Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Next Round of Weirdness....

...or, I know something about this character, this time.

The next weird birthday gift for my niece is Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba (I'm only making one more, the green striped thing with the long arms). It required no original thought on my own, because I got the free pattern for it on Craftster, created and posted by Soulmom...of course, where else would I go first, other than Craftster?

Another cell phone pic because I was just too damn lazy to go get my camera from downstairs! The flash makes Muno a little brighter than he really is in real life.

He's made with 2 strands of Caron red worsted weight and 1 strand of Modea Dea Wild in Flame, on an N sized hook. The eye is random black and white on a G sized hook. The eye is kind of funny to me, because as I was sewing it on, little tufts of the Flame Modea, which is like a fun fur yarn, got pulled through the white. I think he takes on kind of a bloodshot quality.

I do know that he's supposed to have bumps, but after the trouble I had with the Dalek, I'm not ready to try the popcorn stitch again. Too many bad memories there! And I think, at least from the Kia commercial Muno was in a few years ago, isn't he supposed to be vinyl or plastic or something?



My friend Michelle actually found the Modea at a yarn shop up in Yorktown, and although she doesn't like yarn, she realized this would be a good one to show me. That was months ago, and even back then, I knew I'd be starting these characters pretty soon. I think the furriness of the yarn also gives him a slightly Wookie-esque quality too. All he needs is to be made again browns and give him a weapons belt.

If I had started it sooner, I could have been done with it in one night. Seriously, I loved this pattern because it worked up so quickly!!!

Since starting these toys, I've been weirded out because I don't know what they are. Like, are they supposed to be the kind of monsters from Sesame Street? At least I know this much...Muno really is supposed to be a cyclops, and that's just not my take on him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Birthday Crochet Pattern and Other Oddities

For Nicole the Knitter's birthday this year, I made her a couple of small "Despicable Me" minions, from Popcorn Queen's pattern on Craftster. I haven't made one for myself yet, but as soon as we each saw that movie, we realized we needed minions of our own. The minion in the second photo was actually the first one made. Once he was finished, I figured since he looked like a baby, then he needed someone to help take care of him, and the minion in the first photo was created.



I have to admit, that second minion was a pain in the ass to make. And I"m going to remove the G on his overalls. I'm not used to making such small items and he was made with a small hook. But I love how he looks like a pudgy little baby! And if you haven't seen "Despicable Me" yet, then I have to highly recommend it. Aside from having a cute storyline, the animation and the characters (even Gru) are just wonderful to watch. It may very well be the most original animated movie to come out since "Toy Story."

To give an idea of the construction of these guys, the yellow body is like a perfect capsule (Caron Natura in Cream) and then the overalls (Lion Brand Wool Ease in Blue Heather) is crocheted separately to actually fit the body.

To go along on Nicole's wrapped gift, I crocheted some daffodils to add to the package (I'm keeping two of them because they turned out so nice!), and they are her favorite flower.



These were made out of an unknown sized (small) crochet hook and Caron Natura in Cream and Sage. I didn't continue the backing leaves as thoroughly as the designer created them to be, since daffodils actually have long leaves that come from the ground and are usually as long as the stems themselves.

They worked up extremely quick and I actually learned a new crochet stitch for them: the picot, which gives the petals that little point at the ends.

So they will work on a package, I actually hot glued felt to them, covering up the backs of the daffodils. That way, I can pin them to a ribbon and she could take them off the package and keep them. She usually gets daffodils for her birthday every year.

Last but not least in this Nicole and crafts inspired posting, is her Christmas hat. Each year for a couple of years now, I've made her a funky hat for Christmas. It actually started with the devil's horn hat, I think, but that might not count because Nicole gave me the yarn for that one.


"I miss my cupcake."
--GIR
five minutes after eating his cupcake, crying

I present GIR, in his dog costume disguise, from "Invader Zim:" "The series revolves around an extraterrestrial named Zim from the planet Irk and his ongoing mission to conquer and/or destroy a dark and satirical version of the Earth. His various attempts to subjugate and destroy the human race are invariably undermined by some combination of his own ineptitude, his malfunctioning robot servant GIR, and his arch-nemesis Dib, one of very few humans attentive enough to be aware of Zim's identity."



My only wish for this hat was that I had made GIR's eyes more googly. Fun fact about those eyes: Nicole said she wore this hat out with some other friends and the eyes were quite popular. Apparently, they feel like breast implants. :) I was mean when I gave this hat to her, a day before her birthday...she couldn't try it on because she had a shower cap on her head, with a dye job going on!!!!

GIR is made completely out of Caron Natura yarn and he's another original hat of mine.

Materials Needed:
--F sized hook
--H sized hook
--Yarn needle
--Small amount of Fiber-Fill
--2 skeins of Caron Simply Soft in Sage (#2611)
--1/2 skein of Caron Natura in Black (#0007)
--1/2 skein of Caron Natura in White
--Small amount in red or pink

Hat:
With the H hook and working with both strands of Sage at the same time, ch 4, join with sl st to first ch to form ring. You don’t have to work this hat with 2 strands of yarn, however the Caron Simply Soft is a fine yarn and 2 strands will make for a thicker, warmer hat.

Rnd 1: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC),9 HDC  in ring. Join with sl st to top of beginning dc (10 HDC). Do not turn after each row. Keep working the hat in the same direction.
Rnd 2: Ch 2, HDC in same st, (2 HDC in next st) around. Join (20 HDC).
Rnd 3: Ch 2, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join (30 HDC).
Rnd 4: Ch 2, HDC in next st, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next 2 st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join (40 HDC).
Rnd 5: Ch 2, HDC in next 2 st, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next 3 st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join (50 HDC).
Rnd 6: Ch 2, HDC in next 3 st, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next 4 st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join (60 HDC).
Rnd 7: Ch 2, HDC in each st around. Join (60 HDC).
Rnd 8: Ch 2, HDC in next 4 st, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next 5 st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join.
Rnd 9: Repeat round 7.
Rnd 10: Ch 2, HDC in next 5 st, 2 HDC in next st, (HDC in next 6 st, 2 HDC in next st) around. Join.
Rnds 11-21: Repeat round 7.
Rnd 22: Ch 1,SC in same st as join and in each st around. Join. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Once the hat is complete, decide which side is the front. (It will look better if you keep the joining slip stitches for the rows in the back of the hat.) Press it flat with your hands with the front facing up. Thread the yarn needle with the black thread, and run a series of stitches from the center back, over the top, down to the center of the front. This is the “seam” of GIR’s green dog mask. Make each stitch, as well as the spaces between, about ½” long. Remember, GIR is a cartoon, so the stitches don’t have to be precise. There were 14 stitches in my hat.

Tongue (Option 1):
This creates a curved end for GIR’s tongue, instead of the straight edged one in the photo to the left. If you want a straight edged tongue like in the photo, use Option 2.
Rnd 1: Working with the H sized hook and the red or pink, chain 8.
Rnd 2: Turn. Starting in the second chain from the hook, work 2 sc. Work 1 sc in each remaining stitch. (8 SC)
Rnd 3: Chain 1 and turn. Work 1 sc in each individual stitch across. Work 2 sc in the last stitch. (9 SC)
Rnd 4: Chain 1 and turn. Work 1 sc in each individual stitch. (9 SC)
Rnd 5: Chain 1 and turn. Work 1 sc in each individual stitch. Work the last 2 sc together. (8 SC)
Rnd 6: Chain 1 and turn. Work the first 2 sc tog, and 1 sc in each remaining stitch. Fasten off yarn and leave a length of a couple inches. (7 SC)
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Tongue (Option 2):
This creates a straight end for GIR’s tongue.

Rnd 1: Working with the H sized hook and the red or pink, chain 10.
Rnd 2: Turn. Starting in the second chain from the hook, work 2 sc. Work 1 sc in each remaining stitch. (9 SC)
Rnds 3-6: Chain 1 and turn. Work 1 sc in each individual stitch across. At the end of row 6, fasten off the yarn and leave a length of a couple inches. (9 SC)
-----------------------------------------------------
Thread the yarn needle with the black thread, and run a series of stitches from the center of the straight edge of the tongue, halfway down the length of the tongue. This is just part of how his tongue is drawn. As with the mask stitching, this doesn’t need to be precise. My stitches were short, about ¼” long each.

Use the length of red to sew the tongue onto the front of the hat. Line the short straight edge of the tongue up just behind row 22 of the hat, off center of the black mask stitches (choice of side is yours). Attach it with a few whip stitches on the inside of the hat and fasten off yarn when complete.

Nose:
Rnd 1: Working with the F sized hook and the black, chain 7.
Rnd 2:Turn. Starting in the second chain from the hook, work 1 sc in each stitch. (6 SC)
Rnd 3: Chain 1 and turn. Work the first 2 SC tog, then 2 individual SC, and the last 2 SC tog. (4 SC)
Rnd 4: Chain 1 and turn. Work the first 2 SC tog and the last 2 SC tog. (4 SC)
Rnd 5: Chain 1 and turn. Work the remaining 2 SC tog. Fasten off yarn and leave a length of a couple inches. (1 SC)

Use the length of black to sew the nose onto the front of the hat. Line the nose, round 5 pointed down, on the black mask stitches, in the center of the front. Attach it with a few whip stitches on the outside of the hat (by working through the front loops only, you don’t have to go all the way through to the inside of the hat) and fasten off yarn when complete.

Ears (Make 2):
Rnd 1: Working with the H sized hook and the black, chain 8.
Rnd 2: Turn. Starting in the second chain from the hook, work 1 sc in each stitch. (7 SC)
Rnds 3-10: Ch 1 and turn. Work 1 sc in each stitch. (7 SC)
Rnd 11: Ch 1 and turn. Work 2 SC in the first stitch, 1 SC in each middle stitch, and 2 SC in the last stitch. (9 SC)
Rnd 12: Repeat row 3. (9 SC)
Rnd 13: Repeat row 11. (11 SC)
Rnd 14: Repeat row 3. (11 SC)
Rnd 15: Repeat row 11 (13 SC)
Rnds 16-17: Repeat row 3 (13 SC)
Rnd 18: Ch 1 and turn. Work the first 2 SC tog, 1 SC in each middle stitch, and the last 2 SC tog. (11 SC)
Rnd 19: Repeat row 3 (11 SC)
Rnd 20: Repeat row 18 (9 SC)
Rnd 21: Repeat row 3 (9 SC)
Rnd 22: Repeat row 18 (7 SC)
Rnds 23-31: Repeat row 3 (7 SC)

Do not finish off the yarn. Fold the ear in half lengthwise and do a series of SC around the side of the ear. Fasten it with a slip stitch and finish off the yarn. Reattach the yarn to the other bottom corner with a slip stitch, ch 1 and work the same SC up the side to the fold. This will “sew” it into a pocket. The fold will become the top of the ear. The first and last rows of 7 SC each (unsewn and left open) will be paired up to become the bottom of the ear. The ears are not stuffed.

Use the length of black to sew the ears onto the top of the hat. Refer back to the image of GIR. If you want the ears to stand up more, gently open each ear. Do whip stitches through the outside loops (see diagram at left, used without permission from the Craft Yarn Council) on each half when you sew them to the head. Space them each about 1 ½” away from the center of the hat (your starting 10 HDC).

Eyes (Make 2):
Row 1: With the F sized hook and black yarn, make a magic circle with a ch 1 and 6 SC. Pull tight, switch to the white and join with a slip stitch. Do not turn the eye in between rows.
Row 2: Ch 1 and work 2 SC in the joining slip stitch and in each stitch around. (14 SC)
Row 3: Ch 1 and work 1 SC in the first stitch (skip the joining stitch) and 2 SC in the second stitch. Continue this alternation all the way around. (22 SC)
Row 4: Repeat row 3. (30 SC)
Row 5: Ch 1 and work 1 SC in the first stitch (skip the joining stitch), 1 SC in the second stitch and 2 SC in the third stitch. Continue this alternation all the way around. (41 SC)
Row 6: Ch 1 and work 1 SC in each stitch around. (41 SC)
Row 7: Ch 1 and work 1 SC in each stitch around and work the last 2 SC tog (40 SC)
Row 8: Repeat row 7. (39 SC)
Row 9: Repeat row 7. (38 SC)
Row 10: Ch 1 and work the first 2 SC tog, 1 SC in each of the middle stitches and the last 2 SC tog. (36 SC)
Row 11: Repeat row 10. (34 SC)
Rows 12-13: Ch 1 and work 1 SC in each stitch around. At the end of row 13, secure the eyeball with a slip stitch and fasten off the yarn, leaving a length of several inches. This will be used to sew the eyeball to the hat. (34 SC)

The eyeball curves out away from you as your work on it. Flip it inside out, and turn the inside into the new outside, before sewing it to the hat.

To attach the eyes, position them on the hat above the nose, somewhat pointed out to the sides (think googly eyed), with whip stitch around the edges with the white tail you left at the end of the eyeball. Stitch around half of the eyeball first and then stuff it with the Fiber-Fill. < A good way to get consistent placement on both eyes is line each eye up about three finger widths away from the center seam. Stitch down the inside center of the eye and work your way around. With a little care and attention, you can actually work your sewing stitches through the hat’s HDCs and not have to go all the way through the front of the hat. The only time my stitches go through the front of the hat is when I was securing the final stitches. Continue stuffing until the eyes are as firm as you want.  

Proper Care and Washing:
Always wash this item in cold on the gentlest setting. Do not use bleach. Washing in hot water may lead to shrinkage. Either line dry or allow to dry flat. If you must use a dryer, dry on low or no heat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Weirdest Thing I've Made in Awhile

My niece's first birthday is coming up this spring and I decided to get a start on her birthday gifts already. I am just waiting for the paint to dry so I can finish up the eyes, but here is the first part.

I'm still not 100 percent sure what the hell this thing is, but it's Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba, a children's show on Nick Jr. I think she looks like a pink Grimace! My sister said that already, my niece likes this show and would like the characters as stuffed toys. I sewed Foofa, a combination of by hand and by machine, because I had pink fabric to be upcycled but no pink yarn. The rest of the characters will be crocheted.

Of course, since I made this pattern up as I went along, just by looking at a picture of Foofa, it turned out alright. It kind of goes along with the Star Fleet Science Officer uniform I made a few days ago!

Seriously, what the hell are these things? Are they monsters...toys that come to life...weird animals...DJ Lance's imagination? I know one of them is a robot, but I can't figure out what the rest of them are and it kind of bothers me. I'm used to clearly defined weirdness: aliens, droids, spaceships and superheroes. This kids' show realm is brand new to me!

A Sewing Fail and a Sewing Win

I seriously need to stop trying projects I am under-qualified for. You guessed it...it was another sewing project. I came across a site with about six free complete American Girl clothing patterns. Each pattern had 3-4 complete outfits to go with it, and they were all period pieces of clothing.

You'd think I'd know better at this point, right?

Hell no.

I downloaded all six patterns and started with the easiest looking thing I could find: Kirsten's sun bonnet from the mid-1800's. It's the red and white checked hat in the bottom of this image to the left. I didn't even get around to attaching the brim to the bonnet because it was so floppy looking and it didn't fit my niece's doll correctly. I'm sure part of my problem was the fabric I was using. That was my sewing fail, so I deleted the patterns and threw out the bonnet.

Before I go on to the sewing win, I'd like to mention what kind of fabric I was using. When I made a trip to the thrift store to get my shoes for the Spider-Man mod, I picked up a blue velvet-like cocktail dress. I knew the American Girl sewing was going to be difficult and I didn't want to waste new fabric on it. I have been reading how other crafty people turn clothing into other sewing projects as a way to recycle the fabric and I liked that idea.

There was no way I could modify this dress into something to fit me. It was a size 4 by "All That Jazz." It was electric blue and off the shoulder with cap sleeves. It looked like something leftover from the 80's. But the fabric was in good shape. If the dress itself hadn't been so dated, then it could have been worn today, as is.

So that's where the fabric for the sun bonnet came from. It was actually my second project from this dress and I still have some fabric leftover from it for something else that will undoubtedly piss me off in the future.

Now for the sewing win and the first project from this dress.

Of course, something I just completely winged as I went, without a pattern will turn out. I even sewed this damn thing by HAND. But the tried and true project I made from a sewing pattern with a machine...that will always look like shit.



Space, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the star ship, Singer.
It's five year mission:
To explore strange new worlds,
To seek out new life and new civilizations.
To boldly go where no American Girl doll has gone before.

 That's right...I made a Star Trek: The Original Series science officer ladies' uniform for the wanna be American Girl doll. Although I didn't have the rank braid in gold, I used silver and she's a Lieutenant. Even though it's difficult to see, I did use five of those little discs from the sleeves to create a tiny little Science insignia on the chest. There's also a tiny little band of black ribbon around the uneven neckline, which I sewed that way on purpose.

If you take  a look at the adult costume below, you'll see how the neckline does dip on one side. My little dress here doesn't dip down that far, but it is asymmetrical.



So there you go. I can't make a pattern turn out correctly in real life, but I can make up my own as I go.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

My mom sent me a Good Housekeeping magazine a few weeks ago. It was just a part of a little care package and I don't remember what I even did with it when I was done reading it. However, there was a recipe that I pulled out of it to save for later: stuffed portobello mushrooms!

  • 1.2 c quinoa, rinsed (I thought I had quinoa but it was actually orzo instead)
  • 1 1/4 c Brussels sprouts (I substituted broccoli for this, since we don't like Brussels sprouts.)
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 c frozen corn
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese (I personally love feta but Hubby doesn't, so I used Parmesan instead.)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (The next time, I'll leave the cumin out...I thought it gave it a strange taste.)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 3/4 cup water. Heat to boiling on high; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Trim and halve sprouts. In a pan, toss sprouts, 2 teaspoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper to evenly coat. Roast 10 minutes.

While sprouts cook, brush mushrooms with remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Finely chop thyme and add to  medium bowl with corn, feta, cumin, and cooked quinoa.

When sprouts have roasted for 10 minutes, push to one side of pan and arrange mushroom, gill side up, on the other side. Divide quinoa mixture among mushrooms, and roast for another 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

We really enjoyed this meal, and that kind of surprised me where Hubby is concerned. He's more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and while he's culinarily open-minded, his meals of choice always include some kind of meat. Obviously, this is a meatless meal, but those portobellos are so thick and meaty on their own, that additional meat would be an overkill.