Tag Archive | leg

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.
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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!

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Covering The Board

IMG_3802My ironing board is old. Well old for an ironing board anyway. I am still using my very first ironing board that I purchased nearly 30 years ago! Of course, the ironing board cover has been replaced many times over that 30+ years. An ironing board cover can only have so much iron-on interfacing glued to it before it needs to be replaced. And each time I replace the ironing board cover, I wonder if I should just replace the whole ironing board instead of just the cover.

IMG_3800I ask this because the cost of a nice cover is about the same as an new inexpensive board with a cover. The question I ask myself every time I buy a new cover is “Have ironing boards technically changed over the years and gotten better to where I am missing out on something by not buying a new board?”

So, this time when it was time to replace the cover, I decided to purchase a whole new ironing board and see if I have been missing out on anything over the years.

IMG_0894While standing in the middle of the isle of Walmartia, I found that I had three choices (i.e. three prices) to choose from. I decided to start at the lowest of the prices. I purchased the least expensive ironing board and took it home. Unfortunately, this ironing board was not inexpensive, it was cheap. To start, it only stood on two pole legs and it was very unsteady. It teetered this was and that every time I pushed my iron across the board. I had to keep catching it to keep it from falling over as I ironed.

IMG_0899The cover on this board was super thin with no padding at all and it was drawn tight around the board with a thin string and a clamp. The board itself was not a solid piece of metal either. It was a metal mesh desk with giant diamond holes in it with an attached outside edge. The diamond mesh was very bumpy to iron on, but the lip made by the attached edge caught the iron and interrupted the ironing process. Plus, this board had a very narrow tip end to the full size of the board, giving me less ironing space where I iron the most. This ironing board was certainly not a replacement for my current ironing board, so undaunted I tried again and back to the store I went!

IMG_0893This time I purchased the middle priced ironing board with higher hopes. It was just a little more expensive than a new cover for my old board was, and this ironing board had two legs in each direction, so I already knew it was going to be superior to the cheap ironing board I had previously purchased. It still had the diamond mesh board top, but I was hopeful that it would be made better and have a better cover, plus it had accessories. This ironing board had an iron holder at the end to give you more board to work on and keep the iron from tipping over when not in use. It also had a shelf on the legs.

IMG_0900This ironing board was certainly steadier than the last board and it did not fall over with the pressure of the iron moving back and forth, but the edge of the mesh top still had a lip. I might not have noticed the lip so much if once again, this ironing board did not have the same thin, non padded, tied on with string, cover that the cheap board had. If I kept this board I would immediately have to replace the cover. So, it was up to the accessories to “wow” me into replacing my old ironing board with this one.

I’m sorry to say, the accessories did not “wow” me. I am sure that for some, the shelf attached to the legs of the board is the greatest thing ever, but for me it was not. My ironing board has to be movable and with stuff stacked on the shelf, this board became unmovable. So, for me, the shelf would never be used. Plus, I don’t need another shelf to stack stuff on.

IMG_0897The next accessory was the iron holder. This holder is a great idea in keeping a hot iron from becoming a hot burn. But, what I found was that the holder created more work for me when ironing so I would never use it. When I iron, I mostly use the top half of the board, so I had to take extra walking steps to place the iron on the holder. It did not take long to tire of – iron, take two steps to set the iron on holder, take two steps back, move the garment, take two steps to pick up the iron, take two step back to the garment, and then repeat these steps. Simply put, my iron was not at arms reach, so if I kept this board I would not use the holder. Since the accessories did not work out for me, I saw no reason to replace my current ironing board with this board either.

IMG_3797Upon examining the highest price ironing board at Walmart, I found a duplicate of my current ironing board. Walmart had two styles of the this price ironing board. The first was the same diamond mesh board as the lower priced boards and there was no way I was purchasing that one even if the cover was thicker and nicer because of the previous issues with the mesh boards. The second board looked just like the ironing board I currently have at home in the sewing room, except that the cover was not as nice. So, why spend the money for a new ironing board when it was exactly what I already had?

IMG_3798I guess nothing new and revolutionary has occurred over the years to improve the ironing board. With my new knowledge of ironing boards, I decided I would be keep my same old ironing board and replacing the cover.

As I looked at new ironing board covers, I learned that they are the same as new ironing boards. You get what you pay for with the lowest price covers being thin, non padded and string tightened and the higher prices ones being thicker, padded and velcroed on. With what I had learned from my ironing board experiment, I went ahead and purchased the higher priced, thicker, padded, velcroed cover. The new cover fits my old ironing board great and I am back to ironing on my latest sewing project. Stay tuned to see it soon!

Until then, sew forth and iron 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.

A “Real” Amigurumi

IMG_0006Although I have made many amigurumi’s over the years, I am calling this one a “real” Amigurumi due to the size of its head. Let me explain. Amigurumi means “tiny toy” in Japanese. It seems to me that all the first amigurumi patterns that I saw all had heads disproportionate in size to their bodies including very large eyes. Very Anime like. This was a popular look at the time and a look that really appealed to me. This look is one of the reasons that I wanted to begin to make my own amigurumi’s.

IMG_0010It was love at first site with this tiger and it quickly moved up to the top of my to do list. Like most amigurumi patterns, the head was to be crocheted first. I don’t like to start an amigurumi with the head first. I like to make the arms and legs first, then the body and then the head next, followed last by any details. For me, the head and face is the cute part, it’s what gives the amigurumi’s its character, what makes it come to life. It is the most creative part of making an amigurumi and the most difficult part to complete. It is also the most detailed part putting on the eyes, ears, nose, horns, and so on. The body, arms and legs are just the base of the amigurumi. If the arms, legs and body do not turn out well, I can stop and rethink the project before spending the time making the head and face and details. So, in following my process, I started this tiger by crocheting the arms and the legs first.

P1030764As I crocheted the arms and legs, I had to stuff them as I crocheted them up. The arms and legs came out much tinier than I had expected and they tapered quickly at the ends, especially the legs. I was surprised at how small the legs were even turning out even when compared to the very small arms. As I crocheted the body, I kept waiting for the increases in size that never came. I followed the pattern, but after completing the body, it was even smaller than the arms were. I really started to doubt the finished look of this tiger at this point. The head was stitched next. While crocheting the head, I found the P1030762increases that I was looking for while I was crocheting the body. The rounds of the head just kept increasing and increasing. Stop already! Just how big was this head going to be? Too big I was afraid. As I kept on crocheting, I followed the pattern until the head was complete. The next part should have been the crocheting of the ears and muzzle, but I was having serious doubts about how this tiger was going to turn out so I decided to wait on crocheting the details and start the stuffing and stitching for this amigurumi first.

P1040150With the arms and legs already stuffed as I had crocheted them, I stuffed the tiny body and the giant head and then I stitched them all together. As I was still doubting the proportions of this tiger, I attached the arms and legs and the tiger finally came to life. It worked! The tiny body and the giant head were a perfect match with the little legs and the larger arms. I could see the finished tiger in my mind’s eye at this point, so I wasted no time in crocheting the ears and the muzzle. His tail was the last piece to crochet and he was finally finished.

And he turned out just too cute! Now, I just love his tiny body and giant head! And I am very happy that I followed the pattern, and that I did not try to make the head smaller or the body bigger. So, the lesson learned here is to sometimes go with the flow and see what you get. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but this time it worked out just fine.

Button Joints, Gin Joints, and Pin Points – Part 2 – The Sewing

P1030554With all of the pieces crocheted for my button jointed bear, I next started the sewing together process. First came attaching the ears and nose to the head and adding a smile. That went easy enough. Then the pattern called to indent the eyes. I had never done this on an amigurumi before, but I was game to give it a try. I inserted the yarn at the bottom of the head, pulled it up next to the eye, then I took a small stitch and pulled it back down to the bottom of the head. Then I pulled the two yarns at the bottom of the head, causing the eyes to sink into the head slightly, giving the head an even better more bear like shape. At this point I was falling in love with this bear design.

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P1030505Next, was to sew the body on to the head. This is the only place that I deviated from the pattern. I did not like how big the opening was on the body when I started. When I finished stitching the body, I left the sewing yarn extra long. And before sewing the body to the head, I weaved the sewing yarn around the opening to close it up some. I did not pull it closed but instead just brought it in so it was a smaller opening. I had thought about crocheting a few more rows with decreasing stitches to decrease the opening size but I didn’t want to make the body taller and take away from the round body.

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P1030741With the head and body attached, it was finally time for the button joints. These joints are made by inserting pieces of yarn into the body, pulling it out where the limb is to be attached. Then you insert the yarn through the limb, through a button, back through the limb and then back into the body headed to the other side of the body to repeat the process for the next limb. Then you give it a good pull to bring it all together. I was concerned that the entire limb was attached with just one piece of yarn, so I repeated the process one more time for safety reasons. I’m pretty sure this teddy bear is going to be played with so I wanted the limbs to be stitched securely. I did dig through my sewing supplies and found a super long needle to make the joint sewing easier, and it did. The button joints were fun to make and the buttons on the sides of the bear look so cute. It makes it look a little old fashioned and nostalgic.

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P1030790P1030792Now it was test time. How did the joints work and move? And the answer is just great! The arms and legs twist around just fine. And this bear is able to sit, stand and hold his arms out for a hug without any problems. I love the button joints. They were fun and easy to do. The buttons add some cuteness to the amigurumi, and the amigurumi is more fun to play with because of them. I also love this pattern. This bear turned out so cute that I want to make another one.

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And so I did. I went ahead and made another bear from this pattern right away, but he is white and I used my 4.5 mm hook so he is bigger, but still just as stinking cute as the first one was!

 

Several people have asked for a link to the pattern on this bear and here it is.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/151920094/crochet-madison-teddy-bear-pdf-pattern?ga_search_query=Madison&ref=shop_items_search_1

 

 

Button Joints, Gin Joints, and Pin Points – Part 1 – The Crocheting

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Crocheting up some pockets pals recently was a fun stress reliever for me. After completing three of them, I was ready totackle a bigger and more complicated amigurumi project. This brought my back to my to do list. On the list was the category of joints. I had listed several different ways to make jointed amigurumi’s. After studying the list, I picked button joints. So my next project would be an amigurumi with buttons joints.

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IMG_3855But first a little explanation is in order. Up until now, I have just sewn the arms and legs on to my amigurumi’s and the position I sewed them on at was the position they were in forever. For example, if I sewed the legs to the front of the body so that the amigurumi would sit nicely, then the amigurumi would sit but not stand. If I sewed the legs on so the amigurumi could stand, then having it posed in a sitting position is difficult if not impossible. A jointed amigurumi would have its arms and legs attached somehow so that the arms and legs are moveable. Another example, with a jointed amigurumi you could either twist the legs so the amigurumi could sit or twist the legs so the amigurumi could stand. And with jointed arms, you could twist the arms forward for hugs or twist them up to play peekaboo or just position them at the side. As I said there are several different things you can use as joints in an amigurumi, and for this project I had picked buttons to use.

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Now, picking button joints over the other types of movable joints was not a totallyrandom idea for me. I was given a great pattern and I have been wanting to make it for some time now. The pattern is a jointed teddy bear using buttons. For some reason I have a thing for bears. So it was very easy to pick a brown Red Heart yarn and my favorite size G (4mm) hook and get crocheting.

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I started with the arms and legs. As I was crocheting, I quickly learned that this project was a stuff as you go project, and I quickly learned not to overstuff the pieces which I am prone to do. The arms and legs needed a taper, more stuffing at the bottom than at the top. The nice thing though is that the pattern was designed to lead you to this taper.

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Next, I crocheted the body and stuffed it as I normally would. My result was a round ball. What? Thiswas a horrible body. What happened? Had I miscounted? No, instead I learned that I had overstuffed the body, and that it too needed a taper. The head of this bear is crocheted in two parts and then stitched together, so after crocheting the head pieces I had two flat head pieces. Wondering how the head was going to look, I stitched the two pieces together and started stuffing. The head took shape and came out just perfect. The head is stuffed firmly with no taper.

You know I still have a lot more to say about the button jointed teddy bear, but for now I’m going to stop the story here. Join me next time and I’ll tell you how I sewed it all together and how it worked out in the end.