Emma Brown is a craft lover and crochet toy designer. Her first book, Crocheted Bears and other Animals is full of beautiful crochet patterns for homemade toys. Emma pays huge attention to detail when creating her crochet characters and their accessories, so the bears and other animals are super cute and you're bound to enjoy making them yourself at home!
Crocheted Bears and other Animals is absolutely adorable, congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the book writing process? How did it feel to be putting your patterns down on the page and seeing them come to life in the photos?
As I crochet each animal, I make a note of the pattern and think about what kind of character they will be. Once the toy is complete I type up the pattern and write a short story to accompany them. Seeing the photographs of the animals for the first time is really special, as each set is individually designed with the story in mind to compliment the character.
Do you have a favourite character from the book and why?
I am fond of all of my characters but my favourite is Ronnie the Bear, he was the original bear that I made when I decided to write patterns. I also love The Tree Toppers as they are a little mischievous with cheeky expressions - it was fun to create a make believe character that looks different from the other animals!
We love the attention to detail in all of your crocheted animals. What do you think would be your top three tips for creating a cute teddy bear or other handmade toy?
Tip number 1: Always pull apart the stuffing before filling the body shapes to avoid lumps and bumps in your makes. I like to stuff the shapes fairly firmly so that the pieces hold their shape well.
Tip number 2: When inserting the safety eyes, re position them until you are happy - moving them up or down a row or spacing them closer together or further apart can make all the difference. If the animal has a muzzle, hold it up to the face to help. I like to use plain black eyes and usually insert them just above the muzzle.
Tip number 3: Before embroidering the nose and mouth use glass or plastic round ended pins to outline the shape. Push them right into the face as you would for a pincushion, they can easily be moved around to achieve the right size features.
Aside from crocheting, how else do you like to spend your time?
When I am not spending time with my family, I enjoy other crafty hobbies. Since using yarn in my projects I became interested in the process of making wool, so I bought whole alpaca and sheep fleeces to experiment with. I love the idea of turning a natural raw fleece into a finished skein of yarn. I was also lucky that my husband made me a drum carder to help with processing such large amounts of fleece!
And finally, can you tell us how you got into crochet and what you are most looking forward to in your crafty life at the moment?
I stumbled across crochet about seven years ago when I was looking for a new hobby. The small amigurumi style toys featured in Nicki Trench's book Super Cute Crochet appealed to me and I wanted to give it a try. I love crocheting and I would like to experiment with dyeing some lovely tonal and variegated yarns in the future to use in my projects.
Have a go at making one of Emma's crocheted bears yourself - you can find the pattern for Brindley the Bear on our blog - or get your copy of Crocheted Bears and other Animals and make your own collection of crochet animal friends!