Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Free Crochet Pattern! Amigurumi Snowman Christmas Tree Decoration

In the spirit of all things festive, for this week's blog post I have written out my Snowman Christmas tree decoration pattern as an early Christmas present to you all :-) If you do decide to make one or more, I would love to see some photos! You can email them to me at cogzspot@gmail.com or even better, post them on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Cogzspot   Happy hooking!

Snowman Christmas Tree Decoration Pattern

If you have any comments or questions or spot any typos, please feel free to comment below or email me on cogzspot@gmail.com

Yarn = Oddments of DK acrylic yarn in white, black, orange and whatever colour you want the hat and scarf to be. I used Hayfield Bonus in White and Bright Orange, and Patons Fab in Black and Raspberry.
Hook = 4mm
Other materials = Polyester toy stuffing.
Tension = not critical. The finished snowman is approx. 3.5 inches high.

I use UK stitch names in this pattern. If you are not used to UK notation, the following table will be useful:

Ch (chain)
Ch (chain)
Slst (slip stitch)
Slst (slip stitch)
Sc (single crochet)
Dc (double crochet)
Hdc (half double crochet)
Htr (half treble crochet)
Dc (double crochet)
Tr (treble crochet)
Sc2tog (single crochet decrease)
Dc2tog (double crochet decrease)

This amigurumi pattern is mostly crocheted in double crochet in continuous rounds. You will also need to know how to do a slip stitch and chain stitch. Starting with an amigurumi style magic ring is optional but will give a neater finish.

White yarn
Make 4 ch and join with a sl st or start with a magic ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, 6 dc in ring. (6 stitches)
Round 2: 2 dc in each stitch. (12 stitches)
Round 3: [dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch] six times. (18 stitches)
Rounds 4 to 13: dc all round (18 stitches)
Round 14: dc2tog, 9 times (9 stitches). Stuff the body section (do not finish off yet)
Round 15: 2 dc in each stitch (18 stitches)
Rounds 16 to 19: dc all round (18 stitches)
Round 20: [dc in next stitch, dc2tog] six times. (12 stitches). Stuff the head section.
Round 21: dc2tog, six times, slst. (6 stitches)
Hanging loop: 16 ch, slst to the base of the chain to make a loop.
Fasten off and leave a long enough end to neatly sew the remaining hole closed.


Coloured yarn (raspberry in the picture)
Make 6 ch and join with a sl st or start with a magic ring. DO NOT PULL THE RING TIGHT YET
Round 1: Ch 1, 6 dc in ring. (6 stitches)
Round 2: 2 dc in each stitch. (12 stitches)
Round 3: [dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch] six times. (18 stitches)
Thread the white hanging loop through the hole on the centre of the hat (if you used a magic ring you can now pull the loop tight)
Fasten off, leaving a 20cm / 8inch end to sew the hat onto the head around the bottom edge.


Cut 6 strands of coloured yarn (raspberry in the picture), each 15 cm long. Knot them together at one end, plait, then knot the other end. Tie around the snowman's neck.

Face and buttons

Embroider eyes, nose and buttons onto the snowman with black and orange yarn, using french knots.

©Cogzspot Woolly Things 2013 You may share this pattern as a whole, or sell items made from this pattern, provided you acknowledge Zoe Coggon / Cogzspot Woolly Things as the pattern designer. It is your responsibility to ensure that any items made for sale comply with relevant local Trading Standards and Toy Safety Regulations.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Toy Safety Testing and CE Marking - A Short Story

My first love is Amigurumi, and I had for some time been idly daydreaming about a woolly empire, with every child in the area running around with one of my creations clasped in his/her hand.

So, you can imagine my panic earlier this year when I found out, almost by chance, that all toys sold within the EU, including handmade toys, must be CE marked, and must comply with the European Toy Safety requirements.

If something looks like it could be played with by someone under 14 it is not enough to simply label it with "this is not a toy". I had visions of bills for testing houses running into thousands, of trading standards officers tut tutting at my trial or, even worse, having to stop making my creatures altogether......

Luckily I found a fantastic community of like minded toy-makers on Facebook and with their support I discovered that (1) it is possible to carry out most of the tests at home and certify your toys yourself (2) it doesn't cost a fortune and (3) it can actually be quite fun, especially if you like burning things and filling in forms...

So, what follows here is a short story about my first journey into the world of CE marking. I have to point out that this is based on my own interpretation of the laws and requirements. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice.

Meet Oscar Elephant:
 A quiet happy chap, he is crocheted from soft non-toxic acrylic yarn with no gappy bits, stuffed with specially bought toy stuffing (no old socks for him!) and has no attachments like buttons or ribbons that might come off in a baby's mouth. I am confident that he is suitable from birth and would happily give him to my baby niece. BUT, how did I prove it?




And, mwhahahah....Burning!
Here's a video of the whole thing:

(note - although Oscar did catch fire eventually, videoing it allowed me to measure the rate of spread, which was well below the limit, hurray! I did decide not to put a tail on future models just to be on the safe side)

After all that excitement, I needed one of these! 

The only testing needed for soft stuffed toys that I can't do at home is chemical testing to make sure the yarn doesn't contain any toxic nasties. Luckily, I have lots of new Facebook friends (link below) who organised a kitty to send off samples from popular brands of yarn and spread the cost.

The last essential thing is to label each toy to prove that Without the CE mark and certain other bits of information they are not legal.

Oscar and I definitely earned these two little letters!

For helpful suggestions, organising a kitty for chemical testing and moral support  https://www.facebook.com/groups/cemarkingyarngroup/
For their invaluable self certification advice pack http://www.conformance.co.uk/shop/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=29798
For holding the camera while I set fire to things - my dear hubby and my Dad :-)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Remembrance Day Poppy - Free Crochet Pattern!

This year I crocheted myself a poppy for Remembrance Day, remembering to pop a donation in the tin when I saw one of course! Lots of people asked me if I was selling them but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it!) I am snowed under with customer orders this time of year. So instead, here is a pattern for my poppy brooch, which can also be made into a lovely flower garland. If you start now you will have plenty of time to crochet a few before next year :-)


I'm new to blogging, as you can probably tell. But I'm a good crocheter. It took me longer to work out how to put my pdf pattern on my blog than it takes me to crochet a poppy! I'm sure this will get easier with practice....

Monday, 11 November 2013

An African-Mexican-Christmas Bauble Story.

After making my spiral Christmas decoration a few days ago I wanted to build up a set of baubles that were different but complementary. Yesterday I spent what felt like hours making all sorts of different combinations of stars, circles and picot edges in red, white, green and even a little bit of metallic gold thread but nothing seemed just right. Before I went to bed I was ready to unravel them all!

After sleeping on it I woke up with a little bit of inspiration and THIS was the result:

The pattern is an African Flower Hexagon, something I've been looking for an excuse to try for months. For a simple step by step tutorial, check out the Heidi Bears blog post here.

The white edging with gold beads complements the spiral bauble and the combination of red, gold and green is meant to represent a lovely Christmassy poinsettia. Poinsettias originally come from Mexico, Christmas trees were first used in Germany and the motif is an African flower pattern, so this could be my tiny contribution to worldwide harmony :-)

Sometimes giving up and going to bed actually ends up being a good idea!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Welcome to Cogzspot Woolly Things

Hello! Welcome to my new blog. I logged on today with "Update Blog" at the top of my to do list, but now I'm here I am completely overwhelmed! I have a strong urge to retreat to my crafting corner and calm myself down with a few double crochets, like a kind of active meditation, it calms my soul. 

I'll start with a little bit about me, for those of you who only know me through my facebook page (when I work out how, I'll put a "proper" link to it somewhere.... ) I've been crocheting for about thirty years, ever since my mum taught me and bought me this fantastic Ladybird book. I still refer to it now when teaching other people!
Learnabout Crochet. Published by Ladybird Books Ltd 1975

During my teens and early twenties I still made the odd granny square in secret, but life got in the way. University, an early career as a research chemist, marriage and three children (currently at primary school) later, last summer I started suffering from insomnia. I remembered the soothing effect of simply sitting with a hook, a ball of wool and an idea, and started. After a few weeks, not only was I sleeping better but I had a pile of teeny creations and wondered what to do with them. As a bit of a Facebook addict, I set up a page so I could show friends that were interested what I had made without boring the others! Shortly afterwards someone asked me if I could make something for her, then a couple more orders came in, then I thought why not? It might not make me a millionaire overnight but it gives me an excuse to postpone the search for a "proper" job and keep doing something I love.

Next time - CE testing and the joy of burning things...

My facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/Cogzspot 

Please add a comment and say hello, I'd love to know what you would like to read about in the future.
Bye for now :-)