Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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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.


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Basket Cases

Now that spring is in the air I’m feeling my energy levels beginning to rise. Not that they’ve been particularly low but that extra bit of daylight at the beginning and end of every day, and even a few blasts of sunshine – short lived but all the more appreciated – are definitely giving me an edge.

I had a big delivery of yarn a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to get started on some new ideas for a set of spring themed baskets. Finding aran weight yarn in a really wide selection of pretty colours has been a bit of a problem for me up until now. The balls are often massive 300g yarn mountains and the colours usually more muted than I would prefer – lots of creams and greys, dusty pinks and blues which are I suppose more geared up towards the traditional jumpers for which aran is often intended than the chunky amigurumi I wanted to make. So I was delighted to stumble on these Paintbox yarns while trawling some of my favorite online yarn haunts.

Ooooh those balls of yarn look so tasty they’re almost edible. Just as much of a delight as the vibrancy and variety of colours in the range is the way they feel. They are silky soft and have proved to be a joy to use. Which was just as well as I’ve spent a great many hours slaving away trying to create the *perfect* set of spring characters and then morph them into bag form. I decided to design these bags with doubled up yarn for the main body of the bag as this gives a really solid shape which doesn’t sag very easily. It’s worked well for my other bag collections so ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’!

I’m sure you’ll all know what a temptation it is to just rip off those ball bands and get crocheting before the postman has even managed to get to the end of your street. I have the same impulsive urges when faced with new yarn, but recently I’ve been making myself defer the pleasure of immediate gratification in favour of carefully cataloguing each and every colour before any crocheting can take place. It’s not easy to curb the impulse and resist the call of yarn and hook, but ultimately it’s been worth the effort.

I’ve (mostly) done this with new yarn for the last year and I have to say it’s a system that’s come in handy quite a few times. Especially for magazine commission work where I’m sometimes asked to remake an old design that I no longer have a copy of and also supply the publisher with a shopping list. I’m not a naturally organised type of person but with a bit of effort I can fake it quite well these days!

My little hole punch in the shape of a rabbit made the task much more fun and was on trend for what I was about to embark on. I just love it when a theme comes together!

Now I just can’t wait for a good excuse to order the rest of the colours in this gorgeous range. I think I may be in need of some Christmassy greens and reds next, and maybe a few more neutral shades for bears and squirrels and other fluffy non- season themed baskets.

My Lamb, Rabbit and Chick Bags have proved popular with little Easter egg hunters over the last few years. I know a lot of people have made them as gift bags too.

I’ve kept a pink lamb bag from the original set of makes all for myself and it’s often found storing my latest mini project – usually socks or gloves as it’s just the right size. I don’t do much knitting at the moment but when I get the urge to do a row or two it’s great to reach out and put my hands on it straight away. And in the meantime, between these rare bouts my project is sitting pretty waiting for me.

With the spring theme firmly in mind and all the new yarn sorted and stashed I got busy designing a set of bags more in line with the Halloween Bucket Heads in their construction. First of all I hooked up some basic body parts.

No, there’s not going to be a crazy rooster bag (yet) but messing around with some of the elements from two of the bags was a great way to get further inspiration for a later date. Things are not going to be quite what they may seem in these two pictures.

It’s really cheering to be working with such happy colours and I’ve also bought a few blooms for the studio to ramp up the level of spring inspiration. Those hyacinths smell just gorgeous. Their aromatherapy is helping elevate my mood as well.

Pink and yellow from Mother Nature…

…and yellow, orange and scrummy turquoises from of Paintbox yarns.

If you haven’t guessed already which animals I’m making then now is the time to let you in on the secret. In the end the various bits of amigurumi stopped looking like a rooster and were sewn together in the order they were originally intended.

A fancy frog with a cheeky wide-mouthed grin…

…and a chirpy chick with a ridiculously fluffy hairdo. A bit like mine, only much more yellow.

There have also been some other colours going on which are a bit less bright but just as spring-like in their own way.

Pink’s a big favorite of mine at any time of the year and it fits in so nicely with the Easter theme. Minnie and I are are the only girls in the whole family (hubby, 3 boy humans and three boy cats) so we like to get our fix of pink whenever we can!

When it was my turn to hog the pink yarn I put it to good use and crocheted up a lamb basket.

To go with the softer and more natural colour theme a rabbit also joined the gang.

Here they are all pinned together and waiting for their final tweaks.

I set some time aside for playing around with buttons and beads and bits of felt.

The embellishing part of the process is always very satisfying, not least because it means the end is in sight. The whole journey from initial sketch to the very last stitch is all great fun but it’s nice to see an idea that was scribbled down weeks ago finally come to fruition.

I ended up making one of each design with my new Aran yarn and one with random balls of double knit that I always have lying around. I was curious to see what the size difference would be and to see which I liked the best but I ended up liking them both the same. They’re all  roomy enough for gathering a good stash of those little palm sized chocolate eggs that the Easter bunny so kindly hides around the garden.

In case the Easter bunny doesn’t visit me this year (because I might be too old, I guess) I’ve hedged my bets and bought my own haul of goodies. I need them for photographic purposes anyway so there’s not much point waiting until next month. I can’t show the Easter baskets off to their full advantage without stuffing them full of foil wrapped chocolate loveliness. I did buy rather a lot though. It’s very easy to get carried away! Ahh well, I can’t complain about having the sort of job where I get to buy yarn and chocolate as necessary work expenses!

However, I’m not sure how long the Easter stash will last now it’s been discovered by this lot of greedy eyed monsters and a sweet toothed orangutan… I’m just saying – if it all gets eaten it won’t be down to me…honestly.

Once those final tweaks are made I’ll have a whole batch of cover photos to shoot and then I’ll be back to show you how they turned out. I’m going to get a wiggle on and hopefully get all photos finished today – before the Easter eggs have a chance to go missing!


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Craving Colour

I don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world recently but here in England it has been grey and damp and dark and damp and drizzly and damp and dour and dismal and – did I mention damp at all? Well, I think you get the picture and I’m so ready for a bit of sunshine! All this gloomy weather and grey skies has had me reaching for my yarn baskets and picking out the brightest colours I could find, then wrapping up against the cold in my vibrant Mexican blanket for some colour therapy crochet.

horace-hand

In my thirst for a burst of eye dazzlement I made a pair of Hairy Horaces in the most uplifting summery sky blue and sunny yellow shades of furry yarn that I could get my hands on.

horaces-in-the-making

They turned out as cheery looking as I’d hoped. I love these cuddly fellas with their 70’s, jumpsuited disco vibe. If they don’t brighten the place up then nothing will!

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I managed to finish the pattern and upload it into my Etsy shop  and felt all the better for it.  It’s always good to cross another thing off the to-do list.

(If you need a dose of Horace’s flamboyant fabulousness you can find his pattern here).

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The latest two don’t quite capture the giddy fluorescent heights of the original horace with his dayglo yellow fur, but it’s actually quite nice to be able to look at them without needing a pair of sunglasses!

horace-three

I’ve used King Cole Moments yarn for all of my Hairy Horaces. If you’re at all nervous about using eyelash type yarns I would recommend starting out by playing around with a ball of this stuff. I’ve used lots of different brands and weights of novelty yarns over the last few years and this one is silky smooth and much easier than most to crochet with as it doesn’t snag up too easily. There’s enough filament to make an impressive amount of fluff but not too much that it obscures the central yarn cord as you crochet – which can make it difficult to see the individual stitches.

kingh-cole-moments-yarn

I’ve treated myself to s few more zingy shades as it’s pretty inexpensive too. One ball makes one monster so I could have a rainbow of them soon!

Still on the theme of summer brights, I bought this gorgeous paisley cushion on an impulse the other day  – all part of my colour craving symptoms I think.

monster-medley

Maybe it was difficult to resist because it matched my monsters so well and those gorgeous colours were already swimming around in my head.  Anyway I was so enamoured with the pinks and purples and the accents of supernova bright yellows and oranges in my new cushion that I ended up pulling all the matching balls of yarn off my shelves and began cooking up an idea to create some woolly furnishings to go with it.

bright-yarn

I’ve had it in my mind to cover a boring beige footstool that I acquired a while ago. Crochet was the obvious medium for me to do this in. I did think about sewing one as I have a stash of pretty fabrics but somehow whenever it comes down to a straight fight between sewing and crochet the crochet always wins out these days.

mini-mandala

This sort of round and round in circles thing is very moreish, so I ignored the chores and carried on for a little while longer.

footstool-cover

This was closely followed later that evening (when all chores were eventually done – do you see my halo?) by the beginnings of a lap blanket to match the beginnings of the footstool cover.

mini-stripey-blanket-begins

I’m just improvising stitches as I go. It’s quite exciting to see what unfolds and the beautiful thing about crocheting (as opposed to knitting) is that if I don’t like a particular combination it’s so, so easy to frog backwards with only the one live stitch to worry about at any one time.

paisley-cushion

An evenings work resulted in a nice chunk of blanket.

crochet-furnishings

Minnie likes it very well so far…

mini-blanket

minnie-snooze

… and so do the Horaces.

monster-snuggles

This swatch of blanket is the perfect size for the monsters right now but my mission is to make it the perfect size for me so that my crochet corner is a heart lifting sanctuary of warm and squishy crochet delightfulness.

my-crochet-corner

I’ve made a good start anyway, and am finding myself looking forward to each long dark cosy evening so I can let the yarn shine out and get a few more rows and rounds done.

mandala-beginnings

It’s all  going to be rather jazzy by the time I’ve finished.

monster-playtime

And really, who needs actual sunshine when you’ve got all this yarny joy around to cheer the place up?!


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Trophy Heads and a Forest Themed Christmas

I’m back to work for real this week and have been busy finishing up commissions and sorting paperwork but I didn’t want to stomp straight on with the new year without indulging in a bit of Christmas nostalgia and sharing a few photos of my lovely festive holiday at home.

mojo-snuggly

There has been lots of cat cuddling and a fair amount of recreational crochet. Pretty much a perfect lull after a very busy year.

The trophy heads from Vanessa Mooncie’s book have been my favorite Christmas break projects. I started the hare and then started the stag before I finished the hare because I’m a bit impulsive like that when it comes to crochet. My Christmas decorations had a very pronounced woodland theme this year and I thought the stags head would look fabulous as a centre piece.

christmas-decs

As it turns out I didn’t get the stag or the hare entirely finished before Christmas but they were both completed by the New Year thanks to taking a week or so off from designing my own patterns. It sure is good to have a break sometimes and get that hook hooking up a pattern where someone else has done all the hard work for you!

hare

These heads have been very enjoyable projects for dark, frosty nights, and lazy Christmas pyjama clad holidays, keeping warm with the central heating blazing away, and an endless supply of mugs of hot tea, usually provided by hubby who’s also been on holiday. It’s no bad kind of life anyway you look at it.

hare-back

Lots of fairy lights kept the winter gloom at bay and made the lounge my most favorite place to be this Christmas. I had a Winter tree and a Christmas tree up this year.

two-trees

Lots of sweet robins and exotic glittery twittery species decorated the branches of the twiggy tree.

winter-twigs

On the pine tree there was a cramming of baubles and owls, bells and toadstools.

my-tree

All thankfully left alone by the cats. I think my moggies are getting a bit long in the tooth to take much interest in climbing trees either indoors or outdoors these days.

little-robin

It’s difficult not to feel content when you are surrounded by a myriad of twinkling lights and some well placed crocheted friends.

mr-snow

Evie and Elvis got their stockings ready…

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…while Mojo enjoyed some Christmas bliss of his own…

mojo-lounging

…and waited expectantly by his stocking for Father Christmas to fill it up with Dreamies and catnip and crocheted mice.

mojo-and-his-stocking

My trophy heads progressed nicely while hogging the sofa and watching cheesy Christmas films as often as I could. Having been laid low with a bit of a cold and a hideously hacking cough for  most of the last few weeks this was a very welcome way to recuperate whenever circumstances permitted.

deer-head

A visually resplendent chill-fest with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit box sets ticks all the right boxes for a good night in.

christmas-cosy

When duty called and shopping or visiting was required I occasionally ventured out on a car trip, taking my crochet with me, obviously. Every moment counts.

deer

It was rather exciting to see my deer head taking shape, bit by bit. There were quite a lot of separate elements and some very clever construction work involving sheets of card and sturdy wire to make sure everything was going to end up with enough strength and structure to support a piece of work of this scale.

deer-head-progress

Tigger wasn’t too impressed to be asked to pose with the antlers, but then Tigger is never too impressed by anything much.

tigger-and-the-antlers

He soon fell asleep pressed up against my leg for warmth so I don’t think I could have offended him very badly despite that look on his face.

tigger-snuggles

In between crocheting, presents needed to be wrapped up. I wondered if Pogo was hinting that it’s time to re-home him via the medium of a Christmas gift. Sorry Poges, there’s no chance of that – I love you tooooo much! Actually I think he just likes the rustle of the paper and the kick from the power trip that sees me rifling through my Christmas wrappings box looking for alternative trimmings until he decides to move of his own accord.

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My knitted cats are a lot less hassle!

cats-and-trees

It’s been a super Christmas even though I’ve nearly coughed my lungs up onto my lap for much of it. I’m feeling much better now and  the decorations have been safely stashed away for next year. Oh boo hoo. I’ve left the big twiggy tree up though and re-installed the little twiggy tree from the mantelpiece to the hearth.

winter-scene

The shock from being chock-a-block with fairy lights to the stark reality of a Christmas well spent, but spent nonetheless, would have been too much to bear all at once so I’m keeping the home fires burning with a few cheery, twinkly corners and plenty of candles to see me through until spring.

And the really good post Christmas news is that both the stag head and the Hare head are finished and have taken up their permanent residence on the back wall of the lounge. They may not have been ready for Christmas itself but I was quite excited to take down a few of the strings of lights and Christmas cards to make way for them. I love how they turned out. They’re definitely going to be year-round feature.

two-trophys

In fact I love them so much I’ve already started on a third pattern from the book. This time I’m making the ram, with a few colour changes. As this is strictly a thrifty stash buster I’m making do with yarn I already have. I’m also using my totally gorgeous stitch markers made for me as a Christmas gift by a very talented crafty friend.

stitch-meowkers

She made me a set of four, each one a beautifully accurate portrait of each of my cats. How lovely is that!

4-cat-meowkers

So while I while away my spare time making another trophy head to fill another space on the wall…

trophy-heads

…Stan the Stag…

stanley-stag

…and Harry the Hare…

harry-hare

…will have to make do with Mojo as company.

three-heads

Now I’m the proud owner of personalised cat head stitch markers and two magnificent crocheted trophy heads – how about crocheted cat head portraits of my moggies for the wall?

I can’t quite work out if that’s a great and quirky idea or just a little bit too freaky. I’ll have to think about that one!


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Random Project Round Up

I hope you all had a fab Christmas holidays and have made some New Year resolutions which are going to be fun to keep.

I’m determined not to get in a muddle by having too many crochet projects on the go at any one time this year. I’m pretty good at starting things but finishing them off… well, that’s been a whole different thing. This is fine up to a point, but the main problem is the amount of storage space that unfinished bundles of yarn and supplies, heads, limbs, torsos and granny squares take up in various baskets and boxes all around the house. So I put my mind and all my spare time during November and some of December to getting these projects finished off, once and for all.

This is a sweet little fox I began making from Zoomigurumi 2 for my brothers birthday in November 2015, but this poor fella sat languishing for many months when I ran out of yarn with only one ear to go and with not enough days left to order more yarn and get him to his destination on time. So he ended up being a year late to the birthday party. But it was still a birthday party and better to turn up late than never!

foxy

My brother is very musical and wasted no time giving Foxy his first guitar lesson after his safe arrival in Scotland.

starstruck-foxy

Foxy is now totally star struck and is rumoured to be applying for Britain’s Got Talent 2017.

Back in the summer I began a skull shawl for my gothic-loving sister-in-law’s birthday. You can find this fabulous pattern over at Kungen et Majkis Blog where it is written out in both Swedish and English and also comes with great photos to help you on your way.

minnie-not-sharing

This was a little outside of my comfort zone as it’s a world away from the easy peasy repetitive rounds of amigurumi. May I suggest that if this is your first time at attempting something like this you omit the wine altogether, at least until you get the pattern very established! I had to frog most of the second set of skull repeats (about ten rows) due to slight over imbibement. Well, in my defense it was a lovely sunny Friday evening and a glass or two of cool white wine seemed like such a good idea at the time…

friday-crochet

Back on track and a bunch of summer evenings were spent chasing patches of sunlight around the garden and crocheting a few more rows each day.

sunny-bench

And then I got stuck as I ran out of yarn again! It was almost finished here way back in June, but then got shelved for a while until I eventually crocheted a plain black bobble fringe onto it in early November as part of my WIP elimination drive. However, in my excitement to post it to my sis-in-law in time for her big day I forgot to take a photo of that bit.

skulls

I hooked up a sloth for a friend’s Christmas present. With all good intentions I began this project in September but only got as far as his head which has been staring very forlornly at me from a shelf for far too long. I spent a weekend in mid November making him whole and with my first Christmas present all done began to feel a little more on top of things.

slocombe

I finished testing this gorgeous Red Panda pattern by Little Muggles.

red-panda

Red panda and Oswald the Owl are going to be bookmates in Zoomigurumi 6. Keep an eye out over on AmigurumiPatterns.net for more info on the release date and details of the other stars of the show.

Mojo kept me warm while I got started. Lap time gets so much more important as the weather chills down.

proofreading

Pogo also kept me company and got quite heavily involved as I neared completion of all the separate parts.

proofread-panda

There was a  little bit of friendly wrestling with the head.

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But after carefully prizing it away from those loving jaws (I’m sure he was only trying to give it a kiss rather than rip it to shreds!) Red Panda turned out rather well.

red-panda4

Pogo took another well earned nap after all that excitement. Glad to see him appreciating the Spring Dots blanket that was also completed last month.

My very own Oswald the Owl underwent his final few remakes to ensure all was as near perfect as possible with the pattern before it was sent off for it’s final proofreading sessions and a version of Oswald himself was posted to the publishers.

twoowls

And so another line was drawn under another book submission.

Do you remember the Monster competition a month or so back? A big thanks to those of you who voted. It was great to see so many people getting involved. Though none of my monsters made the top three (not too surprising as there were over 420 design submitted in the end!) I am really thrilled to tell you that Jeepers and Creepers are going to be one of the fifteen monster designs featured in a new book to be released around August 2017.

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You may recall that it’s this pair of scamps that are responsible for rolling up those dust bunnies you find under the bed or lurking behind the sofa. I’m looking forward to making these two in a range of different complementary colour pairings during the pattern testing phase.

I still have to do a proper write up, which means translating my scrawls into a nice neat manuscript but that’s a loose end that’s still got to be dealt with and will be a priority this January. A bonus of having the competition to work towards was that some of the monsters I’d been doodling over the last year finally got to make it off the page. Now I have a clutch of new beasties all designed and crocheted up. It’s just a case of writing up the PDFs for those as well. Another nice little job for the new year.

The latter part of 2016 also saw me finish off my Autumn berries poncho. A lovely mix of raspberry pinks and blackberry purples. You can see the poncho’s sweet beginnings here. You’ll notice the date of that blog post is well over a year ago so this was long overdue for it’s finishing touches.

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I’m glad I cracked on and got this finished especially as the weather has turned so cold. It’s perfect for wearing around the house and as the cold snap looks set to continue for a while I’m going to be mighty pleased with my gift from me to me!

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Lovely scrummy,snugly, squishy-squashy, soft as a cloud cosiness.

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To think the humble granny square could look so pretty.

There is still a large basket of amigurumi body parts left over, though I fear some of these projects may have lost their way for good. Minnie seems to like them though so I’ll keep them around for a while longer yet. You never know when inspiration might strike and some of those bits and pieces may someday be transformed into something wonderful. One basket of oddments is within the realms of what my storage situation can deal with, especially if it doubles up as a cat bed.

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But before I get carried away thinking about how to turn this basket of random shapes into new characters I have several brand new designs (mainly monsters and a princess) and a few older ones (the Trapeze Mice and Dancing Dogs, as well as a troop of carol singers that missed the Christmas deadline) to get listed on Etsy etc. The older ones have all been featured in books and magazines and now it’s time to make them available as single purchase patterns.

With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work I’m aiming to get the remainder of the backlog of new designs finished and listed by the end of February. Then I really will feel like I’ve had a creative spring clean ready for some new ideas for Easter and beyond. So much to look forward to this year. Let the fun begin!

Happy 2017 everyone!

 


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Monster Mayhem

When the AmigurumiPatterns design contest came around again and the theme this time was monsters, I felt a burst of bright colour and a whole lot of eyeballs coming on. Flicking back through my sketchbooks to see what was stored in my scribbly memory bank and rummaging through my half-started-amigurumis basket I soon found a few designs that hadn’t managed to either make it off the page yet, or that had been begun and then abandoned a while ago. I wasn’t short on ideas – the main problem, once I got into my monster stride, was knowing when to stop but that was luckily taken out of my hands when I simply ran out of time and the deadline was up!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in a very strange world where creatures come in all shapes and sizes and all sorts of psychedelic colour combos. It’s been a monster-tastic amount of fun using my imagination and playing around with odds and ends of yarn from my stockpile. My sketchbooks are always full of odd creatures anyway. I particularly love making amigurumi monsters because there are so many possibilities to make exactly what you like without the constraints of earthly biology to tie you down!

Here is a little thumbnail gallery of my final monsters (centre graphic courtesy of Joke from AmigurumiPatterns.net). I’ll introduce you to them all individually in a while.

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There were 427 entries for this years competition. That’s a lot of crazy creatures and makes for great viewing. Voting is open until December the 10th so if you want to give yourself a true fright you can find all the different characters on the Monster Gallery page. You can vote for five of your favorites. I cast my votes earlier and it wasn’t the easiest decision I’ve ever made as there are so many really, really creepy and cute designs to choose from (no, I didn’t vote for my own!).  I can be horribly indecisive too – I blame that on being a Libran – so I was there for ages. I hope you have as much fun, but maybe a little less indecision when you go to pick your best of the bunch!

Letting my ideas run wild and getting creative with bright, bold colours has been a fabulous antidote to the seasonal grey skies and almost constant drizzle.

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It’s always good to have an excuse to bring out the eight year old in me and start colouring in my doodles with a zingy rainbow of ink.

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I’ve mostly been feeling like I’m being watched all the time due to all the big bulgy eyeballs that have been rolling around my desk for the last few weeks.

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Deciding on the perfect eye colour for each character proved to be a challenge and so I made a load in lots of different shades and tried them all out.

Hairy Horace went through a purple eye phase…

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…before eventually changing to a bright green. Not quite as bright as his fluffy bits though.

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Whey hey! I think he likes his new contact lens!

If you ever want to know the latest monster gossip on Planet Fuzz then Hairy Horace is the one you need to talk to. He sees everything, even though he’s only got one eye (it’s a very big one), he hears everything, even though he’s got no ears (those strange cones on his head soak up the tiniest noises) and he’s very, very nosey, even though he’s got no nose (but then you don’t actually need a nose to be nosey). Monster biology is a curious business. It takes all sorts to make a universe.

Oh, and he’s a bit of a poser too.

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After Horace came Florence…

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She also lives on Planet Fuzz and you’ll probably have spotted that there is a vague planetary family resemblance between the two of them.

Fluffy Florence made it straight into the intergalactic space corps flying squad after just one week’s training.  She credits her stellar success to having been born with three eyes instead of the one (or sometimes two) more common to most Planet Fuzz inhabitants. Her all round 3D vision is greatly enhanced by this genetic mutation. She can easily keep two eyes on the horizon and an extra one on the control panel which means she can steer her spacecraft at incredibly high speeds through the most difficult of alien terrains.

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There is a two-eyed species indigenous to Planet Fuzz as well and it didn’t seem fair to leave him out so very soon Bristly Boris began his crocheted journey.

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Poor Boris takes a very long time to get ready for school every morning. He has so much hair to brush and so many legs to squeeze into trousers that he’s often late leaving the house.

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Luckily he can easily make up for lost time by running to the bus stop at lightning fast speed. Sometimes having ten legs is definitely an advantage.

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Enough with the furry yarn for a while. These next two designs had been started over a year or so ago but somehow I never found the time to settle down and get them finished. There’s nothing like a tight deadline for improving productivity is there? So with just over a week to go I set myself the challenge to finish them both. The biggest problem was finding the matching yarn. I really didn’t want to have to start over so had a good rummage through the odds and ends baskets and managed to find  all the oddments I was looking for. Hurray!

First to enrol at Moji-Moji Design’s finishing school were Jeepers and Creepers.

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Have you ever lain awake at night and wondered what that noise was coming from under the bed? Were you ever brave enough to take a look? If you did and were also very quiet and very quick about it you may have spied Jeepers and Creepers staring back at you in wide-eyed wonder.

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Their three big eyes help them to peer about in the under-bed gloom where they spend their time rolling up household fluff into dust bunnies to play with. Even if you’re not fast enough to see these shy little monsters for yourself you may well find a dust bunny or two (googly eyes optional) to prove their existence.

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Last but not least are Lottie and Dottie. I abandoned these two a while back due to other work commitments but the time was right to pick them up again and carry on from where I left off.

My workspace started sprouting eyeballs again. Ooh I love making these colourful staring orbs!

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Soon enough two new monsters had joined the gang.

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Lottie and Dottie spend a lot of time together practicing their hoopla and coconut shy skills. They take aim at each other’s eye stalks with their hoops and try to knock each other’s eyeballs from their sockets with small wooden balls. As a result of all this dedicated practice they always win the best prizes when the fair comes to town.

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I’ll leave it to Lottie and Dottie to wave you all goodbye with their stumpy little three fingered hands.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me. All the Moji-Moji monsters enjoyed your company too!

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As for me, I’m all monstered out for a bit. Time to get back to the soothing neutrals and comforting repetition of my new winter blanket. One of the many things I love about crochet is the sheer variety in the types of projects you can get immersed in and after all the decision making that’s such an essential part of any design process, now is definitely the time for a less demanding type of hook wielding!

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Don’t forget to vote for your favorite monsters (they don’t have to be mine and I’ll never know unless you tell me!). There are so many to choose from, I think you’ll have a blast clicking and scrolling your way through the weirdly wild and woolly imagination of all the designers in this years competition.


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Keeping Warm

I’ve been really enjoying the turn of the seasons from summer to autumn. It’s always such a fun time with all the promise of warming festivals made to cheer up our transition from bright sunshine and lovely long days to the cosy drawing in of autumn evenings. Crispy leaves, bonfires, fireworks, candles, pumpkin soup, boots, jumpers and woolly mittens. With a bit of preparation it’s quite easy to enjoy the novelty of a cold snap and all the atmosphere it brings.

My bat garland has graced the fireplace for several weeks now and a whole heap of candles are on daily standby, ready to banish the gloom of a 5pm blackout.

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They certainly cheer the place up and help to keep the chill out.

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Oswald the Owl adds a touch of forest charm, nestled cosily in the corner and the Pumpkin Patch People came out to play too.

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Real pumpkins were carved in honour of this year’s family obsession with Pokemon Go.

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A Golbat and a Duskull.

We’ve walked an awful lot more than usual over the last few months in the pursuit of these virtual creatures. My son has even mastered the art of catching pokemon for two. Now his girlfriend doesn’t miss out while she’s at work. How sweet!

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As a result of all the pumpkin carving, along with the fact the local supermarket had grossly overstocked and were giving away pumpkins by the trolleyful to anyone who wanted them, several cauldrons full of hearty pumpkin soup have been made to help us glow on the inside too.

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Soup through a straw is a new revelation for me and means its even easier to eat and type/crochet/browse the internet at the same time with minimal spillage onto yarn or keyboards. Hallelujah!

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A Halloween ghost walk at Hanbury Hall got us in the mood for Tricks and Treats.

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There were plenty of tricks involved here, and some treats too, but I won’t spoil any surprises for people who may go along next year.

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I’ll just tell you that they certainly put on a good show for us and we weren’t short of apparitions accompanied by blood curdling screams and things going BUMP! in the night.

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Blankets were crocheted to keep out the drafts…

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…while watching fireworks from the comfort of my home.

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But sometimes it’s good to get a worm’s eye view from right underneath so it was lovely to be invited to a Bonfire/Birthday Party at my sister-in-laws gorgeously quaint Cotswolds cottage where a huge fire crackled and popped all night long.

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Sparklers were lit…

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…food was scoffed, drink was drunk and the loudest fireworks I’ve ever heard were set soaring into the night sky.

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With all that Autumn fun to enjoy it’s no surprise that it’s still high on my list of favorite seasons (along with winter, spring and summer – depends which season I’m in to be honest, but they’re all definitely up there in my top four!).

I’ve been wrapping up and getting out and about whenever I get the chance. It’s almost as if nature sets all those leave on fire to help make up for the nip the air.

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Though some of summer’s colour still remains here and there.

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Now I couldn’t get too close for the last photo as this poor squirrel was in a total panic as to where to run to with his prized rice cake.

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I’ve no idea where he got it from but he’s certainly not up for sharing. That ought to help him pack on a few calories for the winter (something I’m actively trying not to do myself!).

As well as enjoying all the autumn festivities I’ve also been making a huge effort to finish off a few WIPS. If you remember, there was the Autumn Berries Poncho, the hare’s trophy head, and the Spring Dots Blanket. And also a skull shawl (which I refrained from blogging about as it was a birthday present so didn’t want to spoil the surprise). I’ve also been working on a number of amigurumi projects for my ‘day job’ that I’m intending to share soon. So for all of you who have missed the usual cramming in of crochet into my blog posts, never fear – the next few posts should more than make up for this ones lack!


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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 –  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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A Hectic Half Term

Gosh, I’ve been so busy with mostly unplanned interruptions this half term that I had hardly any time to spend in my beloved studio. I’m not complaining, because it was rather fun, but I unexpectedly ended up decorating a study room for my dad as he has been a bit poorly recently and I hoped it would cheer him up. (It did!). Hubby helped too as he had a few days off but the timing of it meant that we weren’t able to indulge in our Champagne breakfast on Valentine’s day after all because we were elbow deep in DIY. Still, anything can be romantic with the right person, even painting walls, and the Champagne tasted just as good when we got home that evening!20160214_154740_001Of course a quick room makeover is never just that and an awful lot of the week went by before it was finished. We did take Wednesday off for a quick trip to Cardiff to pay a visit to my oldest son who’s at Uni there – studying computer animation and motion graphics (or something along those lines, I always forget the exact course title!).

Oh the relief to exchange a paint brush and a tub of emulsion for a hook and some yarn. I certainly made the most of all the quiet and peace that a car ride has to offer. Diggory and Dave (my new dancing circus dogs) have a book deadline coming up soon so I spent the outward journey double checking their pattern, which, for me, means making everything from scratch again.DiggoryA boiled egg breakfast gave me all the energy I needed to keep my hook hooking nineteen to the dozen.brunchThat’s Diggory above,  and below you’ll find the beginnings of Dave…glove-compartmentThe glove compartment is so handy for keeping all my crochet essentials and the odd project or two in. My strange hubby seems to think that it’s meant for the log book, sat nav and tool kit, so I do have to keep turfing out all those annoying ‘man things’ that just get in the way. Surely crochet is far more useful if we break down. At least I’ll be happily occupied however long it takes the mechanic to find us!

One quiet evening at the beginning of last week I crocheted myself a handy little roll up case. I didn’t use a pattern, just free wheeled it, but I love how it turned out, and it was so quick to make. As improvised as it was I did force myself to jot down some rudimentary notes as I went along so I should be able to reproduce it if I feel I need another or want to make one for a friend. I’m thinking they’d make perfect birthday presents for fellow knit and crocheters, especially when filled with all these eternally useful crafty treasures.needles-and-hooksI’ve managed to squeeze in two sets of double pointed sock/glove knitting pins, a cable needle, crochet hooks, stitch markers, a pin cushion and a pair of scissors. The important stuff literally all rolled into one.  That’s pretty much everything I need so I won’t get caught short without recourse to a satisfying project or two as long as I have this with me. Just add yarn!

Did you notice my toadstool markers looped onto the end of the stitch holder? Aren’t they gorgeous?! I bought them recently from Tinkaboo Crafts for You on Etsy. The set included every colour of the rainbow, so I kind of just had to have them. Toadstools and rainbows, count me in!DSCN1319After stashing a couple away in my roll up case, some of the others have gone to live with the magical mushroom pincushion that grows out of the top of my lug-around super sized project basket.DSCN1320I mainly use this basket for carrying things up and down to the end of the garden when it’s sunny and I want to work outdoors as it has space for everything I could need including a flask of tea and a packet of custard creams or a bottle of prosecco and a jar of olives, depending on the time of day. Here’s a snap taken last summer of my carry-all basket  to remind us all of more clement times to come.FtoadstoolYou see there’s even room to take along the odd cat too.MojoRugAnyway, I digress from tales of  Half Term week… We arrived in Cardiff with Dave the dog nearly ready to sew together. A few hours were whiled away hanging around the city centre – mainly perusing the local Tiger store where I bought a bit more storage and stationery for my ongoing studio revamp. I particularly liked their wire shower baskets and treated myself to three of them. They now have pride of place hanging under the window next to my chair and are proving useful for storing all sorts of bits and pieces in, including a whole load of polyester toy stuffing. Now I have my own cloud in a basket, though Mojo prefers to look out of the window at the real thing.windowThey’re also good for storing cat’s tails in. I love how the alpaca and the chihuahua seem to be in agreement to look the other way and pretend it’s not there. It appears that the sun may actually be shining out of Tigger’s behind but these two are far too polite to look!tigger-tailAnd here’s a glimpse of what was under the window before my shopping spree. How sweet that the cats form an orderly queue for the sunny window spot!  I may often lack human company working from home all on my own but I’m never lonely. It’s often difficult to twitch an elbow when I’m at my desk for fear of jabbing a cat!cat-windowAfter our trip to Tiger we stopped for some light refreshment at Wahaca. Fantastic food as always, and the Margaritas are pretty damn good too. That must be at least 100% of today’s vitamin C requirement sorted out, and what a way to do it!margaritaIf you do find yourself paying a visit be sure to check out my son’s artwork too, he has a part time job there and, among other duties, gets to draw on the chalk boards in the upstairs bar area. Here’s his latest masterpiece…Rojito BarEventually it was time to say goodbye to my lovely boy and get back in the car for the trip home to Worcester. Of course that means a little more time for getting creative and so I started my very first pair ever of crocheted mitts.crochet-mittsI’m really comfortable with the whole amigurumi thing by now but this is taking crochet to a whole new level for me. So far, so good as I’m still working the cuff but I’ll let you know how I get on when things get a little more complicated. It will be interesting to see whether I end up with a pair of mitts to be proud of or a misshapen rag of a washcloth made from expensive bamboo yarn. I have to say that looking at the chart for the shell pattern has given me palpitations. I guess I’m just not a charty type of person. All those symbols are prone to swim about before my eyes in a highly nonsensical manner. There is a written version of the shell pattern though so I’ll be sticking to that and hoping that if I just tackle the mitts round by round something as beautiful as the photo in the book will result. If not I’ll be reverting to knitting something similar. I’ve certainly had plenty of practice at that in recent months.

These are some of my newest handmade hand warmers.mitts in a basketI’ve been practicing my cabling to spice things up a bit.cable-mittsMy latest pair of knitted mitts turned out gorgeous. I used some pretty variegated yarn and embellished the top rib with a simple crocheted flower.mittensI made a handful of these easy flowers with the yarn that was leftover after the mittens were finished. I loved how they kept turning out differently depending on where in the yarn dye repeat each one began. They were the perfect portable and pocket sized project for all the micro journeys I was making over to mum and dad’s to finish off my dad’s fancy new study, both before and after our Cardiff trip.

As well as adding a touch of fun to my mitts, my cache of woolly flowers were perfect for embellishing the top of my roll up case and I also crocheted a chain onto one of them to make a little tapestry needle holder to attach to my snippy scissors.hook-wrapThat’s what I call co-ordinated heaven!mitts-and-flowersI’ve got a few mitten gifts in mind that I need to make over the next week. It’s going to be a bit of a rush but at least I won’t be wasting any time searching for the necessary equipment!

It’s lovely to be back in the studio full time again this week. There’s been lots of sunshine pouring in the window over the past few days. Spring feels tangibly close now and all the promise of bright energetic days, light evenings and brand new projects are hanging deliciously in the air.Dusty-catMy pot is full of daffodils, my windowsill is full of cats and my head is full of exciting new designs. Half term is pretty darn good but I’m always more than happy to get back to work in earnest!