Monday, 24 March 2014


I know I've mentioned the book I did some crochet patterns for but I thought it deserved its own post so here goes.

Just over a year ago I was checking my email on the bus to the day job. I got a lovely one from my editor at inside crochet. At the end she asked if I might me interested in doing some designs for a book she was working on.

I said yes of course and got a reply saying she wanted a rag doll, polar bear, bunny, finger puppets and a turtle backpack. The deadline was just over a month away and even though I was pretty new to pattern writing for publication at this point and I knew it would be hard work, I had to say yes, it was so exciting.

They needed the written patterns first and two weeks into my deadline I was still waiting for the designs to be signed off and to receive  the yarn. To say I was cutting it fine was an understatement. I was then also asked if I could design a bear for the how to section in addition to my other projects. Why not I thought (I must have been mad).

There was nothing to it but to knuckle down and work. I wasn't going to get the yarn in time so I was going to have to make a mock up of the designs using anything I had to test the pattern so I could get the written patterns in.

First up was the polar bear
 I was asked for a polar bear with a scarf. I knew I wanted it to look like a proper polar bear and not an amigurumi style bear. This first photo is of the mock up. To this day this mock up bear only has two legs. He only needed two for the photo and even then I nearly ran out of yarn. He's still in my UFO (unfinished objects) box, one day I'll remember what yarn I used and be able to finish him. I think it was smoothie something. Hes a cutie he deserves to be finished.

 Here is polar bear mark II finished in the rowan handknit cotton and ready to go off to the publishers.

In the book :) This was the first page of the book I saw as it was released on dks website before the book came out. It was a very exciting moment.

Next up the rag doll.

 When I saw they wanted a rag doll I thought they wanted a doll plus clothes so it could change its dresses. I've never made a doll like that so I was a bit daunted but thankfully this wasn't the case, they just wanted a simple doll. I didn't need to do much of a mock up on this one as I knew the pattern design would work. The publishers did want to see a mock up of her face so the design team could okay it. I had hardly any time to whip this up and email them a pic. Do you like the way I just plonked a ball of brown wool on her head to make it look like hair? Professional to the last that me ;)

 Here she is ready to be sent off. I did the hair properly this time. Its a time consuming and repetitive job, every strand has to be knotted into place but I think its worth it. It makes it safer for kids - no way is it going to be pulled out, also it can be played with and styled. Well we all played with our dolls hair when we were kids didn't we, so I kinda figured she needs good hair.

The finished photo from the book. I'm so pleased with how she turned out, she looks really pretty.

What shall we look at next?

Finger puppets

 I have never made finger puppets before so I had to make mock ups of these. The lion, monkey and elephant were easy. I used the basic pattern from the bobble bunch to create their heads and then made a body that you could put your finger up. The parrot - well I think that one was luck rather than good judgement. I can not remember how I worked out the pattern design. I was in the blur of just getting it all done. I rather like it though, it is defiantly a parrot. The crocodile was more tricky, I just couldn't get it to look right and I was never happy with it. Some you win - some you lose.

 The second problem I had was when the yarn for these bad boys was chosen by the publishers design team. They picked a 4ply, DMC natura cotton, I had worked the pattern out for a DK weight yarn and now they were going to be too small. Panic time. I knew I might have to adjust the pattern and that meant a lot more work and I was really running out of time. Thankfully it turned out this yarn fit the pattern perfectly. I have a very strong love for DMC natura cotton yarn now and use it a lot in my designs. I'm sure you can understand why.

Look the fit on little peeps fingers. How cute is this photo from the book. I've can even forgive the crocodile after seeing this.

Okay its bunny time.
I don't have any pictures of the mock up of this. I don't know why. I do have a very ugly sketch I'm embarrassed to say I sent in to the publishers but I'm not sharing that here. I had been asked for a stripy bunny with long ears. I've written a lot of patterns for bunnies so this was pretty straight forward. I gave them a stripy bunny with long ears :)
  I was using the DMC natura again which worked perfectly and the colours are lovely. I'm a big fan of yellow so I was happy with the colours the design team wanted. I think it looks like hes wearing pajamas.
 I must have made him look a little to sad as the finished bunny from the book has been cheered up. I don't mind this at all, he looks fab. I also really like the way they have him sitting in this photo, its given me lots of ideas on how to improve my own photos.

This is the group shot at the beginning of the toy section. They all look jolly together along with the rattles by Emma Varnam

OK where next...

Turtle backpack
I have never made a turtle and I have never made a backpack. My fist thought was its gonna be big, its going to take up a lot of the time I had available to make everything and I was going to have to make it twice. This photo is of the mock up created to write the pattern.I got a very fixed design guide for this from the publishers so I just worked with what I knew. seven hexagon motifs joined to form a round and make the shell, one head, four legs and a tail. I went about it like I was designing a cushion. It worked out ok for my first attempt at anything so big.

 Finished in the colours given to me by the design team. One of the great things about this is that it is a bigger project, the hexagons and parts can be made gradually and when constructed together you get a real sense of achievement. I didn't have the luxury of time so I had to break the land speed record for crocheting to get this done and in on time.

 I love it now of course. Its all lined and I put a zip in (my least favorite job ever). I think the blue buckles are cute too.

From the book. I think the size is just right, I didn't have a little kid to try it on so its great seeing it how it should be worn. Its actually a really nice pattern and seeing it I'm tempted to make another for my nephew Lucas.

Ok last up - The how to bear

I don't have a picture of the mock up or the finished bear before it was sent to the publisher. I think I was getting tired by this point. I'd been working long days for over four weeks. I had never had a work scheduled like it and I was having to fit it around my day job at Duttons.
 This bear was for the section in the book were it shows you how to make amigurumi style toys so I had to make a complete bear and one in pieces. They have done a great job with the book and this section is really well laid out, making it easy to understand how to assemble the toys.

With all my work done and posted off I just had to wait and nearly a year later the postman delivered me this. I know I'm biased as some of my patterns are in it but I really was blown away with how stunning this book is. First off its huge a big heavy coffee table book with stunning photography and projects.

It takes you from first picking up a crochet hook and learning your first stitches. Then with every stitch you learn there is a new project you can make simply that will give you experience of that stitch. It builds your knowledge and skills until you can tackle anything. Its not just a book for beginners though, there are lots for any skill level to enjoy. There is not a duff project in it everything is beautiful and shows off crochet in a way to be proud of.

I love this book so much, I'm already making the blanket from the cover and I want to make the lacy cardigan next. I love that I have patterns published in this book it makes me feel very happy to be a crochet designer.

You can buy the book from amazon

Its time to link up with handmade monday :)


  1. Wow, it must be fantastic to see your work in a book :-) Love the stripy bunny.

  2. What a fabulous achievement you must be very proud of yourself. All of your projects are beautiful, but the turtle backpack is my favourite.

  3. Wow!! Amazing!! How fabulous to have your designs in a book, worth all the hard work and hours im sure...
    I love the bunny, tho I almost prefer him looking sad and doeful.
    The ultimate Rag doll, looks a fantastic character, and the backpack, such a simple idea but so very effective.
    Well done on your huge effort xx

  4. Thank you so much for your nice work! I like them very very much. It must be a great feeling to see your own designs in a book. Congratulations!!!