Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Giraffe!

Here's my latest crochet project, and surely the last one in 2010!
I want to improve it somewhat beforehand, but in the next couple of weeks I should be able to make the pattern available here on my blog.
Do tell me if you have any good ideas for a name for this little giraffe. I was thinking of "Stiggy", as it's a striped giraffe, but we're open to suggestions :-)

Easy peasy pancakes

Yes I know pancakes are never very difficult, but this recipe removes the need to measure out ingredients, and considerably reduces the amount of washing up at the end - always a good idea, in my opinion!  You will need:

1 mixing bowl
1 sieve
1 teacup
1 tablespoon
1 frying pan
1 whisk

Plain white flour
1 large egg or 2 small
light oil

Makes about eight big pancakes

I start this recipe by gently heating my frying pan on the hob. However, if you use gas it's probably better to heat the pan just before cooking the pancakes.

Using the teacup as a measure, sift two cupfuls of flour into the mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt, then break the egg(s) into the middle of the flour and start to mix with the whisk. Graduallly add 1 cupful of water, then 1 1/2 cupfuls of milk, mixing all the time so that you obtain a (hopefully) lump-free mixture. Now stir in one tablespoon of light oil (sunflower oil or similar).

Turn up the heat under the frying pan, add a little oil (I use a wedge of kitchen roll paper to spread it around the pan) and pour in about half a cup of pancake mixture, tilting the pan to spread it evenly around.

Leave it to cook for a few minutes. You can lift up the edge slightly with a fish slice or spatula to check if the first side is cooked and golden. Then flip it over and cook the other side for a few moments before sliding it onto a plate.

For the next pancake add a little more oil to your pan, and continue until you've used up all the mixture.

Eat with lemon and sugar, or honey and melted butter, or jam, or whatever takes your fancy.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

This time of year

I feel a bit guilty saying what I'm about to say, when I read the introduction to this blog. Yes I know, I said that it's better to do something other than watching TV.
BUT... the thing I like best about this time of year is that they show some really good films on the TV. There's lots of rubbish too, but here in France just this past week I've watched E.T. (my all-time favourite), The Secret Garden (in English!), Jane Eyre (cried buckets), and there are more to come. Tonight there's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, on Thursday a beautiful French film The Fox and the Child, and on Friday another French film called Two Brothers, about two baby tigers. That's about it, and then on Monday it's back to work!
I am doing other things too - some sewing, some crochet, some cooking, some ironing, even. And spending some quality time with my family, though mostly indoors because it's still grey and frozen outside. My soon to be 14-year-old son now knows how to make tuna and egg filo rolls, and I've promised him he'll know how to bake croissants before the week's out.
I'll try to get back soon, with some pics of my latest creations. Bye for now!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend about owls. She said her daughter collected them, and I thought about making some. A couple of doodles later, and a delve into my felt stash, and here's what I made. It's a little felt owl brooch.  It was great fun to make, so I decided to make some more. This time the owls came out a bit wider; I trimmed them with some ribbon, embroidered the beaks and used press-studs for the eyes. Then I bought some pretty faceted beads and some lace trim from the market. For the later models, I added a tiny bit of polyester stuffing.
In all, up to now I have made nine owls, I have sold    five of them (including all of those pictured here ) and given one away. They are about two inches "tall" and I must say they are very cute. My favourite one is the little orange one with the white lace trim - it looks like an owl in a petticoat!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The world is full of garbage

I often wonder how future generations will survive on this earth. And if they do, what will they think of us?

The world is full of garbage. Literally. Every day we create more and more garbage. On an indivdual level; we throw out 400 kg per person per year. Well, that's the quantity for France. The average American produces 900 kg of waste, while in Senegal the amount is only 170 kg. Basically, the richer you are, the more you throw away.

Talking about recycling is fine, we are all full of good intentions. But some things can't be recycled. And some people simply don't bother. Most of all, we've done too little, too late.

The plastic that we dispose of every day is ending up in the oceans. Sea birds are found with their stomachs full of plastic. Turtles die from eating plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. In the Pacific ocean, there is a huge "plastic stew" that covers an area the size of a continent. It contains around 100 million tonnes of plastic!

In Lebanon, there is a mountain of garbage that's 50 metres high and 375 metres long. As it's situated on the coast, it regularly collapses and falls into the sea.

That's not all. I recently read an article in New Scientist about the over 8,500 vessels that were sunk during World War II and that are so many timebombs. They are spread all over the world, and contain somewhere between 2.5 and 20 million tonnes of oil. And that oil is starting to leak. The first leak happened in 2001 when a typhoon hit one of the areas where a military oil tanker had sunk in 1944. For the rest of the vessels, it's just a matter of time. The steel plate they are made of is gradually corroding, and nobody is doing anything about it.

What can we do? Not much. We can continue to recycle. We can stop buying plastic. We can lobby our governments to do something about pollution. Let's just hope our children and our children's children will find a way to clear up the mess we have left behind.

Monday, 6 December 2010


Well today we had scones for breakfast. They are, along with scotch pancakes, the easiest and quickest breakfast treats. I have got it down to a fine art:  turn on the oven first, then by the time you've prepared the scones the oven is warm enough, and once they're in the oven, lay the table and make the tea. In theory, everything will be ready in time for breakfast!

You will need:

225g white flour
1 sachet baking powder
40g butter (at room temperature)
150ml milk
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt

a mixing bowl
a metal tablespoon
a round fluted pastry-cutter
a rolling pin

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl, rub in the butter with your fingertips.
Stir in the sugar, then add the milk little by little, using the metal tablespoon. Finish off with your hands, kneading it together gently to a soft dough (you might not need all the milk).
Roll the dough out on to a floured surface, but keep it thick (around 2 cm).
Use the pastry cutter to cut out your scones. Be careful to tap it straight down, don't twist it or your scones will have a strange shape.
Place the scones on a lined baking sheet, place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they are crisp and golden.

I like to eat them as is, but you can add butter, jam, clotted cream... If you have any left over, freeze them straight away because they quickly go stale.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I've been at the felt again! Making these little owl brooches is great fun. A while ago I bought felt in lots of different colours and I've been through my stash of ribbons and lace to decorate them. I have made loads of these now, you can see more of them on my flickr page - just click on the photo to get there:-).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tresses au beurre

I actually made these on Sunday (which is my baking day) but have only just got around to writing up the recipe.
I love to make these because they are so pretty. On Sunday morning I made one for each of the three of us, and a larger one which I put in the freezer for another day. Here's the recipe. Bon appetit!

Makes 2 medium or 6 small tresses

500g flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
75g butter
300 ml milk
20g fresh yeast
1 egg for glazing

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Mix the flour, salt and sugar and rub in the butter.
Heat the milk to body temperature and add the yeast, mix until it has "melted".
Pour the milk/yeast into the flour and knead for 5-10 minutes until you have a soft springy dough.
Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour.
Knock back the dough and knead briefly again.
Separate the dough in two parts (and each again in three parts if you're making the small tresses)
Separate again each part in three parts, which you should roll with you hands to a long sausage shape.
Take the three sausage shapes and make them into a plait, making sure you tuck in the two ends well.
Do the same with the remaining pieces of dough.
Lay them onto a baking sheet, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes approx.
Brush with beaten egg and cook in the preheated oven at 180° for 20 minutes (small size) or 30 minutes (medium size) until nicely golden.
Leave to cool. They are nice and buttery so you really don't need to add anything to them, though I must admit I like them with just a little bit of jam.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Inauguration with music!

The small town in which I live was home to  the French writer and philosopher Voltaire from 1759 to 1778.

During his stay here and because of his outlandish way of life compared to the very serious Calvinist attitude in Geneva, Voltaire was often obliged to travel to and from Geneva. According to local legend, he used a road that ran straight from his French castle to the Swiss border.  The first part of the road crossed a field and was bordered with poplar trees but they were cut down "for safety reasons"  in 2008. The lower part of the road has, after various agreements and conventions between the town and the local landowners, been open to walkers, joggers and cyclists since last month.

Today was the official inaurguration of the lower part of the road, named l'allée de la Tir. It was a pity the sun wasn't out today, it has been beautiful for the past three days but I suppose we all knew it couldn't last. At least it didn't rain.

The mayor and other local dignitaries made the customary speech and cut the ribbon, but for me the highlight of the morning was the wonderful band who played from the centre of town to the beginning of the allée, followed by the crowd of well-wishers who particpated in the inauguration.

Now we're just waiting for the higher part of the road to be re-opened. It is in a large grassy park which will be further developed as an "urban park" (whatever that means). According to the town website it is open to competition among developers, and the project should be chosen by the end of 2010.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Scotch pancakes with apples

Scotch pancakes are one of my favourite breakfast recipes. They are quick and easy to prepare and appreciated by everyone I know. To make them a bit more special, I like to fry up some apple slices in butter and sugar and add put them between two pancakes, and top them with fromage frais. You could also use whipped cream but I do try to avoid too much fat (do you really believe me?) And this time I had some melted chocolate so I put a drop of that on the top too.

Here's what it looks like. And here's the recipe:

Scotch pancakes 

To make scotch pancakes with apple filling, you'll need (for 3 or 4 servings):

For the pancakes:

120 g flour
30 g sugar
1 sachet baking powder
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 pinch salt
150 ml milk
1 egg
Oil for cooking

For the apple filling:

4 or 5 apples
30 g butter
1 tblspn  brown sugar

1 measuring jug
1 mixing bowl
2 frying pans

Start by preparing the apples, peel them and cut into slices.
Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the apples.
Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking
When they are nearly ready add the brown sugar and cook until it is slightly caramelised. Leave to cool

For the pancakes, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt in a bowl.
In a measuring jug, measure out the milk and break the egg into the milk, mix the egg in with a hand whisk
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, mix well and then pour the mixture back into the measuring jug (it is easier to pour it than to spoon it out)
Warm the second frying pan, add a small amount of cooking oil and use some kitchen roll to remove the excess and spread it evenly over the pan.
Gently pour small quantities of the mixture in the pan to make the pancakes, keeping them at about 8cm in diameter.
When bubbles appear on the surface, gently turn them over using a fish slice or a palette knife. They should be golden with a distinctive "lacy" pattern. Do not over-cook.

Once you have finished making the pancakes, make a sandwich with the apples in the middle (see photo).
You can top with whipped cream or fromage frais, if you wish. A drop of maple syrup would also go very well with these pancakes. Bon appetit!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday is baking day

I got up early and decided to make croissants and pains au chocolate for breakfast.

I've lived in France for 27 years now, but only discovered the secret of croissant-making about five years ago. They do take a long time to prepare, about four hours from start to finish, but much of that is time waiting for the dough to rise, or the time they spend in the oven. I love to make them because they make me feel creative and all that work really is worth it when you bite into the delicious flaky, butteriness of them.

If there are any left over, they freeze very well and can be gently heated in a warm oven.

I make my croissants with organic flour, butter, milk, yeast, salt and a small amount of sugar.

Here's the recipe:


500g flour
200g butter
300 ml milk
20g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg for glazing

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large shallow bowl/plate or directly on a work surface. 
Cut 50g of butter in to small pieces and rub into the flour.
Heat the milk to hand temperature and add the yeast, mix until it has "melted".
Pour the milk/yeast into the flour and knead for 5 minutes until you have a soft springy dough.
Cover and leave it to rise for about 30 minutes, then knock it back and fold in three to make a rectangle, and roll it out on a floured surface.
Cut the remaining butter in two pieces and, using plenty of flour and a rolling pin, start by bashing it and then roll it in the flour until you have a large flat "leaf" of butter. Do the same with the second piece of butter.
Now cover the lower 2/3 of the dough rectangle with the butter, fold down the top 1/3 downwards and the bottom 1/3 upwards. 
Tuck in the edges to stop the butter from escaping, then put the open side to the right and roll out the dough again.
Fold and roll the dough in the same way two more times.
Now put the dough in a floured plastic bag, in the refrigerator and leave it to rise for one hour.
Roll the dough out again into a rectangle, which you will cut down the middle lengthwise.
Cut each length into several triangles (for the croissants) and rectangles (for the pains au chocolate).
For the croissants, roll the triangles up from the long base towards the point of the triangle, keeping it fairly tight. Then turn the ends towards each other to make a croissant shape.
For the pains au chocolat, place a smallish piece of chocolate at the short end of the rectangle and roll up, making sure you leave the "seam" on the underside.
Cover and leave your croissants and pains au chocolat to rise again for about 20 minutes.
Brush them with beaten egg, and place them in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for around 20 minutes or until nicely golden.
Best eaten warm!

Then in the afternoon here's what I made: an apple tart. The pastry looks a bit over-cooked but it was nice and crispy lol. I cheated a bit because I lined my pastry with apple sauce, it keeps the whole thing nice and moist.This was for afternoon tea. That's a lot of butter in one day - maybe it's a good job I only have time to make patisseries at the weekend!

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
A few weeks ago I met Aral Balkan at a communications meeting. He is the man behind the Feathers app for iPhone. Feathers brings a whole new life to tweeting.

With the app you can use novel fonts, pictures and even coded messages, using Twitter, facebook, msn or simple texting. The cute Feathers bird shows the app user how much they've used their character  limit. As the limit draws near, the little blue bird becomes green. And if you overstep the limit, it becomes red.  My little bird has used a bit more than half the character limit, so it's still blue but slowly becoming green. You can see the real thing on the app, for more information tweet @aral, or see more about it on

My version of the feathers bird isn't really suitable for young children because of the small parts. If you want to give it to a child, please make sure you adjust the pattern to make it safe, especially as regards the eyes and feet.

Here's the pattern:

Stitches used:

sc single crochet
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet
hdc half double crochet

I used Catania cotton and a 2.5 mm crochet hook, and scraps of yellow felt for the beak and feet.

Head feather

Start with the head feather, which you will later attach to the top of your bird.

With blue, ch 12, turn.

Work 2 sc into each ch to end. Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the head feather to the inside of the head.

Head and body

Rnd 1 - With blue, work 6 sc into a magic circle.

Rnd 2 - 2 sc into each st (12 sc)

Rnd 3 - * 1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, rep from * to end (18 sc)

Rnd 4 - * 1 sc in next 2 sts, 2sc in next st, rep from * to end (24 sc)

Rnd 5 - * 1 sc in next 3 sts, 2sc in next st, rep from * to end (30 sc)

Rnd 6-13 - sc around

Rnd 14 - * 1 sc in next 4 sts, 2sc in next st, rep from * to end (36 sc)

Rnd 15 - sc around

Now's a good time to attach the head feather by threading it through the small hole at the middle of the initial magic circle. Sew it firmly to the inside so it can't be pulled off!

Sew on the eyes and the beak. I used sew-on goggly eyes because I found they resembled the original bird the most, but you can use safety eyes, or sew on felt eyes, or just embroider them if you prefer. For the beak I used a small piece of yellow felt and embroidered the smile :)

Continue in green.

Rnd 16 - * 1 sc in next 5 sts, 2sc in next st, rep from * to end (42 sc)

Rnd 17-24 - sc around

Rnd 25 - * 1 sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog, rep from * to end (36 sc)

Rnd 26 - sc around

Rnd 27 - * 1 sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog, rep from * to end (36 sc)

Rnd 28 - * 1 sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog, rep from * to end (30 sc)

Rnd 30 - * 1 sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, rep from * to end (24 sc)

Rnd 31 - * 1 sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog, rep from * to end (18 sc)


Rnd 32 - * 1 sc in next st, sc2tog, rep from * to end (12 sc)

Rnd 33 - sc2tog 6 times, draw the yarn through remaining stitches and pull closed. Weave in ends.

Wings (make 2)

Rnd 1- with blue, ch 14, join to first ch with a ss to make a ring.

Rnd 2 - 2ch, 1 dc in each chain to end , join to the top of 2 ch (14 dc)

Continue in green.

Rnd 3 - 1 sc in each st (14 sc)

Rnd 4 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 5 st] twice (12 sc)

Rnd 5 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 4 st] twice (10 sc)

Rnd 6 - sc around

Rnd 7 - sc2tog 5 times.

Finish off leaving a tail of yarn, weave the yarn through the last 5 sts, pull tight to close. Weave in ends.


Rnd 1 - With green, work 12 dc into a magic circle

Rnd 2 - 2 dc into each st (24 dc)

Now fold it in half so it makes a semi-circle shape and work into both layers of stitches, joining them together.

Rnd 3 - 2 ch, skip the first st, 1 hdc in next 3 st, 1 dc in next 4 st, 1 hdc in next 4 st to end. Fasten off, leaving a tail of yarn to sew the tail to the body.

Legs and feet (make 2)

With yellow, ch 10. Fasten off, leaving a tail of yarn to sew the leg to the body.

With yellow felt, cut out four feet shapes, and make a small split in two of them at the heel end (these are the tops of the feet). Attach the end of the chain in the split, sew it in place, and then sew the bottom pieces of felt to the tops with blanket stitch all around.

Sew the legs to the bottom of the bird.

Sew the wings in place, aligning the blue/green separation with the one on the body.

Sew the tail to the back.

You can of course make the bird all in blue, or alter the green/blue limit. You could even make a red/green bird, or a totally red one. See the app for further inspiration, and please leave me a comment if you make one of these little guys. I would love to see your photos too!

If there are any problems with the pattern, please let me know.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Whatever happened to October? I've been so busy at work and at home I've simply not had time to deal with my blog.
I have, however, finished my last project and I'm pleased to introduce Basil. Basil will be going to a new home in Canada, with his drawstring bag and little visiting card. I made Basil with organic cotton and he's stuffed with recycled wool, so he is a 100% organic bear. Oh and he's also made with my chubby teddy pattern, though I did make some minor changes, including making the head and body in a single piece.
I really loved working with the organic cotton, it's very soft - the only negative thing about it is the cost, but the sheer enjoyment of handling the lovely soft cotton yarn makes it worth it. I'll definitely be buying more.
For the wool filling, I recuperated an old and slightly holey woollen blanket that I'd had lying in a cupboard for years and years, machine washed it at a high temperature, and cut it into small pieces suitable for stuffing. I have plenty now to make lots and lots of toys.It's heavier and lumpier than polyfill but I suppose that's normal for a natural fibre.
Basil's visiting card has the following message: I'm BASIL an original organic cotton bear stuffed with recycled wool. I've been made with love and care in a smoke-free and pet-free home. Please wash me in cool water with a detergent that respects the environment. Meet my friends on our blog (with the address of this blog on the last page).

Monday, 27 September 2010

Chubby panda

Chubby panda
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Having received a couple of messages concerning difficulties in my chubby teddy pattern, I decided to try it again so I could make the necessary changes. Instead of making another teddy, I decided to alter it slightly and here's the result: Chubby Panda!!
Chubby Panda has black felt around his eyes. His head is all white, and the body is white except for the last four rows, for which I changed the colour to black. I gave him shorter legs than the chubby teddies, and slightly bigger ears. I made Chubby Panda in DK yarn, and I'm pleased with the result. He's really chubby!
Here's the link straight to the my pattern:

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza

I'm very busy both at home and at work at the moment, but I still try to find time to do at least a little bit of crochet. Small, short projects are my favourites at the moment. I found this really cute pattern here, and it was so much fun to make. Each part is made separately and then sewn together so it's easy to spread over a few days. At just 8 cm tall, this little rabbit (I think) is just perfect. Apparently, it's from an anime and is called Atashi, but I've never heard of it before, I just found it so cute. Normally it should be holding a star but I didn't have one. I did however find a cute lilac flower in my beads box, and I felt it would suit. You can't see her feet very well in the photo, but she does have two, honest!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Moko the cat

swap cat ami
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I made this little cat for a swap on flickr. The amigurumi group that I'm a member of arranges swaps between its members - each person has to make an amigurumi and send it to another designated member together with other goodies like yarn, eyes, buttons, ribbons, etc. You receive a parcel from a different member, and it's a nice way to share. It's always so lovely to receive a package through the post! And it's as much fun to send one too. The Moko pattern is available again after being offline for a while and is really fun to make. It's quick and easy and turns out really cute. You can find the pattern here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Bright, bright, bright

Aren't those colours just gorgeous? I've been shopping again. The lovely lady who sells yarn at our local market had a sale on, and I just couldn't resist stocking up on my favourite cotton yarn. It is rather thin, about equivalent to 4-ply, and I crochet it with a 2.5mm hook, so it's not good for doing large projects. But it is ideal for little things, and I chose bright colours with lots creative ideas in mind.She even offered me an extra one for free.

I used some of the new yarn to make 'tails' for the new felt flowers I've made. They are so quick and easy, I just love making them. Someone asked me what they can be used for, my ideas are: as a decoration, or a bookmark, to attach to a bag (and maybe to make your suitcase easily recognisable when travelling), and even as an original bracelet. Any other ideas?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Little felt elephant

Yes, as you can see, I'm still in my felt phase. This time it's a little elephant, about 5cm long and tall. I've attached it to a ribbon so it can be attached to a bag or onto a keyring. I've changed the photo because I stitched the ears a bit so they are lower down on the head. I'm wondering whether I should make some more? And shall I do them like this one, that can stand on its four legs, or would it be better just flat?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Something different for a change

Felt flower
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I have so many pending crochet projects! Another little monster is on the way, a cat, a teddy... My problem is I start things then get bored with them and start something new. Don't worry, I do go back to them and end up finishing them off eventually :-)
I keep lots of my photos on flickr, and it's also a great place to get inspiration. A fellow flickr crafter, Eloisa, has made some very nice comments on my crochet, and I went to have a look at her photostream too. She is so clever! I especially love the things she does with felt, and that inspired me to make this little felt flower. It's not as good as Eloisa's but was very quick to make and I think it's rather sweet, and not bad for a first time.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Froggy finger puppet pattern

Froggy finger puppet
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
This is a very quick and easy pattern. I used Phildar cotton/bamboo yarn, equivalent to DK, and sew-on 8 mm goggly eyes. Don't use the goggly eyes if you're going to give this finger puppet to a very young child as they do represent a choking risk. You'll also need a short strand of black embroidery thread for the mouth.

These are the stitches used:

ch = chain
sc = single crochet (double crochet in UK terms)
ss = slip stitch

For instructions on how to make a magic ring, there is a great video here.

Start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [1 sc in next 2st, 2 sc in next st] rep around (16 sts)
rnd 4 - *1 sc in next 4 st, ch 5, ss in 5th ch from hook, rep from *, 1 sc in next 8 st to end
rnd 5 - 1 sc in each st, pulling the "eyes" towards you as you go (16 sts)
rnd 6 - 1 sc in next 4 st, 2 sc in next st (below the eye), 1 sc in back look pf next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st (below the eye), 1 sc in next 7 st, to end (18 sts)
rnd 7-9 - 1 sc in each st around (18 sts). Now is a good time to embroider the mouth.
rnd 10 - 1 sc in next 6 st, *10 ch, 1 ss in 6th ch from hook, 1 ss in next 4 ch, 1 sc in next 6 st, rep from * once
rnd 11-15 1 sc in each st around (18 sts)
rnd 16 - 1 sc in next 8 st, *12 ch, 1 ss in 6th ch from hook, 1 ss in next 6 ch, 1 sc in next 6 st, rep from * once, 1 sc in each of next 4 sts, fasten off, weave in ends.

Sew a goggly eye on each "eye". Enjoy playing with your froggy finger puppet!

Monday, 23 August 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Here's my latest project, which I finished off this morning. I got the free pattern for this "bubble leg monster" right here:
As I mentioned in my previous post, this little fellow is completely lined and can go in the washing machine without any fear of losing its stuffing. I'm seriously thinking of making another one - I have enough yarn left to make it a negative-positive friend with a blue body. The photo doesn't really do this little monster justice as far as the colour is concerned, it's a gorgeous highligter fluorescent yellow, pity it doesn't shine in the dark.
Any ideas for a name, by the way?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lining my monster

I know that in theory, for amigurumi crochet stitches, you have to use a much smaller hook than is usually recommended for a given yarn size. The idea is that the stitches will be very close together and any stuffing will not be able to escape through the holes. The reality, however, is a different story. I recently machine washed one of my toys before giving it away and the polyester fibrefill that I had stuffed it with really did want to get out. There were little fluffy bits all over.
When I made the little ball for baby Alfie, I wanted to be sure the stuffing wouldn't escape, so I enclosed it in the end of a nylon stocking. The result is great. It was easy because it is just a round ball shape, so no need to deal with fiddly small limbs.
I'm in the middle of two projects at the moment, and I've decided to line them too. One of them is almost finished so I should be posting it in the next day or two. Lining it not only helps for washing, it also means that when you're finishing off, your hook doesn't get mixed up with the fibrefill. So good news all round. Yes, you do have to make the lining and sew it up too, but it really is worth it.
Any experience with lining or not, and are there any disadvantages with lining that I've not thought about?

Friday, 6 August 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I've not been on my blog for a while, as I took a much-needed break and a great trip to London with my son. We're back now and I've been inspired by that little snail I found, and made myself Sally. I used the same spiral pattern as on Alfie's ball, and made a simple head and body in white, with embroidered eyes and mouth in the same blue as the shell.
We're having some visitors tomorrow, including a little girl, and I'm wondering if Sally will still be living here with us after that.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tiny snail

Every Saturday I go to our local market, and I buy lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and other salad goods from a local organic farmer. The food is really good and fresh and my family looks forward to Saturdays when lunch is invariably a fresh crisp salad with tiny new potatoes and cottage cheese.
There is also a fruit seller who only sells fruit in season. The cherries have ended all too soon, but he now has apricots and melons.
Back to the lettuce. When I was washing today's I found the tiniest little snail in it. It is lovely and so tiny, with a transparent body and shell. I just couldn't resist taking its photo to share with you. To get a closer look, click on the photo. Just to give you an idea of its size, it's crawling along one of the apricots!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Japanese goodies

My friend Nobuko has just come back from a holiday in Japan to visit her family and she brought me back the cutest Japanese goodies. Thank you my dear friend!
The box is just delightful and I must say the illustration has already got me planning another amigurumi rabbit. I'm sure I've seen a pattern somewhere that looks like this little bunny. Not only that, but the sweets inside the box are just as cute and very tasty too. They have a soft sponge outside and a moist almond paste centre. Yummy yummy I definitely feel inspired!
Later: I found the pattern I was thinking of. It's here:

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Here's my latest creation, by the name of Claude, a sausage-dog rattle with crochet legs and tail.
I got the idea for Claude from the very expensive children's clothes shop near to where I live. It is very chic and sells designer clothes for kids, Baby Dior, etc. But they do sell some cool toys too. The little dog I saw there doesn't have crocheted legs and tail - they're my design, but apart from that it's pretty similar. It was fun to make - I can imagine a whole family of Claudes taking over my home.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Chubby teddy free pattern

Chubby teddies
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
The pattern has been updated. There were some errors, notably on rnd 11 of the head, that I've now corrected. I've also corrected some of the numbers of stitches that were wrong, and I've added an extra row to the ears to make them slightly bigger. I've made a new friend for the chubby teddies, using the same pattern. Please look out for chubby panda - I'll post a pic very soon. Chubby panda's legs are shorter too - please feel free to adapt the pattern as you prefer it.

Here, as promised, is the pattern for the chubby teddies. I made the small one with fine baby yarn and a 3mm hook, and the pink and white one with thicker yarn and a 3.5mm hook.

Now for the official bit:
Please do not sell this pattern. Do not post this pattern to any website, but link directly to my blog. No file sharing of this pattern.

I would also love to see your creations, and please do leave a comment.


Start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 4 - [2 sc in next st, 2 sc] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 5 - [2 sc in next st, 3 sc] rep around (30 sts)
rnd 6-8 - sc around (30 sts)
rnd 9 - [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 12 sts, [2 sc in next st] 3 times, sc in next 12 sts (36 sts)
rnd 10 - sc around (36 sts)
rnd 11 - sc in each of next 3 sts, [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, [sc2tog] twice (36 sts)
rnd 12 - sc around (36 sts)
Change to white yarn
rnd 13-15 - sc around (36 sts)
rnd 16 - [1sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog] rep around (30 sts)
rnd 17 - sc around (30 sts)
If you use safety eyes, now is a good time to fix them. You can also now embroider the nose and mouth with black embroidery thread.
rnd 18 - [1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 19 - sc around (24 sts)
rnd 20 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 21 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 2 sts] rep around (13 sts)
rnd 22 - [1 sc in next st, sc2tog] rep around (9 sts)
rnd 23 - [sc2tog] 4 times
Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the head to the body

Ears (make 2)

Start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - sc around (12 sts)
rnd 4 - [sc2tog], rep to end (6 sts)
rnd 5 - [sc2 tog] twice

Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the ears to the head


start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 4 - [2 sc in next st, 2 sc] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 5 - [2 sc in next st, 3 sc] rep around (30 sts)
rnd 6 - sc around (30 sts)
rnd 7 - [2 sc in next st, 4 sc] rep around (36 sts)
rnd 8 - [2 sc in next st, 5 sc] rep around (42 sts)
rnd 9-12 - sc around (42 sts)
rnd 13 - [1 sc in next 4sts, sc2tog] rep around (35 sts)
rnd 14 - sc around (35 sts)
rnd 15 - [1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] rep around (28 sts)
rnd 16-18 - sc around (28 sts)
rnd 19 - [1sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] rep around (21 sts)
rnd 20 - sc around (21 sts)
rnd 21 - [1sc in next st, sc2tog] rep around (14 sts)
rnd 22 - [sc2tog] to end.

Leave a long tail of yarn, weave it through the remaining stitches, draw up and fasten off.

Arms (make 2)

start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3-7 - sc around (12 sts)
rnd 8 - sc2tog, 1 sc in next 8 sts, sc2tog (10 sts)
rnd 9 - sc around (10 sts)
rnd 10-14 sc around (10 sts) (don't stuff the tops of the arms)

Fasten off, leaving a long tail of yarn to sew the arms to the body.

Legs (make 2)

start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 4-5 - sc around (18 sts)
rnd 6 - 1 sc in next 2 sts, [sc2tog] twice, 1 sc in next 5 sts, 2sc in next 2 sts, 1 sc in next 5 sts (18 sts)
rnd 7 - 1 sc in next 2 sts, [sc2 tog] twice, 1 sc in each st to end (16 sts)
rnd 8 - same as rnd 7 (14 sts)
rnd 9 - same as rnd 7 (12 sts)
rnd 10-14 - sc around (12 sts) or if you prefer shorter legs, finish at row 12.

Stuff the legs in their whole length.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail of yarn to sew the legs to the body.

Tummy (optional)

Using white yarn.

Start with a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 4 - [2 sc in next st, 2 sc] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 5 - [2 sc in next st, 3 sc] rep around (30 sts)

To assemble and finish off:

If you haven't already embroidered the nose and mouth, now is the time to do it.

Stitch each ear closed and then sew to each side of the head.

Stitch each arm top closed and then sew to each side of the body.

Sew the legs to the bottom of the body.

Sew the tummy to the tummy!

Friday, 2 July 2010


I have quite a stash of yarn and I must admit I often give in to temptation when I see beautiful yarn reduced in the sales. I recently picked up some orange and yellow yarn and hopefully you'll eventually see what I made with it. At the same shop I bought a new bag of polyester stuffing, but when I got hope I started to think about recycling.
I try to recycle lots of things. The plastic bags that the organic sliced bread we eat comes in are used again and again, I even take paper bags with me when I go shopping to avoid using new ones. I do keep things that "might come in useful" and they often do eventually. Today I bought a beautiful skirt in the sales but it's slightly transparent. I don't own an underskirt, but I had kept an old black viscose skirt whose waistband had gone loose and that had become very thin and soft, but that I couldn't bring myself to throw away. So I cut off the old waistband, and turned a hem in the top of it, thread through a piece of elastic and voilà I have a recycled underskirt!
I also own lots of polyester scarves, some of which are worn out too so I've cut them into small pieces and will be using them as stuffing for a future amigurumi project. I'm sure it's also possible to recycle yarn but I don't have any old jumpers to unthread so I'll make my way through my stash first. Do any of you have further recyling ideas?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Chubby teddy

This evening I finished my latest project - a chubby little teddy. It's about 6 inches tall and has a cheeky smile. This is my first personal creation. I'm busy writing up the pattern but I might well test it once again before publishing it here. So please "bear" with me :-)
For now it's name is Chubby teddy. Any suggestions for a better name would be welcome, too.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rattle ball for Alfie

Rattle ball for Alfie
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
I made this little ball for baby Alfie. It's about the size of a tennis ball, so easy for little hands to keep hold of. I followed the pattern for the spiral footbag, which you can find here.
My model is made with smaller stitches, using quite a fine cotton yarn, so I did add some extra rows in the middle. It's the first time I've tried to make a two-colour spiral pattern and it was in fact very straightforward.
I made a rattle with a plastic "egg" filled with a few plastic beads. I wrapped the "egg" with the stuffing, and then put the stuffing in the foot of an old stocking before putting the whole thing into the crochet ball. Then I finished off the spirals and now I just need to send it off to Alfie.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
My daughter has a thing about chihuahuas. I must say I don't share her passion for the real ones, but this tiny chihuahua is less maintenance than a real one and it can fit into a handbag, a pocket, anywhere.
I thought it was very cute, and I added a pretty pink ribbon and a little jewel to make it special. I used the free pattern available here.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Originally uploaded by aishakenza
At last! I'm pleased to introduce you to Elise, my amigurumi elephant.
Sorry it took me longer than planned to finish, because I tried several types of ear before deciding upon a very simple round shape.
In fact, I make a lot of changes to the pattern that I had planned to use, leaving only the head/body and the legs. I altered the trunk, the ears and the arms, and added a bit of embroidery around Elise's eyes.
I'm quite pleased with the end result, and Elise looks happy too.

Monday, 31 May 2010

amigurumi snake

amigurumi snake
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
This colourful snake is one of the first amigurumis I made. It came from the first impressive collection of patterns I discovered when I googled amigurumi: the Lion Brand website. The snake pattern is here. I didn't have any safety eyes, so I used two small pearl beads that I sewed on instead. I also added a felt red tongue. The yarn I used changed colour every few centimetres, which gave it a rainbow effect.
I'm still working on my elephant. I had trouble making both ears identical, but I managed in the end. Hopefully I'll be able to post a pic tomorrow, or on Wednesday.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Meet Lester

I've been looking for a cute free elephant amigurumi pattern for some time. None of them was really what I wanted, but I have nevertheless started one using this pattern. As soon as it's finished, I'll post the picture on my blog.
In the meantime, I thought you'd like to meet Lester. It's the name my son has given to the little amigurumi rabbit I made using this pattern. My Lester looks a bit different from the original version. He's 19cm tall, and I changed the facial features. I think he's cuter too!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

the blog begins!

disco birds
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Hi there!
I've been interested in sewing and crochet for many years, but have only recently started to be more active.
I discovered amigurumi (Japanese for crochet soft toys) two months ago and have really got hooked (ha ha). Here's one of my earlier creations (I found the pattern here) - more will follow and I might even get around to writing up some of my own patterns. Watch this space!