Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Dreaming of the Sea

The summer is pretty much over and I’ve been ‘staycationing’ year. Not having managed to escape to some heavenly beach retreat with my tent and sleeping bag I thought I’d bring a taste of the coast to me instead by creating a set of seaside inspired characters. One creature led to another and another until I ended up with four different patterns based on two distinct body shapes and a mini friend with a shape all of it’s own. I’ve bundled them into one bumper pattern and called it ‘Ocean Buddies’.

Ocean Buddies Pattern

This pattern has been through a few evolutions as I played around finding the right proportions and it proved to be the perfect picking in and out of pattern to take outside and work on in my garden while I daydreamed about being beside the seaside.

I’m not completely high and dry here in my favorite spot because we have a tiny pond in the shade of a shrub I can never remember the name of. I have even made a little shingle beach and scattered around a few of my scavenged fossils to remind me of past beach-combing adventures in Watchet on the Somerset coast.

Little 4 ply, 2 mm hook narwhal contemplates a dip but is somewhat put off by the film of duckweed. Can’y say I blame him. I wont be dipping my toes in either, no matter how hot it gets!

The Ocean Buddies accompanied me on landlocked car journeys up the motorway when we did take the odd day trip to Lancashire to visit relatives.

Annoyingly, I failed to bring any safety eyes or stuffing on this particular occasion (an early start you see, and my brain is rarely fully engaged until midday) and so my relaxing crochet session was properly scuppered. Aaaagh! The thought of three hours+ in the car with idle hands was almost too much to bear. Luckily I had started sewing a pompom trim onto my project basket the night before so I solved the fidgety fingers problem by painstakingly stitching on the rest of the trim.

Quite a fiddly process, with tiny stitches and a wickedly sharp needle for such a bumpy journey but I managed it with just the odd finger prick here and there to show for it.

By the time we got to our destination I had a very pretty pimped up basket. To be honest I can’t think of many things that don’t look better with pom poms attached. Do you see the green, green grass of my mother-in-laws garden? It really does put my coarse, dandelion infested back yard patch of scrub to shame.

Laddie, previously having belonged to said mother-in-law before we adopted him after she got poorly, and thus having been the joint owner of the garden perfection above, is so used to a fine weed free lawn that he appears to disapprove of my more slapdash approach to green spaces. So much so that he can only tolerate being in its vicinity if there is a wooden tray between the ground and his butt!

I also can’t help thinking he’s planted himself next to the lawnmower and rake as a sort of reprimand. Maybe I’ll get into this gardening malarkey one of these days. When there’s a showdown between the hook and the shears the hook will win out everytime!

In the mean time I’m content to use crocheted rugs to hide the multitude of unmown sins, unswept prickly leaves, miscellaneous weeds and bare patches of earth. The rag yarn crochet makes things a bit comfier and adds a bit of colour – a real plus point when all the flowers I have tried to grow are constantly eaten by slugs and snails.

Pesticide free, organic gardening is easy when you let the weeds take over, and rather good for the wildlife too no doubt. Everything has an up side! I think I’ll make this unkempt approach my horticultural hallmark.

As lovely as this unusually warm summer has been I have to admit that the heat did get the better of me from time to time. A shady spot in the studio with the slatted blinds sending the daylight coolly up in towards the ceiling went a long way to redressing the heatwave when things got too hot outside.

Crisp white walls and a clean white desk all add to the oasis like calm in here.

Mojo is not too keen on the savage sunshine at the peak of summer so I often found him in my crochet corner waiting to keep me company whenever I scuttled inside for a cool down.

It’s a little more difficult to get hold of my wool while he is around but we always manage to share it in the end.

When we got back from our day trip up north I attempted to put my newly embellished basket to good use as storage but before I could fill it with the next batch of yarn Mojo had crept in and wound himself into it – while it was still on my lap.

Yeah I know that look – ‘move me on at your peril human, I shall sulk for an hour if you do’ – or meows to that effect. So you see Mojo has a nice new cat bed. A bit on the small side maybe but it doesn’t seem to bother him one little bit.

This new sleeping arrangement has the added bonus of freeing up the rest of my chair for me. Instead of a furry, sprawling, purring cat rug draped over the entire seat Moji now likes to roll himself up like pill bug, tuck his head in and forget all about the outside world for a bit. Sounds rather appealing to be honest. Perhaps we should have human sized hibernation baskets to disappear into from time to time!

It frees up space for Orwell too. We all share and share alike here. A happy family of people, cats and crochet!

Mojo managed to prise himself out of the comfort of my stash basket when he saw the stage was set for a photo-shoot, sneaking in just in time for his cameo role.

Despite the intrusion I eventually took some shots I was happy with.

I have a new Nikon camera and have been experimenting with using it in manual mode so some of the colours are a bit more uneven than I would like but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Practice make perfect and and all that.

I’ve also been watching some YouTube videos on how to get whiter backgrounds for product photography by using Adobe Photoshop.

I’m learning so much that isn’t crochet related at the moment. None of it as much fun as crochet itself – but it comes quite close.

As summer draws to a close and chances of a holiday on some windswept beach diminish for another year I can’t say that I’m too heartbroken. I’ve had a wonderful summer at home with my family, my cats, my crochet and my imagination. A winning combination in my opinion!

So from Wendy the Whale…

…Sheamus the Shark…

…Nigel the Narwhal…

…Daphne the Dolphin…

…and, last but not least (though by far the smallest), Stephanie the Starfish…

…we bid yourselves goodbye for now and the summer farewell for another year.

I have a big bunch of autumn/winter projects to be getting on with over the next few weeks. (Spoiler alert – sneak peak for one of them below!)…

I’m aiming to tie up all the loose ends on my current WIPs and share in my next post. I hope you’ll join me then!


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A Medley of Monsters

Can you hear that strange shuffling and scratching noise? Are you tempted to take a peek and find out what’s going on?

Well, don’t be alarmed, it turns out that it’s just the sound that my new brood of monsters make when they start twirling around on their twelve tiny toes. And as they only start twirling when they’re giddy with joy (or maybe the twirling is what makes them giddy with joy…) at least you know they’ll be in a good mood when you eventually manage to catch up with them.

These mischief making Tippy Toe Monsters will keep you on your own toes as you try and keep them out of trouble, but those big bug eyes have a way of melting your heart. No matter how naughty they are it seems that these  can get away with anything!

They got away with hassling Mojo for quite a long time. They even tried (successfully) to photo bomb his portrait session with his new cat pal.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? it was all too much for mini Mojo but major Mojo sat it out. A crochet blanket on a desk next to your human is a prize worth fighting for.

Make yourself comfy Mojo. They wont bite!

He gave them one of his hard stares as a warning against any further encroachment of his space, wondered why there was an out of season snowman present, and then snoozed off quite indifferently.

Contrary to popular myth, Tippy Toe Monsters aren’t only about running around making mischief. Sometimes they can be really helpful. They kept an eye on my grammar and made the most excellent spellcheckers when I was tapping away at the keyboard.

And those great glowering, globular eyes are also really rather good at spotting mistakes in stitch counts or round numbering on the paper patterns.

Tippy Toe Monsters have a fabulous eye (or three) for colour so I asked them to choose a bright and cheery palette for their soon to be crocheted friends. They all thought that we should definitely incorporate some orange.

But they couldn’t agree on much else between them. After a bit of bickering and lot of random yarn grabbing we eventually chose these delicious candy shades.

Then I got to work making a ton of tiny toes…

…and a great many eyeballs along with other necessities for monster making such as stumpy arms and pointy horns.

Never knowingly giving up an opportunity to get in on the act Mojo threatened to brush aside all micro crochet elements with a single sweep of his twitchy tail.

Then someone opened a pouch of cat food and his razor sharp hearing meant he was bounding off, luckily not scattering my hard work all over the floor as he went.

As well as being watched by an ever growing crowd of monsters I’ve had lots of disembodied eyeballs peering at me too.

With so many composite pieces to crochet it took me a long time to finish them all. Car journey’s, bus journeys and trips to visit friends are good for this sort of pick and mix approach so wherever I went, my basket went too. There were a few weeks back there while I mass produced toes and eyeballs on an almost industrial scale, squeezing a few more in whenever I had a spare couple of minutes and cracking on with a vengeance when I had an hour or two.

As all the toes are crocheted together there is not nearly as much sewing involved as you might think. The monsters get really excited when they’re waiting for their eyes. They really do bring these little rascals to life!

Although it’s very difficult to gauge their exact mood until their mouths are embroidered. One small black stitch makes all the difference to their personalities.

It wasn’t really necessary to make quite as many as I did but I had so much fun playing with all the colours and combining them in different ways that it was very very difficult to stop!

Often working into the night with my messy desk strewn with crochet, notebooks and a token cat I eventually ended up with more monsters than I really needed!

I absolutely must get some craft shows booked so I can offload a few to loving new homes!

I reckon I’ve had my fill of monster making for now. I’m sure I’ll be back creating more in the future but there are quite a few other projects to finish off in the meantime. If, unlike myself, you haven’t reached monster saturation point yet you can purchase the pattern for Tippy Toe Montsers below. I’d love to see how yours turn out so don’t forget you can message me on my mojimojidesign Facebook page and send me a pic or two if you find the time 🙂

Tippy Toe Monster Pattern

 

I’m working up a new pattern called Ocean Buddies this week and have been having a blast playing about with sparkly yarn and a nifty little technique for making the perfect narwhal tusk.

There will also be a whale, a dolphin, a shark and a little starfish included in this particular friend group. I’m looking forward to finishing these buddies soon. I also have three new designs to get ready for Zoomigurumi 9 so it will be a busy couple of weeks around here. But as I’m doing what I love I know how fast it will fly by!


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#AmiguruMay – Part One

I took part in my first Instagram challenge last month. Set up with such fabulous attention to detail by Ilaria of Airali Design fame, the idea was to post a photo every day from May 1st – 31st on the very cleverly titled hashtag of AmiguruMAY. Ilaria even made us all printable sheets to help organize our thoughts and plan a full months worth of posts, which really did come in handy for someone as scatterbrained as me!

I’m usually horribly unorganized when it comes to social media and though I love making posts and connecting with people, thanks to the everyday demands of creating new patterns, finishing deadlines, decluttering workspaces, replying to emails and answering queries to name a few of my daily distractions (as well as all the unspeakably horrid housework and other mundanities of life), remembering to post regularly sometimes falls behind. So this time I vowed to keep up, and apart from the odd slip (bank holiday excesses, Hen Weekend, tooth abscess, poorly cat to vets, among other excuses!) I think I kept up rather well.

So, especially for those of you who don’t have an Instagram account (you should get one – it’s great fun!) and for anyone who already follows me but doesn’t mind a recap of last months prompts and pretty pictures, here is Part One Days 1-15 of #amigurumay, complete with the accompanying witterings that fell out of my head as I went along. (Part 2 – Days 16-31 to follow shortly).

Day 1 – Current WIP

My current WIP is a super soft fluffy cat. Having a blast crocheting with this lovely yarn by King Cole. Four more colourways arrived in the post yesterday and more cat’s eyes are on order so there will be kitties everywhere soon – just how I like it!

Day 2 – Inspirations

One of my big inspirations is the natural world and it’s abundance of cute and quirky creatures. While I’m crocheting the amigurumi my mind starts working overtime creating little characters and stories for them and so they then become an inspiration in themselves.
This is Cyril the Squirrel who is Head Gardener at Nutsford Manor. Of all the seasons he loves autumn the best because he can put his bushy tail to work sweeping up the fallen leaves while collecting acorns and conkers for his winter pantry.

Day 3 – Tools

A comfy crochet hook is so important but my favorite Clover ones were all a muddy yellow so I painted them in rainbow colours and added a liberal sprinkling of polka dots.
Also couldn’t live without my stitch markers, and my upcycled pincushion made from an old egg cup keeps all the smaller bits and bobs to hand ❤

Day 4 – The Smallest

So far my tiniest amigurumis are a downsizing of the rabbit and mouse from my ‘Minimals – Little Pet Shop’ pattern.
As these are even smaller than the original minimals they should probably be called micromals instead 😁

I made these with 2 ply crochet cotton and a 1.5 mm hook (while wearing my strongest pair of reading glasses!)

Day 5 – Introduce Yourself & Day 6 – Designer or Maker

Running a bit behind myself after a mega busy bank holiday weekend so doing two days at once here…
My name’s Janine and I love to crochet. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to turn my hobby into my job and now I design crochet patterns under my shop name of Moji-Moji Design. I think that’s covered both topics quite well… short but sweet! 😉 🍬

Day 7 – Favorite Yarn

Tricky one this as I just love yarn of all types. I usually favor DK weight acrylics for my amigurumi but am having a bit of a love affair with these tiny 10g balls of cotton yarn by Katia at the moment. The colours are gorgeous and they’re the perfect size for mini crochet projects on the go. As you can see I’ve gone a bit crazy for mushrooms recently!

Day 8 – Animals

I’ve made a lot of animal amigurumi patterns over the years. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.

Day 9 – How and When I Started

I first got into toy making when my three boys were small. I was also childminding around that time and I loved making toys for all the kiddies in my life – and there were lots of them! I could only knit back then and these aliens were a favorite with us all.

I remember thinking how great it would be to create my own characters but found designing flat pieces for seaming up, or juggling four needles to create a 3D piece, really difficult so I put my ambitions on hold for a while and enjoyed following other people’s patterns instead.

My joy at discovering the almost seamless amigurumi crochet method and the ability to self publish on Etsy about six years ago was immense! Those two things were real game changers for me and I never looked back! 👌😁👍

Day 10 – My First Ami

I’ve done a double take on this one and included my very, very first ever ami (in the Instax photo) which was a fox from a free pattern I found on Nimoe’s Blog and also the first ami I designed myself – twin lambs called Lulu and Lollo. I was thrilled when they were chosen to be in #Zoomigurumi2about 6 years ago. This was my first experience of being published and definitely helped push my amigurumi ambitions to the next level!

Day 11- The Biggest

My biggest amigurumi so far is an up-sizing of my Bobbin the Bear pattern using chunky chenille yarn and a 4.5 mm hook. Loved working with this Flutterby yarn. It’s so soft and I really like the effect of the puffy looking stitches. I’ll definitely be using it again in future projects.

Day 12 – Safety Eyes

I use safety eyes in most of my amigurumi. Good quality eyes really makes a face come to life as this little dragon face proves rather well 👀

Day 13 – Top Tip

My top tip is to take your time when sewing your amigurumi together. Like many of us crocheters the sewing element comes lower down on my list of enjoyable tasks but it’s often the neatness of the assembled pieces that will take your amigurumi to a whole new level of professionalism.
I generally use mattress stich for sewing on appendages and back stitch for flat patches. A knitting needle is a great tool for skewering parts together. It avoids the use of fiddly pins and is easy to adjust until you get the placement perfect.

Day 14 – Favorite Pattern

As I am usually busy designing my own patterns I rarely get to try out other people’s. So I thought I’d do a quick check of my Etsy stats and see which pattern is the favorite with my customers at the moment. Turns out it’s Dante the Donkey and Carlos the Cactus. Seems that people like the heartwarming friendship between a quadruped and a succulent! 🌵❤ 🐎

Day 15 Hands at Work

Technically speaking this is paws at work, not hands, but Tilly Mouse wanted to tell you how much she loves helping me with my crochet. Sewing on buttons is her speciality.

There are a few loose ends for some new designs I need to tidy up over the next few days but I’ll be back soon to post the second part of my AmiguruMay adventure!


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New Additions

Lots of new things have been happening around here over recent months. Mainly in the form of new amigurumis, patterns and patterns-in-progress but we have had another addition to the clan which isn’t actually crocheted for once! Can you guess? If it’s not crocheted then it must be… a cat! And so I’m really excited to introduce you to our lovely Laddie.

As you’ve probably gathered, he’s got quite a pronounced cleft lip but other than slightly bowed legs and a few oddly formed toes on his front feet – none of which seems to bother him in the slightest – he’s a regular friendly, sweet-natured, slightly scruffy old tabby cat. No one knows exactly what his age is as he was discovered in my mother-in-law’s garden where he appeared from the hedgerow as a flea-bitten, skinny stray about twelve years ago.

The Cats Protection charity estimated he was maybe between 5 and 7 years old back then, so he is probably at least 17 by now. My mother-in-law is obviously considerably older than that (unless you take the old cat years maths equation into account) and due to her advancing years has been finding it difficult to care for him recently. We eventually ended up bringing him home with us and hoped and prayed he would settle in OK – especially as we already have two other cats to think about and Laddie is used to being the star of his one cat show.

They are all keeping their distance from each other for the most part, with just the odd growl and hiss if any of them get too close and even that’s getting better by the day as they all learn about how to share the space with the new dynamic going on. They’re not exactly best friends yet but they seem to be putting up with each other tolerably well.

I think the look on Mojo’s face says it all…

And Laddie’s expression isn’t much better – although the lack of a top lip always makes him look a little on the grumpy side!

Despite by best efforts in encouraging Laddie to take his many and prolonged naps in an actual cat bed he has decided that my crochet corner is his favorite spot in the whole house.

He has definitely made himself at home there. He’s quite a poser too!

He’s as keen on finding out more about my crochet as the other cats are and likes to get in on the act if there’s a camera clicking away.

And if he’s not in my comfy armchair he occasionally prefers to groom and snooze, equally inconveniently, on the chair in front of my computer…

…as well as taking a regular prowl up and down my desk – usually when I’m trying to edit photos or write up patterns there!

As if I didn’t already have enough cat hair to combine with the yarn fluff floating around the place! Oh well, with my excessive love of yarn and cat’s I’ve long ago resigned myself to a daily anti-histamine tablet and sporadic bouts of violent sneezing.

On the crochet front my latest finished creation and addition to the family is a super cuddly version of my Bobbin the Bear pattern using James C. Brett’s Flutterby Chunky yarn. I got the idea from seeing SherrasYarnTails version of my monkeys in the February Ami-Along at amigurumipatterns.net (there’s a lovely photo of her monkey duo in this blog post). As soon as I saw them I was itching to have a go with some chunky chenille yarn myself.

This is probably the easiest and fastest to complete pattern in my collection so it was the perfect choice for a car journey up North to visit relatives. I managed to make several pieces in the car and then finished off the rest of the bits once I got home.

As Laddie is so often sprawled out in my studio armchair I’ve recently taken to crocheting on the sofa in the kitchen. We had a bit of a revamp of the whole room a month ago and now I love it in here so much! It’s bright and airy and the addition of the sofa means I can put my feet up and get really comfortable while I while away the hours with yarn and hook.

Naturally, Mojo and Rubick are just as keen on the new piece of furniture as I am, so there is a bit of a turf war going on here as well as upstairs in my studio with Laddie. I might as well just bin all of the cat beds I’ve bought!

At least they’ve been kind enough to leave me a little space in the middle.

Progress on the chenille bear crept on until she was all done and looking very cute in her frilly top. Now it’s her turn to have a lounge around on the sofa. This yarn was gorgeous to crochet with. It’s soft and sumptuous and I really love the almost pixelated effect of the chunky stitches. I shall definitely be working with it again in the near future.

As well as this bit of up-sizing I’ve been doing some more down-sizing too.

As it was time for Drake the Dragon’s pattern to go to single release I wanted to work through the final PDF to double check for errors, cross referencing it with the original version. I’ve already made about five Drake’s during the process of designing and checking the written instructions for the Dragons, Unicorns and More Fantasy Amigurumi book so I thought it would make the repetition of this task more interesting if I made my dragon in 4 ply yarn with a 1.75 mm hook instead of the usual DK yarn and a 3 mm hook.

I had some 12 mm cat style safety eyes which were the perfect fit. A pair of good quality glass eyes really bring a creature to life.

This cute mini project traveled with me around the house and in the car for a week or so until finally a baby dragon was born!

Drake and Dora were thrilled when their little dragonling was eventually hatched.

They’ve named him Daniel and you can see how they dote on him already!

While I was scouting around for more 4 ply yarn I found these cute as a button tiny 10 gram balls by Katia Yarns (I bought mine from a local market but you can get them online here).

Before long I had crocheted a sweet toadstool and just a little bit later, inspired by all the beautiful new colours I had just purchased I’d hooked up a whole lot more than I’d originally intended.

Now I have a bumper crop to turn into bag charms, ready for my next craft show.

I’ll be making a free pattern for them soon which I’ll post on this blog once it’s ready.

In other crochet news that is not amigurumi related, I have been very hard at work in the evenings making 100 crochet flowers for a friends country themed wedding later this year.

The Bride-to-be wants 50 crocheted sunflowers and 50 crocheted daisies. No small order, but once I got into the flow it was very enjoyable and has brightened up more than a few wintry evenings, daydreaming of the summer and all the wedding fun to be had this June.

Rubick is very serious about guarding the daisies from harm…

…and his diligent care meant that I finished all 100 without a hitch and now have them ready for delivery to the bride.

My granny stitch shawl, pulled from an old magazine, is progressing nicely. I’m having to add on a few rows to the original pattern, otherwise it would have been finished by now. The model in the photo must be the size of an average eight year old! Either that or my tension is way tighter than it should be. I’ve got plenty of this tweedy looking yarn left so luckily it’s not going to be a problem to make it a bit bigger.

And it’s a good job I do have lots of spare yarn because it looks like I’m going to have to make a blanket version for Rubick and Mojo and as well. It’s been a great hit with them both. Perhaps if I cover one of their cat beds with it I’ll get my sofa back!

Other things I’m currently working on are some mini hedgehogs…

…and last but not least, a revamped version of my Hazel the Rescue Cat pattern. It’s taking way longer than I had hoped because I can’t decide how many different kinds of cats to include (there will be at least four options) and I’m also still undecided as to how to write them all up in the most economical way possible without too much unnecessary repetition of the instructions. One thing I do know is that one of the options is going to be a tabby in honour of Laddie.

I already have a Rubick doppelganger…

…so I guess it has to be Mojo’s turn next. Then I’m thinking that a Siamese, a calico, a tortoiseshell and maybe a longhair would be fun to make too. After all you can never have too many cats around (said the mad cat lady!)


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Monkey Madness!

A big thanks to all of you who joined in with the February Ami-Along over at amigurumipatterns.net.

I managed to get my mini versions finished in time to show them off on the forums so now Mavis and Marvin have their hands full with their little monkey twins. Imagine the chaos these two are going to bring… and the love too, of course!

I really enjoyed seeing all the amazingly inventive interpretations of my design. Mavis and Marvin have never looked so good! Here’s a little montage of some of my favorites (if yours is there and you have a social media you’d like me to add, please feel free to let me know).

From top left to bottom right the creators of these cheeky monkeys are: Amigurumiliker, anggihyuka, BeetleAtBay, Bashacat, bonekikinhos, ChantalO, cherryltf, ChiaraFirever, defysocietyarts, Iamthedishwasher, Jellybubble18, JenniD, PenguinPlaceCrafts, lynda, MamaPia, Mikkycrafts, NomadCreation, PerImpStitches, sandaroo, Pipsqueak,  Sharnie, sloviska, Dace, Telle and last but not least, Yarnimals.

I love how they are all so different!

There are always lots of prizes on offer at the Ami-Alongs and this one was no exception.

Because this was the February event, and ran close to Valentine’s Day, the hosts of the Ami-Along awarded a prize for the most romantic picture which was won by Amigudolls. Two little monkeys with tails entwined in the shape of a love heart. Awww, just too cute!

Love was definitely in the air because HoneyBunnyAmigurumis won the prize as the most voted for by fellow Ami-Alongers with this heart-meltingly sweet bride and groom.

I was given the very difficult task of choosing a personal favourite and after much deliberation eventually plumped for this 1920’s looking Flapper couple by CheerfulChameleon.

I’m really rather envious of that magnificent fringed dress and all of the fancy jewellery. Her very dapper partner looks like a million dollars too. Wherever they’re planning on heading off to, I have a feeling these two are going to have a fabulous time painting the town red, all dressed up to the nines.

NinaLisa made a beautiful pink furry version, with the suitably glamorous name of Malvina.,,

…as well as a more traditional monkey pair to which she added a cute, smiley banana friend (free banana pattern by Barbara Strasser of Esbelotta.com here)

MadMomAli made a couple of monkeys in Hogwarts House colours. Now there is no mistaking where their allegiances lie!

And I am in love with this photo from myrtille95470 of her newly crocheted monkey wasting no time in making a firm friend of her cat.

And isn’t this photo of lucyjay’s three monkeys in the classic ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ poses wonderful!

Secretsparrow made a very inventive superhero trio. I feel sure that world is a much safer place now we have these fighting on the side of all that’s good!

These chunky monkeys by SherrasYarnTails, made with bulky weight Premier Parfait chenille yarn, has got me all excited to have a go at supersizing some of my other amigurumis.

I’ve been having trouble sourcing a similar yarn that’s available in the UK but have managed to find a selection by James C. Brett called Flutterby Chunky. The colours are quite limited but I can imagine a teddy bear in the lovely soft tones that I’ve been able to get hold of.

It will make a nice change from all the recent downsizing I’ve been doing. It’s a lot of fun making mini-gurumis with 4 ply yarn and a 1.75 mm hook but it really makes my hands ache after a while! I hope that crocheting with this thick chenille yarn will be a little kinder on my wrists and knuckles.

If I can find a similar yarn in a dark brown I shall attempt a maxi-gurumi monkey or two to add to my ever growing collection of primates (and a sloth).

What a lot of crochet going on! The Ami-Alongs happen regularly every month where a different designer gets to showcase a brand new and exclusive design. It’s been great fun and such a lovely way to connect with fellow amigurumi enthusiasts. I’ve shared tips, tricks, and anecdotes and have learnt a lot from others too! Thanks so much to all who joined in for your enthusiasm, support and general chit-chat. If you haven’t had a go at one of these yet but it sounds like something you might be interested in then check out the latest news on the  Ami-Along page to see what’s happening at the moment!

(If you’re a monkey fan and missed this event, Marvin and Mavis’s pattern is now available as a single pattern purchase here).

I’m working on another free pattern for a little toadstool bag charm at the moment so expect another blog post soon! In the meantime Mavis, Marvin, the twins and myself all bid you goodbye and wish you many hours of happy crocheting!


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Pretty Little Pumpkins

pumpkin borderI hope you all had a spookylicious time this Halloween! Now some of you might think it’s a little late in the day for a pumpkin pattern – but in my view pumpkins are for all of autumn and not just for carving freaky faces into. So, undaunted by the lateness of the hour, I’ve been busy stirring a potion in my crochet cauldron to bring you a pattern for a crop of gorgeous gourds.

pumpkin-splice-1.jpg
There are three sizes to choose from, all on the smallish side and all quick and simple to make. Whether you’re into Halloween shenanigans or not these are perfect for adding a touch of autumnal charm, even after the real pumpkins are past their best by dates.
pumpkin-sketchwork
To make each pumpkin you will need around 6-12 grams of DK yarn. Pretty much any yarn will do but I used James C. Brett’s Twinkle range for this because they come in the most lovely colours and are as cheap as they are cheerful. With so many long dark evenings ahead of us it’s lovely to have some sparkle around the house at this time of year to brighten things up a bit.
pumpkin-materials
You’ll also need a 3 mm crochet hook, a pair of scissors and a yarn needle. Lastly, add in some polyester toy stuffing (and maybe a steaming mug of spiced pumpkin latte) and we’re ready to go.

(Click here to download a printable version)pumpkin border
Pattern notes:
This pattern uses US sc (UK dc) throughout.

Leave a 4″ yarn tail at the beginning of the foundation chain for tying off the gathered crochet fabric later.

The pumpkins can be made in a single colour or, if you prefer stripes, you can change colours every two rows.

You will need approx 12 g of yarn for the large pumpkin, 8 g for the medium one and 4 g for the small one.

For the pumpkin body make all stitches in the back loops only (see below).
pumpkin-foundation-chainblo-photos
Working rows in the back loops only creates the ribs that give the pumpkin its structure.pumpkin-stripspumpkin borderLarge Pumpkin (9 cm diameter)
Make all stitches in back loops only.
With Color 1 make 25 ch (foundation chain).
Row 1: (Right side) Starting in second ch from hook, sc in each st to end, turn. (24 sts)
(1 ch at beginning of each row are the turning chains and do not count as a stitch).
Rows 2-47: 1 ch, sc in each st to end, turn. (46 rows)
Row 48: 1 ch, sc in each st to end.
Fasten off, leaving a long yarn tail for sewing.
With right side facing outwards bring the last row up to meet the foundation chain. Align the stitches and whipstitch the seam together, placing stitches through the back loops only of the last round and into the leftover loops of the foundation chain all the way along. Make a knot in the last stitch. Do not cut the yarn.pumpkin-seaming-composite
Use the needle to thread the rest of the yarn end through the very top loops of the ribs only.pumpkin-gathering-comp.jpg
When you have threaded the yarn through all of the rib tips pull gently to gather them up together and tie the two yarn ends securely. Stuff firmly with polyester toy stuffing.pumpkin-gathering-comp-1.jpg
Using matching yarn, and leaving a 4″ tail at the beginning, thread the needle through the very top loops of the ribs just as you did for the other end. When you have threaded the yarn through all of the rib tips, pull on both ends of the yarn to gather them up together. Tie the two yarn ends securely and hide them inside the pumpkin.pumpkin-gathering-bottom-2
The holes that are left will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin but don’t worry about that. We will be hiding this with a stalk and a base later.three-pumpkins.jpg
You can leave your pumpkin round or you can flatten it by threading a long piece of yarn through the pumpkin from the bottom to the top then down to the bottom again, making sure to catch a stitch at the edge of the hole each time. Repeat this at various points around the edges of the holes at both ends. Pull on the yarn gently each time you pass it back through to give the desired shape. When you have finished, tie the ends off at the base and hide the ends inside the pumpkin.pumpkin-shaping.jpg
Large Pumpkin Stalk
Make all stitches in both loops.
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 5 sc in second ch from hook. (5 sts)
Rnd 2: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 3: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 st. (6 sts)
Rnds 4-5: Sc in each st around. (2 rounds)
Rnd 6: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (7 sts)
Rnd 7: [Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 3 st. (8 sts)
Rnd 8: 2 sc in each st around. (16 sts)
Rnd 9: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 8 times. (24 sts)
Rnd 10: Sc in each st around.
Fasten off. leaving a long tail for sewing. Stuff the stalk and position over one of the open holes. Sew the last round of the stalk to the top of the pumpkin.pumpkin-top-comp.jpg
Large Pumpkin Base
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Make all stitches in both loops.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around. (12 sts)
Rnd 3: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (18 sts)
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.
Sew the last round of the base to the bottom of the pumpkin in the same way as you did for the stalk.pumpkin-base-comp.jpg
Now you’ve got the hang of that here are two smaller sizes for some even quicker makes!pumpkin borderMedium Pumpkin (7 cm diameter)
Make all stitches in back loops only.
With Color 1 make 19 ch (foundation chain).
Row 1: (Right side) Starting in second ch from hook, sc in each st to end, turn. (18 sts)
(1 ch at beginning of each row are the turning chains and do not count as a stitch).
Rows 2-35: 1 ch, sc in each st to end, turn. (34 rows)
Row 36: 1 ch, sc in each st to end.
Fasten off, leaving a long yarn tail for sewing.starry border-
Medium Pumpkin Stalk
Make all stitches in both loops.
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 5 sc in second ch from hook. (5 sts)
Rnds 2-3: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 4: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 st. (6 sts)
Rnd 5: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 6: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (7 sts)
Rnd 7: 2 sc in each st around. (14 sts)
Rnd 8: sc in each st around.
Fasten off. leaving a long tail for sewing.starry border-
Medium Pumpkin Base
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Make all stitches in both loops.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around. (12 sts)
Fasten off. leaving a long tail for sewing.
To make up, follow large pumpkin instructions above.pumpkin borderSmall Pumpkin (5 cm diameter)
Make all stitches in back loops only.
With Color 1 make 13 ch (foundation chain).
Row 1: (Right side) Starting in second ch from hook, sc in each st to end, turn. (12 sts)
(1 ch at beginning of each row are the turning chains and do not count as a stitch).
Rows 2-23: 1 ch, sc in each st to end, turn. (22 rows)
Row 24: 1 ch, sc in each st to end.
Fasten off, leaving a long yarn tail for sewing.starry border-
Small Pumpkin Stalk
Make all stitches in both loops.
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 5 sc in second ch from hook. (5 sts)
Rnds 2-3: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 4: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 st. (6 sts)
Rnd 5: Sc in each st around.
Fasten off. leaving a long tail for sewing.starry border-
Small Pumpkin Base
With Color 2 make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)
Fasten off. leaving a long tail for sewing.
To make up, follow large pumpkin instructions above.pumpkin border

To download a printable version click the image below!


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Amigurumi Monsters 2

Oh dear! I’m a bit late with this post – I always seem to be running around chasing my tail these days – but in the time honored way of ‘better late than never’ here we go!

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I’m happy to announce that Amigurumi Monsters 2 is all finished and looking fabulous and is now available to order over at AmigurumiPatterns bookshop!

This volume features not one, but two of my monster families.

monsters_collage.jpg

 

Firstly there’s Timothy and Tabitha (top row, second left) then Spotty, Lotty and Dotty (bottom row, right-hand corner).

Some of you may already know the latter as they’ve been available in my online stores for a while. (You can read more about these three in my ‘Too many Monsters?’ blog post).

monster-gossip.jpg

They had a last minute invite as a space unexpectedly cropped up and needed to be filled. Ever obliging and always up for an adventure Spotty, Lotty and Dotty jumped at the chance of re-locating to a new life on the continent.

monster-group

There does appear to be a couple of grumpy faces in there but you’ve only got to look at those jazz hands to see how happy they really are, even the ones who will be left behind. After all, no one does jazz hands when they’re sad do they?

spotty-on-the-top.jpg

There was a bit of fuss as they all squeezed into the box but every one managed to find a comfy spot in the end and they were soon on the plane and heading towards their new future.

The next two monsters were commissioned especially for the book and go by the tongue- twistingly tremendous title of of Timothy and Tabitha the Tippy-Toe monsters.

tab-tim-1.jpg

They were whittled down from a selection of four different variations. Actually, there were more than four in the initial design stage but these are the only ones to make it off the hook so far but there are plenty more ideas to come. I just love making monsters!

tippy-four-1

Choosing colours for these tri-eyed, dozen-toed monsters was great fun and the original Timothy waded in with some useful suggestions.

choosing-colours-for-Timothy

I completely love this partcular combination of lime green and jade green for the toes.

Timothy-and-the-toes

Yarn chosen and hook at the ready, it wasn’t long before there were several more Tippy Toe monsters invading any available spaces in my work area.

scuttling-creatures

With so many toes they can move about quite quickly and it takes some doing to keep an eye on any potential mischief they might get up to with my hooks and notions.

It’s a good job I have a few extra eyes on hand to help me out here.

eyes

 

Next came another car journey and another chance to crochet. Testing the pattern this time by making a final couple of monsters before it was sent away for the other proofreaders to double check.

Tabitha-in-the-car

A little tootle up the motorway provided a good opportunity to get this pair used to travelling before they do the whole airmail thing later on. It was a good job we did because Tabitha gets very car sick. Her poor face says it all!

Timothy-and-Tabitha-on-a-journey

Timothy was the sweetest companion and took it upon himself to look after Tabitha. His soothing words and gentle re-assurance went a long way to helping her feel more relaxed.

Timothy-and-Tabitha

Some travel pills on the day of departure helped with he rest and now they are enjoying seeing themselves alongside Spotty, Lotty, Dotty and a host of other crazy looking characters inside the covers of Amigurumi Monsters 2.

mosters-2

If you’re anything like me and simply can’t get enough of making weird and whacky creatures then there’s plenty in both of the Monster titles to keep you going for quite a while.

two-monster-books.jpg

These bright and bubbly bundles of monster madness sure put a big smile on my face. I hope they do the same for you!

 


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Summer Project Progress

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

persian-tiles

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

mojo-glare

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

persian-tiles-2

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

persian-tiles-3

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

crochet-blanket

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

So I ate outside…

Dinner-in-the-garden

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

garden-fire

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

mojo-sunset

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

mo-in-the-garden

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

mojo-on-the-mandalas

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

persian-tiles-4

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

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

starting-the-squares

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

square-progress

I love how they work up so incredibly quickly.

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

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

squares-upon-squares

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

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

minnie-blanket-testing

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

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

joining-the-pieces

Working around the resident cats where required.

First Minnie…

Persian-tiles-and-Minnie

…then Rubick…

rubick-snoozing-on-the-blanket

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

the-neighbours-cat-pays-a-vist

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

nearly-done

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

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

Drake-pattern

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

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


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Giles the Giraffe Takes to the Road

With a long road trip and a mixed bag of bad weather to contend with I’ve had plenty of opportunity to get out my hook and start creating again. My latest pattern is for this cheeky lopsided smiled giraffe whom I’ve called Giles.

It’s been a while since I worked on a design that wasn’t for a book or a magazine so it felt really refreshing to do something ‘just for me’ for a change. No deadlines, no working to commission, no liaising. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on all of that too, but sometimes it’s nice to take it all down a notch and just create on an impulse exactly what I feel like making.

Giles made a super little travelling companion on a very slow and laborious trip Up North to visit relatives. He was so excited to be packed away ready for his first journey out of the house. He does look rather pleased at the prospect of a great adventure!

We headed downstairs to the kitchen and a step closer to beginning our journey…

…then out of the front door, into the car and onto the motorway. Woohoo! Hurrah!

Giles loved this bit the very best of all. Turns out he’s a giraffe with a need for speed. Yes, this little guy’s a bit of a thrill seeker! I was a teensy bit excited myself as this was my first trip in our new car. Our poor old Toyota Estima had given up for good during the heavy snows and icy temperatures of a few weeks ago. Now we have a Nissan Elgrand with six captain chair style seats and all the space I could possibly need for my endless yarny clutter.

Unfortunately the amount of road works that spring up everywhere these days makes driving a bit of a chore and it wasn’t long before the traffic ground to a halt and then proceeded to crawl along at a snails’s pace.

Now you know that feeling when sometimes amigurumi making, – and particularly something like pattern testing – is requesting more concentration of you than you think you can give? Well that’s where I was at for the first hour of the journey. I blame it on the early start but my brain would only cope with this simple ultra-repetitive four line repeat of this scarf. I’d already memorized the pattern before the journey began so it was the perfect busy hands project for when by head was in cruise mode.

Our visit was fun. Lots of gossip was caught up with and fine pub food was consumed. On the way back I decided to try out sitting in the back (or rather the middle) of the car. I made myself a comfy work area, got settled in a squishy leather chair and felt very decadent while I was at it. I think I could get used to this. Giles looks like he was born for this sort of luxury too and has made himself quite at home on the seat next to me! Oh and I did try to put a seat belt on him but he’s a touch on the tiny side and it wouldn’t fit. Having never seen a booster seat for 14 inch tall giraffes I made him promise to sit still, tucked safely behind the yarn, or he would be back in the rucksack until we got home. With that threat hanging over him he was as good as gold and sat quietly, watching intently as a pink and a blue giraffe began to take shape.

Once we arrived back the sun was still out and after more than our fair share of snow and rain and wind recently it seemed too good an opportunity to miss so we headed for the garden. Rolling out a picnic rug and unpacking my bag I carried on with pattern testing. I’m still getting used to the fact that I have a lawn to play on this summer and oh boy am I loving it! So much nicer than the fence to fence patio area that was down before.

The cats love the lawn too. What a wonderful place to sit and watch the birds.

It wasn’t long before Minnie came to stake a claim on the rug and the crochet by firmly plonking herself down on both.

Oh well. I was just about crocheted out for the day at that point anyway. lots of progress on Pinky and Bluey had been made.

Just to be extra sure there were no glaring errors in the pattern I went through it yet again in the studio the next day and not too long after I am now the proud owner of not one, not two…

blue-and-pink-giraffes

…not three…

three-giraffes

…but four sweetly smiling giraffes.

What a bunch of cuties, and perfect for my craft stall!

If you want to have a go at making one the pattern is available from any of my online shops or, if you live in or near Worcester, come visit me at the Worcester Show in Gheluvelt Park on the 12th August and meet Giles the Giraffe in person. I’d love to see you there!

In the meantime I will be busy making lots more amigurumi and a few more scarves to stock up my stall as well as perfecting my new pattern for a pair of Tippy Toed monsters Called Timothy and Tabitha who will be heading over to Belgium to feature in a second volume of Amigurumi Monsters published by Meteoor Books over at AmigurumiPatterns.net.

I’m also testing a super cute Bobby the Dinocorn pattern by Little Aqua Girl for the fantasy creatures themed book due out in August. This dinocorn will be one of Drake the Dragons book fellows and I cant wait to see how she turns out. And neither can Drake who is too excited to keep out of the project basket.

Things are busy around here, that’s for sure, but that’s the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it!


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Monster Madness

I’m a bit late with this post but wanted to give a heads up to anyone who doesn’t already know that the Amigurumi Monsters book is now available to order from amigurumipatterns.net

The pre-sale phase lasts until Wednesday 23rd August, 2017 so if you like to get a bargain follow the link above and it will take you straight to the ordering page.

As well as getting your hands on my pattern for Jeepers and Creepers you’ll also be able to crochet all these other crazy characters to keep them company.

I think you’ll agree there’s something there for everybody, as long as they like monsters of course. But then who could resist when they’re all as cute as these?

One of the things I love about monsters is the endless colour combinations. I couldn’t resist making a whole rainbow of mine. Here they are with a bunch of spare eyeballs that they rounded up during one of their more mischievous moments.

Jeepers and Creepers have an urge to herd things. They’re like the monster equivalent of a sheepdog, though they’re much too tiny for a flock of sheep to take any notice of as they easily get lost in the long grass.

Did you ever wonder what that noise coming from under the bed was? Were you brave enough to take a look in the middle of the night? If you were very quiet and very quick you may have glimpsed one or two of these cheeky monsters staring back at you in wide-eyed wonder.

Their three big eyes help them to peer about in the gloomy spaces under your furniture where they spend a lot of their time indulging their herding instinct by rolling up household fluff into dust bunnies. Even if you’re not fast enough to see these shy little monsters for yourself you may well have found a dust bunny or two to prove their existence. There are certainly plenty of those sneezy, wheeze inducing things in my house, but then that’s hardly surprising when there are so many members of Jeepers and Creepers family living under my roof – though my lack of passion for vacuuming when there’s crochet to be done also adds to the problem, I’m quite sure!

Their pattern was kindly tested for the book by three different crocheters and these are the results…

From left to right these goggle eyed creations were made by Stephanie, Iris Dongo and Stephanie Plets. Thank you ladies, you did an awesome job!

Wanting to have my fair share of the fun I also volunteered to test a pattern and got to make Toby the Triclops by Noah (Younique Crafts).

Toby is a very, very cuddly kind of monster – even his eyeballs are squishy! Two of my under-bed-sweepers were thrilled with their new pal and scurried on over for a big cuddle. They’re not really bothered about personal space and just assume every monster they meet wants a squeeze!

Toby looks a bit startled by this, but then he looks a bit startled by most things. That’s what happens when you can’t blink because you’ve got no eyelids.

I loved him so much I made another. This time, instead of DK yarn and 3 mm hook I used 4 ply yarn and a 2 mm hook.

Toby is convinced it’s his long lost little sister, Tabitha. She’s was too young to remember them being separated so she can’t say for sure but knows that she has always dreamed of having a big brother. I have to say, there is a very striking family resemblance so Toby may well be right!

A family re-union is always a lovely occasion but now Jeepers and Creepers are feeling a bit left out.

Oh well, they’ve always got each other – and million dust bunnies- to play with.

If you still haven’t had enough of making monsters after you have diligently made your way through this newest book, I’m currently finishing writing up a few more patterns for strange and alien looking creatures so keep your eyes peeled for more news about that coming very soon!