Tag Archive | rows

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!

Orion

P1030428I don’t know where I got the crazy idea but I decided it was time to expand my amigurumi making skills and move outside my comfort zone of just following a pattern. With that in mind, I chose to make another pot belly alien but with the changes I wanted to make to the pattern. I would be venturing out into unknown territories as I tried to make this alien not so pot bellied, and yet still have his other parts and pieces match. The end results of these changes is Orion, my latest amigurumi alien.

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The adventure started with me purchasing two skeins of the needed yarn. I decided to play it safe and have two skeins on hand even though I figured with making this one’s belly smaller, I may not need the second skein. But rather than panicking when I ran out of the first skien, I purchased two skeins so that I was sure I would have enough yarn for this project. I started P1030361out crocheting the arms and legs first. Since this alien’s body was going to be skinner than the last one’s body, I debated about making the arms and legs shorter. I knew that this second alien was not really going to be a toy and would need to be able to sit on a shelf, so I decided I would crochet the arms and legs into the body rather than sewing the arms and legs and then attaching them to the body after the crocheting was done. With this in mind the legs in particular could be shorter because they would not need to extend out from under neath the body. The legs would just be attached to the front of the body. I did not want to shorten the legs and not shorten the arms and then have an alien with short stubby legs compared to his arms though. Aliens are supposed to have long thin arms and legs. So, after a lot of thought, I decided to make the arms and legs as the pattern was written. It would be easier to shorten the arms and legs later if I needed to, and I knew I had enough yarn that if I wasted a little undoing the tops of the arms and legs, it would be ok.

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P1030376After completing the arms and legs, I made the head next. I remembered all the tricks that I had learned on the first alien’s head, so this head was not quite as scary to make. Like all crocheting, the type and brand of yarn used makes a big difference to each project and this alien was no exception. As I crocheted the alien’s head, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. When it was time to attach the eyes I could not believe how much bigger this head was than the last alien’s head. I believe the size difference is due to the fact that this yarn had more stretch to it than the yarn I had used for the first alien. Since there is no size gauge to an P1030363amigurumi project, this head just came out bigger. It still has a great shape for an alien head with the flat face and the bulge in the back of the head. But it is bigger than the first one I made. Because I had already made one of these alien heads, I was able to better place the eyes where I wanted them, pointing more to the sides of the head than up to the top of the head. The larger head also helped with the eye placement. (In the end, because of the bigger head and the body changes, I did need the second skein of yarn for complete this alien, so I was glad I had it, and I did not decrease the length of the arms and legs, so that they matched better with the head and body.)

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P1030387So, with the long arms and long legs and a big head done, I got started on the body. I knew I wanted the body much skinner than the first pot belly body I made, but I needed the body big enough to support this big head, but still be skinny like an alien’s body should be. At first, I said 1/2 of the size of the pot belly body should work, but as I crocheted the starting rounds of the body, I decided to go one more round and have the largest part of the body be 54 stitches around instead of 48 as I originally planed. After reaching the round that ended in 54 stitches, I crocheted in the legs on the next round. Then I crocheted 10 rounds of 54 and then started my decent to the neck. I decreased evenly on the next round to 48 stitches, then single crocheted the next round with no deceases. I followed this pattern up to where I thought the arms should be inserted. Unfortunately the place where I wanted insert one of the arms was P1030374right at the finish and start of a round and on a round with decreases. This made the placing and inserting the arm quite tricky. This is where my lack of skill as a pattern designer really showed. If I made patterns all the time and had any skill at pattern designing, the insertion of the arm at the end of one round and the start of the next round and on a decreasing round would not have happened. The body would have been redesigned so this would not be a problem for the crocheter following the pattern. I finally made it past the arm insertion and continued on until I reached 18 stitches in the round and I said this would be the top of the body.

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P1030410I noticed when I attached the first alien’s head that it was a bit challenging to sew the curved alien’s head to the flat round of the neck, so I decided to try and remedy this problem on this alien. To do that, after crocheting the last round of the neck, I did a couple of deceasing rows at the back of the body to give the alien a higher neck in back than in the front. This did make sewing the head to the body easier on this alien.

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Unfortunately, as I sewed the head to the body, I noticed that I had not done a good job of aligning his legs and arms. I guess it was the struggle with inserting the arms that messed up the alignment slightly. Once again something an experienced pattern maker would have noticed and corrected. I needed to unpicked the partially attached head, undo the rows and rounds down to the arms, reposition the arms and then redo all I have just undone. But I just did not have the heart to do this. After much posing and positioning of the alien, I decided that my alignment was not that far off and that the little it was off could be positioned out and it gave him a little character.

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P1030400As I posed the alien, I noticed that because of this big head and small body, that he did not like to sit as well as the first alien even with his legs inserted into the body and not sewn on. The problem was the weight of the bigger head. When the husband saw the problem, he said he could fix it for me. With two wooden dowels, the husband made an X through the alien from the top of the aliens head to his butt. With the X shaped dowels supporting the head on the body, the alien sat nice and straight and tall. Once again, because this alien was not designed as a toy but as a decoration to sit on the husbands computer desk, the wooden X through his body was not a problem. It was in fact a great solution to the problem.

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After having this alien sitting on my sewing room table before reaching his final home on the husbands computer desk, I decided to name him Orion. This not a very original name, but I like it. And I enjoyed my journey in making Orion for the most part, and I learned a lot. I especially learned respect for the talented individuals that make the crocheted amigurumi patterns that I use.

“Blocking” Out Those Big Feet

P1020735When I decided to make Sebastian the bear a blanket, my reason for doing so was not really to hide his big feet but to try out another pattern I had found. This new pattern that I had found was a giant crocheted granny square that could be used to make a baby blanket. I decided that I wanted to make Sebastian a blanket from this pattern because I could add stripes in the blanket from the same yarn that I used to give him his sweater looking torso.

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The pattern was very easy to follow and soon I had quite a few rows of the granny square crocheted. The pattern only gave the basic instructions for making the granny square and the creativity of colors and sizes was all up to the crocheter. So, I decided to do 2 rows of the variegated yarn after every 5 rows of purple yarn. This design seem to be working up great and I really liked the look of it.

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P1020707The only problem I was having while crocheting the blanket was that it would not lay flat. I did not feel that my tensions had varied much while I crocheted it and I did not believe that the problem was in the different yarns I used. Because of this I decided that the blanket was going to have to be blocked when it was completed. Since I have really only crocheted amigurumi’s previously, I have never blocked a piece of crocheting but I had seen my mother and grandmother do it many times during my childhood, so I had an idea of what to do and I knew that this should fix my problem.

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Luckily, I was smart enough not to just rely on my childhood memories and I did a quick internet search on how to properly block a crocheted item. After reading several how-to sites, I decided to use steam to block this blanket. I started with a towel and pinned the blanket to the towel, trying to get it to lay as flat as possible. Next, with the iron on high, I steamed the blanket being very careful not to touch the blanket or the pins with the iron. The last step was to let the blanket dry and see what I got.

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P1020731After removing the blanket from the towel I was happy with the results. The blanket seemed to lay flat. After a day of being handled, I noticed that the blanket was not laying as flat as it had when it was first blocked. I debated about steaming it again or trying a different method of blocking, but then I decided that it is just a blanket for a teddy bear and it did not have to lie perfectly flat. This was probably not the correct answer. I should have tried to block the blanket again just for the learning experience, but I wanted to be done with this project and I wanted to move on to something else. I justified this decision by telling myself that this blanket was not the only thing that I would ever crochet that needed to be blocked, and that I would have other opportunities to block more crocheting projects in the future. I will try the wet method of blocking the next time I have to block a crochet item.

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With that, I called the blanket finished and wrapped Sebastian up in it. He looks so cute in his blanket. I just know he will soon have a great new home and someone to hold him and love him in his new blanket.

From the top of the Charts!

circularchartsThe patterns that come in my Crochet Today magazine have both written text instructions and a chart using symbols to show you how to crochet the pattern. In the past I have always promptly ignored the charts, and instead chose to follow the written text instructions to crochet my projects. That was about to change though. A few days back while I was searching for crochet patterns on the internet, I found a great Japanese web site with several great free patterns to crochet, P1020718but the patterns were all in the chart form. The instructions for each part of the amigurumi’s are in two charts. The first is a table with the count of each row and how many stitches are in each row, and the second is a chart with symbols. Great, I don’t know how to read those! And so I quickly decided that I wouldn’t be making any of those patterns anytime soon. But after I had thought about it awhile, I decided that the teddy bear pattern was so cute, that it was time to learn how to read and follow the symbols of the charts.

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P1020720At first, I only followed the table in the patterns. Because I have made enough amigurumis in the past I know how to increase from 6 to 12 to 18 to 24 and so on per row without really reading the instructions or, in this case, without following the chart. But, as soon as the pattern became more complicated, I had to finally learn what the symbols meant and how to follow the chart. To my surprise, it was very easy to follow the symbols of each row, and soon I found that I was no longer watching the table with the stitch counts, and I was just following along with the symbols on the chart. It was great! A whole new batch of patterns were now available for me to download and try out. I don’t know that I am ready for a really complicated chart pattern yet, but I am willing to try some more pattern that are just charts.

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P1020726As for the pattern I chose to start with, I was very unsure about the resulting pieces of this teddy bear while crocheting it up. I knew that I had followed the table and chart correctly, but I did not like the looks of the finished pieces. First came the head. When I was done crocheting the head, it was very flat and fat. I felt like I needed to add at least three more rows in the middle to make it taller. Then I studied the photo of the bear very closely and decided not to add the extra rows and just see what I got after I stuffed the head. Next came the feet. The feet came out huge and even much larger than I expected even though I knew I followed the table and chart correctly. But I didn’t know how to fix them, so I left them the way they were.

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After finishing the crocheting of the pieces of this bear and after stuffing the head and adding the muzzle and eyes, I felt a lot better about this look of this bear. Stuffing the head, helped to make it look taller, and made it look less fat. Stuffing the feet, made the feet look even bigger but I liked the big feet better after they were stuffed for some reason. And after stitching the legs and arms to the body and adding the head, I sat the bear down and fell in love with it. I really like the variegated yarn that makes it look like the bear has a sweater on and especially the white strip on the top and bottom and around the arms that encases the variegated yarn to give it a even more of a sweater look.

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P1020729P1020724As the bear sat on my table waiting for pictures, he fell over. When I picked him up, I noticed just how ugly he really was especially his big feet. Where had the cute bear I was in love with gone? I sat the bear up and there he was. The cute bear had returned. It did not take long for me to figure out that I really like the bear sitting upright but not laying down flat. I picked the bear up by his ears and folded his feet up to his body, cute. I let his feet drop, not cute. Folded the feet back up, cute. Let them drop again, not cute. The husband says I am crazy, that the bear is just as cute sitting or standing, but I have to disagree.

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I have named this teddy bear Sebastian and he is currently SITTING on my sewing table, but he will have to find a new home soon. Hopefully some one will want to love him even with those big feet.