Tag Archive | joint

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!

Watch It, Football Head!

DSCN1664I have finally completed the large amigurumi that I started months ago.

There have been moments of both joy and tears with this amigurumi and it has lived part of it’s life in the closet, hidden, so I did not have to look at it on a daily basis letting me know of my failures and that it was still uncompleted. It also spent a lot of it’s life sitting next to my cutting table, reminding me daily that it was still somehow not yet completed. DSCN1656

But all of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, as I contemplated starting yet another amigurumi rather than finishing this one, the decision was made to finish this amigurumi instead.

Let me tell you the whole story.

Instead of making yet another New Year’s resolution this year. One that would be doomed to be broken along with all the rest, I decided to make this the year of “Just Do DSCN1659It” for my amigurumi projects.

I have so many wonderful amigurumi patterns that I just can’t wait to crochet but I just never seem to start any of them. So in January, I said to myself that I would no longer say someday and instead I would just start to make these wonderful patterns one by one until I had them all stitched up.

Closing my eyes, I randomly picked out this turtle pattern to start this journey. I fell in love with this pattern at first sight. I love the turtles droopy eyes and his detailed tennis shoes. I was very excited to get started on it. DSCN1665

As I started by reading the pattern though a red flag went up right away as I read the large stitch count of his body. At this point I knew he was going to be big, so I chose to use my F hook instead of my favorite G hook. Even when using the F hook, as I crocheted the pieces, they were finishing much larger than expected.

As I continued to crochet, I became concerned about running out of yarn. Luckily, I was using stocks colors of Red Heart yarn and so I was able to make a trip to the store to pick up another skein easily if needed. I stuffed the turtle as I crocheted, but soon I had used up all the stuffing that I had on hand and once again I had to make a trip to the store for more stuffing.

DSCN1662I grew tired quickly of crocheting the large parts of this turtle and I had to set them aside often during the crocheting process.

Then the guilt of having a UFO (Un-Finished Object) would set in, and I would pull the pieces back out and crochet on it some more. Finally, the day came that I had all of the pieces crocheted and stuffed and ready to stitch together. I was so relieved to finally have this part done, that I just could not muster up the energy or excitement to stitch this turtles pieces together, so they where once again pushed to the side to work on something else. DSCN0900 (1)

Then a fateful day finally came when I said, “It is time to finish this turtle.” and the stitching together process started. I knew the stitching process was going to be long and tedious, so I turned on the Hey, Arnold cartoons the husband had just gotten for me and over the course of several more weeks and with Arnold’s help in the background, I completed the stitching together process. DSCN1191

With the turtle pieces all stitched together, it still needed a name.

This part came easily though and I named him Arnold even though he does not have a football head like the Arnold in the cartoon does. Somehow it just seemed fitting.

Much more time was consumed in creating the turtles details work. It took a lot of thought and time to stitch the lines and details of the shell and the shoes. The pattern called for the arms to be stitched to the body and the legs to be button jointed. I debated about making the arms button jointed too, but then I decided to follow the pattern due to the shell being in the way of his arms moving much. DSCN1193When it came time to pick out eyes, I did not have large enough round black ones to make his droopy eyes with.

As I was about to make another trip to the store, I found these speciality eyes hiding in my crafting supplies. They looked great and I was excited to use these eyes on him. Since these eyes already had an eyebrow look to them I did not add the crocheted eyebrows above the eyes that the pattern called for.

With Arnold, the turtle, completed, I am both happy and sad. DSCN1667I am happy because Arnold is very cute and I am pleased with the end results. His feet are so BIG and yet I still love his tennis shoes.

He is not perfect, but I think he will make someone a great friend, just like Hey, Arnold. I am sad though because I no longer want to continue with the “Just Do It” plan and I am having a hard time picking out my next amigurumi project.

I am trying to talk myself into continuing the plan of crocheting one of those “always wanted to” projects, but to just be a little more picky about which one I choose, i.e. a smaller one.

Only time will tell!

Until then, crochet forth and turtle on!

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 2

DSCN0901The panda bear’s pattern was easy to follow so the crocheting of the pieces was fun and it stitched up quickly. Then something changed. As I began to stitch the panda bear together, cuteness did not burst from every stitch. What went wrong? Upon completing the panda bear, I sat the latest cute bear and the panda bear side by side and studied the differences.

DSCN0903Of course there were the obvious difference in the bears, but as I studied their faces, my attention was drawn to their muzzles. Now, the size of the muzzles of these two bears are quite different from each other, but that is not what caught my attention. It was the placement of the muzzle on the head. The first bear has a big muzzle so it had to be sewn lower on the head, closer to the neck and the eyes needed to be inserted right above the muzzle. The panda bear had a tiny muzzle in comparison, so it could be stitched up higher on the head with plenty of room for a space between the eyes and the muzzle. Was the placement of the muzzle on the face in a different position the answer to the cuteness issue? Was the panda’s face just too high and separated on his head?

I turned to the pattern and, yes, the pictures showed the eyes and muzzle of the panda stitched lower on the head and closer together. I also pulled out the only other teddy bear pattern that has turned out cute for me as I crochet it, the pattern I used to make Madison and Tux, and, yes, because the head is crocheted sideways in this pattern, the muzzle is even with the neck and the eyes are inserted right above the muzzle. If my theory was correct, lowering the muzzle and placing the eyes closer to the muzzle of my amigurumi bears would bring out the cuteness.

DSCN0939I was excited to test my theory and make another amigurumi teddy bear with a lower muzzle and closer eyes, but first I had to try and fix this panda bear. I was not willing to unstitch his head and muzzle plus his eyes were already permanently snapped into place, so I crocheted him a bow tie. I found a free bow tie pattern for a dog on Ravelry and modified the size to fit the panda bear. The bow tie filled in the distance between the panda’s neck and muzzle making the neck and muzzle seem closer together. Whether it’s the illusion of bringing the neck and muzzle closer together or just that the bow tie is cute, adding the bow tie help bring out some of the panda bear’s cuteness that wasn’t previously there.

DSCN0942I did not have a quick fix for lowering the eyes to see if my theory on their placement versus the bear’s cuteness is correct. I will just have to place the eye closer to the muzzle on the next amigurumi bear I make and see if the cuteness appears spontaneously. I am betting it will.

I don’t know if my next amigurumi will be a bear or not, but I see I a bear with a lower muzzle and eyes closer to that muzzle soon in my future. Perhaps then I will know if that was truly the answer to bear cuteness or not. I hope it is and I will have another crocheting mystery solved.

Until next time, crochet on and cute on.

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 1

DSCN0924I have finally just crocheted the most adorable teddy bear ever!

DSCN0927As you know, I seem to have an issue with crocheted teddy bears. I never seem to be quite happy with the end results once I complete one. It does not matter wether the bear is big or little, fat or tall, skinny or small. For some reason the cuteness factor is just lost for me once I complete the bear and I have to sit and study the bear before I think has any cuteness at all and I can finally accept my completed results. So why was this time any different?

DSCN0926I had pretty much given up on making any more amigurumi bears. I figured I would just stick to monkeys, monsters and such, but when I ran across this pattern, it looked so cute, I thought I would go ahead and give a teddy bear another try. The pattern was well written with lots of pictures, so it did not take long before I had all the pieces of this amigurumi crocheted up and ready to be stitched together.

As I stitched the pieces of this bear together, cuteness just poured from every stitch. From his thread jointed arms and legs to his little bob tail to his cute nose and smile, I just fell in love with him. This made him much easier to stitch together.

DSCN0932I would like to make a comment about the construction of this bear when it came to stitching his head and body together that might be helpful to someone else making something similar.

DSCN0933Because I had picked a variegated yarn with a color in it that closely matched the main color of the bear, I twisted this bears body before I stitched it on. Normally, I have the starts of the rounds on the back of the amigurumi. On this bear, that placed a big patch of the variegated yarn with the matching color on the very front of the bear and it looked odd. So, I turned his body until I had more variety of colors from the variegated yarn on the front and then I stitched the head and body together.

Since I was so happy with the end results of this bear, I picked another bear pattern, a panda bear, for my next amigurumi project. Stay tuned to see if I could get the same cuteness factor from this panda bear pattern too.

Until then, crochet forth and cute on!

Triangulating The Joint

P1040340Remember Thready the teddy bear? Sure you do. He was the cute, but bulky teddy bear that I crocheted a while back. He was my first try at making an amigurumi with thread joints. I have been wanting to make another amigurumi with thread joints to see if I could change the things that I did not like about Thready, like the bulky look that he had and to incorporate all the things that I learned recently from making several different types of thread joints. This made picking out my next amigurumi project easy. I found a pattern for a puppy with thread joints, but with a little variation to the joints that I had been making.

P1040350Starting with the crocheting of the pieces, I quickly found out that this was not a particularly easy pattern. I had to watch my rounds and stitch count more closely than usual. This was not difficult, just a pain. Unlike Thready’s pattern, the arms and legs of this puppy tapered in at the ends. I was also careful not over stuff the arms and legs.

The instructions in this pattern for the thread joints were a little different than for the ones on Thready’s joints. This pattern called for a separate piece of yarn to make the joints, not just to use the tail of the yarn left after crocheting. The separate yarn piece was pulled from the bottom of the puppy’s body into the leg but then angled towards the front of the leg, and then pulled out of the leg at the front. The yarn was then reinserted into the leg, not catching the crocheted yarn, pulled through under the crocheting but close to the outside of the leg to the back of the leg. Finally the yarn was pulled out from the leg at the back, then, as before, reinserted into the leg, once again not catching the crocheted yarn, pulled to the inside of the leg where it first entered the leg, then out the bottom of the body at the starting point. This formed a triangle for the joint inside the leg.

P1040227Forming the triangle joint pulled the leg closer to the body, decreasing some of the bulky look. This was a good thing. The problem, though, was that the leg was very loose. I did not feel that it was secure enough to the body to withstand any play or pulling from a child. So, I cut some more yarn and stitched the joints again the same way. While this did tighten up the joint so that it was more secure it caused another problem. I now had a ton of loose ends of yarn to knot and hide in a small space at the bottom of the body.

P1040231The idea of the triangle thread joint was good, but the execution needed to be refined, so when I made the arm I changed it up a little. I had left a long tail at the end of my crocheting of the arms, as I did with the legs but then cut off to use a separate piece yarn for the joint. On the arms, I decided to use the tail from the crocheting for the joint instead of cutting it off and using a separate piece of yarn. I pulled the tail from one arm through the body to where the other arm was to be attached. I did the same with the other arm. Then using the tail from the opposite arm, I made the triangle thread joint in the arm and then pulled it into the body. I did the same thing for the other arm. The arms were so much more secure than P1040343the legs with only one time through. Just to be safe though, I repeated the joints again but with the same thread I was using, and not a separate piece of yarn. I am glad I left a long tail on the arms so I could use it for the joints twice. This worked out great for making the thread joints, plus I could knot and hide the loose end through out the body instead of all in one spot and I only have one piece of yarn for each joint to hide. But more importantly, the arms were very secure whereas I still would have liked the legs to be tighter.

P1040351Even with the tapered and less stuffed arms and legs and the triangle joints that pulled that appendages closer to the body, the puppy still looks bulky to me although much less bulky than Thready. Maybe I just don’t like thread jointed amigurumi’s or maybe I need more taper and even less stuffing and even a tighter pull of the joints. Like Thready though, this puppy has grown on me. He is fun and cute and I hope someone will enjoy playing with him.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Thread Joints

P1030815Since I have enjoyed making button jointed amigurumi’s so much, I decided that I would tackle the next type of joints on my to do list, thread joints. Thread joints are actually simpler to make than button joints. Like button joints, the thread joint is made by inserting the yarn through the body to the appendage, but unlike the button joints, the yarn is only inserted into the inside of the appendage then back into the body. The yarn is not pulled to the to the outside of appendage. The advantage of the thread joint is that you can pull the thread through the body and appendage several times in a loop without the limitation of the size of the holes in the button and this makes for a stronger joint. The disadvantage is that you don’t have cute decorative buttons shown on the outside of an amigurumi. But maybe that’s an advantage, since you don’t have to find matching buttons, or have the expense of the buttons added to your project.

P1030816There are many patterns out there for thread jointed amigurumi’s. After reading a couple of these patterns, I decided that just about any amigurumi could be stitched together with these thread joints. All that needs to be done is to close off the appendages when you’re crocheting them and then stitch them on with a thread joint. So, my choice of patterns to try a thread joint was almost limitless, but in the end I picked a teddy bear pattern that was designed to be stitched together with thread joints.

P1030819As usual, I started the crocheting of the pieces for this teddy bear with the appendages. As I completed the first arm, I noticed that the pattern ended the arm with a large stitch count on the last row. The yarn left for sewing was to be weaved through the stitches and then pulled tight to close up the arm. This made the top of the arm flat. I did not really like this look. So I thought about adding more rows and tapering the arm closed or at least stuffing the arm less, but in the end I followed the pattern and made the four appendages with flat tops and stuffed them full and firm.

P1030459The thread joints were easy to make and it made stitching the appendages to this teddy bear quick and simple. When I was done though, I did not like the look of the bear because it looked too bulky to me. Two things were at fault for this bulky look. The first was the flat top of the appendages. If I had tapered the ends of the appendages or stuffed them less, they would not have stuck out from the body so much and looked so bulky. The second thing was the thread joints. Because the yarn is not pulled to the outside of the appendage and then pulled back into the body, the appendage was not pulled tightly to the body. And although the appendages are securely fastened to the body with the thread joints, they are not tight against the body like the button joints of the last teddy bear were.

P1030465Next I had quite a bit of trouble with the face of this teddy bear. The nose and mouth were to be embroidered to the muzzle and then the muzzle was to be puffed up as it was stitched on to the head. After embroidering the nose and mouth, I puffed the muzzle and stitched it on, but I did not like the look. So I decided to use a plastic nose rather than an embroidered one. I attached the plastic nose to the muzzle and then puffed as I stitched it on again. I really did not like the results when it was finished. So, I attached the plastic nose through the muzzle and the head and stitched the muzzle flat to the face. This was still not the look that I wanted, but it was better than the other looks. Because I was disappointed with the bulky look already, I just left the flat muzzle and plastic nose on this bears face.

P1030455The picture of the bear on the pattern is just precious, but my bear just did not turned out to be that cute. He looks sad, and not cute sad, just sad. So I sat this teddy bear on my cutting table and started my next project hoping I could figure out what to do to make him look better. As he stared at me for several days, he seemed to just want some love and he melted my heart and I grew to love his little sad face. I named him Thready Bear, and now he just needs a loving home to go to and for someone to love him.

Hidden Button Joints on a Cool Cat

P1040187Since I have recently taken a fancy with button joints, I found this amigurumi cat pattern that called for the use of button joints but with a variation. Instead of showcasing the button and using large fancy expensive buttons to accent the amigurumi, these buttons are hidden inside the amigurumi, so you only need small flat inexpensive buttons to complete this amigurumi’s joints.

P1030778The construction of this cat started out with the crocheting of its parts. The crocheting was simple and fun. This cat pattern is similar to the monkey pattern I had previously made so I was familiar with how it was made. I stuffed the arms and legs as I crocheted them. The pattern called for the eyes and nose to be crocheted pieces and then the mouth would be embroidered to the head. Because the eyes and nose are crocheted pieces, I prefer to stitch them to the head after stuffing the head. Of course, if I was using safety eyes, I would have inserted them before stuffing the head. So, after stuffing the head, I placed the eyes and nose on the head to stitch them on P1030766and screamed in terror. This was the most scary face I have ever seen on an amigurumi before! I read the pattern again to make sure that I had made the eyes and nose correctly. And I studied the pictures that the pattern came with, but I could in no way get my cat’s face to be the adorable face on the cat in the pictures of the pattern. Not wanting to use this terrifying face, I turned to other amigurumi patterns for ideas. Remembering back to when I had first started making amigurumi’s and some of the techniques I had learned, I decided to embroidery the nose and mouth on to a piece of felt. I had purchased some P1030769safety cat eyes many years ago, knowing that some day I would make a cat and this was that day. So, I first unstuffed the head so that I could attach the safety eyes backs and then stitch the felt piece to the head. I dislike stuffing in the first place but to have to un-stuff only to have to re-stuff the head again was agonizing for me, but I could not finish this cat with it’s original horrifying face. I unstuffed the head, attached the eyes, stitched on the felt embroidered nose and mouth and then I re-stuffed the head. Now, with the head and cute face completed, I could continue on to the next part of this amigurumi, the hidden button joints.

P1030770The arms and legs were crocheted with two small patches at the top of each piece. When sewing the arms and legs on, one button was placed in between the patches and one button was placed inside the body. The buttons were lined up and stitched together through the one patch and the body. Then the two patches were stitched together to hide the button. The arms and legs can now rotate around the button joints. How fun is that?

P1040189And with a little more stuffing and stitching, this cat was finished. I think he turned out to be very cute and I really like the hidden button joints and the way they work. I was a little surprised by how expensive small buttons cost, and then the fact that you needed to use 8 buttons to complete this project really made the cost add up. I spent about the same amount on fancy buttons for the previous jointed teddy bears that I made previously as I did on the small buttons for this cat.

P1040194This was a fun variation to the button jointed amigurumi’s that I have made in the past and I really like the results. Stay tuned because in the next post, I’m going to show yet another way of making a jointed amigurumi. It should be fun!