Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tiny Legs, Big Head

To start with, I'm updating this from my new (old) netbook!  It used to belong to my boyfriend, although he has a Macbook now, and this is far more suited to my needs.  What does this mean?  That I can now keep a regular update schedule, because I will have a computer seven days a week, instead of just four.  This basically means I can update weekends, when I actually do stuff!

Anyway, other than the new (old) netbook, my mother's birthday is creeping up on me.  Now, my mother is a Dachshund Person, from a long line of Dachshund People.   (No, really, apparently some great-something on mine won the Westminster with a dachshund once.)  She currently owns two of the little devils:

This is Petey.

And Peanut.

So, I opted to make her a plush dachshund for her birthday with an old pattern I found in the thrift for thirty cents.  Now, I normally draft my own patterns, but it looked cute and old-fashioned, and I thought using the right fabric it would match my ma's bedroom.  The fabric is definitely my favorite part of this--I really love the elegant design and blue color.  It's the perfect match to my ma's decorating style, but not so over-the-top it would look silly as a plush dog.

The pattern was a very simple one, nine pieces in all: Two pieces for the body, two for the legs, four for the ears, and one for the face:

All were done in the cotton print, except for two of the ear pieces, which I did in a grey suiting fabric I had laying around.  These pieces were the inner ears, and was different for contrast.  All-in-all it took about an hour to sew, including ironing time and putzing around with thread tension.

Unfortunately, the chest-area doesn't look as nice as the pattern made it look.  It's a bit scrunchy and off, but what can I do?  Eventually I got to like how it looks with the legs laid out, which makes it a bit more whimsical anyway.  I added the button eyes, and purple bow/ribbon collar just to break up the pattern.

I'm not so sure I'll ever use the pattern again, but it was a fun, quick make for my ma.  I'm thinking she'll love it!  She's all about handmade, and it a huge supporter of my work, so I think she'll find it cute!

If I do try to make another one, I'm definitely editing the pattern a bit.  On the other hand, I do have to chalk some of it up to human error, too--I've never made a stuffed animal before!  I'm normally a dressmaker, so it's strange to have to deal with something that ends up stuffed and sewed up completely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Handmade for the Holidays

As November comes to a close, the holiday season is fast approaching! What does this mean? Hundreds of projects to make! Well, maybe not hundreds, but I've certainly got my hands full. In fact, there's really only three or four projects right now, but two of them are knitting, and I'm new at this!  So, you know, give me a break here.  I'm still a slow knitter.

First up is a project of socks. Socks frightened me, I admit, for awhile. But then I tried to make one, and, hey: it's actually not so bad. Pretty fun, actually, although starting the cuff is a problem for me still.

I'm at the very beginning of this project, although I have been carefully planning it.  I've never done a multi-color design before, and while it is a fairly simple one I'm pretty nervous about it.  Also: because I'm a bit skittish about who might stumble over this blog, I'm refraining from posting what the design is, but here is my very fragile beginnings:

Eventually I'm going to post the full pattern, and the finished project.  This is one gift I'm pretty excited for, so I'm hoping all goes well.

My next knitting project is one for my friends:  Little octopodes for each of them!  We aren't much for exchanging gifts for the holidays, but I wanted the practice, and this little guys aren't very labor intensive.

Each color is for a different person, and Mr. Orange is almost done--just need to finish up a couple more arms.  I'm hoping to do something fun and quirky with button eyes for the little guy, as well.

The pattern for the octopus was completely self-developed.  Since learning crochet wasn't in the plans, I needed to figure out how to make a ball while knitting in the round.  After experimenting a bit, I'm pretty proud of the result.

Finally, my mother's birthday is in a little over a week.  What does this mean?  She's getting a fancy plush Dachshund for her new bedset.  So far as I have the pattern, and the fabric I'm using.  Hopefully this little guy will be done by Friday to show off here:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taming the Beast: Versus the Knitting Needles

I am the type of person to whom sewing came easy. Within a month of sewing, I was drafting my own patterns, and looking for a higher-quality machine to work on a long scale. To this day sewing remains the one skill I have that I have the most confidence in. Despite being a general crafter, when people as me what I do, my response is always the same: “I sew.”

However, knowing how to knit is something that opens design doors, and would allow me to expand on the things I make. Unfortunately, where sewing, bookbinding, and various other crafts came easy, knitting is something I just don't grasp.

When I first picked up a basic knitting kit three or so years ago I thought it would be easy. Two needles, one thing of yarn, lets do this thing! Then I actually tried. My stitches were a mess, and forget about gauges and designs. Please! I was hopeless, and not to mention in pain.  (It took a better part of the past three years to realize I need to relax while knitting, and only use wooden needles.)

Since then, once a year, when the weather gets cold I break out the knitting needles and struggle through a week or month of Trying To Knit, before giving up completely.

And Trying To Knit was quite the ritual.  It generally came out with the snow, when other past-times like skating and hula-hooping outdoors got bothersome, and before I realize that Netflix just updated their entire Instant Watch catalog with some obscure television show that I will spend the next few months engrossed in with never-ending cups of hot chocolate.  It involved cursing, and ripping out stitches, and unraveling everything I had done only to redo it, unravel, redo, unravel in a never-ending series of frustration and a scarf only ten inches long before I QUIT.

This year, however, I've noticed something: for all my complaining, sore fingers, and confusion, I'm getting better.

Which is a good thing because this is also the year I opted to knit some Christmas gifts. Go figure, right? But what I've learned is this:  If I weren't knitting things for Christmas, I never would have learned.

For me, knitting was never a real challenge because I never had a reason to do it. Scarves are the traditional beginner's project, but I don't need no stinkin' scarves (no, really: I already own a number, most of which I use to tie back my hair, and my one knit scarf does the job just fine in winter). Socks, however? Adorable knit octopodes? These are the thing I need in my life. Or, rather: the lives of my friends who will be receiving them.

And, really: knitting is fun.

Who knew?