“These are a few of the questions people often ask me.”

Do you have a favourite glue to use on knitting, and can I use water-based PVA adhesive so I’d be able to wash off any mistakes I made?

I always use UHU clear adhesive as this dries quite quickly and holds small pieces securely. To avoid leaving glue trails over your work, don’t spread the glue straight from the tube but instead use a cocktail stick or toothpick to dab a spot of glue where needed. PVA adhesive is not really suitable for toymaking because it would dissolve if the toy was washed or somehow became wet.

I haven’t downloaded a PDF file before. Would you describe what happens?

Once you’ve paid for the pattern(s) through PayPal you will receive an automatically generated email that includes a download link. This usually arrives within a few minutes, but please allow up to 30 minutes, and this message can only be sent to the email address that you have registered with PayPal. When you click the link you’ll be taken to a download page, and on this page will be thumbnails of the patterns you have bought, together with a ‘download’ button under each one. Click (once only) on each button in turn and your computer should ask you where you would like the file to be saved. Different computers have different ways of doing this, but the main point is to save the file to your hard disk, because if you click on the ‘download’ button again (or double click on it in the first place) you’ll be taken back to the website. Once saved, you can open each pattern, using Adobe Acrobat Reader, and then print it out.

I like to knit for charity. Am I allowed to use your patterns for this purpose?

I’m perfectly happy for you to knit up my designs to sell in aid of charities. However, if you wanted to knit licensed characters you would need to ask the license holder, whose name will appear on the leaflet or magazine article, if they have any objection.

I live in the States and it took me quite a while to translate ‘cotton buds’ into the American ‘Q-tips’. Would it be possible to include a UK/US glossary somewhere on your website? And could I also use chopsticks where you quote ‘bamboo skewers’?

To save you from wasting valuable knitting time having to translate from British to American, here are a few items I use that have different names across the Atlantic. Chenille stems are pipe cleaners; cocktail sticks are tooth picks; and wadding is batting. The bamboo skewers I use are sometimes called ‘satay skewers’ and are much thinner than chopsticks. They are just a little bit thicker than a toothpick, are pointed on one end only, and usually come in 12in/30cm lengths.

I often get so engrossed with knitting a toy I find that my arms and back hurt afterwards. Do you have any advice?

It is a good idea to make sure you have a break every 30 minutes or so. Just standing up and walking round for a few minutes will do. I always sit on an upright chair to knit and try not to lean to one side or twist my body. You’re doing this for enjoyment, so take your time and relax!

I’m having difficulty adding items to my basket as when I look at it there’s nothing in it. Why is this?

Make sure that cookies are enabled for your browser, or try again, this time using a different browser. This usually solves the problem.

I’m never happy with the finish when I sew up a toy with backstitch, and turning some of the smaller pieces through to the right side can be very difficult. What method do you use?

I always sew every seam with mattress stitch, which is worked from the right side of the knitting, and all my patterns have a one stitch seam allowance added to accommodate it. If you use this method the seam is virtually invisible and you have no need to turn small pieces to the right side – because they’re there already! Any good knitting book should have diagrams to illustrate this stitch, which is sometimes also called ladder stitch.

I’ve followed the pattern, but the number of stitches on my needle isn’t the same as that stated. What am I doing wrong?

Please check the abbreviations list that is on each pattern, especially when it comes to increasing. I always work into the front and back of the next stitch to increase, written as ‘inc 1’ in my patterns but also known as KFB, however many people decide to use an alternative method of increasing which results in a different number count and then assume that there are mistakes in the pattern. This is the most common fault amongst toy knitters, and can easily be remedied by taking time to read the instructions first. I only ever use this one method of increasing, so once you have mastered it you can be sure that every one of my patterns will work for you.

If I knit all the pieces first, I sometimes forget which piece is which. What can I do about this?

Why not pin a little label on to the right side of each piece after you have knitted it? This is also particularly helpful when using textured yarns where it is sometimes difficult to tell which is the right and wrong side.

My download didn’t work. What can I do?

First check that the email giving you download details isn’t in your spam/junk folder, as some servers automatically deliver unknown email there, and make sure that you’re looking at email sent to the address you have registered with PayPal. Also look through the answer to the previous question regarding downloading. If none of these help, then please write to me within the ‘contact’ page on this site. Don’t forget to give details of the patterns you have ordered and the order number, then, if the PayPal payment has been approved, I will be able to send you the patterns as an attachment to an email. If you’re in a different time zone to the UK please don’t expect this to happen instantly.

Some of your patterns use ‘towelling effect yarn’. What is this?

The yarn used for these patterns was Sirdar Snowflake DK, which was discontinued for a short while, but then re-introduced as a baby yarn, in pastel shades and in smaller balls, under the name of Sirdar Snuggly Snowflake DK. The current colour range is very small, so if you are unable to find this yarn there are alternatives available, such as Vesper Super-Soft Baby Double Knitting, produced by V & A Products Ltd., Bradford BD8 8JL, although any double knitting equivalent can be substituted provided the tension matches that quoted in the pattern. Be aware that the purl side of this yarn is treated as the right side, so you should take this into consideration if you choose to use a standard, non-textured, DK yarn.

Where can I buy the patterns you designed of well-known characters like Brambly Hedge and Beatrix Potter? I have seen copies for sale but believe these aren’t legal.

All the patterns for these and other licensed characters are now long out of print and the licenses to sell them have expired. A licensed character is one that appears in other mediums, such as books, films, or television programmes and, although I own the copyright to the pattern instructions, a very expensive license would need to be purchased for each collection of characters before they could be reissued. In the past, all the licenses were bought by the companies that printed the leaflets, and because the license fees are so high I can’t afford to buy new licenses in order to reissue the patterns myself, so this is why they are no longer available. You may be able to find some original patterns offered for sale, but photocopies, CDs and downloads of these designs are illegal because they not only infringe my copyright but also that of the creators of the characters and/or their agents, and I’d be most grateful if you would report these sellers to me. I can very easily, and swiftly, have any infringing items that are listed on eBay removed since I am registered with their Verified Rights Ownership programme.

Why is my toy so much larger than the size given? It took more yarn and stuffing than quoted in the pattern too.

You probably didn’t check your tension first. I know it’s boring, but it is the only way to make absolutely sure that you get a perfect finish. All my designs are knitted with smaller needles than those recommended for the yarn used, as this makes a firm fabric through which you can’t see the stuffing. If your tension is too loose, you’ll need to adjust the needle size until the number of stitches and rows match those quoted in the pattern. The looser your tension, the larger the finished toy will be, and the more yarn and stuffing you will use.

You sometimes use plastic safety eyes or felt dot eyes on your toys. Are these suitable if the toy is to be given to a baby, or should I substitute with something else?

If you’re making the toy for a baby or toddler under 3 years old, it’s probably wiser to embroider the eyes, using yarn and working a tiny circle of chain stitches. Some of my patterns use this method, usually splitting the yarn so you only use two strands for the embroidery.