Apr 302012

It should be obvious to everyone by now that I love making toys.  There is a moment that occurs in toy making that is so satisfying when you take this limp, two dimensional piece, stuff it full of guts and let it’s final shape bloom.  It’s like the moment of birth for a toy!  One of my biggest pet peeves about knit toys are when they aren’t stuffed properly.  I get so disproportionally annoyed by it, I can’t even fully express it.  I thought I’d show how I go about giving a toy its innards in case anyone is curious.

Here is the beginning of a toy.  Eventually this will be part of a new pattern, but for now I’ll leave it as an abstract.  Anyway, I depending on how large the toy is, I usually like to stuff as I go.  My general rule of thumb is that I always want to be able to stuff with my fingers, so I never leave the to-be-stuffed part deeper than my fingers can reach in.  In the photo below the part of the toy before the bend has already been stuffed.  The stuffing to the right is the amount that will fill in the rest.

Here is all the stuffing pressed into the toy.  I pushed the stuffing down firmly, really compacting it.  See how it made ladders?  Eek!

Here you can see how much it’s pressed down.  You want a well stuffed toy but this is too much.  If you had a dark yarn you’d have little spots of the light stuffing showing through.  To me this is worse than someone chewing tinfoil while dragging their nails on a chalkboard.  Chills up my spine, I tell you!

I have never personally milked a cow but I’ve seen it done plenty.  For those of you who know the motion I’m talking about, this is about what I do with my toys to get the stuffing situated properly.  Starting at the bottom, squeeze and stretch the toy, pressing the stuffing upward.  Roll the object back and forth between your fingers to move the stuffing up.  When you see no more ladders, you’re good!

See how much better that looks!  Nice and smooth with even stitches.  Ahh, I love it.

Here you can see how much the stuffing was pushed up.  It may not look like that much of a change from here but it makes a ton of difference in the feel of the finished product.

So, people, don’t overstuff!  When in doubt, too little stuffing is way better than too much.  We neurotic toy people thank you.



 April 30, 2012  knitting, tutorial Tagged with: , , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 242012

Two friends and I went to a wonderful craft market over the weekend, a Firefly Market at Chautauqua in Boulder.  I went to this last year with some other gals and it was just as fun this year.  Any day spent with friends surrounded with such brilliant creativity is a great day.  Plus it was in the upper 70s and we were at the base of the Rockies.  How can you beat that??  Actually, I could have gone for better coffee, but the strong cup at Foolish Craig’s later in the day made up for it!

Anyhow, upon returning home I was reminded of my post after last year’s market (see here).  I am so pleased to re-read this now and see that I stuck to each and every one of my resolutions.  How often does one get to say that??!  Whee!

#1: More respect for my craft room.

Messy, messy old place!

This was a big one.  I am not a naturally clean person.  I’m a “dump the whole purse on the floor to find something at the bottom then only put back what you need” kind of organizer.  This room has been a test of how well I can change that when I care too.  It’s taken much more attention than I’m use to but it has been monumentally worth it.  Look at it now!

I can’t believe that it looks like this most of the time.  At the moment I have fabric scraps on the floor and and miscellaneous other things strewn about, but for the most part it’s tidy.  Yay me!  There is still clutter on the tops of the shelves (one that didn’t make it into the photo) but it least I’m no longer tripping over it.

Also I have not one but TWO places to sit.  Fancy.  I spend way more time in here than I need to just because I like the space so much.  The big trees outside the window are also now fully covered in leaves so I have high hopes that it will stay cool here during the hot months.   Next I have to take care of the strange wall color that came with the house and find that just perfect rug.  Hopefully that will change before summer’s over.

#2: No more using yarn that I don’t like.
I don’t know why this no-brainer was such an epiphany to me.  I destashed so, so much yarn in the last year.  I think the knit night gals groan every time they see me walk in with a bag now, they’re so sick of it (That fun fur was supposed to go in the Goodwill bag, I swear!).  I’ve added a lot more to my stash also but at least when I look for yarn for a new project it’s all stuff that I’d actually enjoy using.  This makes my stash so much more enjoyable.  Duh. 

#3: Who needs to knit dishcloths?
I haven’t made a singe one since that post, thank you very much.

#4: Part with the infinite hibernating UFOs
And did I ever!!  That purple sweater was frogged and it’s now waiting to become a sweater for one of the kids.  Many things were frogged and the yarn was donated.  Some things that were un-frogable but not worth finishing simply went into the trash (eek!).  That trunk in the previous post is now out of my room and the remaining UFOs, the ones that will be completed, are organized in a very small drawer.  Phew.

#5: Not every known newborn baby needs extensive handknits
Okay, this one was harder mainly due to the fact that these babies just keep on coming.  Two were born just this week!!  I only knit one baby sweater this year and a few toys, but most all the other babies got hats.  What can I do?  There are so many babies from our knit night and I can’t not knit for them.  New motto: the number of hours taken to knit the baby item should not exceed the number of weeks that the baby can wear it.  A 10 hour sweater that a baby will only wear for 4 weeks?  No!  A toy that takes 5 days but they will play with for years?  Yes!

I did have one friend who is currently pregnant who I didn’t knit a thing for and I felt like I was being rebellious by doing so.  Yeah!  Heehee.


Now I’m trying to think up things for next year, ideas to live/stick by.  Here is what I have so far:

#1:  Design, design, design
Not like I’m not already doing this.  But I want to try to get out of my comfort zone here and branch out.  I adore making toys but I want to see what else is out there.  A sweater, perhaps??  Who knows.

#2:  Attend more art and craft events/outings
Now that my “baby” is two and it’s easier for me to leave her for extended periods, I need to go out and about more.  There is even talk of an out of town trip without children!  Ooo!  So grown up!

#3:  New yarns! 
There are so many out there that I don’t know.  Perhaps this year I’ll dabble with some silk??  Who knows!

I am so happy with this last year.  It has been the best knitting year ever!  I am so looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2012 has up its sleeve.

 April 24, 2012  inspiration Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 112012

I don’t sew.  I don’t just mean that I don’t buy large pieces of fabric, create sewn objects, or routinely operate a sewing machine.  I mean it in the sense that I have an embarrassingly high number of pants that have safety pins in place of buttons because I can’t even get out my mending kit.  I hate the thought of thread, those tiny needles, those little impossible-to-see knots.  I bought a tiny set of different colored thread back when Clinton was in office and I’ve used about 1/4 of it, if that.  That’s not to say that I don’t know how.  I have a sewing machine that gets hauled out once in a blue moon for half-assed Halloween costuming or quick hemming of pants.  I just don’t really enjoy it.

A few weekends ago I took a class at Fancy Tiger on English paper piecing.  The main reasons for this were that 1) it was taught by my best gal, Keely, and 2) I am completely in awe of this blanket that she whipped out last year.

I had seen her working on it here and there for a few weeks (She was even working on it when we were chasing kids around the children’s museum one day!).  And somehow it went from these little hexagons to an amazing blanket.  By hand.  In two months.  Really.  I’d like to stop here to add that Keely, at the time, had a 3 1/2 year old, a 1 1/2 year old, and was newly pregnant.  She also owns a herd of dachshunds.  She must have not slept for those months because I can’t figure it out otherwise.

Look! I'm sewing!

After taking the class, I get it.  It’s addictive.  There are so many different steps that it doesn’t get tedious or boring.  And if you do get sick of what you’re doing there is always another step you can do.  I love craft projects where you get sucked into the “just one more” mentality.   So now this self proclaimed needle-and-thread hater is making a quilt.

What I made in class!!

If anyone local is interested, Keely is teaching two more classes this spring (one this Saturday, if you need something to do this weekend!).  Check it out!

 April 11, 2012  crafting, other people's crafts, quilting Tagged with: ,  9 Responses »
Apr 112012

Blue: the second least used color in my repertoire.  What can I say about this color…. I can’t place it, I just don’t care for it.  Out of all the above shades, none do anything for me.

I’m trying my best to branch out.  I’ve been putting together a few ideas and yarns for a set based on this mini mood board and there was no leaving out the blue.  A few weeks ago on a trip to The Loopy Ewe I was determined to find a blue skein that would fit the bill.  I snagged a skein of Sweet Georgia yarn that has a subtle color variation and a wonderful feel (merino!).  I’m excited to knit this up.  I think I even have a pattern in mind that will mesh well with it.

The bigger question: will I actually wear this color once the yarn becomes a FO?  We shall see.

 April 11, 2012  yarn, Year of Color Tagged with: , ,  10 Responses »
Apr 032012

Two days ago we were sitting on the porch, drinking beer in the shade, and swatting away bugs.  Woke up to this today and it’s still coming down.  Those brown wooden things in the bottom right of the photo are my raised vegetable beds, where my greens were just starting to pop out.

At least I have a new pair of mitts to warm my hands, especially since it’s April now and I refuse to turn my heat back on.  It’s spring, damn it!

 April 3, 2012  FO, life Tagged with: , , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 032012

I’m on a dog kick, apparently!

I had such a blast designing and knitting Sputnik the Magnificent that I was a bit sad when the pattern was posted and it was all done with.  Obviously I still had some stranded toys in me.

Strelka had many inspirations, most of which came from childhood favorite dogs.  In Strelka is a little of both Droopy Dog and George P. Dog, plus a large heaping of the Fisher Price Little People dog.  Although as an adult I am not much of a dog person, I adored them as a child due to these wacky cartoon versions.  I hope Strelka carries along some of these same characteristics well!


The Details:

Yarn: fingering weight wool, shown here in Knit Picks Palette
Yardage: approximately 125yds in MC (shown here in light gray) and 100yds CC (shown here in dark gray)
Gauge: 34sts and 38 rows = 4 inches / 10cm in stockinette stitch
Suggested needle size: US size 1, either 4 DPNs or one long circular
Finished measurements:  approximately 13.5″ tall
Price: $5

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 April 3, 2012  patterns Tagged with: , , , ,  3 Responses »