Review – Weekend Makes: Stash Knitting

Weekend MakesThis week I have a new knitting book recommendation for you. Written by Emma Osmond, this is a fresh, modern take on the perennial stash knitting theme (and let’s face it, most knitters and crocheters have a sizeable stash of yarn bought for projects we never completed or simply loved too much to leave on the shelf).

wm_stashknitting_sp3

The projects are mostly simple, knitted in beautiful Rowan yarns (so lots of natural fibres and muted shades) and the styling is lovely. There are mug cosies, a hot water bottle, bags, blankets, scarves and hats all photographed with clear close ups of the stitches and shape. I particularly liked the technique section, which has pictorial guides to working on circular needles, knitting cable stitches and colour work. At the back of the book, a chapter on finishing techniques clearly explains, grafting, picking up stitches and sewing seams. So, although this isn’t a book aimed at beginners, it’s definitely a book I’m going to pass along to a new, not so confident knitter in my family. I know she’ll love the projects, and I’m going to put a great big post it note on page 94 – because I’m sure she’ll be able to manage the simple beanie in time for my birthday in October – I can even loan her the perfect yarn from my stash!

Each project includes the required weight for each yarn in grams and metres, so you can easily substitute a yarn from your stash. You’ll also find guidance about skill level, techniques and modifying the pattern to suit your taste and yarn available for every project.

I will definitely be making some of the projects in this book, but (and it’s a small but), I wish more of the projects were worked in the round or on circular needles. It’s the one thing that came up when I showed this book to the ladies in my knitting group. Although many knitters were raised on a diet of “knit flat and seam” patterns, there are a growing number of knitters (of all ages and experience) who like the option to knit in the round. It would have been nice if at least one of the hats (or maybe the wrist warmers) had been knitted seamlessly, particularly as there are three pages devoted to this in the techniques guide.*

Having said that, this is a fabulous book and with Mother’s Day approaching this might be the perfect gift for someone in your life. Whatever their age or experience they’ll find something that appeals and encourages a bit of stash diving!

Weekend Makes: Stash Knitting is written by Emma Osmond, published by GMC books and available now from your favourite book store.

ISBN: 9781784945121

Price £14.99

  • The baby booties and chunky basket are both started flat and then switch to circular needles or DPNS.

Review: Crocheted Succulents

succulents

Emma Varnam – you’ve done it again lovely lady! What can I say, this book is an absolute joy. Written in Emma’s signature style, full of fun and mischief, this is a book that has even entranced my non crochet friends.

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Emma’s work, she has a generous spirit,  a cheeky sense of humour and a talent for getting her designs “just right”. I cannot tell you how much I envy and admire her in equal measure! I was fascinated to read the story behind this book on her blog –  she is quite honest about how this could easily have been the book she never wrote – thank goodness she did!

So, what can I say about this wonderful book, filled with a mix of easy, challenging and frankly irresistible cacti patterns. Each design is beautifully photographed and Emma has taken great care to provide each plant with it’s perfect pot and has clearly put as much thought into the presentation as she has the designs themselves. The 25 designs use a wide variety of yarns. Cotton, acrylic and eyelash yarns are used to add realistic details. There is a comprehensive techniques section and plenty of advice for making sure your designs look great. Even patterns for the plant pot soil are included.

It’s hard to find fault with this beautiful book – it’s obviously been a labour of love – so much thought and hard work has resulted in what will be a hugely popular  addition to many crocheter’s bookshelves.

Crocheted Succulents by Emma Varnam is published by GMC and is on sale now.

ISBN: 9781784945046

RRP: £14.99

 

New Books Now Here!

search press cover download.jpgI’m very happy to share the news that 200 More Crochet Stitches and Crochet: Learn It, Love It are finally here and I can send out signed copies to those of you who requested them.

Both books are available in your local book store or online. Also, several libraries (Including my own, here in Cheshire) are stocking it. I have been selling copies at workshops and local knit groups –  so if you see me – do ask for a copy!

search press cover learn it love it

If you would like to order a signed copy of either book (written in UK terminology), do get in touch and I can arrange to have a book sent out to you with a personal message. I am also happy to gift wrap and send books direct to your friends and family (they make great gifts for crocheters (Mother’s Day hint). Signed copies of 200 More Crochet Stitches cost £15 including UK postage and copies of Crochet: Learn It, Love It can be sent out for £13.* I was hoping to sell copies via Etsy, but my shop is so neglected I am considering closing it completely!

On Sunday, I visited CHSI Stitches Trade Show at the NEC Birmingham. It was so exciting to see my books displayed on the Search Press stand – I still have to pinch myself when I see copies “out in the wild”!

*Small Print:  I’m sorry, but I can only organise to post within the UK. I am happy to accept payments by Paypal or Bank Transfer. Books will be posted when payment has been authorised. To order a copy, use the contact form below or DM me on Instagram or twitter.

Book News

draft amazon coverMy new book “200 More Crochet Stitches” will be published in the UK on January 15th.  I will be selling signed copies via my Etsy shop, if you would like me to let you know when these re available, just send me an email or contact me on Instagram. This book is also available in America with the title “The Step by Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches” and you can read a fabulous introduction to the content here.

BdKj4T0VFl9c

Also available now is the reprinted edition of “Crochet: Learn It. Love It”, which was previously published as “The Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet”, it’s the same great content, but now the cover matches the USA and Australian editions!. Signed copies will also be available via my Etsy shop, and you can buy signed copies of the original Woman’s Weekly version at a discount in my Etsy shop. The listed price includes UK first class postage. Please contact me directly for overseas postage rates.

search press cover learn it love it.jpg

I am thrilled that both books will also be available in your local library, so do look out for it there (did you know that most libraries now offer an online ordering service? Here in Cheshire we can order any book held by a Cheshire library for just £1 and collect it from our local library).

I hope you enjoy these new books and that you will continue to drop by for news, free patterns and to share your makes in 2019.

Happy crocheting

Tracey x

Books, Books, Books

Hello there! well, it’s been a while since I dropped by. But, I have been very busy and have lots of news, patterns and “secrets” to share.

Womans Weekly Guide to Crochet

First of all, I still have a few copies of the “Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet” for sale via Etsy. You can order a signed copy, with a personalised message here (just let me know the message you’d like me to write on the “Message to seller” option. Otherwise your book will be signed “Happy crocheting! Best wishes, Tracey Todhunter”. Sorry, this offer is only available for UK delivery. Order by 10th November for guaranteed delivery before Christmas as I will be closing the shop after that date.

draft amazon cover

Pre order my new book on Amazon (or your favourite bookseller)! Due for publication in January, “200 More Crochet Stitches” will take you though texture, lace, cables and more! I will be taking orders for signed copies in January and there will be a few events to promote the book confirmed soon (including a top secret” TV appearance … watch this space!) Each stitch has a close up photo, chart and step by step written instructions and I wrote it with newbie crocheters in mind, so there is something for everyone. Every month through 2019 I shall be giving you ideas of projects you can make using the stitches in this book.

cropped-learn-it-love-it.jpg

Some of you will also know that “Crochet. Learn It, Love It” will be available in the UK from the end of December (this is the same content as the Woman’s Weekly edition, but with a new name and a new cover). I shall also have copies of this available in January.

Finally, I have something special planned for December. Every day I shall be adding a new crochet decoration to my crochet advent garland and I’ll be posting the patterns here (some free, but one or two paid for patterns). I know some of you get very nervous about following written instructions, so there will be a few photos, tips and friendly advice to help you. You’ll be able to find the latest pattern here on the blog, with photos on Instagram and Facebook – share your makes with the hashtag #grannycoolcrochet – and my favourites will win a small prize!

Oh – and I almost forgot – I have just confirmed my first workshop dates for January at Ditzy Rose Makery in Tattenhall, Cheshire. We’ll be running a three week crochet for complete beginners starting on the last Friday in January. I’ll be posting more details soon.

Happy (festive) making!

Tracey x

New Free Pattern

UPDATE JANUARY 2020

This pattern is being updated and will be available again in the Spring.

I can never resist a baby in a cute hat – and this is certainly a cutie – and so easy!

baby hat craftseller.jpg

The Parker baby hat was published in Craftseller in 2013 and proved very popular because it was so quick to make! The original design used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which I know lots of knitters and crocheters love because it’s so soft and can be machine washed. I’ve also made versions in 4 ply yarns and you can swap in your own favourite with few problems (just remember to swatch or check your tension). The version below shows the second size (6 – 12 months) and  was made using Debbie Bliss Eco Baby, which is a great alternative if you prefer a non animal fibre. It’s 100% organic cotton and has Fairtrade accreditation, so it is suitable for vegans and ethical makers. Eco Baby has the same meterage and tension as Baby Cashmerino, so it can be substituted for any Baby Cashmerino pattern.

IMG_3087.jpg

I love Debbie Bliss, not just her beautiful designs and her gorgeous yarns , but her commitment to promoting knitwear and crochet as wearable and desirable. I have several of her books on my shelf and one of my most exciting yarny memories is meeting her in person. She has a long standing relationship  with Knit For Peace and is involved in several local community projects near her home. She always comes across as a genuinely warm and friendly person, the kind of knitter you would be happy to find yourself sitting next to at knit night!

So, I was very pleased when Love Craft announced that Debbie Bliss yarns would be available on its LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet online stores. Yes, of course I would prefer it to be available in my local yarn store and other outlets. But, when Designer Yarns went into liquidation last year, many of us thought it might mean the end of the Debbie Bliss brand and that would have been a real shame.

Over the years, I have designed several projects using Debbie Bliss yarns and for the next few months they will be made available as free pdf patterns online. The first of these is the Parker Crochet Baby Hat. You can download it from Ravelry or LoveCrochet today.

In other news, 200 More Crochet Stitches is now available for pre – order. Sadly it won’t be available in time for gifting at Christmas, but I do have a special thank you planned for those of you who pre order. Watch out for more details soon.

 

Happy Birthday Rowan (review)

Rowan: 40 Years

40 Iconic Hand – knit designs

Rowan_40_Years_Cover-_resized

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the iconic Rowan yarn Brand, this  new book celebrates the best of Rowan’s inspiring  magazine patterns. Beautifully presented with a combination of original images and new photos this is a fitting tribute to one of my favourite yarn and design companies.

The hardback cover features a collage of original front cover shots and brought back memories of the excitement I would always feel when a new issue arrived. When I worked in a yarn store, delivery day would result in a flurry of emails and phone calls “It’s here – I’ve put one aside for you” and anxious visits from regular shoppers who didn’t want to miss out on a sneaky peek at knit group. We would pore over the pages, spotting work by our favourite designers and discussing which patterns we would make. The Rowan magazine never disappointed, always inspired and frequently provoked debate. Each new issue pushed the boundaries and challenged our expectations about knitwear design, while at the same time offering enough wearable, desirable patterns to make us part with our cash and add each issue to our bookshelves.

Mag 48 Coverv_1.jpg

Rowan 48 will always be my favourite – it sold out quickly and I never managed to keep a copy for myself. “That” stranded colourwork, the styling, the effort that would have gone into knitting that dress – oh we all lusted after it and when customers brought in their scarves to show off, we would all find ourselves entranced once again with the skill and beauty of the design. Lucky for me (and for many other knitters), Kaffe Fassett’s beautiful Lidiya dress is included in this collection

It is Rowan’s ability to constantly surprise and enthuse knitters that makes it so enduringly popular. And while I was disappointed to find no crochet inside, the hours I have spent leafing through, spotting projects I’ve made for myself and planning a new cast on have been a joy. Take a look at this sneak peek on the Sixth and Spring website and see if you can spot your favourites.

The collection is introduced by Marie Wallin, for many years she was Rowan’s head designer and is responsible nurturing and encouraging  many of the designers who found themselves working at Rowan. Alongside some of her beautiful colourwork designs, you’ll find patterns by Kim Hargeaves, Louisa Harding, Sarah Hatton, Jean Moss and Martin Storey. Some designs have been reknitted in contemporary yarns and photographed in locations that reflect the beauty of each design. I pity the team that had the task of deciding what to leave out!

It’s often been said that Rowan designs are “timeless classics” and this collection proves that point, there are several designs that I knitted ten or twelve years ago – or even longer – that I would be happy to knit and wear again today. It’s also worth noting that many of the designers who began their careers with Rowan are still involved, still being inspired by Rowan’ beautiful colour palettes and yarns and it’s so lovely to see their work celebrated in this book.

This is a book that has definitely earned a place on my “most loved” list and it’s one I won’t part with. This is a book for all Rowan fans, lovers of fine yarns and anyone with an interest in textile design. Yes, the patterns are written in Rowan’s abbreviated style that assumes a working knowledge of knitting techniques,  and charts you’ll need to enlarge by several percentages to follow clearly. But,  they are always worth the effort.

The book is beautiful, the designs are stunning and the photography is everything you’d expect from Rowan. Buy this book, give it as a gift (and then shamelessly borrow it). Keep it somewhere you can find so you can pick it up and browse the pages. Choose one iconic design and knit it, then love it for years to come.

Book Details:

Rowan 40 Years is published by Sixth and Spring in hardback  and is available now.

Price £25

ISBN: 978640210288

 

Review: Noro Kureyon 3oth Anniversary Collection

9781942021889lgI fell in love with Noro yarns when I first began work in a yarn store and it wasn’t long before I completed my first project in Noro Kureyon. I knitted myself a wildly colourful oversized jumper that I wore and wore on weekend family camping trips. It’s still in my wardrobe. A little bit felted and still smelling of woodsmoke, but the colours still make me smile.

To celebrate 30 years since the first Noro Kureyon collection, this book offers a wonderful collection of 30 sweaters and accessories – the ladies at my knit group drooled over it, and it wasn’t long before my review copy found a new home with super knitter S, who will no doubt make “all the things” in due course.

Kureyon is Japanese for “crayon”, which means more if you’re familiar with the wildly random colour changes of this yarn. The designers chosen for this collection have made full use of the colour changes and versatility of the yarn, and it well worth spending a few minutes looking through the pattern collection on Ravelry.

noro_kureyon_high_res_63_medium2

My favourite is Margie Kieper’s “Squared” sweater, which leapt to number one on my “must make” list (image (c) Sixth and Spring), but I’m also hankering after the patchwork Scarf by Jill Gutman Schoenfuss (pictured below), which looks relatively simple and perfect for autumn.

noro_kureyon_high_res_55_medium2

This book is the perfect celebration of everything we love about Noro, the photography and styling show off the designs perfectly and I loved the opportunity to discover new to me designers and plan a winter of indulgent knitting. This summer heat might not seem like the best time to be thinking about sweater knitting, but for me it’s perfect. I can pore over beautiful books like this one for hours, adding yarn to my wish list. And, when my birthday comes around in October, I’ll have a ready made list for my family to order from – the only way to guarantee I’ll get exactly what I want!

Buy this book for yourself, or as a gift and you’ll treasure it. It’s  not just as a source of beautiful, desirable and practical designs, it’s a gorgeous book to brighten the dullest days and transport yout to Noro’s wonderful world of colour.

Book details:

Noro Kureyon: The 30th Anniversary Collection has 144 sumptuous pages of patterns and photography for knitters of all skill levels to drool over.

Published by Sixth and Spring with a cover price of £19.99, it’s available here or from your favourite book shop.

Saturday Review: Mini Crochet Creatures by Lauren Bergstrom

imageGenThis is certainly the cutest and most adorable crochet book to land on my desk in recent months. I have loved exploring all the different animals and possibilities this new book offers. Published this month, Mini Crochet Creatures really does qualify for the  description “adorable”. It really is delightful, and if you think you can’t be charmed by tiny crochet then  take a “sneaky peek” inside the pages on Amazon. Even if you have never felt a desire to try crochet amigurumi before, this book might just change you mind!

Inside you’ll find clear photos, charts and written instructions to crochet 30 different tiny creatures. The book is divided into sections covering farm animals, woodland creatures, pets and many more. Whoever styled this book certainly has a sense of fun and each spread shows off the tiny creatures. I just can’t decide what I want to make first, although the sloth and hippo have proved very popular among my crochet pupils who are desperate to make them!

9781784943899_sp4

Lauren is a South African amigurumi designer and this is her first book, although you may have spotted her designs in crochet magazines or on social media. I am already thinking of all the possibilities these tiny creatures off, keyrings, charms, good luck mascots… or even just as a break for routine, these tiny projects are very protable and great for using up all your odds and ends. The features are added with pieces of felt or embroidery, so some skill with a needle will enhance the “cute factor” of your amigurumi. This is a book for all ages and all skill levels. Beginners may find the small pieces fiddly at first, but as you’re unlikely to want to stop after your first mini animal, you’ll get plenty of practice. Most definitely one for my wish list, I look forward to seeing more of Lauren’s imaginative crochet creatures – volume two please GMC?

Book details:

Published:  April 2018 at  £14.99

ISBN: 9781784943899

You find full details  and more images from the book on the GMC website.

 

Saturday Review: Granny Squares Weekend by Emma Varnam

8e339f181b7b00dcf4eaba02b3811d68Today sees the publication of Emma Varnam‘s latest book “Granny Squares Weekend” – congratulations Emma – another beautiful book! Like her previous volume Granny Squares Home, Emma has curated a collection of her favourite granny square makes and updated them with her own blend of contemporary colour palettes and GMC’s modern styling. I just love her vibrant granny tote which is featured on the cover.

GMC sent me an early review copy and I’ve been itching to share this with you all. The joy of granny squares is that no matter what your skill level you can make a granny. Once you’ve mastered the basic motif, you can easily modify the design to create infinite possibilities and by choosing your own colour palette, every project will be unique. The projects in this book truly are quick and easy to follow. You really could manage many of them in a weekend, or over a couple of lazy Sundays! Alongside traditional favourites such as a granny square blankets, bags and cushions, you will find a few originals designed by Emma to show off her  eye for detail and love of bright colours. I also love her vibrant interpretation of the granny cowl and there is a gorgeous beret complete with pom pom that I’m sure will leap to the top of many crocheters “to make” lists.

With clear written instructions, helpful sketches and charts you will soon be hooking up your chosen project, even if you’ve never made a granny square before (although you will find it helpful to have some basic crochet skills or to spend some time mastering a basic square before you start as  this isn’t a comprehensive learn to crochet book). I tested the book out on some of my Learn to Crochet students and they loved the projects and were motivated to master the basics in order to make the projects in the book. They all agreed that this is one they’ll be asking for at Christmas or for birthdays, as they thought the price a little high. I know the book is on order at my local library, so perhaps the best option might be to borrow it first to see if it’s one you’ll return to before investing. With so many gorgeous crochet books constantly coming on to the market, your local library is a great place to explore and draw up a short list that you can pull out when friends and family ask what you would like as a gift.

Emma seems to have an innate talent for writing crochet books filled with projects crocheters want to make and she’s always high on my recommended reading lists for students. Granny Squares Weekend doesn’t disappoint and I am already planning which project I will make first when work crochet slows down and I finally have time to hook up  a few treats for friends and family – or even myself – Emma’s fingerless wrist warmers are a definite possibility!

 

Granny Squares Weekend is published today by GMC at £14.99 (ISBN 9781789436369) and can be ordered direct from the publishers.

Granny Squares Rock!

The Rambler’s Granny Square Scarf

Yesterday was “International Granny Square Day”, you didn’t know granny squares had their own “day”? Well everything has it’s own day in the spot light  these days and so it’s no surprise someone decided to celebrate the humble granny. (Check Suregal27 ‘s Instagram feed for more background and pictures). Even though I learned to crochet as a young child, I didn’t make my first granny square until well into my 40’s. I always thought they were garish, just for blankets and not really my thing at all. Now I love my grannies and wear this tank top “all” the time!

I could easily fill a book (several books) with some of my favourite granny square projects. Luckily I don’t need to write a book, because Sarah London, Susan Pinner and Laura Strutt (among others) have beaten me to it, revealing the multitude of projects you can make using this basic technique. Over the years I’ve been asked to design lots of projects for books and magazine using the granny motif and it’s still the most popular of my workshops. There have been cushions, blankets and stool covers. I’ve tried to show that granny squares can be more than just a way to use up all those garish, clashing scraps in your stash!

Granny square pot holders for Homemaker magazine

Yesterday reminded me that it’s time we celebrated the granny again (after all, grannies are cool!) and so I want to start sharing some ideas that go beyond the usual blankets, cushions, hot water bottle covers and tea cosies that you can find online.

I’m going to give you permission to get playful and creative. Think about your favourite colour schemes and design aesthetic (are you boho, Scandi, vintage or just a magpie like me). We’re going to free our  scraps and make lovely things for ourselves and our homes. The gorgeous baby blanket (pictured left) was made using a palette of pale grey, blue and cream. The result is a modern, stylish and practical baby gift.

You can already find some of my designs online and in my books (shameless plug: “Crochet: Learn it, Love It” * has a whole section of step by step photos and instructions for making granny squares, hexagons and triangles). There are some fabulous tutorials and videos showing you how to make a granny square online, or find a local class. I’ll be running a few granny square classes in the autumn, here in Cheshire.

Find the instructions for this super bright cushion here on Granny Cool

Right, let’s get started. Dive into your stash, find some pretty colours. The next few weeks are going to be all about the grannies! To get you started, I’ve put together a Pinterest board, called Granny Squares Rock. It’s full of photos and links to some amazing granny square projects, and you can also find some of my patterns on Ravelry and Love Knitting.

let’s start with the  instructions for making a basic granny square cushion . You’ll need to be able to crochet a granny square, so if you don’t know how to make one and don’t have access to a book or magazine with instructions, you might want to look at this step by step guide to crocheting a granny square on Helen Free’s blog. The instructions are for a cushion made using chunky wool. You can use any weight of yarn and an appropriate size hook – you’ll just need to work more rounds to fit your cushion pad. Once you’ve made a cushion, you can make a blanket, just by working more rounds. Next week I’ll show you how to make smaller motifs and join them as you work to make a snuggly scarf, a wrap or a blanket.

Happy crafting x

 

  • Also published in the UK with the title “The Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet”).