Saturday, May 24, 2008

home made

yesterday we welcomed hazel into our family. she was born peacefully at home, and we're all doing well...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

frog meets bear

sometimes i get into this mode where i enjoy some project so much, i then repeat it (with variations) several more times before moving on to something else. well, those bears i made last week were pretty entertaining... so this week i made a frog. (seriously, the kyuuto amigurumi book is totally worth it -- for the price, it would have been worthwhile had i made only one project out of it, and i've done three already...)

my main difficulty, though, is the facial expression. this is as true of stuffed animals as it is of dolls (when i made eva's doll, i restitched the second eye about ten times so she didn't look depressed or crazy, and in the end i gave up and settled for half-drunk -- isn't it weird how a pupil half a milimeter to the side can cause a whole different expression?). it took some effort to get the frog eyes to look roughly balanced, and then i did the mouth (which is embroidered since i had no red felt on hand) three times before he looked friendly and not like he might try to eat you in your sleep. expressions are harder than they seem, and i have much respect for people who have learned to do this well. (i luck into a passable expression eventually, but some people can achieve the look they want with actual skill.)

this is for a friend's little girl, but i think first i'll have to convince eva to relinquish it. she's been ribbit-ing it around the house for a few days now. and of course, she's now asking about her bear. soon...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

crochet stitch marking trick

crochet stitch marker

i hate stitch markers. there, i said it. sure, it's nice not losing your place in crochet (or knitting, but i'm basically a crocheter). but they're so annoying! (*whine*...) they get caught in your working yarn, it slows you down having to remove and replace them, ... i just don't like using them.

but on my last project, i came up with something that really works, won't fall off, and takes almost zero effort to place or remove. it's so simple that i'm sure lots of other people have come up with it before, but i've never read about it anywhere, so i thought i'd share.

basically, take a short length (4-6 inches, whatever) of contrasting scrap yarn. when you get to the place you want to mark, just drape it across the previous row of stitches before you make the next stitch. the contrasting yarn will be caught under the stitch, and that's your mark. but here's the cool part: when you get to the next row/round, no need to pull it out and reinsert it, just flip one end of the contrasting yarn, say, from the front to the back. on the next row/round, flip it back to the front. the result is what looks like a little vertical row of running embroidery stitches. when you're done, just pull and it comes right out.

and here's a bonus: let's say you're in a part of your pattern where you need to count a bunch of rows or rounds. (when it's the same for a big set of rows, i tend to lose track -- and again, too lazy to do something as crazy as use a pencil and jot down a count on some scratch paper.) you can use your marking yarn to count rows (or rounds) -- just pull it out before the section you want to count and replace it at the first row. you can then count the "stitches" created by the contrasting yarn as you proceed; that is, each stitch or space created by the contrasting yarn is one row. now you're marking your rounds (or rows :) and your stitch count at the same time. and there's no little plastic doodad snagging your yarn.

and i should say, i'm sure there are stitch markers out there that actually work well. but i like this, because it's free, and i always have a little scrap of yarn on hand without having to dig around in my bag. give it a try and see what you think. (and as always, if anything is unclear, feel free to ask and i'll try to clarify...)

amigurumi bears

amigurumi bears

eva started preschool last week (just two afternoons a week), and in order to help her transition, i sat at school with her for the first two days. hmm, what to do with my hands? as i've gotten closer to the end of my pregnancy, i've been less absorbed in crafts (as you may have noticed), so i had nothing (portable) in progress.

i bought the kyuuto amigurumi book a while back, and decided this was a good opportunity to put it to use. i made a tiny orange bear for the baby (which thrilled eva to no end), and then she decided that next i needed to make a green bear for her. so, i made a version of the striped bear project in the book (eva said no stripes, so i omitted those, but liked the size of this bear -- there are three sizes of bears alone offered in the book, let alone a whole assortment of other animals...) i went ahead with plastic eyes for eva's bear, but just embroidered on some eyes for the baby's bear for reasons of safety.

i really like this book -- for about $10 you really can't go wrong. i mean, sure, after you do one or two, you can pretty much make up any sort of amigurumi you want. but, even if you're making up your own patterns, this can still be really useful as a general guide for sizes and patterns of stitch increases, etc.

so, now we have a big sister bear to go with the baby bear. i've hid it from eva so far, so it can be a present ("from the baby" so to speak) after the birth. i'm amazed she hasn't asked for it (the typical toddler "out of sight out of mind" thing), but i'm excited because i know she's going to love it. after all, she squealed and came running when she saw the baby's bear...

(oh, and see my next post for my cool stitch marking trick. very useful for amigurumi or any crochet in the round.)