Thursday, 14 January 2016

"Tortle" Turtle

Crocheted patchwork turtle on the lawn. The turtle's body, leg and head are light blue with a patchwork of hexagons on the shell on its back.
"Cupcake Turtle"
made by Jodiebodie
(December 2015)
This cheerful fellow is enjoying a happy life at last after waiting in a queue for years!

I had been wanting to make this turtle since I first saw the pattern in 2009. Unfortunately, there was always some circumstance or other priority that kept me from the project and then it even slipped my mind for a while; until the time came to think about Christmas gifts for 2015. 

One of my relatives collects turtle and tortoise figures. Some are outdoors but most of them are small enough to live in a display cabinet or shelf. The beautiful selection includes all sorts of materials; e.g. carved wood, blown glass, porcelain, cowrie shells, silver, gold plate, fabric, crystal etc.

Many of them have ambiguous identities–it is hard to tell whether they are turtles or tortoises so they are all referred to as 'tortles'!  Thus, our little friend-to-be was also named "Tortle" with a capital T. 

This Christmas I was organised enough to have time for gift-making, and awake enough to remember this pattern for a cute crocheted 'tortle':

A photo of the pattern booklet showing an example of a finished Cupcake Turtle.
"Cupcake Turtle" published by Spotlight, January 2009.

It is called a 'Cupcake' turtle because it was designed to be made with a 10 ply (worsted) yarn called "Moda Vera Cup Cake"  (50% nylon, 50% acrylic).

I didn't have any of that but I had plenty of 8 ply 100% acrylic and for a soft toy, that is just fine.  The coloured hexagons on the shell are great stashbusters because they use hardly any yarn at all (approximately 1 gram / 3 metres).

My quest to only use yarn that I already have  (my 'stash') presented a challenge. Even though I had lots of colours,  it was tricky to find a set of colours that would work together in a balanced way.  I had already decided that "Tortle" would be a light blue colour to match my relative's furnishings and the splashes of colour on Tortle's shell needed to be sympathetic to that too.  

Front view of turtle with a close up of his face which is light blue with eyes and smile embroidered in dark brown 8 ply acrylic yarn. The head is crocheted with a spiral amigurumi technique. The curve of the mouth is in alignment with the curve of the first round of the spiral. The eyes are level with the 4th and 5th rounds.
"Good morning! Have a happy day," says Tortle.
I visualised Tortle making himself comfortable on the bed where his happy face would greet my relative in the morning and bring a smile to the day.  That vision guided me through the entire project.

I began with the hexagons and was surprised at how quick they were to make–about 10 mins for each 2-round motif and easy to sew together.

They were so satisfying that I even made a few extra so there were more than enough colours and motifs for experimentation.  Eventually, a pleasing combination emerged and I pinned the shapes together to remember the chosen order.  Knowing my fatigue fog, it was highly likely I could get halfway through sewing up and forget which colour came next!

Top view of turtle displaying the 7 hexagons that make up the shell pattern.  With a lilac hexagon in the centre, clockwise from bottom: dark brown, white, yellow, tan, beige, pale pink. The turtle is facing towards the left.
I love Tortle's cute little tail!

Warning: the motifs were so easy,  concentration waned. While happily crocheting 'on auto-pilot' I accidentally added an extra chain space on a couple of hexagons during the final round which complicated the seaming. 

I chose to use a mattress stitch to join the hexagons. I worked the needle under the top two loops of each stitch in the final round so the tops of the edge stitches would create a slightly raised border and define the shapes.

Now the following statement might shock; please ensure you are sitting down safely: I did not undo my mistakes. [Gasp!] This is very un-Jodie-like.

Normally, I would undo such errors and redo the motif but time was against me in this instance.  The error was not obvious and the lengths of the sides still matched their neighbours. A discrepancy of one extra stitch was easy to blend in during seaming and, unless one was looking extremely closely, one would never know. (Did you pick it?)

Pattern Problems

Tortle's design is easy but the pattern was clumsily written and had errors. It did not provide finished dimensions, tension measurements or diagrams.  The project itself is not hard to work out but the pattern instructions made it harder than necessary.

Tortle's body is made in two halves: top and bottom.  The head, legs and tail are crocheted separately and then stitched onto the body.
The bottom half of the turtle viewed from underneath.  It is worked in a spiral.
The bottom half of the turtle.
The sections are worked in spirals.

Begin the top half by joining the hexagon motifs into a circular shape. Then the blue yarn is joined into the motif edges and continues in joined rounds to complete the top half.

The pattern was not very clear about where to join the blue yarn onto the motifs

"Sl st yarn into the corner of one motif just above the side seam and work 1 dc into same 1-ch space..."
At first I thought the yarn had to join on an inside corner where two motifs connect (e.g. just above the side seam) when actually it needed to be joined on an outside corner, 1 chain space before that.

"1 dc in each of next 4 dc, dec over the 1-ch sp of both attached motifs ..."
This 1-ch space of both attached motifs is an inside corner at the top of a seam and where I first joined my yarn. When I got to this second instruction I realised I was wrong about the first and had to undo my work and start again.
This instruction also had me second guessing because of the decrease (dec). Some patterns use the term dec  to represent dc2tog which means only one stitch is added to the count where there used to be two stitches.

After the misunderstanding about joining, I had lost confidence with the pattern. When I couldn't see two free stitches to work the decrease, I worried that perhaps I should have only worked 3 dc instead of 4 (which would leave room for a dc2tog). The photograph of a finished turtle looked like it used dc2tog. I eventually realised that I needed to work 4 dc into the side of one motif and then miss the 1-ch space and work 4 dc into the side of the next motif along!  It would have been much simpler if the pattern used miss or skip 1-ch sp instead of dec.

All of these instructions were written without reference to a round or row number. Perhaps it was meant to be a foundation round.  I would have classified it as the first round of blue yarn but no, the pattern calls the next round Rnd 1.   The repeat (rep) sequence "for all sides of the large motif" failed to allow for the final 4 dc on the last side of the last hexagon before finishing with an extra dc and sl st join back at the start of that foundation round.

The second round of blue yarn was called Rnd 1. It was little things like this in the pattern that were starting to annoy me before I had even begun!


There was an extra dc missing from the beginning of each round's instructions and subsequent 'off by one' errors.

Rnd 1: 1 ch, 1 dc, *1 dc in ea of next 3 dc, dec over next 3 2 sts, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in ea of next 6 dc at top of motif, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to last st, sl st to starting ch.

Rnd 2: 1 ch, 1 dc, *1 dc in ea of next 2 dc, dec over next 3 sts, 1 dc in ea of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in ea of next 8 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to last st, sl st to starting ch.

Rnd 3: 1 ch, 1 dc, *1 dc in next dc, dec over next 3 sts, 1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in ea of next 10 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to last st, sl st to starting ch, fasten off.

The pattern instructions for the legs had an entire round missing! The end-of-round stitch counts were not adding up. I needed to add another round (6a) between Rnds 6 and 7:

Rnd 6: 1 dc in each dc around [12 dc]
Rnd 6a: (1 dec over next 2 dc, 1 dc in next 2 dc) 3 times [9 sts]
Rnd 7: (1 dec over next 2 dc, 1 dc in next dc) 3 times [6 dc]

In short, I was not impressed with this written pattern at all and needed to draw my own diagrams to make sense of it.

Jodiebodie's diagram trying to make sense of a faulty written pattern.
My own diagram
which may or may not be the same as the intended pattern!
This worked for me.


Falling In Love

Once the pattern hurdles were overcome, the rest of the project was easy and I fell in love with this cute little turtle.  He was presented as a gift with some pretty soaps and tied together with a large, pretty ribbon.

The recipient was 'quite taken with Tortle' who now lives on her bed.  Tortle's happy grin delights her so much that she has been telling everyone about him and he is doing his job of making her smile every morning!

It is so satisfying when things work out perfectly.

Tortle turtle–big success!

What has been your most successful
pattern or project?
A blue crocheted turtle is creeping towards us on the lawn. Its happy blue face has dark brown embroidered eyes and smile.  Its 'shell' is patterned with a crocheted hexagon patchwork in pastel colours.
Tortle exercising on the lawn.
There is a ridge where the two halves of the shell are joined.
The edge of the bottom half is joined to the second-to-last round of the top half so the top half can overlap slightly.

Pattern Details

Cover of Living with Yarn-Charmed Knits booklet.
Living with Yarn–Charmed Knits(front cover)

"Cupcake Turtle" published in the booklet, Living with Yarn–Charmed Knits by  Spotlight Pty Ltd,  January 2009.
This pattern was written for the Moda Vera 'Cup Cake' yarn which has since been discontinued.  It was a 10 ply (worsted) 50% acrylic 50% nylon blend.  The recommended hook size was 5 mm.

I used a 4.25 mm hook to cater for a thinner yarn and I wanted a tighter tension to hold the stuffing inside the toy.

Yarn Details

Turtle Body
  • Light Blue: Moda Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply, 100% acrylic, col. 1042 'Cloud', lot #774600; used approx 33 g / 94 m


  • Purple: Kmart Homemaker Everyday 8 ply, col. 362 'lilac', lot #774661, used approx 1 g / 3.1 m
  • White: Kmart Homemaker Everyday 8 ply, col. 301 'whtie', lot #765326, used approx 1 g / 3.1 m
  • Yellow: Moda Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply, col. 1041 'lemon sorbet', lot #775046, used approx 1 g / 2.8 m
  • Light Brown*: either Panda Magnum Tan 334 or Carnival 8 ply  Tan 034
  • Beige: Moda Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply, col. 1060 'flesh', lot #777064,used approx 1 g / 2.8 m
  • Pink: Moda Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply, col. 1012 'pale pink', lot #773755, used approx 1 g / 2.8 m
  • Dark Brown*: either Knitting Yarn (purple label, discount), col. 'chocolate', item #21421 or Brown Bear by Lincraft
*Some brown remnants were not labelled and I could not identify them with certainty!

Links & References

Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA), "Joining seams (Invisible Weaving, also called Mattress Stitch, Backstitch, Slip Stitch)", Crochet 911, web page: 
Find a shortcut link to this article in the right hand column of the Crochet 911 page.

Jodiebodie, " 'Tortle' Turtle" project page, Ravelry:

Lupey Loops, "1 Week, 3 Projects", blog post, January 2015:

Spotlight, "Cupcake Turtle" crochet pattern, Living with Yarn–Charmed Knits, booklet,   Spotlight Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, January 2009.

Spotlight Australia stores: 


  1. He is a fabulous Tortle!!! I am sure that your errata and chart will be well appreciated by anyone making him! xx

    1. I'm glad you like it, Amy! Have you ever made a turtle? Mine is the only 'Cupcake Turtle' listed on Ravelry. I wonder whether the errors in the written pattern are part of the reason. At the very least, I know I will appreciate having the corrections and chart here next time I want to make another 'Tortle'. Having it published on the blog means I can access it online wherever I happen to be.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheryl, I think so too (Mummy-bias)!
      The thing I love about making a turtle is that it can be all sorts of things - a toy, cushion, pajama case and next time I think I might try to make a turtle that can have a lavender sachet or similar incorporated into the shell. So many gift options for those who like 'tortles'!

  3. He is so cute and you did a wonderful job making him. I don't have a successful pattern as I swear I am not creative enough to make one up. Bravo to you!

    1. Thank you Meredith for your compliments. I am sorry I was not clear with my question in hindsight. Perhaps I should have asked "What has been your most successful project?" because that was included in my thinking as I wrote it. I will go and edit that!
      I disagree about not being creative enough - EVERYONE has some creativity! Even the basic choices about pattern, colour and materials are expressions of creativity. You show me your creativity on your blog all the time from the way you arrange and coordinate your furnishings to the crafty projects you choose.
      So I will ask again "What do you consider your most successful project?"

  4. This Tortle is absolutely gorgeous, I've never made a turtle before but I might try this one. Thank you for sharing your chart. Hx

    1. If Tortle has inspired you, that's great, Helen. There are lots of turtle patterns on Ravelry but I haven't found this one online anywhere recently. Please let me know if you find one like it. The chart is a good starting point and the rest of the turtle is fairly straightforward if you have experience making toys and amigurumi. Thanks for visiting Lupey Loops and saying hello!

  5. Once again, well done, Jodie!

    Ingrid xx

  6. Hi Jodie, I seem to have missed some posts, they haven't been coming up on my feed. Hopefully got that sorted now.
    I love tortle. He is such gorgeous colours. I hope you have a very happy 2016. Xx

    1. Don't worry about missing posts, it happens and it has been a very busy time over Christmas-New Year. I'm glad you like Tortle's colours. The palette was limited - I didn't want to mix the delicate pastels with bright jewel colours and the decor of Tortle's new home is suited best by the pastels. It is good to find a pleasing combination. Sometimes colour choosing is half the battle!
      Thank you for your support during 2015. May 2016 bring lots more crafty goodness and happiness. xx