Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Summer Project Progress

As time is striding full on into the summer months I’ve been enjoying as much of the fair weather as I can while making equally great strides with my Persian Tiles blanket.

persian-tiles

This project was supposed to last me all summer long but is proving very difficult to put down so I may well be on the hunt for something else before the next few weeks are done with. I’ve been spending nearly all my spare time hooking up these pretty rounds and staying up way too late some nights.

mojo-glare

This is Mojo’s stern face which tells me it was high time for bedtime several hours ago. He knows that sometimes the only way to stop me is to physically hijack my crochet so that’s exactly what he is doing here! My soft lad won’t go to bed without me and he does look forward to snuggling up all night, usually in the crook of my knees or draped over my feet, so I often get the evil eye if I burn the midnight oil a little too often.

persian-tiles-2

This marvelous run of good weather has gone on and on and on. I’m loving it so much. One of the best perks of working from home is being able to put the computer into sleep mode at lunchtime or turn it off at the end of the day and make the oh-so-very short ‘commute’ out to the garden, to pick up where I left off.

persian-tiles-3

I’ve found myself outside a lot over the last couple of weeks. Adding a round here and a round there and soaking up the sunshine or hiding in the shade depending on the brightness of the sky and the ferocity of the heat.

crochet-blanket

At weekends I’ve been outside nearly all of the time. Were just not used to this kind of shiny, happy weather in my neck of the woods and I wanted to enjoy every minute that I possibly could.

So I ate outside…

Dinner-in-the-garden

…and sometimes lit a fire outside as the temperature dropped slightly. Though not strictly necessary as it hasn’t been anywhere near chilly in the evenings for weeks, we do have a lot of broken up timber from our garden redesign of last year which needs to be gotten rid of and it’s much more fun having a bonfire with a lap full of crochet than queuing up to dump it at the tip.

garden-fire

Smoked crochet smells delicious too and reminds me of camping holidays when the boys were little. And the bonus of being outside late into the evening is getting to watch the sun set. Mojo is much more interested in the birds up the tree though.

mojo-sunset

From late Saturday nights to early Sunday mornings my black and white fuzzball has followed me and any crochet very closely.

mo-in-the-garden

Sometimes maybe a bit too closely… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

mojo-on-the-mandalas

It’s been such a pleasure to watch the tiles grow and see the colours play against each other I can totally understand why he is as fascinated with it as I am.

persian-tiles-4

Most exciting of all was to see the mandalas finished. Squeeeek! Aren’t they just so pretty?! Of course, the crochet doesn’t stop there, though it is good to have the large motifs completed and really feel like the blanket is on the home stretch.

There was a set of easy peasy squares to make next.

starting-the-squares

After the relatively complicated octagons these classic grannies were a doddle to create. Here it was just a case of making sure I had the right colours and then switching to auto pilot to work up the shells. I’ve made so many of these before and they are always a pleasure.

square-progress

I love how they work up so incredibly quickly.

My first ever blanket was made of similar squares several years ago and, as you can see, it still looks fresh and bright today despite all its outings into the garden, stints as a picnic blanket, cat bed, a wrap up for camping trips or an extra winter warmer on my own bed, not to mention plenty of spins through the washing machine.

If you are a granny square newbie check out my basic how-to blog post here. They’re such a fabulous way to get into crochet if you were thinking of taking the plunge!

squares-upon-squares

The crossover trebles give the Persian Tile squares a slightly more sophisticated edge than the plain ones I’ve made before but I have to confess I struggled to keep the tension tight enough on the top of both of these crossed trebles.

I’m not sure why but I found this part of the technique rather troublesome but it cost me more than a few episodes of frustrated sighs and rolling of eyes. Luckily they all get crocheted over in the final round so that hid some of the baggier stitches from general view, unless you look really, really closely.

minnie-blanket-testing

I think this blanket is such a riot of colours and patterns no-one is going to notice a few blips. Well, I guess I will know they’re there (and so do you now!) but, hey, 100% perfection is boring!

Now I’d finished all the separate pieces, and learnt a few tricks about creating triangles along the way, it was time to join the motifs.

joining-the-pieces

Working around the resident cats where required.

First Minnie…

Persian-tiles-and-Minnie

…then Rubick…

rubick-snoozing-on-the-blanket

…and even entertaining the neighbour’s new kitty when she came to investigate. She’s a jumpy, nervous little thing but all that woolly softness and wiggly yarn ends are too much for any true blooded feline to resist. I think I’ll soon make a new friend of her this way!

the-neighbours-cat-pays-a-vist

Despite all the interference from the cat world I did eventually manage to get the edges all joined together.

nearly-done

Just the border to complete now. And I love doing borders so I just can’t wait for that bit!

In the meantime, however, I had to put this scrumptious project down, no matter how difficult that was, as there were more pressing things to do.

Drake-pattern

Double checking Drake the Dragon’s pattern for the Fantasy Creatures book due to be released next month was high on the list and so I began making him a sister in this beautiful shade of candy pink.

But more about that next time – and hopefully an update on a completely finished Persian Tiles masterpiece as well!


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Crocheting for Fun

Technically, all the crocheting that I do can really be classed as fun, I mean, it’s crochet right? But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from designing my own patterns and all the thinking and fretting about what colours, proportions and stitches to use. Sometimes what I want to do is pick up a hook and someone else’s pattern, stuff a basket with pre-chosen yarn and simply revel in the bliss of crocheting something beautiful without the constant decision making that normally accompanies my hook ‘n’ yarn time.

Persian-Tiles-project

With that thought in mind, and a whole calendar full of of light airy summer evenings and sunny (fingers crossed!) weekend afternoons stacking up in the near future I set myself the delightful task of browsing the internet for a suitable summer project.

It didn’t take long for me to settle on this gorgeous Persian Tiles blanket. The pattern is designed by Jane Crowfoot and the Eastern Jewels colour scheme for this version is the work of Lucia Dunn.

(If you feel like you’re up for the challenge the whole pack can be ordered from Minerva Crafts here). I thought it was a snip at £29.99 and I reckon I deserve a treat every now and again so I didn’t hesitate to click the buy now button. I couldn’t wait to get started, so lucky for me it was only a couple of days until the postman arrived bearing gifts.

colour-scheme

After ripping open the packaging and giving all the jewel like colours a proper squeeze I had a good read through the notes and scanned a few of the pattern rounds to reassure myself I would be able to handle this.

It’s a different ball game altogether from amigurumi, but I’m always keen to improve on my crochet skills and this looked like it was going to be just the right amount of brain strain to make it interesting to work up but not so much of a brain drain that I’d end up with a headache.

mandala

I started in the late evening of the day my package arrived and hooked my way diligently through each round, feeling super excited every time I got to join in a new colour.

Luckily for me hubby is a sound sleeper so when I found I couldn’t put my hook down and the clock hands were heading towards midnight it wasn’t really a big problem. Tucked up in bed, cats and hubby snoozing all around and a huge pile of yarn to turn into crochet gold, I worked on and on through the night, determined to finish the first tile before I got some shut eye.

mandala-evenings

And true to my intentions, I did it. One down and fifteen to go. Yay!

finished-tile

The very next day I loaded up a wicker basket with all the essentials so I’d have my summer project ready to grab and go wherever my fancy took me.

Persian-Tiles-basket

I love to crochet in the garden whenever it’s sunny, or when it is at least warm and not raining – often the best we can hope for in this temperate English climate!

project-basket

Pogo made a good job of guarding the precious firstborn Persian Tile…

pogo-guards-the-crochet

…while I got on with the rest. I think he’s impressed with my craftsmanship, or is he judging me harshly? Those cat faces are so difficult to interpret sometimes…

mandala-project-case

This is quite a complicated design at first glance but as I got used to each individual round on the first tile I knew it would be much easier to remember the repeats without looking constantly at the pattern if I made all the first rounds of the next fifteen tiles one after the other, then all the second rounds followed by all the third rounds and so on.

mandala centres

Putting the pieces onto stitch holders once each round was finished made sure that I kept them in the right order and made it easier to cross check which yarn ball I should be using next for each piece.

crochet-blanket-beginnings

It has been so exciting to see the colours play against each other in such a big variety of combinations – all of them mouth-wateringly juicy and a joy to behold.

crochet-circles

Cat inspection status – passed and approved – but not enough of it yet to warrant sitting on so, for a change, Mojo moves swiftly along.

mojo-and-the-circles

I’ve been making an effort to darn in the yarn tails as I go. There are lots of colour changes in these motifs and if I left them all until the end I could see that this may get to be very disheartening. So, tapestry needle at the ready, battle was commenced at least every round or two.

persian-tiles-basket-2

The crochet motifs themselves may not represent significant cat tempting comfort at this early stage in their development but the yarn basket certainly does.

Minnie-steals-a-spot

I turned my back for a few seconds and this furry interloper appeared as if from nowhere and made herself right at home.

minnie-snoozing

Far be it from me to come between a cat and their nap time so I toddled off to have a cuppa and catch up on some of the odd household jobs on the never ending to-do list.

Pogo-in-the-shade

In my small city garden it’s necessary to chase the sunshine, or shade – depending on the ambient temperature and my mood – from one corner to the other so I have been making good use of the Mexican Blanket I crocheted a couple of years ago to create a cosy spot as and when and where I need it.

Rubick-keeps-me-company

Rubick knows a good spot when he see it too. There’s plenty of room to spare on the blanket so no worries there. Such sweet company, even if I’m at constant risk of a good old leg-clawing as he randomly and unexpectedly decides to stab at a jiggling yarn end every now and again!

project-progress

After a few pleasant evenings, and the odd few hours carved out of a weekend or two, more than satisfactory progress was being made. I found myself really looking forward to downing my amigurumi hook at the end of the working day only to almost immediately exchange it for a different hook in order to work another few rounds of mandala magic.

Fast forward a little bit and I’m now at the stage where the star shapes have been completed.

mandala-stars

At this rate the project isn’t going to take up all of my summer as I had first imagined. I think I may have been guilty of a touch of crochet gluttony here, but there are surely much worse sins than that so I’m going to carry on cramming in every spare minute I can with this lovely heart lifting project until it’s finished.

You see Pogo’s happy little face here? Well, that just about sums up how I’m feeling about this fledgling blanket too.

pogo-and-the-crochet-stars

As much as I am enjoying the journey I’m so excited to reach the end so that I can add it to my ever growing pile of crocheted furnishings. There’s a fair way to go yet but I’m looking forward to every minute of it!


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Looping the Loops

All this cold weather, unseasonable snow and bitingly cold winds (can it really be springtime?) have made me yearn for a project that encourages me to spend any spare time comfortably embedded in the house, out of harms way from the vagaries that the British weather throws at us.

And as pretty as such scenes are for an hour or two on a brisk walk through the park or during a snowman making session in the back garden there really is nothing as blissful to me as a cosy indoor nook, and a lapful of yarn.

Looking around my studio I had no shortage of sadly neglected projects that I could have been getting on with. However, not being the kind of person to let an out of control work in progress pile get in the way I walked the path I tread most often and decided to start a brand new project instead. Well, we’ve all been there and done that many more times than is decent or proper, haven’t we?

Inspired by the sumptuous look of the loop stitch cushion cover I made for my bed a few years ago I embarked on another circular project that has been on my mind since buying a bargain basement footstool a while back.

It was a very cheap and cheerful £3 and is nice and sturdy with lovely wooden legs but a black and white cotton fabric top that’s not really my style.

Replacing the monochrome stripes with gorgeous spirals of bright yarn was way more my thing and I fancied that the loopstitch would be perfect for adding a little grooviness and a soft and squishy haven under my tired feet every time I had the urge to put them up.

From little metaphorical acorns…

…do loopy metaphorical oak trees grow.

I suppose it’s more of a sapling at this stage but with all that cold weather keeping me home it was just a case of round and round in circles until it started to take shape.

In the end though I decided the first circle wasn’t quite turning out the way I wanted. The colours were very pretty but the total randomness wasn’t really doing it for me so I stopped right here…

…and started all over again. I grouped similar colours together in bands this time which gave them much more impact. I also switched hook sizes up from a 3 mm to a 4 mm this time so that the fabric would have more elasticity when stretching it over the stool. This also had the benefit of making the whole thing grow a little faster and the looser tension was much easier on my hands.

Sadly I couldn’t stay tucked up forever, no matter how cold the weather was out there in the big wide world so eventually it was time to head outdoors and take a train trip to visit a friend and call in on a yarn shop on the way to bolster supplies. I packed up all the yarn for my project very conveniently inside the work itself and popped in a few tools of the trade.

No more snow left on the station by now but an icy chill on Platform One meant I very nearly didn’t get my crochet out… though in the end I couldn’t resist!

With a quarter of an hour to while away I managed a few loops huddled on the bench. The going was slow as my fingers were a bit reluctant to make the necessary movements in such low temperatures but I persevered. Not a great amount of progress was made but it was perfect for keeping my lap warm!

When the train arrived I had the special thrill of managing to find a whole four seater table area all to myself. Seems there weren’t too many other travelers braving sub zero temperatures today.

I crocheted another round in the comfort of the warm and nearly empty train but this was only a short journey so it was soon time to disembark. Loop stitches are not as quick as regular stitches but the rhythmic repetition is just as relaxing as any round of single crochets. I had meant to do a bit more once I arrived at my friend’s flat but in the end we were so busy chatting and catching up that I didn’t even get it out of my bag.

Plenty of time to get stuck in again once I was home and all tucked up in my pyjamas. Crocheting in bed definitely beats crocheting on a windy railway station any day.

Can you tell that Pogo agrees? He can be found snoozing away on the blankets for at least 70% of his time. He makes me think of of ‘Bagpuss, oh, Bagpuss Oh, fat, furry cat puss, wake up and look at this thing that I bring’. Except he’s not pink and stripy but he is a bit tubby and very sleepy.

Rubick prefers to get involved with the yarn rather than take a nap.

Oh, the energy of youth! It would be a brave person who tries to winkle a ball of yarn from underneath this tuxedo firecracker!

Eventually I do sneak the balls of yarn back one by one and some time later I have actually finished all the loop stitch rounds. Just the ends to knot together and trim at this point. It feels like such a luxury and somehow a bit of a cheat not to have to darn them in but no-ones going to be seeing this side of the cover once it’s in place. Hurrah!

I finished off the part that would gather underneath with a round of single crochet followed by a round of [1 sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc] repeated to the end to make a round of small eyelets. A final round of sc after that and it was finished. I fashioned a thin cord made of 200 ch and threaded that in and out of the eyelets to pull everything tight and tied in a bow to secure the whole thing in place.

In future I will up the hook size slightly to make the single crochets a bit looser as they were considerably tighter than the loop stitches and needed a bit of initial stretching to get these final rounds over the top of the footstool. But I wrestled it on in the end and am really pleased with the outcome.

It’s fun and vibrant and is going to cheer my tired old feet and grey soaked winter eyes up no end.

Now it has pride of place in my crochet corner.

I’m gradually yarn bombing everything I can find in here. All the colourful cushions are a great tonic when the clouds just keep on rolling in. They can dump shovelfuls of snow or bucketfuls of rain on the other side of the window but I shall mostly be found crocheting in here until things warm up a bit out there. The yellow blooms on the Forsythia in the garden are telling me that spring has sprung but until the thermometer raises itself a few degrees in agreement I’m staying in as much as possible!


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My First Moji-Moji Craft Stall

Its been a funny old week, having had a total break from my normal routine. I found that time was flying even faster than usual and the craft fair I had signed myself up for, many months ago, was suddenly very nearly upon us. Now I don’t know about you but I always work much better under a tight deadline and so leaving the vast bulk of the preparation and organisation to be crammed into just over a week was probably the best way of tackling it for me personally.

As you can see, I managed to fill my 10 foot long table quite nicely in the end!

The stall sign was both a labour of love and a feat of engineering. But it should last me for a while as it is made out of very sturdy laser cut plywood. Each piece was individually painted by myself and a very patient friend (it took about six hours of paintbrush wielding between us) and was then pieced back together, jigsaw style, and glued onto a backing board.

A lot of work, I know, but well worth the effort. Weirdly there were still three pieces left over that we just couldn’t figure out where to fit. Very odd, but the sign didn’t look any the worse for it so we got straight on with the job of sticking it down. This involved turning it over while sandwhiched between two boards, taping it together along the back, brushing with generous amounts of PVA glue and then weighting it down overnight with anything I could find. Mainly my vast collection of cookbooks, the ever overflowing laundry basket and anything else heavy enough to help but light enough to lift.

And tadah! Here it is after it’s final coat of varnish.

The sign was a good start but I needed things to sell too. Obviously I have a generous supply of ready made amigurumis which were only in need of digging out and showing off.

They all looked a little startled to be seeing the light of day again!

Amigurumis aside, I really felt I wanted to offer a bit more variety to potential customers. So with that thought in mind I embarked on making up a whole batch of crochet kits. I actually really enjoyed this process once I got into the swing of it, though I’m quite happy to take a break from the endless winding and weighing of balls of yarn for a while now!

They next job was to package them up and squirrel them away into boxes along with the all the equipment and notions necessary to create the finished articles.

One week of winding, weighing, measuring, graphic designing, printing, box folding, bag filling and label sticking, and I had my first collection of finished kits to sell. Six different types in all. I would have liked to do more but there’s always next time!

My very helpful sign painting partner also dedicated a whole evening to making me some badges with the Moji-Moji logo cat on (you know who you are and you’re a star – thanks a million!).

I love these so much. Think I might have to invest in my very own badge making machine soon. Maybe one for the Christmas list if Santa is still listening, I have been very, very good this year, I promise!

I found my stash of owl purses (my free tutorial is here if you fancy making some).

And I dug out and blinged up some of my Mini Party Treats by adding a few sprinkles of seed beads and multi-coloured yarn.

I forgot how much I like playing around with toy food!

Looks good enough to eat huh?

I also had a small supply of extra books featuring some of my designs to take with me. A great way of introducing my customers to the topic of the new Amigurumi Monsters book (more on that in the next post) and as there was a recent outbreak of Jeepers and Creepers (who are featuring in the book) spawning in the studio I had plenty of examples to take along as conversation starters. I figured you couldn’t miss all those eyes staring at you as they followed you around the field!

I did have to spend a fair bit of time thoroughly picking them over for kitten hairs though. Oops!

The night before the show everything was stacked and ready to go and an early night beckoned.

My youngest son kindly came along to help set everything up and keep things running smoothly behind the scenes, tidying the table during the lulls and restocking after the rushes.

There was a lot going on at the Worcester Show but I didn’t get to take many photos as I was kept very busy all day behind my stall but for those of you who are curious about the event you can see snapshots of some of the best moments from previous years on their official site in the Gallery section. There was belly dancing, water zorbing, live music, biggest cabbage, longest runner bean, roundest dahlia, best use of recycling, competitive crafts, face painting, fantastic food and fine wine, bonsai beauties, a dog show, sport events, a fairground, and of course the market stalls…  to name just a few.

All in all it was a very successful and enjoyable day. The weather was kind to us and the hours just whizzed by. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat and to those who bought a little something to take away with them. It was lovely to meet you all and I hope to see you again next year, if not before!

And for those that weren’t there, thank you for reading this and sharing my day with me via my blog.

I appreciate all your support and the encouragement that helps me to indulge in my gloriously yarn surrounded lifestyle and passion for amigurumi!


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A Little Bit of This and That

There’s so much going on at the moment it’s difficult to know where to start so I’m going to start right here and end up at the end of the post and hopefully I will have made a bit of sense somewhere in between.

Casting my mind back to a few weekends ago I started crocheting a mitten on a long car journey to Cardiff. Oldest son was finally moving the last of his things to Luton where he recently started his new job. After we picked up his furniture and other items he won’t be in need of for the next 6 months we drove over to Penarth and treated ourselves to fish and chips on the pier (not exactly in harmony with my current low carb regime but what the heck! You can’t go to the seaside and not have fish and chips. Some things just have to be endured!

A little bit of crochet on the beach with a steaming hot cup of tea rounded off our dinner perfectly.

I’m not following a pattern for these mittens but have made it up as I go along. I’ve jotted down some notes so hopefully I’ll be able to reproduce it accurately the second time to make an identical pair.

The notes are rudimentary but should be adequate. As long as I haven’t accidentally left anything out it should be OK.

I’ve been busy with two submissions for a new book due out next year. Here’s a sneak peak at the patterns.

One for a rather rotund chicken called Cheryl.

Slightly more extensive notes were made here. Yeah I know, what a mess of scribbles and scratches, but I have this method of quickly taking notes as I go along down to a fine art by now and can hopefully write up the fully formed pattern from them. I don’t like to break my creative flow by getting too technical at this stage so this is the best method for me by far.

There is also a hamster called Hamish who will be making it into print later on. Here’s the beginnings of his little head, nestled cosily among the final batch of hexies which are eventually going to make up a seat cover for my crochet arm chair.

Hamish has been stuffing those cheeks with some tasty treats. I think there’s a strawberry in one side and a couple of peanuts in the other. Sounds like the perfect healthy breakfast to me!

I’d better not make too many of these or they’re going to eat me out of house and home!

I’ll be exhausted trying to keep up with the constant munching. Lets hope this crop of strawberries will keep Hamish happy for a while.

There has been a welcome swathe of very hot weather sweeping the country recently. Now I’m much more of a hot house flower than a frost resistant variety so I’ve welcomed the sunshine and blistering heat with open arms. Just as this seagull greets the sight of unattended food down at Brown’s Restaurant with open wings!

Note to self never to leave lunch unattended where seagulls are likely to be.

The most lovely thing about a heatwave is walking round the river and taking the time to watch the sunset while still basking in the warmth that the blazing sun has left behind.

As well as writing two new patterns for publishing I’ve been testing a pattern written by Noah of  Younique Crafts. I just love this cuddly triclops and can’t wait to see the new book with all the other cute and crazy looking monsters in it.

I may have mentioned before about how much I love to make eyeballs so I was in my element with Noah’s design.

And Jeepers and Creepers were thrilled to meet a fellow book buddy, and they immediately invited him to take up lifelong membership of the Three Eyed Monster’s Club.

Of course, he gracefully accepted and now all three (friends, not eyeballs) are inseparable.

I’ve also been asked by lovecrochet.com to design a pattern based on a real life cat who was re-homed from Battersea Cat’s and Dog’s Home. She’s called Hazel and the poor thing only has one eye due to a road traffic accident. She’s still smiling though, thanks to all the love and affection she’s getting from her new owners. The pattern will be available in August 2017 and the proceeds from all pattern sales will go to Battersea Cat’s and Dog’s Home for six months to raise money on behalf of all the canine and feline orphans that reside there as they wait for their forever homes.

Amigurumi Hazel looks quite pleased to have insinuated herself onto the prime window spot with a very relaxed Mojo.

Minnie’s not so happy about the newcomer!

I think she thinks here’s been enough domestic upheaval to manage what with having Rubick around and now another interloper? Oh purrrlease…

Rather unfortunately I seem to like cats more than cats like cats, if you see what I mean. But harmony is being achieved between our four furry friends (and  couple of crocheted ones) at a slow and steady pace. A bit of hissing (mainly from hyper reactive Mojo) the odd claws-retracted bout of fisticuffs (Pogo likes to box Rubick’s ears just gently when he oversteps the mark) and Minnie simply pulls that face, nearly all of the time, if the kitten is anywhere in sight. Lots more TLC and some clever mentoring and I’m sure we’ll all be one big happy bundle of co-habitation soon enough.

Rubick has a nice new cat tower-block on which to expend some of that crazy energy that kittens have. I’m hoping that if I wear him out that he’ll give my old and grumpy cats a bit more of a break from chasing their tails and generally trying to make too much physical contact for which they’re not quite ready yet.

If we’re lucky all that charging around and running up and down his furry tower gives us all a few moments of peace…

Zzzzzzz.

Pogo allows Rubick to get quite close now, though I have to say that face is enough to frighten the toughest of cats, or people too come to that!

When I’ve not been either mentoring the cats or working on book patterns or crocheting up charity commissions I took out a little time to make myself a pretty coaster.

I still have the matching mandala cushions to finish up. It’s really just the backs that need crocheting so I’ve put them on my to do sooner rather than later list. I shall aim to get them finished this week. That will be a perfect mini project for the summer evenings and not too taxing, or too bulky for the heat.

In the meantime one of the cushion fronts has ended up lining Rubick’s sleeping corner but it’s been much too hot for curling up, better to do the heatwave sprawl!

I’d also like to finish up the Daisy Chain Hexie seat pad cover to add the finishing touches to my green wing backed crochet corner arm chair. I’ve made another batch of 100 hexies so far and have begun to slip stitch them together across the short rows. I’ve a fair way to go yet but this is another project that can be picked up and worked on in fragments whenever I get a chance.

It’s all been a bit too warm for mittens but I finished up the first one anyway. Now I have to make the other one. It will be cold enough again, and too soon as well, if the great British summer sticks to its usual form.

I love the variegated marbled yarn that I’ve used for this Mitts but I can’t find the ball band anywhere so can’t share with you what it’s called. I think it may have been by Sirdar… If anyone knows the name of this yarn please do let me know what it is! I’d quite like to get another ball and make a scarf to match – but the other mitten must come first. I have enough projects on the go as it is!


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Hundreds of Hexies

Woohoo! It took a little while but I have at last finished the first batch of hexies! At this stage I thought they were the only batch of hexies I’d need – however there was a change of plan somewhere along the line but I’ll tell you more about that later…

Next came the happy task of joining them all together.

I love the colours and had a great deal of fun playing around with their placement. There is so much satisfaction in seeing all those individual elements coming together to create one flat smooth, neatly grafted whole.

Work has been ticking along with this blanket on and off. I’ve been hooking up a hexie or two or joining long and short rows whenever possible.

Rubick is growing fast, almost as fast as the blanket, and is as lively and curious as ever. He still loves sitting on my WIPs any chance he gets, but then I never knew a cat that didn’t!

All those loose ends and oodles of soft blanketty goodness are too much for a fun loving, comfort seeking kitty to resist.

When I do get a cat free moment I’ve steadily crocheted, darned and snipped my way along, squeezing in what I can between my amigurumi designing, taking a row or two to join up wherever I go. There’s been little stacks of hexies in the bedroom, in the studio, on the sofa and even in the car.

Mojo is slowly getting used to having Rubick around. Not so much hissing at each other anymore…

…though there’s a bit of a disgruntled look going on here in the background! Maybe Mojo isn’t quite prepared to make a best buddy of the interloper yet.

I had planned on making a pretty border to round the blanket off nicely but in the end I decided to repurpose it into a covering for the back of my chair. This has to be the easiest bit of upholstery I’ve ever done as all that was required was some firm tucking in of the blanket edges into the creases of the chair and Hey Presto! Just like magic, my chair has had a whole new makeover and looks like a million dollars. Well, maybe half a million, as it is actually only half finished right now.

It’s worked a treat and is a very snug fit. So there was me thinking my hexie project was nearly over when in fact I’m now going to need to make a second piece to cover the seat pad. Good job the daisies are such a pleasure to make. I didn’t waste much time on getting started on the second leg of hexie heaven.

A very long car journey from Worcester to Luton, accompanying my oldest son to his new digs and new job as a graphic designer (woohoo – very proud of him of course!) gave me a great opportunity to get making another batch of beauties.

Sunshine and showers were the order of the day. And what a long day it was.

Sunbeams all morning and a lap full of colour would put a smile on anyones face.

But even a turn in the weather on the way back home may have dampened the scenery but not the spirit.

I was chuffed to bits to get all of my second set of hexies completed and the ends darned in as well. With just enough time left to spend finishing my Caron Cake scarf.

All it needs now are some tassels attached to either end and I have another finished project under my belt (or rather, round my neck).

That was certainly a most mammoth, butt numbing, car journey and I felt really glad to get back home and stretch my legs again. The rain had set in well and truly by now but grey skies are not such a calamity when I have this gorgeously cosy thing going on in the studio.

The cats know it’s the best spot in the house and I have to agree. This really is my happy place and the word blessed doesn’t even begin to sum up how lucky I feel.

I shall continue to combat the rainy day blues by crocheting rainbows. I’m slowly working on yarn bombing every spare square foot of my favorite corner of the earth. Watch out Rubick… you might be next! Wouldn’t he look cute in a little patchwork jumper and a hat?!


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Daisy Chain Holiday Hexies

Thanks to the welcome glut of bank holidays over recent weekends I’ve been able to make lots of progress with my latest blanket.

The carefully stacked hexi kebabs were getting longer and longer…

…until at last I had a basketful, all ready and waiting to be joined together in holy crochet matrimony.

Mojo got involved in helping me decide which order to join the hexies in. I think this blanket is going to prove as popular with the cats as all my other crochet blankets have been!

We eventually settled for this random distribution of colours, taking care that no two hexies of the same colour would end up next to each.

After spending so long on the decision making, I deemed it wise to invest a little more time skewering each strip of hexies onto separate, numbered knitting needles. I had a pretty strong hunch that if I didn’t my beautiful layout would soon be ruined by a playful cat. All those mouselike yarn tails would surely be too much to resist!

Row by row I threaded them onto to knitting needles labelled from one to twenty.

All the fun of joining the short sides of each hexi began with new kitten, Rubick, looking on curiously.

What a lot of hard work he makes of any attempt to crochet! Pouncing on yarn tails while inadvertently digging ten tiny claws into legs, arms and stomach is one of his very favorite pastimes. Ouch!

I sought refuge from such capers by crocheting in my cat-free car whenever possible over both of the bank holiday weekends.

A trip to Malvern amid classic April showers over Easter weekend was the first such break from kitten caring since he had arrived with us days before. I left my middle son and his girlfriend in charge of keeping an eye on him and enjoyed a crochet filled car journey followed by a peaceful stroll around the town centre.

Back at home and time to settle down on the sofa with an Easter egg and a cup of tea. With all the hexagons finally joined into strips, I now had a zillion ends to darn in so was going to need the sugar rush to keep me going!

Middle son and girlfriend had done a splendid job of wearing out the kitten with various fun and games, so the peace continued all afternoon as zonked out Rubick snoozed contentedly under the sofa.

Mojo was glad of the quiet afforded to us by Rubick’s epic nap too. Having a baby fur-brother suddenly invade his house has been somewhat of a test for him but he seems to be taking it a little better as each day goes by, while Pogo and Minnie are still keeping their distance whenever possible!

Slowly but surely I darned in the ends and the strips begin to look very neat and dapper.

The following weekend we took a trip up to Lancashire to visit hubby’s mum. The long car journey gave me plenty of time to pick up where I left off after the Easter break. Even traffic jams are sources of joy (though sadly not for hubby who’s driving) as the longer I’m in the car the more crochet I’m getting done.

See the smug smile on the cactus’ face? She knows exactly how I feel!

The traffic eventually cleared  and our speed picked up to hubby’s satisfaction. After more than two hours in the car most of the yarn ends were sewn in and neatly trimmed, leaving just those at the ends which are going to be used to join the half hexagons that I’ve yet to make, to fill in those half hexagon shaped dents that you get at the end of each row.

To make sure all the rows stay in the correct order I used a big stitch holder, so they can’t get muddled up.

The sun shone wonderfully on us as we reached our destination. A bit of spring sunshine crochet al fresco was just the tonic after being cramped up in a muggy car surrounded by unappealing grey tarmac and petrol fumes.

Due to an over-abundance of paving (hopefully being replaced with something greener this year) my garden at home looks more like a car park than a recreational park so I avail myself of a spot on the luscious lawn of mum-in-law’s garden and sit back to admire the flowers, both crocheted and real life.

Creaky knees being what they are there is only so much time they can handle being crossed legged on the lawn though but, hey – that’s what garden chairs are for, after all.

I happily followed the sun around all day, from one chair to another, chatting, sewing, crocheting, eating, and drinking tea until it was time for the journey back home.

It had been a lovely day spent doing all my favorite things and with plenty of light still left in the late spring evening I couldn’t wait to begin joining the strips together on the journey home.

I’m really happy with the way it’s turning out.

All the time I had to spend away from Rubick was certainly put to best use getting ahead with the blanket as much as possible, but I missed his crazy antics and was more than happy to have my progress slowed again when I got home. I think he’s was pleased to see me, and half of the new blanket, too!


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Lots of Monsters and a Tiny Kitty

My most exciting news this week is that we have a new addition to the family – and not the amigurumi family this time but a real life, living, breathing, actual bundle of fur in the form of a most adorable kitten!

He’s called Rubick and is around 11 weeks old. Oh my goodness what a handful he is! I have never had a kitten before, and never expected that I would. I’ve always been too easily bamboozled by the sob story of the ‘no-one-wants-me-I’ve been stuck-in-here-for-months’ adult cats at the RSPCA, but fate has brought this little fella my way after my son’s girlfriend’s cat gave birth to a litter of five in February and I’m not complaining!

He’s one of the tiny fluffies, I’m not sure which one exactly, in this big kitty pile!

Vendra-and-her-kittens

Mummy cat is neutered now, so there’ll be no more pattering of tiny paws and this particular set of tiny paws technically belong to my son and may move with him when he gets his own place one day, but for now I intend to enjoy every minute of having a mischievous energy bomb of a new fur baby in the house.

I’m going to try really hard not to spam you with too many pics, though he has been hanging around me a lot while I’ve been (trying to do some) crocheting. Any moving yarn is like an industrial grade magnet for him. It’s a good job it’s been the Easter holidays and no deadlines are currently looming or I’d be in real trouble!

As it stands, I’ve been enjoying his company and getting short bursts of crochet in whenever and wherever I can, usually during Rubick’s nap times (aww, see, it’s just like having a real baby!).

Of course he loves to snuggle up on anything made of yarn – what cat doesn’t? So I’ve made him a few cosy spots where he can snooze near to me during the long hours my son is at work. Rubick’s used to the familiarity of his mum and four other siblings and my other cats haven’t taken to him yet, so I worry about him feeling lonely.

Kitten permitting,  I’ve been working on a whole rainbow of monsters during the pattern testing for this design.

Jeepers and Creepers are my contribution to the compilation book that resulted from last year’s Design-a-Monster competition. This mischief making duo are currently winging it via airmail to Belgium.

This is them just before they stowed away in the box and headed off to the post office.

Those silly old monsters forgot to pack their dust bunny friends so I had to post them off separately when I found them down the back of the desk during the Spring Bank Holiday tidy up.

In all fairness it probably wasn’t Jeepers and Creepers who were to blame as the new kitten on the block loves both cardboard boxes and pompoms and caused a great deal of havoc during the parcelling up process where rolls of tape, packing materials and several of the dust bunnies went flying around – with Rubick skittering after them.

We’re all sorted now though, and the dust bunnies are finally on their way to the continent in a jiffy bag all of their own, probably accompanied by a cat hair or two.

Once I started down the harmonious path of rainbow gloriousness I just couldn’t stop adding in more and more gradients until I had a basket of appendages in every colour of the rainbow and a few more besides…

… and a matching hoard of bodies too.

After carefully laying them out on the floor in the right order Pogo decided I’d made him a perfect place to sit.

What is it with cats and circles?! Not that the formation remained circular for very long, but Pogo was happily settled in and didn’t seem to care too much by then.

Once I managed to regroup them I decided to pair them with their opposite partners on the colour wheel.

I think that should be rather eye catching.

Talking of eyes…

… as each monster has more than his or her fair share of ocular organs I ended up having to make a very, very lot of them! At this point I’m wondering why I really needed a Jeepers or Creepers in every colour, but I’m in too deep to stop now.

I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get on with it.

I think Jeepers and Creepers were as much startled to see so many monster bottoms sticking up in the air as I was at the thought of sewing them together in such great numbers!

Actually, it was rather fun once I got into the swing of it.

I think it’s going to be worth while. What a jolly bunch they’re going to be!

And even though I tried so hard not to flood you with endless photos of my cute-as-a-button kitten, I’m going to have to leave you with a montage – because I just can’t hold back any longer!

Shhh… he’s napping again now, time to sew a few more monster body parts together!


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Chasing the Sunshine

It’s been a real pleasure to see such a profusion of  bright colours on my riverwalk in recent weeks.

When the sun shines I get myself up and out of the house for a 4 mile round trip as often as I can be bothered. It’s rather tempting to just sit working in my pyjamas during the winter and early spring months but not really all that good for morale or the waistline in the long term!

Dodging the rain and chasing the rays is still a main preoccupation as the former is abundant and the latter is still relatively scarce, though getting better by the day. At least for now!

Nature switching between the relative extremes our weather throws at us always makes me appreciate the good days more, especially when they’re hemmed in on all sides by the bad ones. Life wouldn’t be nearly so vital or exciting without the contrasts.

There are flashes of colour everywhere I look. In an ancient stone wall by the cathedral…

…or the more industrial canalside setting.

All guaranteed to send me back to my studio with a bigger smile than when I left and much more energy and inspiration with which to pick up my hook again.

Back at home I’m still crocheting a woolly garden for one of my blanket projects and the number of flowers has grown steadily, just as they have outside in the real world.

I’ve only managed to scribble up the flower notes so far but I’m planning on taking a bunch of photos of how to crochet the whole hexi motif next.

My hexis are coming along nicely. I’ve arranged them in graded colours so I can see what I’m missing from the overall colour balance.

They make a super cat mattress.

But then so does a lap. My kitties are never short of a bit of comfort and I’m never short of the joy they bring. It’s a win win situation for us all!

The bright blanket I began a few weeks ago is undergoing a surprise metamorphosis into a cushion for my cat crochet chair. As I’m making the hexis into a blanket I though another cushion might be more useful instead.

One of my mandalas is also having a change of use and is going to be made into a round cushion instead of a covering for a footstool as I misjudged the shaping of the sides and it came out more flat than tubular! I’m still not sure how that happened, but it seems that double and treble crochets don’t shape up in a similar way to the single crochets I mostly use for my amigurumi.

So it’s back to the drawing board for a fancy looking footstool cover but onwards and outwards – making a few more rounds to finish the cushions.

I’m continuing to work on both mandalas, on and off. More off than on lately as the rounds take longer to complete as they get bigger (stating the obvious, I know!), so I’m just getting one round done every now and again, in between other projects.

It’s been gorgeous to see a flash or two of sunshine through the studio window…

…even if most of the light is soaked up by a feline solar ray sponge before it can reach me.

One thing’s for sure – my window needs a jolly good clean. There’s nothing like a blast of low slanting spring sunshine for showing up the grime of winter!

A favorite part of this time of year for me is when the clocks go forwards and the evenings suddenly become lighter for longer, meaning that evening walks become a frequent fixture when hubby gets back from work.

It really is a lovely way to round off the day and my legs and back are mostly grateful for a good stretch after hours of crocheting, or hunching over a keyboard.

Here’s a gorgeous little scene from one of this week’s crepuscular rambles. Such a pretty sight and plenty more to come as the evenings continue to lengthen out.

I still like the cosy after dark hours, but they feel even nicer after an evening stroll. I’ve got lots of ends to darn in on the mandalas…

…and the daisy hexagons too so there’s plenty of end-of-the day, brainfog-friendly sort of work to keep me busy for a while yet .

I’ve actually come to quite enjoy darning in ends as my crochet obsession deepens. A bit of sewing and snipping keeps my hands happily engaged while my mind can wander off, or get itself involved in whats on the TV, or allow my ears to fully engage with the programmes on Radio 4. No need to deliberate for ages about colour combinations or to twist my grey matter into knots counting rows and stitches. Pure crafty relaxation!

I hope you’ve got plenty of that sort of thing lined up for yourselves over the weekend. I’m certainly planning on getting my fair share, and possibly a bit more!


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Beginnings and Endings

It’s the official first day of Spring today, heralding the beginning of this wonderful season of hope and new life. Just lately the sun has been trying to push it’s shiny, happy face out from in between the curmudgeonly clusters of clouds but mostly it’s been an airborne sea of grey from horizon to horizon. Thankfully the flowers don’t seem to mind and have sprouted their frilly loveliness all the same.

I try and get out and about for a little walk every day unless it’s bucketing down and have watched with great pleasure as Spring bursts forth again.

I’ve planted a few bulbs and alpines in my garden this year, and now I don’t always have to go to the park for a dose of flower therapy. You see, we lost our beloved cat, Tigger, a few weeks ago (I can only just bring myself to write about it now) and have laid him to rest in the garden. The newly planted flowers and a spiky shrub (in memory of his rather spiky character) are dedicated to his memory.

It will remind us of the happiness and bright moments he brought with him since he adopted us as his owners, and the house as his home shortly after we installed a cat flap for our three newly acquired RSPCA rescue cats around 8 years ago.

He loved our secure and shady garden and often spent time out there, sleeping, prowling and generally just skulking in the shrubbery.

The daffodils have shot up in the last few weeks since Tigger passed away and I’ve sprinkled some meadow flower seeds around to attract some of the butterflies that Tigger loved to chase, or in latter years just watch lazily, in the summer months.

Flowers have been sprouting indoors this week too. I have another mini blanket on the hook. Or really I should say I have had a multitude of hexagons on the hook. No blanket yet but hopefully it will start to take shape soon.

A woolly garden of super-simple chain petal flowers are blooming all around the house.

I’m using a mix of bright and pastel shades of pretty much any colours I can find lying about.

The emphasis is on using up odd scraps of yarn. I have a lot of small spheres of hand wound ends that are perfect for a project like this.

These tiny hexagons are a pleasure to hook up. I’m starting off with a yellow centre for each flower and then randomly picking two colours – one for the petals and one for the hexagon.

They’re fast and fun and I love the lack of colour repetition as almost endless combinations get chucked into the basket one after the other.

It’s tempting to pick them up at anytime when I have more than a few minutes to spare, as is proved here in my paint spattered overalls. I couldn’t resist making a few more while waiting for a coat of paint to dry in the bathroom.

After making my first batch I laid them out to see if if I liked the way the colours were working together.

And yes! I certainly did!!

Mojo is being a good cat, and doing the usual ‘is it soft enough for my butt’ testing. That’s a thumbs up and a butts down from Mojo then.

Pogo had other ideas of what was important to test for. In his case he decided to try out the play value. It seems they mess up pretty well after a jolly good roll around in.

That won’t last long of course as the fun of tossing individual hexagons around will come to an abrupt end once they’re all crocheted together.

Enjoy it while you can Pogo, you bad, bad cat!

In light of such delinquent behaviour I’ve decided that the safest place for all my hexagons is firmly skewered onto knitting needles. That way I can keep an eye on them and minimise the claw cags and soggy teeth marks.

Storing them this way also means I can see at a glance which colours I have the most or least of.

And of course, they can all then be ready at hand (or feet) for cosy, sofa sprawling crochet sessions. PJs and fluffy slippers on, candles lit, hook in hand and hexagons proliferating. How lovely.

This simple and bright little project has helped a tiny bit to distract me from the sadness of losing Tigger. Crochet is the perfect form of therapy for me. I find it gently distracting and incredibly relaxing, like a productive form of meditation. Now some time has passed I’m trying to focus less on how much I miss him and more on reflecting on all there was to be thankful for in knowing him, and knowing we gave him a life of luxury, comfort and love in his elderly years.

I’ll sign off this post by sharing a few photos from previous blog posts of my beautiful, difficult tempered, but incredibly rewarding misfit cat.

Rest in peace Tigger.