Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Cuddle Dragon Amigurumi Pattern

I really do love dragons, and I love to make crochet patterns for them. One of my very first patterns was my Fierce Little Dragon and then I made a larger Dragonet  initially inspired by my love of the dragons and fire lizards of Pern. With my latest pattern I've tried to make dragons that are cuddly rather than fierce or majestic.

 
 
Cuddly they might be, but they still have horns, claws and spikes down their backs, along with a pair of cute little wings. They're fun to make in any colour you like - I found yarns with a bit of a mix of colours, like James C Brett Marble, gave a really nice effect.




The pattern is available on Etsy, Ravelry and Loveknitting - if you make one I'd love to see it!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Lovely new yarn storage

Until recently I've never had anywhere good to store my yarn - we don't have any spare rooms and so I've kept my stash in large plastic storage bags stuffed into my understairs cupboard. This meant that every time I wanted to choose some yarn for a new project I had to pull out all the other things in the cupboard - vacuum cleaner, walking boots, spare plastic bags, etc - then pull out several storage bags until I found the right colours (they were mostly sorted by colour). Then I carried the bags into another room so I look through all the yarn. This was all very frustrating, so I was very happy when we decided to get a new outbuilding constructed, replacing our old, leaky garage and shed, as it meant I would have some space for some decent, clean storage for my yarn.



The building was finished in March, then we had to decorate (very simple white paint throughout) and go on a couple of trips to Ikea to kit it out. I hadn't been to Ikea for years, so I had a wonderful time finding all sorts of bits and bobs, both for the Spare Oom (named after Mr Tumnus' confusion about where Lucy comes from in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) and the rest of our house. I wasn't really sure how much storage I would need, but the building is multipurpose, so I couldn't fill it wall to wall with wool! In the end I bought the largest Kallax shelving unit, and twenty-five fabric storage boxes to fill it up, which was just enough to get all my yarn in.




I spent a happy afternoon sorting all my yarn into the various boxes. The top two rows are all my acrylic dk that I mostly use for amigurumi, sorted by colour. Then I have a couple of boxes with wool and alpaca mix yarns that I've started to use more recently. The rest of the boxes are filled with different types and weights of yarn - cotton, mohair style, eyelash, chunky and 4 ply. This is the stuff that I don't use for my amigurumi patterns, so it had ended up at the back of the cupboard, almost impossible to access, so it was a treat to see it all again! Now, whatever yarn I'm looking for, I can just pull out the appropriate box and sift through it to find what I want. So I can tell what is in each box, I've crocheted little circles of the appropriate colours or type of yarn and pinned them on the front.



All this lovely organisation makes planning a new pattern so much easier, and I'm trying new projects with different yarns that I've never done before. I bought some plants from Ikea to put on the windowsills, and I used my newly discovered cotton yarn to make brightly coloured doilies for them to sit on - the very first doilies I've ever made - using this pattern. I've also selected lots of different colours of dk yarn to practice Tunisian crochet, making a cushion cover for the little sofa in the Spare Oom - more on that in a future post when it's finished.




On top of the shelves I've got three plastic boxes full of all my completed amigurumi. These used to be up in the attic, so they were a real hassle to get to if I needed to check something. As well as the Kallax shelving I bought a Billy bookcase in case I needed more storage. I don't need it for yarn (at the moment), but it's great to store all my crochet magazines and books. Now I can just sit there and browse through them when I'm looking for inspiration. At the moment I've filled the spare space with all my bags that I keep current projects in, and arranged a few of my amigurumi on a shelf to cheer me up. I also just bought a cool Hobbit-themed storage box - not sure what I'm going to store in it yet, but it was too much fun not to buy!







As you can probably see from the photos, the colour scheme is a white background with lots of bright colours in contrast, like the button design rug I chose from Ikea. We haven't quite finished in there yet, there's still a magnetic noticeboard to put up, that I can fill with inspirational pictures, and a couple of bits of Star Wars wall art. I think this room will end up with all the quirky things in it - we have a clock made from a squashed beer bottle to hang up yet, and a friendly Mountie that was a gift from our Canadian relatives waves at people through the front window. But for now, I'm just relishing being able to find whatever yarn I want, when I want it!


 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Star Wars Crochet Kit


 
Well, my Star Wars Crochet kit is finally out, at least in the US.

The kit contains a book with the patterns for 12 Star Wars characters - Boba Fett, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Wicket the Ewok, Han Solo, Jabba the Hutt, Luke Skywalker (Jedi), Princess Leia, R2-D2, Stormtrooper and Yoda - as well as the yarn, hook and eyes to make Yoda and the Stormtrooper.
 
The kit is published by Thunder Bay in the US, you can find it listed on Amazon, although it will be available in other stores. It's also due to be published shortly in Australia/New Zealand by Hardie Grant under their Chirpy Bird imprint. Hopefully it will be released in other countries too, but there's no information about that at the moment. It is listed on Amazon UK though, due out in May.

 
It's really exciting to see my patterns made into a book like this. I love the photographs of the characters, mixed with stills from the films in the book, and it was wonderful to be told that Lucasfilm were thrilled with the way the book came out!


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Little Monkey Amigurumi

For my latest amigurumi pattern I've designed a pair of cute little monkeys, a boy in a top and trousers, and a girl in a dress with puffed sleeves.




They are about 13 cm/5" tall, which I think makes them the perfect size to carry around and play with. They're made with the legs worked continuously from the body, and they stand up on their own, so you can have them standing on your shelf or desk if you want.


I've made them in a selection of different colours for the fur and the clothes to show the sort of variations you can choose, but of course, you can pick any colours you like to make them.




I'm intending to make a range of different animals using the same basic pattern, in different styles of clothes, so if you have any ideas about what you'd like to see, do let me know in the comments.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Little Kissing Mice - free amigurumi pattern




Here’s a pattern to make a pair of sweet little mice that just love to kiss, perfect to make for Valentine's Day. They are made all in one, with no separate parts to sew on, so they are quick and easy to crochet. Make them in any colours you like, you can make them totally in a natural fur colour if you want, or choose any colour for their bodies. They will sit upright on their own, but they like snuggling up to each other even more.

 
Abbreviations:
ch = chain
st = stitch or stitches
ss = slipstitch
sc = single crochet (US), double crochet (UK)
dc = double crochet (US), treble crochet (UK)
tog = together
sc2tog = decrease by working two sc together
FLO = work in front loop only
FO = fasten off

Approximate size: 5cm/2" long without tail.

General instructions:
Work in rounds unless otherwise stated and do not join rounds unless told to. Use a stitch marker to mark the start of a round - a small piece of different coloured yarn placed under the stitch at the start of the round will do. To start a round, you can use the magic ring method, but I prefer to ch 2, and work the appropriate number of sc into 1st ch. If you work the sc over the tail of yarn as well you can use that to pull the hole tight.

When changing from one colour of yarn to another work the stitch before the change until there are two loops left on the hook. Then use the new colour for the final yarn over hook and pull through.

Stuff as you go along.

Work through both loops of stitches unless otherwise indicated.




You will need:
Small amounts of yarn in a natural colour for the head and tail, and any colour for the body, double knitting or worsted weight.
Small amounts of black yarn to embroider eyes.
Small amount of stuffing.
3.5mm (E) hook.
Tapestry needle.


Start with natural colour yarn.
Round 1: Ch 2, work 4 sc into 1st ch - 4 st.
Round 2: [2 sc in next st, sc in next st] 2 times - 6 st.
Round 3: [2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 st] 2 times - 8 st.
Round 4: [2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 st] 2 times - 10 st.
Round 5: Sc in each st around – 10 st.
Round 6: [2 sc in next st, sc in next 4 st] 2 times - 12 st.
Round 7: Sc in next 6 st, [ear, in FLO of next st: ss, ch 2, 5 dc, ch 2, ss], sc in next 3 st, [ear as before], sc in next st – 12 st (counting each ear as one st).
Round 8: Sc in each st around, working into the back loop behind each ear – 12 st.
Change to yarn for body.
Round 9: [2 sc in next st, sc in next st] 3 times, sc in next 6 st – 15 st.
Round 10: [2 sc in next st, sc in next 4 st] 3 times – 18 st.
Round 11: Sc in each st around – 18 st.
Round 12: [2 sc in next st, sc in next 5 st] 3 times – 21 st.
Round 13 - 15: (3 rounds) Sc in each st around – 21 st.
Round 16: [Sc2tog, sc in next 5 st] 2 times, sc2tog, sc in next 2 st, change to natural colour yarn, [tail: ss in next st, ch 20, miss ch next to hook, ss 19, ss back into original st and change back to body colour yarn], sc in next 2 st – 18 st.
Round 17: Sc2tog 2 times, sc in next 6 st, sc2tog 4 times – 12 st.
Round 18: Sc2tog 6 times – 6 st.
FO, leaving a length of yarn. Finish stuffing and use black yarn to sew eyes. Sew up bottom of mouse neatly.



Friday, 23 January 2015

Bracken the Fox



I love foxes. I don't know what it is, maybe it's their beautiful colouring or something about the confident way they hold themselves, but I'm always really excited when I spot one on a walk. I've had two, possibly young ones, practically run into me as they chased each other across my path, but usually when I see them they just sit nonchalantly a little distance away (usually behind a fence) and stare at me.


I've been meaning to crochet a fox for ages, to be honest I don't know what delayed me, just lots of other ideas that I wanted to try out, but I've finally done it. Meet Bracken the Fox, named after the ferns that turn a lovely russet colour in the autumn. I've made him in two versions, with and without a sweater, and he's about 30cm (12") tall.



I've made a lot of my amigurumi in the past using totally acrylic yarn, but I decided to use yarns with wool and alpaca in to make Bracken, to give him a nicer texture. I mostly used Stylecraft Alpaca, and their newer Alpaca Tweed for the sweater, which is lovely and soft.


The pattern is now available in my Etsy shop and on Ravelry.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Mini Pets - Snails, Bugs and Frogs amigurumi patterns

My latest pattern, or rather set of patterns, to make tiny amigurumi snails, beetles, spiders and frogs, is now available in my Etsy shop and Ravelry. The creatures, which are quick to make with minimal sewing, also come with the details to make a toadstool play mat and hollow log.


As a child I loved and was fascinated by all types of animals, and was keen to have all sorts of pets, that weren't always practical. I did keep snails for a short while, and repeated the experience with my children. They make great temporary pets, you just find some in your garden and put them in a plastic pet box with some soil and greenery keep them damp and fed, and then return them to the garden after a few weeks.



However, not everyone wants various creepy crawlies in their house, and so for a more cuddly alternative I designed these creatures, so that the little animal lover in your house can play with them any time they want. You can make snails, two different shapes of beetle, including a ladybird (ladybug), spiders with various patterns on their backs, and tiny baby frogs. Their sizes range from 1.5" to 2.5" long.


 

 




You can keep them in a jar or matchbox, but you can also make them a grassy mat for them to play on, with a toadstool in the middle, and a hollow log to climb in. It has a drawstring around the edge so you can turn it into a bag and keep everything safe.




Of course, you can do all sorts of things with these creatures. It's easy to turn them into key chains, or put small magnets inside as you crochet them to make them into fridge magnets. The beetles would make unusual brooches, the spiders are great for Halloween accessories, and you could make the frogs in sets of different colours and use them as game pieces. You can make them as party favours, or stocking fillers, or make lots for a school or church fair. Whatever you do, I hope you'll have fun with them!