Posts Tagged ‘toy’

27
Feb

A lucky bit of color

Posted under Free Patterns, Knitting, Spinning, Techniques No Comments

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I’ve become hooked on knitting with my own handspun yarns to such an extent that I can usually control myself in a yarn store, even one with great sales. Now a fiber shop? I’m in trouble. I look at a big bump of top and think, “What do I want to make? A bulky weight hat? How about a lace shawl?” I love the freedom to take a fiber I like and literally make anything with it.

Last summer when my grandmother was visiting, we bought some natural colored BFL top which I spun. I wasn’t nearly so good of a spinner back then and have improved immensely since then, but my 3 ply sport weight yarn is at least usable. I knit up a bit into a cute little toy mouse as one of my Ravellenic Games projects. This little guy earned the Bobsled, Toy Tobogganing, Stash Skeleton, and Single-Skein Speed Skate medals.

As I knit him, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. The heathered yarn is mostly just that, a heathered yarn, but thanks to my pre-drafting and the chain plying technique, there are periodic sections of yarn that are solid white and very few that are solid brown. The handspun yarn turned white at exactly the right spot to make a lighter colored face on my mouse! I couldn’t have planned that if I’d tried!

When it came time for a face, I wanted to maintain the handspun feel of the mouse, so I headed over to my loom and cut off a bit of the remaining black handspun warp from the rainbow bag fabric I wove. Hooray for not yet cleaning up my loom!

To stuff the mouse, I used some lower quality wool I had and mixed in a few pinches of dried organic catnip. It felt so, so strange to be mixing in vegetable matter into my wool when I spend so much time trying to get it out normally! Even though I did load this mouse up on catnip and make his tail short for kitty safety, I just love his lucky face so much. I think I might have to keep him and make grandma’s cat another one from the same yarn. This one is just too cute to end up lost under the refrigerator! Looks like he’s headed to the shadow box of handmade mini critters instead of a lifetime of kitty breath, teeth, and claws.

For those wanting to try out the mouse pattern themselves in whatever yarn you’ve got some scraps of, handspun or not, the pattern is available for download free on Ravelry here. It’s made entirely in one piece and works up rather quickly as a result. The ears were an interesting technique and one I’ve not done before, so go check it out! The ears are actually cast on and then drawstring tied up. This requires you to cut your yarn leaving a very long tail for completing the knit and carefully using that very long tail on a tapestry needle. It sounds complex, but when you get to that point in the pattern it feels shockingly natural. Plus, worst case scenario and you get stuck? A large bobble would work just as well!

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09
Jan

My Bitty Hat and a Surprise Mini Knit!

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Knitting, Life, Miniatures No Comments

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I’ve always loved miniatures since I was a little girl. I had the most incredible dollhouse, and though it was never finished I didn’t care. I spent hours upon hours making little clay food, weaving bitty rugs, and of course making up fantastic stories about the lives of the bear, bunny, and kitty dolls that lived in my dollhouse and the various other character dolls who lived in unseen homes on the horizon of Dollhouse World. Here’s me with that glorious house just after I got it for Christmas in 1989.

Xmas1989

Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated and a little obsessed with all things miniature, particularly 1:12 scale.

Since I learned to knit and crochet, I knew I wanted to make miniatures. Of course minis are significantly harder and I failed over and over as a beginner to make successful minis. I’ve finally gotten down to the scale I want though and have even dared to dream smaller now! Check out this hat I made last summer:

I made this hat from a Buttercup Miniatures pattern. I did modify the stranded section of the hat to make it look more like my childhood winter cap. I worked on 6/0 (.75mm) knitting needles and used a single strand of 6 strand DMC embroidery floss as my yarn. DMC floss makes great miniature knitting yarn and the color selection is nearly unlimited and highly affordable! Someday, I’d love to order some of Buttercup Miniatures super fine knitting needles. My smallest are only 6/0 needles (.75mm). I’d love to try out their .38mm, .55mm, and.60mm size double-pointed knitting needles and fine ‘yarns’ just to see how much smaller I can really go.

My big goal for 2014 is to publish one new pay-per-download pattern per month so I’ll have income to pay for things like utilities once my home is built and I have a place to live and work again! For January’s new pattern, think small! I’m working on something which would be right at home in a little girl’s dollhouse, tucked into bed with her barbie, or snuck into the corner of a whatnot shelf for us adult collectors. Of course  I know most of you don’t want to work quite as small as I enjoy working, so this pattern is being designed with fingering weight yarn in mind. Of course your finished project would still be flat out adorable in a DK or worsted weight yarn. Made in a thicker yarn, this knit would still be a great accessory item for a 18″ American Girl doll. Keep an eye out! This upcoming pattern is only the first in a series of at least four new miniature knit patterns! Additionally, this pattern will be published in two versions, one worked in the round, and one worked flat!

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24
Jul

El Paso County State Fair

Posted under Crochet, Knitting, Life, Scroll Saw, Toys, Woodworking No Comments

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At a local friend’s urging, I decided to enter some of my fiber arts work into the county fair. I figured that since I’ve only been knitting since February 2010, surely I would rank mediocre at best. I like to try some unusual and challenging pieces, but I still feel like such a beginner! I figured I didn’t have much to lose since the entry fee is only $5 though, so I got to work on some special projects.

My first project for the fair was a pair of socks I’ve been wanting to knit for myself for quite some time. I’d seen someone else win a second place ribbon in one of my Ravelry groups with some knee-high socks, so I figured that knee-high socks were an impressive enough sort of project to enter into a fair.  I ordered the yarn and made a few modifications to the pattern. The pattern was beautiful as written, but featured many floats over 5 stitches which is not structurally sound or traditional knitting. These socks also had a heel type I’d never tried before that is unique to traditional Norwegian stockings. It was great fun to learn the new heel and to do so much stranded colorwork. That’s my favorite kind of knitting to do. It takes just the right amount of attention to detail and works up into a nice, thick fabric. I like my knits to be cozy.

The hardest part of these socks was actually blocking them. I’d never blocked socks before, but I figured they needed to be done up nicely. I couldn’t find large enough sock blockers anywhere, so I ended up having to make them myself. Unfortunately, I’m not doing well enough physically since the most recent accident to be using my power tools. I broke a half dozen blades and failed at cutting on the lines I’d drawn on the plywood. The sock blockers aren’t great, but they’re enough to get the job done. Any puckering from the stranding blocked right out of the socks.

Then, because I was trying to work on the project anyhow to publish the pattern, I decided the bird I was knitting could be entered in the knit toy category of the fiber arts department. I’m currently working on getting the pattern typed up and materials to a test knitter. The pattern will be available for purchase and download by the end of the year. The entire bird is knit from Knit Picks Palette yarn on size 0 needles. It’s stuffed with wool as well, and has wool wrapped wire for the feet and crown feather. The eyes are 1/4″ rounded-top, shank-style buttons. I made the stand out of craft wood from Michaels Arts and Crafts and painted it out matte black so it wouldn’t fight with the cockatiel for the eye.

Finally, right after the most recent accident, a Ravelry friend of mine gifted me a pattern for a crocheted schnauzer as a feel better and know you’re loved sort of thing. I figured I’d better crochet a little dog and post pictures to show my appreciation. I didn’t really want a great big toy dog cluttering up the place though, so I unraveled some wool yarn and crocheted with only one ply of yarn on a size 7 steel crochet hook. This made an itty bitty toy dog and almost everything is better in miniature! I also rewrote the legs in the pattern, did the face embroidery differently, and needle felted in the beard. I made him a collar out of the finest red ribbon I had and stitched on a sequin to be his dog tag. His eyes are two black beads that were in with the rest of my seed beads but mysteriously a size larger than the rest. Working on such a small scale with such fragile single ply wool was a pain, but the end result was totally worth it. He came out so well I decided I may as well enter him too. After all, you can enter up to 10 items for the $5 entry fee. You only have to pay extra if you enter more than 10 different items in 10 different classes. You also only get $4 back if you win a first place ribbon though, and I wanted to up my chances of making back my $5. When you’re really broke, that $5 matters a lot!

When I finally got to go to the fair after judging on Saturday, I was greeted pretty quickly with my knit socks. They won first place in the knitted accessory category (socks, hats, gloves and such) and won the Adult Fiber Arts Department Reserve Champion ribbon. I had to ask what that meant exactly, and it’s second place out of all adult fiber arts entries: knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, tatting, felting, and rug hooking. How exciting!

Then I found my knit bird and crocheted dog in the glass display case. They each also had a first place ribbon for their category on them, knit toys and crochet toys respectively! I was thrilled!

We looked around at all the other entries for a while, and we couldn’t find the Adult Fiber Arts Department Champion. I really wanted to see what was nicer than my socks. We asked and were told that not all the ribbons were on the items yet. The woman helping us went to check the record book and when she came back, she was carrying the champion ribbon to hang on my crocheted dog! I couldn’t believe it! I won every single award my items were eligible for, three first places, the department champion, and the reserve champion!

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to pick my items up, show off the ribbons and projects at show-and-tell at the Front Range Fiber Artisans annual picnic, and get my winners (the socks and dog only) to the state fair. I’d send the bird too, but the state fair combines knit and crochet toys into one class, so I can only enter one of them. Fingers crossed for more success at the state level. It’s much more competitive and you don’t even get your items displayed unless you win.

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27
Dec

Toy Society Holiday Drop

Posted under Charity, Models, Scroll Saw, Toys, Woodworking No Comments

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On Christmas Eve, I dropped a handmade toy for the Toy Society. I made this little tow truck and car set:

I used a free pattern from Steve Good. You can download the pattern here if you want to make your own car and truck set. The only addition I made was to glue a small strip of wood across the back of the truck bed to keep the car from rolling off too easily. I left off the smoke stacks and the little button lights. The smokestacks have not held up well when my friend’s kids play with the truck I keep at my house and I didn’t want to have bitty lights that a small child could chew off.

I cut the body of the two cars from a scrap of 2×4 leftover from another project. The truck bed is cut from a fence picket scrap. I ran it through my planer to clean it up and get it to size. I actually like the look of the redwood fence picket truck bed more than the pine truck bed I’ve done on previous tow trucks. The wheel well strips on either side of the cab are cut from pine as the redwood was a bit too brittle to hold up well to tight curves on an item meant for child’s play. The wheels are all pre-made oak wheels from a local specialty wood shop. I cut the body of the car and truck with a HUGE blade in the scroll saw. It’s a reverse tooth blade from Woodcraft that’s so big it doesn’t even have a number. I used size 7 blades to cut the wheel well covers, the truck bed, and the dowels for the axles.

The drop was made on Christmas Eve around lunchtime in Old Colorado City on a bench in front of an Italian restaurant, some souvenir shops and art galleries. There was a gaggle of kids visiting Santa just a block and a half away, so hopefully a lucky boy or girl found this set just in time for Christmas!

In general, if you’re into scrolling, check out Steve Good’s site. He’s got TONS of free patterns, and several of them toys for doing Toy Society drops! This was my first drop, and it was fun. There will certainly be more! I cut several tow truck and car sets for my Christmas Eve drop, but I ran out of wheels, none of the wood shops were open, AND I couldn’t find my hole cutter set to make my own wheels. Talk about failure!

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04
Mar

Home Sweet Home

Posted under Free Patterns, Knitting, Models, Toys No Comments

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For the Iron Craft’s week 8 challenge the theme was your hometown. I spent an immense amount of time thinking about what my hometown craft should be. Eventually, I’d all but given up. None of the places I’ve lived, including my current city feel like home. Everywhere I’ve lived just feels so temporary. I really hope I can get a real place soon, one that feels like home.

In my mopery trying to decide if anywhere feels like it’s my hometown, I Googled the addresses of my childhood homes and popped the maps into street view. I really don’t recommend that. Some homeowners do silly things like repaint the house’s different colors and rip out all the wonderful trees!

One good thing did come of surfing through the western US in Google Maps. Watching some Dr. Who on Netflix helped too. I finally decided on my craft for the hometown challenge! The one place that I most certainly feel like calling my home is planet Earth! I’d seen a pattern for a knit planet Earth on Ravelry before when searching for science and math related knits. I grabbed some cheap acrylic yarn from my craft closet, a set of wonderful Balene II double pointed needles, and got to work. I printed out the chart from the Ravelry pattern. I didn’t worry about the actual pattern. It’s in Finnish and I can’t read that. The chart however makes the pattern very obvious. I added row counts to my printed chart and was able to figure out the increasing and decreasing very easily. The chart was missing a few vital things though. I ended up adding Antarctica, some ice for the North Pole, Tasmania, the UK, Hawaii, and Madagascar. Then, I reshaped Central America, the southern half of Africa, the southern half of South America, the Great Lakes area, and Eastern Australia. Here’s my altered chart for anyone who would like to knit a globe.

The finished ball came out very tight. I used aran/heavy worsted weight yarn on size 3 needles to get a very firm fabric. I also stranded the entire project since it is a ball and long floats with some puckering only serves to help maintain the spherical shape. I would never do such long floats on a flat map. It’s also a bit overstuffed to make for a very firm play ball. It’s just the right weight and size to run down one arm, across your shoulders, and down the other arm when I manage it. I’m still very stiff from the car accidents and as a result tend to drop it about 99% of the time. Conveniently, Sketcher my dog is all too happy to go fetch the dropped ball.

Here’s a few shots of the finished knit Earth. For the hometown challenge photos I stuck a pin in the globe roughly where Colorado is. The idea is that no matter where I live, I always have a hometown craft!

Be sure to let me know if any of you make an Earth with this chart. I’d love to feature your planet!

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