Tag Archive | Black

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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Oh! I Want To Make That! Now!

124025535d79d799e41221839803134bThis summer I have suffered from a severe case of “Start”itis.

By definition, Startitis is a condition caused by seeing a new amigurumi crochet pattern and needing to make it NOW despite the fact that the last amigurumi project isn’t even close to being completed.

It is the process of abandoning the current amigurumi project that was being worked on previously, and leaving it as a UFO (unfinished object) to start yet another amigurumi project with the broken promises of later returning to that deserted project as soon as the new one is done, and before yet another new one is started.

My case of Startitis has been quite severe and it is going to take some time to get over at this point.

img_5668At the first of the summer, I found the cutest little lamb pattern. I have seen several cute lamb patterns over the years but I had passed on making them because of the challenge of crocheting the lamb’s wool. When I saw this lamb pattern, I was ready to accept img_5689the challenge, and started to crochet the pieces for this lamb. After crocheting the body with popcorn stitches, I needed a break from this project.

The popcorn stitches took a lot of time and concentration to crochet and keep count and I was feeling lazy. This was not a “watch tv” and still crochet project. I tried to crochet the other parts of the lamb that did not have popcorn stitches like the arms and legs, but the thought of the up coming parts with popcorn stitches just made me completely lose interest. I was determined though to see the lamb project through to completion until I spied an amigurumi pattern that I just had to make IMMEDIATELY!

Yes of course, you guessed it!

img_5687It was a ferret in a sweater!

I mean come on, EVERYONE NEEDS one of those don’t they? Boy, I sure thought that I did!

It was love at first sight when I first saw this ferret pattern and it was simple to put down the cream colored yarn of the lamb and pick up the dark brown yarn of the ferret and start on yet another new project. The ferret’s pieces crocheted easily, and I loved adding the little sweater to his body. I crocheted his head and the cut and tied yarn color changed for his little bandit face but then I promptly put my hook down. The problem was, I just saw the cutest momma and baby dragon patterns and I just had to make them both. NOW!

img_5695Since it was so easy to stop working on the lamb project, and start the ferret project, I had no problem at all in deserting the ferret project to start to crochet the dragons instead. I picked out burgundy and gold for the momma dragon and two shades of purple for the baby dragon and then I started crocheting on the momma dragon’s body right away!

Because I was in such a hurry to start the dragons, I didn’t take the time to read through the pattern first so I was surprised as I crocheted the momma dragon’s body just how big she was going to be, but since the body was turning out really cute I had no problem continuing to crochet on it. I finished the momma dragons body and then I started crocheting the next pieces until I was presented with a new challenge.

Yes, you again guessed correctly. I just had to make a black panther!

img_5693You see, while I was visiting with an old friend, I decided to make her an amigurumi and asked her what her favorite animal was. I was expecting her to say a dog, a cat, a mouse, a cow, a pig, a monkey, or, could I be lucky enough, a lamb, a ferret or a momma dragon, but her response was a black panther instead.

As soon as she named a black panther, I lost total interest in making her an amigurumi for two reasons. One, I have never seen a pattern for a black panther and two, I can’t see black yarn very well so it is more difficult to crochet with than other colors. Crocheting an entire amigurumi from black yarn and getting something that resembled a panther out of it was just too much for my little brain at the time.

But, as time when on and I thought more about it, my little brain started to design a black panther for my friend. This challenge intrigued me so I stopped working on the momma dragon to get the panther started.

img_5699After crocheting a few pieces of the panther, I put my hook down. Luckily, not to start yet another amigurumi project but to evaluate what I had been doing. So far I had a bag of cream and beige yarn and pieces of a little lamb, a bag with the cute ferret’s pieces ready to be stitched together, a bag with a big momma dragon’s body, and now a bag with black panther’s pieces in it.

tumblr_nrsok0hg571uawe7no1_1280I decided that I really had to stop this and focus on one project, complete it and move on. These were all projects that I wanted to finish, but I had let new pattern after new pattern get in the way. I could not allow myself to start a new amigurumi project again until I had completed these four that were already started.

So, my new amigurumi project was to pick one of these four current project and compete it. This was a great goal until I realized Halloween is in just six weeks.

Oh crap!

I had wanted to make more candy filled ghosts and spiders for Halloween this year. Now, what do I do? Do I abandon the little lamb, the cute ferret, the momma dragon and now the black panther to start on Halloween projects before it is too late? Stay tuned to see what I decided next time!

Until then, crochet forth and start yet another project before you finish the previous one on!

Star Wars Senior

DSCN4060DSCN4067“They won’t fit.” That is the reply I got from the husband when I showed him my latest sewing project, the kid’s Star Wars sweatshirts. What do you mean they won’t fit? These shirts will fit a 2 year old just fine. Then, it dawned on me. These shirts would not fit the green eyed husband. So, my next sewing project would be a Star Wars shirt for the husband.

 

Looking at my Star Wars embroidery designs, I picked a maroon colored knit from the stash for the husbands shirt. After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table to get started only to find out that the maroon fabric was not big enough to make a shirt for the husband a shirt from it. So, the husband picked a black knit from the stash for the sleeves and the collar. As I cut out the fabric, I was glad that I did not have enough of the maroon fabric. The black and maroon fabrics looked really good together. Far better than the maroon would have looked alone.

 

DSCN4044DSCN4043It’s been awhile since I have made the husband a new shirt, but the sewing process went smoothly enough. Both the maroon and black knit fabric are nice fabrics and where easy to work with. The husband picked his embroidery design, the Stormtrooper with the sun ray rising sun background, and it embroidered on to the shirt nicely.

 

All was going along nicely until the husband picked white/clear buttons and white thread for the double needle hems on the bottom of the shirt and the sleeves. I was more then a little apprehensive about this. Sometimes when using a double needle, my sewing machine and the knit fabric that I’m DSCN4065DSCN4063sewing with like to argue during the sewing process. I can hide a lot of this arguing with a matching thread color but could I hide the arguing with a white contrasting thread?

 

Luckily, as I mentioned before, these were nice knit fabrics to work with and they did not argue with the double needle and the hems sewed fairly smoothly and they look good.

Finally with the last step of sewing the buttons on, the husband’s Star Wars shirt was done!

 

DSCN4041DSCN4042But before I could go back to sewing some more kid’s Star Wars clothes, the husband pointed out the Chewbacca fleece blanket kit we purchased at Joann’s last half price sale. After the husband gave me some sweet puppy dog eyes that said “Please make my blanket next”, I got started on his blanket.

 

To increase the size of the blanket, I did not cut off the black dotted line edges of the blanket that were supposed to be cut into strips and then tied together. Instead I squared the top and bottom fleece pieces and then sewed them wrong side together 1/8 inch from the edge. Next I cut 1/4 inches from the edge with the skip stitch blade. The blanket was then ready for its edge to be crocheted on.

 

DSCN4035DSCN4038After crocheting the foundation row, I tried several different edges like scallops and triangles but the husband liked the chained edge the best. So I chained 3, skipped 2 stitches on the foundation row, then slip stitched in the 3rd stitch. On the next row, after changing colors, I chained 3 then slip stitched in the next chain 3 of the 2nd row. For the 3rd row, I picked a different color but I didn’t like the multicolor look so I changed back to the foundation rows color and crocheted the 3rd row like the 2nd row. I had planned to crochet a 4th and 5th row, but this did not look good so I stopped after the 3rd row.

 

The husband was pleased with his finished Chewbacca blanket as well as his new Stormtrooper shirt. Both were fun for me to sew and crochet. Now, that the green eyed monster has left the sewing room. I can get back to sewing more kid’s clothes.

Until then, sew and crochet forth and remember to always let the Wookiee win!

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!

It’s In The Bag! – Part 2 – The Lining

DSCN3886After completing the shell, I sewed the lining next. I serged all the seams and edges of the lining because the gray lining fabric just loved to fray. This was not difficult, just time consuming. I left part of one of the sleeve seams unstitched for the bagging of the jacket. With the shell and the lining sewn, it was time to sew these together and bag the jacket.

DSCN3880Even though I knew what do sew next, I decided to read the tutorial for bagging a jacket one more time, and I am glad that I did. At the top of the bagging tutorial was a link to a tutorial on how to cut a lining for a jacket. I had not read this tutorial before and even though my lining was cut and sewn, I decided to read the tutorial.

I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that I had made my lining incorrectly. There were more steps to cutting a lining out than just cutting out the pattern pieces again from lining fabric. I debated about just using my finishing lining and learning the lesson for the next time but then I read how if the lining is not cut with ease, the jacket will not fit or wear well.

Darn!

DSCN3909I was going to have to make another lining! And this time I would be following the tutorial to get it right!

DSCN3890I returned to the cutting table and I cut out a new lining with the extra inches at the fold in the back and the ease at the armscye and sleeves. I once again cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the bottom and at the sleeve’s hem. At the sewing machine, I made a box pleat in the top and bottom of the back piece to gather in the extra inches. I once again serged all the seams and edges to keep the lining fabric from fraying, and I once again left part on one of the sleeve seams open for the bagging. With a whole new lining, one that had appropriate ease added in, I was ready to once again bag the jacket.

DSCN3892Following the steps of the bagging tutorial, I sewed the shell and lining together. Next I sewed the sleeve hems together, and then turned the jacket through the unfinished seam on the sleeve. This worked fantastically! The zipper turned beautifully to the front of the jacket, the collar was finished, with no twill tape or facing needed, and the hems both at the bottom and sleeves rolled up 1 inch. The last step was to sew the unfinished seam of the sleeve together.

DSCN4004Normally, this is where the hand sewing would be required, but the tutorial said just to sew along the edge of the sleeve seam with wrong sides facing. Yes, this left a little ridge, but it would be inside the sleeve where no one would know that it was there, or see it, or even notice it while wearing the jacket. Even with the jacket off, it would be highly unlikely that the sleeve would ever be turned inside out to reveal this seam. This was great for me! A quick easy seam to finish the jacket plus no evil hand sewing!

DSCN4007As I zipped my completed jacket up, I figured out why the making of the lining tutorial kept talking about the facings. I assumed that since I was lining the jacket, the facings were not needed, but after zipping the jacket and having the lining exposed where the facing would have been, I could see how the facings from the shell fabric would look and wear better than the lining.

DSCN4000At this point in the construction I did something I don’t normally do when I am sewing kid’s clothes. I needed to remove the top stabilizer that I had used to hold the fleece down while embroidering on the pockets. I could have just ran a little water over the pockets and let them air dry, but I decided to wash and dry the whole finished jacket instead, just like a mom would do after the kid had spilled ice cream down the front of it.

DSCN3992I was a little disappointed when I removed the jacket from the dryer. The fleece had fuzzed up a little and some of the shiny new look was gone, but all the seams held well and the lining did just fine. So at least I know this is not a dry clean only type of situation, which wouldn’t be good on a child’s garment, and that the jacket can be machine washed and dried without ruining it.

DSCN3990Despite the exposed facing and the fuzzing fleece, this jacket turned out just too cute. I love the paw print, the contrasting colors, the side patch pockets, the Dalmatian embroidery designs, the zipper and the lining.

Let’s face it, I love the whole jacket! I especially love the bagging of this jacket and the lack of hand sewing. I see another jacket just like this one but with facings added in my near future, so stay tuned!

Until then, sew forth and bag on!

It’s In The Bag! – Part 1 – The Pockets

DSCN3898I found one more way to finish the edges of polar fleece seams on a jacket. Just put a lining in the jacket! Now, lining a project has always frightened me just a little because it required hand sewing to finish it up and as you know hand sewing is evil and must be avoided at all costs. But, I found a great tutorial online explaining how to bag a jacket, i.e. how to add a lining to a jacket, with little to no hand sewing so I was excited to try bagging a jacket for the first time.

At the top of the tutorial, the statement was made that any garment could be lined regardless of whether the pattern called for a lining or not, so I did not bother to look for a pattern with a lining. I just grabbed my tried and true kid’s jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902. It took only a minute to pick out the red puppy paw print fleece fabric and some gray lining to use to bag this jacket.

DSCN3873I gave the design and construction of this jacket a lot of thought before I made the first cut into the fabric. I decided I did not need the facings on it since the lining would replace them. Next, I would cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the hems of both the bottom and the sleeves so that the lining would pull the fleece around to complete the hems. Last, I wanted to embroidery a design on the jacket, but I knew that it would get lost in the busy puppy paw design of the fleece.

DSCN3874So to remedy this problem, I decided to make side patch pockets for the jacket from some grey fleece scraps and to embroider the designs on to the pockets. I also decided to make the collar from the grey fleece too to match the pockets. I thought about using the lining fabric for the bottom of the collar, but the grey fleece was not that heavy so I decided to make both sides of the collar using the fleece. With that plan in mind, it was time to cut the fabric and get sewing!

DSCN3876The cutting process went smoothly. I cut out the pieces for the shell or outside of the jacket from the fleece and then I cut matching pieces from the grey lining. I started the sewing process with the shell of the jacket which was going along just fine, including the sewing on of the zipper, until the pockets.

DSCN3879The husband picked out the Disney 101 Dalmatians for the embroidery designs so I embroidered Perdita on one pocket and Pongo on the other. With the embroidery done, I decided I wanted to line the pockets to protect the back of the embroidery designs from things that would be put in the pockets and to protect little hands from the embroidery designs rough parts. But, how should I line the side patch pockets?

DSCN3991To line the pockets, I cut two pockets from the lining fabric minus the fold over flap. I serged the edge of the lining fabric where the flap would have been. I folded the fleece flap of the pocket to the wrong side of the pocket and then placed the lining on top. I then sewed right sides together on three sides of the pocket. Next, I turned the pocket at the flap. After ironing the pocket, I folded the flap over, encasing the exposed but serged lining under the flap, and then I sewed the flap down to the pocket to complete the lining of the pocket. It was then simple to sew the pockets onto the front shell of the jacket.

I am going to pause here and let you catch your breath for a minute. I still have a lot of story to tell about the sewing of this jacket. So, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in part 2 of It’s In the Bag.

Until then, sew forth and bag on!