Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Summer Project Progress

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

persian-tiles

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

mojo-glare

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

persian-tiles-2

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

persian-tiles-3

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

crochet-blanket

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

So I ate outside…

Dinner-in-the-garden

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

garden-fire

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

mojo-sunset

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

mo-in-the-garden

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

mojo-on-the-mandalas

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

persian-tiles-4

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

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

starting-the-squares

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

square-progress

I love how they work up so incredibly quickly.

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

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

squares-upon-squares

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

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

minnie-blanket-testing

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

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

joining-the-pieces

Working around the resident cats where required.

First Minnie…

Persian-tiles-and-Minnie

…then Rubick…

rubick-snoozing-on-the-blanket

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

the-neighbours-cat-pays-a-vist

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

nearly-done

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

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

Drake-pattern

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

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


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Crocheting for Fun

Technically, all the crocheting that I do can really be classed as fun, I mean, it’s crochet right? But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from designing my own patterns and all the thinking and fretting about what colours, proportions and stitches to use. Sometimes what I want to do is pick up a hook and someone else’s pattern, stuff a basket with pre-chosen yarn and simply revel in the bliss of crocheting something beautiful without the constant decision making that normally accompanies my hook ‘n’ yarn time.

Persian-Tiles-project

With that thought in mind, and a whole calendar full of of light airy summer evenings and sunny (fingers crossed!) weekend afternoons stacking up in the near future I set myself the delightful task of browsing the internet for a suitable summer project.

It didn’t take long for me to settle on this gorgeous Persian Tiles blanket. The pattern is designed by Jane Crowfoot and the Eastern Jewels colour scheme for this version is the work of Lucia Dunn.

(If you feel like you’re up for the challenge the whole pack can be ordered from Minerva Crafts here). I thought it was a snip at £29.99 and I reckon I deserve a treat every now and again so I didn’t hesitate to click the buy now button. I couldn’t wait to get started, so lucky for me it was only a couple of days until the postman arrived bearing gifts.

colour-scheme

After ripping open the packaging and giving all the jewel like colours a proper squeeze I had a good read through the notes and scanned a few of the pattern rounds to reassure myself I would be able to handle this.

It’s a different ball game altogether from amigurumi, but I’m always keen to improve on my crochet skills and this looked like it was going to be just the right amount of brain strain to make it interesting to work up but not so much of a brain drain that I’d end up with a headache.

mandala

I started in the late evening of the day my package arrived and hooked my way diligently through each round, feeling super excited every time I got to join in a new colour.

Luckily for me hubby is a sound sleeper so when I found I couldn’t put my hook down and the clock hands were heading towards midnight it wasn’t really a big problem. Tucked up in bed, cats and hubby snoozing all around and a huge pile of yarn to turn into crochet gold, I worked on and on through the night, determined to finish the first tile before I got some shut eye.

mandala-evenings

And true to my intentions, I did it. One down and fifteen to go. Yay!

finished-tile

The very next day I loaded up a wicker basket with all the essentials so I’d have my summer project ready to grab and go wherever my fancy took me.

Persian-Tiles-basket

I love to crochet in the garden whenever it’s sunny, or when it is at least warm and not raining – often the best we can hope for in this temperate English climate!

project-basket

Pogo made a good job of guarding the precious firstborn Persian Tile…

pogo-guards-the-crochet

…while I got on with the rest. I think he’s impressed with my craftsmanship, or is he judging me harshly? Those cat faces are so difficult to interpret sometimes…

mandala-project-case

This is quite a complicated design at first glance but as I got used to each individual round on the first tile I knew it would be much easier to remember the repeats without looking constantly at the pattern if I made all the first rounds of the next fifteen tiles one after the other, then all the second rounds followed by all the third rounds and so on.

mandala centres

Putting the pieces onto stitch holders once each round was finished made sure that I kept them in the right order and made it easier to cross check which yarn ball I should be using next for each piece.

crochet-blanket-beginnings

It has been so exciting to see the colours play against each other in such a big variety of combinations – all of them mouth-wateringly juicy and a joy to behold.

crochet-circles

Cat inspection status – passed and approved – but not enough of it yet to warrant sitting on so, for a change, Mojo moves swiftly along.

mojo-and-the-circles

I’ve been making an effort to darn in the yarn tails as I go. There are lots of colour changes in these motifs and if I left them all until the end I could see that this may get to be very disheartening. So, tapestry needle at the ready, battle was commenced at least every round or two.

persian-tiles-basket-2

The crochet motifs themselves may not represent significant cat tempting comfort at this early stage in their development but the yarn basket certainly does.

Minnie-steals-a-spot

I turned my back for a few seconds and this furry interloper appeared as if from nowhere and made herself right at home.

minnie-snoozing

Far be it from me to come between a cat and their nap time so I toddled off to have a cuppa and catch up on some of the odd household jobs on the never ending to-do list.

Pogo-in-the-shade

In my small city garden it’s necessary to chase the sunshine, or shade – depending on the ambient temperature and my mood – from one corner to the other so I have been making good use of the Mexican Blanket I crocheted a couple of years ago to create a cosy spot as and when and where I need it.

Rubick-keeps-me-company

Rubick knows a good spot when he see it too. There’s plenty of room to spare on the blanket so no worries there. Such sweet company, even if I’m at constant risk of a good old leg-clawing as he randomly and unexpectedly decides to stab at a jiggling yarn end every now and again!

project-progress

After a few pleasant evenings, and the odd few hours carved out of a weekend or two, more than satisfactory progress was being made. I found myself really looking forward to downing my amigurumi hook at the end of the working day only to almost immediately exchange it for a different hook in order to work another few rounds of mandala magic.

Fast forward a little bit and I’m now at the stage where the star shapes have been completed.

mandala-stars

At this rate the project isn’t going to take up all of my summer as I had first imagined. I think I may have been guilty of a touch of crochet gluttony here, but there are surely much worse sins than that so I’m going to carry on cramming in every spare minute I can with this lovely heart lifting project until it’s finished.

You see Pogo’s happy little face here? Well, that just about sums up how I’m feeling about this fledgling blanket too.

pogo-and-the-crochet-stars

As much as I am enjoying the journey I’m so excited to reach the end so that I can add it to my ever growing pile of crocheted furnishings. There’s a fair way to go yet but I’m looking forward to every minute of it!


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Looping the Loops

All this cold weather, unseasonable snow and bitingly cold winds (can it really be springtime?) have made me yearn for a project that encourages me to spend any spare time comfortably embedded in the house, out of harms way from the vagaries that the British weather throws at us.

And as pretty as such scenes are for an hour or two on a brisk walk through the park or during a snowman making session in the back garden there really is nothing as blissful to me as a cosy indoor nook, and a lapful of yarn.

Looking around my studio I had no shortage of sadly neglected projects that I could have been getting on with. However, not being the kind of person to let an out of control work in progress pile get in the way I walked the path I tread most often and decided to start a brand new project instead. Well, we’ve all been there and done that many more times than is decent or proper, haven’t we?

Inspired by the sumptuous look of the loop stitch cushion cover I made for my bed a few years ago I embarked on another circular project that has been on my mind since buying a bargain basement footstool a while back.

It was a very cheap and cheerful £3 and is nice and sturdy with lovely wooden legs but a black and white cotton fabric top that’s not really my style.

Replacing the monochrome stripes with gorgeous spirals of bright yarn was way more my thing and I fancied that the loopstitch would be perfect for adding a little grooviness and a soft and squishy haven under my tired feet every time I had the urge to put them up.

From little metaphorical acorns…

…do loopy metaphorical oak trees grow.

I suppose it’s more of a sapling at this stage but with all that cold weather keeping me home it was just a case of round and round in circles until it started to take shape.

In the end though I decided the first circle wasn’t quite turning out the way I wanted. The colours were very pretty but the total randomness wasn’t really doing it for me so I stopped right here…

…and started all over again. I grouped similar colours together in bands this time which gave them much more impact. I also switched hook sizes up from a 3 mm to a 4 mm this time so that the fabric would have more elasticity when stretching it over the stool. This also had the benefit of making the whole thing grow a little faster and the looser tension was much easier on my hands.

Sadly I couldn’t stay tucked up forever, no matter how cold the weather was out there in the big wide world so eventually it was time to head outdoors and take a train trip to visit a friend and call in on a yarn shop on the way to bolster supplies. I packed up all the yarn for my project very conveniently inside the work itself and popped in a few tools of the trade.

No more snow left on the station by now but an icy chill on Platform One meant I very nearly didn’t get my crochet out… though in the end I couldn’t resist!

With a quarter of an hour to while away I managed a few loops huddled on the bench. The going was slow as my fingers were a bit reluctant to make the necessary movements in such low temperatures but I persevered. Not a great amount of progress was made but it was perfect for keeping my lap warm!

When the train arrived I had the special thrill of managing to find a whole four seater table area all to myself. Seems there weren’t too many other travelers braving sub zero temperatures today.

I crocheted another round in the comfort of the warm and nearly empty train but this was only a short journey so it was soon time to disembark. Loop stitches are not as quick as regular stitches but the rhythmic repetition is just as relaxing as any round of single crochets. I had meant to do a bit more once I arrived at my friend’s flat but in the end we were so busy chatting and catching up that I didn’t even get it out of my bag.

Plenty of time to get stuck in again once I was home and all tucked up in my pyjamas. Crocheting in bed definitely beats crocheting on a windy railway station any day.

Can you tell that Pogo agrees? He can be found snoozing away on the blankets for at least 70% of his time. He makes me think of of ‘Bagpuss, oh, Bagpuss Oh, fat, furry cat puss, wake up and look at this thing that I bring’. Except he’s not pink and stripy but he is a bit tubby and very sleepy.

Rubick prefers to get involved with the yarn rather than take a nap.

Oh, the energy of youth! It would be a brave person who tries to winkle a ball of yarn from underneath this tuxedo firecracker!

Eventually I do sneak the balls of yarn back one by one and some time later I have actually finished all the loop stitch rounds. Just the ends to knot together and trim at this point. It feels like such a luxury and somehow a bit of a cheat not to have to darn them in but no-ones going to be seeing this side of the cover once it’s in place. Hurrah!

I finished off the part that would gather underneath with a round of single crochet followed by a round of [1 sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc] repeated to the end to make a round of small eyelets. A final round of sc after that and it was finished. I fashioned a thin cord made of 200 ch and threaded that in and out of the eyelets to pull everything tight and tied in a bow to secure the whole thing in place.

In future I will up the hook size slightly to make the single crochets a bit looser as they were considerably tighter than the loop stitches and needed a bit of initial stretching to get these final rounds over the top of the footstool. But I wrestled it on in the end and am really pleased with the outcome.

It’s fun and vibrant and is going to cheer my tired old feet and grey soaked winter eyes up no end.

Now it has pride of place in my crochet corner.

I’m gradually yarn bombing everything I can find in here. All the colourful cushions are a great tonic when the clouds just keep on rolling in. They can dump shovelfuls of snow or bucketfuls of rain on the other side of the window but I shall mostly be found crocheting in here until things warm up a bit out there. The yellow blooms on the Forsythia in the garden are telling me that spring has sprung but until the thermometer raises itself a few degrees in agreement I’m staying in as much as possible!


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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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Daisy Chain Holiday Hexies

Thanks to the welcome glut of bank holidays over recent weekends I’ve been able to make lots of progress with my latest blanket.

The carefully stacked hexi kebabs were getting longer and longer…

…until at last I had a basketful, all ready and waiting to be joined together in holy crochet matrimony.

Mojo got involved in helping me decide which order to join the hexies in. I think this blanket is going to prove as popular with the cats as all my other crochet blankets have been!

We eventually settled for this random distribution of colours, taking care that no two hexies of the same colour would end up next to each.

After spending so long on the decision making, I deemed it wise to invest a little more time skewering each strip of hexies onto separate, numbered knitting needles. I had a pretty strong hunch that if I didn’t my beautiful layout would soon be ruined by a playful cat. All those mouselike yarn tails would surely be too much to resist!

Row by row I threaded them onto to knitting needles labelled from one to twenty.

All the fun of joining the short sides of each hexi began with new kitten, Rubick, looking on curiously.

What a lot of hard work he makes of any attempt to crochet! Pouncing on yarn tails while inadvertently digging ten tiny claws into legs, arms and stomach is one of his very favorite pastimes. Ouch!

I sought refuge from such capers by crocheting in my cat-free car whenever possible over both of the bank holiday weekends.

A trip to Malvern amid classic April showers over Easter weekend was the first such break from kitten caring since he had arrived with us days before. I left my middle son and his girlfriend in charge of keeping an eye on him and enjoyed a crochet filled car journey followed by a peaceful stroll around the town centre.

Back at home and time to settle down on the sofa with an Easter egg and a cup of tea. With all the hexagons finally joined into strips, I now had a zillion ends to darn in so was going to need the sugar rush to keep me going!

Middle son and girlfriend had done a splendid job of wearing out the kitten with various fun and games, so the peace continued all afternoon as zonked out Rubick snoozed contentedly under the sofa.

Mojo was glad of the quiet afforded to us by Rubick’s epic nap too. Having a baby fur-brother suddenly invade his house has been somewhat of a test for him but he seems to be taking it a little better as each day goes by, while Pogo and Minnie are still keeping their distance whenever possible!

Slowly but surely I darned in the ends and the strips begin to look very neat and dapper.

The following weekend we took a trip up to Lancashire to visit hubby’s mum. The long car journey gave me plenty of time to pick up where I left off after the Easter break. Even traffic jams are sources of joy (though sadly not for hubby who’s driving) as the longer I’m in the car the more crochet I’m getting done.

See the smug smile on the cactus’ face? She knows exactly how I feel!

The traffic eventually cleared  and our speed picked up to hubby’s satisfaction. After more than two hours in the car most of the yarn ends were sewn in and neatly trimmed, leaving just those at the ends which are going to be used to join the half hexagons that I’ve yet to make, to fill in those half hexagon shaped dents that you get at the end of each row.

To make sure all the rows stay in the correct order I used a big stitch holder, so they can’t get muddled up.

The sun shone wonderfully on us as we reached our destination. A bit of spring sunshine crochet al fresco was just the tonic after being cramped up in a muggy car surrounded by unappealing grey tarmac and petrol fumes.

Due to an over-abundance of paving (hopefully being replaced with something greener this year) my garden at home looks more like a car park than a recreational park so I avail myself of a spot on the luscious lawn of mum-in-law’s garden and sit back to admire the flowers, both crocheted and real life.

Creaky knees being what they are there is only so much time they can handle being crossed legged on the lawn though but, hey – that’s what garden chairs are for, after all.

I happily followed the sun around all day, from one chair to another, chatting, sewing, crocheting, eating, and drinking tea until it was time for the journey back home.

It had been a lovely day spent doing all my favorite things and with plenty of light still left in the late spring evening I couldn’t wait to begin joining the strips together on the journey home.

I’m really happy with the way it’s turning out.

All the time I had to spend away from Rubick was certainly put to best use getting ahead with the blanket as much as possible, but I missed his crazy antics and was more than happy to have my progress slowed again when I got home. I think he’s was pleased to see me, and half of the new blanket, too!


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Chasing the Sunshine

It’s been a real pleasure to see such a profusion of  bright colours on my riverwalk in recent weeks.

When the sun shines I get myself up and out of the house for a 4 mile round trip as often as I can be bothered. It’s rather tempting to just sit working in my pyjamas during the winter and early spring months but not really all that good for morale or the waistline in the long term!

Dodging the rain and chasing the rays is still a main preoccupation as the former is abundant and the latter is still relatively scarce, though getting better by the day. At least for now!

Nature switching between the relative extremes our weather throws at us always makes me appreciate the good days more, especially when they’re hemmed in on all sides by the bad ones. Life wouldn’t be nearly so vital or exciting without the contrasts.

There are flashes of colour everywhere I look. In an ancient stone wall by the cathedral…

…or the more industrial canalside setting.

All guaranteed to send me back to my studio with a bigger smile than when I left and much more energy and inspiration with which to pick up my hook again.

Back at home I’m still crocheting a woolly garden for one of my blanket projects and the number of flowers has grown steadily, just as they have outside in the real world.

I’ve only managed to scribble up the flower notes so far but I’m planning on taking a bunch of photos of how to crochet the whole hexi motif next.

My hexis are coming along nicely. I’ve arranged them in graded colours so I can see what I’m missing from the overall colour balance.

They make a super cat mattress.

But then so does a lap. My kitties are never short of a bit of comfort and I’m never short of the joy they bring. It’s a win win situation for us all!

The bright blanket I began a few weeks ago is undergoing a surprise metamorphosis into a cushion for my cat crochet chair. As I’m making the hexis into a blanket I though another cushion might be more useful instead.

One of my mandalas is also having a change of use and is going to be made into a round cushion instead of a covering for a footstool as I misjudged the shaping of the sides and it came out more flat than tubular! I’m still not sure how that happened, but it seems that double and treble crochets don’t shape up in a similar way to the single crochets I mostly use for my amigurumi.

So it’s back to the drawing board for a fancy looking footstool cover but onwards and outwards – making a few more rounds to finish the cushions.

I’m continuing to work on both mandalas, on and off. More off than on lately as the rounds take longer to complete as they get bigger (stating the obvious, I know!), so I’m just getting one round done every now and again, in between other projects.

It’s been gorgeous to see a flash or two of sunshine through the studio window…

…even if most of the light is soaked up by a feline solar ray sponge before it can reach me.

One thing’s for sure – my window needs a jolly good clean. There’s nothing like a blast of low slanting spring sunshine for showing up the grime of winter!

A favorite part of this time of year for me is when the clocks go forwards and the evenings suddenly become lighter for longer, meaning that evening walks become a frequent fixture when hubby gets back from work.

It really is a lovely way to round off the day and my legs and back are mostly grateful for a good stretch after hours of crocheting, or hunching over a keyboard.

Here’s a gorgeous little scene from one of this week’s crepuscular rambles. Such a pretty sight and plenty more to come as the evenings continue to lengthen out.

I still like the cosy after dark hours, but they feel even nicer after an evening stroll. I’ve got lots of ends to darn in on the mandalas…

…and the daisy hexagons too so there’s plenty of end-of-the day, brainfog-friendly sort of work to keep me busy for a while yet .

I’ve actually come to quite enjoy darning in ends as my crochet obsession deepens. A bit of sewing and snipping keeps my hands happily engaged while my mind can wander off, or get itself involved in whats on the TV, or allow my ears to fully engage with the programmes on Radio 4. No need to deliberate for ages about colour combinations or to twist my grey matter into knots counting rows and stitches. Pure crafty relaxation!

I hope you’ve got plenty of that sort of thing lined up for yourselves over the weekend. I’m certainly planning on getting my fair share, and possibly a bit more!


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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!