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