Forget-me-not top and Me-made May

It has been a while now since I made some clothes for me. When I say this – what I really mean is finishing clothes that I started knitting. Back in February you might remember I wrote a blog post about two cardigans I was making. One that was a complicated pink fairisle which was actually not that difficult, but requires concentration. Another a pretty blue cardigan, which is actually not that difficult – but I couldn’t get my head round the German short row shaping for the sleeve.

blue-cardigan-aileas-emma-varnam-forget-me-not-blue

Well after many commissions and secret designing I have finally come back to my cardigan. I have used the Aileas pattern by Isabell Kraemer. It is very very popular and if you search for it on Ravelry you will find lots of pretty version. Because I was unsure of how it would work out I chose to make my first version in an inexpensive yarn – I bought King Cole Subtle Drifter in Ice Blue. It’s got a nice cotton-ish finish with a little bit of a slub texture.

blue-cardigan-aileas-emma-varnam-forget-me-not-blue

When I bought it I was thinking about cold weather. There is something quite festive about the soft pastel shades in the dark days of winter. But it has taken me so long to finish – that it will be a good transitional piece for Spring.

blue-cardigan-aileas-emma-varnam-forget-me-not-blue

My good friend Christine from the Winwick Mum blog put me onto a great short row shaping tutorial and I was able to finish off the project. I love the ‘fake’ cable detail. Especially under the arm. Honestly I think I would make one size up if I made it again. I am not sure if this yarn will pill – so we will see. If I make a second, I will invest in a slightly more expensive yarn. But then I should really finish the pretty pink fairisle cardigan I began last year before I embark on another project.

blue-cardigan-aileas-emma-varnam-forget-me-not-blue

I thought I would also share a little crochet cotton tank that I have made for summer. When it was really hot in April I was inspired to make this little T-shirt that would go over a vest top. It didn’t take long to make and I know it will go with quite a few skirts and shorts in the summer. It will either look quite cool and be very useful, or look very frumpy and I won’t wear it that much. We will see. By the way…crocheting summer clothes is so much faster than knitting. But then you will want your cotton crochet to be light and lacy.

white-grid-crochet-top-emma-varnam

When I finished the top it go me thinking…could I make it into a lovely beach dress? Something to throw over a swimming costume? Yes probably. So this is the project currently on the hook. I am making it in black…which is not very photogenic, but when I finished it I will share a photo. My plan is to add colourful embroidery to each square, that will make it look very tropical and summery.

white-grid-crochet-top-emma-varnam

I really enjoy making my own clothes. Always these days knitted or crocheted. But I don’t have the hutzpah to make for anyone else. Today is a little bit chilly in Britain and when I go out this morning I think I will wear my new cardi. We will see how it feels. I would be fascinated to know if you crochet items of clothing for yourself in the summer? Or do you keep your garment making just to shawls and scarves?

Lovely Jubbly Cakes

When my friends at Stylecraft had an idea of running a celebration for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – a virtual Garden Party – I knew immediately what I was going to make. It had to be crochet cake! I am so delighted that all my blogging friends are collaborating together to create a festival of garden party patterns.

Amigurumi cakes were some of the very first things I made when I first learnt to crochet. The first things I made were granny squares, I then tried to get lines of double crochet straight. Not that easy. Then, very quickly the whimsical and fun makes drew me in and I began crocheting in the round. I still am.

In the early days our son, Little B…(not so little now) enjoyed playing with the creations I made. Pretend food, little monsters and of course small cuddly penguins. With those days gone I still enjoy making pretty cakes and biscuits to play with or as a table decoration.

There are two types of cupcake – a chocolate and lemon. Each can be removed from their cup-cake case. The chocolate cake has piped frosting and a strawberry decoration. The lemon drizzle cake also uses a creamy frosting and a slice of lemon.

In true British afternoon tea style I have made a few fondant fancies – these are so much fun and you will have enough yarn to make lemon, strawberry and chocolate.

Finally I have made my own Jammy biscuit – all of the delight, none of the calories. They are so easy to make and I think it might be fun to disguise a couple of these in amongst your other biscuits. All three patterns can be used as a base to make other flavours and add on your favourite toppings. Why not add beads for sprinkles or even a little bit of glitter.

The yarn I have used is Stylecraft Naturals Organic Cotton DK in: Coffee Bearn, Wood, Flax, Gypsum, Poppy, Leaf, Buttermilk, Bone and Blush. This pattern will be available to download for FREE until the end of May from my SHOP.

One lucky Stylecraft fan and their friend has the chance to win the yarn to make this project. Checkout the link to Stylecrafts Instagram account here to find out more. 

All the patterns for the Blogstars Garden Party are so pretty and there so many decorative projects you can choose from. The patterns are available throughout May and I am delighted that the next pattern is out on 20th May by my friend Helen Kurtz – you can check out her blog post here

if you do make some lovely cakes or biscuits I would love to see them and do tag me in either on Instagram or the Facebook page and I will share your beautiful makes x

Hop into Spring

peter-rabbit-emma-varnam

It must have be a certain Mr Peter Rabbit that captured my imagination as a child…but for as long as I can remember a bunny or rabbit is one of my favourite animals to draw, paint and more recently make as a toy.

I was thinking only this week, ‘how many bunny patterns have I made?’. Lots and lots and all different forms and sizes. Of course when the calendar swings round towards Easter then my making focuses on bunnies again.

emma-varnam-bunny-crochet

I thought perhaps if you were looking for a little Egg Hunt companion I would collect some of my patterns together in one post. First up is my downloadable PDF – Bobby Bunny. This is available in my shop and I have a few kits still in stock if you want me to send you all the equipment you need. I made a cute little jacket for this one and he makes a rather neat little Peter.

emma-varnam-toys-debbie-bliss-croche

You might also want to look at a lovely little pattern I designed for my friend Debbie Bliss. One of the highlights of last year was creating this little matching bunny and outfit combo. I love the long legs of these bunnies and who doesn’t want a smart pea-coat for their best long eared friend. The downloadable PDF is available on the Love Knitting website and you will be able to purchase the yarn directly from them. I always love using Debbie’s yarns it is such a pleasure to work with the classic Baby Cashmerino.

If you are looking for a larger bunny then Ruby Rabbit in my book Cute Crocheted Woodland Animals is a very cute friend. Very sweet in her dungarees, you can also make any of the other clothes in the book and they will fit her. The very tiny bunny who is a little cuddly friend for Benji Bear also features in this book.

Jack Rabbit and his friend Emily from my first Cute Crocheted Animals book will always be a classic – I love seeing so many of these bunnies across the world, all wearing their gorgeous outfits. The very best photos are ones where a bunny is firmly pinned under the arm of their young owner…off on an adventure.

But then if you are new to crochet I have two projects which will help you get started in working in the round. They also make great gifts for the Easter Table. The little bunny in my book How to Crochet is one of my go-to beginners projects for amigurumi. Really easy to make and also popular with little hands.

Finally the very first book I wrote was Crocheted Keyrings and Charms – I have been revisiting it recently and it has some cracking patterns in there. They not only make great charms for a hand bag but also little table decorations or party gifts. There is a cute bunny pattern in that book. I return to it every once in a while to use for a gift. I have a few signed copies still available in the shop.

Finally do tell me if you have a bunny or spring pattern idea you would like me to develop. As the bulbs start pushing through in the garden and the sun comes out – then the creative ideas start flowing. Its always a good time to get making.

Bags…when is 1 more too many?

How do you feel about bags? I think I have a ‘love-guilt’ relationship with them. I love them. I am attracted to them. I am always in pursuit of the perfect one, which in itself is a ridiculous crusade. There are so many options, so many uses and the prevalence of choice is really a luxury. If I never bought, was given or made a new bag…I would still have more than I need. But oh… I love them…they can be like art, they are an expression of how we feel, they hold hidden treasure…rubbish and valuables in equal measure.

In many countries a large piece of cloth or a basket will suffice for many carrying needs. A good pocket will also make a small bag redundant. As people use their phones as their wallet, I see fewer and fewer bags being used. But the crafty still need their project bag.

For crochet I have range of bags. Some bought, some made, some gifted.

At home I have two baskets, one next to the sofa, another next to the armchair. They are both static but they seem to keep the current projects or yarn that I am noodling with in place. They usually keep spare needles, wire and stuffing also.

Full disclosure – this is not the location of the ‘STASH’ that is very much hidden away…lurking in wardrobes and under beds.

I then have a number of project bags. They are different sizes and have different fastenings, pocket and handles. Event though I have quite a range – the same few get used more often than not. Firstly the pretty drawstring bag in yellow. This is ideal for small projects; socks, toys and perhaps the sleeve of a garment. Being yellow it is easy to find and it is the most useful for throwing into a handbag for travel.

I have a lovely calico bag with a leather handle. This is a post crafters bag and it is almost like a statement piece – ‘if you know you know’. It has a flat bottom and a wide opening. This seems to me to be the very essence of use-ability. It does have a rivet in the inside pocket. I think the purpose is the thread yarn through… have you ever used this? It seems like a pfaff to me and will annoyingly snag your yarn. I have never used it. Please…if you have a better understanding of how to use a yarn rivet or hole in a craft bag…you just have to tell me.

Lots and lots of you who have a knitting and crochet habit will be shouting at this blog and say; ‘YOU ARE FORGETTING THE GAUZE BAG!’. You are correct of course. Since Covid, and due to our online yarn buying habit more and more of us use the gauze bags that our yarn is packaged in to keep our projects in order. I can’t deny they are a great storage solution. You can spot the yarn straight away and keep all you yarn neatly packaged. I always use mine for my toy stuffing!

But I have two current favourite project bags. One made and the other gifted. A lovely friend, Judy from the yarn group I visit in Skipton gave me this glorious bag just before Christmas. It is just about perfect. A flat bottom for stability, long useful handles and in the prettiest blue which means I am happy to have it sitting almost permanently in the living room.

My next favourite for large project is a version of the Granny Square basket I designed for Inside Crochet Magazine. The Dorothy basket is a classic idea and so simple to make – it is ideal as a weekend project. I have lined mine with some cardboard for a stable base and put a fabric inner within for durability. A few years on this bag is still going strong and there have been a few visits to the beach and to the park to challenge its durability.

Inside Crochet have just re-released this pattern in this month’s magazine. Do seek a copy out. It is a gem. But also please do tell me about your favourite project bag and why. I always like to know and you never know I might just add to my guilty collection.

A souvenir hat and ruining perfectly good knitting

Around this time, every year I have a yearning to make a hat. Sometimes it is for me…other times it is for our son or my husband.

I am sure it is due to a number of circumstances. The February half term is a time that we take time to be outside and frequently enjoy an outdoorsy holiday. The winter knitting designs are every where and something usually catches my eye. Finally we have a number of winter birthdays in our family – making a hat seems like a quick and easy project that provides an exciting woolly accessory gift.

It does worry me that a bit like our cat Stanley, my knitted hat making is the woolly version of marking our family territory. These hat wearers belong to me!

But the hats act as souvenirs of those holidays – there are photos of each one and they mark a year, a place, a time. Each has its memories.

In previous years on this blog I have shared my favourite makes. Fairisle wonders from Juliet Bernard or Shetland Wool week. The pink and blue hats are the Diamond Hat by Juliet Bernard and the Red hat is also by Juliet – Torshavn

This year I came upon a lovely design by the gorgeous design collective Tin Can Knits. Their Snap design is great for sock yarn stash busting. By combining 3 or 4 strands of sock yarn together you can create a marled chunky weave which knits up really quickly. I planned to make 2 hats one for my hubby – another for my nephew. I enjoyed them no end. All well and good. The pom-pom was made and sewn on.

I then decided to add a little luxury… and in doing so made one hat totally unusable for their recipient. And yes my friends I should have known better.

tincanhat-emma-varnam

You see my boys…they like a fleece hat. They are intolerant of itchy wool and previous hats have to pass a very high standard of comfort.

No matter I thought… I will sew in a fleece lining. Ha Ha…..You will be delighted. It was done neatly and successfully and I even used my sewing machine. Two hats made and lined ready for our chilly break. Alas I failed to take into account that the thickness of the fleece would really reduce the circumstance of the hat…Silly silly silly girl. One hat proved so tight it was deemed unwearable and very headache enducing. Darn.

tincanhat-emma-varnam

I don’t mind telling you that this little mistake made me really rather cross with myself. I should know better. Really should.

No new hat for walking adventures. I share this with you just to admit that even though I knit a lot of things, I design a wide range of objects – I can still make the same mistakes that everyone can make.

The consolation is that as a crafty person there is a joy in the giving, but (with a glint in our eye) the real joy is in the making. With a few weeks off doing other things I will return to this pattern. Remake it again, after taking proper measurements. The hat can have a new life and there will be a new make. Although mistakes are made, nothing is unredeemable and trying again is part of the fun.

The question is do I add in the fleece or not this time?

Have you made a last minute adjustment which you wished you hadn’t? What will you never do again to your knitting or crochet?

Noodling about and the issue of what to pack

Packing for a journey has always been a bit of conundrum and at worst a tad stressful. I would adore to be one of those people who just throws 6 things into a hold-all and magics out 14 different outfits using a sarong and well chosen jewellery. ‘Oh yes, hiking in a downpour followed by a surprise cocktail party… I have just the thing!’.

I am not that person.

I have evolved into being a lighter packer and I might even suggest that I am the lightest packer in our household. There are several reasons for this:

a) Age – I think I am less hung up about what is right or wrong sartorially.

b) I chose one colour to wear when away from home.

c) I need more space for yarn.

(c) is the biggest driver for this evolution.

On our recent trip away for the half term holiday I took 2 substantial bags dedicated to knitting and crochet. ‘This is a ridiculous amount woman!’ I hear your cry.

No my friend, no! It is mostly because I need yarn variety and all spice it can throw at me. The projects I took split into three.

I took a fairisle cardigan knitting project and additional yarn. Just in case.

(Top packing tip – I photocopied the pattern instead of taking the pattern book).

I also took enough yarn to start sampling my dolly pattern – various colours and types. I had edited the colour selection but in some cases I took two balls of a colour. This also meant I needed to take toy stuffing. Also in the bag is the obligatory note book, tape measure, various sizes of tapestry needles, various sizes of crochet hooks, small scissors, buttons… Ok the full notion bag.

That’s quite a lot of stuff isn’t it? Two hobbies, knitting and crochet. This enables me to switch from one project to another as the mood takes me. Having spare yarn also enables me to start dreaming an inventing new designs. This week I had a desire to revisit old cupcake patterns (there is a reason). Oh my word. I had so much fun – new cakes kept popping in to my mind.

That is where the real rest and relaxation resides for me. Moments of whimsy and hilarity. Silly noodling about with yarn – because time and headspace allows.

For that reason alone it is worth making space in the suitcase. I am not sure how other hobbyists fare. I imagine that for embroidery, patchwork, drawing… its all fairly containable. I have known people take guitars on their holiday. Plus we all know that avid readers are delighted by the invention of the Kindle which allows that to take a full library with them on their travels. But what about more cumbersome distractions. Pottery for example…woodturning…? Well if you have any top tips or stories of sacrificial packing I would love to hear.

For my next trip away from home I am wondering if a jumpsuit and a toothbrush will suffice? Oh and a bin bag of DK yarn.

If you enjoy reading my ramblings – can you help me with a little thought – if I blog regularly would you prefer the post being uploaded at a regular time each week – and which day would suit you better – a Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning? Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated – please comment below.

Catching up

stanley-the-cat-emma-varnam

So let’s get the formalities out of the way – sorry. I have been away from this little blog for a while. Not a huge ‘I’m giving up’ amount of time, but much longer than I would have liked. The absolute ‘LAW’ of blogging is to be consistent. Blog monthly – weekly – daily if you must, but at the same time, on the same day and with regularity. Yeah… well that ship has sailed. However with all the mea culpa done and dusted – here I am.

Honestly, any absence from this little space is mostly due to busyness in other areas. Work has been…let’s say…busy. Christmas is always a time where preparations and family are a priority. But in the background I have been writing and designing my next book. I am very excited about it and I apologise in advance that I cannot do any show and tell.

stanley-the-cat-emma-varnam

With any large design project there has to be trial and error, mostly error. Some ripping back, starting again. Some walking away from a pile of abandoned yarn. The first few designs flew off hook, my theory was to design the ‘easy’ projects to get my eye in. But like an errant student the later pieces got harder and harder. Any exponent of modern ‘to-do’ list philosophy will tell you to tick of the most difficult projects first and then the rest of your list will become a dream. All well and good – hurrah for you and all that but that’s not how it works is it? Why then would we have so many books on time-keeping and to-do lists?

So like a very pedestrian and cosy suspense movie the clock clicked towards the deadline. Luckily I got all my homework in on time. There are very few people I can celebrate that milestone with. No ‘whoop whoop’ on social media here. My yarn blogging pals are happy to accept a random picture. They are very patient.

I do wonder about what our son will say in years to come…’It was rare to see my mother without yarn and hook in her hand and I do remember that most of my childhood she would thrust a cactus/rabbit/campervan in my face and say…’Look! What do you think? Do you love it?’….it was best to say ‘Yes its wonderful!’ – in the hope she would stop obscuring the telly’. Poor lad.

Almost immediately after finishing the book project list I had an urge to make a auricula. I can’t say why. I love their graphic look and I have a few plants potted up in our garden. It was a bit of design whimsy that just had to be pursued. Then back to the commissions – a rather gorgeous soft blanket which is now being blocked before the final finishing.

But when all the designing and pattern writing is completed – what then? Well I usually have some guilty WIP’s (works in progress). First a glorious fairisle cardigan in 2ply jumper weight – and then another cardigan in a soft aran. Both are for me – one dominates in its pink tones and another in light blue. These are both colours I enjoy wearing in my silver years.

stanley-the-cat-emma-varnam

I have fallen out with both these projects – we are not speaking to each other. Lets talk about the light blue aran first – the top of the sleeves have short row shaping. Using a the German method. If you are a knitter you might know what I am talking about – this is not a natural technique for me and I need to do more research to embed the process in my head. If you NOT a knitter reading this and you are thinking – wow that sounds complex… I’ll skip over that….YES YOU ARE CORRECT! AND YES… THAT’S WHY THE CARDIGAN IS ABANDONED.

We are still not speaking.

I have however picked the first project back up. This is a fairisle project using the glorious Wiola design by Kristin Wiola Odegard. It is so so pretty, but taxing for me. The knitting is pleasurable, but you need to keep you eye on the ball.

The main body flew off the needle. It is knitted in the round and will be steeked to create the cardigan. I began the sleeves, but combining the increases with the pattern really was a little challenging – plus I really do need a smaller circular needle – say 25mm. Annoyingly I packed this project for our half-term get-away and the lack of a good circular needle has made the progress frustrating.

We are friends again and my head is in the game. I determined that this garment will be completed for next autumn. Forward planning if ever there was.

stanley-the-cat-emma-varnam

I have also been designing a new toy project. If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I have been playing around with a doll design. At this stage we are in the prototype phase. I am trying out limb length, yarn weight and colour range.

My thinking so far is that this will be a downloadable pattern for the basic doll with one outfit – but then I would add clothes and accessories. If you would like to get involved and suggest items I should add, please do. The comments are always welcome.

So there you go – a few knitting projects and a crochet experiment. Now were are my circular needles…. and shhhh…I’m counting.

English Spring Garden Hexagon Blanket

spring-garnden-blanket-emma-varnam

It’s finished! Beautifully finished. Not until just now – tracking back through my photos have I realised that I started this pretty hexagon blanket in May. In my mind, it has been on the hook for much longer. You can read my previous blog post at the beginning of the project here.

I began learning to crochet to whittle down my stash of yarn…well that worked out well! Yarn continues to bulge out of wardrobes and from storage boxes. All those years ago I had in my mind that I would make endless mixed coloured blankets – not caring of the colour combination and slowly all the errant balls of wool would become fab vintage style bedcovers.

spring-garnden-blanket-emma-varnam

Ha!….lovely idea, what happens in reality is that I might start using yarn in my stash and then…oh I need another ball of cream….wouldn’t it be nice to chuck a duck-egg blue in here. The stash remains the same.

Some balls of yarn are so pretty, so expensive that they almost take up squatting rights in the stash collection. Eventually they begin to speak to me and I lose patience. I determine that really that ball needs to be used and that is how the English Spring Garden Hexagon Blanket began.

Many years ago my husband bought me a ball of sock yarn, hand-dyed by a very upmarket producer. The base is a pretty rose pink, with highlights of a shocking cerise and flecks of green, yellow and blue. I want to call it ‘Tutti Fruitti’.

spring-garnden-blanket-emma-varnam

Instead of making a pair of socks with it, which might eventually wear out, it occurred to me that it would make a really pretty centre for a granny square or hexagon. The shades reminded me of the faded pastel prettiness of an English paper piece quilt…and that is how the design evolved. If I had the time I would make a hand-stitched patchwork quilt, that is not going to happen. Instead I reached into my stash to grab all the spare balls of Stylecraft Bellissma and Bambino and set about building the first rows.

spring-garnden-blanket-emma-varnam

In essence every centre uses the pink sock yarn. The next row on is Clotted Cream Bellissima. Row 3 was a coloured Bellissima and then the final row is the cream again. The seasoned crocheter will now be shouting at the screen….’Hang on Lady! You are mixing your yarn weights!!’  – Yes my friend, yes I am… does it matter too much?…no not really. But what I will say. A word to the wise – the sock yarn is a slippery little sucker. The centre seems to easily unravel. This is an event that could make any crocheter burst into tears. I have secured the centre of each hexagon with judicious weaving in. I have taken time and care to do it. Over the past year – this blanket has been a slow burn. I have started and completed another blanket since. I knew though, that this blanket would be coverlet for the base of a bed. I knew all along that the blanket would belong to me.

spring-garnden-blanket-emma-varnam

If you were thinking of making similar,

You could use Stylecraft Head over Heels in Red Potts, or perhaps West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Pink Flamingo.

I have used Stylecraft Bellissima: Precious Posy, Sugar Snap, Denim Dungarees, Mellow Yellow.

Stylecraft Bambino: Clotted Cream, Vintage Pink, Soft Pink, Vintage Blue, Little Boy Blue, Heather and Sage,

I joined each hexagon by double crocheting the edges together and I edged the whole blanket with 4 rows of half treble.

Do I love it? Yes…

Is it soft and cosy? Yes….It makes me smile – in some ways this is blanket is probably me, yarn form, full of the hope of Spring.

Cheeky Christmas Cosie

christmas-striped-mug-cosie- emma-varnam

Are you getting in the festive mood yet? Even though I am a winter baby it does take me to mid-December before I am ready for the trees, the decorations and the carols. Designing for Christmas in the middle of summer, can mean that I need to get myself excited when the season actually comes round. However this year I feel more jolly.

I have written up a cheeky wee pattern for you which will be a quick and easy gift to make and will bring a smile to your mulled wine or Christmas cup of tea. This design means your mug can wear its own Christmas jumper. Make in the traditional candy stripes or perhaps just go for a plain design. I know you will able to customise this design yourself.

I have used some oddments of yarn left in my stash – Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick, Cream and Bottle.

christmas-striped-mug-cosie- emma-varnam

Only the basic knitting skills are required. I have popped the pattern over on my shop and it will be free download for the rest of December 2021. If you do make one please do tag me into your photos – I would love to see them. Happy Christmas!

Discovering what lies beneath

A little break in service from my normal crafty blogging – but important just the same

Who knew? Who knew that under my progressively blonder hair there were the most extraordinary brunette stripes. Regular, quirky about 1 inch from the very front of my hair line. They are so very individual. This year…no, these two years have been full of surprises. Sometimes we don’t even know who we are and what lies beneath.

I have, my friends, been going grey since I was quite young – for nearly half my life. I started disguising the wisps of grey hair with highlights. It was expensive hobby which became annoyingly time consuming. As I became increasingly grey my hair was dyed lighter and lighter. True confessions; I began to be frustrated by having to touch up the roots so frequently. I could see it was damaging my hair. I also saw some photos and thought…’argh that colour just does NOT suit my face’. I am too lazy to be on-it and too vain not to care!’

I have in my adult life known some utterly fabulous grey haired women. My own grandmother has a gorgeous grey pixie cut. My closest work colleague, Cathy, has the most admired hair of any woman I have known. Salt and pepper when I first knew her 25 years ago and now a thick mane of silver. Glorious!

In the craft world I have always admired the style and chic crops of Debbie Bliss and Juliet Bernard. Natural, edgy…cool.

But lets be honest until recently, the fear has always been…grey hair ages you. You will become seen as too old, too invisible and irrelevant. But the nagging inauthenticity of how I looked started to shift something. Before lockdown I shared an open-plan office with a much younger woman who had a glorious salt and pepper bob. I never told her how much I admired her look – her hutzpah. But she gave me courage. The wonderful growing community of #silversisters and the #grombre phenomenon on Instagram showed me there was a changing mood for grey. Let’s be honest if Sarah Harris of Vogue isn’t cool – then who is?

I had always said that at my next significant birthday I would take the plunge and stop dying my hair. But then Covid and lockdown came upon us and I realised that our enforced housebound existence was the perfect opportunity. I think many women thought the same.

I really wish that I had recorded the date of my last dye. I think it was probably February 2020. Now eighteen months on I am nearly dye free with my mid-length locks. There seem to be two schools of thought. Go for the chop, have a buzz or pixie cut and then grow your hair to your favoured length. I went the more torturous route, watching the grey roots work their way down my scalp. Honestly the most painful part was not that difficult. In lockdown I barely saw anyone – and it is really hard to see people accurately on Zoom meetings.

Nearly at the full transition how do I feel? Some days I have my doubts. I think that there are friends who think my new tone ages me. Some days I care…mostly I do not. Will I be invisible? Will I be overlooked for job opportunities? Will I be seen as irrelevant? Well we will see, but luckily I don’t think with my hair. To quote a good friend and an excellent t-shirt – ‘Underestimate me…that’ll be fun’.

The good news is my hair is falling out less, my skin tone looks more like me and I have both more time and change in my pocket. The biggest delight is discovering what was always there, hidden. My quirky dark stripes. Not dyed, not placed, just naturally there. It brings a smile to my face. When I have faltered then I have found new confidence in wearing brighter colours, stronger lipstick, fun jewellery. I have never wanted to be mousy and I am not about to start now.

This is my own journey and we are all very different. Making this decision was hard but logical. The timing was right for me. For others it will be different. However if you are looking for courage to embrace the grey then I would encourage you firstly to look around. So many women have taken lockdown as an opportunity to emerge as a Silver butterfly from a Covid chrysalis. If you are on Instagram it is worth following the hashtags #silversisters and #grombre. Also check out the account of Luisa a wonderful Australian model and photographer @thesilverlining_1970. I have also been encouraged by the author Viv Groskrop, the Fashion Icon Sarah Harris and more recently actors Andie McDowell and Dawn French.

grey-hair-emma-varnam

Will I keep my new silver locks? I think so – it’s such a transition that the thought of doing it again seems ridiculous. Thankfully the ‘silver fox’ concept doesn’t just belong to men and the idea of what is beautiful, trendy and chic is changing. I have found my new badger stripes, why on earth would I want to cover them up!

Cart
  • No products in the cart.