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I forgot to show you this when I wrote my last blog post. The lovely people at Go Customized sent me my very own mobile phone case. It is designed using a photo I took of my Little River cushion cover. I have been looking for a case for a while. In the office it is easy to mix up a myriad of similar phones. But with a granny square motif, no-one will pick up my phone by mistake!

I chose a wooden case to have as my design base. I really like the texture. However if I designed another I might have a go with the transparent case. Either way the process was brilliantly easy and my case arrived so quickly. You just upload the image when you have chosen the make and model of your phone. What arrives is your own bespoke design. I could see that it could be a little addictive. I was fortunate that Go Customized sent my case for free but at around 20 quid it would make a really personalized birthday or anniversary present. I am now thinking about what image I might choose next.

 

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emma-varnam-little-river-cushion-scheppjers-stonewashed

Do you know why I taught myself to crochet? The odds and ends of yarn. The ever increasing yarn stash. Inspired by the post-war thifty chic, I saw that you could something really quite beautiful from all the clashing colours of crochet. It is a journey of learning and self-improvement I have never regretted. But the stash has never really got any smaller. Actually I think it might have increased. Darn.

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The first pattern

With my recent Little River Blanket that I designed for Black Sheep Wools, I really tried to use up as much of the 25g ball of wool as I could. However, mindful of the need to leave a little bit of yarn to ensure everyone’s crochet tension was catered for, I left just a little bit of each colour. What to do?

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So I made some quick and easy solid granny squares. This is a traditional pattern. You can find it almost in any crochet stitch dictionary. A basic two round square.  I put together eight rows of eight columns and alternated each colour square with a square of Scheepjers Stonewashed Moonstone.

It was quick and easy to make. If you would like to make the squares yourself, feel free to follow the pattern below.

The basic pattern

BASIC SQUARE

Using your chosen yarn with 3.5mm hook, work 4ch and join with a sl st to form a ring.

Round 1:  5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 3tr into ring, *2ch, 3tr; rep from * once, 2tr, sl st into 3rd ch at the beg of round. (4tr clusters). Do not fasten off.

Round 2: Sl st into ch sp, 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr in same ch sp, 1tr in next 3str,  *(2tr, 3ch, 2tr) into next 3ch sp, 1tr into next 3tr, rep from * twice, 1tr into next 3ch sp, join with a sl st into 3rd of 5ch.

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Some Help

I know this standard patterns very well, but if you feel you need to follow a pattern why not look at the fabulous book by Emma Lamb; Crochet Home. I attached each square as I made it. This a very satisfying technique and a cushion cover is a great way to practice before you embark on a blanket. My top advice would be to look at the Youtube tutorial of Sandra Cherryheart. Her tutorials are brilliant and very clear. I tacked the crochet onto an old very plain cushion cover and that means that there is a nice uniformed backing behind the crochet.

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Now my cushion has pride of place in our kitchen, but I realise that not everyone has a shabby-chic aesthetic. I find that crochet look particularly good in the garden around this time. Cushions and blankets in a myriad of colours bring comfort and individuality to the outdoor space.

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You know what? I am rather thrilled with this last minute odds and ends make. My advice: don’t get hung up on the colour arrangement – let yourself have a bit of fun with a really random pattern. It is easy to overlook the left-overs, but isn’t the magic of craft taking something that would normally be thrown away and creating something beautiful and useful?

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Ready for the weekend I have a lovely little treat for you. For many years I have followed blogger and crocheter – Lazy Daisy Jones – also known as Ashley. She has built a really successful blogging and intagram following. In my year of the fashion fast I have found her style post particularly inspiring and I thought it would be great to get some advice and wisdom from Ashley for fashionable dressing as a ‘midster’ but also as a blogger.

Ashley, I avidly follow your Instagram account and indeed take time out to follow your blog posts. You came to my attention for your crochet and crafting but now I really look forward to seeing your posts on fashion and beauty. How has your blog evolved since you began in 2013?

Emma, thank you for having me on your lovely blog! Did you know you are one of my Crochet Heroes?

My blog Lazy Daisy Jones has evolved with my life. No one stays the same forever. As our families grow up and we grow older our tastes change.

My son was 11 when I started blogging, he is 16 now so I Have far more time for myself and my other interests.

I have always written about crafts and home restoration projects and I realised that my blog was rapidly turning into a lifestyle blog, not just a crochet and sewing blog. I decided to go with the flow and share what I was wearing and using on my skin. It was scary at first, and I was worried that my readers would think ‘who does she think she is at her age?’  ( I’m 54)

However, gradually my confidence increased and I found other women of my age were enjoying and actually reading what I was sharing.

Your photographs are always very beautiful. I am very envious of your confidence with your fashion posts. What would your top tip be for great images?

Thank you, it has been a steep learning curve. Trial and error would be the best way to explain it.

Luckily I have some wonderful blogger friends who advised me on photographing outfits.

My partner takes all the pics and I shout instructions to him! My top tips would be:

a. Always use a tripod this stops camera blur/shake.

b. Get out and about, find some pretty locations.

c. Enjoy yourself, smile, smile smile!

 

You know that this year I am having a fashion fast – basically not buying a new clothes. But I am always on the lookout for something new. I find your fashion posts particularly inspiring. How has your style changed over the last few years?

That is an interesting question! I have always loved colour and clever details. However, I don’t think my style has changed, I think my confidence has. I now know what suits me and my body shape. Confidence plays such a huge part in personal style. I think if you feel good in what you are wearing, than you will look good too.

I feel that I might be in a bit of fashion transition. Having been an avid buyer of clothes – I have taken a fashion fast this year (not buying any new items)…help! What would be your top tips for fashion conscious style… for a woman for any age?

Emma I think you have done the right thing, by taking a break and probably reviewing where you want to be style wise.

The first thing I would say is empty your wardrobe onto your bed and only put back the things you love and wear a lot. Even if you end up with a wardrobe full of jeans and t-shirts, you will have your answer?

My advice would be, wear what you love and dress for your lifestyle.

I live in jeans and there is nothing wrong with that! I change things up with my shoes and tops. Mules and a frilly blouse one day. Knitwear and brogues the next!

I love Hello fashion monthly its only £1 and has wonderful tips and fashion trend info. Buy it with your next weekly shop?

You were recently featured in Woman and Home Magazine as one of the top influencers – how did that come about?

When I started writing about fashion and my style and posting pics on my Instagram account Lazy Daisy Jones, I lost a lot of followers. I don’t think my crochet fans wanted to see it at that point.

So on a whim I started a new style account Daisy Jones Style, and just posted fashion images. Somehow that got noticed very early on. It snowballed from there and I started working with Brands and Pr companies. Woman and Home Magazine champion the older woman so that was probably how they found me. A proud moment for me!

As a blogger myself I notice that you have taken your blog to another level. You work with many companies in collaboration and have an diverse range of content? It looks like a full time job to create that level of excellence. What advice would you give someone wanting to break into that level of blogging?

You are right I started full time blogging this year!

Make no mistake, blogging takes hard work, I work on my blog everyday and try to post at least 3 times a week.

In my opinion publishing good content is very important. I try to mix it up a lot by writing about my home as well as fashion, beauty and crochet.

My top tip is just to get it out there on a regular basis and teach yourself about SEO (search engine optimization) Also find yourself a professional looking template and make it your own. Be unique don’t do what everyone else is doing!

Now let’s talk about crochet – do you get any time to with the hook anymore? If so what new trends do you see on the horizon?

I still adore crochet, but I must admit I get less time with my crochet hooks these days. I now use crochet as a form of relaxation, I crochet in the evenings whilst watching the TV unless I have a blog deadline to finish.

I am still loving the chunky crochet trend whilst amigurumi is still a favourite and always will be. I loved your latest book too. At the moment I am hooking up a very simple blanket. 

I’m a huge fan of tassel’s and I see that the trend is still going places!

 

Do you have a big dream?

I am constantly amazed at the opportunities my little blog has brought me. Travel, working with amazing brands and of course the friends I have made along the way.

My dream would be for it to continue as I feel very lucky to be in this position.

I am so grateful to you Ashley for sharing your wisdom and being such an inspiration – Thank you so much x

If you would like to follow Ashley, then read her fabulous blog: Lazy Daisy Jones

On Twitter LazyDaisyJones

On Instagram LazyDaisyJones

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I know that being able to create and write books is a huge privilege. It really is a dream come true. You have and idea, you jot down some potential projects and then….then the reality hits you, it’s kind of a responsibility. Oh my, will I be able to think of enough ideas? It is then, in the middle of the night…the wee small hours that the projects come to you. When I was putting together a list of project for Granny Square Weekend, you might be surprised to know that some projects actually didn’t make the final cut. We had too many.

granny-squares-weekend-emma-varnam  granny-squares-weekend-emma-varnam

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With this book I wanted to make, recreate and write down all those staple patterns I use on a regular basis. This is like exposing my secret stash of go-to makes which I use regularly for gifts and ‘thank-you’ pressies.

Favourite Projects

I’m going to be honest; I have three versions of the Boho bag which is on the front cover. These get used constantly in the summer. I have about 4 version of the sunglasses case; (mostly because I have a small sunglasses obsession). The is a different coloured version of the headband in every outdoor coat I own.

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If you follow this blog regularly you will know how many cowl scarves I own and wear regularly. You will also know that I have long championed the concept of the ‘lazy-edged’ blanket.

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Perhaps I have revealed too much, but this book really is like opening up the crochet part of my head and emptying out all my crafty wisdom. If you love patterns I think you will be pleased, but don’t just flip through to the instructions. One of the joys of working with my glorious editor, Wendy is that she allows my voice to come through in the text. There are lots of my top tips and tricks embedded in the chapters.

I really do hope you like this book. I so love the way it looks and the fact I have been able to capture all my favourite projects for you.

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Giveaway

This weekend I am running an exclusive ‘GIVEAWAY’ from now until 6am on Monday 23rd April 18. Please leave a comment below telling me what your favourite crochet project is then you will be entered into a giveaway for one lucky person to receive a signed copy of the book. Congratulations Kate – you were the number which I randomly picked out. Thank you all so much for leaving your lovely comments. I adored reading them so much.

Thanks

Emma x

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I am so excited this week. My new book Granny Squares Weekend is published. I am so thrilled with this book because it contains many of the projects that I love to make for myself and now I can provide them for you to recreate for yourself. Advance warning – I will be running a book give-away to blog readers! Stay tuned….

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little-river-blanket-scheepyers

I am so excited to share with you a new design and colour combination for a lap blanket. Over the years I have loved working on Granny Ripple Blankets. Their zig-zag pattern are so relaxing to work. When I saw a box of the beautiful Scheepyers Riverwashed and Stonewashed yarn I knew those little 10g balls would make a fabulous make. Are these not the most scrummy colours? When I finished mine, I just fancy making another!

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Black Sheep Wools

I have designed a pattern and colour pack exclusively for Black Sheep Wools. In the pack you get the pattern, a gorgeous box of the 50 mini balls of Stonewashed and Riverwashed colours and you need 3 x 50g balls of Stonewashed in Moonstone. I used a 3.5mm hook for my blanket. If you like working from a schematic drawing you will be pleased to know that I have added one to this pattern.

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I do hope you like it and if you do make a ‘Little River Blanket’ will you send me a photo through the Facebook Page or via Instagram. I would love to see it.

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Dapper Socks

31/03/2018 · 3 comments

in Knitting

dappersocks-emmavanam

So in my last sock update I said that I wanted to find a sock yarn which wasn’t so much, wacky but rather dapper. Elegant socks, unassuming socks might seem a bit boring to knit. Colour and jazzy patterns really do get the needles clicking. However I must admit I have often thought that I would find it difficult to wear many of the sock yarn colours to work.

I was on a mission to find a colourway that would be acceptable to elegant gentleman. Fortunately the German company, Regia, have designed some understated but stylish patterned sock yarn.

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Colourway

They colourway I bought was Fall in their Pairfect 4 ply sock range. These colours have been chosen by Scandi heroes, Arne and Carlos. I do really like this yarn as it has the ingenious ‘Easy Start’ system. There is a contrasting yellow line which you use as a marker at the start of each sock and allows you to knit two identical striped socks from one ball of yarn.

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If you look at the knitting the stitch looks very fine, 4 ply does seem very thin but for comfortable everyday socks 4 ply is ideal. It is worth looking at the video tutorials by Arne and Carlos to see how the yarn works. It hasn’t taken me two long to knit both socks.

I said to you before I couldn’t quite ‘get the point’ of knitting socks. But my friend Christine who is a sock guru explained to me that socks are the ideal ‘in your pocket project’. I must say I have kept my socks in my handbag and every time I have been sat waiting for B, either in the carpark or during an after-school class I can do a few rows.

Fancy Heel Stitch

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This time I used Christine’s Winwick Mum 4ply sock tutorial to ensure I learnt how to do a short row shaping heel technique. I also went a bit jazzy and chose ‘Eye of Partridge’ as the pattern for the heel flap – FANCY!

My speed and boredom has been greatly helped by using lovely short 25mm circular needles. It makes my knitting so much faster. Christine has said that if you are going to wear your socks, there is really no need to block your socks. She is right ofcourse. However I am going to give this pair as a gift and I think they look really nice when they are blocked.

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Instead of buying expensive sock blocking shapes I made my own by cutting out the shape from some stiff plastic. Once all the ends were weaved in I thoroughly dampened the sock. The sock is then placed over the sock shape and then let it dry.

Crazy woman that I am, I now fancy designing my own pattern. I like the idea of seeing if I can make a pair of weekend socks for myself.

I would really comment Winwick Mum’s blog. She is the Queen of tutorials and I have been checking in with her guidance as I have gone along.

If you have enjoyed this blog and the blog in general it would be great if you could nominate this blog and my books for the Knitting and Crochet Awards here

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30/03/2018 · 1 comment

in Uncategorized

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Wow it seems to come round fast – but the nominations are open once again for British Knitting and Crochet Awards. Why not nominate your favourties…favourite crochet blogger for instance or indeed crochet book published this year. Obviously don’t be compelled or anything – but quick hint below if you are stuck for ideas. Go here to vote http://www.letsknit.co.uk/awards/

Granny Sqaure Home - Book- crochet- Emma - Varnam

Granny Sqaure Home - Book- crochet- Emma - VarnamGranny Sqaure Home - Book- crochet- Emma - Varnam

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I frequently forget that over the years I have made loads of crochet patterns which are great for Easter. There are a number of patterns which are perfect for a non-chocolatey gift on this very blog. You are welcome. But also don’t forget that my books also have some cute bunny makes.

Emily-Cute Crochet Animals-Emma-Varnam

Why not make either Emily or Jack Rabbit from Cute Crocheted Animals. I made a version of Emily in DK weight yarn last year. She comes up slightly larger and I just used the same weight yarn for her cardigan. If you feel adventurous you can sew a fabric skirt as a pretty alternative.

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Cute-Crocheted-Animals-British-Knitting-Crochet-Awards-2017

What about making my starter egg cosies.? This bunny and chick duo are a great beginner project for anyone starting to learn how to crochet in a spiral. I think they make a great gift idea for children at Easter. So from now until Easter 2018 you can download these PDF’s for free. Please subscribe to my news letter as it is great to keep in touch.

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So you can down load you patterns here:

Fluffy Bunny Egg Cosy       Cheeky Chick Egg Cosy

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You can see that I evolved this egg cosy into my Bunny baby toy for my book How to Crochet. If you have a copy of the book it is worth revisiting this pattern for a lovely table gift for young friends on Easter Sunday. An idea might also be to hide him in your garden for a little bunny hunt.

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Finally, I do get lots of likes for this little free pattern, designed many many years ago. He is rather sweet and is the perfect size for little baby hands. This is another free pattern on the blog. I hope I am giving you enough time to make a few cheeky spring gifts. Oh how I love this time of year! If you have an idea for a pattern you would like me to create I would love to hear.

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