Tag Archive | gray

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!

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!

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!

 

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!

Mousey Decisions

DSCN0060Have you ever seen a crochet pattern and said “Oh, I can’t wait to make that”? I know you have and I so have I. Usually I say that and then promptly push the pattern out of site and out of mind and continue on with my current project, and just hope that I will somehow just remember that pattern when its time to start on a new project. Most times though, I don’t remember that awesome, have to do next, pattern and I end up working on something else instead. This time though I did not. I had fallen in love with this little mouse pattern and I wanted to make it next, and so I made a point to remember it and I did it right after my previous project was done.

DSCN0062Although this pattern looked really simple, there were some design decisions that had to be made while crocheting the pieces of this mouse. The first decision was the length of the legs. The pattern called for short stubby legs to be crocheted to the feet which would be best if the mouse would always be in a sitting position like a shelf sitter. But I decided that I wanted the option for my mouse to be either sitting or standing, so I added two extra rounds to his legs to accomplish that. The next decision came with the crocheting of his arms. The pattern called for no stuffing in the arms. As I crocheted the arms I decided I wanted a little stuffing at the ends of the arms to give them some form and shape. I had to add the stuffing as I crocheted to get the stuffing where I wanted it. Decision number three came with the crocheting of the tail. The tail is 21 crocheted rounds of 4 stitches. This was a tight and difficult crochet and took me a long time to make. As I worked on the rounds I debated whither the tail needed stuffed or if a pipe cleaner should be inserted into it to help it keep its form. The pattern did not call for anything though, so I decided to leave the tail as just the crochet stitches. Since the tail seems to hold its curl just fine on it’s own, that was probably the correct decision.

DSCN0072With the pieces of this mouse all crocheted, I had to rethink one of my previous decisions. As I stitched the longer legs on the mouse I decided that I did not like the longer length. The longer length was fine when the mouse was standing, but when sitting, the legs were too long and looked funny. I thought about attaching the legs to the bottom of the body instead of the front of the body to solve this longer look problem while the mouse was sitting but then the mouse would not be able to sit. So, I finally undid my two extra rounds and made the legs the length the pattern called for. And I DSCN0067stitched the legs to the front of the body as the pattern called for. In a sitting position, the mouse looks great. In a standing position, he looks ok with the shorter legs. He looks better in a standing position with shorter legs than he did in a sitting position with longer legs, so the short legs attached to the front of body, as the pattern called for, was the best result. Luckily, I do still like the stuffing in the arms and the tail is fine without it.

The final decision on this mouse was his smile. The pattern did not call for a mouth or smile but I wanted one. This guy was just too cute not to be happy, so I gave him a simple smile. I like his smile. It makes me happy when I see it.

DSCN0066Making design decisions is not always my favorite thing to do, even though you have to make design decisions all the time while crafting and sewing. Even with all this decision that had to be made, this little mouse was a fun project and I think he turned out just as adorable as the pictures were in his pattern. I have not named him anything more than little mouse yet though. I hope that someday he will find a good home and that someone will give him a proper name.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

The Grim Reaper

P1030657Halloween is my favorite holiday. I make more plans for Halloween than any other holiday. I decorate more for Halloween than any other holiday, and I usually have more fun on Halloween than on any other holiday. So as Halloween time approaches every year, it is only fitting for my crocheting and sewing projects to mainly involve Halloween. This year while checking out Halloween patterns on Ravelry, I came across this great pattern for the Grim Reaper and I knew that he would be my first Halloween Amigurumi for this year.

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I started out this project by selecting the yarn. Of course, the grim reapers cloak is usually black, but I wanted some thing a little different. Then I found this steel gray yarn at Hobby Lobby and it looked like what I wanted. It is a great color for the grim reaper’s cloak and I had no problem stitching it up. I chose Red Heart Yarn’s Aran color for the body instead of white. I thought it would give the reaper a little more of a “dead” aged bone look. The other colors were simple to pick, gray for the scythe blade and brown for the staff. The pattern called for a red belt but I picked the same P1030491gray as the blade for the belt instead.

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The crocheting of the pieces of the grim reaper went smoothly. The body of the cloak is his body so you had to lift his skirt up to attach his legs. I thought the hood might give me a hassle but the pattern was very clear on how to crochet the hood and it was quite easy. The hardest part of this pattern was attaching the arms. The arms and the sleeves are crocheted separately. Then the arms are placed inside the sleeve as far as you can push them and then the arm and sleeve attached to the body. It worked out ok, but I am concerned about how loosely the arms are attached to the body. Luckily, this reaper is a decoration and will not be played with as a doll, so I think the arms will hold up ok.

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P1030660The blade and staff of the scythe were interesting to crochet and sew together. Before I stitched the blade to the staff, I decided that I wanted the staff to be stiff so I inserted a dowel in it. Then I decided that I wanted the blade to be stiff as well but I still wanted it to curve as the blade should. To get this affect, I insert a pipe cleaner into the blade and shaped it to the look I wanted. Then I stitched the staff and blade together to complete the scythe. Because this is just a decoration, I stitched the scythe to the reaper to keep it in place. I also inserted a dowel in the back of the reaper to help him stand, so between the stiff staff and the back dowel, the reaper stands on his own.

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Unlike so many of the amigurumi’s that I make, the reaper’s smile was very easy to stitch and soon enough he was complete. I think he turned out to be just adorable which is not the word that usually described the “grim reaper”, but in this case it is right on. I am very pleased with my end results of this project and am happy to have the grim reaper as part of my Halloween diorama this year.