Monday, 5 August 2019

Mooncake Amigurumi

Earlier this year I asked my brother for ideas for a birthday present for my nephew (he's in his 20s) and he suggested that I could crochet him something. He sent me a photo of Mooncake, a cute little green alien which appears in the animated series Final Space, which I'd never seen. So, of course, I had to check it out (series one is on Netflix) and really enjoyed it. I fell in love with the little alien that flies around in space making funny noises, and who turns out to be much more powerful than his appearance would suggest.

I thought it would be an easy pattern to design, but in fact it took a lot of tweaking to get the shape and proportions right. As with any amigurumi made up mostly of a large shape, it takes a lot of stuffing, much more than you think. You just have to keep adding the stuffing, a bit at a time, until the it really hold its shape.

If you would like to buy the pattern, it's available on Etsy and Ravelry.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Thistle the Highland Spirit

I recently went on holiday to the Scottish Highlands and I decided that I needed to make a little friend to go with me. Using my Small Spirit pattern I crocheted a Highland Spirit that I named Thistle. He's made using a fuzzy alpaca blend yarn that sadly is no longer available, but which can be brushed to make it nice and furry. I used a colour that was a mix of soft blues and greens, to echo the colours in the Scottish countryside, and gave him horns (using the 'curved horns' part of the pattern) that were reminiscent of Highland Cattle.

We had a great holiday, staying in a cottage by a beautiful and remote loch, and Thistle enjoyed himself visiting various places, including Eilean Donan Castle and Leakey's bookshop in Inverness. We also visited lots of film locations, including several for the Harry Potter films, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct that the Hogwart's Express travels along, a waterfall that features in Goblet of Fire, and the island that was used for Dumbledore's tomb.

 Eilean Donan Castle, which you might recognise from Highlander.

Leakey's bookshop, which is an amazing space just crammed with secondhand books.

 Glenfinnan Viaduct with the Jacobite Train passing over.

 An island on Loch Eilt, the location for Dumbledore's tomb.

Steall Falls in Glen Nevis, used as background to the dragon challenge in Goblet of Fire.

If you want to make your own Small Spirit, with different elements to suit whatever you prefer, you can find the pattern on Etsy or Ravelry.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Harry Potter Crochet

Big news! I have a new book coming out in October, Harry Potter Crochet. It's produced by the same people who did the previous two Star Wars books and in the same format, so it comes as a kit. There is a book with patterns to make Harry, Ron, Hermione in their school uniforms, with removable robes and scarves; Ginny in her Quidditch uniform and with her broom; Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall, along with the Sorting Hat; Hagrid, Dobby, Norbert the baby dragon and, of course, Hedwig. To complete the line-up we have He Who Must Not Be Named, Voldemort himself.

The kit includes everything you need to make Harry and Dobby - yarn, eyes and, best of all, a hook shaped like Harry's wand!

I'm a massive Harry Potter fan so I was really excited to be asked to work on this book. Because of the range of character sizes I decided to make them a bit differently to the Star Wars characters. The children are about the same size as most of the SW figures, but the adults are larger, with Hagrid obviously being the largest figure. That allowed me to make Dobby and Hedwig pretty much in scale with Harry, though it would have been impossible to do that with Norbert, so he's closer to being life-sized.

I finished designing the patterns and making all the figures back in January, so I've been waiting for a while to even be able to talk about this. Hopefully it won't seem too long to wait for it to come out in October. It's coming out in the US and you find it on Amazon, though it should also be available in other bookshops and craft stores. It's also available on Amazon UK as an import, so that will be the version with US crochet terms.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Mother of Dragons

So, who else is eagerly anticipating the final series of Game of Thrones? All the publicity surrounding it has reminded me quite how much I enjoy this show, and love many of the characters, so I was inspired to design some of them in crochet form.

I started with one of my favourites, Daenerys Targaryen. She has a great look, with her white-blonde hair and dark eyebrows, and I decided to make her with the turquiose-blue dress she wears in season three.


Of course, I then had to make her three dragons, when they were about the size of large dogs.

I also thought that the costumes she wore once she got to Westeros were great, so I made a variation of the pattern with her wearing a grey coat and red cloak.

It was a bit of a challenge rendering her complicated hairstyle in crochet, but I think I did her various braids justice.

You can buy the patterns now, with the patterns for Daenerys and her dragons sold separately. You can also buy them together at a reduced price here.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Amigurumi Award Pattern

We're right in the middle of awards season now, so if you've got someone in your life that you think deserves an award, I've got just the pattern for you! Some time ago I was asked if I could design a crocheted award statuette, so I decided to give it a go.

It was an interesting challenge. Normally when I make a human figure, it's very stylised, but I wanted to make this more realistic, with a lot more definition. It's still simplified, a bit like a wooden artist's mannequin, with shaping for the body and joints that bend. In fact, you could just make the figure and adapt it if you want a more realistic-looking amigurumi.

The golden figure holds a sword, but you could change this. The pattern includes details on how to make a laurel wreath instead of a sword, or you could make anything you want for the figure to hold, depending on what you're using it for. Sports equipment for a sports award, a bottle of champagne for a celebration, maybe even a crochet hook and a ball of yarn for an epic crocheter!

The pattern is available now on Etsy and Ravelry.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Accidental Hexagon Blanket

Way back in July 2017 I was ordering some yarn online to make amigurumis, buying a selection of colours from the yarns I favour, Sirdar Hayfield Bonus DK and Robin DK. I was looking for any other brands that might work well to crochet toys, and so I also ordered some Scheepjes Colour Crafter to try it out.

When it arrived, it looked very nice, but unfortunately it was much thinner than the brands I normally use. This difference in thickness may not show up when you're making a garment or a blanket, but when you work in the round it's obvious, as you can see in this photo - the shape on the left is made with Sirdar Hayfield Bonus DK, the one on the right is Scheepjes Colour Crafter.

So, I had eleven balls of yarn that I couldn't use to make amigurumi. Luckily, all the colours I had chosen were various shades of green and brown with an autumnal look, so I decided to use them to make a blanket. Given that it was summer when I started doing this, I thought it would be best to make motifs that I could sew together at the end (preferably in the winter) so I wouldn't get too hot working under an ever-growing blanket. It would also give me a project to work on in-between patterns that I was designing - I get quite agitated if I don't have some crochet to work on in an evening watching the TV!

I chose to make hexagons, using a slightly tweaked version of  Attic24's pattern (I made larger bobble stitches in the second round). Having eleven colours wasn't going to work out very well, so I found a ball of green yarn that I'd bought sometime in the past and added that to the selection. I divided the colours into three sets of four to make the hexagons, then after I'd made a few I'd swap the colours round and make a few more, to be sure I used up all the yarn equally.

I worked on these on and off until last spring, when I used up most of the yarn, having made 261 motifs. I blocked them in batches then put them all away over the summer. I've been busy all autumn working on a new book (details to come soon!), but when I finished with that just after Christmas, I realised it was a great time to put all those hexagons together.

Weirdly, I really like sewing things together. I know most people hate it, but I find it rather relaxing. (I worked over all the ends of the different rounds as I was making them, but I wish I'd sewn them in now, as they keep poking out. Oh well, I only made this for myself, so it doesn't matter too much.) I decided to sew the blanket with fifteen hexagons wide, seventeen hexagons long, meaning I had a few motifs left over. It took quite a while deciding the order I was going to sew them, trying to mix up the colours in a random-looking way, but I eventually came up with a system that worked.

Of course, once I'd finished, I realised that I hadn't given any thought to a border! I hunted through my stash and found a couple of green yarns that matched with the other colours I'd used, and did a couple of rounds of dc (UK tr) and one round of sc (UK dc) around the edges, and that seemed to work fairly well.

Rather nicely, this blanket that I ended up making by accident matches well with the decor in my sitting room, so I'm very happy with the end result!