Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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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!

 


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A Splash of Spring and a Burst of Bright Yarn

It been a case of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ around here over the weekend. What a tonic to see the sun and, even better, feel the warmth of it on your skin (or on your fur if you’re a cat).

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I’d promised myself I would begin to sort out my increasingly messy desk, and tackle some of the ongoing projects that are helping to keep it messy, but this sort of weather can’t be sniffed at after a long wet winter so hubby and I decided to squeeze in a speedy cycle ride around the river to get us a good dose of sunshine and bank up those vitamin D levels.

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I figured my jumble of WIPs wouldn’t be going anywhere in a hurry and would still be waiting for me when I got back. It would have been a shame to have holed up indoors all day and missed the loveliness. A bright blue sky makes everything so much more wonderful.

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Severn-walk

cycling

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We managed three laps around the river, working out at around ten miles so it felt pretty virtuous too. And, yes, my desk was still messy and all my work in progresses were still waiting patiently for me to finish them off. Time to set to and get busy. As it happened, going for an invigorating bike ride in the fresh air acted as a cheery tonic that put a spring in my step for the rest of the day and I’m sure it made me much more productive and happier too.

The pompom cushion I began at Christmas was my main priority as I’d finished up crocheting the front and back pieces on Friday evening so it was pretty much all ready to assemble.

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I’d already threaded the pompoms onto some yarn to make two-tone strings of different colours so it was just a matter of playing around with them until they looked right.

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I began by arranging them in the classic rainbow order.

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It was a harmonious combination but I felt it needed more randomness. Breaking up the blocks of similar colours would give it a bit more punch.

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I’ve got lots of spare pompoms rolling around the studio or stashed away in pots and baskets so mixing up the colour sequences and adding in a few more  here and there to make strings longer or taking a few away to make them shorter – depending on their new placement – wasn’t a problem. Eventually I ended up with something that was evolving like this…

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I kept all the trimmings from the pom poms and made a wildly woolly cocktail.

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Don’t worry, I’m not that yarn obsessed that I’m actually going to attempt to drink it! I just thought the rainbow fluff was much too pretty to throw away so I’m saving it for a felting project. I can see great possibilities there.

I attached the pompoms onto the crocheted background by stitching down the string that threads them all together. It worked a treat, and ended up really dense with the weight and feel of a piece of carpet.

Time to run it past quality control…

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Does it pass the all important ‘8 out of 10 cats prefer’ test?…

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Well, 2 out of 2 cats who visited the studio today definitely prefer sitting on it.

When they had vacated the half way finished cushion top I steadily applied myself to attaching the next rounds of pompoms –  in between other less pleasing jobs, like cooking and cleaning.

I was loving how it was turning out and I even woke up very early on Sunday morning to sew a few more rounds in bed with a cuppa. I don’t normally do early starts at the weekend but because I was all excited to get finishing it off I made an exception this time.

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At this stage a few more turquoise pompoms were all that was needed.

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I soon had just the right amount to cover the crocheted top perfectly.

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Next, I joined the  top and bottom pieces together with a round of single crochet stitches, incorporating a zipper, and then put the cushion pad inside. At this point, having seen it all together, I felt it needed another row of pompoms to cover the joining seam. I’m having a love affair with pink and red at the moment so I settled on finishing it off in that colour combo.

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Just another eighty or so pompoms to go then. And just when I thought I was all done! I may have been feeling all pompommed out by then but, as all you dedicated crafters will know, it’s no good doing a half hearted job and then looking at the fruits of your labour with regret and remorse. It’s gotta be right and this last row will finish it off a treat.

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Time for another catisfaction test…Oh yes, these are definitely soft enough.

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Got to be ready to pounce on the wool during the pompom winding phase…

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…and it’s best to keep an eye on them from all angles…

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…unless you get distracted by a bird flying past the window.

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What do you think of Minnie’s bushbaby impression? She’s a natural, don’t you think?

After all the excitement of playing with yarn and watching the wildlife in the garden it’s time for a nap. What better place than… no prizes for guessing… on the new cushion!

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I’m not sure it’s going to be easy to get my fair share of comfy time with this cushion once it’s finished. There have been ownership issues over it since the beginning. Even a basket of pompoms is appealing to my furry feline friend.

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I think I know what to get her for next Christmas. It’s a good job I have all these spares.

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We’re definitely going to need more than one of these scrummy cushions around here!

Sunday afternoon was spent walking around the river. After Saturday’s ten mile bike trip my backside couldn’t face the saddle again just yet (maybe I need a pompom saddle cover – there’s an interesting idea!). It was good to travel at a different pace anyway, you get to see different things that way. So many flowers are springing to life now. A sunshiny day at this time of year is just the best thing, but two in a row – and at the weekend as well – that’s bliss!

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Sunday evening delivered a beautiful sunset, adding a final sparkle to a couple of lovely days packed with luminous colour, both in and out of the studio.

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Now I’ve very nearly reached the end of this project. Only a few more pompoms to go…

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I’ll be back to post some pictures once the last round is in place and I’ve nearly finished a photo tutorial on how to make one of these cushions yourself should pompom fever be gripping you with the same intensity that it’s been gripping me! Hope to see you back here sometime soon!


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A Hectic Half Term

Gosh, I’ve been so busy with mostly unplanned interruptions this half term that I had hardly any time to spend in my beloved studio. I’m not complaining, because it was rather fun, but I unexpectedly ended up decorating a study room for my dad as he has been a bit poorly recently and I hoped it would cheer him up. (It did!). Hubby helped too as he had a few days off but the timing of it meant that we weren’t able to indulge in our Champagne breakfast on Valentine’s day after all because we were elbow deep in DIY. Still, anything can be romantic with the right person, even painting walls, and the Champagne tasted just as good when we got home that evening!20160214_154740_001Of course a quick room makeover is never just that and an awful lot of the week went by before it was finished. We did take Wednesday off for a quick trip to Cardiff to pay a visit to my oldest son who’s at Uni there – studying computer animation and motion graphics (or something along those lines, I always forget the exact course title!).

Oh the relief to exchange a paint brush and a tub of emulsion for a hook and some yarn. I certainly made the most of all the quiet and peace that a car ride has to offer. Diggory and Dave (my new dancing circus dogs) have a book deadline coming up soon so I spent the outward journey double checking their pattern, which, for me, means making everything from scratch again.DiggoryA boiled egg breakfast gave me all the energy I needed to keep my hook hooking nineteen to the dozen.brunchThat’s Diggory above,  and below you’ll find the beginnings of Dave…glove-compartmentThe glove compartment is so handy for keeping all my crochet essentials and the odd project or two in. My strange hubby seems to think that it’s meant for the log book, sat nav and tool kit, so I do have to keep turfing out all those annoying ‘man things’ that just get in the way. Surely crochet is far more useful if we break down. At least I’ll be happily occupied however long it takes the mechanic to find us!

One quiet evening at the beginning of last week I crocheted myself a handy little roll up case. I didn’t use a pattern, just free wheeled it, but I love how it turned out, and it was so quick to make. As improvised as it was I did force myself to jot down some rudimentary notes as I went along so I should be able to reproduce it if I feel I need another or want to make one for a friend. I’m thinking they’d make perfect birthday presents for fellow knit and crocheters, especially when filled with all these eternally useful crafty treasures.needles-and-hooksI’ve managed to squeeze in two sets of double pointed sock/glove knitting pins, a cable needle, crochet hooks, stitch markers, a pin cushion and a pair of scissors. The important stuff literally all rolled into one.  That’s pretty much everything I need so I won’t get caught short without recourse to a satisfying project or two as long as I have this with me. Just add yarn!

Did you notice my toadstool markers looped onto the end of the stitch holder? Aren’t they gorgeous?! I bought them recently from Tinkaboo Crafts for You on Etsy. The set included every colour of the rainbow, so I kind of just had to have them. Toadstools and rainbows, count me in!DSCN1319After stashing a couple away in my roll up case, some of the others have gone to live with the magical mushroom pincushion that grows out of the top of my lug-around super sized project basket.DSCN1320I mainly use this basket for carrying things up and down to the end of the garden when it’s sunny and I want to work outdoors as it has space for everything I could need including a flask of tea and a packet of custard creams or a bottle of prosecco and a jar of olives, depending on the time of day. Here’s a snap taken last summer of my carry-all basket  to remind us all of more clement times to come.FtoadstoolYou see there’s even room to take along the odd cat too.MojoRugAnyway, I digress from tales of  Half Term week… We arrived in Cardiff with Dave the dog nearly ready to sew together. A few hours were whiled away hanging around the city centre – mainly perusing the local Tiger store where I bought a bit more storage and stationery for my ongoing studio revamp. I particularly liked their wire shower baskets and treated myself to three of them. They now have pride of place hanging under the window next to my chair and are proving useful for storing all sorts of bits and pieces in, including a whole load of polyester toy stuffing. Now I have my own cloud in a basket, though Mojo prefers to look out of the window at the real thing.windowThey’re also good for storing cat’s tails in. I love how the alpaca and the chihuahua seem to be in agreement to look the other way and pretend it’s not there. It appears that the sun may actually be shining out of Tigger’s behind but these two are far too polite to look!tigger-tailAnd here’s a glimpse of what was under the window before my shopping spree. How sweet that the cats form an orderly queue for the sunny window spot!  I may often lack human company working from home all on my own but I’m never lonely. It’s often difficult to twitch an elbow when I’m at my desk for fear of jabbing a cat!cat-windowAfter our trip to Tiger we stopped for some light refreshment at Wahaca. Fantastic food as always, and the Margaritas are pretty damn good too. That must be at least 100% of today’s vitamin C requirement sorted out, and what a way to do it!margaritaIf you do find yourself paying a visit be sure to check out my son’s artwork too, he has a part time job there and, among other duties, gets to draw on the chalk boards in the upstairs bar area. Here’s his latest masterpiece…Rojito BarEventually it was time to say goodbye to my lovely boy and get back in the car for the trip home to Worcester. Of course that means a little more time for getting creative and so I started my very first pair ever of crocheted mitts.crochet-mittsI’m really comfortable with the whole amigurumi thing by now but this is taking crochet to a whole new level for me. So far, so good as I’m still working the cuff but I’ll let you know how I get on when things get a little more complicated. It will be interesting to see whether I end up with a pair of mitts to be proud of or a misshapen rag of a washcloth made from expensive bamboo yarn. I have to say that looking at the chart for the shell pattern has given me palpitations. I guess I’m just not a charty type of person. All those symbols are prone to swim about before my eyes in a highly nonsensical manner. There is a written version of the shell pattern though so I’ll be sticking to that and hoping that if I just tackle the mitts round by round something as beautiful as the photo in the book will result. If not I’ll be reverting to knitting something similar. I’ve certainly had plenty of practice at that in recent months.

These are some of my newest handmade hand warmers.mitts in a basketI’ve been practicing my cabling to spice things up a bit.cable-mittsMy latest pair of knitted mitts turned out gorgeous. I used some pretty variegated yarn and embellished the top rib with a simple crocheted flower.mittensI made a handful of these easy flowers with the yarn that was leftover after the mittens were finished. I loved how they kept turning out differently depending on where in the yarn dye repeat each one began. They were the perfect portable and pocket sized project for all the micro journeys I was making over to mum and dad’s to finish off my dad’s fancy new study, both before and after our Cardiff trip.

As well as adding a touch of fun to my mitts, my cache of woolly flowers were perfect for embellishing the top of my roll up case and I also crocheted a chain onto one of them to make a little tapestry needle holder to attach to my snippy scissors.hook-wrapThat’s what I call co-ordinated heaven!mitts-and-flowersI’ve got a few mitten gifts in mind that I need to make over the next week. It’s going to be a bit of a rush but at least I won’t be wasting any time searching for the necessary equipment!

It’s lovely to be back in the studio full time again this week. There’s been lots of sunshine pouring in the window over the past few days. Spring feels tangibly close now and all the promise of bright energetic days, light evenings and brand new projects are hanging deliciously in the air.Dusty-catMy pot is full of daffodils, my windowsill is full of cats and my head is full of exciting new designs. Half term is pretty darn good but I’m always more than happy to get back to work in earnest!


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Bright Beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Diggory and Dave the Dancing Dogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dave comes to join them for a fitting too.

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

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

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

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She is one busy little mouse!

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

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

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Oh well, toys are for play, not display!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The competition is open until Friday November 27th 2015.

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


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Hooking Shawls and Knitting Kitties

It’s done! My lovely shawl, started in a sunny field at a festival last weekend was finished in my sunny garden this weekend. I’m really pleased with the way it worked out. It’s a good size for chillier summer evenings and the bargain bucket job lot of Rowan Frost yarn made it to the end with the added bonus of having two balls left over. Maybe some boot cuffs or fingerless mitts would make nice little project for the autumn. I’ll just add them to the ever growing list of things I want to do!

I was so pleased with the end result that I couldn’t stop myself from starting a new one almost seconds after I knotted on the last tassel. This time I have a bargain lot of Rowan Summerspun in delicious reds and purples. This yarn has a mainly cotton feel to it, despite being 50% wool, and a very pretty loose twist that pairs the variegated colours together beautifully.

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The label indicates a 4 mm hook but I’m using a 5 mm instead to give the shawl lots of drape. We are having another run of beautiful weather here so I made the most of things this weekend and spent a big chunk of Saturday afternoon in the garden, gainfully employed cracking on with shawl number 2.

And as the afternoon turns to evening a little bit of sunshine, a little bit of crochet and a little bit of fizzy wine makes everything perfect!

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Earlier on this week I had a bit of a sort out in my studio and unearthed some unfinished projects. Vowing to finish all the loose ends of various makes I decided to start with two cat doorstops that were knitted up and waiting for their finishing touches. It’s such a sweet pattern from a fabulous book called Knitted Cats and Kittens by Sue Stratford. So off I went to pull the book back off the shelf. Now to pack up a project basket with the necessaries and make time to finish them, once and for all.

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I began this kitty twosome way back last year, and I’ve got no idea why I stopped so close to the finishing post! I must have got distracted and just forgot about them.

I often like to dip in and out of projects so in between rows of my new shawl I endeavoured to knit up the missing tails and feet and sew their little faces on. Now don’t they look cute!

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One more tail and two more feet left to go and these two little buddies will be ready to keep my doors properly stopped. As the needles click away, and the rows turn, I’m reminded of how much I like knitting. I really don’t do nearly as much as I used to. Knitting was my first yarn related love affair, starting at age 8, after all, with crochet only arriving in my life a few years ago. So yeah, it’s good to ditch the hook and wield the needles sometimes, and when the crochet hand cramps start up it’s rather therapeutic to exercise them out with a good knit!

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Tigger is trying to be gracious about the new arrivals, but I think his expression gives away how he truly feels!

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*As if there aren’t enough of us cats around here already*

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As I’ve got no room for any more real cats, I might just start hoarding woolly ones instead.

It’s still bright enough for shades at this point…If I can get them back off the cat…

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…but as all good things must come to an end, the sun sets and knitting gets kind of tricky in the twighlight. It’s too warm to want to go indoors yet so we spark up the tea lights and I take a little break to watch the stars get brighter as the dark thickens around us.

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But even all those tea lights aren’t enough to illuminate my little knitted stitches, and I’m not risking dropping any, so the new cats grace the table and watch as the shawl re-emerges to have its turn. Thanks to a combination of big, easy to work chains and my light up crochet hook, it’s a doddle, (even after a glass or two of wine!)

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So the stars shine, the candles flicker and the shawl grows longer by the hour.

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I do hope these balmy summer nights roll on for a bit longer yet so I can enjoy a few more like this before the autumn chill kicks in.

Sunday morning was a cheery sight of blue skies interspersed with smattering of fluffy clouds. Knowing our weather patterns these are just as likely to develop into thick grey beasties drenching us with thunderous downpours as they are likely to burn up and give us another scorcher of a day. In light of the possibility of the first scenario coming true we decide it’s best to get out there as soon as possible and enjoy it while we can.

Out come the bikes for hubby and me, and after a quick shout up the stairs to see if any of the boys want to come too (they didn’t) we headed off for a 10 mile spin around the river. Some gorgeous new patches of flowers have sprung up since I was last down here. Had to get a photo of these beauties. They sure put my pots of chewed up pansies to shame!

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Love that riot of colour, makes your heart sing just to look!

Biking

Back home again so I can finish knitting the tail for the second cat. Two tails and twelve tiny toes later and – Tah-dahhh! Finished at last 🙂Two-Knitted-Cats

These two that were part of the work in progress mega mountain are now fully formed felines to be proud of.

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Now it just needs to be seen whether they’ll be accepted by the natives. Doorstop cat looks like he wants to be friends, but Mojo is one cool customer and refuses to make eye contact or acknowledge the newbie at all. Not looking too good so far!

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Now I’ve got my knitting head firmly screwed on again I’m going to have a go at this little fella.

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I just hope he doesn’t end up on the WIP pile for another year like the last two. Only time will tell!


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A Weekend at Home

Chanting the mantra ‘Rain, rain, go away, come back another day’ has had no effect whatsoever around here so it’s been a weekend tucked up indoors, catching up with much of my crochet works in progress. Well, it needs to be done and there are worse ways to spend rainy afternoons. In fact it’s rather nice to have some cosy time in the house. Mojo has found his new favorite spot. Staring wistfully out into the drizzle from the comfort of one of my new kitchen seat pads. There is an excellent view of the garden from there and Moji is making the most of it.

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Minnie has nabbed herself a spot in a spotty, polka dotty, plastic picnic salad bowl!

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It’s barely big enough but she’s whiled away many hours snoozing in there, so it must be comfier than it looks.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the past few days designing a new alpaca pattern and then creating them in lots of colours. Here’s the production line in full swing. It’s my own personal alpaca farm. Six colours so far… well, I really enjoy working with the soft and fluffy textured yarns, and I just couldn’t seem to stop myself!

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They’ve got their eyes on those tasty strawberries by the looks of it.

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I was busy making these last week, on a somewhat sunnier day.

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A little snack for me too. Alpacas aren’t the only ones who love strawberries!

Strawberries

Pogo often watches me crochet, sitting side by side on our squashy sofa. He’s just waiting for a yarn end to pounce on. Usually straight into my lap, huge claws and all!

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There’s plenty of yarny entertainment for him as I finish up this latest batch.

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Lovely home days with all the cats for company make me very happy. Just time for a break to bake a loaf of bread ready for lunch. Oh yum. This butternut squash and parmesan bread filled the house with delicious smells that cheered us all up. It tasted amazing too! Chopped black olives and rosemary made it extra special and it’s great therapy for crunched up crochet hands as all the mixing and kneading gets the circulation flowing around my fingers again.

Bread

Bas’s  (Zabbez.com) Butterfly Bree and Baby Calin were finished up just in time for the proofreading deadline for the new Parent and Baby Animals book. I love the way the sparkly blues have worked out. This pattern would look fabulous in so many different colour combinations. One to let your imagination go wild with!

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Here she is next to Bas’s original colourway. It sure was a lovely pattern to follow.

I found out a few days ago that Papa and Pierre have made it on to the front cover of the book. I’m so thrilled, it’s like the icing on the cake and I can’t wait to see the whole book layout. Joke always does such a fantastic job of compiling all the cute designs. Not long to wait now, as pre-sale will be starting in early September over at amigurumipatterns.net.

Amigurumi Parent and Baby Animals Book

Thanks to all who voted for Papa and Pierre.

Come rain or shine, have a great week folks!


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Very Berry

Another week has shot past and I’m still enamoured with the circular granny motif I was working on last week. Trying out a softer look for them this time with soft and dreamy ice creamy berry colours in romantic pinks and purples. Raspberry ripple or blueberry burst springs to mind and makes me want to head straight for the freezer for a scoop or two!

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A rather pretty match to the Sweet Williams that are currently gracing my window ledge here in the studio.

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I’ve so much work to get through at the moment but I’m refusing to panic and instead just thanking my lucky stars that my job involves such an abundance of crochet. It’s been four years now since I first picked up a hook and  painstakingly followed a couple of Youtube videos. I can remember struggling to hold the yarn correctly – a lifetime of prior knitting experience can confuse your fine motor skills like that when you suddenly try to switch to a brand new technique.  It was a serious case of knotted up fingers and thumbs and terrible tension and it was just a teeny bit frustrating!  So, so glad I didn’t give up though – I’m still showing no signs whatsoever of getting bored of my ‘new’ favorite craft.

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The busier the better is my motto and there’ll be no slacking around here with Mojo keeping a stern eye on me to make sure I’m moving forward at a steady pace, working through my to-do list.

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Many of my deadlines are self imposed but I do get very tenacious about sticking to them once I’ve made my mind up. I decided I’ve got to get some sort of grip on works in progress this week so have been spending some of my spare time completing the crocheted seat pads for my newly decorated kitchen. I love them! They’re comfy and practical and were cheap as chips to make. I found an ingenious way of avoiding having to use a zip too – thereby elevating their thrift status up another notch or two. The only thing I had to buy was the cushion pads to go inside them.

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I really like how they’ve all turned out unique and not quite matching. I’m only using fabric I already have for this project which adds to their upcycled charm!

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These raggy ends are an integral part of the zipless finish . They’re easy to undo if I need to wash the cushion covers and they also form the ties that attach the cushions to the chairs. There’s nothing more annoying than slip sliding about and losing your cushion mid meal… Well, there probably are much more annoying things than that but the fewer minor irritations in life, the better! And I like the little bows when the cushions are in place.

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The little bows are quick and easy to untie if I want to make my wire bench into a somewhat comfier affair. Dappled shade in the shelter of the ever expanding grape vine is a little piece of summer heaven.

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Just the spot for making a few strawberry accessories for a new amigurumi design I’m working on. Hopefully to be revealed in the next week or two.

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I’ve also been working on re-making the caterpillar, testing the pattern and tweaking the overall shape as I go. I think I have it spot on now…

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But I’ll only know for sure when I’ve assembled all the bits. And goodness, what a lot of bits…

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…mainly in the form of legs, which is only to be expected when you’re making a caterpillar I suppose.

Plenty more to get on with and the sun is still shining so I’m heading off out to the garden again to attach those limbs where they rightly belong, then a few more crocheted strawberries, maybe a bit more rag crochet (table mats and coasters this time) and whatever other projects that jumble into my head demanding attention! That’s the rest of my weekend sorted. I hope your’s will be just as much fun!

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Bye Bye for now from myself and the lepidopteran larvae! x


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Ripping Yarns

Looking at the title you might be forgiven for thinking that I’m about to tell you some thrilling story full of jolly japes and spiffing adventures, but in fact I’m about to show you the transformative powers of ripping up old bedding to turn it into a form of chunky cloth yarn, (or ‘clarn’ for short) because that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of this week. I hope you’re not too disappointed!

Tangles

I love making clarn as I hate to waste anything and always seem to have a lot of fabric hanging around. The boys are too grown up for their space/cowboy/monster themed bedding these days and some of my old sheets are just too frayed and tattered to be of any practical use in their primary function anymore so I have a ready made supply of raw materials.

With a couple of projects in mind I set to work snipping and ripping some of the prettier coloured bedding into strips ready to crochet them into something completely different.

I started with a pile of over washed, slightly faded cloth that had definitely seen better days. In fact this is the very best kind of cloth to use because it has a well worn softness which makes it really easy to work with. If you don’t have a surplus of old bedding then charity/thrift shops are always a good, cheap source.

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Very patiently I slowly turned them into lots of clarn balls of various sizes. This is always best done outdoors if possible unless you’re a massive fan of both dusting and sneezing because the ripping always generates lots of tiny fragments of cloth. I’m not keen on either of the above so luckily the weather has been good enough to allow me to spend a few hours in the garden getting the job done and leaving nature to assimilate all the dust particles into the environment so I don’t have to worry about them.

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I made this clarn out of strips about 2 cm wide and used a 10 mm hook for all my projects but you can make them thinner or fatter and change the hook size according to your fancy. Most of this fabric is polyester cotton or pure cotton but there are many other fabrics that will do just as well. Old Tee shirts work great and give a stretchier yarn or if you’re feeling really flashy you can get some beautiful results with silk. Even plastic bags can be used. I would suggest avoiding anything with a heavy weave such as a brocade or any fabric that contains a lot of natural wool as these can both be very heavy and messy to rip up and will fray a lot.

Rag-Strips

The quickest way of creating clarn is the snip and rip method where you make a small cut in the top of your fabric roughly 2 cm in from the edge (1) and then rip it all the way down to within 1 cm of the opposite edge (2). Make another cut 2 cm to the side of the edge of this (3) and rip down the length again, stopping 1 cm short of the edge again (4). Carry on in this way until you have a couple of metres of clarn before beginning to wind it up into a ball.

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Keep winding your clarn every few metres so you don’t get into a terrible tangle. This stuff just loves to get knotted up on itself if you don’t keep an eye on it.

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I pull off any large  messy knots of loose fibres as I go but you don’t need to be too conscientious about eliminating all of these frayed threads as they will mostly crochet into the fabric or can be pulled off later once the crochet is finished.

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Now as fun as all that is my favorite part is making it up into useful and beautiful items. Rugs are a great use for this stuff. I’ve made three already, (not all this week I hasten to add!). One was for the kitchen and one for the bathroom which you can read about here. And I also made one for my studio to add a bit of colour and warmth to the bare floorboards.

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They scrub up a treat too which is essential if you’d rather be looking at all the pretty colours rather than a thick layer of cat fur! Here’s the one from my studio drying in the sun after a quick whizz in the washing machine.

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Cats and clarn are generally another of those matches made in heaven – from a cat’s perspective anyway. Mine find the stuff totally irresistible. If you share your home with a feline or two then some of these cosy rugs, or just even miniature cat sized ones, would be the perfect gift for your moggies. And here’s the hard evidence – in case you want some proof before you spend hours making them a pressie they may turn their noses up at…

Here’s the reason I have to wash the rug so much!

Moji-Rug

Playful Pogo loves to get involved when balls of clarn are rolling around. It’s not always that easy to get them back either. He’s got some fearsome teeth and claws on him and more than a bit of (c)attitude.

Tigger’s favorite spot in the house is his basket with the garden window view. It’s made even more comfortable by the addition of a crocheted clarn liner. He spends hours curled up in here every day. There’s some wierd perspective going on here by the way. The basket is much bigger than it looks, or maybe I should say that Tigger’s head is much smaller than it looks!?

Mojo couldn’t even wait for me to finish this one…

… and Minnie will quite happily sit on either the balls of clarn themselves (though they’re not at all squashy), or the finished pieces.

All three of my boys are on their summer holidays now, all exams are finished and assignments handed in so they are hanging around at home much more than usual. In order to encourage long and leisurely lunches and dinners around the table I wanted to make some cushion pads for the dining chairs. A numb bum is not conducive to sitting and chatting and they’re all so skinny they could use the extra padding.

Here’s a couple of finished covers just waiting for the cushions to plump them up.

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They’re very comfy and puffy when the cushion pads are in place. I laced the opening shut with a bit of matching fabric as I didn’t fancy putting zips in – and I didn’t have any to hand anyway. These laces will be easy to take out if I need to wash the covers so it seemed like the perfect solution and the ends of the laces are going to double up as ties to attach the cushions to the backs of the chairs.

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It’s all light and brightness in my kitchen now since hubby and I went on a decorating spree. We only planned to repaint the walls and ceiling but we got a bit carried away and now the only things not painted are the floor and the worktops. We’ve done the cupboards and the skirting, the table legs and the chairs. I’ve even painted up my old stripped pine dressers and can’t believe how much life and energy it seems to have injected into the room! I always forget to take ‘before’ pictures but here are some ‘afters’. You’ll just have to imagine the dark, orange toned, grubby stained wood underneath that used to be on show.

These cushions are going to be transferable from kitchen to garden. They’ll be ideal for cozying up the benches so we’re going to get plenty of use out of them. Clarn makes great place mats and coasters too. I’m going to need a few of these for the kitchen to help protect the newly painted surfaces. This is my first one and took about ten minutes.

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I’ve got plenty more sheets to rip into and lots more plans for things to crochet with them. I’ve been collecting ideas on my Rags to Riches Board on Pinterest for a while now so I’m not short of inspiration. I’m really enjoying crocheting on such a chunky scale again. Everything works up so fast and after spending the last five months making my Mexican blanket that feels like a very welcome change.

If you’ve made anything out of recycled cloth I’d love to hear about it. As always your most welcome to leave me a comment or hop on over and share a photo on my Facebook page!

X Thanks for stopping by x

Update: A free pattern and full tutorial for how to make these chair pads can now be found here. Happy Crocheting!