Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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My First Moji-Moji Craft Stall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks good enough to eat huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Paksha the Peacock

I know it’s been a while since I last managed to list a pattern in any of my online shops but the big news today is that I finally managed it! Hopefully there’ll be quite a few more in the foreseeable future as now that the current influx of book submissions and commissions are under control I have managed to gather together a well organised backlog of designs waiting in my in tray that just need a little tweaking and testing before they’re fit for public consumption.

Paksha the Peacock was originally designed for a magazine. It’s unbelievable how time flies by so fast but the two year contract is up and I am now free to list the pattern myself. I had fun tweaking the colours until they were near perfect. The original peacock had to be made with the colours already supplied in a yarn pack so this was a good chance to change things up a little.

Even though peacocks have a very definite colour scheme you can see how easy it is to great great results with just blues and yellow. But really, any similar or not so similar yarns would look great. (I wonder what a pink peacock would work out like? Rather pretty I should think).

As you can’t buy the original kits from the magazine I’ve sourced my alternative colours from a range of yarns which I fell in love with only recently. I have gone a bit crazy and bought myself the entire range of Paintbox Simply DK yarns which are now sitting prettily on one of my shelves with all the yarn shades neatly displayed on wooden pegs. I’m getting very organised in my old age you know!

I usually pick up random scraps of yarn balls from my existing stash as i certainly have plenty to choose from but for anyone who’s curious as to how to achieve the quintessential peacock look I made a note of the colours I used on the one below in case anyone wanted more info on what I considered to be the optimal peacock colours for this pattern.

I bought mine from LoveKnitting and ended up with free postage because I can’t help buying yarn in quantities much larger than is actually necessary for any particular project. Did I really need one in every colour? Well, I’m quite sure it will all come in handy sooner or later!

These are all Paintbox Yarns Simply DK shades. From left to right we have: Dark blue – 139, Turquoise – 133, Lime green – 128, Grass Green – 129, Gold -123 and Cream – 102.

Deep, jewel like colours and an obsessive fondness for preening make Paksha one of the finest sights at the palace. With his showy display of tail feathers and dashing good looks Paksha has all the peahens running around after him. You might think that all this attention would go straight to his head but Paksha isn’t at all conceited and his claws are always firmly planted on the ground.

In fact sometimes he seems more interested in showing off his magnificent tail to other peacocks instead of chasing after the ladies. It’s probably just nature’s age old case of mine’s bigger/better/more colourful than yours!

The peacocks are small enough to sit nicely in the palm of your hand so they don’t use up much yarn.

They’re also easier to sew together than you might think, despite there being quite a lot of individual tail feathers, I’ve managed to come up with a foolproof way to attach them all to each other with a minimum amount of hassle.

He’s such a fussy thing when it comes to his appearance it would be criminal not to do those feathers justice and you’d probably get a good pecking or two off Paksha if he ends up looking anything other than totally dapper so I have added plenty of photo’s to help you along and lots of tips and tricks to make sure your peacock turns out to be the envy of his brothers and the sweetheart of all the peahens.

This one is very interested in his new, soon to be completed, rival.

However it doesn’t take long for the initial wary eyeing up of each other until they’re good pals. I think they both feel grand enough and that there’s enough room in the palace gardens for the both of them and so a rather lovely friendship has developed.

They’re fascinated by their first incarnation, Prince, and how he managed to gain some fame by getting himself interviewed for a popular magazine. If there is anything that peacocks really, really love it’s a bit of attention. The more paparazzi around the better!

These two are also very interested in how their pattern comes together and how all the photos they had to pose for are being used.

Pattern making is not all yarn and hooks. Sometimes its screen and keyboards too. Though I infinitely prefer the former combo I have come to have a fondness for the entire pattern creating process over the years. Probably because my computer skills have improved – however marginally – to make the technical, non yarny side of things a bit more stress free.

peacock-bunting-beads

As a final tweak to the original pattern I turned the wing motifs into bunting.

I can think of lots of places in my house that this bright and cheerful string of plumage would add a sparkle to if Paksha would let me have it back…

But for now they are feathering his nest and making him look as pretty as a picture in all his photo shoots.

If you want to make a feathery show off of your own you can find Paksha’s Pattern in my Ravelry Store


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A Little Bit of This and That

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

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

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

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

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

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

One for a rather rotund chicken called Cheryl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minnie’s not so happy about the newcomer!

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

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

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

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

Zzzzzzz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Hundreds of Hexies

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

Next came the happy task of joining them all together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Lots of Monsters and a Tiny Kitty

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

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

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

Vendra-and-her-kittens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… and a matching hoard of bodies too.

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

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

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

I think that should be rather eye catching.

Talking of eyes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Basket Cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pink and yellow from Mother Nature…

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

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

A fancy frog with a cheeky wide-mouthed grin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Craving Colour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An evenings work resulted in a nice chunk of blanket.

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Minnie likes it very well so far…

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… and so do the Horaces.

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

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

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

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


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Zoomigurumi 6

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Another year has rushed by and another edition of the Zoomigurumi series of amigurumi-packed books has bloomed into a reality. We’re on to number six now and this one is just as full as ever of cute crocheted characters.

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I made an owl pattern back in the summer at the same time that I was designing my chameleon. That was a great riot of colour for sure and the theme seemed to be lots of stripes and big staring eyes!

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Oswald the Owl was put forward as a potential for the new book and, happily for me, he passed the audition!

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After being accepted, all the pattern writing and testing had to be done which involved a number of duplicate Oswalds being made.

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Sometimes they were crocheted at my desk or in the lounge…

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…and sometimes they were crocheted outdoors, enjoying the warmth of the sun – sadly missed at this time of year.

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Doesn’t that look idyllic? Roll on next summer, it will soon be Pimms O’clock again!

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I can’t wait to be setting up the day bed in the yard again for some serious crochet al fresco.

As work progressed with the book I volunteered to proofread another contributor’s pattern and was given Little Muggle’s Rudy the Red Panda.

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All the individual pieces looked sweet enough but the cute factor just soared sky high when I sewed them together and embroidered the nose.

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This is my finished attempt, strutting his stuff on my desk.

Of course if you are going to be bookfellows then it’s very important that you learn to get along. Oswald is not too sure the first time that Rudy tries to climb into his nest.

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But Oswald soon finds out that Rudy means no harm and he relaxes a little bit.

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Before you know it Rudy has wriggled his way into Oswald’s nest – and into his heart.

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It’s a snug fit but they’ll certainly keep each other warm that way!

Oswald also gets along fine with the Nesting Rainbow Owls. Just as well really, as that nest did belong to them first.

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(My free Rainbow Nesting Owls pattern can be downloaded from here if you worry that your Oswald might get a bit lonely, or if you feel he needs a nice snuggly nest to keep him safe!).

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It’s not long before all the owls are one big happy family – with a friendly red panda for company.

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Here’s another look at all the lovely characters in the book, just in case you weren’t tempted enough already!

A special presale price of £15.95, including worldwide shipping, is available until 25th February 2017 and you’ll be sent a downloadable PDF version as soon as your order is complete so you can start crocheting straight away – if you can actually choose which one to start with that is!

The website at amigurumipatterns.net has more information on Zoomigurumi 6 if you want to know more.

It’s been another fun adventure with Meteoor Books. There’s a new book dedicated entirely to cute and cuddlesome monsters coming out next which will feature my Jeepers and Creepers pattern so be sure to check back from time to time for more about that 🙂


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Trophy Heads and a Forest Themed Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Evie and Elvis got their stockings ready…

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…while Mojo enjoyed some Christmas bliss of his own…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My knitted cats are a lot less hassle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…Stan the Stag…

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…and Harry the Hare…

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…will have to make do with Mojo as company.

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

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


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Random Project Round Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And so another line was drawn under another book submission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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To think the humble granny square could look so pretty.

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

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

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

Happy 2017 everyone!