Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Easter Weekend

It’s Easter weekend, my favorite weekend in all the year because it has a holiday either end of it. A glorious bank holiday weekend sandwich!

Charlie and the micro chicks agree as they’re obviously custom made for spring shenanigans. They haven’t been out of their Easter egg themed bucket since I brought it into the studio on Tuesday. They don’t like chocolate much so this¬†was the perfect gift ūüôā

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Sunshine has been pouring down, daffodils have been blooming, both outside…

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…and inside.

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My desk has been invaded by all things springy and a naughty cat has been hogging all the yarn.

Minnie and I share the same level of¬†passion for the woolly stuff¬†and she’s rarely off my desk these days. She’s often to be found¬†in a basket somewhere nearby,¬†snuggling down for some warm and well deserved¬†shut-eye after sitting in the garden for a full hour watching all those busy birds building their nests.

It’s a hard life being a pampered kitty¬†you know! Minnie prefers a prefabricated nest and thinks the birds are mugs for going to all that trouble to have a bespoke des res. Personally, she’s not too fussy about what she sleeps in, as the following snapshots taken during the past few weeks prove.

Pompoms are always a good choice… even if you have to share the space with a wide-eyed, oversized, purple gonk.

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…and this heart print canvas covered box complete with a colourful deep sprung mattress is a popular haunt too.

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Note the smug ‘cat that got the cream yarn’ look!

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Size doesn’t matter… Minnie’s quite happy to perch on top of a rather small basket jam packed with my hand knitted¬†mittens as she doesn’t appear to be up for sharing her favorite hangout with a panda.

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And with those crazy panda eyes staring at her, I’m not surprised!

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If the whole of you doesn’t fit, what the heck… just squeeze in what you can. Though I think this basket¬†doesn’t have nearly enough yarn in it, hence the somewhat disgruntled look!

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As a last resort, if their are no wool filled baskets or boxes in sight, an uncomfortable plastic tray filled with lumpy crocheted baubles will do just as well.

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Of course she has had several snoozes on my newly finished pompom cushion too.

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But she generally prefers a work in progress to a finished one. Here you can see a skewered kebab of crochet squares, which is the very, very beginning of something new.

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Now my¬†pompom cushion is finished and the poncho is nearly there too (final update on that coming soon – just got the hood to figure out), I’ve begun to think about a new oversized spare time crochet project to keep me occupied during evenings, weekends and trips out during the summer.

I want to make a blanket and some cushions for my bedroom in really girly colours (sorry hubby!) and I’m getting the hots for pink and aqua right now, as you can see from my pinterest board of the same name. But I love pink and red too. Maybe it’s just pink and anything that will do at the moment.

All the pretty Easter colours have got under my skin, probably because I’ve been working with them quite a lot recently and some of¬†the last few year’s¬†Easter makes have been unpacked to add a touch of festivities to the place.

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So¬†I sort¬†of know what I want to achieve but it’s all a bit fuzzy in my head still until I see the colours together in real life. I figured the best way to start would be with some plain circles so I could see how different colour combinations panned out.

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Once it was my turn with the yarn basket (thanks Minnie!), and with my usual working method of ‘make it up as you go along’ I started to make a few more decorative circles, because if there’s one thing I know for sure at the outset of this new venture it’s that I want circles to feature prominently. I’ve made several types of granny squares for blankets and have worked quite a lot with stripes too. Now I’m getting the urge to get dotty and spotty with my next design.

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I had fun developing the circle theme a little more, adding in some extra rounds of single crochets¬†and extending the colour range…

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I finally decided on which yarns I wanted to use and got busy winding them all off into big, fat yarn cakes.

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Yarn cakes are much easier to work¬†with than standard balls of yarn. It’s so easy to pull the yarn¬†out from the middle from where it will¬†gently unravel to give a smooth, even¬†flow without the remaining ball¬†jumping about everywhere.

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I highly recommend going to the extra trouble of winding these little nuggets of convenience if you are going to be frequently changing colours. Anything that makes things more efficient, faster and frees up more crochet time is surely an excellent thing!

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I’ve also been making¬†unicorns. I wrote the pattern for a UK magazine a while ago and have now got around to tweaking and improving on it.

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Pattern testing, as always, results in many replicas. Well, four, to be precise.

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I really loved making the variegated yarn versions.

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And I am so digging those curls. They’re just as unruly as mine!

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Hopefully I’ll be listing my Curlicue the Unicorn pattern on¬†Etsy soon. I really just have to get a good photoshoot of them and I can finish the final pattern layout tweaks.

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As you can see I’ve got plenty to be getting on with this. ¬†I need to be quick though, before minnie appears and beds down for the next few hours.

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All that yarn does look rather inviting in many ways. I certainly can’t wait to get stuck in and see how my blanket and cushions start to take shape.

Have a lovely Easter weekend everyone!


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Pompoms 3 ways

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Having become properly potty about pompoms recently, and having made a couple of bucketfuls, I thought I’d share with you some of the different ways there are to create¬†one of these gloriously satisfying orbs of fluffy, shagpile, pompomiliscious, plusciousness. (I’ve got a BIG ¬†thing for pompoms, can you tell?!). So in¬†this post¬†you’ll find my three favorite techniques along with some hints, tips and tricks of the trade to get you making the perfect pompom.

A note on yarn choices

I like to use Double Knit/light worsted¬†weight yarn or 4 ply/sport weight/sock yarn for pompoms around 1″ (2 cm) or less. Aran/Worsted weight yarn works well¬†for¬†bigger pompoms –¬†over¬†1″ (2 cm) diameter. But none of that is set in stone so feel free to experiment and see what you like best.

For a successful dense and fluffy pompom¬†an acrylic or woollen yarn is preferable to a cotton or linen yarn. Fibres that are more elastic and squishy, with more ‘give’ in them will condense better at the core when you tie the finishing thread around the centre, resulting in a pompom with a denser pile and a rounder shape.

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(1) The Cardboard Rings Method.

Pros: No specialist equipment¬†needed. You can make any size you like, although I don’t personally recommend using this method if you’re making them less than 1″ across as this can be quite a fiddly process and might put you off before you really get started.

Cons: It can be a faff having to keep pulling the yarn through the hole. 3-4 metre¬†lengths are optimal. For larger pompoms you have to join in new lengths of yarn quite frequently. The yarn¬†can’t be wound straight off the ball.

You will need:

Some cardboard¬†–¬†cereal packets or similar are the ideal thickness.

Two circular templates. The larger template will be the rough size your pompom will turn out. The smaller template should be approximately 1/3rd the diameter of the larger one. I used a roll of Washi tape and a button for mine.

A pen to draw around the templates.

Papercutting scissors ¬†for the cardboard (don’t be tempted to blunt your best sharp ended snippy scissors cutting out the circles, though¬†you’ll probably get away with it a few times it’s really not good practice in the long run).

Sharp ended embroidery scissors.

A crochet hook.

Pompom-equipment

Draw around your circular templates taking care to put the smaller one as near to the centre of the larger one¬†as possible. Once you’ve marked and cut out your big circles you’ll need to cut out the middle one. Cut a slit from the outside to the inner circle then cut the inner circle out.

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The slits make it easier to cut out the central circle and will also be used to remove the card from the finished pompom later on.

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Place the cardboard circles on top of each other, making sure the slits do not line up. You will want these to be at different locations to give the cardboard rings stability.

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Cut some lengths of yarn to approximately 3 meters. For a pompom around this size, I like to use four strands at a time to speed things up a bit.

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Wind the first couple of wraps over the beginning of your yarn ends to secure in place.

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Wind the yarn either side of the short ends.

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Using a crochet hook will make it easier to pull the yarn through the hole, especially as it begins to fill with more and more yarn towards the end.

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Wind the¬†yarn evenly around the discs. Don’t wind too tightly or the discs will bend out of shape.

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Add in more yarn lengths as necessary.

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Continue winding evenly until the middle hole is full of yarn.

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Snip along the spine of the wound yarn with a pair of sharp ended scissors.

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Tie a length of yarn around the middle of the pompom in between the two cardboard discs. For extra security I make three overhand knots on top of each other. Pull the yarn as tight as you can without breaking¬†it. After a few tugs¬†you’ll soon get the feel for how tight you can pull on the yarn before it snaps. Some yarns have a higher tolerance for¬†stretching than others. If you have used a loosely plied yarn for your pom pom this will be weaker than a tightly plied yarn and won’t be suitable for tying off. In that case, you can always tie the middle with a different, stronger yarn.

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Locate the slits in the card and gently pull apart to release pompom.

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Trim all around until you are happy with the shape.

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(2) The Fork Method.

Pros: No specialist equipment needed. Very fast to make.

Cons: You can only make one size depending on your fork. Requires more trimming than other methods.

You will need:

A dining fork.

Sharp ended embroidery scissors.

Yarn needle.

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Wind yarn around the tines of the fork approximately 40 times. Don’t wind too tightly as this will increase the tension on the yarn and make it difficult to tie the pompom in the middle.

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Thread your yarn needle with matching yarn and insert tip through middle gap at base of tines.

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Bring end of yarn over top of yarn bundle and tie in an overhand knot. Pull tight and tie two more knots to secure.

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Remove from fork and cut all loops on both sides of knotted yarn.

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Trim all around until you are happy with the shape.

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(3) The Shop Bought Pompom Maker Method.

Pros: Pompom wound in two halves, no poking yarn through a hole. Requires less trimming than other methods. Can be wound very tightly for a super dense pompom.

Cons:¬†Specialist equipment¬†needed. Only available in certain sizes. If you lose your pompom maker mid project you’ll have to buy another one (I did this and the next day the lost one turned up underneath¬†the couch – aaggh!)

You will need:

A dedicated Pompom maker. I like the Clover range the best as they are very well made and will last for ages (not being sponsored here, just my honest opinion!).

Sharp ended embroidery scissors.

Pompom-makers

Open out one pair of arms and begin winding evenly.

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Wind yarn around until the semicircular space in the middle is filled with yarn.

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Close first pair of arms back to centre of maker.

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Loosely carry yarn over to second pair of arms.

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Wind yarn until full and close second pair of arms to centre.

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Snip the yarn that connects the two halves.

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Cut the spine of the pompom on both sides, making sure to hold arms in place.

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Tie an overhand knot in between the two halves. Pull tight and tie two more knots to secure.

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Remove arms from centre.

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Pull the two halves apart to reveal your beautifully formed pompom.

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Trim any uneven ends if necessary.

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If you’ve been hesitating to get started on your own pompom adventure or have struggled with making perfect pompoms in the past then I hope this inspires¬†you to have a go. But be warned, once you start you may never stop!

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So far I’ve used mine to make some Halloween garlands

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…to add zings of colour to my¬†Christmas decorations

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…and to make an exceptionally comfy cushion cover. (Don’t expect to get your fair share of one of these if you have cats!).

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Now I’m busy thinking up other ways to use my growing stash.

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I’m always looking for inspiration so if you’ve got any suggestions for¬†unusual or fun pompom projects that you’d like to share, leave me a comment, I’d love to hear them!


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A Splash of Spring and a Burst of Bright Yarn

It been a case of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ around here over the weekend. What¬†a tonic to see the sun and, even better, feel the warmth of it on your skin (or on your fur if you’re a cat).

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I’d promised myself I¬†would begin to sort out my¬†increasingly messy desk, and tackle some of the ongoing projects that are helping to keep it messy, but this sort of weather can’t be sniffed at after a long wet winter¬†so hubby and¬†I decided to squeeze in¬†a speedy cycle ride around the¬†river to get us a good dose of sunshine and bank up those vitamin D levels.

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I figured my¬†jumble of WIPs wouldn’t be going anywhere in a hurry and would still be waiting for me when I got back. It would have been a shame to have holed up indoors all day and missed the loveliness. A bright blue sky makes everything so much more wonderful.

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Severn-walk

cycling

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We managed three laps around the river, working out at around ten miles so it felt pretty virtuous too.¬†And, yes, my desk was still messy and all my work in progresses were still waiting patiently for me to finish them off. Time to set to and get busy.¬†As it happened, going for an invigorating bike ride in the¬†fresh air acted as a cheery tonic that put a spring in my step for the rest of the day and I’m sure it made me much more productive¬†and¬†happier too.

The pompom cushion I began at Christmas was my main priority as I’d finished up crocheting the front and back¬†pieces¬†on Friday evening so it was pretty much all ready to assemble.

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I’d already threaded the¬†pompoms¬†onto some yarn to make two-tone strings of different colours so it was just a matter of playing around with them until they looked right.

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I began by arranging them in the classic rainbow order.

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It was a harmonious combination but I felt it needed more randomness. Breaking up the blocks of similar colours would give it a bit more punch.

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I’ve got¬†lots of spare pompoms rolling around the studio or stashed away in pots and baskets so mixing up¬†the colour sequences and adding in a few more ¬†here and there to make strings longer or taking a few away to make them shorter¬†–¬†depending on their new placement – wasn’t a problem. Eventually¬†I ended up with something that was evolving like this…

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I kept all the trimmings from the pom poms and made a wildly woolly cocktail.

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Don’t worry, I’m not that yarn obsessed that I’m actually going to attempt to drink it! I¬†just thought the rainbow fluff was¬†much¬†too pretty to throw away so I’m saving it¬†for a felting project. I can see great possibilities there.

I attached the pompoms onto the crocheted background by stitching down the string that threads them all together. It worked a treat, and ended up really dense with the weight and feel of a piece of carpet.

Time to run it past quality control…

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Does it pass the all important ‘8 out of 10¬†cats prefer’ test?…

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Well, 2 out of 2 cats who visited the studio today definitely prefer sitting on it.

When they had vacated the half way finished cushion top I steadily applied myself to attaching the next rounds of pompoms Р in between other less pleasing jobs, like cooking and cleaning.

I was loving how it was turning out and I even woke up very early on Sunday morning to¬†sew a few more rounds in bed with a cuppa. I don’t normally do early starts at the weekend but because I was all excited to get finishing it¬†off I made an exception this time.

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At this stage a few more turquoise pompoms were all that was needed.

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I soon had just the right amount to cover the crocheted top perfectly.

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Next, I¬†joined¬†the ¬†top and bottom pieces together with a round of single crochet stitches, incorporating a zipper, and then put the cushion pad inside. At this point, having seen it all together, I felt it needed another row of pompoms to cover the joining seam. I’m having a love affair with pink and red at the moment so I¬†settled on finishing¬†it off in that colour combo.

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Just another eighty¬†or so pompoms to go then. And just when I thought I was all¬†done! I may have been feeling all pompommed out by then¬†but, as all you dedicated crafters will know, it’s no good doing a half hearted job and then looking at the fruits of your labour with regret and remorse. It’s gotta be right and this last row will finish it off a treat.

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Time for another catisfaction test…Oh yes, these are definitely soft enough.

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Got to be ready to pounce on the wool during the pompom winding phase…

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…and it’s best to keep an eye on them from all angles…

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…unless you get distracted by a bird flying past the window.

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What do you think of Minnie’s¬†bushbaby impression? She’s a natural, don’t you think?

After all the excitement of playing with yarn¬†and watching the wildlife in the garden it’s time for a nap. What better place than… no prizes for guessing… on the new cushion!

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I’m not sure it’s going to be easy to get my fair share of comfy time with this cushion once it’s¬†finished. There have been ownership issues over it¬†since the beginning. Even a basket of pompoms is appealing to my furry feline friend.

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I think I know what to get her for next Christmas. It’s a good job I have all these spares.

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We’re definitely going to need more than one of these scrummy cushions around here!

Sunday afternoon was spent walking¬†around the river. After Saturday’s¬†ten mile bike trip my backside couldn’t face the saddle again just yet (maybe I need a pompom saddle cover – there’s an interesting idea!). It was good to travel at a different pace¬†anyway, you get to see different things that way. So many flowers are springing to life now. A sunshiny day at this time of year is just the best thing, but two in a row – and at the weekend as well – that’s bliss!

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Sunday evening delivered a beautiful sunset, adding a final sparkle to a couple of lovely days packed with luminous colour, both in and out of the studio.

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Now I’ve very nearly reached the end of this project. Only a few more pompoms to go…

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I’ll be back to post some pictures once the last round is in place¬†and¬†I’ve nearly finished a photo tutorial on how to make one of these cushions¬†yourself should pompom fever be gripping you with the same intensity that it’s been gripping me! Hope to see you back here sometime soon!


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Mother’s Day Weekend

I’ve had a particularly busy week¬†and¬†weekend this time around, but I’m guessing I won’t have been the only one. Mother’s day is always a lovely excuse¬†to go that extra mile (or 140 miles in the case of visiting my mother-in-law) and so I enjoyed a¬†pleasant¬†tootle up the motorway on Saturday driven by¬†hubby¬†and accompanied by¬†sister-in-law, followed by a Sunday spent back in Worcester with my own mum.

I decided early on last week that I would make some fingerless mitts and a shawl for both mums Р inspired in the main part by another bulk buy of bargain yarns from my local department store. I get so excited when I see that the sale bins are full to bursting and usually come away with a few shopping bags stuffed to maximum capacity.

This time I was especially enamoured of a Patons yarn called Fashion Soft Mix. Fabulously fluffy and¬†soft as a cloud,¬†I snapped up a ten ball bag of each¬†in¬†turquoise, beige and pink. The pastel tones and¬†gossamer lightness of this yarn made it¬†perfect for turning into garments for spring gift giving.soft-yarnWhen word got round the studio that the¬†yarn was¬†made with 30% alpaca and 25% sheep wool I soon had an audience, nosy to see the quality of their relative’s fleeces!alpaca-and-sheepI didn’t waste much time getting the first ball on the hook, mainly because¬†I didn’t have much time to waste, with less than¬†a week to go and two sets of gifts to make from scratch.alpaca-and-sheep-palsWith such a short deadline looming towards me,¬†I decided to keep the design for the shawl sweet and simple. I wanted my spring shawls to¬†be light and open, but the main criteria was that they¬†had to work up fast and be easy to make in the evenings without too much concentration. With all that in mind I plumped for my old friend from last summer – a¬†chain stitch shawl designed by Mimi Alelis. You can find¬†the pattern on her blog¬†Crochet and Other Stuff. I adapted the original starting chain to make the shawls slightly smaller and quicker to hook up than the last few I made. With a 5 mm hook and a starting chain of 233 I was on my way and after a couple of cozy evenings wrapped in this lovely, hazy yarn the first shawl was ready for fringing.shawl3The easiest way to create the tassels for the edge was to wind the yarn around a little hardbacked notebook. It’s the one I’m currently jotting my yarn weights and stitch counts in so it’s always to hand and turned out to be the perfect size. shawl4A few snips later and I had a neat and uniform bundle of yarn lengths¬†ready for knotting on.5Once every last tassel was attached¬†I got busy making¬†a pair of fingerless mitts to go with the shawl.glove-cuffI’d managed to get to grips with Jana Whittle’s crocheted Astra gloves that¬†I started a few weeks ago. The pattern’s one of many quick makes in Crochet One Skein Wonders. Initially I’d felt a bit daunted because I’ve never crocheted mitts before – though I’ve knitted a fair few. It turned out that with only¬†a tiny bit of concentration they are actually a total breeze to make. And even better, they crochet up in¬†about an hour and a half per mitt. astra-glovesAt three hours a pair it seemed like a very do-able addition to my¬†Mother’s Day presents. After all, that’s only one evening in front of the telly for each pair I wanted to make. Before the week was up I had one totally finished shawl and mitts set in beige and another two unfinished sets in pink and turquoise.3-shawlsYes, I know, technically I only need to concentrate on two sets but I had a bit of a colour wobble part way through the turquoise¬†set and thought my mum might prefer the pink¬†so¬†I ended up starting all over again. I’ve never been one to make my life too easy! I figured I was cutting it a bit fine but we had a long car ride up north to deliver the first present to my mother-in-law¬†on the Saturday and¬†I planned on¬†crocheting¬†during the journey there and back and somewhere in between too.gifts-2I’ve decided I’m going to keep the turquoise set for me, after all I’m a mum too, so I’ll have a Mother’s Day present to give to myself. I thought it was a¬†good contingency plan, as my¬†boys aren’t likely to crochet me anything at all, not even in a month of Sundays, or a blue moon or when pigs fly!gift-setsHaving made up my mind¬†to definitely keep the turquoise, and knowing I could¬†work on¬†that at my leisure¬†I concentrated on finishing the pink. I even snuck bits out of my working day to get a row or two done here and there.shawl1The chains are so easy to make I could even get a few¬†done while reading emails or making phone calls.shI took a little time out from the studio to buy cards and gift wrap.cards2Loving all the soft tones and pretty colours you see everywhere at this time of year.cardsWhen I got home Pogo gift wrapped himself inside my new yarn storage tote¬†and ripped up some paper bags in all the excitement. I only just stopped him from shredding up the tissue paper meant for the presents, He loves anything that rustles.pogo-bagWith the gift wrap saved from a crazy cat¬†it was time to parcel up my finished crochet¬†along¬†with a little wooden owl as an extra because I’m sure everyone loves little wooden owls just as much as I do.mittsOne gift down and one to go (not including mine). I was still crocheting frantically on Saturday morning, as I knew I would be. I squeezed in two and a half hours of quality hooky¬†time on the way there.shawlsAnd snuck in a few more on Saturday afternoon,¬†watching an old black and white Ingrid Bergman/Cary Grant film (I think it was called Notorious) with mum-in-law, accompanied by a cup of tea and an almond pastry. (Hubby was fixing up the shed roof and sister-in-law was digging up the garden. I think I got the best deal here!).shawl2Although the astonished look on Laddie’s face to see me sat comfortably in his human’s favorite armchair was something else!laddieI made more progress on¬†the pink shawl that night during the homeward bound journey (thanks to my extremely useful light up crochet hook) and finished it completely about half an hour before my mum¬†came to visit on Sunday. Just in the nick of time!

As for my own Mother’s Day I had a tub of narcissi¬†from the boys which are accompanying my pot of hyacinths and Carlos the Cactus in my newly put together indoor garden area. I’m keeping them next to my desk to remind me of spring as the view from the window is failing to present any blooms of its own just yet.windowI also had¬†a¬†bouquet of handmade origami Peace Cranes. See, the¬†boys¬†might not be interested in crochet but they have other creative skills!peace-cranesTo top it all off they baked¬†me a chocolate cake (with only a tiny bit of help), and made me a promise (dutifully fulfilled) of a day’s worth¬†of cups of tea on demand. cake-and-teaIn the late afternoon I turned my attention to working on¬†my own shawl.¬†It was lovely¬†to have some quiet time¬†after a busy weekend. I was certainly feeling very peaceful –¬†the origami cranes had obviously worked their magic.

As I ¬†already have a sage green and a ruby red fringed shawl from the same pattern I thought it would be¬†just as well to shake things up a bit and make the tassels¬†a little¬†different on this one.¬†bobble-fringeI ended up crocheting up some¬†bobbles and chains to finish it off and I think they look mighty fine!aqua-shawlAll in all, I’ve managed to make three pairs of mittens and three shawls in a week of evenings and a few hours on a Saturday and Sunday. I’ve enjoyed it but I think I’m definitely all shawled out for the moment. I feel the need to make something a bit more decorative next. I think I can feel a blanket coming on and maybe a fixation for pink and turquoise¬†too.pink-and-aquaIt’s been a while since I last made a blanket, but it might be just the thing I need after that glut of¬†quick fix makes. However, before I get too carried away,¬†I’ve still got my pink and purple¬†poncho¬†and the rainbow¬†pompom cushion to finish off before I start another bumper sized project.¬†I’m going to leave the new blanket colours out to inspire me to crack on with my WIPs.¬†Two major work in progresses is enough for now, I need to show at least a smidgen of self control!