Moji-Moji Design

Original Amigurumi Crochet Patterns


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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!


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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!

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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!

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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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Diggory and Dave the Dancing Dogs

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

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

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

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

Tilly

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

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

Tilly-Mouse

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

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

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

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

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

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Dave comes to join them for a fitting too.

Costumes

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

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

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

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She is one busy little mouse!

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

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

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Oh well, toys are for play, not display!

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

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

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

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

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

Puppy-duo

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

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

The competition is open until Friday November 27th 2015.

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


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Pumpkins, Monsters and Spooks

Yes it’s that time of year again! Out come the woolly blankets, snuggly jumpers, mittens, hats and leg warmers (I feel the cold acutely!). On the plus side, there is suddenly lots more time for designing new crochet creations now all the summer holidays and general fine weather gallivanting is over.

In celebration of this change of seasons I’ve made a new pattern that I hope you’re all going to like!

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So please come along and meet Fred Monster, Gilbert Ghost and Pamela Pumpkin.

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I felt inspired to make them due to the need to brighten up my welsh dressers in light of the lack of light – in the form of sunshine – coming through my kitchen windows recently. I hope these three colourful characters will help to put a smile on your face as we head towards the cold, dark, dank and generally very gloomy months ahead. They’ve certainly cheered me up. They were a pleasure to make and the whole design process went without a hitch this time.

It was a case of doodle…

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to done…

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…in no time at all (well, about a week actually, but that’s pretty good going for me!)

These Halloween characters are a good 16″ tall from tip to toe and are weighted with plastic pellets so they can sit solidly on any shelf, table or chair. If you prefer you can leave out the beads and stuff with fiberfill, or similar, for a kid friendly cuddly toy. I don’t really do ‘scary’ when it comes to Halloween, so if you’re a bit of a softy like me then maybe these will appeal to your inner child!

Now I’d like to tell you a little bit more about each one…

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Fred-Heads

Frightful Fred get’s a bit narky when people refer to him only as Frankenstein’s monster.

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It isn’t very good for his self esteem not to have his own identity so he’s claiming back his individuality at last. We discussed what his preferred name might be and ‘Fred’ seemed like a decent, no-nonsense, everyday kind of a name that would be easy to live up to. He’s a down to earth guy at heart, despite his unusual appearance, and would love nothing better than to just fit in with the crowd.

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Ghost-Heads

Gilbert is a friendly little chap who really appreciates the ease with which he can blend into the crowds at this time of year.

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He loves to gate crash as many Halloween parties as he can find because most people think he’s wearing fancy dress and consequently hardly ever scream and run away when they see him floating into view. Even the fact that he’s apparently floating is often put down as a perceptual error on behalf of the beholder due to the ingestion of large amounts of witches brew or pumpkin punch. Be sure to look over your shoulder when you go Trick or Treating – Gilbert’s always where the action is, and even though he can’t actually eat any candy himself, being a ghost and all, he does love to watch the smiles on the children’s faces as their goodie bags fill up. Gilbert’s pet spider, Spot, accompanies him on all his ethereal adventures.

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Pamela is sporting a happy, zig-zaggy sort of smile because she’s been waiting all summer for harvest time and now it’s finally here.

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Ever since she was a tiny pip pushed into the warm dark soil back in the spring she couldn’t wait for the Fall when the farmer would visit the patch to pick out which pumpkin would be his best bet to win a prize at this year’s horticultural show. Pretty Pamela was duly presented before the judges in the produce tent and was thrilled to win first place in the Miss Gorgeous Gourd category. She’s now looking forward to a great season showing off her veggie credentials, opening supermarkets and doing lots of charity work.

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Now that I have my Halloween head on I’m going to finish sprucing up my kitchen dressers with a few more spooky decorations then I’ll be back to share the photos with you all. I’m being nagged into it you see. Pamela’s become so used to all the attention lately and is insisting that she get’s to be in at least one more blog post!

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See you all back here soon!


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Dante and Carlos

I’m very happy to be able to say I’ve finally finished my Dante the Donkey and Carlos the Cactus pattern. These little guys were originally inspired by my Mexican blanket project *all those pretty colours*  and were just the most fun characters to make.

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They’ve also turned out to be the best and most devoted amigos ever!

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They first met in the Mexican desert after Dante got lost straying too far from his family’s rancho. Carlos the Cactus chatted away enthusiastically and shook his maracas to cheer the little donkey up as he rested his weary legs through the long, dark night. By the time the sun rose and the morning shone its welcoming light, they were firm friends. Bored of being mostly alone in the desert with only the other cacti for company, Carlos persuaded Dante to dig up his roots and put him in a terracotta pot so he could travel around with his new found soul mate wherever he roamed.

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With Carlos along for the ride and offering some much needed moral support, you’ll doubtless be relieved to know that Dante eventually managed to find his way back home. Now the two of them spend sunny days and starry nights planning their next daring adventure together. Carlos has said he’ll travel to the ends of the earth just to be with his new friend. Dante’s a little more cautious about wandering too far again after his recent incident, but whatever they do they’ve agreed that they’ll do it together. Here’s proof that best friends can come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes make the most unlikely alliances!

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Happy as he is with his new life, Carlos still likes to meet up with his old succulent chums from time to time. Since he started wearing his jazzy pot he appears to have sparked a new fashion.  Now all the best dressed cacti are sporting one! Well, it certainly makes them more mobile – as long as they can get a friendly donkey to carry them about that is. Here they are getting ready for the local Fiesta.

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Dante sets up a food stall to sell some of his homegrown carrots and specialty basil flavored hay to the other hungry donkeys…

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…While Carlos and his friends make a bit of pocket money supplying firecrackers to liven up the crowds, and homemade sombreros to keep them cool. Very enterprising!

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Have a happy weekend!

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xoxox


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2014 – My Year in Pictures

I’ve just been having a little trip down memory lane going through my old posts and it’s really brought home to me what a lovely way this is to store my highlights (and occasionally my lowlights) in a way that is easy to assemble and fun to flick through. Blogging has been a bit like scrap booking but without all the paper off cuts and sticky glue to deal with! I’ve always been terrible with a paper diary of any kind, and after the initial novelty buzz of owning my first digital camera about ten years ago, my photo albums took a dive as well, with most of my precious pictures now locked into old back up drives or on soon to be defunct CD roms etc. This is my new era, when I have finally moved into the modern age!

I thought it would be fun to pick out nine photos from each month, so here I present to you some of my favorite moments from 2014… My year in pictures 🙂

January
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February
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March
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April
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May
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June
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July
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August
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September
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October
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November
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December
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The main thing I’ve enjoyed about blogging is the focus it’s given me to communicate the key points of my year, not just to others but to myself as well. My original intention when I started this blog just over a year ago was primarily to showcase my new amigurumi designs and to make some free patterns and tutorials. Then the Blog bug kicked in and I soon found out it was fun to photograph and write a little bit about other stuff too, such as weekends away, day trips out and the more hobbyist side of my crochet which has been mainly getting to grips with granny squares and blanket/poncho making this year.

My blog has been a great memory enhancer and the visual elements of blogging have really appealed to me. I like capturing special moments in time, a distillation of experiences in an otherwise sensory overloaded world. Another added bonus is the improvement of my photography skills too. Taking really good pictures of my products was the part I found most difficult when I first began Moji-Moji Design, but it’s now becoming more and more enjoyable to me as I get to grips with my camera and learn what makes a hot shot and what makes it not so hot! I’ve still got heaps to learn but that will be part of 2015’s journey. Here’s to never having a dull moment (unless I feel like one that is!)


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The week I’d rather forget

Well, what a week it’s been. And, no, for once I don’t mean in a good way. I just found out about the horrendous new legislation coming in from the EU on January 1st, compelling anyone who sells any digital services/products to work out and pay VAT to all 28 member states of the EU separately and according to who has purchased what from each country.

I really don’t want to get all bogged down with details here – this is supposed to be my ‘happy place’, but the more I’ve looked into it the more I see that compliance is not only going to be onerous, but the way things stand at the moment, completely impossible. The systems just don’t exist to enable individual sellers to do what they have to do in order to keep trading legally. There is a UK petition here for those of you who would like to have a look. It includes a summary too which outlines some of the problems.  The adding of your signature would be hugely appreciated by myself and many others who find themselves quite shockingly and unexpectedly mixed up in this bureaucratic nightmare.

Here’s a great link you may want to read on Ysolde Teague’s Blog. She puts it so much better than I ever could. If you design and sell anything via email like I do then it’s a must read. If you love to buy craft patterns, eBooks, printable stationary, meditation courses, music – to name but a few – from any of us independent designer/sellers then I suggest you have a look too because if things don’t change significantly over the next few weeks there will be a lot of us closing down our beloved businesses before this legislation becomes law on New Years day 2015.

If you’ve read Ysolde’s post and the whole topic now has you intrigued, panicked, crying, having a nervous breakdown or just plain curious here’s another good source of information for you on Heather Burns Idea15 Blog. I don’t want to add to your dismay, but knowledge is power, after all.

Right, now that’s been said, let’s have some fun, because there’s only so much angst I can take at any one time.

(Takes deep, deep breath).

Here’s a little Christmas scene to cheer us all up. Well, it is December already! Not only have these tubby-tummied elves built their first snowman, but they’ve also managed to make a Christmas pudding and put their tree up. Wow, I need to catch up fast. I’ve seriously got to get my Christmas wiggle on!820pudds1This is also the time of year when we try to make huge efforts in our otherwise very busy lives to see family and friends who live far away. It’s always so exciting to catch up face to face on a years worth of news or sometimes more. There’s nothing like a big hug, a bit of present swapping and a good chin wag to warm the very cockles of your heart! All the Facebooking and texting or even gossiping on the phone just can’t compare. My next few weekends are full of just such jaunts. Snow people love these kind’s of pre-Christmas shenanigens too. I don’t need to tell you how happy these guys are to have a good old get together. It’s written all over their faces 🙂820snowpyramid As well as getting together on their home continent on the perma-snow and ice of the arctic circle, they love to travel. As soon as southerly temperatures plummet into the minus numbers they start heading as far south as they can get. I expect you’ve seen them, magically popping up in parks and gardens near you, as soon as the first decent snowfall settles! I’ve had a few postcards from their jollies already that I’d love to share with you.

First the girls went on holiday exploring the forests in Canada…SnowladyPostcardThen the boys decided a spot of skiing would be in order. Here they are in the French Alps…on-the-piste!The baby snowmen aren’t big enough for all that wilderness trecking or alpine sporting but they do love to play together at their local ice rink.820skatingThey’ve dressed up in all the different colours of the rainbow so their mum’s and dad’s know who’s who. Of course their mum’s and dad’s would never really get their own children muddled up but it can be a bit tricky to tell the difference when they’re skating around that fast. Here’s Mr. and Mrs. Snowdon with the triplets, Willy, Nilly and Milly,  and of course not forgetting their new baby Billy.820SnowfamilyAwww, what a lovely Christmas they’re going to have with a houseful of smiling snowbabies. You can adopt some snowbabies here if you want to make your Christmas just as much fun. The pattern’s free and they don’t eat much (yarn) so you can afford to adopt as many as you like!