Making good lists

I respond well to lists – there must be some deep seated, school based reason – but lists work well for me. I am not obsessive. I can function without them. In fact most of the time I do function without them. But if I really need to get something done – a good list is ideal.

Just before going back to work after Christmas I made a very prosaic list – you know boring stuff like… put away clothes, put away Christmas decorations, clean fridge, book hair cut. How ridiculous – all these things were staring me in the face, but to really get them over the line – the physical list had to be made. I don’t know about you but there is something about a line going through the task which helps and I need to balance my tragic sense of achievement with an inner rebelliousness and procrastination. There is the nub.

This year I am not in the market for a New Years resolution – some years… Yes. Not this year. But a list seems like a good idea. But in addition to the practical ‘to-do’, I’m going to make a good list.

  • Laugh more
  • See more friends – actually do the arranging
  • Arrange a holiday
  • Hug my son – even if I have to surprise him
  • Hug Stanley the cat more
  • Go on a walk – weekly
  • Read more books
  • Design and dig the new bed in the garden

That’s enough to be going on with – those are life lists and to be fair if I managed all of these – and indeed more of these past the first few months of the year that would be excellent.

But what about the creative lists? Well yes, there will be one of those, but I am trying and aiming to not give myself too much ‘to-do’ on the old designing front. I have designed ALOT in the last year. You can see a correlation between my blogging activity and my designing/writing. When I am designing a lot then I go very quiet on this space. There is not enough time for both. But what am I thinking for the first few months? Well here is my mini-list:

  • Finally write up the dolls pattern (sorry Ida… I know you have been wanting it)
  • Work out which of the blanket designs in your head you want to do
  • Design 1 blanket in 2024
  • Actually TELL people about the books you have written
  • Publish some of your Christmas designs you have never published (they are stuck in a wardrobe)

So there you go that’s it – finally. We will stick to those too lists and any more is a bonus. Have you made a list this year? Or a resolution? Do you make a crafting list? I would be intrigued to find out – or do you find it annoying and does it cramp your creativity. Honestly I would like to add ‘blog more’ to my list but don’t just dare at the moment. We will just leave that there and make it a very, very secret aspiration.

Have a lovely weekend.

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Pretty Flower Puff Teacosy


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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!

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New Adventures in Fairisle

fairisle-teacosy-blue-yellow-emma-varnamObsession is an ugly word. I am not sure whether I can admit it, but you know me. When I get the bit between my teeth I have to keep going until I have satisfied that particular crafty itch. Since I conquered my fear of continental knitting and simultaneously realised that the two-handed technique of fairisle knitting was so much neater (stay with me honey), I have become slightly, ever so slightly obsessed.

fairisle-teacosy-blue-yellow-emma-varnamFrom finishing the Steiger hat and then the Arrows Hat I was scouting round for a new project to practice my new found skills. I’ll be honest with you, knitting in the round for stranding is much more easy than working in rows. However it was a good idea to practice the continental style for purl. Not quite so natural.


Teacosy dream

I really can’t tell you why I thought of a teacosy. I suppose I have made quite a few hats in the last few weeks and really couldn’t justify squeezing another into the drawers of my dressing table. Deep within my knitting book library, I found an old fairisle pattern and then began working up a swatch of the pattern in some left over yarn. The swatching process allowed me to workout the edging and the width of the final design. I have made hundreds of teacosies in my time. I’ll confess a dreadful thing. I don’t actually drink tea. But having a teapot and a choice of cosies seems like a very civilised thing.


Spring Colours

Don’t ask me why a finally alighted on the colour scheme of blue, cream and yellow. It does however feel like the perfect Spring combination. The yellow and the cream were already in my stash and I just needed to pop out and buy the blue. All three colours are from Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply.  Home from the shops, I immediately cast-on and the rest of the day was spent in a fairisle dream.


I am hoping to write up the pattern over the Easter break. I couldn’t begin to thing of a name for the pattern but since posting the completed project on instagram and facebook lots of you have thought of some suggestions. Please feel free to add your thoughts below.

Wardrobe plans

For my next move on the fairisle journey, I feel compelled to design a cardigan. I have in my mind a particular outfit I would like to make for summer. Obviously if you live in Australia, then making a cardigan for summer will make no sense at all. Believe me, here in the North-West of England we get quite a bit of use from a cardigan. I have so, so many crochet projects to complete – but obsesssion calls and my knitting fingers are itching to get going.



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Natural texture for Cosy Winter

tennen-noro-yarn-laughing-hensWhen Winter comes I love the opportunity to dress the house with cosy blankets and get out the homemade tea cosies and cushions. With a young son in our house our Christmas decorations tend to be bright and cheerful, as it should be. But naturally I am attracted to pale creams and white in winter. I love the frosts and the snow.


This week I have tried to balance my work on a new book and add to my homemade Christmas gifts. I was sent this lovely natural Noro yarn which is called Tennen, by the online shop Laughing Hens. Sold in a hank, it looks like the purest form of wool. I got going on the swift and made a rather satisfying yarn cake. The colour I have used is 1, but there are lots of other natural tones to choose from. It seems to be a month of top-tips from me. My top-tip for this weekend, is that the Laughing Hens website have excellent photographs of all the images and patterns in a pattern books. It is where I have gone to check out whether I want to buy a pattern book or not. There you go, a little insider secret for you.

tennen-noro-yarn-laughing-hensBy my estimation I will be able to make two teacosies of the finest quality from one hank. I put a jaunty burnt orange bobble on this version, but might revert to a natural bobble for my second cosy.

I haven’t quite decided yet who will get this cosy as their Christmas gift. So if you are one of my friends reading this and quite fancy self-selecting your gift this year, then do drop me a line.

What will you be making this weekend? I think I might make Little B a Christmas pudding hat for the festive season.

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Christmas Pressie Crush 14 #1


Hello Lovelies, I am sorry my blog was down for a couple of days. Not sure what was going on there. But my technical whizz has sorted it. Thank goodness for Big B! So what are you making at the moment? I have a couple of commissions in the pipeline, but I have tried to be kind to myself and not overload the projects. In previous years I have felt that my Christmas making has really taken a back seat and that has been a bit of a sad frustration. Making something personal for a friend or family member is one of my joys. When I can’t do that in the run up to Christmas due to unrealistically over-committing, then that is my own jolly fault. But it is not clever or wise.


So this year I have made a start. Actually when I was editing the photos to fit them onto  the blog, they made me laugh. Basically I have reverted to what I know. Hats, keyrings, teacozies. I have made another hat using the Lumio yarn.  I simply love this reflecting effect which is woven into the yarn. We did a test drive of Little B’s hat the other night, and it looked fabulous.


I have also perfected my go-to teacozy pattern with Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed. A really rustic country look. I just need to buy quite alot of teapots to go with each gift.


Finally I have made some bead keyrings. I saw this idea in Prima Craft magazine. I can’t remember which issue, but it seems like fun. Gradually I am making some in all my friends favourite colours. We have started the Christmas crafting….but we have by no means finished!

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Pumpkin Pattern Pop-up

frame31f0d3c7be469abc2020ff1af799082d589bd3d3I know I always force you to look a little ahead of the seasons – sorry about that but when we are talking knitting or crochet patterns we all need a bit of seasonal warning. Today has felt just a wee bit autumnal over here in good ol’ Blighty. My mind has been on new school terms, scarves and hats. I was reminded of the pumpkin hat I knitted for Little B when he was a baby. I then passed this jolly bonnet onto my nephew and it has brought huge joy to all who have seen it.

So as a quick reminder I thought I would point out that I have two pumpkin free patterns on the blog. The every popular pumpkin pincushion or table decoration. You can download that pattern here.


This is my crochet version of pumpkin hat.


I just love these tendrils – they make this hat and look hilarious on a sprinting toddler. You can download the pattern here


Finally my pumpkin teacosy is available in GMC’s Teacozies 4 book. A great fun autumn pattern worth taking a peek at if you see it in your local yarn shop or available to purchase here or here.


If you have any great pumpkin makes do share you photos with me – pop over to the facebook page and we can share our autumnal makes.

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Perfecting the classic – a go-to tea cosy


You would think that after spending a few months last year creating some new tea cosy patterns, I might have expended all my creative energy in this area. Ah no, not at all. Christmas brought a new energy and I made a rather nice grey and colour-pop collection for close friends (here). I also did a rethink on a classic Debbie Bliss design for some close chums – let’s call them Mr and Mrs S. If you are a knitter you know there is some love in this design – there is a little bit of  cable, a soft double knit yarn, but most importantly it is practical. This design really got me thinking. If you are a daily user of the teapot then this ‘cabriolet’ version makes it so easy to refresh the pot with hot water. Fitted on the classic ‘Brown Betty’ design of teapot it is a very snug satisfying fit. Over Christmas this design whirred round in my little brain. I wanted to make a crochet version. A go-to design which would look snug, be easy to make and the perfect answer for any commission requests.

ubercosy2So this is version one – in cotton, lovely colours but a bit baggy. The buttons will be removed from this and then thrown away.

ubercosy3Version two much better with an attached top section, and I have removed the crab stitch edging at the bottom – improved.


As I was perfecting version two a request appeared. A Norwegian friend of Mr and Mrs S had admired their Christmas Brown Betty tea cosy, and they wondered if I could make a similar one for her as a gift. Well this was a perfect opportunity to work on version 3 with a variegated yarn. I am now very happy with this design. This is a wonderful luxury for some one who designs – making two or three version – not racing the process and enjoying coming to the final version. I just need to write it down!

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The last minute rush


I am dashing in to say ‘Happy Christmas’ and I hope you have a lovely festive time, whatever you are doing.

I have been rushing to finish some homemade gifts ready for the festive period. Apart from the Christmas jumper commission this year, Little B will not really welcome a ‘Mummy-made’ gift. On the other hand there are plenty of grown-ups I can make for and this year has been such a teacosy year, that I decided to go with the flow. Having spent some time working on my own patterns I tend to relax by following or altering someone elses.


Seeing the utterly fabulous Debbie Bliss in October must have prompted me to return to my astonishingly large archive of her patterns. I combined my love of this colour combination with a teacosy pattern in Debbie’s first ever magazine. Then I got on a bit of a roll, and couldn’t stop. I thought of all the favourite  colours of my friends and set about making them a matching teapot.


I found this classic Brown Betty teapot in my local hardwear shop and knew that what it really needed was a rutstic cosy. Something serviceable, practical and definitely it shouldn’t be treated with kid gloves.


Finally I promised my long suffering sister that I would make a little tank top for her cutie wee son. Of all the projects this Christmas I have really wanted to finish this one. My nephew is such a bonnie wee thing and I think he will look so scrumptious in at tank top. Happily I finished it last night and it is quietly blocking ready for our exchange of gifts.

So what is next? A bit of a gap, both in terms of the blog and in my yarn world. I promised myself and my family some time off the digital world and a little slower pace on the knitting front. So I will say ‘Happy Christmas’ lovelies and have a really great ‘New Year’ and I will see you in 2014.

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Teacozies ~ the classic and the new


So here are the final two designs of mine from Teacozies 4. Firstly the Caravan Teacosy is a reworked version of one of my favourite patterns. I return to this design frequently when I want to make a cosy to fit in with other people’s colour schemes. The original was inspired by the wrapping on Tunnock teacakes. As my friend Mrs J pointed I should have called it Tunnock Teacosy or Teacake Teacosy – but that logic seemed to escape me.


I still love this design. It reminds me of Mrs J – a proper tea drinker.


Secondly I designed this cosy which is really an exercise in cross stitch because double crochet stitch is a fabulous base for cross stitch design. If you are a fan of embroidery, but can’t crochet you could always join forces with a crocheting friend to whip-up this design.

So there you go – lots of designs to wet your appetite. Hope you like them x

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