Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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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!


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Keeping Tidy and Knittin’ Mittens

Yes, the miraculous has happened – after over a week of constant use since my tidying spree my studio has remained at least 90% organized, with the odd 10% of chaos being caused by the general creative flurry of a busy life with more yarn and ideas in it than time. As you can see, we’re still pretty ship shape around here!

My-Tidy-DeskNew Washi tape arrived last week to swell the collection. I now have all these!Washi-collection

Washi-tape-drawerCraft hoarder that I am, I do actually use some of my stuff some of the time. This week I put some of the Washis to good use sprucing up a set of folders that had been used by my middle son for storing his A-level coursework in. These folders weren’t the prettiest of things with their big black and white branded labels on the spines, but because I actually went with him to choose them a couple of years ago, they are a rather pleasing collection of rainbow colours (he was overruled on the ‘let’s just go for black ones, it’s easier’ line of thought) so there was definitely some salvage potential there.

I rifled through my collection of coloured papers and found a match for each file then I paired them up with their closest complimentary washi tape partners.WashiCo-ordinated heaven!

After a little bit of measuring, cutting and sticking, the slightly tatty, bog standard A4 lever arch files were transformed into something bright and neat and pretty.folders2Makeover complete and here they all are, harmoniously nestled into their new home.foldersNow if I’m going to be really fussy here, and I am pretty fussy generally, I’d probably say that the pink Washi tape isn’t really a close enough match. Oh well, it’ll do for now. In the meantime, deep pink Washi tape goes onto the shopping list.

I’ve begun to fill the folders already. I’m cataloguing my vast yarn collection to keep a track of which colours I’ve used for each amigurumi design, complete with brand and shade numbers. The idea is to make it much easier to re-stock a particular colour, or at least track down its nearest equivalent when I run out. Sometimes guess work just isn’t good enough. It’s a big job and is still ongoing but so far, so good. A stack of plastic sleeves meant for storing business cards in are the perfect solution for identifying all those yarn shades at a glance.yarn-cataloguingMy recent mass yarn sort out has been useful for reminding me of all those glorious oddments and single balls of variegated yarns. They were mostly found buried in the bottom of boxes under mounds of all the solid colours that tend to get much more regular use in my normal line of work, but now they have a box all to themselves.multi-yarnWith an urge to put some of this rediscovered kaleidoscopic yarn to good use I focused my attention on making a few pairs of fingerless mitts. I have to say that working crochet in the round with just a single hook is a doddle by comparison, but I do love the look of knitted gloves and socks so much better than crocheted ones and the four needle juggling act is becoming much less clumsy the more I practice.mitts-galoreMulticoloured yarn is my new favorite thing. All the pleasure of pretty patterning without the pain of constantly swapping out balls of wool. I even managed to create two pairs of mitts containing every colour of the rainbow with just two balls of yarn.reds-and-bluesI do enjoy working up these little projects – I can get a single mitt made in the course of an evening – the almost instant gratification is, well… gratifying! I always find myself fascinated by how each yarn orders itself. Some yarn stripes its way along in more or less single rows as with the first pair I made in this lovely mix of blues.blue-mittThe second pair of the week were a little more random in their patterning. Love these tutti frutti colours. A wearable tonic for the dullest of wet winter days. I made these a few rounds shorter to mix things up a bit.tutti-frutti-mittI also finished off a dark blue pair of mitts which had been languishing since last spring, thereby removing another project from the work-in-progress pile. Yippee!mittThe patterning on this one reminds me of ripples on the sea.teal-mittOr even the canal. No wild and untamed sea around here but plenty of gently choppy canals.ripplesAfter two and a bit pairs of plain stocking stitch mitts my brain started craving something a bit more challenging so the final finished pair of the week has a chunky cable detail.cable-mittsThey were going to have a pompom flourish but my youngest son has decided he’d really like to be their owner and has vetoed the pompom idea as silly, so I’ll save that for the next pair I make for myself. I’m not at all afraid of a bit of silly!

So with that plan in mind I started another pair today, on a short Sunday car run over to visit my parents. This time they’re in softly striping shades of pinks, lavenders and taupes. Too girly to be appropriated by any of my three boys, or hubby either, so I can be quite confident I won’t get hoodwinked into parting with my latest mitts. I’ll be adding a bit of pompom magic to these instead.new-cable-mittsI’ve certainly got enough pompoms going spare at the moment.minnieIf Minnie ever lets me near them!

I haven’t only been organising my craft stuff and knitting mittens though. I also have a new pattern on the way. So before I go, here’s a sneak peek at my newest Moji-Moji family members.peekersI couldn’t resist adding some pompoms to these either!


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Bright Beginnings

In order to well and truly kick 2016 into action I’ve been giving my studio a thorough clean out. New year, new beginnings and all that, so what better way than to start as I mean to go on with a tidy and efficient workspace?button-rainbowI sorted out my buttons and made a rainbow… now they fit neatly into my chest of drawers along with my other treasures.buttons-and-beadsDon’t congratulate me just yet though. I should have said that I’ve sorted out some of my buttons. I’ve still got a rather sizeable jar to go…button-jarBut I’m saving that for another day. There’s only so many buttons a girl can handle at any one time.

I’ve got enough colour coded pots of buttons to turn a search and sew situation into a grab and sew situation. You see it’s all about not spending ages looking for the things I need when I’m in the full flow of creativity. These days, the longer I take to find something the more chances I have of getting completely distracted by something else and forgetting what I was after in the first place. Organization is definitely the key to success here.

The thing I spend the most time looking for is yarn, so that’s what received my full attention next. This gave me another excuse to play with rainbows, this time by making a bunch of labels to pin to my yarn baskets. I found some plain brown swing tags hiding in a drawer, and raided my newly sorted pots of buttons.Button-tags2Then I indulged in some glue gun fun.glue-gunningThat was the easy bit over with – the real challenge was yet to begin… the sorting of the yarn itself. After all, fancy new labels for the baskets are no good to anybody if they don’t represent the contents.

So the beginning part of this week and quite a lot of last weekend was spent going through my jumble of yarn and colour coding that too. Not a task to be undertaken lightly, but one that is hopefully going to make me much more time rich over the coming months.studio-sortingI find that the best way to get tidy is to get really, really untidy first. If you tip everything out onto the floor in a grandly dramatic gesture, then you’ve just got to get on with it! There’s no leaving a mess like this to fester, although I think the cats would be delighted with such a yarnglorious playground to frolic in.  Bad luck cats… it’s all going back.

Ta-dahhhh ! Now hows this for organization?!rainbow-yarnrainbow-yarn-2rainbow-yarn-3Impressive huh?

There are also baskets of white, black, grey, beige, natural undyed and multicoloured yarns, all snuggly nestled away in their own shelf spots.yarn-basketsThat jumbled old top shelf needs my attention next, but I’m all done with yarn sorting for now. Just like the button sorting, I’m leaving the rest for another day.

I can also tell you that the wonderwall of yarn next to my computer has stood the test of staying neat in over a month of use. I really am getting into some good habits these days!rainbow-wallNo excuses for yarny chaos now, not with everything ready to find at a glance.buttons2buttons1buttons3I’ve also got me a rainbow of washi tapes to play with and a bucketful of rainbow pompoms to turn into a cushion cover. There’s a definite theme going on here in the studio this January!rainbow-washiMy set of clover crochet hooks might be up for a splash of colour treatment next. I love these hooks for the way they glide so smoothly through the yarn and their ergonomic handles are essential when you spend as many hours crocheting as I do, but they’re not the prettiest tools in the box. I’ve covered one with washi tape already and I’m liking the result.washi-hooksA coat of varnish or two and they should hold up to many zillions of miles of crocheting. The different colours will make it more difficult for me to grab hold of the wrong size too, as has been known to happen when I’m in full crochet swing. That little project is definitely going on the to do list.

As for the pompoms, I’ve made as many as I’m going to need for the cushion cover, and a quite a few extra as well.Minnie-in-the-basketI think the finished cover is going to be highly popular with the cats – especially Minnie, she can’t seem to keep away.pompom-minnieMojo wants to know if it’s his turn next. Not that he usually bothers asking!mojo-pompomsAt the end of all the frenzied yarn and button organising, pompom making and washi tape buying I even managed to clean up my desk area. Now I’m ready to start testing my patterns for the circus book. Everything is so much easier when things are tidy. I hope it lasts!tidy-deskbutton-rainbow

*A very heartfelt thanks to all who voted in the circus competition for my trapeze mice and dancing dogs. Both designs got picked for the new book so I’m a very happy bunny!*bunny-button


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Voting is Underway!

Just a little post to give you the thumbs up that voting is now open for the circus themed amigurumi design competition run by the team at amigurumipatterns.net. You can see all the entries and cast your votes here if you should feel like getting involved.

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Here’s a quick reminder of my two contributions in case you missed my earlier posts.

Firstly there was Trixie, Trudy and Tricia the Trapeze Triplets.

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 You can vote for Trixie, Trudy and Tricia here. 

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And then there was Diggory and Dave the Dancing Dogs. (Oh yes, I sure do love my alliteration!).

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 You can vote for Diggory and Dave here. 

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You’ll get to choose five of your favourite designs, and with 235 hugely imaginative entries there’s plenty to choose from.

Have fun browsing the designs and casting your votes, and good luck to all who have entered!


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Diggory and Dave the Dancing Dogs

There’s a few more days left yet to get your entries in to amigurumipatterns.net‘s circus themed design competition and I’ve been getting a lot of nagging from a couple of puppies called Diggory and Dave who are desperate to join in the fun.

Diggory-and-Dave

When they heard what the theme was they sat up and begged me to let them take part. Apparently it turns out that – having watched one too many videos on Youtube of Pudsey the dog competing in and eventually winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, they have been inspired to learn some clever tricks and get on the stage themselves. What better way for them to hone those skills and satisfy their thirst for stardom than to join a circus?

Well, I’m a sucker for a great big pair of doughy puppy eyes, and with two pairs to contend with I just had to let them get their way on this one.

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I asked Tilly Mouse what she thought, as her whole family have been performing in the Big Top for generations. (Read more about Tilly and her sisters here). Tilly told me that the circus she lived with was lots of fun and everyone was very kind to one another. She promised to get these two enthusiastically bouncy dogs an audition and immediately began making them a pair of matching outfits.

Tilly

Tilly finally decided not to follow in the family tradition and join the trapeze act with her siblings. She didn’t really like heights too much and preferred to concentrate on creating fabulous costumes for all the other circus acts instead.

I helped her turn a little corner of my studio into a creative space all for herself where she can sit and concentrate on crafting.

Tilly-Mouse

Now Tilly comes for crochet lessons and a nice chat whenever she can get away.

Mojo has a sneaking suspicion that a mouse may have taken up residence in the studio…

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…but Tilly keeps really still so he won’t notice her among all the crochet! He soon wanders off for a nap and work can commence again.

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It isn’t long before Diggory comes to pay a visit to see how his costume is coming along.

Crochet-lessons

He loves the cute leg warmers and is very impatient to wear his stripy pointed hat. To speed things up he gets himself busy choosing the right buttons for it.

Diggory

Dave comes to join them for a fitting too.

Costumes

After a little discussion between them, Diggory decides to wear the blue cuffs and hat while Dave agrees to wear the red ones.

circus-outfits

Mojo comes back to check things out but Tilly feels quite safe this time with Diggory and Dave at her side. I think Mojo just want’s a bit of the limelight too. Maybe he’ll be the next one to want to run off and join the circus.

Momo

Now it’s time to finish making the dancing props. Diggory and Dave think that hoops and balls will be a good start and before the day is up Tilly has made them a whole basketful of delights.

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She is one busy little mouse!

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All puppies love new toys to play with and these two are no exception.

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They’re so excited when they see their colourful toys that they can hardly sit still and immediately start to rifle through, making a big mess.

Playtime

Oh well, toys are for play, not display!

Time for them to use some of that energy and start rehearsing. They want to learn to juggle and dance at the same time. That’s sure to impress the audience.

Circus-dogs

I’m pleased to tell you that the rehearsals kept them very busy and stopped them chewing up the house and barking at the postman.

Indeed, all the practice sessions have resulted in a very special act called the Juggling Jig. It’s unique to Diggory and Dave and after an audition with the circus this week I’m thrilled to tell you that they have been asked to join!

Mojo, on the other hand, failed his audition. He has a bad cattitude and isn’t so ready to please as the dogs. Firstly, he wouldn’t wear a funny outfit and secondly, his only real talent is for breaking the world record for the most snoozing in a single day. Even though I could gaze at him lovingly for hours as he snores away I’m not so sure the general public would have found it quite so endearing!

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Oh well, judging from his face it looks like Mojo may have thought better of his transient ambitions and is now treating the whole episode with the utmost contempt!

Puppy-duo

Diggory and Dave on the other hand, are over the moon at the prospect of an exciting new adventure. I’m going to miss them but what is life for if not for following your dreams? Go for it Dave! Go for it Diggory! I just hope they come back and visit whenever they can 🙂

Dancing-puppies

Do you have an idea for a character? You can find out how to enter and all about the prizes here.

The competition is open until Friday November 27th 2015.

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Good luck if you’re participating and don’t forget to have your say by voting for your favourites from 1st December 2015!


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Autumnal inspiration

There’s been plenty to stir the senses again this autumn, so as we head into winter I thought I’d share a few of the things that have been fun to do over the past couple of weeks. There was the usual collecting of goodies and making them into something tasty. The blackberries are still filling up a large part of my freezer and the apples are still being picked from our tiny, but very fruitful tree. Lob both ingredients into a pan with a tablespoon of sugar and you get this pinky-purple scrumptiousness…

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…just waiting to be turned into a blackberry and apple pie. A yummy breakfast made yummier with fresh apple slices and a bunch of grapes from the vine. Most of the grapes are fermenting gassily in a big tub ready to be turned into Chateau Holmes 2015 wine but there are a few more bunches left yet, for the blackbirds and me.

Breakfast

One of my favorite snacks for this time of year is roasted pumpkin seeds and with lots of pumpkins to get through there’s been no shortage of these crunchy nibbles for salad and soup sprinkles or just for plain old snacking. Here they are before and after they got a good roasting.

pumpkin-seeds

I think these were my tastiest yet. The secret is to leave some of the pumpkin flesh on – don’t rinse them clean first. I swooshed them around in a little olive oil, and a pinch each of celery salt, smoked paprika, cumin and turmeric. I think that’s probably not a totally bona fide authentic spice mix – more along the lines of some weird and totally made up ‘fusion’ cooking, but it worked for me!

The glory of roasting pumpkin seeds is you can have fun experimenting with whatever is in your spice rack and see what you prefer. Better than a packet of crisps to munch on, any day!

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To satisfy my sweet tooth I made a couple of pumpkin pies too. My favorite being a recipe by Abel and Cole which was more of an egg custard type thing but with a very definite pumpkin hit to the tastebuds.

Now I will be the first to admit it’s not going to win any awards for its physical beauty, but just like people, true beauty is more than skin deep and in the light of that observation this pie is a cracker. What it lacked in looks it more than made up for in taste!

pie-time

Treats at the ready I got a little bit of knitting time in at the kitchen table. As it was a Friday night I ditched the cup of tea and indulged in a glass of Chateau Holmes 2014 wine instead – for inspirational purposes of course.

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A very good homemade wine for washing down homemade pumpkin pie while knitting homemade mittens!

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I’ve been really enjoying knitting these mitts and have even attempted to write up the pattern, but oh my! It’s a whole different ball game to writing crochet patterns.

Gloves

I think I’ve got a lot to learn yet. I’ve been so obsessed with crochet for these past three years that my knitting skills have become a little rusty to say the least, but practice makes perfect. These mittens were intended as an accompaniment to my Autumn Berries Poncho. The green is a new addition to contrast with the pinks and purples and adds an extra bit of oomph.

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A colour combo that was inspired by the yearly show of gorgeously coloured leaves on my grape vine along with the original blackberry and raspberry theme.

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Autumn-inspiration

I even managed to squeeze a bit of knitting in during a very chilled out day at a local spa to celebrate a friends birthday. Of course it’s impossible to relax entirely unless there is some yarn involved somewhere! It was quite lovely to sit and knit a few rounds in between swimming, reading, having a slap up lunch, (undoing all the good work from powering up and down the pool!), lolling in the jacuzzi and sweating out the toxins in the sauna. I could get used to this!

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The mittens turned out pretty well considering my hands are more usually bent into a shape that accommodates a crochet hook rather than four double pointed knitting needles!

mitts

Love, love, love the colours and I especially like the way the yarn gently fades from one tone to another – just like autumn leaves do – giving each mitten it’s own distinctive look.

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leaves

I did make a few mistakes with this method of knitting in the round. I found it quite difficult to keep the stitches even at the point when you swap needles. I did OK on the knit rounds, but the purl rounds were a bit trickier. I was also pretty good at dropping stitches here and there but I picked them up and fudged them back into the knitting with a semi haphazard kind of technique so maybe no-one will notice except me!

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poncho-mitts

It’s just a case of finishing off the border on my poncho next. That shouldn’t take too long, a few evenings this week ought to do the trick. Hmm, I think I need a matching hat next. But that poses a big dilemma – to knit or to crochet? I’d better go and have a mooch around on pinterest and see where the inspiration takes me next!


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Trixie, Trudy and Tricia, the Trapeze Triplets.

baubles-row

Roll up, Roll up! There’s a new competition in town organised by those lovely people over at amigurumipatterns.net.

Do you remember the one last year with the theme of Parent and Baby Animals? Or the year before, calling for Animals at Work? Well this time it’s all about acrobats and clowns, strongmen and tightrope walkers, flame eaters, death defying stunts, sawdust, popcorn and candyfloss… Yes, you’ve guessed it, this year’s theme is the ‘The Circus’!

If you’re interested in taking part just click on the image below and it will take you to the page with all the details you’ll need to know on how to enter, what you could win, and how and when to vote for your favorites.

Circus-Competition

As usual the competition is open to anyone, whether you’re a pattern writer or free wheeler, beginner or experienced, full time crochet addict or part time dabbler. As well as the fun of taking part there are some great prizes up for grabs too. So pick up your hook and see where the inspiration takes you!

I love any excuse to get creative with a couple of miles of yarn and a bunch of single, double and treble crochets so after a bit of tinkering, a little unraveling, and a whole heap of the aforementioned stitches, I managed to get the idea floating around in my head translated into reality without too much hassle.

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So now it’s time to announce my own competition entry and the arrival in town of the Travelling Mouse Circus, showcasing for the first time ever (…Drum roll please….)

The World Renowned Rodent Trio – Trixie, Trudy and Tricia, the Tremendously Talented and Terrifyingly Tricky Trapeze Triplets!

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Three of the lightest and most nimble limbed creatures performing mind blowingly astonishing aerial maneuvers for your delight and amusement.

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Personally speaking, I’m not great with heights but these three mice don’t bat an eyelid. They were born to the circus, quite literally, as their mom made a nest in the hay cart that carries the food for the dancing ponies. They have the circus in their blood and have been watching their parents performing remarkable feats on the tightrope and the trapeze since they were tiny babies. As soon as they were old enough to squeak they pestered mommy mouse to make them pretty little tutus and leotards of their own. From that day on Trixie, Trudy and Tricia could always be found practising their balancing tricks whenever they had a spare moment, until they were finally accomplished enough to transcend to the heady heights of the Big Top itself.

Now it wasn’t long until they had a couple of little sisters (twins, no less), who look up to their triplet siblings with wonder and awe and who hope to be just as elegant and accomplished as them when they grow up.

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The twins – Tilly and Tara, watch their older sisters during rehearsals and help out however they can, highering and lowering the trapezes or tidying up the props after the performance.

Quints

When the younger ones are old enough this ensemble of squeaking siblings are hoping to perform together as a quintet. You can imagine how proud of their acrobatic offspring their mom and dad must be!

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However, there is one of these five who is slightly more timid than the rest. Tilly worries that one of her sisters may fall and so she always sits underneath during rehearsals, anxiously waiting to catch them if they do. Maybe Tilly will feel braver as she grows up or maybe this family will have to settle for an act that’s a quartet instead. Only time will tell!

Little-mouse

Tilly has many other talents to compensate for her lack of daring. She happens to be particularly good at sewing and is already pestering me to teach her to crochet, often preferring to be amongst the yarn or sorting through the buttons than in the spotlight with the greasepaint and the cheering crowds.

Mouse-helper

She’s a wonder with a needle and thread and dreams of designing and making outfits for the whole circus one day. In the meantime she loves to practice her skills stitching together the bunting that covers the inside of the Big Top during the shows. As any self respecting sewing fanatic knows, you can never have too much bunting!

little-helper

All of the sisters have a say when it comes to making their trapeze rigs, and goodness, they have so many suggestions I had a hard time keeping up with their ideas. Such a lot of chatter going on.

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carlos-and-the-mice

Poor Carlos the Cactus isn’t used to having so much company, being more comfortable sitting and thinking, all alone in the desert. He just watches the goings on quietly from behind a big ball of yarn and offers up the pins every now and again when we have to secure a flag or a bauble in place. He’s such a sweety, I think you can see from his blushing cheeks and his cheeky little smile that he secretly loves the lively company.

Mice-helpers

Thankfully the mice approve of how the work has progressed on their latest piece of equipment.

Trapeze-in-progress

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They’ve inspected the ropes very thoroughly. No self respecting trapeze artist would leave something so important to someone else. They’re nice and strong, with no frayed ends or loose knots, so I’m glad to say they passed the test.

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All the buttons were carefully matched up to complement this season’s outfits.

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Even the ends of the trapeze bars have been made to match.

I sure hooked up a lot of crocheted baubles during this project. I’m looking forward to teaching Tilly how to make some so she can help out with these when she finally gets her crochet skills to match up with her sewing skills.

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It’s a relief to have finished this project to the satisfaction of all the mice. They were very demanding taskmasters, but perfectionists always are. And I’m glad of their perfectionism, after all you wouldn’t want anything less from performers of such dangerous and daring stunts.

Now you know a little bit more about them be sure to book your tickets the next time the circus is in town. You won’t be disappointed!

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Each light as a feather mouse will surely thrill and delight you with their agility and courage as they fly through the air with the greatest of ease, gliding with skill from trapeze to trapeze. They’ve even promised me they’ll sign your programmes and give you a tour behind the scenes. Just tell them Janine sent you 🙂

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