Category: Toys

Poke…Poke…Poke…AAGGHH • Felted Alpaca

Every so often I like to take a break from knitting to try a new craft. A lot of the time I struggle to really get into it the way I do with knitting. The jury is still out with needle felting though. On the one hand, I bled at least 3 separate times doing this project. On the other, the process and final results are incredibly intriguing! After learning the techniques from the kid’s felting kit last time, I was ready to level up with a llama/alpaca kit. And thus, I made a felted alpaca.

It didn’t seem as easy this time around for some reason. I felt powerful with each poke the last time I did it. Some of my pieces this time just didn’t seem to felt. It required a lot of extra work, hence, the bleeding. At one point I received a raspy, “What ARE you DOING?!” from my mom. I suppose all she could hear from the other room was -poke poke poke poke POKE POKE AAAGGHH-. Is it the wool? Do felting needles get dull and need to be changed? Without the very specific guidelines of the instruction book, trying to achieve the right proportions for each piece was a struggle as well. It took a lot of effort to make each leg the same length, and I’m finding some to be squishier than others…

Right here is where I stopped the first time because I was too scared to keep poking or add a face. Usually this is where I mess up and ruin entire projects. What I have learned with felting is that more time and finessing tends to make projects turn out better. I sucked it up and refined a little more, and now he’s a little more alpaca-like!

This guy’s a little fragile, but still pretty cute! He’s Paul’s new pet. Next time I think I’m going to try to make something a little more useful. Maybe some stitch markers…? Stay tuned. For now, the team’s got a new felted alpaca pet. Name suggestions, anyone?

“This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!” • DIY Yarn Swift

Just two months in and the dad of the year award goes to…

For Christmas I requested a ball winder, which I received from my mom. It does wonders, and I have spent hours re-caking floppy cakes. But, with the lack of yarn swift, winding new hanks was still quite the task. I found ways to do it, with upside down chairs and lazy susans, but obviously, it wasn’t ideal. My dad, who knows absolutely nothing about knitting saw my struggle, and took it upon himself to resolve the problem. That’s what dads do isn’t it?

One day, I came home from work and he said, “I made you a swift“. We both looked at each other for a moment- me, not fully grasping the idea that my dad knew what a swift was, and him wondering if he had called it the right thing. Turns out, he really did construct a fully-functioning yarn swift!

When I was little, I had a toy ironing board made of wood. Looking back, it was quite the gendered toy for a little girl to have, but I loved it. I had a wooden iron and would flatten out little handkerchiefs for my bears. Last summer, we did a massive house purge, and all the stashed childhood toys came out. While the rest of us were ready to be rid of the past, I think my dad struggled to let go of the memories of his little girls. He ended up hoarding some of the possessions we threw out, including the aforementioned ironing board.

As it turns out, ironing boards can be easily reconstructed into yarn swifts! What I love most is that what was once something I loved has now grown with me. I’m glad we didn’t throw it away. There are still a few minor kinks to work out, but aside from that, it does the trick! Any chance to make it yourself, upcycle, and save some money is awesome to me. One night, a friend visiting from Singapore commented, “This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!”. Either yarn swifts aren’t as common as I think, or maybe my life is like a fairy tale. Either way, I’m not sorry!

You’re always my dad of the year, but this is pretty neat. Thanks, papa. <3

Pattern: Yarnivores

Pattern: Yarnivores

My little monsters have an official pattern…and a name!

These creatures have been living in my head for some time now. I had made one a long time ago during a stressful exam period to try and de-stress, but I never really took the time to note down my procedure…until now!

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Each monster is based on some creature in the animal kingdom, with sharp-toothed underbites and a zombie-like gaze. While they don’t have arms, they have long dangly legs that are super cute when hanging off the edge of a shelf or similar piece of furniture. Mine also wear socks as a tiny homage to The Sidewalk Sock Project.

The official pattern is up on my Ravelry webstore if you are interested in purchasing it. The pattern includes step by step instructions for the basic features with lots of photos. Additional features are up to your creativity but I have found hearts, pockets, bows, and bellybuttons very cute.

A few little tips for my blog visitors:

  • Make a heavy bean bag!
    • The heavier, the easier it will be for the monster to sit without falling backwards because of his legs. I personally also prefer the heavier feel. It kind of reminds me of carrying around a little sack-of-flour-baby (a school project I never got to do)
  • Always consider if you will need to sew the piece you are working on before you fasten off.
    • It is way neater (and easier) to leave a long tail when fastening off than using a whole new piece of yarn to sew pieces together
  • When attaching limbs and other features, use your darning needle to pull the extra tails left over in through the body and trim on the other side, hiding the tail inside.
    • Not exactly a secret, but learning this technique was super helpful when I was a beginner!
  • If you can knit, I like to make the face panel in a simple stockinette stitch, and the teeth using the beginning row of entrelac.
    • It gives a nice contrast to the crochet body.
  • The socks I made are just shorter versions of the legs with an extra increase round so they are just a tiny bit bigger than the leg.

We had some guests in our photoshoot. (L) A little toothless baby version of my original. (R) Curious puppy.

Summer is the perfect time for amigurumi! I hope you enjoy the pattern. (:

Judy’s Magic Cast On

Judy’s Magic Cast On

Gone are the days of seaming sock toes!

Some techniques I’ve learned were used for one project and then lost in the chaos that is my mind. Judy’s Magic Cast On (JMCO) is not one of them. It had such a great impact on me, and I’ve used it so many times on multiple projects. It is most well-known for toe-up sock knitting, but comes in handy for any edge being knit in the round that is meant to be closed shut.

The concept behind it is to be able to cast on a foundation row of stitches and work outwards on both sides (in the round) instead of leaving two edges that need to be stitched shut later on. It leaves a seamless edge (or lack of edge altogether, really), giving your project a neater look both inside and out.

As I have delved into the world of pattern designing and this is a common technique I use, I wanted to write out a step by step set of instructions with clear pictures to use for reference. I have seen a lot of video tutorials that demonstrate the cast on incredibly well, but I realize there are times when you are not in a position to watch a video, and looking at pictures is your only option. I’d also like to note that there are variations on this technique, and this is just the method I have found to be the easiest and best looking.

Here we go!

Set up:

*Note: I am using circular needles and the magic loop method of knitting in the round. If you prefer to use DPNs, you may do so and redistribute the stitches onto 3 needles when knitting the first round.

Step 1: Hold two needles next to each other with your right hand so you have a ‘front needle’ and a ‘back needle’.

Step 2: Place your yarn over the back needle so the tail end is closer to you, between the two needles (make sure the tail is the right length for half of the circumference of what you are casting on).

Step 3: Bring the tail end towards the back, counterclockwise behind the end that is attached to the skein, causing the yarn to form a twist around the needle.

Step 4: Tighten the twist around the needle by holding the yarn with your index finger and thumb with your palm facing downwards towards the table/ground. The tail end should be resting on your index finger, and the skein end resting on your thumb (opposite from long tail cast on).

Casting On:

Step 5: Using your index finger, bring the yarn to the front of both needles from the bottom and carry it over the front needle and down between the two needles. That creates one stitch on the front needle. You now have one stitch on each needle (including the twist made when setting up).

Step 7: Repeat step 5. You should now have 2 stitches per needle.

Repeat this process until you have casted on the appropriate number of stitches needed for your pattern, alternating between using your thumb to make a stitch on the back needle, and your index to make a stitch on the front needle. End with a stitch on the front needle. This should result in an equal number of stitches per needle.

For visitors who are here looking for help on one of my patterns (Winter’s Weather Knits), “JMCO” stops at this point, and you can start the first step of the pattern instructions. If you need help with knitting the first round, continue reading below.

Knitting the First Round:

Step 8: Hold both needles with your left hand such that the front needle with the tail end is now in the back. Hold the tail down towards the back.

Step 9: You are now ready to start knitting the first round by inserting your needle into the first stitch that is now on the back needle (the tail end you are holding down). If using circular needles, pull the front needle through to knit with. If you are using DPNs, use a third needle for the first half of the row, and a fourth needle for the remainder (distributing your stitches across 3 needles). Knit across the row.

Step 10: Rotate your work to continue knitting in the round on the other side. If using circular needles, slide the stitches on the wire onto the free needle, and pull the other one through to use to knit. Knit across the row.

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Your finished cast on should look like two rows of stitches between two rows of live stitches. As you continue to knit in the round, it will look less flat, and a tube will form as if you had been knitting in the round and sewed the cast on edge flat.

Please let me know if you are confused at all and I will clarify and provide updates to these instructions!

Good luck with your projects (:

Please Stand By…

Please Stand By…

After some concerning creative blocks, I am back at it with designing and pattern-making! I’m on a short summer break from work and have been hit by a wave of motivation to design. This is a long and detailed process though, so I appreciate your patience while I collect my notes and attempt to combine them into a sensible pattern.

I likely will not be posting on a regular schedule over the next little while, but please enjoy these little sneak peeks of what’s to come.

Pocket Teddy in Action

Pocket Teddy in Action

Back in December, I made a tiny teddy bear for my cousin that he could take with him to work for moral support. The whole concept behind it was to create a little buddy that could join him on adventures and provide some emotional support for those rough days.

I like that idea of having a miniature stuffed companion that’s discrete and easy to take travelling. I think a lot of people would benefit from having a little extra comfort and assurance in their day to day lives–I know I would! I am currently working on designing my own little critters that may one day follow kids to school, or teens to university, or even adults to work. Having felt the burden of anxiety myself, I think anyone who has ever dreaded leaving the house would like a little buddy to go with them.

In the meantime however, here’s what pocket teddy has been up to.

15731669_10211014987626509_978390770_nHe travelled safely with a few friends over to California in time for Christmas.

17911064_10212100516404050_220519684_nHe sat in this pocket and went to work at the library.

18110754_10212194449512319_376450668_nAnd most recently, he was there to provide support in a Chinese (amateur) speech competition…in front of 400 guests!

Super pleased to see these photos and hear about how pocket teddy’s been helping out. This was the motivation I needed to seriously consider going further with my designs. I’m still trying to squeeze out whatever projects I can to make use of the cold weather we have left, but once summer rolls around, it will be all about the pocket critters!

Welcome to the Fam!

Welcome to the Fam!

As January has come to an end it’s really starting to hit me that it’s 2017! Knitting/crochet quickly became such a core part of my identity this past year, to myself and many others. It was never something I spoke often about before that year. It was always something I did in secret in my little home workshop. In 2016, I was outed! And in fact, the amount of support I’ve received has been so heart-warming.

It’s been a good year of creating. The overarching theme of my 2016 crafting pursuits was amigurumi. Here’s a quick summary of all the new yarn babies that were born from my workshop in 2016!

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All of these were gifts and are no longer in my possession, but don’t be fooled! There may or may not be more experimental critters lurking around. Perhaps they’ll make an appearance this year?

Baby Bob 2.0

Baby Bob 2.0

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How many years does your sister have to be with the guy she’s dating before you welcome him into your holiday celebrations?

I don’t really think there is a specific number, or rather, it varies based on the relationship. Since she introduced him as her boyfriend, he has been invited to any big dinner party we have. When it comes to Christmas and the exchange of gifts though, I’m a big believer in sentiment. Since I reached the age of “adulthood”, getting gifts has been less about materialism and more about either usefulness or meaning. When I give gifts, I like them to have special meaning for the recipient. So the answer to that question would be, when you know him well enough to be able to get him a gift of meaning.

I’ve seen more and more of him over the years, but this year is the year I really began to feel comfortable interacting with him and really started to think of him as family. T loves gaming. Specifically, T loves catching and raising dinosaurs with his friends online. I’m not a fan of gaming, but what I did find nice was that when I’m over, he shares with me. He tells me about the dinosaurs in his game and what he’s doing. He invites me into his world. He showed me “Baby Bob”, which was his prized dragon (?) he hatched and raised. We laughed about how he named it Bob and over time he would soon become “Adolescent Bob”. (You had to be there…)

To get to the point, I wanted to make him a little dinosaur that could hang out by his gaming computer. I found this stegosaurus pattern and could just imagine it on his desk. Went with a more earthy, self-striping yarn and didn’t stitch in any features so it would look a little less childish…but let’s be honest…it’s a stuffed dino.