Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Dreaming of the Sea

The summer is pretty much over and I’ve been ‘staycationing’ year. Not having managed to escape to some heavenly beach retreat with my tent and sleeping bag I thought I’d bring a taste of the coast to me instead by creating a set of seaside inspired characters. One creature led to another and another until I ended up with four different patterns based on two distinct body shapes and a mini friend with a shape all of it’s own. I’ve bundled them into one bumper pattern and called it ‘Ocean Buddies’.

Ocean Buddies Pattern

This pattern has been through a few evolutions as I played around finding the right proportions and it proved to be the perfect picking in and out of pattern to take outside and work on in my garden while I daydreamed about being beside the seaside.

I’m not completely high and dry here in my favorite spot because we have a tiny pond in the shade of a shrub I can never remember the name of. I have even made a little shingle beach and scattered around a few of my scavenged fossils to remind me of past beach-combing adventures in Watchet on the Somerset coast.

Little 4 ply, 2 mm hook narwhal contemplates a dip but is somewhat put off by the film of duckweed. Can’y say I blame him. I wont be dipping my toes in either, no matter how hot it gets!

The Ocean Buddies accompanied me on landlocked car journeys up the motorway when we did take the odd day trip to Lancashire to visit relatives.

Annoyingly, I failed to bring any safety eyes or stuffing on this particular occasion (an early start you see, and my brain is rarely fully engaged until midday) and so my relaxing crochet session was properly scuppered. Aaaagh! The thought of three hours+ in the car with idle hands was almost too much to bear. Luckily I had started sewing a pompom trim onto my project basket the night before so I solved the fidgety fingers problem by painstakingly stitching on the rest of the trim.

Quite a fiddly process, with tiny stitches and a wickedly sharp needle for such a bumpy journey but I managed it with just the odd finger prick here and there to show for it.

By the time we got to our destination I had a very pretty pimped up basket. To be honest I can’t think of many things that don’t look better with pom poms attached. Do you see the green, green grass of my mother-in-laws garden? It really does put my coarse, dandelion infested back yard patch of scrub to shame.

Laddie, previously having belonged to said mother-in-law before we adopted him after she got poorly, and thus having been the joint owner of the garden perfection above, is so used to a fine weed free lawn that he appears to disapprove of my more slapdash approach to green spaces. So much so that he can only tolerate being in its vicinity if there is a wooden tray between the ground and his butt!

I also can’t help thinking he’s planted himself next to the lawnmower and rake as a sort of reprimand. Maybe I’ll get into this gardening malarkey one of these days. When there’s a showdown between the hook and the shears the hook will win out everytime!

In the mean time I’m content to use crocheted rugs to hide the multitude of unmown sins, unswept prickly leaves, miscellaneous weeds and bare patches of earth. The rag yarn crochet makes things a bit comfier and adds a bit of colour – a real plus point when all the flowers I have tried to grow are constantly eaten by slugs and snails.

Pesticide free, organic gardening is easy when you let the weeds take over, and rather good for the wildlife too no doubt. Everything has an up side! I think I’ll make this unkempt approach my horticultural hallmark.

As lovely as this unusually warm summer has been I have to admit that the heat did get the better of me from time to time. A shady spot in the studio with the slatted blinds sending the daylight coolly up in towards the ceiling went a long way to redressing the heatwave when things got too hot outside.

Crisp white walls and a clean white desk all add to the oasis like calm in here.

Mojo is not too keen on the savage sunshine at the peak of summer so I often found him in my crochet corner waiting to keep me company whenever I scuttled inside for a cool down.

It’s a little more difficult to get hold of my wool while he is around but we always manage to share it in the end.

When we got back from our day trip up north I attempted to put my newly embellished basket to good use as storage but before I could fill it with the next batch of yarn Mojo had crept in and wound himself into it – while it was still on my lap.

Yeah I know that look – ‘move me on at your peril human, I shall sulk for an hour if you do’ – or meows to that effect. So you see Mojo has a nice new cat bed. A bit on the small side maybe but it doesn’t seem to bother him one little bit.

This new sleeping arrangement has the added bonus of freeing up the rest of my chair for me. Instead of a furry, sprawling, purring cat rug draped over the entire seat Moji now likes to roll himself up like pill bug, tuck his head in and forget all about the outside world for a bit. Sounds rather appealing to be honest. Perhaps we should have human sized hibernation baskets to disappear into from time to time!

It frees up space for Orwell too. We all share and share alike here. A happy family of people, cats and crochet!

Mojo managed to prise himself out of the comfort of my stash basket when he saw the stage was set for a photo-shoot, sneaking in just in time for his cameo role.

Despite the intrusion I eventually took some shots I was happy with.

I have a new Nikon camera and have been experimenting with using it in manual mode so some of the colours are a bit more uneven than I would like but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Practice make perfect and and all that.

I’ve also been watching some YouTube videos on how to get whiter backgrounds for product photography by using Adobe Photoshop.

I’m learning so much that isn’t crochet related at the moment. None of it as much fun as crochet itself – but it comes quite close.

As summer draws to a close and chances of a holiday on some windswept beach diminish for another year I can’t say that I’m too heartbroken. I’ve had a wonderful summer at home with my family, my cats, my crochet and my imagination. A winning combination in my opinion!

So from Wendy the Whale…

…Sheamus the Shark…

…Nigel the Narwhal…

…Daphne the Dolphin…

…and, last but not least (though by far the smallest), Stephanie the Starfish…

…we bid yourselves goodbye for now and the summer farewell for another year.

I have a big bunch of autumn/winter projects to be getting on with over the next few weeks. (Spoiler alert – sneak peak for one of them below!)…

I’m aiming to tie up all the loose ends on my current WIPs and share in my next post. I hope you’ll join me then!


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A Medley of Monsters

Can you hear that strange shuffling and scratching noise? Are you tempted to take a peek and find out what’s going on?

Well, don’t be alarmed, it turns out that it’s just the sound that my new brood of monsters make when they start twirling around on their twelve tiny toes. And as they only start twirling when they’re giddy with joy (or maybe the twirling is what makes them giddy with joy…) at least you know they’ll be in a good mood when you eventually manage to catch up with them.

These mischief making Tippy Toe Monsters will keep you on your own toes as you try and keep them out of trouble, but those big bug eyes have a way of melting your heart. No matter how naughty they are it seems that these  can get away with anything!

They got away with hassling Mojo for quite a long time. They even tried (successfully) to photo bomb his portrait session with his new cat pal.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? it was all too much for mini Mojo but major Mojo sat it out. A crochet blanket on a desk next to your human is a prize worth fighting for.

Make yourself comfy Mojo. They wont bite!

He gave them one of his hard stares as a warning against any further encroachment of his space, wondered why there was an out of season snowman present, and then snoozed off quite indifferently.

Contrary to popular myth, Tippy Toe Monsters aren’t only about running around making mischief. Sometimes they can be really helpful. They kept an eye on my grammar and made the most excellent spellcheckers when I was tapping away at the keyboard.

And those great glowering, globular eyes are also really rather good at spotting mistakes in stitch counts or round numbering on the paper patterns.

Tippy Toe Monsters have a fabulous eye (or three) for colour so I asked them to choose a bright and cheery palette for their soon to be crocheted friends. They all thought that we should definitely incorporate some orange.

But they couldn’t agree on much else between them. After a bit of bickering and lot of random yarn grabbing we eventually chose these delicious candy shades.

Then I got to work making a ton of tiny toes…

…and a great many eyeballs along with other necessities for monster making such as stumpy arms and pointy horns.

Never knowingly giving up an opportunity to get in on the act Mojo threatened to brush aside all micro crochet elements with a single sweep of his twitchy tail.

Then someone opened a pouch of cat food and his razor sharp hearing meant he was bounding off, luckily not scattering my hard work all over the floor as he went.

As well as being watched by an ever growing crowd of monsters I’ve had lots of disembodied eyeballs peering at me too.

With so many composite pieces to crochet it took me a long time to finish them all. Car journey’s, bus journeys and trips to visit friends are good for this sort of pick and mix approach so wherever I went, my basket went too. There were a few weeks back there while I mass produced toes and eyeballs on an almost industrial scale, squeezing a few more in whenever I had a spare couple of minutes and cracking on with a vengeance when I had an hour or two.

As all the toes are crocheted together there is not nearly as much sewing involved as you might think. The monsters get really excited when they’re waiting for their eyes. They really do bring these little rascals to life!

Although it’s very difficult to gauge their exact mood until their mouths are embroidered. One small black stitch makes all the difference to their personalities.

It wasn’t really necessary to make quite as many as I did but I had so much fun playing with all the colours and combining them in different ways that it was very very difficult to stop!

Often working into the night with my messy desk strewn with crochet, notebooks and a token cat I eventually ended up with more monsters than I really needed!

I absolutely must get some craft shows booked so I can offload a few to loving new homes!

I reckon I’ve had my fill of monster making for now. I’m sure I’ll be back creating more in the future but there are quite a few other projects to finish off in the meantime. If, unlike myself, you haven’t reached monster saturation point yet you can purchase the pattern for Tippy Toe Montsers below. I’d love to see how yours turn out so don’t forget you can message me on my mojimojidesign Facebook page and send me a pic or two if you find the time 🙂

Tippy Toe Monster Pattern

 

I’m working up a new pattern called Ocean Buddies this week and have been having a blast playing about with sparkly yarn and a nifty little technique for making the perfect narwhal tusk.

There will also be a whale, a dolphin, a shark and a little starfish included in this particular friend group. I’m looking forward to finishing these buddies soon. I also have three new designs to get ready for Zoomigurumi 9 so it will be a busy couple of weeks around here. But as I’m doing what I love I know how fast it will fly by!


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A Clowder of Cats

Not to be confused with a Chowder of Cats! There’s no cat soup allowed around here under any circumstances! In case you hadn’t heard, a clowder is the collective term for a bunch of domestic cats, and as it fits in perfectly with my alliteration obsession A Clowder of Cats was the perfect name for my new pattern. I’ve certainly crocheted enough of these fun-some furballs to warrant the use of a jolly good descriptive collective noun.

I had a lot of fun (and a few headaches too) with this pattern as I wanted to be able to make as many different types of cat markings as possible. After spending way too long umming and aahing and hooking and frogging I eventually came up with a variety of stripes and patches that can be used in different combinations to make a whole load of different kitties.

I made one to look like Mojo, who can’t resist a rug thrown out in the garden…

… or a blanket on my desk…

…or a place mat on the kitchen coffee table. Seems he likes following his little crocheted friend around!

Rubick was startled to find he was not the center of attention for once and that there was no mini-me in sight for him.

Though of course I had made him one too. In fact this was one of the first variations I worked on.

What a handsome fella and such a poser as well. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Then there was Laddie to deal with. This ever so slightly grumpy old man has had a few minor spats with the other cats since he moved in last December so I really didn’t want to cause anymore upset by making him jealous!

His crocheted portrait looks as disgruntled as he does.

We’ve had some super weather, in between lots of rain, and I’ve made every effort to get out in the garden and make the most of the sunshine whenever I could.

It made me smile to see them peeping at me as I worked away making the rest of the litter. It’s like they couldn’t wait to see who would pop off the hook next.

I’m happy to say our new lawn is still mostly green and not too threadbare. It’s survived its first year, so hopefully with a bit more TLC we will have a well established green space for the foreseeable future. I love it so much more than the flagstones that were there before. Even if mowing it can be a bit of a pain sometimes – oh but the smell is delightful! – I like the idea of worms underneath and the whole green eco-system thing going on.

Rubick is also a fan of the lawn.

Mojo thinks it’s OK but nowhere near as good as a big, padded cushion.

Laddie prefers perching up by the pond where he can keep a strict eye out for trouble. He assured me he definitely wasn’t waiting there in order to ambush any unsuspecting frogs. I didn’t really believe him so I built a lot of log frog shelters for them to hide safely in. Just in case.

I’ve never had a long haired cat of my own so in lieu of the real thing – where there’s a hook there’s a way – I set to and made a couple of fluffy versions to add to my collection.

King Cole’s Embrace yarn was fabulous for this and it comes in several colours that are totally purrfect for making these cats. It just needs a bit of work with a suede brush once all the pieces are crocheted and sewn together to really bring out the fluffiness.

He fits in a treat with his less follically blessed brothers and sisters.

I actually started and finished a simpler version of this pattern about eighteen months ago as a collaboration with LoveCrafts.com in aid of Battersea Cats and Dogs Home. You can read more about that in a previous blog post here. The original design was based on a temporary lodger there called Hazel, now happily re-homed, who had lost an eye in a road traffic accident.

It was lovely to see my sadly departed Minnie pop up again while I was looking through photographs from around that time. Hazel and Minnie have similar coloured markings so this one doubled up nicely as Minnie’s mini-me.

I shall never be in any danger of forgetting my Rainbow Bridge cats with all the pictures I’ve taken of them. Every cat I’ve ever had has loved being around when I’m crocheting so we have shared much quality time together over the years. They’re all such a blessing in their own unique ways.

As well as adding in a lot more options to the updated version of the pattern I’ve also added a muzzle. I thought it made them look a tad more realistic especially when viewing from a side profile.

If you like the look of Hazel’s flatter face better I have included the original pattern as an extra PDF in my Etsy store – completely free when you buy the main pattern. There is some rather nifty colour change work on her legs too which could be incorporated into the other cats if you have a more speckly tortoisehell type of feline in mind.

The cats took over my life for a while back there. Crowding out my desk…

…watching me work…

…and waiting patiently in a line when it came to dinner time.

They were as good as gold when it came to their photo shoot for the pattern. Sitting up straight and looking into the camera – whenever I shook a bag of Dreamies behind it!

Now I have a whole host of crocheted cats to add to my collection of real ones and to my collection of cat pottery, pencil cases, mugs, pens, notebooks, clocks, bags etc. etc. If you can name it and it has a cat on it I probably have it!

If any proof were needed of my mania for collecting such items here’s a photo of my new shelf, now gracing the wall above my computer.

My cat clock even wags it’s tail 🙂

Hmm… too many cats? Maybe. Crazy Cat Lady? Definitely!


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#AmiguruMay – Part One

I took part in my first Instagram challenge last month. Set up with such fabulous attention to detail by Ilaria of Airali Design fame, the idea was to post a photo every day from May 1st – 31st on the very cleverly titled hashtag of AmiguruMAY. Ilaria even made us all printable sheets to help organize our thoughts and plan a full months worth of posts, which really did come in handy for someone as scatterbrained as me!

I’m usually horribly unorganized when it comes to social media and though I love making posts and connecting with people, thanks to the everyday demands of creating new patterns, finishing deadlines, decluttering workspaces, replying to emails and answering queries to name a few of my daily distractions (as well as all the unspeakably horrid housework and other mundanities of life), remembering to post regularly sometimes falls behind. So this time I vowed to keep up, and apart from the odd slip (bank holiday excesses, Hen Weekend, tooth abscess, poorly cat to vets, among other excuses!) I think I kept up rather well.

So, especially for those of you who don’t have an Instagram account (you should get one – it’s great fun!) and for anyone who already follows me but doesn’t mind a recap of last months prompts and pretty pictures, here is Part One Days 1-15 of #amigurumay, complete with the accompanying witterings that fell out of my head as I went along. (Part 2 – Days 16-31 to follow shortly).

Day 1 – Current WIP

My current WIP is a super soft fluffy cat. Having a blast crocheting with this lovely yarn by King Cole. Four more colourways arrived in the post yesterday and more cat’s eyes are on order so there will be kitties everywhere soon – just how I like it!

Day 2 – Inspirations

One of my big inspirations is the natural world and it’s abundance of cute and quirky creatures. While I’m crocheting the amigurumi my mind starts working overtime creating little characters and stories for them and so they then become an inspiration in themselves.
This is Cyril the Squirrel who is Head Gardener at Nutsford Manor. Of all the seasons he loves autumn the best because he can put his bushy tail to work sweeping up the fallen leaves while collecting acorns and conkers for his winter pantry.

Day 3 – Tools

A comfy crochet hook is so important but my favorite Clover ones were all a muddy yellow so I painted them in rainbow colours and added a liberal sprinkling of polka dots.
Also couldn’t live without my stitch markers, and my upcycled pincushion made from an old egg cup keeps all the smaller bits and bobs to hand ❤

Day 4 – The Smallest

So far my tiniest amigurumis are a downsizing of the rabbit and mouse from my ‘Minimals – Little Pet Shop’ pattern.
As these are even smaller than the original minimals they should probably be called micromals instead 😁

I made these with 2 ply crochet cotton and a 1.5 mm hook (while wearing my strongest pair of reading glasses!)

Day 5 – Introduce Yourself & Day 6 – Designer or Maker

Running a bit behind myself after a mega busy bank holiday weekend so doing two days at once here…
My name’s Janine and I love to crochet. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to turn my hobby into my job and now I design crochet patterns under my shop name of Moji-Moji Design. I think that’s covered both topics quite well… short but sweet! 😉 🍬

Day 7 – Favorite Yarn

Tricky one this as I just love yarn of all types. I usually favor DK weight acrylics for my amigurumi but am having a bit of a love affair with these tiny 10g balls of cotton yarn by Katia at the moment. The colours are gorgeous and they’re the perfect size for mini crochet projects on the go. As you can see I’ve gone a bit crazy for mushrooms recently!

Day 8 – Animals

I’ve made a lot of animal amigurumi patterns over the years. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.

Day 9 – How and When I Started

I first got into toy making when my three boys were small. I was also childminding around that time and I loved making toys for all the kiddies in my life – and there were lots of them! I could only knit back then and these aliens were a favorite with us all.

I remember thinking how great it would be to create my own characters but found designing flat pieces for seaming up, or juggling four needles to create a 3D piece, really difficult so I put my ambitions on hold for a while and enjoyed following other people’s patterns instead.

My joy at discovering the almost seamless amigurumi crochet method and the ability to self publish on Etsy about six years ago was immense! Those two things were real game changers for me and I never looked back! 👌😁👍

Day 10 – My First Ami

I’ve done a double take on this one and included my very, very first ever ami (in the Instax photo) which was a fox from a free pattern I found on Nimoe’s Blog and also the first ami I designed myself – twin lambs called Lulu and Lollo. I was thrilled when they were chosen to be in #Zoomigurumi2about 6 years ago. This was my first experience of being published and definitely helped push my amigurumi ambitions to the next level!

Day 11- The Biggest

My biggest amigurumi so far is an up-sizing of my Bobbin the Bear pattern using chunky chenille yarn and a 4.5 mm hook. Loved working with this Flutterby yarn. It’s so soft and I really like the effect of the puffy looking stitches. I’ll definitely be using it again in future projects.

Day 12 – Safety Eyes

I use safety eyes in most of my amigurumi. Good quality eyes really makes a face come to life as this little dragon face proves rather well 👀

Day 13 – Top Tip

My top tip is to take your time when sewing your amigurumi together. Like many of us crocheters the sewing element comes lower down on my list of enjoyable tasks but it’s often the neatness of the assembled pieces that will take your amigurumi to a whole new level of professionalism.
I generally use mattress stich for sewing on appendages and back stitch for flat patches. A knitting needle is a great tool for skewering parts together. It avoids the use of fiddly pins and is easy to adjust until you get the placement perfect.

Day 14 – Favorite Pattern

As I am usually busy designing my own patterns I rarely get to try out other people’s. So I thought I’d do a quick check of my Etsy stats and see which pattern is the favorite with my customers at the moment. Turns out it’s Dante the Donkey and Carlos the Cactus. Seems that people like the heartwarming friendship between a quadruped and a succulent! 🌵❤ 🐎

Day 15 Hands at Work

Technically speaking this is paws at work, not hands, but Tilly Mouse wanted to tell you how much she loves helping me with my crochet. Sewing on buttons is her speciality.

There are a few loose ends for some new designs I need to tidy up over the next few days but I’ll be back soon to post the second part of my AmiguruMay adventure!


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Tiny Toadstools

Looking through my sketchbooks and perusing my to-do lists I came to the conclusion it was about time I got organised and wrote up the free toadstool pattern that I’ve been meaning to do for a while now (I see a February date in the notebook and it is May already!). I’ve got way too many scribbled down ideas just waiting to blossom into fully formed patterns so here’s to having one less unfinished project left to worry about!

These Tiny Toadstools (or Mini Mushrooms if you prefer) measure approximately 2″ (5 cm) tall. They use only very small amounts of yarn and take about 30 minutes from start to finish so you can have your very own little crop of fungi in next to no time!

Materials:
Each toadstool requires approximately 1 gram each of Red and White 4 ply yarn plus 2 grams of polyester toy stuffing.

You’ll also need a 1.75 mm crochet hook, a pair of scissors, a yarn needle, stitch marker and a pair of tweezers (to help stuff the toadstool with).

*click here for a printable version of this pattern*

Pattern notes:
This pattern uses US sc (UK dc) throughout.

The invisible decrease (invdec) method is used throughout this pattern apart from on the back loop only crochet in Rnds 10 and 19 where the single crochet decrease (sc2tog) is used instead.

For stitch abbreviation meanings refer to the table at the end of the free pattern page. For those not familiar with invdec and sc2tog I’ve included photos below to show the difference.

Tie off and trim the colour change between the cap and the stalk on the inside of your work.

French knots are used to add the dots to the mushroom cap.

Toadstool Cap:

With Red yarn make 2 ch.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in second chain from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (9 sts)
Rnd 3: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (12 sts)
Rnd 4: [Sc in each of next 3 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (15 sts)
Rnd 5: [Sc in each of next 4 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 6: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (24 sts)
Rnds 7-9: Sc in each st around. (3 rounds)

Toadstool Stalk:
(See pictures 1-9 below for details on sc2tog and invdec techniques)

Change to White yarn.
Rnd 10: Working in back loops only: [Sc in each of next 2 st, sc2tog] 6 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 11: [Sc in next st, invdec] 6 times. (12 sts)
Rnd 12: [Sc in each of next 2 st, invdec] 3 times. (9 sts)
Rnds 13-14: Sc in each st around. (2 rounds)
Rnd 15: [Sc in each of next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] 3 times. (12 sts)
Rnds 16-17: Sc in each st around. (2 rounds)
Rnd 18: [Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 6 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 19: Working in back loops only: [Sc in next st, sc2tog] 6 times. (12 sts)
Rnd 20: Invdec 6 times. (6 sts)

Fasten off, leaving a long yarn tail of approximately 27″ (70 cm) for finishing.

Single crochet 2 together (sc2tog) in back loops only (pictures 1-6)

Insert hook into next back loop, yarn over hook (1) and pull up a loop (2 loops on your hook) (2), insert hook into next back loop, yarn over hook (3) and pull up a loop (3 loops on your hook) (4), yarn over hook (5) and pull through all 3 loops on hook to complete the decrease (6).

Invisible decrease (invdec) (pictures 7-9)

Insert hook into front loops only of the next 2 stitches (3 loops on hook), yarn over hook (7), pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook (2 loops left on hook), yarn over hook (8), pull yarn through last 2 loops on hook to complete the decrease (9).

To Finish:

Your toadstool will lack a bit of shape at this point but don’t worry because we’re going to be remedying that in the next stages.

Use your tweezers to stuff the mushroom through the 6 stitch hole (10). Thread yarn tail onto yarn needle, pick up front loop only of remaining 6 stitches (11). Pull tight to close the hole and fasten with a small knot.

Insert the needle through the center of the base coming out where you want the first French Knot to be (12). Pull tightly on the yarn as you pull it through to flatten the bottom of the stalk.

Hold the yarn tight to keep the bottom flat and begin to make your first French knot by inserting the needle into the stitch space below and exiting where the needle first came out (13). Wrap the yarn 4 times around the needle (14), press onto the wrapped yarn with your thumb as you carefully pull the needle through to form the knot. Pull on the knot gently to neaten it (15).

Insert needle into stitch space at bottom of knot, coming out underneath the knot between Rnds 11 and 12 of toadstool (16-17). Insert needle 1 stitch away from last exit point, this time coming out where you want the second knot to be (18).

Pull on the yarn to begin forming the flat underside shaping of the gills (19). Keeping the tension on the yarn to maintain the shape, create your second French Knot in the same way as the first, finishing by coming out underneath the knot between Rnds 11 and 12 again (20). Continue in this way all around, pulling on the yarn as you go, until your mushroom has the desired shape. Once you are happy with the shape sew more French knots every few stitches (21) until you have the amount of spots you require.

Hide the yarn end inside the toadstool when you have finished.

I added a loop with some jewelry fixings and >Ta-dah!< I now have a really cute toadstool charm.

Looks pretty sweet dangling from my Instax Mini! Of course one toadstool leads to another…

…especially when you have such a gorgeous selection of Katia 10g amigurumi balls to play with.

Well, I just couldn’t resist, could you?!


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Monkey Madness!

A big thanks to all of you who joined in with the February Ami-Along over at amigurumipatterns.net.

I managed to get my mini versions finished in time to show them off on the forums so now Mavis and Marvin have their hands full with their little monkey twins. Imagine the chaos these two are going to bring… and the love too, of course!

I really enjoyed seeing all the amazingly inventive interpretations of my design. Mavis and Marvin have never looked so good! Here’s a little montage of some of my favorites (if yours is there and you have a social media you’d like me to add, please feel free to let me know).

From top left to bottom right the creators of these cheeky monkeys are: Amigurumiliker, anggihyuka, BeetleAtBay, Bashacat, bonekikinhos, ChantalO, cherryltf, ChiaraFirever, defysocietyarts, Iamthedishwasher, Jellybubble18, JenniD, PenguinPlaceCrafts, lynda, MamaPia, Mikkycrafts, NomadCreation, PerImpStitches, sandaroo, Pipsqueak,  Sharnie, sloviska, Dace, Telle and last but not least, Yarnimals.

I love how they are all so different!

There are always lots of prizes on offer at the Ami-Alongs and this one was no exception.

Because this was the February event, and ran close to Valentine’s Day, the hosts of the Ami-Along awarded a prize for the most romantic picture which was won by Amigudolls. Two little monkeys with tails entwined in the shape of a love heart. Awww, just too cute!

Love was definitely in the air because HoneyBunnyAmigurumis won the prize as the most voted for by fellow Ami-Alongers with this heart-meltingly sweet bride and groom.

I was given the very difficult task of choosing a personal favourite and after much deliberation eventually plumped for this 1920’s looking Flapper couple by CheerfulChameleon.

I’m really rather envious of that magnificent fringed dress and all of the fancy jewellery. Her very dapper partner looks like a million dollars too. Wherever they’re planning on heading off to, I have a feeling these two are going to have a fabulous time painting the town red, all dressed up to the nines.

NinaLisa made a beautiful pink furry version, with the suitably glamorous name of Malvina.,,

…as well as a more traditional monkey pair to which she added a cute, smiley banana friend (free banana pattern by Barbara Strasser of Esbelotta.com here)

MadMomAli made a couple of monkeys in Hogwarts House colours. Now there is no mistaking where their allegiances lie!

And I am in love with this photo from myrtille95470 of her newly crocheted monkey wasting no time in making a firm friend of her cat.

And isn’t this photo of lucyjay’s three monkeys in the classic ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ poses wonderful!

Secretsparrow made a very inventive superhero trio. I feel sure that world is a much safer place now we have these fighting on the side of all that’s good!

These chunky monkeys by SherrasYarnTails, made with bulky weight Premier Parfait chenille yarn, has got me all excited to have a go at supersizing some of my other amigurumis.

I’ve been having trouble sourcing a similar yarn that’s available in the UK but have managed to find a selection by James C. Brett called Flutterby Chunky. The colours are quite limited but I can imagine a teddy bear in the lovely soft tones that I’ve been able to get hold of.

It will make a nice change from all the recent downsizing I’ve been doing. It’s a lot of fun making mini-gurumis with 4 ply yarn and a 1.75 mm hook but it really makes my hands ache after a while! I hope that crocheting with this thick chenille yarn will be a little kinder on my wrists and knuckles.

If I can find a similar yarn in a dark brown I shall attempt a maxi-gurumi monkey or two to add to my ever growing collection of primates (and a sloth).

What a lot of crochet going on! The Ami-Alongs happen regularly every month where a different designer gets to showcase a brand new and exclusive design. It’s been great fun and such a lovely way to connect with fellow amigurumi enthusiasts. I’ve shared tips, tricks, and anecdotes and have learnt a lot from others too! Thanks so much to all who joined in for your enthusiasm, support and general chit-chat. If you haven’t had a go at one of these yet but it sounds like something you might be interested in then check out the latest news on the  Ami-Along page to see what’s happening at the moment!

(If you’re a monkey fan and missed this event, Marvin and Mavis’s pattern is now available as a single pattern purchase here).

I’m working on another free pattern for a little toadstool bag charm at the moment so expect another blog post soon! In the meantime Mavis, Marvin, the twins and myself all bid you goodbye and wish you many hours of happy crocheting!


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Mavis and Marvin Monkey

Hello there and Happy Valentine’s to you all!

If you want to show your crochet the love here’s a heads up to get ready for a whole lot of merriment because Mavis and Marvin the mischievous monkeys are coming over for a play-date! In fact, as of today, their pattern will be available exclusively for one month over at Amigurumipatterns.net’s Ami-Along. As an extra bonus all Ami-Along participants can get 30% off all my other patterns in my AmigurumiPatterns Moji-Moji Design shop!

Mavis and Marvin are bursting with energy and love making their friends smile with their clever aerobic antics, so be sure to take them to the park where they can burn off all that energy. But be warned! Unless you are an Olympic athlete you may find it a challenge to keep up with them as they jump all over the swings and swing all over the climbing frames. Those curly monkey tails just love to wrap around anything they can find. If Mavis and Marvin should disappear for a while don’t forget to check the tree tops. That’s where they usually like to hide away.

You will probably be able to tempt them back to earth with a handful of roasted peanuts and foam banana sweets. As these are their favorite treats you could even use the promise of them to encourage Mavis and Marvin to sit quietly for a minute (but absolutely no more than that – I can assure you!).

I was asked to come up with a brand new design especially for the Ami-Along in the middle of January and it’s been a great kick start to the new year. As usual I began with a quick sketch in my dog-eared graph paper note book.

And it wasn’t long before a cute crocheted face followed.

There was a bit of tweaking and refining to do but this little monkey pattern went smoothly right from the start. It was fun to play around with the colours for the clothing.

 

Next thing I knew,  I had a boy monkey swinging off my hook and dashing around the studio too.

Marvin sports a smart bow tie at his neck and a straight hem on his sweater. Mavis’s has a scalloped edge and she wears a little bow proudly on her ear, making her the prettiest primate for miles around.

But what they both have in common is a love of stripes, a cheeky smile and the curliest tails you ever did see!

A lot of note taking and a heap of pattern writing later and I’ve got almost enough to make a whole troop.

I’ve even started on a couple of baby monkeys made with 4 ply yarn and a 1.75 mm hook. Oh my goodness! They are turning out so sweet!

I hope to be back to share a little more of the mini monkeys’ progress along with a round up of other news soon. I’m planning on finishing sewing mini Marvin together this afternoon. Well there are certainly worse ways to spend the day!

I’ll also be hopping in and out of the forums, answering questions and sharing tips and tricks (for the next month) so do come on over, share your progress and ask away!

Mavis, Marvin and myself are very much looking forward to meeting you there and seeing what ape-mazing amigurumis you create!

 


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Crocheting for Fun

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

Persian-Tiles-project

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

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

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

colour-scheme

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

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

mandala

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

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

mandala-evenings

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

finished-tile

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

Persian-Tiles-basket

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

project-basket

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

pogo-guards-the-crochet

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

mandala-project-case

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

mandala centres

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

crochet-blanket-beginnings

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

crochet-circles

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

mojo-and-the-circles

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

persian-tiles-basket-2

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

Minnie-steals-a-spot

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

minnie-snoozing

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

Pogo-in-the-shade

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

Rubick-keeps-me-company

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

project-progress

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

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

mandala-stars

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

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

pogo-and-the-crochet-stars

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


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Giles the Giraffe Takes to the Road

With a long road trip and a mixed bag of bad weather to contend with I’ve had plenty of opportunity to get out my hook and start creating again. My latest pattern is for this cheeky lopsided smiled giraffe whom I’ve called Giles.

It’s been a while since I worked on a design that wasn’t for a book or a magazine so it felt really refreshing to do something ‘just for me’ for a change. No deadlines, no working to commission, no liaising. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on all of that too, but sometimes it’s nice to take it all down a notch and just create on an impulse exactly what I feel like making.

Giles made a super little travelling companion on a very slow and laborious trip Up North to visit relatives. He was so excited to be packed away ready for his first journey out of the house. He does look rather pleased at the prospect of a great adventure!

We headed downstairs to the kitchen and a step closer to beginning our journey…

…then out of the front door, into the car and onto the motorway. Woohoo! Hurrah!

Giles loved this bit the very best of all. Turns out he’s a giraffe with a need for speed. Yes, this little guy’s a bit of a thrill seeker! I was a teensy bit excited myself as this was my first trip in our new car. Our poor old Toyota Estima had given up for good during the heavy snows and icy temperatures of a few weeks ago. Now we have a Nissan Elgrand with six captain chair style seats and all the space I could possibly need for my endless yarny clutter.

Unfortunately the amount of road works that spring up everywhere these days makes driving a bit of a chore and it wasn’t long before the traffic ground to a halt and then proceeded to crawl along at a snails’s pace.

Now you know that feeling when sometimes amigurumi making, – and particularly something like pattern testing – is requesting more concentration of you than you think you can give? Well that’s where I was at for the first hour of the journey. I blame it on the early start but my brain would only cope with this simple ultra-repetitive four line repeat of this scarf. I’d already memorized the pattern before the journey began so it was the perfect busy hands project for when by head was in cruise mode.

Our visit was fun. Lots of gossip was caught up with and fine pub food was consumed. On the way back I decided to try out sitting in the back (or rather the middle) of the car. I made myself a comfy work area, got settled in a squishy leather chair and felt very decadent while I was at it. I think I could get used to this. Giles looks like he was born for this sort of luxury too and has made himself quite at home on the seat next to me! Oh and I did try to put a seat belt on him but he’s a touch on the tiny side and it wouldn’t fit. Having never seen a booster seat for 14 inch tall giraffes I made him promise to sit still, tucked safely behind the yarn, or he would be back in the rucksack until we got home. With that threat hanging over him he was as good as gold and sat quietly, watching intently as a pink and a blue giraffe began to take shape.

Once we arrived back the sun was still out and after more than our fair share of snow and rain and wind recently it seemed too good an opportunity to miss so we headed for the garden. Rolling out a picnic rug and unpacking my bag I carried on with pattern testing. I’m still getting used to the fact that I have a lawn to play on this summer and oh boy am I loving it! So much nicer than the fence to fence patio area that was down before.

The cats love the lawn too. What a wonderful place to sit and watch the birds.

It wasn’t long before Minnie came to stake a claim on the rug and the crochet by firmly plonking herself down on both.

Oh well. I was just about crocheted out for the day at that point anyway. lots of progress on Pinky and Bluey had been made.

Just to be extra sure there were no glaring errors in the pattern I went through it yet again in the studio the next day and not too long after I am now the proud owner of not one, not two…

blue-and-pink-giraffes

…not three…

three-giraffes

…but four sweetly smiling giraffes.

What a bunch of cuties, and perfect for my craft stall!

If you want to have a go at making one the pattern is available from any of my online shops or, if you live in or near Worcester, come visit me at the Worcester Show in Gheluvelt Park on the 12th August and meet Giles the Giraffe in person. I’d love to see you there!

In the meantime I will be busy making lots more amigurumi and a few more scarves to stock up my stall as well as perfecting my new pattern for a pair of Tippy Toed monsters Called Timothy and Tabitha who will be heading over to Belgium to feature in a second volume of Amigurumi Monsters published by Meteoor Books over at AmigurumiPatterns.net.

I’m also testing a super cute Bobby the Dinocorn pattern by Little Aqua Girl for the fantasy creatures themed book due out in August. This dinocorn will be one of Drake the Dragons book fellows and I cant wait to see how she turns out. And neither can Drake who is too excited to keep out of the project basket.

Things are busy around here, that’s for sure, but that’s the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it!


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My First Moji-Moji Craft Stall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks good enough to eat huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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