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!