Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another little green man...Another!

I've done it AGAIN! And this time I've learnt that I'm starting to lose patience with not having a "studio" in my house...I've finished another green dude, and I want to post him on Etsy, but it's so much effort to get the pictures all set up...

Bah, I'm just being lazy, I know. But it's starting to get my back up because I'm trying to do this kitten pattern as well, and every time I want to take a picture of what I'm doing, I have to set up the whole photo studio and it's a pain. I can see you thinking, now, why don't you just leave it set up? Well, I'll give you a hint: it's two years old, and its name is Jim. (My son, if you didn't get that hint.)

Anyway, moving on...Here's a taster of my latest little green man:
What do you think?

By the way...(Tip and trick coming!)...A tip that I learned from browsing some crocheting vids on YouTube: you can work a large pony bead into your fabric for an eye, and it will make it child-safe! Overall, this doll is as child-safe a doll as I have ever made: no PVC beads, only polyester filling; only embroidered features (e.g. smile) and an eye that won't come out unless you unravel the whole thing! The arms are whipstitched onto the body, but even if they come off, they're completely sealed before stitching on (using the tab technique like on my baby bird pattern, when I attached the wings).

I'm eager to get all of my things child-safe, not only because I have a child, but because I believe that these toys should be TOYS, and therefore made to be played with!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cute Cherries

I discovered yesterday that inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time.

Picture the setting: you're sitting on your bum after a hard day's work, waiting for the chicken to boil down into stock, and you're watching a bit of "The Bionic Woman" from a couple weeks ago. Your hands start to itch, then twitch, and then you realise: you are a crocheter, you MUST crochet. Well, it's about 10:30 at night, and you know that if you stay up past 11, you won't get enough sleep, plus there's every chance that your gorgeous two-year-old son will want you to get up and play with him at 6 am. So what do you do? Start crocheting, knowing that it will keep you up late, or do you ignore the urges and try to take your mind off it with a Coke float and more "Bionic Woman"?

Well, I can tell you what I did...

Both! I poured myself a lovely Coke float, grabbed the new skein of red Pure Gold DK that I've had lying around, and I decided to make some little cherries with smiley faces because they're just so DARNED cute. And here's how they turned out:
And they only took me 1/2 hour. Pretty simple pattern, too:

A small amount of red yarn
A small amount of green yarn
A small amount of black yarn
Crochet hook, the smallest size you can use that won't split your yarn when you work with it
Tapestry needle

Abbreviations used
sc: single crochet
st: stitch
inc: increase
invdec: invisible decrease

If there is anything you don't understand in this pattern, please comment below and I'll respond to you personally.

Gauge is not used in this pattern; it will vary depending on the yarn and hook you use.

The cherries are worked in spiral rounds. You should use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round, so you don't lose your place.

With red yarn, make a ring, work 6 sc into ring. (6 st)

Rnd 1: 2 sc in each st around. (12)
Rnds 2-3: inc 3, evenly spaced. (18 st at the end of rnd 3)
Rnd 4: work even. (18)
Rnd 5: invdec 6, evenly spaced. (12)

Now embroider a face onto the cherry using black yarn, using the photo as a guide. I used French knots for the eyes and back-stitching for the mouth.

Make two leaves per cherry.

With green yarn, ch 5. Now work into the back loops of the ch: sc into 2nd ch from hook, then hdc in the next st, dc in the next st. 5 sc in the last stitch and turn to work in the front "v" loops of the foundation chain: dc in the next st, hdc in the next st, sc in the final st. Sl st into the last ch of the foundation chain (the one immediately before you made your first sc). Finish off and weave in ends.

For each stem, cut a length of green yarn about 4 times the length you want your stems to end up. To be safe, I used lengths about 2 feet long and cut them down as necessary once I was finished assembling!

To make the stem, thread the yarn onto a tapestry needle and through the "fat" end of one leaf, then through the top of the cherry (outside to inside). Then thread the yarn back out the top of the cherry and through the fat end of the other leaf. Tie a square knot in the yarn; this will make the leaves be securely attached. Finally, use the two halves of your length of yarn to make a twisted cord, and tie off.

Final assembly
To finish your cherries, stuff each one firmly, and close the holes by finishing off your red yarn, then threading the end onto a tapestry needle. Thread the yarn through the front loop only of each stitch around the hole, and pull tight; the hole will close naturally. Weave in the ends.

Oh, yeah, and don't forget to grin stupidly when examining your final product :)


Monday, April 7, 2008

Auuuggghh! What is it with green aliens?

Okay, I know, I KNOW. I think it might be a cardinal sin to post twice, once right after the other...But I didn't want these two thing to be in the same post, but I'm kind of on a blogging ROLL, ifyaknowhaddimean.

Look at this cute little green guy!!!
I appear to have an obsession with little green aliens.

Anyway, if you'll recall, this is the guy I'd sketched in my notebook a while back. It's actually turned out quite close to what I had envisioned, which is kind of a first for me. Usually, the way things look just kind of HAPPEN. So yeah, I'm proud of it.

I swear I'm going to go to the H-word for all this pride. (One of the seven deadly sins, isn't it?)


Kid-safe kitten

Okay, I'm being the proud 'gurumi-ist again. I have come up with the ultimate way of making toys kid-safe (kid-proof?) by crocheting arms and legs into the fabric as you go, and it's much more secure than simply whipstitching. Here's the latest kitten I've done:
First off, I must explain the crazy nature of her colouring: it's a kind of "recycled yarn" look, like that Muji elephant I have. I did it because I had half a ball of five different yarns lying around; not enough to do a whole ANYTHING, but enough between them to accomplish something nice. It was a painstaking process to use this method, because it involved cutting each of the five balls into lengths of about 2ft, and then "randomly" tying them together as I wound a new ball out of them. I think the whole thing was worth it, though; I like the colour effect, and it got rid of A LOT of scrap yarn.

Anyway, the point of showing you the picture was so that you could see what the kitten looks like with "integrated" arms and legs. I'm sorry I haven't got a great closeup of it, but the joins look exactly the same as whipstitching, only because they're crocheted into the fabric, they're much stronger.

The idea is, you make the arms as normal; these ones are tubes with a circumference of 12 st. Then on the last round, only sc for half the stitches (in this case, 6 st), then ch 1 and pinch the fabric together. For the last 6 st, stitch through two layers of fabric. This gives you a nice, clean edge to your arm. (Please note, this is the same technique as Elisabeth Doherty uses in her book, "Amigurumi! Super Happy Crochet Cute", which can be found at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

Once you've finished off your arms and legs, continue onto the head and body, working from the top down, and when you get to the place where you want your arms to be, you stitch through BOTH the last row of stitches of your arm, and the stitches on the body. Et voila! When I finally finish the kitten pattern (I KNOW, I've been promising this for ages), I will do two versions, one for the joined arms and one for the kid-safe arms.