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Editorial blog

Cute Crocheted Wild Animals by Emma Varnam

01 Apr 2020

“My new book, Cute Crocheted Wild Animals, was launched after I had written Cute Crocheted Animals a few years ago. The projects featured tended to be the traditional characters which are used for soft toys, such as bears, rabbits and foxes. Lots of people who enjoyed the first book contacted me and asked if it would be possible to create a new book with rare wild animals. The ideas just started popping into my head. I was also fortunate enough to visit Africa last year and so it was easy to be inspired by the fantastic natural wildlife.

I have been a knitter most of my life and I still enjoy knitting. I started crocheting about 10 years ago, and was first inspired by some crocheted blankets I inherited. I thought it would be fun to teach myself to crochet in order to reduce my huge yarn stash. I love it so much and I find the techniques so flexible and speedy. However, the stash has not reduced, if anything it has grown!

“I have included quite a lot of detail into how to make the toys in this book, and I think readers have responded well to that. I was able to learn from the last book and add in hints and tips to help with the construction. There is also an added bonus in that all the outfits from this new book will fit on the animals made from the first book.

There are plenty of techniques and instructions and I have tried to avoid complicated designs where I can.

“I think the main appeal of crochet is that it’s usually quite fast. I am a very speedy knitter but I would much rather crochet a blanket than knit one. Secondly, there are many fabulous smaller crochet projects that are easy to complete over a weekend. It’s very satisfying!

“Crochet is perfect for toy making – you can crochet in the round and almost sculpt the shape by working in continuous spirals. This means you have no seams. The material you make is very hard wearing and keeps its shape. This ensures that favourite characters keep their quality and have a much longer life playing with their owners.

“For as long as children have had dolls they have enjoyed dressing their toys. I think the reasons behind the success of clothing for toys is a combination of developing and demonstrating love and nurturing through imaginative play. Kids love to make decisions about what their toy wears and they are in charge of the adventures they will go on together. I think it is the beginning of independent thought for children. Plus they look cute! I also get to live out my fashion designer dreams through designing toy outfits – that’s my own imaginative play.

I have a fantastic relationship with my online followers, and ask them to show me their creations using the hashtag #CuteCrochetedAnimals. It is fabulous to see all the different projects made from the books, and makers can find inspiration about new colour combinations and alterations from other crafters. I love the ways that social media can create a community.

“I always try to share what I am making on my blog. I imagine I am writing for my best friend. I hope readers feel the joy and enthusiasm I have for the craft, and I ideally want to inspire my readers to keep on making and enjoy finding new inspiration from everyday concepts. I won’t lie though – a giveaway post is always the most popular way to engage with my audience. I don’t do heaps of these, but I do enjoy giving away copies of my books when they are first published and any new patterns that I develop.

“Looking to the future, I’d love to write a nursery crochet book – I keep thinking there are so many useful patterns that I make for new babies in my life and it would be joyful to share these go-to patterns with the crafting community. In terms of my other goals I am keen to develop some new toy patterns and enjoy the design process. Nothing brings a smile to my face more than finishing a new toy and thinking – you know what, I know a child who would just love that!”

3 ways to sell crochet books

Base your workshops around them

In order to entice customers to give a new crochet book a try, it’s a good idea to use a project from the title you wish to promote in your next workshop. This will give them a taste of what to expect. Be sure to leave the book in a highly visible place during your workshop, and remind crafters that if they want more guidance or similar makes then they can purchase the book from you.

Create a knock out window display

If you’re a keen crafter yourself, then it might be worth making a few of the projects from the book you’d like to promote and create a colourful window display for your shop. Doing this not only gives you hands on experience about the book, which will allow you to provide valuable guidance, but it also shows the passion you have for your business. If you’re not confident that you could crochet to a high enough standard, then it might be worth commissioning an experienced crafter to create a few pieces for you. Be sure to add the book to your window display to inspire people as they walk past the front of your store.

Create video content for online platforms

Completed projects from the book could also be used in video content. You could film yourself putting a project together, give your recommendations and promote the book in this way, too. It’s clear to see that videos are a great way of interacting with your online audience, and this is a valuable opportunity to boost sales.

The secrets behind Emma’s success

GMC sales director Michael Robb reveals why Emma Varnam’s books have been so popular, as well as key ways to market them

What is it about Emma Varnam and her crochet books that has convinced GMC to invest in her?

“Emma has a style and aesthetic that crafters love! She has a lucid and friendly writing style, coupled with great projects that inspire and encourage readers. Crafters trust her and her books sell well, so it makes sense to keep commissioning Emma to supply more great projects.”

Why should retailers stock Cute Crocheted Wild Animals?

“Retailers only have to look to the success of the predecessor title, Cute Crocheted Animals from Emma Varnam. This sold over 10,000 copies in the UK and many more worldwide. Like the previous title, Cute Crocheted Wild Animals features 10 adorable crocheted animals with wardrobes to mix and match. The five pairs of animals (pandas, lions, zebras, elephants and monkeys) all have distinctive personalities and gorgeous outfits – plus all the clothes can fit all of the animals (and will fit the animals from the first book, too!). Her fans will love this.“

Is crochet still just as popular?

“Crochet has been incredibly popular for the past few years and shows no sign of slowing down. As publishers, we have to keep looking to our creative authors to come up with colourful and attractive new projects that crafters want to make. There are always new ideas in the craft world!”

What’s next for GMC?

“In 2020 we have some great new titles coming from GMC. These include 100 Essential Crochet Stitches by Val Pierce, How to Cross Stitch by Sian Hamilton and Circus Embroidery from Susie Johns. We are also putting the finishing touches to our Autumn 2020 titles, so more will be announced soon.”

About the book

Cute Crocheted Wild Animals by Emma Varnam (RRP £12.99) published by GMC Publications will be available from March 2020. You can find Emma’s blog at emmavarnam.co.uk and her Instagram account @emmavarnam

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