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!

little-river-blanket-scheepyers

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.

little-river-blanket-scheepyerslittle-river-blanket-scheepyers

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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.

dappersocks-emmavanam

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.

dappersocks-emmavanam

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

dappersocks-emmavanam

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.

dappersocks-emmavanam

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.

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

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.

bunny-egg-cosy-emma-varnamchick-egg-cosy-emma-varnam

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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fashion-fast-february

So I have survived two months now. Not buying new clothes. No compulsive quick fix. I have avoided the sneaky supermarket purchase. I have not even made an absent minded online purchase. If I am honest, I am rather surprised. Seriously. You might have thought that basic boredom might have got the better of me.

Like I mentioned before, I do know these first winter months are going to be the easiest. Black and navy, the base colours of my everyday outfits are very much in use. When the weather and the days brighten and new colours start appearing in the shops, the struggle will be real.

Every month I learn something new. This month it has been the joy of clothes with a purpose. The Februray half term is a week we love to go away as a family and do some serious walking in the Lake District. I love this week, it is a marker in our calender that I look forward to. It is a time to be outdoors as a family and look at the big, wide vistas.

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Nice Packing

I also don’t mind packing for this holiday. It is so simple. We need nothing glamourous – just basic practical outdoor clothes. Whether I wear cheap t-shirts or even my more expensive technical gear I have finally learnt to buy just one colour. Black is the name of the game and colour and fun is added in the accessories. This means everything is interchangeable and I can go proper crazy with the hat and scarf making. The simplicity of the choice is gradually demonstrating to me the benefit of a capsule wardrobe. Finally this has been achieved in my outdoor activity clothes. However I now wonder if this might now filter through as a principal to the rest of the wardrobe throughout this year.

With Spring/Summer catalogues popping through the door, the temptation is rising. By the end of March we will be one quarter of the way through the year. No-one will be more surprised than me if I stick to my resolution by the end of this month.

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stylecraft-head-over-heels

So if you regularly read my blog your will know that sock knitting is really only a recent interest of mine. I found ways to increase the speed of my knitting and the new colours and yarns have made the idea much more appealing. Well what I haven’t been able to tell you is that back in the Summer I got a chance to do a bit of sock yarn designing with my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars.

stylecraft-head-over-heelsThanks to Phil from The Twisted Yarn for the photo

Given the inspiration of David Hockney’s work we were asked to pick some shades of Stylecraft Special DK and these would be used as a foundation of a sock yarn. All our colour choices were worked up anonymously and Stylecraft have spun 8 colour choices in stripes and 8 in melange wide stripes.  Now there is a competition which you can vote for from today until March 31st 2018.

Thanks to Phil from The Twisted Yarn for the photo

Choose your favourite in each category and 6 lucky voters will win a complete set of the new yarns when they launch! Just follow the link below to vote! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6TXBFJ6

More than that, the top 3 colour mixes in each category will be added to our range in the autumn. So you have the power to decide! If you know me well you might be able to guess my colour choice. But I am not very sure that it will win. There are some many fabulous colour mixes and I really can’t decide which one I will vote for in the melange range. You might have dreamed as I have of creating your own yarn colours. But what this experience taught me is that it is far harder than you might think. Creating the right combination of colours and stripe depth is actually very difficult. Perhaps it is best left up to the professionals

The winning colours will be announced on the 19th April, when you will also get to find out which Blogstars have triumphed! Even though I am a slow sock knitter I promise I will knit some socks from my own colourway if it gets chosen. At my current rate they might be ready for Christmas.

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miter-squre-blanket-emma-varnam

Over the Christmas break I really did just knit. By this I mean when I sat down and did something crafty I did not touch my crochet hook. There was not a design or commission in sight. Instead I felt the need to work my way through the ‘stash’. Work slowly and determinedly on a project that really had no future apart from joining my ever-growing blanket collection. I also wanted to make a knitted companion to the Vintage crochet blanket which is in my new book – Granny Square Home. Why should the crocheters have all the shabby chic fun?

A couple of years ago Memory Blankets or Mood Blankets were all the rage. Many great bloggers used the year to knit or crochet a square a day which would either capture their mood or mark a memory. At the time, I admired these projects but had other commitments. However I do really like the look of a knitted mitered square so began working through my yarn stash to create a knitted blanket. If you are wondering how it works – you either cast on, or pick up a number of stitches along two sides of a square and then decrease the central stitches every other row to create a square. It is a simple and relaxing pattern. If you are keen to follow the pattern yourself I would suggest looking at this post on Ravelry.

miter-squre-blanket-emma-varnam

My squares are quite small but I am being rather ambitious in scale. I am aiming to make it approximately 50 x 60 inches which is the standard single bed side. My progress was going well until new commissions and designs came into the schedule. Now my lovely soft blanket is looking a bit sad in a basket upstairs. However I am going to be kind to myself and see it as a year long project. If you are interested to know what the yarn is – I am using the squiggy Stylecraft Special DK and have chosed, Duck Egg, Cream, Matador, Pistachio and Fondant. I am using 4mm needles and finding a short circular needle really helpful.

miter-squre-blanket-emma-varnam

The telling thing is – as a crocheter – making a knitted blanket takes SO SO SO much longer…. If the colour combination wasn’t so pretty I might be tempted to give up. But no, my friends I will persist. This is after all a long game and I will love the end result.

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arne-carlos-sock-knitting

Confession time; I am not much of a sock knitter. What is the obsession? Perhaps I am too precious about my knitting to contemplate the wear and tear rubbing away at my handiwork. Before sock yarns were developed and got all creative, I believed that my socks would be all baggy and uncomfortable. Anyway I had plenty designs/commissions and woolly adventures that I had no need to turn my head to the sock world.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

Well in the Autumn my friends at Black Sheep Wools invited me to join the Arne and Carlos Sock workshop. They were teaching how to make socks from the toe up using their easy Norwegian pattern. Both chaps are great value and enormously entertaining. I was happy to get involved.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

I was lucky enough to sit in between my bloggy friends, Lynne Rowe and sock maker extraordinaire, Christine aka Winwick Mum. We were very happy to chat and make together. Although Lynne and I found it incomprehensible that Christine would join any sock workshop – she is an expert in her own right.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

Mini-sock

Our task all day was to make a little mini-sock, using all the techniques you would need to make an adult version. I wrestled rather ineptly with my four double pointed needs. Others turned to their tried and trusted ‘magic loop’ technique. We giggled, shared stories and caught up whilst the needles clattered away. You will know from my previous blog posts, I love Arne and Carlos. They are great fun to learn from and I think their ‘toe-up’ method of sock knitting makes utter sense if you are trying to get your sock to fit your foot without taking many measurements.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

In the afternoon I made a start on my first full size sock and I was impressed with how quickly the work grew. By the end of the next day I had finished my sock 1. B adopted it immediately and declared it very cosy. Good news. That was in November, Christmas was looming and the sock yarn and the needles were set aside. Weeks past.

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The second sock

Well my friends I am not comfortable with many languishing WIP’s, that does not make me very happy. So last week I was determined to finish my next sock. After a little bit of research, I made a decision to invest in a small circular needle. What a boon! The knitting grew like topsy. I was delighted. So the pair are completed and lie abandoned on the floor of a boy’s bedroom.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

I believe that the short circular needle is my way forward. But I also think I need to invest in Christine’s book Super Socks. Christine is so enthusiastic and has a passion to teach people how to make your own sock is infectious. I need to expand my technical knowledge. I have in my mind the idea of making my Dad a pair. He is a great believer in the benefits of a bed sock. However he is super stylish and not a man who would wear a crazy variegated tone, in bed or out and about.

arne-carlos-sock-knitting

If any of you have some good suggestions of a sock yarn that would suit a dapper chap, please do point me in the right direction.

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