beach, hut, doorstop, pattern

I have a new pattern pick me up for you this Monday. Why not make your own crochet souvenir of sandy summer holidays and create a Beach Hut doorstop. This pattern will bring the fun and the sun into your house whatever the season.

beach, hut, crochet, doorstop, pattern

The base

The pattern is actually quite simple. The sides and base are worked in one piece. The ends are straight, but a roof is achieved by decreasing the gable to a point. I designed an attached roof as it allowed me to create a texture using a spike stitch.

Decoration

The decoration is created by either making small bunting triangle and using felt shapes to appliqué onto the crochet base. My suggestion would be to use any DK cotton you have in your stash to create decoration and detail so you don’t have to buy brand new balls of yarn.

beach, hut, doorstop, crochet, patternAt the base

Whenever I create a doorstop I always ensure that I create a little weight in the base by placing a bag of rice or lentils in the bottom of the shape and then fill the rest of the doorstop with stuffing. This will ensure your doorstop will keep its shape and do its job properly.

After many years this popular pattern is now available for purchase on the LoveCrochet website. It is a great project for a beginner who is wanting to take on more decorative work. I do hope you like it and please do post your photos if you make one.

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jack, rabbit, cute, crocheted, animalsMy new book Cute Crocheted Animals will be published in a matter of days. I am so very excited. I wanted to give you a little background to why I designed the patterns and wrote the book.

My childhood memories

I have very distinct childhood memories of sitting in my own imaginary world playing with my toys. I was very fond of one particular pretty rag doll,  happy dress her for bed, settle her in a small wooden toy cot and smooth her woolen hair as I imagined her drifting off to sleep. The play-acting of the nurturing role is universal I think. An added joy is to choose and dress toys – creatively putting different combinations of clothes, shoes and accessories together.

All of these moments of play and flights of fantasy are such a precious part of a carefree childhood. It occurred too me that it would be delightful to create animal characters that could be dressed, loved and cuddled for a new generation.

Design development

Over the years I have designs and developed lots of different animal patterns and I really enjoy making rabbits. I was commissioned to make a lovely bunny for Inside Crochet Magazine and that bunny was dressed a a pretty Liberty print dress. Over time I kept thinking it would be great to develop a whole wardrobe of clothes for a bunny. I also wanted to develop my pattern design to make the toy easier to dress.

I started talking to my publishers at GMC, and we began thinking about different animals I could create and the kind of outfits I could design. It was lots of fun and soon little characters began to emerge. I drew the animals and their outfits first and then I had conversations and email discussions with my precious editor Wendy. The outfits are intended to have a quintessentially English style. Children I know should recognise and like the clothes which their animal will wear.

That must be me!

Each animal in the book has a character of its own. A couple of weeks ago I visited my oldest friends and their children. I had taken a copy of the book with me to see what they thought. I sat quietly in an adjoining room listening to their conversation; ‘That cat is definitely me, listen to the description – that is me!’ ‘Well we all know I am the fox… I love her cardigan…’. Such precious sounds. A happy smile spread across my face as the imagination of young people was sparked. W

hen you make things with you loved ones in mind then, nothing is more satisfying then to hear them participate and enjoy the journey with you and get the joy of creating small toys which have a character of their own. If you get to see the book, even if you can’t crochet – I hope you will see and read the humour within it. Some of it is my own crazy imagination, lots of it is due to the fabulous creativity of my editor Wendy and designer Rachel, who captured the joy of the project too.

I hope you will like it and will be able to think of someone you could make an toy for.

 

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yarn, shop, ifil, barcelona, spainHolidays often mean getting away from it all, but for a avid yarn fan you might find more time to indulge your hobby. This year, we have been fortunate to have lots of short holidays with masses of variation. I have made an effort to visit local yarn stores; to enjoy the cultural differences, to be nosy and pick up the odd woolly souvenir.

yarn, shop, pollenca, mallorca

Mallorca – Fils i pedacos – Pollenca

We have been to the north of Mallorca so many times. Whenever we visit, it is a ‘must’ for us to shop in the gorgeous market town of Pollenca. However in all our years of visiting we have never stumbled upon a yarn shop. This year, needs must. I had run out of yarn for a project and a quick Internet search happily found us Fils i pedacos in the center of the old town.

Away from the bustling heat, the interior was cool and quiet. I was unprepared for the size of this shop. There were many tall book cases filled with yarn and at the back of the shop was a sizeable project table, ideal for a stitching group or sewing class.

yarn, shop, pollenca, mallorca

Brits are very used to browsing in a yarn shop. Unless pushed for time, we will go in, spend happy minutes cruising up and down the shelves looking and wool and cotton, then latterly flicking through the pattern book to look for inspiration. At this stage we might marry a project to our yarn choice and look for help from an assistant. Further research told me that in Spain the tradition has been for yarn shops to have a counter system, very much like the old grocery story. You will arrive and immediately ask for the help of an assistant to find the yarn and the pattern you want to purchase.

When I arrived in the shop in Pollenca, it was obvious that the shop assistant was happy for me to browse. I quickly found the balls of DMC cotton needed for my project. The dominant yarn provider in Spain appears to be Katia, which is not so popular in Britain but some online companies like LoveKnitting hold their yarn and English translations of their patterns.

Key to my visit to the Pollenca shop was finding a 5mm hook, which I had forgotten to pack. I also picked up a lit crochet hook, which is both my most hysterical and practical holiday souvenir of the summer. Great for nighttime crochet alfresco, with none of the blinding distraction of a head-torch. The shop was such a beautiful and cool haven to visit and it was fantastic to see what patterns were popular with local knitters. I will certainly visit again.

ifil, barcelona, yarn shop

Barcelona – Ifil

Our weekend trip to Barcelona was short and sharp, but by this time I had a taste for yarn tourism. I read an excellent article on Spanish yarn shops here and discovered that after our visit to Parc Guell, it would be an easy walking adventure to find Ifil. Here we were very much off the beaten track and deep within normal life of a local.

What a stylish shop this was – modern, bright and spacious. The boys graciously bowed out and found a handy coffee shop to rest their weary feet. Inside the shop I marveled at the layout and patterns. It seems that Ifil not only sell well known brands but also have their own design range. The designs are stylishly displayed on postcards or hung on the walls. Instead of stacking the yarn vertically on bookshelves, the wool is found horizontally in a series of open ‘bins’. It reminded me very much of old record shops.

ifil, barcelona, yarn, shop, spain

I have never been more frustrated and ashamed that I cannot speak Spanish. There were so many questions I wanted to ask the assistant and I was very inspired by the ‘in-house’ designs. At one point I was sorely tempted to even buy some fabric to make a dress they had displayed, but gave myself a sensible talking to, secure in the knowledge that I would never get round to starting the project.

One of the advantages of visiting a yarn shop abroad is seeing the colour choices and the preferences of style. Ifil specifically stocks patterns which will appeal to a beginner and intermediate knitter. I was very attracted to their colour combinations of brick and aqua, gray and citrus.

loop-london, yarn, shop, islington, britain

London – Loop

Ok I know London is not abroad, but it is not local to me and when visiting our capital many Brits can also feel like a tourist at home. In June we popped down to London to visit the fabulous London Zoo and more specifically the penguins.

We had a little bit of time at the end of the day and decided to have supper in Islington. I am not sure if it was co-incidence or deliberate choice on my part – but our chosen restaurant was very near the iconic wool shop, Loop.

Compared to my Spanish discoveries, Loop is small and packed to rafters. As you enter, you know you will be some time and that at each step there will be something interesting to see. On a Saturday, the shop was busy, international visitors were seeking the advice of the many shop assistants on hand to help. I was content to scan the shelves; looking and the colours, squeezing the hanks of yarn, perusing the patterns. Here the yarn enthusiast can sate their desires. If you are a lover of the complex and the intricate, you can find a pattern and the finest yarn to create your dream.

I managed to resist buying yarn but was far too tempted by the notions. I bought unusual buttons, a pretty project bag and some kilt pins to keep my shawls in place. This is very much a yarn destination where knitters and crocheters make a pilgrimage and come away a smidgen lighter in the pocket but with a delightful souvenir of our happy capital.

If you have a favourite yarn shop which like to visit abroad, please tell me and leave a comment; it might start a whole new way of making travel plans!

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crochet, crochyay, postcard, coffee. crochet, sleep, repeat

This week the first box of crochet goodies arrived from crochet subscription company ‘Crochyay’. I have been watching how they have been developing this product and absolutely wanted to get my mits on their first box.

When the box arrived very early in the morning I quickly broke the seal and delved in. I think that if you are new to crochet this scheme would be ideal. I have several friends who I have taught to crochet very recently. The style and the humour behind the box is right up their street.

crochyay1Firstly you get all you need to make the main project – a funky plush icecream. Inside the box is pattern, yarn, hook, fillling, two great pom-pom makers and stitch markers.

I had coveted the cheeky tote bag – with a the jaunty slogan – ‘Hip, Hip, Crochyay!’ That bag will have many outings. I was also very pleased with all the added offers and introductions of crochet based designers. A was very delighted with a great postcard, which seems to sum up my crochet life.

crochyay, contents, crochet

I think if you are new to crochet and just want to have some great modern design then this is the perfect subscription gift. I will look forward to seeing what is offered in each box.

 

crochyayThis blog post was created in association with Crochyay boxes – I received my box for free but would willingly recommend the product these subscriptions boxes to any crochet enthusiast.

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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

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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.

yarnstories8

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.

stylecraft16.6

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.

stylecraft16.4

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!

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chain-stitch-bracelet1

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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