Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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Lots of Monsters and a Tiny Kitty

My most exciting news this week is that we have a new addition to the family – and not the amigurumi family this time but a real life, living, breathing, actual bundle of fur in the form of a most adorable kitten!

He’s called Rubick and is around 11 weeks old. Oh my goodness what a handful he is! I have never had a kitten before, and never expected that I would. I’ve always been too easily bamboozled by the sob story of the ‘no-one-wants-me-I’ve been stuck-in-here-for-months’ adult cats at the RSPCA, but fate has brought this little fella my way after my son’s girlfriend’s cat gave birth to a litter of five in February and I’m not complaining!

He’s one of the tiny fluffies, I’m not sure which one exactly, in this big kitty pile!

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Mummy cat is neutered now, so there’ll be no more pattering of tiny paws and this particular set of tiny paws technically belong to my son and may move with him when he gets his own place one day, but for now I intend to enjoy every minute of having a mischievous energy bomb of a new fur baby in the house.

I’m going to try really hard not to spam you with too many pics, though he has been hanging around me a lot while I’ve been (trying to do some) crocheting. Any moving yarn is like an industrial grade magnet for him. It’s a good job it’s been the Easter holidays and no deadlines are currently looming or I’d be in real trouble!

As it stands, I’ve been enjoying his company and getting short bursts of crochet in whenever and wherever I can, usually during Rubick’s nap times (aww, see, it’s just like having a real baby!).

Of course he loves to snuggle up on anything made of yarn – what cat doesn’t? So I’ve made him a few cosy spots where he can snooze near to me during the long hours my son is at work. Rubick’s used to the familiarity of his mum and four other siblings and my other cats haven’t taken to him yet, so I worry about him feeling lonely.

Kitten permitting,  I’ve been working on a whole rainbow of monsters during the pattern testing for this design.

Jeepers and Creepers are my contribution to the compilation book that resulted from last year’s Design-a-Monster competition. This mischief making duo are currently winging it via airmail to Belgium.

This is them just before they stowed away in the box and headed off to the post office.

Those silly old monsters forgot to pack their dust bunny friends so I had to post them off separately when I found them down the back of the desk during the Spring Bank Holiday tidy up.

In all fairness it probably wasn’t Jeepers and Creepers who were to blame as the new kitten on the block loves both cardboard boxes and pompoms and caused a great deal of havoc during the parcelling up process where rolls of tape, packing materials and several of the dust bunnies went flying around – with Rubick skittering after them.

We’re all sorted now though, and the dust bunnies are finally on their way to the continent in a jiffy bag all of their own, probably accompanied by a cat hair or two.

Once I started down the harmonious path of rainbow gloriousness I just couldn’t stop adding in more and more gradients until I had a basket of appendages in every colour of the rainbow and a few more besides…

… and a matching hoard of bodies too.

After carefully laying them out on the floor in the right order Pogo decided I’d made him a perfect place to sit.

What is it with cats and circles?! Not that the formation remained circular for very long, but Pogo was happily settled in and didn’t seem to care too much by then.

Once I managed to regroup them I decided to pair them with their opposite partners on the colour wheel.

I think that should be rather eye catching.

Talking of eyes…

… as each monster has more than his or her fair share of ocular organs I ended up having to make a very, very lot of them! At this point I’m wondering why I really needed a Jeepers or Creepers in every colour, but I’m in too deep to stop now.

I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get on with it.

I think Jeepers and Creepers were as much startled to see so many monster bottoms sticking up in the air as I was at the thought of sewing them together in such great numbers!

Actually, it was rather fun once I got into the swing of it.

I think it’s going to be worth while. What a jolly bunch they’re going to be!

And even though I tried so hard not to flood you with endless photos of my cute-as-a-button kitten, I’m going to have to leave you with a montage – because I just can’t hold back any longer!

Shhh… he’s napping again now, time to sew a few more monster body parts together!


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Chasing the Sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

…or the more industrial canalside setting.

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

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

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

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

They make a super cat mattress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Basket Cases

Now that spring is in the air I’m feeling my energy levels beginning to rise. Not that they’ve been particularly low but that extra bit of daylight at the beginning and end of every day, and even a few blasts of sunshine – short lived but all the more appreciated – are definitely giving me an edge.

I had a big delivery of yarn a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to get started on some new ideas for a set of spring themed baskets. Finding aran weight yarn in a really wide selection of pretty colours has been a bit of a problem for me up until now. The balls are often massive 300g yarn mountains and the colours usually more muted than I would prefer – lots of creams and greys, dusty pinks and blues which are I suppose more geared up towards the traditional jumpers for which aran is often intended than the chunky amigurumi I wanted to make. So I was delighted to stumble on these Paintbox yarns while trawling some of my favorite online yarn haunts.

Ooooh those balls of yarn look so tasty they’re almost edible. Just as much of a delight as the vibrancy and variety of colours in the range is the way they feel. They are silky soft and have proved to be a joy to use. Which was just as well as I’ve spent a great many hours slaving away trying to create the *perfect* set of spring characters and then morph them into bag form. I decided to design these bags with doubled up yarn for the main body of the bag as this gives a really solid shape which doesn’t sag very easily. It’s worked well for my other bag collections so ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’!

I’m sure you’ll all know what a temptation it is to just rip off those ball bands and get crocheting before the postman has even managed to get to the end of your street. I have the same impulsive urges when faced with new yarn, but recently I’ve been making myself defer the pleasure of immediate gratification in favour of carefully cataloguing each and every colour before any crocheting can take place. It’s not easy to curb the impulse and resist the call of yarn and hook, but ultimately it’s been worth the effort.

I’ve (mostly) done this with new yarn for the last year and I have to say it’s a system that’s come in handy quite a few times. Especially for magazine commission work where I’m sometimes asked to remake an old design that I no longer have a copy of and also supply the publisher with a shopping list. I’m not a naturally organised type of person but with a bit of effort I can fake it quite well these days!

My little hole punch in the shape of a rabbit made the task much more fun and was on trend for what I was about to embark on. I just love it when a theme comes together!

Now I just can’t wait for a good excuse to order the rest of the colours in this gorgeous range. I think I may be in need of some Christmassy greens and reds next, and maybe a few more neutral shades for bears and squirrels and other fluffy non- season themed baskets.

My Lamb, Rabbit and Chick Bags have proved popular with little Easter egg hunters over the last few years. I know a lot of people have made them as gift bags too.

I’ve kept a pink lamb bag from the original set of makes all for myself and it’s often found storing my latest mini project – usually socks or gloves as it’s just the right size. I don’t do much knitting at the moment but when I get the urge to do a row or two it’s great to reach out and put my hands on it straight away. And in the meantime, between these rare bouts my project is sitting pretty waiting for me.

With the spring theme firmly in mind and all the new yarn sorted and stashed I got busy designing a set of bags more in line with the Halloween Bucket Heads in their construction. First of all I hooked up some basic body parts.

No, there’s not going to be a crazy rooster bag (yet) but messing around with some of the elements from two of the bags was a great way to get further inspiration for a later date. Things are not going to be quite what they may seem in these two pictures.

It’s really cheering to be working with such happy colours and I’ve also bought a few blooms for the studio to ramp up the level of spring inspiration. Those hyacinths smell just gorgeous. Their aromatherapy is helping elevate my mood as well.

Pink and yellow from Mother Nature…

…and yellow, orange and scrummy turquoises from of Paintbox yarns.

If you haven’t guessed already which animals I’m making then now is the time to let you in on the secret. In the end the various bits of amigurumi stopped looking like a rooster and were sewn together in the order they were originally intended.

A fancy frog with a cheeky wide-mouthed grin…

…and a chirpy chick with a ridiculously fluffy hairdo. A bit like mine, only much more yellow.

There have also been some other colours going on which are a bit less bright but just as spring-like in their own way.

Pink’s a big favorite of mine at any time of the year and it fits in so nicely with the Easter theme. Minnie and I are are the only girls in the whole family (hubby, 3 boy humans and three boy cats) so we like to get our fix of pink whenever we can!

When it was my turn to hog the pink yarn I put it to good use and crocheted up a lamb basket.

To go with the softer and more natural colour theme a rabbit also joined the gang.

Here they are all pinned together and waiting for their final tweaks.

I set some time aside for playing around with buttons and beads and bits of felt.

The embellishing part of the process is always very satisfying, not least because it means the end is in sight. The whole journey from initial sketch to the very last stitch is all great fun but it’s nice to see an idea that was scribbled down weeks ago finally come to fruition.

I ended up making one of each design with my new Aran yarn and one with random balls of double knit that I always have lying around. I was curious to see what the size difference would be and to see which I liked the best but I ended up liking them both the same. They’re all  roomy enough for gathering a good stash of those little palm sized chocolate eggs that the Easter bunny so kindly hides around the garden.

In case the Easter bunny doesn’t visit me this year (because I might be too old, I guess) I’ve hedged my bets and bought my own haul of goodies. I need them for photographic purposes anyway so there’s not much point waiting until next month. I can’t show the Easter baskets off to their full advantage without stuffing them full of foil wrapped chocolate loveliness. I did buy rather a lot though. It’s very easy to get carried away! Ahh well, I can’t complain about having the sort of job where I get to buy yarn and chocolate as necessary work expenses!

However, I’m not sure how long the Easter stash will last now it’s been discovered by this lot of greedy eyed monsters and a sweet toothed orangutan… I’m just saying – if it all gets eaten it won’t be down to me…honestly.

Once those final tweaks are made I’ll have a whole batch of cover photos to shoot and then I’ll be back to show you how they turned out. I’m going to get a wiggle on and hopefully get all photos finished today – before the Easter eggs have a chance to go missing!


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Craving Colour

I don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world recently but here in England it has been grey and damp and dark and damp and drizzly and damp and dour and dismal and – did I mention damp at all? Well, I think you get the picture and I’m so ready for a bit of sunshine! All this gloomy weather and grey skies has had me reaching for my yarn baskets and picking out the brightest colours I could find, then wrapping up against the cold in my vibrant Mexican blanket for some colour therapy crochet.

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In my thirst for a burst of eye dazzlement I made a pair of Hairy Horaces in the most uplifting summery sky blue and sunny yellow shades of furry yarn that I could get my hands on.

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They turned out as cheery looking as I’d hoped. I love these cuddly fellas with their 70’s, jumpsuited disco vibe. If they don’t brighten the place up then nothing will!

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I managed to finish the pattern and upload it into my Etsy shop  and felt all the better for it.  It’s always good to cross another thing off the to-do list.

(If you need a dose of Horace’s flamboyant fabulousness you can find his pattern here).

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The latest two don’t quite capture the giddy fluorescent heights of the original horace with his dayglo yellow fur, but it’s actually quite nice to be able to look at them without needing a pair of sunglasses!

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I’ve used King Cole Moments yarn for all of my Hairy Horaces. If you’re at all nervous about using eyelash type yarns I would recommend starting out by playing around with a ball of this stuff. I’ve used lots of different brands and weights of novelty yarns over the last few years and this one is silky smooth and much easier than most to crochet with as it doesn’t snag up too easily. There’s enough filament to make an impressive amount of fluff but not too much that it obscures the central yarn cord as you crochet – which can make it difficult to see the individual stitches.

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I’ve treated myself to s few more zingy shades as it’s pretty inexpensive too. One ball makes one monster so I could have a rainbow of them soon!

Still on the theme of summer brights, I bought this gorgeous paisley cushion on an impulse the other day  – all part of my colour craving symptoms I think.

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Maybe it was difficult to resist because it matched my monsters so well and those gorgeous colours were already swimming around in my head.  Anyway I was so enamoured with the pinks and purples and the accents of supernova bright yellows and oranges in my new cushion that I ended up pulling all the matching balls of yarn off my shelves and began cooking up an idea to create some woolly furnishings to go with it.

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I’ve had it in my mind to cover a boring beige footstool that I acquired a while ago. Crochet was the obvious medium for me to do this in. I did think about sewing one as I have a stash of pretty fabrics but somehow whenever it comes down to a straight fight between sewing and crochet the crochet always wins out these days.

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This sort of round and round in circles thing is very moreish, so I ignored the chores and carried on for a little while longer.

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This was closely followed later that evening (when all chores were eventually done – do you see my halo?) by the beginnings of a lap blanket to match the beginnings of the footstool cover.

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I’m just improvising stitches as I go. It’s quite exciting to see what unfolds and the beautiful thing about crocheting (as opposed to knitting) is that if I don’t like a particular combination it’s so, so easy to frog backwards with only the one live stitch to worry about at any one time.

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An evenings work resulted in a nice chunk of blanket.

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Minnie likes it very well so far…

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… and so do the Horaces.

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This swatch of blanket is the perfect size for the monsters right now but my mission is to make it the perfect size for me so that my crochet corner is a heart lifting sanctuary of warm and squishy crochet delightfulness.

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I’ve made a good start anyway, and am finding myself looking forward to each long dark cosy evening so I can let the yarn shine out and get a few more rows and rounds done.

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It’s all  going to be rather jazzy by the time I’ve finished.

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And really, who needs actual sunshine when you’ve got all this yarny joy around to cheer the place up?!


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Zoomigurumi 6

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Another year has rushed by and another edition of the Zoomigurumi series of amigurumi-packed books has bloomed into a reality. We’re on to number six now and this one is just as full as ever of cute crocheted characters.

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I made an owl pattern back in the summer at the same time that I was designing my chameleon. That was a great riot of colour for sure and the theme seemed to be lots of stripes and big staring eyes!

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Oswald the Owl was put forward as a potential for the new book and, happily for me, he passed the audition!

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After being accepted, all the pattern writing and testing had to be done which involved a number of duplicate Oswalds being made.

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Sometimes they were crocheted at my desk or in the lounge…

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…and sometimes they were crocheted outdoors, enjoying the warmth of the sun – sadly missed at this time of year.

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Doesn’t that look idyllic? Roll on next summer, it will soon be Pimms O’clock again!

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I can’t wait to be setting up the day bed in the yard again for some serious crochet al fresco.

As work progressed with the book I volunteered to proofread another contributor’s pattern and was given Little Muggle’s Rudy the Red Panda.

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All the individual pieces looked sweet enough but the cute factor just soared sky high when I sewed them together and embroidered the nose.

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This is my finished attempt, strutting his stuff on my desk.

Of course if you are going to be bookfellows then it’s very important that you learn to get along. Oswald is not too sure the first time that Rudy tries to climb into his nest.

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But Oswald soon finds out that Rudy means no harm and he relaxes a little bit.

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Before you know it Rudy has wriggled his way into Oswald’s nest – and into his heart.

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It’s a snug fit but they’ll certainly keep each other warm that way!

Oswald also gets along fine with the Nesting Rainbow Owls. Just as well really, as that nest did belong to them first.

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(My free Rainbow Nesting Owls pattern can be downloaded from here if you worry that your Oswald might get a bit lonely, or if you feel he needs a nice snuggly nest to keep him safe!).

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It’s not long before all the owls are one big happy family – with a friendly red panda for company.

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Here’s another look at all the lovely characters in the book, just in case you weren’t tempted enough already!

A special presale price of £15.95, including worldwide shipping, is available until 25th February 2017 and you’ll be sent a downloadable PDF version as soon as your order is complete so you can start crocheting straight away – if you can actually choose which one to start with that is!

The website at amigurumipatterns.net has more information on Zoomigurumi 6 if you want to know more.

It’s been another fun adventure with Meteoor Books. There’s a new book dedicated entirely to cute and cuddlesome monsters coming out next which will feature my Jeepers and Creepers pattern so be sure to check back from time to time for more about that 🙂


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Monster Mayhem

When the AmigurumiPatterns design contest came around again and the theme this time was monsters, I felt a burst of bright colour and a whole lot of eyeballs coming on. Flicking back through my sketchbooks to see what was stored in my scribbly memory bank and rummaging through my half-started-amigurumis basket I soon found a few designs that hadn’t managed to either make it off the page yet, or that had been begun and then abandoned a while ago. I wasn’t short on ideas – the main problem, once I got into my monster stride, was knowing when to stop but that was luckily taken out of my hands when I simply ran out of time and the deadline was up!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in a very strange world where creatures come in all shapes and sizes and all sorts of psychedelic colour combos. It’s been a monster-tastic amount of fun using my imagination and playing around with odds and ends of yarn from my stockpile. My sketchbooks are always full of odd creatures anyway. I particularly love making amigurumi monsters because there are so many possibilities to make exactly what you like without the constraints of earthly biology to tie you down!

Here is a little thumbnail gallery of my final monsters (centre graphic courtesy of Joke from AmigurumiPatterns.net). I’ll introduce you to them all individually in a while.

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There were 427 entries for this years competition. That’s a lot of crazy creatures and makes for great viewing. Voting is open until December the 10th so if you want to give yourself a true fright you can find all the different characters on the Monster Gallery page. You can vote for five of your favorites. I cast my votes earlier and it wasn’t the easiest decision I’ve ever made as there are so many really, really creepy and cute designs to choose from (no, I didn’t vote for my own!).  I can be horribly indecisive too – I blame that on being a Libran – so I was there for ages. I hope you have as much fun, but maybe a little less indecision when you go to pick your best of the bunch!

Letting my ideas run wild and getting creative with bright, bold colours has been a fabulous antidote to the seasonal grey skies and almost constant drizzle.

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It’s always good to have an excuse to bring out the eight year old in me and start colouring in my doodles with a zingy rainbow of ink.

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I’ve mostly been feeling like I’m being watched all the time due to all the big bulgy eyeballs that have been rolling around my desk for the last few weeks.

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Deciding on the perfect eye colour for each character proved to be a challenge and so I made a load in lots of different shades and tried them all out.

Hairy Horace went through a purple eye phase…

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…before eventually changing to a bright green. Not quite as bright as his fluffy bits though.

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Whey hey! I think he likes his new contact lens!

If you ever want to know the latest monster gossip on Planet Fuzz then Hairy Horace is the one you need to talk to. He sees everything, even though he’s only got one eye (it’s a very big one), he hears everything, even though he’s got no ears (those strange cones on his head soak up the tiniest noises) and he’s very, very nosey, even though he’s got no nose (but then you don’t actually need a nose to be nosey). Monster biology is a curious business. It takes all sorts to make a universe.

Oh, and he’s a bit of a poser too.

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After Horace came Florence…

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She also lives on Planet Fuzz and you’ll probably have spotted that there is a vague planetary family resemblance between the two of them.

Fluffy Florence made it straight into the intergalactic space corps flying squad after just one week’s training.  She credits her stellar success to having been born with three eyes instead of the one (or sometimes two) more common to most Planet Fuzz inhabitants. Her all round 3D vision is greatly enhanced by this genetic mutation. She can easily keep two eyes on the horizon and an extra one on the control panel which means she can steer her spacecraft at incredibly high speeds through the most difficult of alien terrains.

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There is a two-eyed species indigenous to Planet Fuzz as well and it didn’t seem fair to leave him out so very soon Bristly Boris began his crocheted journey.

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Poor Boris takes a very long time to get ready for school every morning. He has so much hair to brush and so many legs to squeeze into trousers that he’s often late leaving the house.

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Luckily he can easily make up for lost time by running to the bus stop at lightning fast speed. Sometimes having ten legs is definitely an advantage.

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Enough with the furry yarn for a while. These next two designs had been started over a year or so ago but somehow I never found the time to settle down and get them finished. There’s nothing like a tight deadline for improving productivity is there? So with just over a week to go I set myself the challenge to finish them both. The biggest problem was finding the matching yarn. I really didn’t want to have to start over so had a good rummage through the odds and ends baskets and managed to find  all the oddments I was looking for. Hurray!

First to enrol at Moji-Moji Design’s finishing school were Jeepers and Creepers.

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Have you ever lain awake at night and wondered what that noise was coming from under the bed? Were you ever brave enough to take a look? If you did and were also very quiet and very quick about it you may have spied Jeepers and Creepers staring back at you in wide-eyed wonder.

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Their three big eyes help them to peer about in the under-bed gloom where they spend their time rolling up household fluff into dust bunnies to play with. Even if you’re not fast enough to see these shy little monsters for yourself you may well find a dust bunny or two (googly eyes optional) to prove their existence.

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Last but not least are Lottie and Dottie. I abandoned these two a while back due to other work commitments but the time was right to pick them up again and carry on from where I left off.

My workspace started sprouting eyeballs again. Ooh I love making these colourful staring orbs!

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Soon enough two new monsters had joined the gang.

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Lottie and Dottie spend a lot of time together practicing their hoopla and coconut shy skills. They take aim at each other’s eye stalks with their hoops and try to knock each other’s eyeballs from their sockets with small wooden balls. As a result of all this dedicated practice they always win the best prizes when the fair comes to town.

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I’ll leave it to Lottie and Dottie to wave you all goodbye with their stumpy little three fingered hands.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me. All the Moji-Moji monsters enjoyed your company too!

monster-mash

As for me, I’m all monstered out for a bit. Time to get back to the soothing neutrals and comforting repetition of my new winter blanket. One of the many things I love about crochet is the sheer variety in the types of projects you can get immersed in and after all the decision making that’s such an essential part of any design process, now is definitely the time for a less demanding type of hook wielding!

monster-company

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite monsters (they don’t have to be mine and I’ll never know unless you tell me!). There are so many to choose from, I think you’ll have a blast clicking and scrolling your way through the weirdly wild and woolly imagination of all the designers in this years competition.


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Camelia the Chameleon

Think of a colour, any colour, and you can be sure that Camelia has already thought about it, and probably worn it too. She’s so stylish, she looks good in any colour combo and I had lots of fun making her in a variety of different shades.

minnie-and-chameleons

Keeping the yarn tangle free while working the stripes requires a bit of patient untwisting at the end of every row so it’s always nice to have a cat around to make things ten times more complicated!

minnie-tangle

So far, I’ve made one with Orange accents…

two-orange-chameleons

…turquoise accents…

two-blue-chameleons

…and purple accents, or is that more of a magenta?..

cham-duo

As you can see they love to climb so I thought I would take them for a little trip around the river where they could indulge in a bit of bark shinning and practice their camouflage skills too. Here’s how we got on!

First they had a little skulk around in the shadows.

chameleons-in-the-park

Then we discovered some flower beds.

purple-chameleon

Pretty purple flowers for a purple toed chameleon.

orange-chameleon

A dash of fiery orange for this one.

Now the turquoise version proved to be a bit more of a problematic when it came to finding her dream home, but we eventually stumbled upon a rather good compromise in a bed of cornflowers which were the closest sort of blue we were likely to find around here.

blue-cham

The camoflage is a bit more convincing with the sun behind her.

blue-chameleon

In our ruminations about the possibility of a true turquoise flower we found out that there is actually such a thing on this planet. Its sprouts from the Jade Vine and is a native of the Philippines. Though they do grow in the rainforest biome of the Eden Project too. Either way – Cornwall or the Philippines – it’s a bit too far to travel on what was a weeknight so we ditched the idea of a real live photoshoot and settled for a bit of Photoshop instead.

jade-vine-and-chameleon

Not a bad match huh? Now I know that the whole idea of a chameleon is that it fits itself into the surroundings but with this stubborn woolly species I’m afraid you just have to go that extra mile to make sure the surroundings fit the chameleon.

After finding their perfect, or near perfect, flower matches they had a good scuttle up a tree, basking in the very last of the setting sun.

tree-climbing

Don’t you just love hot summer evenings?! I do hope we’re going to have quite few more of these yet.

3-tree-chameleons

After that it was time to head home. All the attention had gone right to the chameleon’s heads and they insisted I take a few more photos before bedtime.

chameleon-3

The purple one was too tired to walk after the river lap so she jumped into a basket and chilled out for a while.

chameleon-basket

I hung her up in the tree where she could relax in style…

cham-tree

… and wait for the shadows to hide her away…

chameleon-in-the-shade

Now that’s a happy face if ever I saw one!

*Camelia the Chameleon Pattern*


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Summer Fun

Recently I’ve been finding myself craving after hot bright summery colours. Probably due to the almost continual rain and grey skies emanating from above. In a fit of summery over-confidence I recently bought a duvet cover for my outdoor day bed in a multitude of jazzy colours – citrus hues, turquoises and hot pinks , and what a fabulous thing it was to brighten up the yard! I bought a double sized cover to fit a double sized mattress topper but failed to take into account how much larger a duvet is than the mattress it sits upon so I ended up having to cut it down quite a lot and sew up one of the edges. It’s been a while since I dusted off my faithful old Huskystar sewing machine but I soon got the hang of it again.

sewing

Aren’t those colours just so scrummy?

I even had enough off cuts of fabric left to make a few matching cushion covers. As sewing is not my strongest craft, in terms of anything technical, I aimed to make the design as simple as possible and sewed a straightforward envelope back to slip the cushions in and out of come laundry time.

day-bed

The cushions are now a perfect match for the two pillowcases that came with the duvet set, I now have a very comfy lounging area for indulging in my garden crochet time.

granny-squares

Now it was just a matter of settling in a couple of baskets of yarn along with various crochet projects (and at least one cat).

sunny-day-bed

The addition of a little sunshine is always welcome…

jumping-up

…as is a blanket to finish (so nearly, nearly there at last!)

mojo-and-the-blanket

I’ll finish it when Mojo moves.

mojo-in-the-blanket

No matter, he can have his woolly nest,  I should be working on the chameleon anyway.

shy-chameleon

This is my first attempt, but his face and jaw were a bit heavy. In fact, some insensitive person asked him ‘why the long face?’ which just made him feel very self conscious and sent him scuttling for refuge amongst the yarn.

shy-guy

It’s wasn’t long until the duvet colours had inspired a change of striping on my original chameleon design. I started out with blues and greens but really liked the additional yellows, oranges and magentas of my sewing project and thought they would be a perfect addition to add a bit of spark.

bright-start

The hot bright colours were a joy to work with and as the sun squeaked out of a cloudy gap, I felt like we were experiencing a taste of a tropical Rio summer – just right for the start of the 2016 Olympics.

two-cam

True to the camouflaging nature of chameleons, subsequent incarnations were morphing into something much more in harmony with their surroundings. Chameleon number two also had a cuter, shorter face and things felt like they were coming together just perfectly.

long-tail

I ended up making a few more with different coloured spines. I just love the colour tweaking elements of pattern designing. Re-making each one with a slightly different twist sure helps to brighten up the whole process.

3-chams

I have a few more photos to take this afternoon (…please don’t rain!), then I’ll be uploading the pattern into my online shops, and then I’ll be finished with another WIP. I should have lots more fancy chameleon photos to show you in the next post or two. I hope you’ll be more impressed than Mojo appears to be. He loves my blankets but distrusts all my amigurumi. I guess he’s just a jealous guy when it comes to other critters.

mojo-and-the-Chameleon

My Spring Circles blankets and cushions are inching towards completion. I have just a few more feet of the bobble border to finish on the cushions. Then they will match the blanket a treat and my bed will be a crochet haven. I’m planning on taking them down to the river for a photoshoot as my garden is a bit too small with lots of crabby, grubby edges, to do such a large project justice. Sounds like a good excuse for a picnic this weekend anyhow (…please don’t rain!)

old-and-new-crochet

It was quite satisfying to see how my latest crochet cushions complement my very first granny square blanket – started this time four years ago during the 2012 London Olympics – oh my, how time flies.

bobble-edge-cushions

So far the bobble trim is crocheted all around the Spring Circles blanket and onto two of the three cushions. I added some extra stuffing to the cushions as well. There’s nothing worse that a saggy pillow that doesn’t stand firm and show off all that lovely stitching and finishing!

So, lots to do, including the hare’s head trophy, an owl pattern for a new Zoomigurumi book and the princess pattern that keeps on getting sidelined, some proofreading and my brand new polka dots blanket, which started out like this…

polka-dots

…and  is now looking more like this…

blanket-strips

I think this last one could be the perfect project for keeping hands busy while I watch this year’s Olympic Games during my tired out evening slumps. Right, now let’s get some medals, or rather, let’s watch some other people get some medals. Personally I’m too obsessed with my crochet to have a go myself.

I’m quite happy to loll about on the day bed and watch the action from my ipad while hooking up a round or two more of whatever it is that comes to hand.

chameleon-and-flowers

(Oh, and please don’t rain…did I mention that before…)


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Pompom Cushion Tutorial

Having had a few requests for how to make my pompom cushion I’ve compiled a more in depth post for those of you who would like to make one or for those that are simply curious about the process of how I turned a heap of pompoms into a useful and sturdy piece of home furnishing.

It’s pretty easy to do but I thought some step by step pictures would help out a bit, as well as a few hints and tips along the way.

pompom-cush

First of all you’ll need to make a whole heap of pompoms. This is not as daunting as it sounds. With a shop bought pompom maker, or even just a simple fork, you can whizz up batches of these in front of the TV, listening to the radio, lolling about in the garden or on long car/train/plane journeys, in the dentist’s waiting room or even talking on the phone. The bit by bit approach is an excellent strategy here.

Pompom making is the ultimate take-anywhere craft. Just be careful where you trim them. Some people get annoyed (sorry hubby) if they turn up to work in a smart suit all ready for their Monday morning meeting only to find they’re covered in a rainbow of fluff that has somehow become stuck to nearly every soft surface in the car.

double-pompoms

For handy tips and tricks to make the perfect pompom see my tutorial here.

double-pompoms

As well as a whole heap of pompoms you’ll need an 18″ round cushion pad and an 18″ zip, a 5 mm crochet hook, some Aran weight yarn (or worsted weight will do), a tapestry needle and a pair of scissors.

For the crochet bases I made two identical circles around 17″ in diameter. Making the crocheted pieces slightly smaller than your cushion pad ensures the finished piece will be nice and puffy once the pad is inserted.

pom4

To speed up the crocheting process use doubled up Aran (worsted weight) yarn with your 5 mm hook. Crocheting with two strands at a time will give you a thick and sturdy fabric that holds it’s shape well and is not prone to too much stretching.

If you’re not familiar with how to make a crochet circle, follow the increase method described in my pattern for recycled cloth  seat pads here. It’s about halfway down the post. Just keep increasing in this way (adding 6 stitches in each round) until your circles are the required size.

double-pompoms

Now you’ve got your crocheted bases and your pompoms ready, or at least enough for the first few rounds (there’s no need to overwhelm yourself and make them all at once) we can get started.

Begin by sewing one of your pompoms to the center of one of your crocheted circles.  I left the tying ends on this pompom and used both of them to sew it securely to the fabric. Tie off and weave in the ends at the back. For the eagle eyed among you, I later cut this pale blue pompom out and replaced it with a dark blue as I liked the look of it better, but you still get the idea, even if I messed up the continuity of the photos. I can get way too fussy sometimes!

pompomtute4

Next, cut a piece of strong yarn  to the required length and thread onto a tapestry needle. Make a string of pompoms by inserting  the tapestry needle through the center of each pompom, making sure your needle goes through the middle of the piece of yarn that you used to tie your pompom strands together.

You can roll the pompom around between your thumb and forefinger to feel for the doughnut shape if it’s not immediately obvious where it’s located. Don’t thread through from the side by mistake as your pompom will be liable to slip off the string.

pompom-string

You can make your pompom strings in any colour combinations you like. Once you’ve decided which colours you’re going to be using, thread enough of the pompoms onto a string that is long enough to encircle the previous round then tie the ends of the string together in a knot.

pom1-and-2

Place on your crocheted circle and use a strand of strong yarn to sew the string down onto the fabric placing one stitch in between each pompom all the way around.

poms-3-and-4

As the strings of pompoms get longer you will find it is useful to use the tail ends from the pompom threading yarn to sew one side in place with a stitch, tying off the yarn at the back of the fabric. Begin sewing between all pompoms from the opposite side of where the pompom string is secured to the fabric. This will help keep the circle in place as you sew.

poms-6-and-6

Measure each subsequent ring of pompoms around the previous one to ensure an exact fit.

pompomtute11

Make sure all stitches go over and under the yarn between each pair of pompoms. Pull on the stitches firmly to make sure each round is secured firmly in place.

poms7-and-8

Carry on in this way attaching the pompoms in rings to the top part of the cushion cover…

poms-9-and-10

…until it is entirely covered.

pompomtute16

Place the back circle onto the top circle and use two pins to mark a place large enough to fit in the zip.

pompomtute17

With a 5 mm hook and doubled up Aran yarn, join the top of the top of the cushion to the back using US single crochets (UK double crochets) through the stitches on the edge of both pieces. Start from point (a) and end at point (b) on pictures above and below.

a

When you reach point (b) continue single crocheting around the edge but now make your stitches in the top part of the cushion cover only. When you reach the end of the gap for the zip you will have arrived back at point (a). Turn your work over and continue crocheting back to point (b) placing your stitches in the back part of the cushion cover only.

ab

Once you reach point (b) again your cushion cover will look like this.

pompomtute25

Fasten off and weave in the yarn ends.

Unzipper the zip and pin into place making sure the teeth of the zip are neatly aligned just a fraction behind the edge of the crocheted pieces. Sew zipper in place with small back stitches.

pompomtute28

Your cushion will now close neatly.

pompomtute29

To hide the joining round of crochet add one more string of pompoms using the same technique as before.

pompomtute30

Once the joining round is covered with pompoms you’re all finished.

finished-pompom-cushion

I will guarantee this is going to be the comfiest cush your tush has ever sat on!

As you can tell, all my cats are pleased as punch with it!

four-cats

I just want to know – when will it be my turn?!


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A Hectic Half Term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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