Review: Crocheted Succulents

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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

 

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New Learn to Crochet Class

20151018_121740I have a new crochet workshop class starting in March. This class will take place at the  Ashton Hayes Pavilion, Cheshire (the village where I live), on Tuesday mornings 12th, 19th and 26th March. I am running this class as a fund raiser for Ash-worth Timebank, a charity that is based here in the community and supports local residents by offering social activities, support and advice to everyone. Our venue for these workshops is fully accessible, has free parking and is easy to find. You can download the Crochet Poster made by the Timebank for all the contact details.

There are only eight places available and we already have some bookings, but if you would like to register for a place please contact Caroline at the Timebank or fill out the enquiry form below and one of us will be in touch.

Update: I am now taking direct payments for this class – use the contact form below if you would like to book!

Note

Using the contact form is a “private message” – your details will not be published.

 

 

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!

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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.

Heart Pops for Valentines

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Just in time for Valentine’s day I’ve released my little Heart Pops pattern. These simple little hearts are very quick to make and look fabulous strung as a garland or made into wall hangings. Some of you might recognise them as part of a feature I wrote for Issue 64 of Inside Crochet in 2015.

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You can use any yarn for these. I’ve suggested double knitting, but you can use aran or chunky to make larger hearts, or 4 ply for tiny ones. Use a size smaller hook than usual to create a dense fabric (you don’t want the stuffing to show through).

Although it’s traditional to make your hearts in red or pink, I chose bold pastels for mine and they look very cheerful decorating a spring table.

You can find the pattern on Love Crochet or Ravelry.

Happy Crocheting xxx

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.

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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.

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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

The Best of the Rest

So, while I’ve been hooking up stars, holly and garlands a whole gang of crochet designers have been sharing their makes too.

So, as I wrap up my blog until the New Year for my annual social media break here’s my round up of some great patterns you can find right now:

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I am definitely making a few of these cracker hats  by Emily. They are seriously the most original crochet make I’ve seen this Christmas. I think they’ll go really well with my crochet paper chains (search my 12 Makes for Christmas post for links).

I shall also be putting these on my list for next year’s making:

Just Pootling’s Christmas pudding mouse, A Toft Angel (in fact if Santa’s reading any of those gorgeous Ed’s Animals – they are so adorable. And, if you still need inspiration and ideas for this year, do make sure you’re checking out the hashtag #amigurumiadvent2018 on Instagram –  every day I’m having “I wish I had thought of that moment! I am constantly amazed by the creative genius of crochet designers.

I hope you all have a wonderful festive season – don’t forget to drop by my Instagram feed, where I shall still be posting photos of my festives makes, bakes and crafty inspiration.

Thanks for all your lovely comments and messages, I’m so glad that many of you have found something new to hook this month. I’ll be back in January.

Happy festive making x

Felted Baubles

Another one of my very early designs for Inside Crochet, these felted baubles have become a Christmas tradition. I love to find new ways to decorate them. Hand stitched with beads or covered in sequins, they always look spectacular. Remember to use a natural fibre such as wool or mohair, not a superwash wool or they won’t felt.

Of course, you can make the same pattern in cotton yarn and just add more stuffing – they look great hung on the tree in jewel bright colours. I like to finish them with a couple of rounds of metallic thread for extra “bling”!

If you want to try making some for yourself, you can buy  the pattern on Love Crochet

Cute Little Booties

I have a soft spot for these. Not only so they look impossibly cute, they were one of the first of my patterns to be published in Inside Crochet back in 2012. They look very pretty strung with ribbon and hung on a tree, but they will also fit a newborn.

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You can buy the pattern on Ravelry, or hop over to Love Crochet, where you can download a copy for free.  You won’t need much yarn, I usually use double knitting weight superwash wool, but you can use whatever you have available. My top tip if you’re making these for a child is to buy a ball in each shade and make two pairs – invariably babies will lose at least one bootie and it’s great to have a “back up”!

I hope you’re enjoying these quick festive posts, they’re certainly helping to put me in a festive mood. Now, I’m off to crochet some sprouts – because everyone loves sprouts at Christmas – don’t they?

 

Christmas Puddings

20151023_112939.jpgType the words “crochet Christmas pudding” into any search engine and you’ll pull up thousands of photographs and ideas!

Over the years I’ve come up with several ideas and often my favourites are the simplest. A combination of cream and brown wool, topped with a few red beads or sequins and some green leaves can give you several options.

Tiny puddings look so cute strung on the tree, or you can glue them to wooden pegs to hang your Christmas cards (these ones were painted with gold spray). Or why not make pencil toppers or key rings?

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My favourite is my festive pin cushion. The glossy berries were rescued from a wreath I had bought years before. The mice had nibbled most of it away when it was stored in  the attic at our old house, but I managed to rescue the berries and they came in very useful for  topping these puddings!

Here’s my basic “recipe” for a crochet pudding. You can easily modify it by working more rounds of increases (then work a corresponding number of straight rounds and then follow the same principle for decreasing). As usual, use a size smaller hook so that your stuffing doesn’t show through. I always start my crochet with a chain ring, if you’re a fan of the “magic” ring, by all means use that instead. Whatever the crochet police might tell you, it comes down to personal preference and I stand by my chain ring! Let’s be honest, once you’ve stitched on a couple of leaves and some beads, no-one will know the difference anyway. I always feel so frustrated when ladies come to my classes and tell me they’ve seen some gorgeous crochet patterns, but they don’t know how to make a “magic ring” so it’s obviously “too hard” for them (insert sad face emoji). Shameless plug – you can find instructions for lots of different ways to start crochet in the round in my book – with photos to help! Of course, try the method recommended by the designer, but if you get in a pickle, there’s no shame in sticking with what you know. For 40 years I only knew one way to cast on my knitting, but that didn’t stop me making all kinds of toys, scarves and jumpers – and no-one ever said I wasn’t a “real” knitter! Anyway, I digress. Back to our puddings.

I write my patterns in UK crochet terms and you’ll find a list of abbreviations here (links to Inside Crochet – a great resource for crocheters).

Pattern starts here:

With white yarn, make 4ch. Join with a slip stitch to make a ring.

Rnd 1: 6dc into ring. 6dc

Rnd 2: 2dc in each dc around. 12dc

Rnd 3: [1dc in next dc, 2dc in next dc] 6 times. 18dc

Fasten off white yarn and join Brown to any dc.

Rnds 4 – 6: 1dc in each dc around.

Rnd 7: [1dc in next dc, dc2tog in next dc] 6 times. 12dc

Stuff pudding with hollowfibre toy stuffing, old tights or wool tops.

Rnd 8: [dc2tog] 6 times. 6dc

Cut yarn and use a tapestry needle to draw the yarn through the remaining stitches, pull tight to close and weave in ends.

Use oddments of green yarn to make leaves.  For tiny ones, make 4ch, skip first ch, make 1dc in each ch, slip stitch in same place as last dc and fasten off.  You can also cut leaves from felt. For my pin cushion, I used my free mistletoe pattern (you’ll find links and more ideas in the “12 Makes for Christmas” tab. Or, look out for my holly leaf pattern tomorrow, when I’ll be unveiling my 2018 British Wool wreath.

I don’t  know about your house, but over here it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…

 

 

Jingle All the Way

JIngle Bells 2.jpgWelcome back! I’ve just opened Day 4 of my advent calendar and I’m starting to feel very festive. It won’t belong before I succumb to the charms of a gingerbread latte and curl up on the sofa to watch Elf (the best Christmas film ever – except for Die Hard of course!!!)

Inspired by Elf and in an attempt to bring some more traditional colour to my festive decorations, today I’m sharing a simple Jingle Bell decoration. The bells I’m using were bought from a high street craft shop in a pack of 12. I’m sure you have your own favourite craft suppliers, where you’ll find the same or similar. You’ll also need some ribbon, a metal hoop (I’m using a thin child’s bangle, bought in a multi pack on the high Street), green yarn and a crochet hook. A tapestry needle is useful for threading the bell. You can use any yarn. I used 4 ply cotton from my stash and a 2.5mm crochet hook.

Begin by working  double crochet (that’s UK terminology – dc, if you’re in the USA you probably call that a single crochet!) around the hoop (think of the hoop as an an extra large magic ring or chain ring). Work enough dc to fit comfortably around the ring, but allowing the stitches room to move (otherwise you will find the next round puckers). Slip stitch into the first dc to finish the first round. Now you get to choose. For a narrow hoop make one slip stitch in each dc, for a wider hoop work dc around.

Whichever you choose, slip stitch into your first stitch to complete the round and fasten off your yarn.

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Thread the jingle bell through the top of the hook, tie a piece of ribbon in a bow to decorate and hang on your tree, the kitchen window, on a door handle — wherever you like and let’s hope the jingle jangle doesn’t annoy you by the time the big day arrives!

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I’ll be back tomorrow with more quick makes

Ho Ho Ho xxx

A Bright Bauble Christmas

Yes, eagle eyed readers have seen this wreath before, especially when Simply Crochet magazine featured it on the front cover of the Crochet Christmas collection in 2016. I just love these bright colours!

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bobble wreathThis pattern can be bought from Ravelry or for the special price of £1.00 plus VAT on Love Crochet. You can choose to follow my bright colour palette or stick to more festive shades. Just remember to cover your polystyrene wreath in fabric or ribbon as some glues will cause the plastic wreath to melt! I have also made a version using a card circle, cut from the bases you sometimes get with frozen pizza!

 

I do hope you’re enjoying these festive makes and feeling inspired to make a few handmade additions to your Christmas decorations. Don’t forget to share your makes with the hashtag #grannycoolchristmas, I love to see what you’ve all been making!

 

Gingerbread Man Pattern

I used to love making gingerbread dough when my daughter was little, Rolling it out, cutting the shapes and then best of all we would go to town with sparkly sugar balls, sugar strands and icing. These crochet versions might be a “healthy” option, but they still give you lots of opportunities to decorate and embellish. Raid your button tin, use up all those oddments of ric rac and ribbon. Go wild and fill your house with happy smiling gingerbread families! This is another free pattern, as usual a pdf is available on Love Crochet and Ravelry and I would be thrilled if you share photos of your makes using the hashtag #grannycoolchristmas.

Happy making my crochet friends x

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