Black Sheep Boutique - Emma Varnam
We are very excited to share the next designer to join Black Sheep Boutique - Emma Varnam. Emma is a good friend of Black Sheep Wools and we have been working with her on projects for many years now. You may have already made one of her beautiful crocheted blankets without even realising it was one of Emma's designs....Garden Route or Little River? With the launch of the boutique it means that all of her current blanket pack kits and pattern books are all in the one place online.
Emma is passionate about both knitting and crochet, a yarnaholic like many of us! She enjoys sharing her crochet and knitting stories on her blog, find crocheted blankets, sock knitting, garments, amigurumi and more. If you haven't seen Emma's book Cute Crocheted Animals then do take a look, the sou'wester for a rabbit is just too cute. Crocheted animals with crocheted outfits has got to be the most adorable combination. This isn't Emma's only book, find them all in her Boutique shop online. We have also been lucky enough to have Emma Varnam in store at the Craft Barn celebrating Yarn Shop Day over the years. We were so pleased to welcome her again for our Yarn Shop Day 2019 celebrations in April. Voting is now open in the Let's Knit British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2019, if you did visit our shop and had fun on the day don't forget you can vote for yarn shop day experience as one of the categories.
To introduce Emma Varnam to Black Sheep Boutique, I sent her a selection of questions to get an insight into her life as a designer.
We are so happy that you have chosen to be part of our Black Sheep Boutique. What does it mean for you to be part of this new venture?
Firstly I love Black Sheep Wools, this is where I go when I want to look at yarn and squidge the wool. I can spend many a happy hour in the aisles and usually treat myself to a cheeky piece of cake. Black Sheep have always been so supportive of my work so it is the natural place for me to collaborate with special bespoke designs.
What inspired you to start designing?
I started to design for my son when he was very little. I couldn't find designs that really reflected the jumpers I wanted to make so I began making my own. My love of toy design began when I started making him things in the evening which I knew he would love and play with. I believe all the best things are made from love.
You have created lots of fabulous designs, which would you say is your favourite or one that holds a special place in your heart?
Probably Jack Rabbit from my book Cute Crochet Animals. He really has captured many hearts. He has a very British look and indeed I know that he has been made many times by crochet enthusiasts. It is thrilling to see photos pop up of my toys across the globe.
How do you create your colour palettes?
They usually come from prints or cards which I love. I might take a greetings card which really appeals to me and use the colours that I pick out from the illustration as blanket shades. You can find new and interesting combinations this way.
Do you ever take a break from crochet and knitting to enjoy other crafts?
Oh I wish i did...If I have another hobby it is gardening. I adore my garden and during the summer will spend endless hours pottering about in it.
Have you tried any new yarns lately? Is there anything that has really caught your eye?
Well I am enjoying the new shades of Rowan Felted Tweed. I like brighter hues so I am delighted that Kaffe Fassett has added to the colour range. They are gorgeous. I have also used Rico Bubble yarn - which is a cool tinsel yarn for my new book which is out now. Crocheted Cacti and Succulents. I have used it to create cacti spikes and it looks FABULOUS! I picked it up on one of my shopping trips to the Craft Barn.
What is your go to crochet stitch pattern / motif?
Well if it is for toys, you have to say double crochet in the round for amigurumi. Such a brilliant technique, it is like sculpting with yarn. Another would be a shell edging stitch. I adore it.
Do you still find time to crochet / knit for yourself in between designing?
Oh yes - I almost must....sounds crazy but I will often have a pair of knitted socks on the go and they sit permanently in my handbag. If I am waiting in the car for my son, I will whip out my knitting so I don't spend too much time on my phone.
What direction do you see crochet going in the next 5 to 10 years?
Well I see that we are going back to the traditional skills - but with a twist. Youtube and the internet has made us insatiable for new techniques. People seem to want to learn something new all the time, so more complex patterns are being developed in fairisle and aran. People are beginning to look at things like double knitting and brioche too. The more complex the better seems to be the trend at the moment.
I think we are also questioning our use of plastics a bit more so you might see a growth of blending hardwearing natural fibres like Blue Faced Leicester with softer merino yarns. We'll see - we do love a yarn that washes well.
We always love seeing your latest books and designs and can’t wait to add more of your projects into the Black Sheep Boutique. What are your future crochet plans? Have you a new book in the pipeline?
Yes I have so excited about my Crocheted Cacti and Succulent book - I giggled permanently when I designed those plants. I have some exciting new projects in 2019 with Stylecraft Yarns and West Yorkshire Spinners and I am hopeful of writing a sequel to Cute Crocheted Animals. I have ALOT of fun!
Since Emma answered our questions she has been announced as Knitter of the Year in Knit Now magazine. Congratulations!