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There are chores to do…washing up, laundry, weeding, hoovering, a wipe round of sinks. Oh my why am I making this list? It all needs doing! Opening doom laden brown envelopes…sorting school uniform… all stuff that needs doing…some that really does need doing now… and what would I like to do? Yes my current crochet project is calling me. Rather loudly I might say.

My current project is the perfect kind of project – a sneak-off project. If you are a regular crafter you will immediately recognise the type – or have memories of the feeling.

Let me explain. There are some craft projects that you start full of enthusiasm, full of vigour and then…then you make a mistake. Suddenly all that ripping back and remaking takes the shine off a previously captivating design.

There are some that quite frankly just plain boring. They begin to languish in a hidden project bag. In fact to assuage the guilt – you begin to hide the project bag. But it begins to peep out and stare at you from the corner of the room. You can’t quite decide whether it would be easier to rip it all back and use the yarn for something else – or just leave it for another 2 months, 6 months….2 years.

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Then there are ‘promise-to’ projects that you seem to be a slave to – often a sort of loose commission – a jumper, hat, baby blanket that needs to be finished for the imminent celebration or arrival. Knowing that you need to knuckle down and finish the gift, you begin to find distraction techniques to avoid having to get on with the make. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, cleaning the oven seems the most important thing to do rather than your relaxing hobby. You mutter to yourself…’never again, never again, I will never make a blanket for another relative however much they flatter me with … Oh but you make them so beautifully… I will retort…buy one from the supermarket!’ You don’t of course, but only remember your previous resolution when you hands are aching again from the almost sweat-shop speed of crafting.

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But the goal – the ‘once a year’ rarity is the ‘sneak off’ project. This is the most joyful combination of relaxing familiarity with enough interest in it to keep you inspired. You will like the colours and and the pattern. Once you have done just a little you will enjoy setting it down on your lap to admire the pattern and the stitches. You will enjoy this so much that you might admire your progress perhaps once an hour, maybe more. You will know immediately that once finished this item will not be gifted to anyone else. This is a ‘me’ project. Then it will start to happen, you will begin thinking about sneaking off and working on your project when really you should be doing something else – quiet joyful satisfaction. Outside lockdown you might be invited to a social occasion and think twice about whether you want to go…because you had planned a whole evening of crafting.

I have a ‘Sneak-off’ project at the moment. I know aren’t I lucky? It is a growing stash-busting hexagon blanket. The motifs are standard enough. A plain treble hexagon of 4 rows. I can’t conjure up what prompted me to start. What I do know is that I wanted to make something pretty – go to a pastel place. I have called it ‘The Spring Garden Hexagon Blanket’ – it has a freshness of the the early garden season. What is unusual and shouldn’t be shared is that I am combining two different yarn weights; 4 ply and almost as sports weight DK. I had a rather expensive hand-dyed 4ply sock yarn languishing in storage for too long. The base colour is a rather joyful pink, but there are flecks of green and yellow which peek through. I decided it would make a beautiful centre of the motif – and it does. I then have used some Stylecraft yarns Bellissima and Bambino which is in my stash for the following rounds. At this moment in time I am not sure how large I will make it. Perhaps the size of a British Single Bed – but that works well draped at the bottom of a Kingsize bed. This weekend I plan to sneak-off several times to add a few more rows. Utter bliss.

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What are you sneak-off projects? Do you have a favourite from years past? Perhaps all your crochet or knitting fits into this category. I would love to know.

Yarn Colours – The sock yarn is a discontinued colour – but an equivalent would be West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Flamingo. I have also used the following colours in Stylecraft Bellissima – Single Cream, Mellow Yellow, Double Denim, Overly Olive and Precious Posy. I have also used Bambino (it is the same yarn) Little Boy Blue, Heather and Sage.

Have a Happy Crafting Weekend!

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It is so exciting to introduce a new book to you. Especially this latest one – which I designed and wrote in the midst of our lockdown life. There haven’t been too many things to celebrate in the Covid year, but perhaps being confined to home has enabled some of us to concentrate on our crafty adventures.

If you have made some of the toys from my previous two Cute Crocheted Animals, you will want to know that these creatures are a different design and shape. They are larger in size and have a natural seat which ensures each animal sits nicely on a shelf or a bed.

When I was a child, I was enchanted by the books of Beatrix Potter. The animals had such character – they are often naughty, cheeky and courageous. My big ambition is to design toys that you will enjoy making
and that children will adore. A toy like that needs character and personality and I believe the best soft toys are handmade. Each stitch has love woven in.

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I have aimed to design woodland creatures that are bursting with personality. They all have their own clothes and accessories and you can swap the clothes you choose between each character.

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I loved making a my favourites; rabbit, mouse and fox in naturalistic yarn. But in this book there are animals I have been wanting to design for a while. The cheeky Danny Deer, a sweet little Mole and a Finn Frog, complete with flippers and armbands.

If you have used my books before you know that I am very keen on a thorough techniques section. I like to have the diagrams telling you how to do each stitch. Still very important. As I have written more books I know how important it is for you to have my top tips and tricks for successful toy making… all of those are added in to the techniques section.

I do hope you have loved my woodland menagerie. If like me your dreamed of enchanted forests filled with woodland animal playmates, and you
want to share those dreams, then why not try make one of these magical cute crocheted woodland creatures?

I would love to hear what you think – please do leave your comments below.

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There is nothing more compelling for starting a creative project than an event. You know a wedding, a birthday and most compelling of all, a new baby.

I wonder if there is a trigger that goes off in the brain…new baby…make something cosy, soft and snuggly. The ‘Layette’ is an old fashioned concept I think. Essentially a collection of items that are perfect for a newborn; a blanket, a hat, booties and perhaps a romper suit.

In days past, perhaps even when I was a child, these knitted sets would be essential for a new Mum. Having them match would be a ‘boon’, yarn was not so freely available. Whether you are a knitter or not you will have in your consciousness hundreds of patterns from the past fifty years. White tiny items, some in an electrifying lemon, others in the very insipid blue and pink.

New Mums and Dads have avoided those patterns for decades now. The wool was too scratchy, the colours were old fashioned. Fleece and cotton seemed far easier and softer on brand new skin.

But….just like the seasons…fashions come round again. A homemade blanket has a bespoke chic. Crochet hats and booties have a retro charm. I have a friend who is about to have her third baby. You and I know that first babies get all the homemade items. By number three…’yeah, yeah, you are having a baby…how delightful…now what’s for tea?’

So I thought it would be nice to start again and put a lovely layette together. I started with the blanket…obviously. As a child having your own baby blanket is a thing of joy. You own it. It has been on your pram, you have fiddled you little fingers in the the holes, it smells of you. You eventually drag this blanket from room to room, you might tuck up your teddy under it in an imaginary bed, perhaps it might form one wall of an awesome sofa den. This first blanket will have a life.

I chose to make the ‘I love triangles‘ pattern. My first version of this. I spotted this pattern on a pram in a toy shop many years ago and with the audacity of a seasoned crocheter I asked the complete stranger what the pattern was. I know I design my own blankets, my own motifs…but sometimes I just want to make and not think. If you want to know the yarn recipe I used Stylecraft Bambino: Clotted Cream, Vintage Pink, Mellow Yellow and Little Boy Blue. You do need to make up bobbins of yarn for each colour change, but the overall look is delightful and I expect I will make more blankets in different hues.

I then used the Mellow Yellow to make a basic crochet beanie hat and a set of booties with pretty pom-poms. I used my own pattern that I have never written up. In my mind, one day I will write a Crochet Nursery book, but that is still on the to-do list. There are so many patterns, old and new that you can find on the internet. Find a hat here and there is a good set available here.

Finally I thought it would be great fun to make a romper. Such a lovely vintage look. I was inspired by the gorgeous maker, Rachel from Gooseberry fool. Her website and products are so beautiful. Whilst I have the joy (and indeed the compulsion) to crochet my own items, if you can’t crochet and would like to purchase some beautiful bespoke items please do visit her website. Her items are gorgeous and so beautifully packaged.

I have made two rompers, one in Vintage Pink and another in Blue Mist. I hope they prove useful – they are certainly very sweet. Once you have made a layette, then there is all the anticipation – the new baby needs to be born I think before this most joyful of all gifts is handed over. Romper suits will be handed down, booties will fall off and hat will be slung out of buggies by frustrated and hot little hands. Yet the blanket will always belong to the owner – an enduring gift which becomes an heirloom.

If you have some go-to baby patterns that you always make, please do point me in their direction I love to add a new ‘favourite’ to may list.

The bunny and sheep in these photos are my own designs – kits and downloadable patterns are available in my Etsy shop.

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I know, I know it isn’t crochet and it is isn’t knitting…but will you indulge me just a little while? I simply loved making my embroidered floral cowl – I have worn it most days. It fits nicely under my coat is is just the right size to be warm and snug without be claustrophobic.

The sewing of the floral detail was very relaxing. I also went down a bit of a research rabbit hole, brushing up on all my embroidery stitches, remembering old techniques from childhood crafting.

Furtling round in my craft stash led me to find my old wooden embroidery hoop and some silks. My quizzical crafty head began looking for the next doodle and before I knew it I had the idea of embellishing a basic sweatshirt. Embroidery on clothes has been a bit of a ‘thing’ for the past few summer seasons. It is not hard to find high street inspiration.

Instead of using the dissolvable transfer material I drew a design on the sweatshirt using a soluble pen. With each leaf and flower my technique has slowly, very slowly improved. I found using a herringbone stitch for the leaves provided the most even and consistent coverage.

The satin stitch I used for the flowers is in some places…dodgy. However after watching a few videos, my ‘french knots’ are nailed. I’ll be honest, this is not quick work. Slow, deliberate and steady. Plus, after a gap of decades, I have found that my eye sight is not up to threading a needle with multiple strands of silk. A needle threader is a must.

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Once I had finished my last pink rose, I popped the sweatshirt in a gauze yarn bag and in it went into the washing machine for a quick rinse. It was with some trepidation that I hoicked it out of the machine. I feared all my precious stitches would have unravelled. Thankfully no such worries and the pen lines had magically disappeared.

Once dry, I used the iron to straighten out any puckering and then used an interface stabilising material on the inside of the sweatshirt to cover the wrong side of the embroidery.

I’m delighted with the effect – and I found the process really restful and meditative. I am glad I chose to extend the leaves and the flowers round the back to the sweatshirt – that feels like a little surprise and I am glad I did it.

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My stitch tension needs work, but just like knitting and crochet it is just a question of practice and muscle memory. Will I do more? You know what I think I will.

Happy Mumday Funday Sunday!

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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.

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I have no idea where the idea came from. I have no idea why I suddenly felt compelled to make a new cowl. However if you have read this blog for a few years you will know how much I love the practicality of a cowl.

Once I had finished my Knit Crochet Cardigan, I had some of the super soft aran yarn left. For years I have wanted to make the Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho. It is a free pattern and has always been in my to-do list. Before I knew it the stitches were cast on and I was enjoying the calming knit rows but also the clever construction of the short-row shaping.

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The cowl in its simplest form is lovely enough. The soft denim hue, the excellent ‘V’ of cloth which fits nicely under a coat. An excellent ‘do-er’ of a garment. But my eyes have been looking at summer clothing. Pretty embroidered patterns have been appearing in my pinterest and instagram feed. It made me think…I wonder could I stitch a little pattern to this cowl.

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I know it must have been 17 years ago that I made a beautiful little embroidered cardigan for a friend who was expecting a little girl. It was a pretty pattern from Debbie Bliss’s book – The Baby Knits Book. I dug out my old copy and used some of the flower designs to add decoration.

I went backwards and forwards thinking about what I should use to complete the embroidery. I have some old embroidery thread in my stash, but worried that the thinner strands would cut through and perhaps pucker the chunkier aran stitches. I thought about cotton yarn. But that felt quite a heavy choice against the lighter threads of the wool. In the end I chose some Stylecraft Bellisima. This has a soft silky texture but seems light enough not the out-weigh the knitted stitches. The colours I have in my stash were also in that soft pastel colour range.

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I’ll be honest I was slightly nervous about my first embroidery adventure in many years. Working on a small piece of knitting like this cowl freed me from worry about mistakes. If you are thinking about having a go there is no need to for any special equipment – you can just crack on. Saying that I did use two things which I think really help the finish. Firstly a water soluable embroidery stabliser…(oooo get me). Essentially it enabled me trace the pattern I was wanting to use on to the stablising fabric, place that onto my knitting, I then stitched through both the stabiliser and the knitting. I also used a small embroidery ring which I already had a home. I don’t think this is essential, but I think it does avoid puckering the knitted stitches below.

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I really enjoyed the stitching. The concentration and choosing of where to put the needle is very absorbing and therefore relaxing. I did brush up on my stitching techniques. A quick flick through old craft books I have in my collection and good old browse through pinterest. It was well worth the revision.

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Once I have finished the embroidery the magic could happen. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I rinsed the cowl under the cold tap and all the stabliser fabric magically disappeared! So exciting. The hardest part was waiting for it to dry so that I could put it on.

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I can’t tell you how useful this cowl is going to be. Even though Spring is coming – the air is still chilly. It will be a boon! Have a caught the embroidery bug?… I might have…. one more little embellishment project I think. I’ll keep you updated. If you have any projects you have embroidered please do share them. I am looking for inspiration and love seeing where your creativity is taking you.

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I made the Bandana Cowl using a free pattern from Purl Soho. The yarn I used was Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in New Denim. I then used Stylecraft Bellissima DK for the embroider in Single Cream, Precious Posy, Ash Rose, Bashful Blue and Overly Olive. The water soluable embroidery stabliser and the embroidery hoop can be purchased from any online shop that supply craft materials.

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‘Ooo I love your cardigan! Where did you get it from?’

There, right there…those two sentences are the sweetest words a maker can hear. Obviously substitute cardigan for; jumper…hat…scarf…or indeed blanket. But in essence there is nothing more complimentary or thrilling that can be said to a maker. Now there is one proviso… if you have made a toy for a child, there is no need for an audible response. What you want then is a grab, followed by a kiss, then a hug, followed by a determined waltz off into the distance with your homemade toy for a little play.

But if your handmade makes are admired by an adult, who assume they have been shop bought, then this my friend is the golden goal. These instances are few and far between in current times. Firstly in British lockdown it is rare to see a physical human being who can appreciate a woolly jumper. Secondly, most people who know me, know I knit and crochet, so there will be a little check in their head…’she probably made that’. In fact I manage to fake-it with a number of jumpers that have been manufactured and people think I have made. I’m saying nothing.

On Thursday night I finished my Denim Crochet Knit Cardigan. I was happy with the final result. Although it is a bit too ‘weekend-woolly’ for the formal online meetings I had on Friday, I slipped it on between zoom calls. In the middle of a very hectic afternoon someone came to our door and greeted me with the joyful, ‘Ooo I love your cardigan, where did you get it from?’ Super-stressed and late for the next meeting (it was late Friday afternoon…not cricket!) I brushed off this compliment…’Oh I made it…thanks…..how can I help?’

A bit like seeing a celebrity in the street… it was many minutes later that I thought…’Ooo wow that was a moment and I missed it!’

Not every garment I make is a success. Not all become good familiar friends. In the last few weeks I have hardly taken off a pastel pink bobble hat that I made using Little Grey Sheep wool. It is a winner. But of the larger items I go back to my Granny Square Cardigan, my chunky Pink Cardigan and my Arabian Nights scarf. Will this Denim Knit Crochet Cardigan become a staple for the wardrobe?

I was inspired by a lovely cardigan sold by Plumo (sorry I think they have sold out). The price point was at the luxury end (understatement) and if you can make your own garter stitch cardigan why wouldn’t you?

Stylecraft have just launched a new Denim Shade in their 400g Special Aran with Wool range. I used about 600g for my cardigan. Being a small person I decided to go with a shorter boxy shape. I began with 5mm needle and edged the hem with an Irish Moss Stitch for 10 rows. Moss stitch of any type will knit up tighter than a loose garter stitch. So you will need to fight your instinct and make the edge with a large needle than the body of the garment. I then went to a 4.5mm needle for the soothing garter stitch. For both fronts I cast on more stitches than I needed and once I had finished the welt left about 10 stiches on a holder for the front opening. Once the back and the fronts were finished I sewed the shoulder seam together and then knitted the front edges separately, knitting enough to fit up the front and then along the back of the neck. I then whip stitched the edges and the front opens together. I hope that make sense.

The real star of this garment are the jaunty granny square pocket. This being a home-knit I had no desire to break the ball band on new skeins. So I took some lovely Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and made each circular motif with a double strand. This pretty much replicates an aran weight.

Honestly will I wear this cardigan? Yes I think I will. The British weather being what it is, the aran weight is fine for the indoors during winter and excellent thrown over a cotton dress to take the chill of balmy outdoor summer evenings.

I know you will shout at the computer when I say. I haven’t written up the pattern. Sorry – it was just a bit of creative whimsy for me. Crochet is my design work. Knitting is my hobby. But I will point you in the direction of something similar. Have a look at this and this and just add a granny square pocket. I suppose my encouragement to you is to create what you want to wear – don’t be put off my luxury prices – make luxury pieces.

Next time you meet a crafty friend…even if you know the answer…ask them…’Where did you get that from?’ The biggest smile will come across their face. You will make their day.

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I have never really taught. I have too much respect for great teachers. I don’t dare step on that hallowed ground. I had some incredible teachers when I was at school. Inspirational, funny, fiercely clever. I have good friends who are stunning teachers and when I have had the privilege of watching them – it is like art. They impart information, adapt the subject matter to make it relevant to a child who is struggling and then manage to control a huge room full of very different individuals…in a finite time…how do they do that?

I have been asked a few times to deliver crochet workshops and managed to deflect the question. But I have taught a few people individually to crochet; a one-on-one session. They have tended to be good friends who I know have ‘needed’ to learn. Famously I have one good friend who I have always refused to teach. It has become a thing. I always said… ‘you don’t want it enough, there is nothing that you actually want to make…therefore I won’t teach you.’ Isn’t that dreadful. Out of frustration she has scoured department stores and in fact door-stepped a rather famous yarn producer and persuaded her to teach her the basics… The Granny Square she produced following that encounter is one of my most treasured gifts.

I still won’t teach her.

When the second lock-down came I felt a huge ache of friends saying …’Oh no… we are going into the darkest days of a British Winter…I cannot cope!’ It occurred to me that for those of us in the yarny community the announcement was softened. Many of us thought, ‘well it’s not good, but I do have a lot of projects to finish before Christmas… I will hunker down’. It seemed selfish not to share the consoling balm of our hobby. I put out a quiet call to my friends on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to learn the basics. I thought I might get perhaps one or two flickers of interest.

In fact I was overwhelmed. The only answer was to set up a Zoom tutorial. Mrs V’s Crochet Society was born. In the end we had about 9 willing students. I set a time and date for a little introduction meeting and then the realisation hit…how on earth was I going to do this?

In the introduction session I showed everyone the sort of things they could make and pointed out some good books and websites that are worth visiting. I also wanted to glean what their ambitions were. Was there something that they wanted to make? How keen were they…etc.

We set a date and time for our first actual on-line tutorial. In that intervening week I ordered yarn in their favourite colour, some hooks in the correct size and obtained enough copies of my book, ‘How to Crochet’ so each participant had their own to refer to. It took me a while to settle on our first project but in the end I devised a simple cowl pattern – something you could proudly wear once you had finished. Later that week I drove round our city dropping of this yarny starter kit, thinking all the while, ‘What am I doing! I can’t teach and certainly not remotely!!!’

Experience told me that for both the teacher and the students it was a good idea to set a session limit. I committed to 4 sessions, weekly on a late Sunday afternoon. Technically it wasn’t a total breeze. I am fortunate that my husband is a whizz with video and computers. So I was able to swap between a camera looking at the my face and then an camera positioned over my hands.

On the first session we covered making a slip-knot, completing and foundation chain and successfully learning the double crochet stitch. It is hard not being able to actually stand over the shoulder of someone as they crochet. All the students showed incredible patience both with me and with each other. At the end of the first hour and a half, everyone was off and running with a simple double crochet cowl.

For some the stitching came easily. For others the mid-air manipulation of the yarn and the hook was frustrating. What totally surprised me was that by the following week virtually everyone had made their cowl!!! That blew me away. Some people were on to their third!

I was so amazed after the first week to be able to get a cowl underway (albeit a bit wonky!) I loved that despite my imperfections it looked great! The second one I embarked on was a lot neater and I was so pleased to find it looked more like the photo in the book! – Helen

In the second week we picked up some problems, perfected techniques and began looking at treble crochet and the granny square.

At week three some students had begun a chunky Granny Square blanket, others had begun a Christmas production line of cosy cowls. The progress and passion was inspiring. I introduced everyone to amigurumi in week three and the magic ring. This is complex stuff, but if you get it – you never go back.

On each session there were good friends of mine, their daughters, teenagers and even an awesomely talented 9 year old. Everyone had a mixture of crafty experience and competency. I taught Kate to knit a few years ago for her Duke of Edinburgh award and I knew instinctively she would love crochet – I loved learning to crochet!! I’ve tried knitting before but just as Emma said, once you crochet you never go back to knitting, and I don’t think I will! The technique is so fun and really simple once you’ve got it so it’s really easy to continue developing more styles and patterns! – Kate

In the final week I invited some expert crocheters to join us on our last zoom tutorial to share their top-tips and favourite makes. They joy of hearing these new crocheters and established experts conversing was thrilling.

My little star Hadiah has such passion for the craft and as a close neighbour I would often see her on my doorstep. She kept asking me to teach her amigurumi. She wants to make the little rabbit in ‘How to Crochet’. I think perhaps this was the second and most compelling reason for working out how to teach on-line. Her Mum, Mars was delighted;

Mrs.V’s crotchet club is an inspired thing. My 9 year old has absolutely adored having sessions on-line learning to crochet. She’s now developed a creative hobby that will keep her busy for the rest of her life. Since the classes, she’s been busy making crochet presents from star Christmas tree ornaments to cowls for friends and family. It was lovely to see her engage with Emma on-line and get excited every Sunday when she knew she was going to have another lesson. She even told her classmates about her lessons with a celebrity in the crochet world, and took in a signed copy of her crochet book as evidence of her crochet superhero Mrs. V!

I think that for some of my friends, that little autumn workshop will be a one off adventure. Others I know have become gloriously addicted and like Alice have fallen down the rabbit hole of crochet adventures. Bella said: I never imagined I could actually master crochet as it looked so complicated. I was surprised how quickly I picked it up’ I loved it

It is also a weird thing that often I seem to lead a double or triple life. Some friends and work colleagues never really know that I crochet or even write books about it. The thought of teaching my oldest friends felt awkward and certainly I didn’t think I could do it successfully (see my previous reticence). Setting up the online tutorial made it far easier. I am sharing with you this experience to encourage you to take a step either to share your skills with a friend (they will appreciate it) or discover a new craft in this difficult year… it will be enormous fun! – my friend Charlotte pretty much sums it up.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi

I was probably the most reluctant beginner and realised that my hesitancy to learn crochet came, not from a lack of interest, but a lack of confidence. I would look at Emma’s crocheted masterpieces with admiration and decided that I wouldn’t even bother learning because I’d never reach those heady heights. Once I had put my pride to one side, accepted that learning is a journey where you are ALLOWED to make mistakes ( and indeed should make mistakes), I did what was necessary, picked up the hooks and yarn, leaned into the advise and was soon doing the ‘impossible’…I am the proud creator of two crocheted scarves. They might not be perfect but I am ok with that ❤️

If you would like to make your own beginners cowl here is the Yarn Recipe:

You will need: 1 x ball of Stylecraft Special Super Chunky XL, 1 x 10mm crochet hook, 1 large eyed tapestry needle

The Cowl Pattern –

Using a 10 mm hook and super chunky yarn, you are going to make a slip knot and then chain 21 stitches.

You will double crochet into the second chain from the hook. (20 stitches) Work a double crochet into each chain to the end.Turn the work. Work 1 chain. 1 double crochet in each stitch to end. 20 stitches. This is your pattern. Work straight until your crochet measures, 50 cm/20 inches.

Row 1: Using 10mm hook and yarn A ch66 sts.Do not fasten off.

Finishing Create the circular cowl by twisting the yarn once, so that point A meets point A, and point B matches point B. Then slip stitch the side edges together. Wear with pride.

My little Crochet Society was created by my super talented friend Eve

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This should be the ultimate making month don’t you think? Yet time again I rush headlong in crazed list creating and catching up.

I imagine myself curled up on the sofa … fire blazing and carols faintly heard in the distance. The perfume of the Christmas tree catching the air in waves.

More likely I finish work – later than planned. Despair at my lack of menu planning and scrabble to make something half decent for tea. When all is scoffed – plates are left aside while I hide on the spare room floor wrestling with sticky tape and paper. This year we have the extra frisson of wondering if parcels will be delivered on time. My word what a pickle.

So while December should really be the key making month of Winter. In reality November and January seem far more productive.

If you are a seasoned maker and sickeningly organised, then your gift making might start in August. Seriously?! Yes seriously. Nowadays I don’t always make crochet or knit gifts. But there are a few patterns that are a good standby.

Chocolate Orange Cosy

Every year I say I won’t make more of these. Yet every year I am tickled by the idea and remember what a great mini-gift they are.

The Chocolate Orange is a stalwart of the UK festive season. Zingy little segments of zesty infused milk chocolate. Classically you were taught to ‘tap and unwrap’ the solid ball in order to prise free the first segment. In our house the chocolate orange is a MUST in the Christmas stocking. A revolt would ensue if it were not there.

First segments are eaten before breakfast. Cheeky, sickly traditions. In the old days, after all the segments were eaten a central core of chocolate would remain. We christened it ‘the bark’. This added bonus was seen as the final eating honour. Whilst you might have generously offered others one or two segments. The ‘bark’ belonged to the orange owner. Stealing such revered chocolate would be criminal.

Don’t ask me why – but this welcome design fault has now disappeared. Shame I say.

The milk chocolate chocolate orange is adored by the boys and I prefer the plain chocolate version. I drop heavy hints to Santa in the run up to the big day to ensure he hasn’t forgotten.

A few years ago I saw a chocolate orange covered in a crochet cosy – disguised as a Christmas Pudding. This idea appealed to my sense of humour. I created my own pattern and for more years than I care to count have made them as teachers gifts and small gifts for friends and colleagues.

I always use oddments from my stash. Sometimes I purchase red buttons to create a holly berry other times I make a bobble using yarn.

This is my link to the jotted down yarn recipe. Use it if it is helpful. But get a wiggle on… I can hear sleigh bells

emma-varnam-chocolate-orange-cosy

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granny-square-scarf-evie-emma-varnam

Sometimes I just want to make…dive in – create and not think about the pattern. Not make any notes… not think about the planning or the design. I know that does mean that if a design comes out successfully that becomes a bit of a pain for anyone who might like to replicate the pattern. Darn.

Well so a few weeks ago I had a little ‘ting!’ moment. You know when you identify a need and match it with some yarn and then a little ‘ting’ goes off in your head.

A young friend of mine has just started a Fine Art degree in Edinburgh. Having attended an east-coast Scottish University, I know that your scarf game has to be STRONG. E has a great sense of style. She is experimental, imaginative and has excellent colour-sense.

(Just writing this – it occurs to me…’what on earth were you thinking…making a scarf for an art student…you mad woman…the audacity). Anyway – foolhardy generosity, I thought it would be delightful to make E a Boho-influenced scarf. I have been working with the new Stylecraft Highland Heathers DK yarn. I love their muted tweedy finish.

Using the colours : Thistle, Thift, Grist, Gorse and Heather. I made 10 granny squares which begin as a circle and then morph into a square. I then made 2 triangles which I placed at each end. I slip stitched the joins together and then did 1 granny square cluster rows in Thistle and Thrift. I finished the whole scarf off with some outrageously chunky tassels.

Once the scarf was completed, I’ve got to tell you – I almost found it difficult to pop it in the post. The shades are not those I would normally wear so perhaps I will make my own version. But boy I did have fun.

You might think that the Granny Square is a difficult look to rock. You might be right. But using it in a scarf is perhaps the best place to start. Just enough detail and colourful interest…not too crazy. A few years ago I made a glorious Granny Square Jacket – it is in November and December that it comes into its own. I have to be in the mood to wear it. But I do love it. In January with the purity of Spring…it seems a bit much.

November is the month to replenish your scarf collection and this idea gives a cool accent which is both warm and brings autumn delight. I know that my art-student friend has already enjoyed wearing her bespoke design, and then is the ultimate goal. Designs inspired by love and makes that are fun to create. Happy weekend!

granny-square-jacket-emma-varnam

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