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.

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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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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!

hare

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

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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.

deer

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

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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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Trixie, Trudy and Tricia, the Trapeze Triplets.

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

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

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

Circus-Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mice-helpers

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

Trapeze-in-progress

trapeze-rig

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

pom-poms

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

Buttons-and-beads

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

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

round-bowl

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

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

Mouse-Trapeze-01

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

baubles-row


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Katie the Caterpillar

I feel like I’ve seriously had my work cut out keeping focused lately, what with so much going on around here. It’s the summer holidays so no-one is in their usual routine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fabulous having a houseful of my own kids, even one back from uni for a few weeks, but it’s hard to concentrate too! Having said that, I’ve made an heroic effort and actually managed to complete the write up of Katie the Caterpillar’s pattern. I love how she turned out with all those jazzy stripes. I hope you do too!

Katie-Caterpillar

Now of course I’m biased but I do think that colourful Katie is already a true beauty, with those distinctive markings and big yellow eyes – I’m quite sure she’ll be the talk of the town when she finally decides to become a butterfly. For now though, she’s in no hurry to grow up, it’s just so much fun being a caterpillar. When she’s not playing in the garden with her friends you’ll probably find her chomping her way through a juicy apple with a side salad of crunchy leaves – she’s got a lot of plumping up to do before she’s ready for that cocoon!

Katie-Lunch

It all began as I was sitting testing the final draft of my Papa penguin pattern. As is often the case it was the colours that inspired me. The black, orange and yellow I was using in his design got me thinking of a caterpillar – with the addition of a big splodge of green they would be perfect, and an image immediately popped into my head.  So I did a quick sketch, just a simple doodle really, but that’s all I generally need to start me off. Taking a much needed break from scanning penguin pattern lines I picked up my hook and got going.

KK1

For me this is where the true designing comes in, keeping a keen eye on the proportions as I crochet, ripping back any sections that don’t look quite right and starting again where necessary. This part went pretty smoothly and I made sure I wrote down my hieroglyphical markings as I went along. This is my shorthand, as I hate to get bogged down in too much writing when the creative flow is at full force. Nine times out of ten I’m able to turn my scratchings into a neatly laid out pattern. Sometimes I do get stuck on deciphering things, especially if I leave it more than a day or two, but if I do end up scratching my head and thinking ‘what the …?’ I can usually  work out what I did by counting rounds and stitches on the crochet work itself.

Top tip when working stripes – don’t be in a massive hurry like I was and end up with a horrid tangle like this. It takes ten times as long to sort out as it does to gently untwist each colour as you go along!

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After a few hours the first pieces of the caterpillar are off the hook, stuffed with fiberfill and pinned together.

Katie

It sure does get hot sometimes in my south facing studio. The slatted blinds can only screen out so much of the sun while still leaving me enough to see what I’m doing, so when it gets to be too hot to handle I like to work outdoors.

It’s lovely to spread the blankets out in the dappled shade, hoping to catch a breeze or two.

Katie2

I have a new gadget, which I love! A pretty little yarn cutter flower. I’m always losing my scissors when I’m working, although they are usually not far away, at the bottom of a basket, down the side of the sofa, or I’m even just sitting on them (potential big ‘ouch’ there!) Now my new yarn cutter can be worn around my neck so I can trim those yarn ends without the perpetual rummaging around.

Katie4

It has a useful fine needle threader in the base too. It’s been a real boon, I just want to know where this gadget has been hiding all my life and why I never had one before!

Katie #1 gets to explore the garden while I work on Katie #2

Katy3

But she pops back regularly to see what I’m doing. She likes to keep an eye on my progress!

820KC

It’s not long before she has a playmate to chat to as they chew through the grapevine.

Katie5

The pattern’s eventually ready for it’s final formatting. Time to bundle everything up and head indoors as I need the computer for this bit.

Katie3

Polishing up the how-to photos and creating a front cover are the next stages.

820Katie-the-Caterpillar

Looking good! Now a final run through to triple check… and then there were three!

Three-caterpillars

Time to introduce them to the rest of my garden inspired creepy crawly patterns. Shelley the Snail, Spencer the Spider and the little frogs from an earlier Minimals pattern are thrilled to join in the fun.

Katie6

katie-party

All in all, the caterpillar has taken me about a month, dipping in when I’ve had the time and dipping out to finish other projects and commissions, but it’s great to have another job crossed off the list of things to finish up. I have a herd of alpacas vying for my attention next. I’m also still working on the alley cat, a shawl and stitching together some nearly finished amigurumi from the past two years of pattern designing.

If any of you lovely people out there have an idea for an animal I haven’t made yet, or a new spin on one I have already made, I’m all ears. Just leave a comment here or let me know on Facebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts, after all we can’t let the Work in Progress pile get too small!