Tag Archive | animal

Franklin

img_4823I laid the four “in progress” amigurumi’s that I’ve been working on for what seemed like forever, the sheep, the ferret, the momma dragon and the black panther, in front of me and tried to pick which one I should complete first.

img_4826As I studied the four projects, my first thought was “I think I’ll start the unicorn pattern I just found on line.” I then had to scold myself and say “NO!” I could not start another amigurumi until I finish these four that I had already started. Of the four, the black panther interested me the most. The panther was a bit of a challenge and was for a friend so he already had a good home to go to, so I got started working again on the panther.

img_4829When my friend had picked a black panther as her favorite animal, I panicked for three reasons. One, I had never seen a pattern for a black panther before. After calming myself down and thinking it through, my first step was to find a pattern. After a few web searches and no luck finding a pattern for a black panther, I altered my search, and started to look for tiger patterns that I could crochet in black. I found several tiger patterns that I liked, but when I found this adorable tiger pattern, I quickly picked it as my black panther pattern.

img_4828The second reason I panicked was the color of a black panther. Obviously, the main color of the panther would be black but how was I going to accent black safety eyes on a black animal so they could be seen? What color should I make the nose and smile so that they didn’t just blend into the face? How about the ears? Was a solid black animal going to look good or would it look like a big black blob? After much thought and looking at many pictures of black panthers, I decided to give the panther yellow eyes, a gray muzzle and accent his ears with some gray yarn. I debated about giving the panther gray paws but I decided to keep them black.

img_4835The last reason for my panic was the fact that this whole amigurumi would be crocheted in black yarn except for the small gray pieces. I have a difficult time crocheting with black yarn. The older I get, the harder it is for me to see the black stitches. This meant that I would have to take my time crocheting this panther and watch my stitches closely, plus I would need to always work in the best light.

Except for working with black yarn, the pieces of the panther crocheted smoothly. Then it was time to stuff the pieces. It is always a bit of a challenge to stuffing dark color pieces with white poly-fil. It takes some time and patience to stuff the pieces firmly but to take care and not stretch the stitches too much revealing the white stuffing underneath.

img_4837Stitching the black pieces together also presented a challenge in both working the black color yarn and having the white stuffing pull through with the stitches. I had to use tweezers to pull single strands of stuffing from the stitches. This was time consuming but necessary. These single strands of stuffing made the panther look messy where he was stitched together.

img_4838This pattern called for the arms and legs to be crocheted so a thread or button joint could be done to attach them, but then the pattern called for the arms and legs to just be stitched on. I debated about doing a thread joint instead of just stitching them on but then decided to follow the pattern. Once the arms and legs were stitched on, they seemed secure and allowed the panther to sit, so I was happy with the results of just stitching them on instead of using a thread joint to attach them.

img_4830Once the panther was stitched together, it was easy to give him a big black smile on his gray muzzle. His name, Franklin, was the first and only name that came to me as he sat in the chair next to me, waiting to go to his new home. During the construction process, I became very fond of Franklin and almost did not give him to my friend, but I had made the black panther just for her and he needed a good home. When I presented Franklin to my friend, she was so surprised and also fell in love with him right away. I know she will give Franklin a good home.

img_4844With Franklin, the black panther, done, which “in progress” amigurumi would be next on the to do list? Stay tuned to find out.

Until then, crochet forth and black panther on!

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Hamlet

IMG_4435IMG_4439To be or not to be. That is the bacon I ask from thee.

It was the big eyes, of course, that I fell in love with, and that made the decision to make this pig my next amigurumi project easy.

I started this project by digging through the yarn stash to find just the right color of pink for this pig. I found a small skien of pink yarn that was the perfect color, but would it be enough to complete this pig? Hhhhmmmm. I decided to go ahead and go for it. If there wasn’t enough yarn, I might have to get creative with the colors later.

IMG_4437IMG_4442I knew that if I was going to have to match pink yarn colors later in this project, I would want this pig’s body to be all the same color so I started the crocheting of the pieces with the body first. After finishing the body, I knew the next part I wanted to match colors was the snout, so I crocheted it next, and that was followed by the ears.

By this time, my skein of pink yarn was getting pretty thin, but I crocheted on. The legs were next to be crocheted. Luckily, there was not too much pink yarn used to crochet the legs. After finishing the legs, I was down to a very tiny ball of pink yarn with only the pigs tail left to crochet.

IMG_3895IMG_3890I decided to hold off on crocheting the tail until after I had stitched to pig together, just in case I needed the remaining pink yarn in the stitching process. So, after crocheting the eyes, pupils and nostrils, I got started stitching the pig together.

The stitching together of this pig was a slow process with lots of stuffing involved. Luckily as I stitched the pig together, I did not need any of the extra pink yarn for the stitching. This left me with enough pink yarn from the original skein to make the pig’s tail. After crocheting the tail and stitching it on, the pig was complete.

IMG_4454IMG_3887It was very easy for me to pick a name for this pig. He was named Hamlet early on in the stitching process. As expected, Hamlet is very cute and I love his big eyes. He is now waiting for a good home, preferably with someone who is not hungry for bacon.

Until then, crochet forth and bacon on!

Derek The Dimetrodon

Do you remember yarn dye lots? If you do, you might be as old as a dinosaur! (Pun Intended)IMG_3391

But, seriously, I remember the phrase “and make sure it is the same dye lot” from my childhood. Every time I was sent to the store to buy yarn for my mother or grandmother this phase was spoken to me, and I took it seriously and made sure to purchase the same dye lots if I could.

I remember the matching issues my mother and grandmother faced when they ran out of a color of yarn of a specific dye lot in the middle of a project. It was a real problem back in the day, and it took a lot of thought in designing and matching yarns to complete a project when they ran out of a color of a specific dye lot.

IMG_3906For my younger readers, let me quickly explain what a dye lot is. 15 years or so ago yarn manufacturers would dye or color a specific batch of yarn in a specific factory and they would give that batch a specific dye lot number indicating that all those skeins were dyed together and so the color variations would be little to nonexistent.

The next batch they made in that color would have a different dye lot number, and although they would dye with the same dye formula, there might be a slightly different coloration of the yarn depending on how the yarn took the dye. The batches would basically be using the same color but the yarns color would come out different enough that if used in the same project you could see the differences.

IMG_3904Today, because of more modern manufacturing processes, the manufacturers of yarn have the yarn color dyeing process more perfected and so there is really no need to give each color batch a lot number. Because of that, the variations in todays dyed batches of yarn colors is not really noticeable when making something and skeins from different batches are used in the same project.

So, today when you purchase a skein of Red Heart “Buff” brown yarn on Monday and another skein from a different store on Monday five years from now, you don’t have to worry about when these skeins were dyed or if they can be used in the same project. They can. Unless you are using very old yarn that still has dye lots listed on the labels anyway.
IMG_3403

So, what does all this have to do with my latest amigurumi project, Derek the dimetrodon? You see, when I started to crochet the pieces for Derek, rather than digging through my box of green yarn for a new skein of Red Heart Spring Green, I simple grabbed the remainder of a skein from my yarn basket and got crocheting.

I was able to crochet all of Derek’s pieces with this partial skein except for one foot.

No problem. Since there should not be a worry about dye lots, I simply went to my box of green yarn, pulled out another skein of Spring Green and crocheted the last foot.
IMG_3392But as I started to sew Derek’s pieces together, I noticed right away that the fourth leg from the new skein was smaller in size than the other legs.

Had I possibly pulled my tensions tighter as I crocheted the last leg? I decided to crochet another leg and see what size it turned out.

Upon completing the leg, it measured the same size as the 4th leg I had crocheted from the same skein of yarn. So, even though I did not have to worry about the color of the yarn, i.e. the dye lot, the yarn from the two skeins were different somehow and they were crocheting differently.

DSCN4302That is very Interesting I thought to myself. I guess that in using some older yarn and some newer yarn together in the same project together they had been manufactured in slightly different widths or perhaps a slightly tighter twist? I guess that is another question to figure out at a later time. In any case I will do some testing on a few future projects to find out what went wrong.

DSCN4304Luckily, this was a quick fix that did not take a lot of thought or redesigning or matching. I simply used the two smaller legs as the front legs and the two larger legs as the hind legs.

Once all the legs were sewn to the body, it was hard to see the different sizes. Unfortunately, I now have one extra leg from this project. Does anyone out there need a spare dimetrodon leg? If so I have one!

In the end Derek the dimetrodon turned out very cute, even with his smaller front legs. Derek is now looking for a good home and a good friend to play with him!

Until then, crochet forth and dye lot on!

Rocket the Raccoon

DSCN4107What happened to Red Hearts light gray yarn? It just seemed to disappear from store shelves all of a sudden!

The colors for my latest amigurumi project, Rocket the raccoon, were simple, light gray, dark gray, a touch of white and a touch of black. But, when I went to pull the light gray yarn from the yarn stash, I was shocked and amazed by what I saw.

Upon looking in my gray yarn stash box, I found several skeins of dark gray yarn, medium gray yarn, speckled gray yarn, variegated gray yarn but only one skein of light gray yarn.

DSCN4111As I pulled the light gray skien of yarn from the box, I made a mental note to purchase more light gray yarn the next time yarn was on sale at Joann’s. But, as I held my last skein of light gray yarn in my hands, I was shocked by what I saw on it! A Walmart clearance sticker right on top of the Red Heart Brand Label!

Was Red Heart no longer going to make light gray yarn? No, that couldn’t be! Certainly Red Heart would not discontinue making a basic color like light gray. Maybe light gray was just not a popular enough color for Walmart to continue to carry? Maybe, but how could light gray be an unpopular color?

DSCN4109For my amigurumi making, light gray is essential, elephants, mice, raccoons, baby penguins and so on. Spooked just a little by these thoughts, I put the skien of light gray yarn down, and picked up a skein of medium gray Red Heart Love yarn that I purchased last month and a black skein of yarn for the main colors for my raccoon.

As I crocheted the pieces of this amigurumi, I simply used the medium gray yarn instead of the light gray yarn and black yarn instead of the dark gray yarn that the pattern had called for. All the pieces were crocheting up nicely until it came to the eyes. As I crocheted the eye patches from the the black yarn, I quickly determined that my black safety eyes would be lost in the patch of black yarn. So I picked out some blue, green and yellow eyes from my bag of eyes but I just did not like the look of these colors, so I decided to add a white patch of felt behind the black safety eyes to separate the eyes from the black eye patches.

DSCN4114That worked out too well! The bright white between the black eye and the black patch made the raccoon look like he was staring into headlights, so I picked a cream color felt instead of the white felt to tone down the contrast and that worked out fine.

As I attached the eyes to the head, I ran into another issue. By the time I put the eye stem through the felt, the black patch and the head, there was no stem left to attach the safety back to. So, I decided to only attach the eyes to the felt and eye patch and I left the stitching on of the patch be how the eyes are permanently attached to the head. This worked out great!

DSCN4113I also changed from white yarn to cream yarn for the muzzle and the accent around the ears. The cream colored yarn blended better with the medium gray and black yarn and matched the cream felt of the eyes.

It took some time to stitch Rocket together. His legs are attached by thread joints but his arms are just stitched on. And I ended up trying several different smiles both on and off the muzzle for Rocket. I even considered leaving him without a smile but finally decided on the tiny black smile on his muzzle.

Rocket turned out to be a very cute raccoon even in the darker colors. I am pleased with the end results. It is now time for Rocket to find a good home and someone to play with.

Until then, crochet forth and gray on!

Marty The Zebra

DSCN3937It was his cute cartoonish style that made me pick this zebra pattern as my next amigurumi project. I liked his big head and his fat stubby hind legs that lets him sit. What I didn’t like was that the pattern only called for the zebra stripes on his body, not on his head or legs but that was ok. I could fix that!

DSCN3940Anxious to get crocheting, I grabbed the black and white Red Heart Love yarn I had purchased at Walmart’s Black Friday sale last year and I got started! I noticed right away that the Love yarn was much softer and the fibers liked to separate more while crocheting than the Red Heart Super Saver yarn, so I had to be careful where I inserted my hook and I needed to watch my tensions more closely as I crocheted.

I crocheted the body first. The body was not crocheted in continuous rounds. A slip stitch and chain were done at the end and start of each round to help keep the stripes even. Each stripe consisted of two rounds, so rather than than cutting and tying the yarn every other round, I carried the yarn. The tension of the carried yarn was not a problem because it was being carried over a very small space. It was cumbersome to have two skeins of yarn, twisting, as I crocheted though.

DSCN3936I crocheted the front and hind legs next. As mentioned, the pattern called for no stripes on these pieces. I wanted stripes so I started with solid black for the hooves and then made stripes, two rounds thick and then I alternated the colors. I crocheted in continuous rounds rather than slip stitching and chaining since it was only a couple of stripes and the color changes would be hidden under the legs. I also carried the yarn as I did with the body.

DSCN3942The head was the next piece to be crocheted and once again the pattern called for it to be unstriped, but I was going to stripe it. I crocheted the mouth in black then started the stripes. I crocheted the stripes exactly like the legs, in continuous rounds, two rounds thick, carrying the yarn as I crocheted. Like the legs, I could hide the color changes of the stripes on the bottom of the head.

The tail was the only piece that I did not stripe. I crocheted it white and then attached a few black pieces of yarn to the end.

DSCN3917The challenge for this amigurumi came when I stitched the head and body together. When I attached the head to the body, the zebra was staring at the ceiling, so I needed to move the head down. After a lot of pinning, stitching and unstitching, I got the head attached to the body without the zebra looking up. The legs and tail were much easier to stitch on.

DSCN3926The mane for this zebra was fun to attach. I did not quite follow the patterns instructions of making the mane. I knew how I wanted it to look, so I started by cutting 5 inch pieces of black and white yarn. Starting at the center of the head, I attached 2 rows of 3 white yarns. I then attached 2 rows of 3 black yarns and alternated this pattern down the back of the head. When I was done, the husband helped me trim the mane by hand and it was done. I was concerned about making the mane from the Love yarn because of how much it likes to separate. It will not take much play before the mane’s yarns will be untwisted and fuzzing, but that might be a fun look for the mane.

DSCN3921I picked some fun cartoon eyes for this zebra that I attached while crocheting the head. I wanted this zebra to have a big smile but I was having trouble getting the curves that I wanted for the smile while stitching on the mouth. To get the smile I wanted, I decided to glue on the mouth instead. I placed the yarn where I wanted it to be, then rolled the yarn down, applied a line of glue and then rolled the yarn back into place on top of the glue. This worked well and gave me the smile I wanted.

After some brainstorming with the husband, we picked the name Marty for this zebra. Marty is very cute. He makes me smile when I look at him. I like his extra stripes. Soon, Marty will have a new home and I hope he will be loved and played with often.

Until then, crochet forth and stripe on!

Penelope or When A Picture Doesn’t Say A Thousand Words

DSCN3945It was love at first sight AGAIN when I saw the pictures of this pterodactyl pattern. The absolute cuteness in these pictures was causing me to pick this pattern as my next amigurumi project. Once I got started on the crocheting though, I could see that the pictures didn’t tell the whole story, so I will explain the missing parts.

Excited to get crocheting the pieces for this amigurumi, I easily picked out two shades of purple yarn and a cream yarn from the stash to make this pterodactyl. As I quickly read through the pattern, I could tell right away that is was not going to be an easy or fast pattern to crochet or stitch together. I still wanted to make it thought so I got started on it. I crocheted it from the bottom up, starting with the tail, legs and feet and then moving on to the beak and the body. All was going well until it was time to crochet the head and the crown.

DSCN3947Looking at the pictures in the pattern, there was a stripe of cream in the head and crown, but as I read the pattern it said nothing about a color change. Maybe the stripe was a separate piece that was to be stitched on after the head and crown were crocheted and stuffed? There were no instructions for such a stripe in the pattern. I studied the picture and reread the pattern, only to finally notice in the pictures that the cream stripe was the sun shining through the trees and on to the pterodactyl.

Sadly there were no color changes or a separate stripe on the head and crown, the pictures in the pattern had mislead me in believing there was. The only place the cream color yarn was going to be used was around the eyes. I thought about trying to add the stripe, but then I decided to just follow the pattern and make the head and crown one solid color with no stripes. I was not too disappointed that there was not a cream stripe in the head and crown because the pieces were crocheting up nicely.

DSCN3946When I came to the wings, I faced another picture dilemma. I crocheted the arms and wings last by following the instructions of the pattern. After completing the wings, I held them to the pterodactyl’s body and then looked again at the pictures. In the pattern, there were no real instructions or pictures for stitching this amigurumi together. You just had to figure it out on a wing and a prayer.

Per the pictures, it looked like the wings were attached to the body, but I could not figure out how to attach the wings versus how they were crocheted. I studied the pictures and twisted and turned the wings to no avail. Luckily the husband happened along. He had to study the pictures for a minute as well, but then concluded that the wings were attached to the arms, not the body. Only then did it make sense to me as to how the wings were crocheted versus how they were stitched on. It also explained why the arms were so long.

DSCN3950I started from the top to stitch the pterodactyl together, stitching the crown and beak to the head first. The safety eyes were only snapped on to the cream eye circles. The ends of the safety eye were inserted into the head and the eyes were stitched into place by stitching the cream eye circles to the head. The arms with the wings attached were stitched on next and then the tail.

I started stitching at the top because I wanted this pterodactyl to stand up. And I knew that I needed all its parts attached so that I could balance its weight on its legs and feet. I spent some time decided where to attach the legs to the body to get this amigurumi to stand. After attaching the legs and feet, I can with a lot of help and persuading get this pterodactyl to stand up by itself. There is just too much unbalanced weight between the crown, beak, arms, wings and tail for those little legs and feet to hold things very steadily, but it can stand if it wants to.

DSCN3953With all the pieces stitched together, this amigurumi took on a feminine side and became a girl. The husband and I debated back and forth about names, but finally settled on Penelope. I like the name and think Penelope the Pterodactyl turned out just as cute as the pictures in her pattern were, if not a little cuter. Hopefully, she can find a good home to fly around in.

Until then, crochet forth and fly on!

Pepper And Piper

DSCN3431 (1)Squeals of delight rang from my sewing room when I saw the pattern for these penguins. They were so cute, and the pattern showed pictures of endless possibilities in colors and variations for making a whole colony of penguins. I could not wait to get the crocheting started. I envisioned making several penguins in a variety of colors and belly spots.

DSCN3439 (1)I decided to start with a basic penguin with a gray body with no belly spot and black feet and beak. Crocheting the pieces went smoothly. When it came time to crochet the different colors of the head, I decided to cut and tie each color change. The last time I made a multi-colored head for Charlie the horse, I carried the yarn across the color changes instead of cutting and tying each color change, and I had to work very hard to keep my tensions even. Cutting and tying the color changes was easier than keeping an even tension, but it was time consuming, so it slowed down the crocheting process.

DSCN3438 (1)Before I stitched the first penguin together, I crocheted the next penguin in the colony. This time the penguin would have a gray body with a white belly spot and yellow feet and beak. Once again, I cut and tied the color changes in the head and now the body. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see a small “birth mark” on this penguin’s belly. I miss counted and did not notice my mistake until a couple of rounds later after several cut and ties were completed, and I did not want to undo all my work to fix that one stitch, so I am calling it a birthmark. It adds character to the penguin and in no way decreases his cuteness. Soon enough, I had all the pieces for the second penguin crocheted and ready to stitch together.

DSCN3436 (1)I picked up the yarn to start crocheting the next penguin in the colony, but then I decided to complete the first two penguins, whose pieces were already crocheted up, before starting another. The stitching together of these penguins was much easier than the stitching together of most my amigurumi’s. Because of the multi colored head, there was no question as to where the eyes were inserted, or where the beak DSCN2730was placed. On the second penguin, I had left a long piece of gray yarn from the head to stitch the head and body together. When I came to the white of the head and the belly spot, the gray stitches stood out badly. I had to stop the gray yarn and start a piece of white yarn to sew the white areas together and then return to the gray yarn to finish stitching the head and body together. On the first penguin, I had left I long black tail for sew from the body. This blended in well with both a gray and the white of the head. The color of yarn I leave for stitching is something I will have to keep in mind when I make amigurumi’s with multicolored heads and bodies in the future.

DSCN3432 (1)Because of the black heads, I stuffed the penguins a little lighter than most of the amigurumi’s I make. Usually, I over stuff my amigurumi’s. They say the stuff settles over time, so to over stuff at first. But, when you’re working with a dark color and white stuffing, the stuffing really shows through as the stitches are stretched by the over stuffing. Although, I really like no stuffing showing through the black stitches of the head, it was very hard for me stop stuffing before I thought the pieces were completely stuffed.

DSCN3434 (1)Feeling his head now that he is stitched together, I wish I had added just a little more stuffing to the first penguin’s head, especially in the back, but the second penguin is stuffed just right. The husband likes the less stuffing. I explained to him about the stuffing settling over time, but he still said that he liked the lighter stuff and he felt that the penguin’s still had enough stuffing to withstand the settling and a lot of be played with. It will be interesting to see if that turns out to be true or not.

DSCN3433 (1)With these two penguins completed, I picked up the yarn for the next penguin in the colony and asked the husband what color beak and feet I should crochet for this penguin and should it have a belly spot or not. The husband rolled his eyes and reminded me about all the fun patterns I have yet to crochet. And, he was right, I had already made this pattern, twice, and it was fun and the finished amigurumi’s were just adorable but other just as fun patterns are waiting in the wings.

I quickly named the two penguins Pepper and Piper and they are now waiting for a good home to go and live at.

I have tucked this pattern close to the front of my crochet pattern stash, and if and when the day comes that I want to complete the penguin colony or I just need a fun and simple amigurumi that turns out super cute, I know which pattern to reach for.

Until then, crochet forth and colony on!