Friday, January 27, 2012

Dragons, Gadgets, Hats, and Fish.

Despite the Lunar New Year not being a part of my family's cultural heritage, uh, at all, we like to celebrate it with a nice Asian-themed dinner and, in my case, some thematic crochet.  Last year, I did a sculptural-bunny Year of the Rabbit celebration amigurumi.  For Year of the Dragon (which began on Monday), I actually started (and then frogged, the pattern was sort of meh) a dragon ami, and ended up finding a very much non-meh pattern for a crocheted dragon applique instead, and made a bunting instead.

A very difficult to photograph bunting.  But fun!  By the fourth dragon, I had the pattern memorized, and just...dragoned a long while I watched TV.  I did my dragons in worsted weight acrylic yarn, because that's what I'm surrounded by, but they can apparently be done in thread, too, and used as bookmarks, which I might give a whirl.  (Thread crochet: on my "to try, with some trepidation" list.)  There's even instructions about making blanket squares with one of these guys as the center, which is tempting...

I also made my mom an iPod cozy.  Isn't it strange how we'll embark on projects as gifts that we wouldn't make for ourselves?  I got an iPod touch on Black Friday in 2010, and still haven't made a case for it.  It still lives in a random (shamefully storebought) zipper pouch that I had lying around.  For some reason, it always seemed like too boring a project to embark on---crocheting something in the round and not giving it a face?  But why?

However!  Once I began whipping this up, I was happily surprised at (a) how fast it went and (b) the fact that I was not at all bored.  I did this in cotton because it seemed like a better choice, protection-wise, and used the moss stitch for the opening-and-closing flap.
It's possible that I started this Baby Sherlock Hat just becuase I'm crrrraaazy in love with the BBC show Sherlock, which just wrapped up its second series in amazing fashion.  I think the first season is available on Netflix, and if you like mysteries and the best.casting.ever, you should definitely give it a watch! Anyway---I finished the hat because I liked it a lot, once I began it.  I'm not usually thrilled with the look of crocheted stripes, but this pattern made them work!  I already want to make more of these (the colour and button combinations are so much fun to consider!), although I don't really like the way the increases wibble-wobble.  If I do make more, I may try to alter the pattern to fix it.

And there's this fishie, who's part of a larger project that will probably surface (pun not even intended) next week.  Another recommended pattern, it was fun and easy and would be a great way to practice your crochet, if you're looking to do that---it's worked flat rather than in the round (you make two matching halves and sew them together) and it has increases and decreases and working in front and back loops!  And you get this super-cute fish out of it.  The style of the increases and decreases creates these really...curvy pieces, so that even before it's stuffed, it's all puffy and 3-D and sweet.  I'm not even a fish fan, and I can't stop squishing this guy fondly. 

Check out other, possibly more cohesive posts at Finished Object Friday, Fibers on Friday, and Fiber Arts Friday. :D

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday: Books and Hooks.

Playing along with both WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along this week, here are a couple dauntingly large projects---Uncle Stevie's new doorstop novel (if Mr. King wants to refer to himself as "Uncle Stevie" in his occasional pieces for Entertainment Weekly, who am I to disagree?  He really does feel like a literary uncle to me, somehow.  When I read his work, I can tell that things like music and pop culture narrative are really important to him, and I like that because hey, I know how he feels) and a cowl so big that it's sort of my Accidental First Sweater.

The cowl (in a yarn that reminds me happily of dragons and sadly looks better on the skein than it does as I crochet with it) is going to have to be partially frogged and reworked so that it's smaller and more useful, but that's going to take some Thought.  And I'm getting over a cold at the moment, bleh, so my brain is a little broken in the Clear Thoughts About How to Make a Cowl department.

Fortunately, my brain isn't too broken for reading doorstop novels, and 11/23/63 is pretty amazing so far.  While it was a bit odd to start and I wasn't sure how I felt---it's a novel revolving around the Kennedy assassination, and I was expecting like...more 60s information/scene-setting (mmm, historical fiction) than I got at first, but then at some point whoomph, the book just became about the narrator's experience as a human being, and I was totally invested and on pins and needles.  I'm over halfway through, and while I'm not as crazy about this one as I was about Under the Dome (I tend to like Uncle Stevie's sprawling big-cast novels more than his first-person-narrator novels in general, I think), I'm obviously enjoying it.

Also on the hooks is, of course, Beth's Owlaway Winner Owl, so here's a beaky sneak peek, but obviously this owl won't be able to make her full appearance here until she's safely at her new home.

So while neither of these particular WIPs will be finished by Friday, I do have some other FOs to share, like the one I was working on when I let PhotoToaster pretentiousify this shot for me.  So stay tuned!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Owlaway Winner! And some photos.

And the random number generator chooses...Beth, of Visions of Sugarplums, with comment number 9! :D

Beth, I've left you a comment on your blog, but if you see this first---please do email me (my email is on my blogger profile) so we can Talk Owls.

And a couple random squees for Squee Sunday (other than eeeee, time to make a custom owl!):
Eating some veggies with a tree stump for a table on a Saturday morning: apparently, being a bear in a children's book is fun.  I certainly enjoyed my tree-stump dining experience---I have great plans to bring a thermos of tea and some teacups to this stump sometime, just for the LOL woodland tea party-ness of it all.

I've decided to attempt a "photo a day" project for 2012, and so far, so good.  I'm trying not to stress too much about quality, and just let it be a blend of real-camera photos and crappy-iPod-camera photos.  It's fun to wait for what feels like the right moment every day to document...something.

So here's the first sunrise of 2012.

And me in the process of shaking some rocks out of my shoes in the bank's ATM vestibule.

Go see some (possibly less odd, or better photographed) squee over at Rip It Good. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012: The Year of More Wearable Projects? Possibly.

Not that I'm abandoning critter-makin'---I could never---but I'm really enjoying the process of making (and wearing!) non-critters lately.  And if I were a resolution maker, one of my resolutions would definitely be to branch out more with my crocheting this year, so I guess I'm off to an okay start with that here.

Above is my finished Tea Scarf, already off at its new donation-tree home.  This was another crocheting-while-watching-Homeland (and becoming ever more addicted to/intrigued by it!  But I'm trying not to just watch all of it at once.  I still have about half the season to go.) project.  The pattern is one I'd definitely recommend, it makes perfect distracted-crafting, as it's all just double crochets (and double crochet v-stitches for the ruffly trim), and you get a seriously cute product.  Even in yarn that's a shade of pink that should not exist, ever.  I didn't take a picture of this aspect of the scarf, but if you wrap it around your neck singly, it gives a sort of Elizabethan ruffled collar effect that has me planning on making one for myself at some point.  

I also whipped up a Jayne Cobb Cunning Hat (see grainy screencap of the original hat on Firefly here) for Amineko.  This was for a "craft something fast" class prompt over at the Knitting and Crochet House Cup (oh yes, it's time for that again, and I couldn't be more thrilled!), so when I realized that maybe I should have put ear holes in it, I just shrugged and forged on.  I'm not sure how well earholes would have worked anyway, since Ms. Neko's ears---while big enough to cause silly lumps---aren't that big, and I don't know how much/how cutely they'd have poked out of the hat. I used this excellent tutorial to make the pom-pom.  I'd never made a pom-pom before!

 In more House Cup related crafting, I finished a long-languishing bear ears headband, which I started just for the cute factor, but I'm surprised by how warm and functional it is.  My house is super-cold, but wearing a hat all day is just depressing, so this is a good compromise.  I think more headbands are definitely in my crafting-future.

And one last owl-nouncement about my First Owl of 2012 Giveaway.  I'll be picking the winner on Sunday, so please go enter if  you'd like to choose and receive the inaugural owl of this year. :)  And go check out more finished-and-fibers goodness over at FO Friday and Fibers on Friday!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday Whatsits and an Owl Giveaway.

Today's going to be a post-and-run day, so I'll hopefully be able to catch up with all of your excellent WIPs through the linky-thing at Tami's Amis tomorrow.

I've got a few incidentals on the hooks, and even one AFO (Already Finished Object!), which will be turning up on Friday and appears in sneak-peek format above.

 Also appearing in finished-state soon: ruffly scarf!  Fairly hideous, but that's all the fault of the yarn (random stashy stuff from a giant bag at my grandmother's house, since this is meant for the library's donation tree and thus had to be part-withable), not the pattern, which is fun and fast to work and adorable. 

I'm also making up a goldfish (because what else does one do with safety-orange Super Saver yarn?) from this pattern, which is available free until January 8th, if you're in a goldfish kind of mood yourself.  The pattern uses a shaping technique I'd never seen before to create these fish-lips, which, now that I think about it, could also be done in red and become the beginnings of an excellent crocheted pomegranate.

And in the very, very beginning stages of "in progress," a skein of so-gorgeous-and-decadant-I-don't-even-know-what-to-do-with-it skein of Malabrigo sock, on the swift and ready to become a ball.  I'm semi-lying about not knowing what to do with this one---I have an idea about an Adventure to have with this yarn, and I can't wait to get started.  Sadly for my wallet (but not sadly for my brain, which is all jalksdfj;s COLOURS! QUALITY WOOL!! BE MINE!), this adventure is going to require buying more yarn.

But the most important reason for this post is to direct you all to my Year's First Owl Giveaway, which Ms. Daphne the mythologically-inclined owl (note the open copy of D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths open behind her---we went to the library for a photoshoot!) wants you to go and enter at the linked post!  I'm offering the First Owl of 2012, who will be made to your specifications, and you have until Sunday to leave a comment there and enter. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Squee Sunday - The Year's First Owl Giveaway!

Which I want to call an "owlaway," for some reason.

Anyway, to the point---being a part of the online-crafty-blogging community through WIP Wednesdays, FO Fridays, and Fibers on Friday (hosted at Tami's Ami's and Visions of Sugarplums, respectively) was definitely a huge highlight of my 2011.  Even when I didn't have time or energy or internet access to be blogging, I had you guys and all of your sweetness (not to mention gorgeous projects) in my mind.  And you've all been so sweet about my flock of owls!  (For whom I will write the pattern/recipe someday.  Someday.)

I want to issue a thank you for all of that warm fuzziness by giving one of you the chance to win the First Owl of 2012---to be made custom for you in colours and configuration of your choice!  You could request tassled ears like the ones on Barnabas up there at the top, or Marilyn, shown below:

Or maybe you'd like a more realistic, ready-to-deliver-your-mail looking owl like Errol or Hedwig:

Or an owl inspired by sky and clouds!
Or a vampirical tinsel-winged owl!

I'm really excited to make a custom owl for one of you!  I've never made one by request before, and my fingers are already itching to go rummage through my stash for the perfect yarns.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this entry.  You also have to promise to take a photo or two of your owl in his or her new home, because I'm nosy like that. ;)

I'll link back to this post on Wednesday and Friday, and next Sunday (January 8th), a random number generator will pick the winner.  Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win!

I hope all of you are already having a good 2012.