in the Knitting and Stitching Awards 2016. A top recommendation for your crochet book library.

Secondly please do pick up a copy of Ruby and Custard’s Crochet by Millie Masterton. This is such a pretty, pretty book. There are so many designs I which I had thought of myself – so there you go – you couldn’t get a more ringing endorsement. Top of my list for an outdoor party or play are the princess tiaras and the pirate play-set.

outdoor, living, crochet, inspiration, garden,

I know some gorgeous little people who would love to romp around the garden with these little accessories. The Flower Hexagon Blanket is another favourite design. I would also point you to some great Christmas decorations at the back of the book which will make superb gifts. For a little bit of instant inspiration I would suggest popping over to Millie’s Blog, which is very very pretty – Ruby and Custard.

Next on my list is the gorgeous Happy Home Outside by Rice DK founder Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau. I have followed and loved Rice products for a very long time. The aesthetic is bright and colourful and chimes very much with my heart.

ricedk, outdoor, living, crochet, inspiration, garden,

The book does include plenty of products by the Danish company, but also has many ingenious ideas for creating fun and funky outdoor spaces for entertaining. There are a number of great recipes which I will be trying this September. This is a ‘Happy’ book which I keep permanently by my bed and helps me dream of long days spent in joy and laughter with friends.

Finally, my absolute key recommendation is Outdoor Living by Selina Lake. I have already blogged about this book a number of times, but it couldn’t be left off my list as it has been so influential in our garden over the past two years. There is a joyful spirit to all of Selina’s work and something quintessentially English about this book. She mixes flowers, with blankets, with rugs, with bunting and vintage crockery to create delightful scenes. Suddenly you feel inspired to throw a party. I have always been so glad I bought this book. It helped me convert my brain to seeing the garden is not just a green space but an extension of our home.

selina-lake, outdoor, living, crochet, inspiration, garden,

With all these books the links will enable you to view and buy. But I am also an avid Library user and my top tip is to check if your local Library stock the book. Then reserve and borrow to see if I want to make a later purchase.

Finally if you are look at some additional inspiration – go to the fabulous blog by Alexandra Campbell. She has done a wonderful post on great ideas for garden parties.

Top Books to inspire outdoor living

The Emma Varnam blog is a participant in the Amazon Associates LLC, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk


Emma Varnam, stylecraft, blogstars, tote

I was very fortunate to be chosen to join the auspicious company of the Stylecraft Blogstars. I know many of you will use Stylecraft’s fabulous yarn for your projects and if you pop over to their website you can see the full range of yarn celebrities who have joined this happy group.

Just when we planned to have our little family escape to Barcelona, the lovely people at Stylecraft invited me to join the other bloggers for a preview weekend over in West  Yorkshire. Can you imagine how I was gutted to miss meeting the other members of the gropu? There are twelve of us in all and nine of the blogstars were able to visit Stylecraft’s mill.

blogstars, stylecraft, portrait photo

Here is a lovely picture of them: Katherine of Crafternoon Treats : Sandra of Cherry Heart : Heather of The Patchwork Heart : Julia of Hand Knitted Things : Phil of The Twisted Yarn : Helen of The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty : Lucy from  Attic 24 : Sarah of Annaboo’s House : Sue of Susan Pinner Yarn Art.

Like me, Jane Crowfoot and Angela of Get Knotted Yarn Craft. were not able to be there.

You can also read more about each of the Blogstars here.


A couple of weeks later I was able to revisit the mill at Slaithwaite. It is an impressive sight. You might remember I visited once before. I loved seeing how the yarn was spun – so inspiring.

stylecraft, autumn, winter, inspirattion, mood, board

Well I got the chance to look at what will be appearing in the shops for the Autumn Winter and learning what the inspiration was for the collection. I have long been an admirer of Amanda Crawford and it was lovely to have a personal tour of the collection with Amanda and Anna from Stylecraft.

sue pinner, carousel, CAL, stylecraft, batik

There are so many yarns and patterns to tempt you. Firstly I must mention the fabulous Carousel Crochet Along by Sue Pinner. If you enjoy a crochet challenge you will love this pattern. It is stunning.

batik, yarn, stylecraftbatik, yarn, stylecraft

I saw the lovely Batik yarn, which is going to be very, popular. I have a pattern plan for my sample Batik yarn and I will share that with you soon.


I was also very taken with this poncho design in the fabulous Carnival. I have already cast on and I am enjoying a little bit of a knitting distraction.


Finally the Stylecraft chunky yarn will be perfect for my quick knit gifts, presents for my closest friends at Christmas. I know this pattern and this yarn will be homemade festive combination.

I know how fortunate I am to be included in this fabulous group of knitting and crochet bloggers. As a celebration this weekend I have another giveaway – I have two prizes to give away to readers of the blog – £10 each of vouchers for Stylecraft yarn to be redeemed in any ‘bricks-and-mortar’ yarn shop, a handy project bag and a sample ball of new Autumn/Winter 16 yarn. Leave me a comment below with your email address telling me what your favourite gift pattern is and I will choose two winners at random on Monday morning.

Have a great weekend x

This giveaway competition has now closed and the random generator got 3 and 14 – So congratulations to Anna and Babs. The gifts will be in the post!



I am excited to tell you that I will guest blogging on the great hobby website – Creative Rox. Starting right at the beginning of how to crochet, I will be sharing a new photo tutorial each month.

Pop over to the blog site today and have a peek at my first project for absolute beginners.


pretty, mandala, zig-zag, edging, crochet now, magazine, emma, varnam

This week I wanted to give you a mid-week sneaky peek at a new crochet mandala design I have done for Crochet Now Magazine. Issue 5 has a fine little booklet of mandala designs from lots of different designers. My own contribution was intended to a pretty alternative, plain and simple but with a sweet zig-zag edging.

The magazine is wanting to encourage crocheters to talk about how craft and crochet has helped them with their own mental health. They are encouraging us to make a mandala and then swap it with another reader. In the package you can include a small note to talk about your crochet story. Details about how to get involved are on the Crochet Now website and it is well worth searching out the magazine to see the great patterns inside.




little, crochet, bag, evening, free, pattern, holiday

If you need just a free little holiday project then this small bag is just the thing. I designed it with summer evenings in mind. Essentially it is just large enough to fit all your key items for a quick trip out without having to take the kitchen sink.

This pattern is free currently and uses one of my favourite basic crochet stitches; granite stitch. I have gone with a stone coloured yarn in Sirdar Cotton DK with accents in a gold. This project would work well as a small birthday gift for a little girl, using pinks and purples.  If you do think of making this – please do share on the Facebook page. I would love to see.


uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

Recently I have been reviving my love of calligraphy. It has been a little quiet ‘behind the scenes’ pursuit. I like that calligraphy and handwriting has reinvented itself and beautiful sign writing is appearing everywhere from weddings venues to shop windows. My local indi-retailers have revived their seasonal window displays by using glass marker pens to create beautiful illustrations.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

I have long since had a yearning to have a quick go myself. Well the lovely people at Uni-ball sent me some of their Posca Pens to try. Whilst you can draw on most surfaces using these pens including; ceramic, metal, wood. I chose to draw my design on glass.

My husband has been working away on the other side of the world, and both Little B and I wanted to create some special welcome home gifts. I thought it might be fun to decorate a plain glass vase with a special message. I had bought some pretty and cheerful flowers and set about creating a message of the surface of the vase.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

Firstly I created a simple leaf design along the edge of the vase. It was deeply satisfying to see how opaque the paint was on the surface. Surprisingly there was no nasty odour.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

I then tried to create two lines along the base. These turned out far too wiggly so I abandoned that idea. It was really very easy to remove the paint using a baby-wipe. I did this immediately before the paint dried. Once the paint does dry then removing the paint does require elbow grease but is easy enough to do with some soaking.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

Next I wrote my message on the glass free-hand. This was not the best bit of writing ever, but as a bonus when one coat is dry you can neaten up your letters with additional strokes.

Finally I added a few little flower decorations. I found it best to layer up each colour once each application had dried. It was such a fun and joyful project to do and took a mere 20 minutes.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

The final vase looks quite enchanting and adds a very personal touch to the ‘Welcome Home’ bouquet. I have plans to use the pens again in the next few weeks. If we are not careful, everything could get covered in illustrations or writing.

Uni-ball have offered to give two packs of pens away to my readers. If you either leave a comment here or on the Emma Varnam Designs Facebook page I will pick a winner from each – entries will close on Monday 8th Aug 16 at 6am.


Little B found the pens enormously enjoyable and loved using them to draw with. He made a special airport-collection sign for his Dad, which was such a sweet idea. He was rather pleased to think he was trialling these pens for Uni-ball and was happy to give them a huge credit on his sign. Cute.

uni-posca, paint, pen, glass, calligraphy

The post has been produced in collaboration with Uni-ball UK

random number

Congratulations to Claire – she was picked at random to win a set of pens – hope you like them x


Modern, blanket, crochet, debbie bliss, graphic, rialto DK

Today I am providing you with a little mid-week sneaky peek at the design process behind my new modern graphic crochet blanket for Debbie Bliss. Triangles, zig-zags and diamonds are at the core of interior style at the moment.

Since the resurgence of mid-century furniture design and a new love of the retro style of the 60’s and 70’s, graphic patterns have dominated in the high street.

I have been dwelling on how I might create a lap blanket which would suit my friends modern living room.

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

I got hold of some Debbie Bliss Rialto DK and started playing with triangle combinations and how the colours could contrast and pop. A blanket of squares, means that a project is nicely split up into sections and this double crochet pattern is ideal for a relative beginner.

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

Joining the squares I thought about the different options available to me. Some design rules say you should never edge anything in black; it kills the colour. However I was quite certain that to capture the spirit of this style, a graphic black line would fit. Have a look at the work of Mondrain, he wasn’t afraid of a black line.


modern blanket, crochet, Debbie Bliss, triangles, graphic,

I had a lot of fun arranging and re-arranging the squares to get a pattern I liked. As you can see – this is not a glamourous or hi-tech process. If my colour choices don’t suit your colour scheme, why not pick out the dominant colours in your living room or nursery and play around with some felt tips to design your own version. I hope you like the finished blanket, it is certainly one of my favourite designs.

Just to amuse you – this is the photograph which appears on my camera during the design process – I think I might have been getting a little monochrome influence from Stanley and his penguin friends.

cat, monochrome, penguins


cupcake, crochet, doortstop, nursery,

We all need something sweet to start the week and today you will be able to find my popular Crochet Cupcake Doorstop pattern available on the LoveCrochet website. One of my most loved homeware patterns and still a very popular theme for nurseries and toddler bedrooms.

See what you think and do post some photos her or at the Emma Varnam Designs facebook page if you make your own.


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


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.