Patterns

Soft Summer Blanket Yarn Giveaway

I am so thrilled that so many of you said lovely things about my Soft Summer Blanket. Many of you have already begun to make the blanket. That makes me so happy.

I am thrilled that my lovely friends at Stylecraft have been willing to sponsor a Giveaway. They have generously given us 2 balls of each colour – so that is a stupendous 14 balls of yarn. You will also get a beautiful shade card for this blanket from Simply Shade Cards.

So if you would like to enter you can either leave a comment/like & tag a friend on my instagram account. Or you can leave a comment at the end of this blog post. I would really lovely to know who you would like to make the blanket for.

The blanket pattern recipe is available for free in this blog post.

I would like the yarn to go a good home and someone who will be thrilled to make the blanket. If you haven’t caught my Instagram Live September series – then do pop over to Instagram and have a look in my IGTV and there are a series of hints and tips.

The Giveaway finishes for entry at 6am British Summer Time on 24.09.21 – Good Luck!

Pretty Flower Puff Teacosy

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I have a little confession – I don’t drink tea…never have…never will. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like teacosies. I love them! I love the shape of a traditional teapot and I love the fact that a cosy is practical and a brilliant gift for all tea drinkers.

Over the years I have made and designed quite a few cosies. I have even co-authored a book on the subject. I have a few go-to patterns that I make regularly for tea drinking friends. Well as we get cosy for Autumn I have rummaged in my yarn stash and started cosy making.

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I thought it might be fun to share with you a new textured crochet pattern for a cosy and top it with some yarny flower puffs. The is certainly not a new idea – it is an old vintage trick. There is an excellent knitting pattern and explanation in the book ‘The Gentle Art of Knitting’ by Jane Brocket. A book that is a real favourite for me and worth borrowing from your Library or ordering your own copy.

If you would like to make the cosy for yourself. Below is the pattern recipe and a few photos to help you make the flower puffs.

Pretty Flower Puff Teacosy

Sides (make 2)

Using a 3.5mm hook and some DK yarn – I have used Stylecraft Special DK – Warm Grey, make 29 ch sts.

Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook, 1tr in next ch, (1dc, 1tr) rep to end, turn. (28 sts)

Row 2: 1ch, (1dc, 1tr) rep to end, turn. (28 sts).

Repeat row 2, 22 times – working 24 rows.

Fasten off leaving 20cm tail of yarn. Attach sides together at the top and the bottom of each side to create 2 large slits. Then use a large length of yarn to gather the top of the teacosy together using small running stitches.

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Flower Puffs (make as many as you like)

You will need some large knitting needles (I used 2 x 10mm) or thick pens. Also some left over yarn from your stash.

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Holding the needles together and with your thumb holding the yarn down at the end, wind the yarn over both needles about 20 times. Cut off this yarn.

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Then using another strand of yarn about 20cm long, pull it between the needles and tie over the centre of the wound yarn. Make one knot

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Slip the yarn off the needles and secure with a second knot. Neaten all the ends and sew securely to the top of your teacosy. Ta-dah!

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So pretty. I have shared a little tutorial on Instagram if you would like to watch me doing it in real time. But it is fairly simple and a really fun way to use up the ends of your yarn.

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If you like this little pattern and find it helpful – please do share and I would be delighted if you use the ‘Buy me a Coffee’ button in the Shop. But also comments and suggestions are so welcome below. Happy Making!

Soft Summer Blanket

A few weeks ago I told you about a blanket I was making. The original plan was to make a boxy granny square cardigan. I made the cardigan – it looked appalling. I very nearly threw it in the bin – in a fit pique! Luckily sense prevailed and I didn’t. I un-picked the majority of seams and managed to salvage the majority to form the beginnings of a new blanket. The Soft Summer Blanket.

So what did I do since last we spoke? Well I have quite a few lap blankets for outdoor evenings and indoor sofa snuggling. I thought it might be nice to add some granny stripes and make a blanket large enough for a British single bed. Approximately this works out at 130cm width by 180cm length.

I have placed the squares in the centre and then worked the rows of granny striped around. The colours are soft with pinks and duck egg, but there is a zing with the yellow and a little low tone with the denim which knocks out all the sickly sweet colours. A few of you on instagram have asked me about the colours and have been keen to see if the finished result. For me this isn’t so much a designed pattern but more of a riff on a theme. The seasoned crocheter could easily copy what I have done – but for the beginner I thought I would just note down here more of a recipe.

If you do make a version do send me a photo – but also please do comment below and link to the blog post if you like it – I love to hear your feedback.

Soft Summer Blanket Recipe

I used my favourite 3.5mm hook and approx 2 ball each of Stylecraft Special DK – Pale Rose, Powder Pink, Denim, Cloud Blue, Cream, Duck Egg and Mustard.

Stage 1:

Make 36 x Granny Squares which have 6 rows. Make rows 1-5 in different colours and try to make sure there are equal distribution of colours. Don’t use pale rose in rows 1-5 but use it for Row 6 (the last row) for each square.

Basic square

Using 3.5mm hook and A, ch 4 sts, sl st in first ch to form a loop.

Round 1: 3 ch, 2 tr in loop, 3 ch, (3 tr, 3 ch) rep twice more, sl st in 3 ch. (4 tr clusters).

Round 2: Change to B, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp, 3 times, sl st in 3 ch (8 tr clusters).

Round 3: Change to C, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next ch sp; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (12 tr clusters).

Round 4: Change to D, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 2 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 2 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (16 tr clusters).

Round 5: Change to E, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (20 tr clusters).

Round 6: Change to Pale Rose, attach yarn to any 3 ch sp, (3 ch, 2 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 4 ch sps, *(3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 1 ch) in next 3 ch sp, (3 tr, 1 ch) in next 4 ch sps; rep from * twice more, sl st in 3 ch (24 tr clusters).

Fasten off and weave in ends. I blocked each square at this stage as I find it helps with accurately joining each square together. With Pale Rose I slip-stitched the squares together to make a 6 x 6 square.

Stage 2

Starting with the Duck Egg I then worked 16 rows of a granny square clusters around the outside of the 36 squares. Each row was a different colour – however the 2nd row, and following 2 x 5th rows were cream.

Stage 3

I then added more single rows to each end of the blanket to turn it from being a square into a rectangle. Starting with a cream row, I added 14 more rows. The first and every following 5th row was cream. I repeated the colour striping on the otherside of the blanket.

Stage 4

Finally I worked an linen stitch edging around the blanket.

Round 1: With RS facing using 3.5 mm hook, join cream to the top of any treble 1ch, 1dc into each tr, and ch st around, work (1dc, 1ch, 1dc) into each corner, sl st first ch. Fasten off. 

Now you will work 3 rows of linen stitch. Use a different colour for each row.

Rounds 2-4: With RS facing, attach yarn A, 2 ch, miss 1dc at base of ch, (1dc in next st, 1ch, miss 1 st) rep around, work (1dc, 1ch, 1dc) in each corner, sl st in first ch. Fasten off and weave in ends.

There you go – a Soft Summer Blanket. Perfect for a single bed or it looks lovely at the bottom of a King Size bed. I have used the normal crochet abbreviations in this free pattern and if you need any further help with learning to crochet do have a look at my book – How to Crochet which has a great introduction to the Granny Square Technique or my book Granny Squares Home which has some lovely patterns for bed spreads and lap blankets and all the techniques and stitches are explained in detail.

I don’t mind telling you that I am rather thrilled that I have been able to redeem this previously failed project. I have already dragged it outside for evening snuggles and found Stanley claiming ownership a couple of times. I suspect that come the autumn months it will have pride of place at the foot of our bed. Now what else can I fix?

Hidden in plain sight – the Crochet Cactus

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In the town where I spent my early childhood there was an amazing game which the local shops played. It must have been during Carnival week, in the early autumn. Each shop window displayed an item which was totally unrelated to their business. The competition trail asked children to spot and name all the incongruous hidden gems displayed in the windows. I loved this trail. I am sure it was never as extensive as my memory serves – but the joy of spotting something hidden was an utter thrill.

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When I worked in museums – staff knew that there was nothing I enjoyed more than treasure trail and we took the game of my childhood and would hide tiny woolly sheep or teddy bears amongst the exhibits and display cabinets. My inner child is never very far away. I think it is this penchant for whimsy that makes me so fond of making crochet cacti.

When I made my first crochet cactus I became almost giddy with delight – I popped it in a teacup and sat it on the mantlepiece amongst my other house plants. It sat there, in disguise for many months. Only a few guests spotted it was not real. During that time I added to my woolly plant collection for the book Crocheted Succulents. Each completed plant tickled me. They were fun, quick projects – but most importantly wilt due to neglect or more likely overwatering.

In the years that have followed I have seen hundred of photos of completed cacti by readers of my books. Each one is a joy to behold. Last year I launched a beginners kit and pattern for anyone who wanted to dip their toe in the crocheted succulent pond.

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A few of my friends have sheepishly admitted that they have no intention to learn to crochet…but ‘hint, hint’ they wouldn’t mind one of my Cacti. Well I have made a few and there are a small number available to purchase in my shop. If you visit our house – you will spot a few homemade cacti dotted amongst the bookshelves and nestled next to my real houseplants. No one can resist picking them up – and a broad smile stretches across their face. ‘Oh to have plant you can’t kill!’

Baby Lambs and flocking to farming

During the past year I have become obsessed by farming programmes on the telly and consequently sheep. The lambs, breeds and the wonderful farmers that raise them have become a renewed fascination. My own baby sheep design – Sam the Lamb has become a new favourite.

There are so many programmes that cover farming on British telly – that you could spend many hours, many evenings immersing yourself in the wonderful stories and landscapes. My own family poke fun at me and say that they think if I needed to I could deliver a lamb, solo.

I don’t think that is true… but my evening past time has highlighted a number of issues for me. Farming is such hard work and is not ever just a job, but has to be a passion and vocation. It shocks me how little a farmer gets (if anything) for the shorn fleece. Wool – once a prized commodity has almost no value – yet it is such a wonderful material. It keeps you warm when you are cold and has wonderful wick-away properties when you are hot.

I won’t pretend that I have stayed loyal to wool. I do love to wear it. But I have plenty of fleece in my wardrobe. I have also enjoyed and used lots of synthetic yarns and certainly blends using cotton and bamboo in my yarn work. But watching the programmes has made me think.

What has made me laugh is that for some breeds the farmers seem to do a full wash and blow dry on the wool coats before a show. In other parts of the country the stray fibres will be plucked from the sheep’s face like a full beauty session. They will then have the lovely cream fleece rubbed either with peat or sprayed with a colour to turn a cream down to a slightly darker beige. This means that the colour of their head and legs stand out! My word these woolly divas get the full treatment.

The opening of my eyes to new breeds across the nation has encouraged me to make my little sheep in a new colour. I think my Lamb looks rather fetching in their county-show style fawn wool. Certainly very cosy.

I have put this new colourway in my kit selection which you can find in the shop. You might have noticed that part of the blog has a new shop feature. This will enable me to launch some new patterns and new products straight to you. Tell me what you think.

Watching the farming programmes has made me think of animals that I have yet to try. I haven’t yet made a cow and it might be very wonderful to create a highland cow. So whilst it might seem a very idle past time watching very hard working farmers from the comfort of my sofa, the crochet hook is always in hand and the yarn is ready to celebrate another treasured animal.

Billy Bear – My first crochet toy

The first toy you ever have – always has a special place and for a maker is a gift of love. I have updated my Billy Bear pattern to create my very best guide of a first crochet toy.

People often ask me what they should make if they are just starting to make crochet toys. If you have begun crochet making a granny square then the jump to working in the round or making ‘amigurumi’ can seem a bit daunting. Perhaps it is just the name. But essentially you are just working the most basic double crochet stitch in a spiral to build up a seamless shape.

Billy Bear with his striped jumper and simple legs and arms is a brilliant introduction to all the techniques I use in my other toys. My preference in all my toy designs is to incorporate the limbs into the fabric of the crochet. This will ensure that no matter how much play a treasured bear might have – their arm will not unravel. I also like joining each leg together before you work the body. Before you have your first go – this technique might seem complicated. But never fear it is actually quite simple.

I have written the pattern for you with helpful photos and honestly I am keen for you to fly with you toy making and to feel confident with all the techniques. If you are are a real crochet starter and not sure that this will be your thing, I have introduced a few simple kits to my shop so that you can buy just a few of the items you need before you start building a huge stash. You can choose from a beautifully classic duck egg colour or the softest powder pink. One of my customers messaged me to ask if I had a bespoke colour that she could use and I was able to help her and pop it in the kit. So if you have different stripe in mind, do message me.

Followers to this blog will notice a little change. I have added my own shop to the blog so that you can buy kits and books directly from me. It’s a new exciting venture and I am so delighted to connect with you and help you develop your crochet.

Pop over to the shop to have a look and tell me about any other items or patterns you would like to see.

Easter Bunny Egg Cosy

There is something joyful, exciting and creative about anticipating the Easter celebrations. A sunny Easter weekend, full of family fun and old traditions is a thing of joy. Spring is in the air and perhaps the very first of outdoor adventures are planned.

Some years I enjoy setting the table for Easter Sunday and it is fun to make a range of cute Easter Bunny Cosies, hiding scrummy chocolate eggs – I created this little pattern over ten years ago and it was one of my first free crochet patterns available on the blog. You can download the pattern here – I have used natural brown but why not make a few in pastel shades…they make lovely hand puppets for little hands.

If you do make some please do send me some photos.

Getting festive ready

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I feel like I say this every year. If you are a crafter around the time of the new Autumn school term, your mind turns to Christmas. I know it’s way too early. But the benefit of darker nights is more time curled up on the sofa with either your hook or needles. Plus it does take time to make those handcrafted gifts.

It is a strange thing, I often do my most festive work around July. A totally topsy-turvy time. In the last few years I have designed a make-a-long for Knitting and Crochet Magazine: A stocking advent calendar one year and then last year I designed some Christmas Tree decorations along the theme of the 12 days of Christmas. They were a lot of fun.

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This year I have set my own little challenge. I wanted to create a collection of my own toy patterns that I would style and sell independently. It seems like a crazy idea for a time-poor creative…but then if not, now when?

I have really enjoyed sending off my kits to new customers and it has been fun to connect to people from across the world. I started off with the downloadbale patterns for my baby animals. Then I began adding signed copies of my books. Last week I added a range of 5 watercolour postcards of my Cute Crocheted Animals. I love these images and I hope you will too.

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Finally, in time for your festive making I have added a pattern and kit of a stripy Christmas stocking. I have very good memories of peeking at my Christmas stocking in the early hours of the morning. The best times were when you could see a new cuddly toy peeking out the top. It got me thinking…why not design a bespoke stocking that fits my new designs.

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So there you are. Who wouldn’t want one of these cute friends greeting you on Christmas morning? If you pop over to the Etsy shop you can see, that you can download all the patterns, or order them as a kit. If you buy the two together it does make sense as there is a bit of discount on the combined price. Tell me what you think about the kits and the designs.

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If you order this weekend I am adding a special gift for blog readers. If you enter EVBlog in the message whey you order I will send you a free set of the Cute Crocheted Animals Postcards as a ‘thank you’ pressie.

I am so glad that we can share this little adventure together – if you do make any of the patterns please do share your images. It delights your heart to see your makes.

Happy weekend!

A new thing – Baby Animals

I have a small thing to share with you. It has been a very long time in the development. I have created a series of 5 patterns which I am selling as single patterns.

Over the years I have designed toys for my books, for pattern houses, and magazines. But I haven’t really designed a collection which I can sell as a designer. This is something I really want to do – take the project though from the little spark of an idea and then birth it as a pattern in my style and finally as a limited range of kits. Its so exciting. I have been thinking, chatting and dreaming about this project for about a year.

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I have two very lovely and very experienced yarny friends who have helped me think about the concept. When we meet up we chat through our ideas and dreams and their advice is invaluable.

If you follow me on instagram you might remember that in February I was sharing pictures of these little animals out and about in the snowy hills of the Lake District. Designing and making time during any holiday is so important. The stillness of holiday give me time to tweak and to play.

I have no idea of how many yarns I trialed….so many. There are also some animals that I wasn’t really happy with – who didn’t make the cut…

Finally I settled on 5 little characters – Bobby Bunny, Gertie Goose, Pat Puppy, Sam Lamb and Poppy Piglet.

Then the hard work begins… the pattern writing. I worked with my good friend and pattern editor Lynne Rowe. Lynne and I have worked on many publishing projects together and she knows what makes sense to crocheters. She spots the things which I leave out.

I then approached some regular makers of patterns and some expert crocheters – thanks to Linda, Sioux – super stalker and Babs for trialing the patterns. You are awesome.

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The yarn I have finally chosen comes from the UK yarn house – Sirdar. You know I work with and love lots of yarn houses. They are all great. I chose Sirdar because I wanted to use their Snuggly Yarn ‘Bunny’ for the tummies of each animal. It made sense for the other yarn in the design to come from the same yarn company. I also wanted the yarn to have a good price point for you and be widely accessible across the UK.

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Sirdar Snuggly Bunny is a fancy yarn and when you are crocheting with it you will need to pay attention – feel and look where you are putting your hook. The final feel of your toy is totally worth the concentration.

If you are interested in these designs they are available for digital download from my Etsy Shop.

Tell me what you think – I would love to know – which one is your favourite? If you end up making them will you post your baby toys and I would love to see images #crochetbabyanimals.

Finally you might notice a bit of change in my logo and brand. The launch of my pattern range seemed a good time to make the change. Plus my good friend Gemma said, ‘Emma is it time for a rebrand…..?’ in that way that isn’t really a question. She was right.

So there you go – exciting/scary times. All in a period of lockdown. I hope you like this new step and thank you to so many of you for supporting me.

Happy Weekend.

Crazy Daisy Cushion

How are you at the moment? Are you finding that your crafty life is actually more of a life-line than it has ever been? Me too… After a long day sat at the screen in Skype/zoom/team world I crave the time spent with my yarn. Every stitch seems to smooth out the crinkles in my brain.

This week I am thrilled that the new issue of Inside Crochet Magazine will start to appear on the doormat or the shop shelves. I’ve had a look at the patterns and the colourful and zesty colours are brilliant for the summer season.

It seems an age ago that I designed the Crazy Daisy Cushion for this issue. If you follow this blog you will know how much I love using crochet in the garden. There is nothing more luxurious than piling swathes of cushions and blankets on to the grass.

The great thing about outdoor soft furnishing is that your colour scheme can be a bit more adventurous. This design is very quick to make as it uses Stylecraft Special Aran and 5mm. Drag out your stash to aran and let your imagination go wild.

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I have got to admit that I adore designing for Inside Crochet Magazine. The images they take are glorious and I get so excited to see how they have styled my work. I made two versions of the same pattern, using up as much of the yarn as I could. Do tell me what your think and it always lovely to hear how you are getting on with your lock-down craft projects. For now have a happy weekend and let those needles or hooks fly with creativity.

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