Tag Archive | skein

Great Balls Of Yarn

images-21WindThere comes a time in all crocheter’s crafting when they have to stop and “wind” a little…

No, not the thing that blows outdoors and makes a mess of our hair when we go outside, nor the drink we must stop and have some of to keep us sane while crocheting, that’s “wine”. And trust me, there is plenty of “whining” and “complaining” amongst us crocheters. But in this case I am talking about “to wind”, as in I needed to wind a ball of yarn. So, the time had come for me to whine about doing some winding.

aid460789-728px-Wind-a-Yarn-Ball-Step-1-preview-Version-2skein-band1As I looked at my buckets of yarn, I noticed many half used skeins of yarn. Skeins that were disappearing from the inside out as I pulled from the center of the skien to make my latest amigurumi’s. Skeins that were floppy and falling apart, no longer holding their once nice new shape. I also noticed that when it was time for me to start another amigurumi, I raced to the yarn stash to retrieve a nice new firm skein of yarn for the project, rather than deal with the half used floppy skeins lying in the yarn bucket from a former amigurumi project. It was finally time to remedy this by winding these half used floppy skeins into nice firm easily used balls of yarn.

TutorialIMG_4310Back when I first started crocheting, I found it very flustering to crochet from a hand wound ball of yarn. As I crocheted, the ball would roll. It would roll off my lap, across the room and down the hall, at which time I would have to stop crocheting, and chase down my ball of yarn. And worse, if I was crocheting in the car, the ball of yarn rolled off my lap and onto the dirty car floor. I quickly learned how to wind a ball of yarn so that it pulled from the center, just like a new skein of yarn. This was great except it took more time and care to wind the ball in this manner. Also as you crocheted from the center of the ball, the ball became half used and floppy just like a skein does as it is used, so you had to stop and re-wind the ball again. But, for me, it was worth taking the the extra time and care to wind the ball with the center pull and then re-wind the ball as needed, so as not to have to chase that crazy ball of yarn around the house.

IMG_3796IMG_4308So, as I sat down with a good movie and my bucket of floppy skeins of yarn and got to winding some yarn balls. When I was done, I had this gorgeous box of yarn balls and my creative mind went nuts. It was like I had purchased a whole new box of various skeins of yarn. I could see all kind of fun amigurumi’s made from these balls of yarn and I could not wait to get crocheting again.

So stay tuned for some fun new amigurumi’s from my great balls of yarn!

Sammy the Seal

DSCN2357DSCN2358It didn’t last long, but then it never does.

I broke my current crocheting criteria of only making patterns that I have had for a while, but that I could never seem to get made. The minute I saw this new pattern for this seal, I knew that I wanted to make it and it became my next project.

Even though I have piles of old patterns that I have been trying to get around to making, for some reason I just wanted to make this one instead and so I did.

The pieces for the seal crocheted up without any problems and I enjoyed the process. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. The stuffing and stitching together of the pieces went smoothly as well. It was a little odd for me to not stuff the flippers of the tail but to put stuffing in the tail portion only. I thought about stitching a line between the tail and the flippers just to keep the stuffing in the right spots, but the stuffing seemed to stay where it was suppose to, so I did not stitch the line. The seal’s nose and mouth were easy to design but his whiskers took some work to get just right. The pattern had 3 big long whiskers but in the end I liked my 2 short whiskers better.

DSCN2340DSCN2155When it came time to crochet the hat and scarf, I had a little trepidation. The seal had been turning out so cute without the hat and scarf, so why go to the trouble of making them? But, as I looked at the pictures in the pattern, the hat and scarf added to the seal’s cuteness, so I decided to get crocheting and get them made too.

The hat was easy to crochet. It was crocheted in rounds just a little bit larger than the head with double crochets for the last round to give it an edge. When it came time to make the pompom for the top of the hat, I had to have the husband help again. I could not get the knot tight enough to keep the yarns from just falling out of the pompom. The husband was able to tie the knot tight enough and the pompom came out really cute. My hat is a little squarish. If and when I make another hat, I will vary the increases in the round to keep it a little more rounded.

DSCN2335DSCN2285I liked the scarf that I made for the Hello Kitty so much that I decided to make the seal’s scarf the same way instead of following the pattern for it. I made a chain of yarn to the desired length, then double crocheted back to the other end. Next, I changed to the white yarn and slip stitched around the double crochets and chains. I was concerned about how the back of the scarf would look in the places where it would be seen when the scarf was tied to the seals neck, but the tied on scarf looks great.

I used a dab of clear fingernail polish on the yarn ends of the hat and scarf to finish them off. The nail polish will seal the ends so that if this seal is played with, there will not be any yarn ends coming loose. I thought about stitching the hat and scarf to the seal but then I decided that if the seal is being played with, that being able to remove the hat and scarf might be more fun for someone.

DSCN2184DSCN2158This seal was a fun and quick project that turned out so very cute. It was easy to pick the name Sammy for this seal. What else would you name a seal? With Sammy the Seal completed, I will again return to my crocheting criteria of picking my next project from patterns I have been longing to make. Unless another more fun pattern pops up first that is!

Until then, crochet forth and seal on!

Hello Kitty

DSCN2341I debated about it a long time, but I finally decided to crochet a Hello Kitty for a coworker/friend of mine. She just adores Hello Kitty. I have seen a couple of patterns for Hello Kitty during my internet pattern browsing and they all look very cute. So I picked one that I thought my coworker would like and got started on it.

DSCN2280The pattern that I picked has Hello Kitty in a dress with a scarf and of course the bow on her ear. The red dress and scarf gave the Hello Kitty a Christmas type of vibe, so I thought about changing the color of the dress and omitting the scarf, but the husband liked the red dress and the scarf so I decided to follow the original design and colors of the pattern.

I started with the legs as I like to do when I am crocheting an amigurumi. In this pattern the legs and body are crocheted as one piece. I followed the pattern and the little feet and legs came out so cute, but when I got to the body and finished crocheting the body’s last row, something was not right. 

Where was the rest of the body? I re-read the pattern again. No, I had not miscounted. This short stubby piece on top of the legs was the body. I debated about adding more rows but then decided to crochet the other pieces and see how it all looked before I started modifying the pattern.

DSCN2157The arms and ears were crocheted next and then I got started on the head. Crocheting the head took some time and concentration. It took a lot of counting while crocheting. When I finished the head it looked so funny and misshaped to me. I wondered if I might be in an alternate universe or something where everything that should be right was wrong. 

I was beginning to have second thoughts about completing this project, but I decided to press on instead. After a lot of debating and the husband’s help I got the eyes inserted and then I started to stuff the pieces.

IMG_1787Stuffing the head presented another challenge. It would have been easy to overstuff the head and make it round but Hello Kitty’s head is flat like the rest of her body. So, I had to stuff the head with enough stuffing that it was full and firm but still flat which was very unusual to me. 

When I finally got all the pieces stuffed to where I liked, I laid all of the pieces together on my cutting table. I was not pleased with what I saw. The head was misshaped and it looked funny with the short stubby body and the long legs. At this point, I really wanted to abandon this project and move on to another project, but I had too much invested in both time and yarn in this amigurumi to quit. So I soldiered on.

DSCN2350As I started to stitch the pieces of this Hello Kitty together, she finally started to come to life. Her head did not seem as misshaped once her ears were actually stitched on to her head. And her body was not as stubby once it was stitched to her head and it was even less stubby once I had crocheted her skirt to her body.

At this point, I did deviate from the pattern. I wanted to crochet her bow instead of cutting one from felt. I followed the same pattern I had used previously to make a bow tie but I made it smaller. With some red yarn, I chained four then crocheted 3 in rows till I had the desired length I wanted for the bow. I then folded the ends to the center and stitched them together. Because of the smaller bow, I did not crochet the center piece of the bow but simply wrapped the red stripe with white yarn to make the bow.

DSCN2273For the scarf, I did not count how many chain stitches I started with. With some red yarn, I chained until it looked like the right length around Hello Kitty’s neck and called it good. Next I crocheted once around the long chain, then slipped stitched around the edge with white yarn. I think both the bow and the scarf turned out very cute. As I stitched them to Hello Kitty, she took on a personality and came to life even more.

Stitching on Hello Kitty’s whiskers and glueing on a pink round felt nose were the finally touches to complete this Hello Kitty.

DSCN2352Even though there were multiple times I wanted to tuck this project away with other UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects), I am glad I did not.

It the end, she turned out to be very cute I think!

I gave my coworker her Hello Kitty and she thought it was adorable and that did my heart good. 

It made be think about the UFO’s I still have tucked away. Maybe with a little more work, they could turn out to be as cute as this Hello Kitty did. 

Maybe I had better pull them out of their hiding place and see.

Until then, crochet forth and Hello Kitty on!

Silly Rabbit! Crocheting is for Long Car Trips!

DSCN2318What better way to whittle away the time of a long car trip than to work on a crochet project? Since I had a long car trip coming up, my next amigurumi project needed to be something that I could crochet in the car. This meant I needed a project that was larger in size than I normally do. A project who’s pieces could be crocheted now and stuffed later and wouldn’t need any stuffing during the crocheting process. A project with a simple count, not a lot of increases and decreases to keep count of or to loose count of when distracted. And, a project that was made from just a few colors so there would be less yarn to carry. After a bit of searching, I came across this bunny pattern. And since it seemed to meet all of my criteria for a car crocheting project, I was soon all packed up and ready to go!

DSCN2324As I crocheted the pieces of this amigurumi, it did meet the needed criteria. The pieces were coming out a nice size while crocheting with my favorite G size hook. The pieces did not need to be stuffed as I crocheted them which was nice. And except for the soles of the feet, and the increases in the head for the cheeks, the piece’s counts were even and it did not take a lot of concentration to keep the count correct. With just two colors needed, I only had to work with two skeins of yarn to crochet all the pieces. Plus, the opening of the head was large enough that I could complete the crocheting of the head and still get the safety eyes and nose put in later. This was truly a great car project!

DSCN2322Upon arriving home, it was easy to start the stuffing and the stitching together of this bunny. The pieces stuffed nicely, and soon I was pulling the button joints. Button joints are becoming one of my favorite ways to attach amigurumi project arms and legs. I did have one problem with pulling the button joints. Some how I got a knot in the stuffing or yarn as I was pulling the leg joints. It left a small dent in the bunny’s belly where it pulled. I tried to undo what I had done but I couldn’t. I tugged and pulled the bunny’s belly, trying to work the dent out but I had little luck with that. I finally decided to just leave the dent and to learn my lesson of being more careful as I pulled the yarn for future button joints.

DSCN2327When it came to the smile, I tried several different styles, including an open smile with a top and bottom lip using two strands of yarn but a simple line with a little curve was the best. I opted for a fluffy white pompom for the tail rather than the crocheted tail like the pattern called for and I also left off the belly spot that the pattern had. The bunny in the pattern had a crocheted purple spot on his belly. I crocheted the circle but when it came time to stitch it on, I did not like the look on my bunny, so my bunny does not have a belly spot.

DSCN2329A name for this bunny never came to me through the entire crocheting and stitching process, but the husband quickly named the finished bunny Trix because it reminded him of Trix the Rabbit from the cereal, so this bunny’s name is Trix.

He was very fun to make and he turned out just adorable in the end.

He also made a long car ride much more enjoyable. I don’t have another car trip planned for the near future but if I did I would probably make another one of these bunnies!

Until then, crochet forth and ride 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.

Thank You Turtles

IMG_7095“Do you ever use yarn?” asks a coworker the other day as she hands me a bag of yarn. She knows full well that I crochet amigurumi’s and that I *LOVE* yarn. She said that she was cleaning out her closet and that she was tired of storing this yarn and it was mine if I wanted it. Why yes I would take it, but why on earth would she be parting with her yarn stash? I didn’t ask and she didn’t say why she was parting with all her yarn but I grabbed the bag of treasure from her and thanked her. Later when I was looking through it I found it full with a large variety of yarn, full skeins, partial skeins, solid colors, variegated colors, 4-ply, fingerling and even some fuzzy novelty yarn she had decided to part with. I was so excited! I could see so many fun amigurumi’s made from each piece. Sitting in the very bottom of the bag was a small ball of variegated yarn that in a color that just said ‘turtle shell’ and I figured what better way to thank this coworker for this lovely bag of treasure than with an amigurumi turtle. Of course, this meant I got to make another one of my favorite patterns again too.

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IMG_7096While crocheting the parts for this turtle, I thought of one more coworker that needed a big thanks, and that was the coworker who volunteers her time as the leader for our relay for life team at work. As long as I was making one turtle, it was just as easy to make two or ten. I have donated a some of my amigurumi’s to our relay for life team before, even the momma and baby turtle I made a while back. They were sold at a silent auction several months ago. The team leader coworker had told me how much she wanted the turtles, but she was out bid and lost them so it just seemed right to make her a thank you turtle. After I had crocheted the first turtle’s shell from the variegated yarn from the treasure bag, I was not sure if I had enough to make a second shell. So, I picked another variegated yarn from my stash for the second turtle’s shell. The yellow for both turtles did come from the treasure bag though.

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IMG_7097The crocheting of the turtles was a pleasure. This time though when it came time to stitch them together, I tried something different. I stuffed and stitched the legs of the turtles to the bottom of the shell before I attached the bottom of the shell to the top shell. This seemed to make the stitching and spacing of the legs easier, and it was not long before the turtles were done. I just love this pattern and these turtles, and this time was no different.

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I gave each of the coworkers their turtles and a big thanks, one for the yarn and one for her hard work. They both seemed to like the turtles. Little do they know that I need to also thank them for giving me a good reason to make more turtles.

Creton of the Planet Gliese 581c

IMG_7102I know you have probably heard of a pot bellied pig, well, this is a pot bellied alien. While surfing the web, I came across this pot bellied alien pattern several times but I was just not impressed with it. Something about it just did not appeal to me at the time. Because of that I did not download the pattern or pay it much attention until I saw one of these pot bellied aliens completed that someone had made from this pattern on Ravelry. The original pattern showed this alien with a bib on. But the alien on Ravelry did not have a bib on it, and I think that is the only reason why I liked the alien on Ravelry and not the original one. Whatever the reason, once I had seen the alien on Ravelry, I knew right away that I wanted to stitch it up. So, I hunted down the original pattern, downloaded it, and got started.

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I picked an alien green color of yarn that I had picked up on clearance at Hobby Lobby to make it with. I was glad that I had picked this color of yarn because it was a brand new skein and this pattern took most to the skein to complete. In fact, I panicked about half way through the crocheting of the pieces because of how much yarn it was taking and made a trip to Hobby Lobby to get another skein before it was gone. Even though I had bought the original skein of yarn on clearance, Hobby Lobby had more on the shelf but I did have to pay the regular price for it. Thank heavens for coupons.

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IMG_7105The alien’s head was complex to crochet. I had to watch my rows and stitches and do a lot of counting as I crocheted. After I lost count many times, I finally wised up and started putting a stitch marker half way through the row to help me keep count without loosing my place. In the end though, it was worth the trouble. I love the shape of the head. It looks just like you would expect and alien’s head to look, from the flat face in front, to the large bulge in the back of the head. The same is true for this alien’s arms and hands. I had to stay focused and count carefully to get the fingers correct and even. I also decided that I didn’t care for the original patterns fingers, so I just made up my own stitches for them and I love the look. Originally, his legs seemed rather long but I followed the pattern and just made them the size that the pattern called for and I think they turned out fine.

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IMG_7106When the pattern said pot belly, it meant pot bellied. The alien’s body is huge! The middle rounds of the body where belly is at it’s largest are over 80 stitches in length! That is a lot compared to other amigurumi’s I have made in the past. This also explained the need for the long legs. The legs had to be long so that there was still something left of them when the alien was sitting upright. There is quite a space from where the legs are sewn to the bottom of the body to the edge of the body.

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IMG_7112stiSewing the alien’s pieces together took a bit of thought too. Since there was no real bottom of the head to sew the neck to and the pattern did not say where to connect the head and neck together, I was originally worried about the placement. but it all worked out in the end. The weight of the alien’s head causes the neck to fold down a little and this gives it the right look. Also since the eyes are double thick, they had to be sewn to the face before the head was finished being crocheted. This made the placement of the eyes difficult, so his eyes are pointed up a little more than I would have liked.

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I think this pot bellied alien, which I have named Creton, turned out just wonderful and I can’t wait to make another one. But as usual, I have already noted several changes to the original pattern for the next time I make one.

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Stay tuned for Klaatu, my next pot bellied alien with my new design modifications!

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