Friday, December 30, 2011

The Final FO Friday of 2011...

Which makes me feel like I should be doing some whole "Stuff I Made This Year" retrospective, but there's no time for that, so instead, meet the assembled Ms. Amineko.

If you've been thinking of making an Amineko, let me cast my vote for "OMG YES, MAKE ONE!"  Easy to crochet, not that bad to assemble (much better than I was expecting!), and just so beautifully designed.  I don't usually follow a pattern terribly closely, but I stuck to this one exactly, even down to the face embroidery (because it was just too sweet to try and change), and I think this is one of the more polished-looking things I've ever made, which I'm really pleased about.

I also made her a Lotus of Contemplation from this pattern.  (Her next accessory is going to be a Jayne Cobb Cunning Hat.  Are any of you guys Firefly fans?)

And the poses are just as adorable as advertised.  Uh, even if one happened to have stuffed and assembled this pretty kitty while sitting in bed watching Blue Bloods without a really good flat surface to test the weighted-ness.  (Patterns that are well-designed enough to surmount my haphazardness? A++!)

Definitely one of those patterns where I'm already mentally selecting a skein for the next one.  (I'm thinking maybe good ol' Red Heart in Marrakesh.  Thoughts?  I loooove this Ms. Neko in solid, but I'm interested to try working one in a variegated yarn.)

And I've even learned enough about time management and project selection that I had time to make my first ever proper scarf, too.  A library I go to a lot has a winter-warm-items donation tree, and I wanted to add something to it, so I picked a fun, mindless-TV-crochetin' pattern and made this up out of stash yarn while watching some of Water for Elephants (meh), the pilot of Homeland (totally hooked, so well done), and a random episode of Game of Thrones.  And some more Blue Bloods, which is on in the background of the photo, hah.  I was happy to discover that I've gained the patience to crochet into a long foundation chain, and had enough scarf-fun that my second scarf (from a different pattern) is already on the hooks.  And mostly finished, in fact, so it will be appearing in 2012!

And here to wave a cheerful goodbye to 2011 is Pepper, probably my favourite owl of the year.  (But don't tell the others.)  I liked her enough that I couldn't bear to sell her---I actually laughed out loud as I tied on the silly little ear-tassels.

Go say hello to lots of amazing projects at Fibers on Friday and FO Friday! :D  And thanks so, so much to all of you for being such a supportive and talented and inspiring community to be part of this year.  <3

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cats and Rainbows. My WIPs are a Lisa Frank trapper keeper.

Here's Ms. Amineko, going along quite nicely, I think.  I just have the body to finish, and that can probably be done over the course of an episode or two of Blue Bloods (I have the first season from the library right now, and I'm mostly liking it.  Good crafting-to TV.) tonight.  Then comes the face-embroidery and assembly, which will be a little more difficult.  I'm just lucky that I realized when I'd only gotten six rows into the body (1.0) that ajlksdjflksa THE BODY HAS TO BE DONE LAST FOR OPTIMAL STUFFING OH MY GOD, because the body's beans:stuffing ratio will be dependent on how the legs help it balance! So I frogged and started in on the arms and legs instead, and now here I am at body 2.0, feeling stupidly relieved to have caught that in time.

Also, if you're thinking of making one of these sweeties yourself and the charted pattern scares you, I'm happy to share the discovery of this version, put together by an enterprising blogger waaaay back in 2006.  Someday I'll learn to read charted patterns.  But not today.

And a couple things that I'm looking forward to getting back to once Amineko is all finished and gift-given:

I got a ball of Blue Moon Socks that Rock yarn as a "sorry you couldn't go to Rhinebeck" gift, and it's a whole "Baby's First Quality Yarn" experience for me.  And oh my gosh, I'm in love.  First of all, the colours are amazing---this photo doesn't do them justice at all.  But it just feels so good to work with. Even working into the foundation chain (my hatred of said process is part of the reason I'm so into amigurumi, haha) wasn't a problem.  This is going to be a pair of Fingerless Gloves of Win.  Someday.  And then I imagine I'll take the rest of the giant, gorgeous ball and roll around with it like a gleeful kitten.  And then stalk the Blue Moon website pretending I have money for moooooore yarns.

I also started an Elise shawl,which I'm not sure about yet.  Mine doesn't look as open and pretty as all the photos on Ravelry, which I think is partly due to the magic of blocking, but is also due to the fact that I'm not great with sock-weight yarn and a large-ish hook (I think this pattern calls for an H? maybe an I?  I obviously haven't worked on it in a while), so my tension kind of sucks.  I probably would have already frogged this and started over except that the yarn is sort of hard to frog, so I'm hesitating.  I like the colours, though.

Awesomeness awaits you at WIP Wednesday, go ogle all the Christmas-craftin' (and just plain craftin') that's going on!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Small Projects Finish Fast.

...which sounds like an acronym you'd use in elementary school, like Every Good Boy Does Fine to remember the notes of the treble clef.

So here are my handful of pocket cats, the absolute essence of "small project."  The green and blue ones on the bottom were my "commissioned" cats, and went out to their new owner on Sunday.

I've also done a couple small projects from other people's (generous! lovely!) free patterns, like this teeny snowman from here at the Dapper Toad.  I recommend this little guy, he's crocheted/shaped all in one piece, rather than making a separate head and body, and now I want to make an army of them in different coloured scarves...

I also couldn't resist (and also want to make more in different colours) this tiny stocking pattern from Amiguria.  Another fast, fun, and blissfully-made-in-one-piece project.  There are so many possibilities to embellish these things, too, it kind of makes my head spin just thinking about it!  I've already started one in more traditional red and white, but got sidetracked by reading Sara Gruen's Ape House instead.  (It's been a while since a book just...sucked me in.  I'd forgotten  how good it feels!)  I'm liking this whole..."making ornaments" thing.  I'm not usually that big into Christmas-anything, but I've got another tab open searching Ravelry for more patterns right now.

 Perhaps adding to my feeling of ornament-making warm fuzziness is that I've been lucky enough to receive some beautiful things from across the pond as a result of belonging to this WIP Wednesday/FO Friday blogging community!  I won the lovely skein of yarn from Nat at Misadventures in Craft, and got the amazing card (featuring the sweetest little handknit tree ever!) from Sam at Knitting Adventures.  After Christmas, I'm definitely passing some luck and sweetness back into the world with a giveaway here at my blog, so stay tuned for that.

Until then, go check out FO Friday.

Oh! And because it feels wrong to make an FO Friday post sans owl, here's Muir, the naturalist owl.  He's one of the few still in my possession, if you'd like him.  Okay, Muir is sold now, but maybe you'd like to swap me something you've knit or crocheted for an owl of your choice (after the holidays)?  I'm sort of dying to swap with some of you guys, if you'd be open to the idea, and I'm mulling over thoughts about that to implement after Christmas, too...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday, Short and Sweet.

...And with a terrible photo, as I'm pressed for time and it's already pitch black.  (Ugh, winter.)

If you search for "amigurumi" in Ravelry's pattern database and sort by "most projects," the first result you get is Amineko the cat, who is even the star of his (or her) very own book.  While I've always admired the cute face and extreme poseability of this fine feline creation, and even regarded it as a kind of amigurumi rite of passage, in my head, Amineko falls firmly in the "TOO BIG!!" spectrum of amigurumi for me.

However (as proven by last year's pony semi-fiasco) Christmas-gurumi are an exception to the "TOO BIG!!" rule, and I have a hunch that Amineko's sweet face and array of meditative and cute poses will make my mom really happy.  So I grabbed some good ol' scratchy Red Heart yarn in Turqua (I was tempted by a blue/purple variegated, but I think that Amineko will be better served by a solid colour, although I'm planning a stripe or two on the body, maybe) and started hooking.  I wasn't sold on the head shape, or the head to muzzle ratio at first, but this was one of those cool projects where once I stuck some pins in it, I fell a little in love.  As usual, there seems to be a definite reason why this is an uber-popular pattern.  Even featureless and pinned together, it's cute and oddly friendly and peaceful looking (...that's probably just my vivid imagination filling in the blanks, there...).

I also have a couple random little ornament-type projects lying around, and those, rather than Ms. Neko, will probably be what will show up on Friday.  But I can totally finish this cat by ChristmasThe fact that she's not giant and needing a mane and tail attached will help! 

See other people's presents and projects in progress over at WIP Wednesdays!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Owl(s) and the Pussycat(s). And Chinese Food.

First, the FO I'm most excited about---my painted papier-mache cat from almost a month ago.  I asked my mom what sort of colour scheme she wanted, and she waffled, so I decided to go with something inspired by Laurel Burch's cats, which my mom loves even though she's not usually into such bold colours and prints.  The face turned out a little sloppy because I was using too big a brush and the uneven surface of the papier-mache is a bit of a challenge to begin with, but still so much fun to paint on. 

Without much further ado, I'd like to introduce you to some of the owls that have been piling up (and fortunately, selling!) while I haven't had any time or reliable internet access to blog.

Like Ms. Katherine the vampire owl, who took a walk to the cemetery with me to be photographed.

And Shinobi the very cunning and slightly lopsided (that's what I get for working with black yarn.  at night.  while watching Parks and Recreation.) ninja owl...

And Zoinks the zombie owl, pictured here with his novelty-yarn feathers ruffling in the wind, which I was so excited ended up in the photo!

And Maya, whose yarn (Loops and Threads Impeccable in Folklore) didn't work up as nicely as I thought it would!  And this is only some of them!  I don't want to owlwhelm you all, so I'll save some for later. 

I wanted something smaller and cheaper for the craft fair table, so I devised these pocket cats.  And photographed them on top of a tub of French lentils for no reason.  A friend's six-ish year old son bought the grey one and---adorably---had his mom email my mom requesting friends for it in blue and green, so that's what will be on my hooks tonight as I curl up in front of the TV.

And last but not least, some Christmas-gift crocheting.   More dumplings from this super-cute pattern, and this time I did the soy sauce bottle, too.

Check out other people's finished goodies at FO Friday. :D

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Squee Sunday: A Random Photoessay About the World's Least Dramatic Dream Deferred.

So I guess the first Order of Squee is the fact that all my owls (ten in all, including a couple who haven't been introduced to the internet-at-large yet like Ms. Hedwig above) went to a craft fair with my mom yesterday, and all of them except poor zany, pineapply Shawn got sold!  And there are more craft fairs to come, so I have to become an Owl Factory over the next few weeks, I guess.

But before I get down to the owlin'...

It probably won't come as a surprise when I say that I was a weird kid.  (Was?)  One of my many quirks was my strange obsession with this papier-mache book, which I would pore over all the time and wax poetic to my mom about wouldn't it be cool to make one of these SNAKES? or a CAT? And yet somehow, I just...never actually did any papier-mache.  (I wasn't very craftily-inclined as a kid, so that's not too surprising.)

I unearthed the book a little while ago and decided it was high time to fulfill my childhood dream.  A few weeks ago, I made this silly spider (one of the first projects in the book!) to be part of my Halloween decor.

And oh my gosh, I was in love.  Just the process of sitting on my kitchen floor at like, 8:30 in the morning (don't ask) and smooooothing flour-pasty newspaper strips over a stuffed-and-shaped plastic bag was so meditative and relaxing and then it actually dried (...I wasn't sure.  It's really humid here and sometimes that ruins projects.) and painted up like a dream, despite its overall amateur lumpiness.  I knew I wanted to make more.

So this weekend, it was cat time.  I've always been a Cat Person, so I was pretty stupid-excited about this.  I sat down with my exceedingly gorgeous model:

And got to stuffing-and-taping to try and get a nice sleeping-cat shape.  (This particular sculpture---I feel weird calling something this haphazard a "sculpture"--- is going to be a sleepy-zen cat for my mom, as her hobbit-gift for my birthday.  She's big on the "giving other people stuff on your birthday" thing, much like Mr. Bilbo Baggins.)

This is a terrible shot, but I love the shadow!

The next morning, I shifted everything over to a non-carpeted surface (hello, kitchen floor again...) and got working.  Process: still amazing.  Although this one was a little more difficult than the spider due to the ears and tail, which required fiddlier little strips of paper and more fancy wrapping.

Gloriously gooey.

And today, dried and covered with some gesso as I try to decide how it should look.  Do I make it a splotchy grey-and-white replica of my cat?  Make it whimsical and teal with spiral-spots?  ...Paint it black to hide the flaws as much as possible?  Whatever I end up doing, I'm happy (squeeful, in fact) that weird-kid-me was totally right about how much fun this papier-mache business is.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Today's yet another post-and-run type day, but I had to introduce you to the Owl of the Week---Bruno, Zombie Owl 2.0.  I initially envisioned him as being like...creepier than Petunia, and even gave him differently sized eyes to try and channel that weird-cute aesthetic, but I think it tipped over onto the "cute" side more than I was expecting.  Look how inquisitive he looks, like he's tilting his little decaying head and hopefully chirping brains?

And an only-semi-FO.  When I saw this "Scary Blackberry" Kool-Aid in the supermarket (and I hope they still have it, because I would so get more while it's still around for the season!), I couldn't resist.  I dyed a little bite of yarn half in the blackberry and half in a combination of pineapple (which smells amazing) and blue-lemonade, and added a dab of Wilton's orange for extra Halloween-ness.
I started swatching it into a little basic amigurumi circle because I had to see how it would work up. I like how the blackberry is almost forming a spiral!  I'm not sure what it wants to be yet, though.

As always, check out other people's amazing work at FO Friday.   I'm off to the store to see if there's more Scary Blackberry Kool-Aid to be had.  :D

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spooktacular Squee.

Today's squee is all about beautiful weather (which I sadly wasted a little as I got caught up in a crocheting project---my first crocheted cables!  More on that later this week.) and Halloween decorations.  Halloween is my absolute favourite holiday, and every year I swear it's going to be the year that I really go all-out with the decorating, but it just...never is.  I'm pretty much okay with that by now!  I did, however, get this cool spider tea-light-holder thing (not pictured: two other sparkly-spiders mounted on the stake!) on uber-sale at Joann's.  I think I'm going to have to buy those lame fake tealights for it, as real ones would just get blown out since the spiders, awesome as they are, won't offer much of a shield from the wind.  (I insist on real candles for jack'o'lanterns, though.  Fake ones would just be wrong.)

I also adorned the ugly hedge in front of my house with some fake spiderwebs and orange and too-blue LED ghost lights.  Much better.

I ended up in a dollar store by accident on Thursday, and came home with this guy (...and a box of mini Moon Pies, another source of tasty and evil squee).  I may go back there later for more of them---they had smaller ones that came hung on a garland, I don't know if I can resist.  Not to mention the actually-kind-of-creepy gummy eyeballs.  And super-cheap votive candles that might do for this year's jack'o'lanterns!  And Reese's Peanut Butter Cups...

I generally scoff at my dad's weird affection for and/or obsession with dollar stores, but I think I've just been reminded of the appeal.  This is probably bad.

But awesome dollar store finds aside, I think the most fun Halloween stuff is handmade.  These guys are another accident---I found a tutorial that said you could create little felted balls by just sort of...shaking wool roving around in a sealed container with warm, soapy water.  It didn't work out for me (it didn't help that the container I was using wasn't particularly watertight, so I got tired of shaking it and getting damp really quickly), but I ended up with these cool creepy-wispy shapes that I decided to needle felt into ghosts. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

FO Friday: the One-Third Faceless Edition.

A bit of a cheat for my first FO this Friday.  This guy---Wonky the Tortoise, my mom's birthday-gurumi this year---was an FO last week, just sadly unphotographed.  Wonky is so dubbed because my lack of sewing skills and the fiddliness of this pattern mean he's...well, wonky.  But still freestanding, as a testament to the pattern's awesomeness.  I knew he'd be fiddly and wonky when I began him, I've made Enough Ami to Know Better, but I couldn't resist the pattern.  My mom loves a happy turtle, and this is one of the happier turtle amis I've ever seen.  The way the face is designed is an ends-weaving-in nightmare, but worth it!

Especially when you can plunk him down in front of a plate of salad and hope the camera shifts into macro mode correctly, and end up with a photo where it almost looks alive. :D  (I so enjoyed eating this salad after I took this photo.  This is something turtles and I have in common.)

This week's Owl of the Week (available here!) is Petunia, the weirdly cutesy-poo zombie owl.  (...Zombowl? No, probably not, that just makes it look like "zom-bowl," which isn't a bad idea, really.)  I wasn't planning on a pink-and-green zombie-owl, but when I was sifting through the eyelash yarns, this one just called out to me to go with the ghastly-green-fleck I was using for the body.  Next up, a non-cutesy zombie-owl.  I'm not sure how I like the effect of the coloured safety eyes rather than the solid black, but Ms. Petunia was clear that she NEEDED MOAR PINK, so I complied.  You don't want to argue with a zombie-owl.  Her little beak (in slightly-sparkly green with very subtle baby pink swirls!) is pretty sharp. 

And the FO I'm most excited about this week, my Camille shawlette/scarf/whatever.  This is a crocheted version of the beautiful and popular Saroyan (and it totally tickled me, as a Bones fan, to be making a pattern named for/inspired by a character from the show!), and while I don't usually like crocheted adaptations of knitted designs that much---crochet and knit have such different properties, and often trying to reproduce elements of one crafting method in the other just...doesn't work for me---I think I might like the crocheted leaf-border better than the original knit version.

You guys know me.  I don't do big projects.  But the Knitting and Crochet House Cup nudged me into this one by having a 200 yard requirement for a task, so I started perusing Ravelry's crazy wealth of patterns and this sang to me right away.  The yarn I used wasn't a match made in heaven for the pattern, for two reasons.  One of which I knew going in:  it was the wrong weight.  This is a worsted, and the pattern calls for DK, but I was seduced by this colourway (Bernat Mosaic in Medusa), so I went ahead anyway, and the resulting shawl is a little too big-and-blocky for me to wear in a pretty way, and it obviously has zero drape, but it's nice and cuddly scrunched up as a scarf.  I don't know if I'm going to keep it or give it as a gift.  My initial instinct was gift, but then I wore it for hours the other day, so... 

I love the way the colours worked up...sort of.  The striping-ness of the yarn combined with the long rows of the shawl's midsection made for some too-bold striping on the leaf border.  So I've learned a twofold lesson about what to do with the next one. (Because there's going to be a next one.  This pattern is amazing, I definitely recommend giving it a try---even just swatching the first couple repeats to see how the leaf border just...makes itself, all pretty, is a really cool and worthwhile crochet experience.  I've already swatched the beginning of the shawl two or three more times to see what it does in different yarns!)  Lighter weight yarn in a more subtle-variegated (as opposed to self-striping) yarn.  I'm thinking something in a peachy orange, maybe...

Check out some other amazing proejcts (some by much more experienced and impressive shawl-makers than I!) at FO Friday and Fibers on Friday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

FO Friday: Everything Has a Face! Even Hats!

Possible excuses for my complete lack of blogging mojo lately:  brain slugs.  I made the first of these guys (the big one on the far left, done in cotton) from this super-simple pattern for International Crochet Day.  I decided that for once, I was going to start and finish something simple, without modifying and adding details and generally complicating the process until a three-inch-tall brain slug ends up taking me several weeks to make.  It was fun to just sit down and make something in like, an hour, and totally fitting to celebrate International Crochet Day with the joy of Instant Crochetification, I think. :)  So I made more---the one in the middle is wool and felted (I felted him by taking him in the shower with me, hah) with his eye needle-felted on, the one on the right is made from sparkly yarn.

I also did another monster---I'd been meaning to make more freeform monsters since the birth of Bothersome the Slumberless months ago, and I ended up with Melody (that's a link to her page on Ravelry, which has some details and more photos).  I made her as part of a team effort for Care of Magical Creatures class (Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup = still the best thing ever), and got inspired by one of my teammates' photoshoot of their knit monster on the beach, so I gave Melody a beach photoshoot of her own.  I love that she almost looks animate in the photo above, like she's poking at the shell with her little tentacle and going oooOOOooo.  Melody may end up starring in a Halloween giveaway a little later.

And what's an FO Friday from me without an owl?  This is Cressida, the astronomer owl.  I made her little telescope from polymer clay, and completely failed to photograph her adequately.

Reginald the gnome (made from a pattern you can find here) fared somewhat better in the photography department.  Inspired by the success of the shower-felted brain slug, I took Reginald into the shower with me, too, and then dried him off by popping him in the oven set to "warm" for a while because he needed to be finished on a deadline!  I needle felted his beard and then, because I can't leave well enough alone, sewed some washers onto him for visual interest.  His hat is made in my own Kool-Aid dyed yarn.

Are any of you guys members of Craftsy?  I am, although I haven't really had time to explore the site fully yet.  But I did have time to read their email about a drive they're running to make chemo hats for Kaps for Kendall (oh, how it pains me to type "kaps" with a k...), and when I saw this silly yellow terrycloth yarn, it screamed rubber duck!! to me, and this hat was born.  The hat itself is sloppy (it is impossible to see your stitches very well in yarn like this, especially at night) but snuggly, and the face (all improvised after doing a quick google for "rubber ducky" to see what their eyes look like) makes me giggle, so I hope it'll cheer up the person who ends up with it.

I also did my first Tiny Bunny Drop after being alerted to the existence of the Tiny Bunnies Movement by Contessa.  This is Bronwen the Book Bunny, crocheted up while I watched Body of Proof (which is one of my favourite shows-to-crochet-to, for some reason, I guess because it has the perfect balance of and ignorableness?) nestled under several blankets (why so cold already, October?  please stop.).   I left her on top of a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the library in hopes that someone awesome will find her.  Today I think I'll make one to drop off at a Starbucks, maybe in a lighter brown, and I can name her "Mocha" and then reward myself with a latte...

Other good rewards-to-self: looking at the prettiness on FO Friday and Fibers on Friday!