Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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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!

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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!

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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!


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Gardening Versus Crochet

We’ve had a good dose of sunshine this weekend here in Worcester. It’s been lovely to be able to take some time out and just enjoy the garden for a few days. I began by tidying up a few of the pots and tubs in the back yard. Some of my pansies have survived the winter despite an obvious all out attack from the slugs and snails, leaving the odd patch of bare soil here and there.

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Now you never know with the English climate if this might actually be the only real sunshine we get all year. Then again, we’re just as likely to have a heatwave too but, just in case, I’m taking no chances and getting my quota of sunbeams while I can.

So this weekend I’ve practically lived in the garden. Not to say I haven’t been ‘working’ of course. I’ve alternated short bursts of gardening with much longer bursts of blanket making. Now that’s the kind of ratio of chores to crochet that I like! You can see a visual representation of this in the photo below. A very small bag of gardening tools is dwarfed by a very big basket of crochet. That’s called getting your priorities right!

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On Saturday I tidied up the sunny spot near the back door. Sweeping it clear of last years leaves and squashed up, shriveled grapes (technically raisins I suppose, though I didn’t fancy eating any!) and hunkered down here for a while, much to the disgruntlement of Tigger who prefers to think he owns this bit of bench whenever the sun comes out.

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Though as the day warms up I actually don’t mind a shady spot so I move on over…

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…and Tigger moves on in. I think he’s daring me to reclaim the space but you can see he’s getting quite old these days and I think he deserves a spot of sunbathing on a comfy blanket. He can stretch out in style now!

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In between the sweeping and the dead-heading good progress was made with my crochet, so I felt very inspired to do the same on Sunday – weather permitting. And permit it did. In fact it was even warmer than Saturday.

The colours in my blanket really look pretty in bright sunshine. I’m suddenly feeling really impatient to get it finished.

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On Sunday I moved up the garden, sweeping a path through yet more leaves and winter’s strewn debris. There were lots of twigs and flower pots everywhere as a result of a spate of strong winds a few weeks ago, but it was worth doing just to sit and admire my handiwork from a new vantage point. This bit of the garden gets a patch of sun into the evening so I’ll be spending some well earned down time at the end of most sunshiny days here, I hope, hooking away at a project or two as the year progresses.

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It’s not long until Tigger discovers the newest desirable residence in the garden! Let’s see if I can squeeze in there as well. I know he likes to sprawl a lot but I think there’s room for two of us.

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Looks like he’s preparing himself to tolerate my company…maybe. Or is that a look of love? It’s so hard to tell with Tigger sometimes.

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Tigger is closely followed by Mojo whose nose looks slightly out of joint by Tigger’s presence on the bench next to me.

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But he patiently waits until the coast is clear and then takes up position, just as the sun comes out again. And here we sit for a good long while, companionably listening to the cathedral bells coupled with the wood pigeons cooing and the seagulls squawking. Very pleasant indeed.

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As a result I have very nearly finished my Mexican inspired striped blanket. I have to join it in the middle either side of the last Granny Square stripe as I chose to work the piece in two halves to make it more portable for car journeys and general out-and-aboutings, of which there have been a few this Easter.

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Monday evening’s work was to join the two and then to decide – to darn or not to darn. You see initially I was thinking of some sort of tasseled border so I could escape my nemesis of hours spent with a tapestry needle. I infinitely prefer the hours spent with a crochet hook instead! But looking at it I figured the yarn ends were a bit sparse to make a decent fringe without adding in a lot more of them to the edges of the blanket.

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It was going to be less time consuming to weave them all in than it would be to cut and trim the rest of the yarn needed for the tassels.

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Besides the edges do look quite raw and a bit wobbly, despite my careful attempts at keeping everything as even as possible so I think the addition of a border of simple Granny Stripes will work wonders. That’s decided then.

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So as the sun begins to sink I make a good start on those pesky yarn tails. Kept extra warm by the return of Mojo who settles down on my lap for another long while.

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Hopefully I’ll be finishing this project off in dribs and drabs over the coming week. I intend to make the most of any more sunshine. It’s been a real pleasure to work in good light for a change. This blanket was started as a winter cheerer, an antidote to grey days spent in woolly jumpers, and dark evenings tucked up indoors, curtains drawn, lights down low and heating up high.

Here are the yarn tails I’ve dealt with so far, now I’ve just got the same amount to do on the other side and then on with the final border.

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I’m glad that on closer inspection in the harsh light of day there are not too many mistakes or miscounted stitches. Those that are there don’t notice much anyway when you look at it in all its glory. It even looks pretty neat on the back as most of the darned ends are at the edges. I can’t wait to show you the finished thing!

It’s getting chilly again as I head in and call it a day. The view west from my garden is gorgeous with the wispy clouds and gentle glow that heralds the end of another lovely evening.

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I feel very lucky to have such a pleasant little spot to spend my time in and the sunset behind the cathedral is the icing on the cake, even if I have to stand on tip toes and peek over the fence to actually see it!


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Sunshine, Stripes and New Amigurumis

It’s been a busy week! I’m finally finding my feet again after Christmas and beginning to be a little more productive. I’ve been working on finishing my twin elephants, Eleanor and Elijah.

Here’s a little sneak peak at my elephant babies. The pattern will be out very soon, I just have to make the cover, give the whole thing a final check and it should be good to go.

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Eleanor and Elijah turned out bigger than I had originally planned, they sort of grew and grew as they went along – rather like me over the Christmas break! I just love their cuddly rotundness though, they’re kind of cute in their overstretched pinafore and overalls!

This week I’ve also been working at a steady pace, stitch by vibrant stitch on my winter warmer Mexican Stripe blanket. It’s moving pretty quickly now due to the double crochets (or triples to my UK friends). That’s a stitch that is very easy on my poor overworked wrist and knuckles too. After all the tightly tensioned single crochets (UK doubles) used in my amigurumi, it’s good therapy to change stitches and loosen up for a while. Here’s my progress so far.

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As you can see I’m concentrating on getting blocks of stripes crocheted and then joined together. I like to work in chunks like that. A row of Granny Squares then a block of Granny Stripes, alternating the tasks to get some variety as I work. It’s getting there but I’ve still got a long way left to go. I’m enjoying this project lots. It’s having the desired effect of cheering up my January, even if it has actually been much sunnier than expected so far. It’s still been cold and the days are still too short, though they have been unexpectedly sweet.

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These sunbeams just make the blanket look even jollier! Oh, and I tidied my studio last weekend. What a huge task that was. I remember doing the same post Christmas purge on unnecessary clutter around this time last year and writing about it here. My tidy studio was a pleasure to behold for all of, well, around a fortnight or so! Let’s hope I can keep it nice for a bit longer this time. Like at least three weeks, or maybe even a month!! Too ambitious? We’ll see. I’ve even tidied up my Granny Square centres by skewering them onto knitting needles. Mmmm, yummy yarn Kebabs!

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When I’m working on a project I’m a sucker for matching up my accessories the best I can. It’s not always possible to do this 100% just with what I already have lying about, but I reckon I got pretty close this time. Stash bag, pencil case, scissors… all gathered up together to keep this particular project organized, handy and ready to follow me on car journeys and bus trips of varying lengths, as needs be. A great grab-and-go ensemble! I’m loving all the hot pinks!

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Now the missing must-have accessory for a Mexican Blanket is surely a Mexican Cactus to be my faithful sidekick and trusty pincushion. So I took a teensy  break from the Granny Stripes to whip one up. Now I’m pleased to introduce Carlos the Cactus. Here he is lurking in amongst the yarn and crochetwork.

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Look! He’s waving to you! What a happy chappy 🙂

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Now to transfer the pins from the toadstool. Time for some Cactus acupuncture.

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That’s better!  He’s promised to be on hand to lend me pins every time I need to attach the squares to the stripes. You see this has turned out not to be an exact art. Even though I’ve been sure to match up the stitch count across the Granny Square stripes and the Granny Stripe stripes, the Granny Square stripes always end up a little longer than the Granny Stripe stripes (tongue twister time there!). I think the squares are just a bit more prone to stretching but all of that is put right with a bit of careful pinning and all squares and stripes match up beautifully in the end. Phew!

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So January turned out to be pretty good after all. I’ve decided there are worse things than dark chilly evenings tucked up with crochet in a warm cosy home. I get the feeling that Minnie agrees with me too!

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One blissed out cat, settling in for the night… and hogging all the yarn and blanket pieces while she’s at it!

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Keep warm and cosy folks!

See you soon with an update on my new amigurumi designs!


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Christmas Corkers

We’re getting so close to Christmas now and I’m finally starting get into the festive mood, helped along splendidly by this little troop of winter wine cork cosies!820ChristmasCorkersLineup

I had just as much fun coming up with the patterns for these as I did drinking the wine in the first place! They proved popular on my Facebook page and I’ve had lots of requests for the pattern. So as an early Christmas present to all my lovely followers here it is.

You will need:

Fizzy wine corks similar to these:

Corks
Light worsted weight (double knit) yarn in green, white, black, red, and any other colours you prefer.
3.25 mm crochet hook.
Yarn needle.
Polyester toy stuffing.
A selection of beads and bells to decorate.
White paint and paintbrush (emulsion paint works well).
Felt tip pens in red, black and orange.
Pink pencil crayon.
Scissors.
A suitable fabric glue (something like UHU or Bostick).
MaterialsAnd now we have everything collected together let’s get hooking 🙂

US crochet terms are used throughout. See here for a simple to use conversion chart for UK terms.

Square brackets [ ] indicate a group of stitches to be worked the amount of times stated after the brackets. Asterisk * indicates a point of repeat

Christmas Tree

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With Green yarn make 2 ch. (Alternate rounds with a light and dark green yarn if you prefer)
Rnd 1: 3 sc in second ch from hook. (3 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each of next 3 st. (6 sts)
Rnd 3: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (7 sts)
Rnd 4: Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 3 st. (8 sts)
Rnd 5: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 7 st. (9 sts)
Rnd 6: Sc in each of next 4 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 4 st. (10 sts)
Rnd 7: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 9 st. (11 sts)
Rnd 8: Sc in each of next 5 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (12 sts)
Rnd 9: [Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (15 sts)
Rnd 10: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 11: [Sc in each of next 4 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (18 sts)
Rnds 12-16: Sc in each st around. (5 rounds)
Rnd 17: * Slst in next st, 4 ch, Slst in next st, repeat from * to end.
Fasten off, weave in the yarn end.
Stuff the top two thirds of the tree. Put a little glue all around the fattest end of the cork, position the tree so that the frilly edge is roughly level with the bottom of the fattest part of the cork. Hold in place securely until glue has set.
Now you can sew on your seed beads, sequins, mini pompoms etc. Or leave it plain for a natural look.

Little Elf

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Hat
With White yarn make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 3 sc in second ch from hook. (3 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each of next 3 st. (6 sts)
Change to your chosen Second Colour here and continue alternating the colours each round until the end.
Rnd 3: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 4: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (7 sts)
Rnd 5: Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 3 st. (8 sts)
Rnd 6: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 7 st. (9 sts)
Rnd 7: Sc in each of next 4 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 4 st. (10 sts)
Rnd 8: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 9 st. (11 sts)
Rnd 9: Sc in each of next 5 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 5 st. (12 sts)
Rnd 10: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 11 st. (13 sts)
Rnd 11: Sc in each of next 6 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 6 st. (14 sts)
Rnd 12: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 13 st. (15 sts)
Rnd 13: Sc in each of next 7 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 7 st. (16 sts)
Rnd 14: 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 15 st. (17 sts)
Rnd 15: Sc in each of next 8 st, 2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 8 st. (18 sts)
Fasten off, weave in the yarn end.
Glue to top and back of fattest end of cork. Fold tail over and sew in place with a few stitches. Sew a small pom pom or bell to the end.
Scarf
With your chosen Second Colour yarn make 37 ch.
Change to White yarn.
Row 1:  Starting in second ch from hook, sc in each ch to end, turn. (36 sts)
Change to your chosen Second Colour yarn
Row 2: 1 ch (does not count as a st), sc in each st to end. (36 sts)
Fasten off and tie ends together in a knot. Trim to make a small ‘tassel’. Tie around elf’s neck. Draw on the eyes and mouth using felt tip pens in black and red. Colour in rosy cheeks with a pink pencil crayon.

Toadstool

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With Red yarn make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 3: Sc in each of next 6 st. (12 sts)
Rnd 4: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 5: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 6: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 7: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (24 sts)
Rnd 8: [Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (30 sts)
Rnd 9: [Sc in each of next 4 st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (36 sts)
Rnd 10: Sc in each st around.
Change to White yarn.
Rnd 11: Working in back loops only: [Sc in each of next 4 st, dec] 6 times. (30 sts)
Rnd 12: [Sc in each of next 3 st, dec] 6 times. (24 sts)
Rnd 13: [Sc in each of next 2 st, dec] 6 times. (18 sts)
Fasten off, leaving a long yarn tail for finishing. Stuff top part of toadstool. Fit opening of toadstool over top of fattest part of cork. Thread the yarn tail onto your needle and sew in and out of stitches on the final round. Pull tight to form a snug fit just under the fattest part of the cork. Secure with a knot then pinch the edge of the toadstool together and sew a few stitches through the pinched edge of the toadstool to form the shaping.  With White yarn,  embroider a few French Knots onto the top of the toadstool, or use white seed beads or sequins, or tiny buttons.

Snowman

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First paint your cork white, then allow to dry.
Hat
With Black yarn make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: Sc in each of next 6 st. (12 sts)
Rnd 3: [Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (15 sts)
Rnd 4: Working in back loops only: Sc in each st around.
Rnds 5-6: Sc in each st around. (2 rounds)
Change to your chosen Second Colour
Rnd 7: Sc in each st around.
Rnd 8: [Sc in each if next 3 st, dec] 3 times. (12 sts)
Rnd 9: Working in front loops only: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 10: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (24 sts)
Fasten off, weave in the yarn end.
Scarf
With your chosen Second Colour yarn make 37 ch.
Row 1:  Starting in second ch from hook, sc in each ch to end. (36 sts)
Fasten off, weave in ends.
Stuff the hat and glue directly on top of fattest part of cork. Tie scarf around neck. Draw on the eyes, mouth, carrot nose and buttons using felt tip pens in black and orange. Colour in rosy cheeks with a pink pencil crayon.

Oh Mojo! Am I not giving you enough attention? Time for another sit down protest then!

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Now all we need is a little snow for the perfect Christmas. Looks like a digital snow flurry will have to do for now!

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Pushing On With The Daisies

Hip, Hip Hooray! All my Daisy Blanket squares are finally crocheted together, and the blanket is just in need of a finished border. The end is in sight and the whole project has provided me with a very welcome burst of colour therapy to get me through these wet, grey and generally pretty dreary late autumn days we’ve been experiencing around here lately. We have had some sunshine today though, so I took advantage of the light to take a few pictures.DaisyLinesIt’s difficult not to smile quietly inside when you are tucked up on the sofa, hooking a methodic row of little shells, lap all warm and toasty underneath the blanket, along with the the odd cat too. It’s a bit tricky turning the corners with a furry lump hunkered down in the middle of your yarny endeavor, but if you could hear how loudly Mojo was purring you wouldn’t want to move him either!DSCN5835Then it’s Pogo’s turn. Well, we can’t give the cats any cause for jealousy issues, so they’re all welcome for a cuddle and a snuggle. I just do what I can, when I can and the cats rule the roost, as usual.PogoThough I really love the yellow centres of the daisies I just couldn’t get used to the white/yellow/white stripe I originally made for the edge in this next photo. I decided that I wanted the border to be made of richer colours, so the work you see here has now been unpicked! There’s no point spending all that time on something just to have it niggle at you because it’s not exactly right.DSCN5845So I stripped it back to the first round of white edging and began again. I’ve got this far… and already I like the purple better.DSCN5963Some orange, pinks and greens should set it all off a treat. I hope so anyway, as unraveling hours of work is always a bit of a drag. Here’s the blanket basking in today’s bit of sun as it glances through the french windows in the kitchen.DSCN5953I’m always keen to get as much free warmth as possible at this time of year and it’s been lovely spending some time hooking at the kitchen table, soaking up the rays and watching the colours sing.KitchenCrochetGet it while you can, that’s what I say 🙂FlowersThe blanket is a bit puffy and doesn’t quite lie flat in places but that’s really the result of using a random collection of mis-matched yarns, even if they are all labelled as Double Knit. This is a ‘thrifty’ blanket though, and as such I have only used the yarns I’ve had to hand, so I think it’s wobbly, bobbly nature should be embraced in celebration of all that is cheap and cheerful!DSCN5977Mojo doesn’t seem to mind it’s lumpy qualities. He knows cosy when he sees it. Much better than the bare wood for sitting on and I suppose the more it’s squashed by a cat’s backside the flatter it’s likely to end up!MojoSittingIs that a mouse? Quick, pounce!MojoPounceDSCN5969Oh, no, it’s just a ball of wool with a crochet hook in it.DSCN5970Much better than playing with the real thing Mojo. Just try not to snag up the blanket while you’re at it!

So there we have it. Just a few more rounds to do, and a few more ends to darn in over the course of this weeks evenings. Then I can start on the next one. Oooh, how exciting. I might try my hand at some stripes next. I’d better be off then, I’ve got several hundred Pinterest images to scroll through in search of my next inspiration. It’s a tough life 😉