Vintage Flowers Blanket

Probably the most beautiful blanket I’ve ever made – and certainly the most colourful! This simple motif blanket was inspired by a version made by my Dad in the early 1970’s. He used oddments from clothes he had made for us girls, baby blankets, granny squares and to be honest any oddments he could lay his hands on! When Inside Crochet commissioned this, we chose Rooster Almerino DK to make the sample (above) , it had an excellent range of colours to make bold and bright motifs. The original version is shown below – you can see how many different colours were used!

I have included a suggested colour chart with the pattern, but to be honest I really would encourage you to just go wild and make each motif in a random collection of colours and yarns. One of the things I’ve noticed this week is that the oddments and left overs in my yarn stash seem to fall into distinct colour groups. There’s lots of blue, purple and grey, a little yellow and very little green which means that a blanket made up of oddments in your stash will likely reflect your own colour preferences.

Each motif uses just 5m of yarn and works up very quickly. I don’t do “how to” videos or step by step photos, but I have included a little collage here showing one or two steps just to illustrate how easy this is. If you haven’t used the “join as you go” method before, it’s really very simple and very satisfying to know you won’t have to sew all those motifs together at the end. If you feel daunted by making a complete blanket, you could make a cushion cover. Or, my plan for this year is keep a basket by my sofa and every time I complete a project I’ll make a flower motif to add to a blanket that will record my year of making.

You can buy the pattern on Payhip, or from Love Crafts (no affiliate links – just direct links to the patterns).

The original pattern appeared in Issue 76 of Inside Crochet, photos are by Kirsten Mavric and copyright Tailor Made Media.

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”).

 

 

Gorgeous Baby Blanket

I am just a little bit in love with this version of the Silsden baby blanket I designed for Eden Cottage Yarns. Crocheted in Whitfell DK (a gorgeous 100% baby alpaca), this yarn crochets up into a butter soft fabric.

Laura has only been crocheting a few months and has made a fabulous job of this blanket. The pattern is worked entirely in double crochet and is very easy for a beginner. You can buy the yarn from the Eden Cottage Yarns online shop and you’ll find the Silsden blanket pattern on Ravelry. Of course, if blankets aren’t your thing, but you like the look of this beautiful yarn; you’ll find plenty of pattern inspiration on this  dedicated page on the Eden Cottage Yarns website. Thanks Laura for sending me this beautiful photo – congratulations on completing your first blanket.

Happy Making xxx

A Beautiful Scarf

ccth_blue-scarf-02Now that Autumn truly has arrived we have the perfect excuse to start wearing “all” the knitwear! For me, that means pairing every outfit with a scarf, shawl or cowl. On my hook right now is this gorgeous Nubbly Scarf designed by Ali Campbell for my last book. Ali chose a chunky alpaca / merino blend from Bergere de France, but I’m making mine in Eden Cottage Yarns Whitfell Chunky. I can’t share a photo yet as it might become a festive gift, but I can tell you it’s making up very quickly and I may just keep it for myself!

I just love the quirky edging, such a nice change from a basic fringe. Even a beginner to manage this project. You can find more of Ali’s gorgeous designs over on her website, where you can also book for her classes and buy her ebooks. I’ve said it before, but one of the best bits about writing The Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet (or Crochet. Learn It Love It, if you’re in the USA / Australia) was the chance to collaborate with some of my favourite designers. I loved seeing their ideas and I loved every one of the designs they contributed. This book really was a team effort.

womans-weekly-guide-to-crochetYou can buy a copy from most online retailers, or ask for it in your local bookshop. It makes the perfect gift (shameless plug) for new and beginner crocheters. It’s filled with advice, techniques and photo tutorials, including joining motifs,  foundation crochet and crocodile stitch. At the moment you can buy it from The Book People for the discount price of £10.39!! I have a soft spot for the cute amigurumi fox by Stephanie Lau, which she wrote about on her blog. I could never have come up something that cute!

learn-it-love-itAmerican readers are treated to a photo of Leonie Morgan’s beautiful motif blanket – another triumph! Leonie has always been a bit of a crochet heroine of mine, you can read all about her work on her website, where you can also find the perfect Autumn Cowl pattern. Whatever you’re making this autumn, do let me know. I’ll be back soon with some great ideas for festive gifts for crafty loved ones, so if you have any suggestions for what I should include do let me know.

Happy making x

 

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A Zero Waste Blanket

grannytastic stashbusterI will admit to being a little over obsessed with granny squares and crochet motifs in general over the past few weeks. In times of stress (and there has been much of that lately) I turn to simple motifs to relax, to empty my mind and to feel the joy of hook in hand with no deadline pressures and  no anxiety about writing up patterns.

I came to granny squares late in my crochet life – I had always believed them to be too simple, too obvious – and I’d grown up in a house adorned with motif blankets and cushions so I felt like I’d had my fill of them!

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Then I realised how many crocheters (and customers in the yarn shop where I worked) loved the simplicity of the granny square. They sought out other motifs and looked for projects that would allow them to indulge their love of colour. Crochet blankets were always popular, and they still are. I am constantly overwhelmed by the popularity of blanket CALs (crochet alongs) and while I’ve never felt the need to join in or to buy huge quantities of colourful acrylic and crochet the latest “must have” blanket. I will admit to a growing collection of indulgent throws and covers (let’s not mention my crochet cushion cover habit – fed by dozens of magazine commissions and a desire for instant colour updates in my living room).

craftseller cushion paleI am often tempted to sell them as they take up so much space and Mr T is reluctant to turn the house into a crochet show room! Instead they lurk under beds or in cupboards, occasionally allowed to adorn a sofa or spare bed. The truth is, there are so many, in so many colours and styles that I really don’t have anywhere to do show them off properly.

craftseller cushion

 

 

The latest addition to my collection is the “grannytastic” stashbuster, a true “zero waste” blanket, made up scraps too small for other projects, but which I cannot bring myself to throw away. My annual project to use up all the yarn left over from magazine and book commissions usually becomes a baby blanket. I hate waste of any kind and yarn “leftovers” are an occupational hazard.  Unused balls are donated to charity of seized on by ladies at knit group (we have a thriving sideline in yarn swaps).  These blankets have their origins in times past, when patchwork throws or rag rugs would be made from worn out fabrics. Starting with the smallest quantities, each round is worked in a different colour.

grannytastic stashbuster2

The sequence moves from pinks and mauves, through to cream, yellow and mustard. I set out with no plan in mind, just a desire to use up the odds and ends. It now measures 120 x 120cm and shows no sign of ending. It is made in 100% natural fibres. Pure wool, superwash merino and a little bit of alpaca; yarns that cannot be composted. I could not bear to think of these scraps going to landfill, so they sit in a box until I can no longer find room to store them. I wrote on Instagram today that I’m tempted to keep on going until it covers my king size bed, but that would involve the purchase of more yarn as I have now used up every scrap large enough to complete a round and so it would no longer be a true “stashbuster”… For now, I have “parked” it, a new set of commissions and deadlines approaches and “real” crochet must take over for a while. On sunny days, I shall take my grannytastic blanket outside, enjoy the colour and the comforting warmth it provides when there is a chill breeze and contemplate adding just one more round…

 

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