Monday, January 26, 2015

Pocket Unicorn

At the start of last year, I was a little down about my business.  Christmas had been good, but I hadn't reached my goal of 200 likes.  I had lost a couple likes in December, and I missed 200 by 4-6 likes.  But I still made the goal of 300 likes for last year.  It felt overly ambitious.  It would mean two new likes almost every week.

Then all of a sudden things picked up and I hit 225 by March, less than 25% through the year.  I hit 250 before I was 50% through the year.  I hit 300 in October, I think.  I was so busy I couldn't get to the 300 Like Giveaway till mid-November, with the choice between a cupholder mitten or a Pocket Buddy.  On November 18, Meg picked a name from a hat and the winner turned out to be the sister of one of the photographers who's bought from me a lot.  She had already received  the two beige Pocket Bunnies, but thought a Pocket Unicorn would be a nice gift for her daughter who had a larger unicorn and needed a baby.

Sure!  I was already working on the purple Pocket Bunnies and about to start the Pocket Dalmatian, and had the two Toothless  stuffies to make...it had to wait a bit.  I felt bad, but  a free reward just couldn't take precedence over existing, paying, orders.  And there was the question of the unicorn design.  A lot of questions.  White, obviously.  Gold horn.  Standing like a horse, or floppy like the bunnies?  Standing was the answer.  Ooohh.  Lots of time on Ravelry.  There are not too many standing, small, knit, unicorn patterns.  I wanted the perfect blend between realism and cutesy.  I realized after making the Dalmatian, that perhaps one of the dog patterns would work well, with some head modifications.

I used the same pattern, which was actually for the German Short Haired Pointer.  It starts with the back legs, which I knit in the round, and lengthened a bit.  Then, you knit the front legs.  Then one side of the body, then the other side of the body.  Then you join at the nape of the neck, and work the neck (back and forth--there is a chest/tummy piece done separately.  I worked on the neck and onto the head.  Then I left the snout on a holder and worked on the belly.  Then I grafted the top of the back together and propped him up to take a look.

Mmmm.

Those front legs look a little short compared to the back legs (the pattern did have them be a few rows short).  He appeared rather goat-like, not majestic unicorn-like.

I pouted for a bit.  I did not want to rip out everything I had done, even if it had just been a day and evening's work.  He would need two frontal leg amputations, followed by a double leg lengthening procedure and reattachment.  Work not for the faint of heart.
 Step 1:  Determine amputation row and snip carefully.  The leg was made and then stitches left on a holder to be joined when doing the side.  I snipped the last round on the leg because I wanted to make sure I did not disturb the body stitches at ALL.  They became "live" and went on a holder.  I then had to rip back the front leg to the straight part before the thigh increasing, and add in a few rounds.  This was tons o' fun, since the legs had already been stuffed and supported with a pipe cleaner.  I left one leg attached while working on the first leg.  Once lengthened, I grafted it to the live body stitches.  Then I repeated for the other side.  What a pain in the butt it was, working little rounds, round and round and round, with the rest of the unicorn dangling along for the ride.
But I think the result was worth it.  I might have actually made the front legs a round (or two) too long, but I was not repeating the procedure!

The head was interesting.  I reknit it several times.  I sewed the tummy/chest panel on, so I could work a bit of one, then the other.  The snout was too long, the skull too big, the snout was too short, too wide...etc.  In the end, I think it could have been a row longer, but sometimes, you just have to let go.


I wasn't sure how to attach the tail.  There was a seam up the bum and I thought I could knot the pieces and have them come through the seam...but how to ensure that they didn't pull back in?  I ended up just knotting in the seam.  Each strand had to have both ends knotted as well, so the gold filament in the yarn didn't unravel.



The mane was a simpler issue, I just knotted, or did a ....you know the simple knot where you fold your strand in half around a rod or tree branch, and feed the two ends back through?  Yeah.  I did the mane like that.  One column of stitches from the top of the head to the bottom of the neck.  That wasn't very thick, so I did a  column on either side, but only every other row, alternating one side to the other.  Then I did a dab of Fray Check over each of the knots.



Little ears took a few tries, but turned out nice.  The horn came almost last.  Tiny, tiny spiral, crocheted.  I had to stitch a crochet hook in it to keep it's shape as I crocheted around it, or it would roll inwards and I couldn't find the stitches.  I changed hooks as I went up, and then decreased a few stitches too.  Finicky, but very important!  Then came the eyes, finishing touch.

You can never have too many unicorn pictures :)  You can click on any of the pictures to go to the picture viewer and see larger images.
It was so nice to finish this finally.  Just over two months from when we made the draw.  If Christmas hadn't happened in there, it might have gone quicker.  The scale says the finished guy weighs 70gr, but that includes the stuffing and pipecleaners.  There were a LOT of ends that got trimmed off, many I used to stuff him.  I don't think he'll be a regular offering, but then again, now that I have the kinks worked out, I wouldn't object to doing it again.  I used one strand of Patons "Sequin Lace" and one strand of the Georga's BeBe that I had used for the Dalmatian.  And the smallest size needle in the KnitPick's interchangeable needle kit.

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 70gr + 944gr = 1014gr
Balance: 514gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/26 days = $0.82/day

Friday, January 23, 2015

Slouch!

After I finished that last (earless) teddy hoodie, I had a small amount of the yarn left.  I didn't want to ever make another one of those hoodies in that colour and it really wasn't enough to bother trying to work in with another dyelot anyway.

I decided to make another infinity scarf.  The colour looked really nice with my coat!  But it wouldn't be nearly enough, so I search through my stash and pulled out this great yarn that had been repurposed from a sweater.  

I started with the same idea I had done before--chain enough for 5-7 double crochets.  What I quickly realized is that I would have to do two rows of each colour--though I had several balls of the rose, so I could have one at each end, but that didn't help.  Doing two rows of the mushroom quickly showed that I really didn't have much of it and this was really awkward anyway.


I ripped it out and opted to do a circle instead.  I sort of guesstimated and made a chain in the rose, based on looping around the neck twice.  Did two rows in rose, and one row in mushroom, two in rose, one in mushroom, two in rose.  I didn't have enough of the mushroom left to repeat this, but I still wanted a bit more width.  I did a third round in the rose, then went back to the original chain, and did another round.  This did two things--balanced the outer strips, and hid the sort of uneven starting chain--because of the thick n thin nature and the large hook, sometimes it was hard to go under both chains in that first row.  So this hid that and made that edge also match the other edge.

After I had been into the scarf for a few rounds, I realized that if I had made it a cowl instead, I probably could  have had "more" mushroom stripes.  Half as many stitches, means twice as many rows for the same length of yarn, plus what I had left might had done one more round.  Oh well, next time.  I like the scarf done long though because you can wear it long if you're going for a fashion look or if you're tall, wrap it twice for warmth and still look good when you take your coat off, or wrap it three times for super warmth, or wrap around the head for ear coverage.  But the cowls look nice too and can be pulled up over the head to protect the ears without messing up the hair.  Nothing sucks more in the kindergarten class then trying to get a toque on a girl with a ponytail!

For the hat, I simply started at the top, doing double crochets in rounds.  Got to the length that felt good, then switched to single crochets.  It feels snug, but there is stretch.  The green angora crochet slouch hat I made last year moves all over my head so I don't wear it much.  Some single crochet would probably have fixed that.  Maybe I can find a contrast yarn and create some interest....

Hat took 72gr and scarf was 93gr for a total of 165gr.  And of course, right after I finished, I got a request from a friend of the lady that ordered that last hoodie...for the exact same one in a smaller size...

I posted this set on my Monday Madness, and although it got a lot of likes, there were no takers.  So, it's still for sale :)

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 165gr + 779gr = 944gr
Balance: 444gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/23 days = $0.92/day

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Little Kitty

Back in mid-summer, I took Lucy (who was still 11 back then) to the library while I was looking for a knitting book.  She found this book on knitting your own cat.  She was determined to knit her own cat.  All she had knit so far was some garter stitch--I don't think she actually finished anything.  The pattern looked overwhelming, but I told her that she just has to do one instruction at a time.  The first step though, would be to learn the purl stitch!

When I taught Lucy to knit a few years ago, she came to the conclusion that the yarn should be held with the left hand.  It made more sense to her, and  although it didn't make her faster, it works for her.  The first thing she needed to do was learn to purl.  Now, if you've ever tried to purl with the yarn in your left hand, there's two ways to do it.  An awkward way that leaves the stitch in the right position for the knit row, or a quick way that twists the stitch and means you have to knit through the back loop.  She found the quick way easier (it really is), and had no problem now knitting through the back loops on the knit row. It's fine until you come to specific instructions like "knit into front and back".  We both had to figure these things out; kfb becomes kbf.


So, once her stocking stitch was going well, we started on the cat.  It's a busy pattern, with stuff  going on almost every row until the upper leg and then body.  The first leg took her maybe a month?  It got faster after that.  She's not an "every day knitter", she will go long stretches without doing any, and then spend a long time at one go.  She was determined to get it done by Christmas though.  I was doing the sewing up for her, and although it's not hard, I was quite busy with my Christmas orders.  And I knit the tail.  And ears.  I got it all done and put kitty in the tree late on Christmas Eve.  I don't think she found it till about Dec 27 LOL.  It still doesn't have a face though.  I suggested that leaving the face off adds to the abstract feel of the kitty.

Her and her brother got a little rough with kitty though, and the pipe cleaners in the legs have risen up.  Wish I had known this before I sewed together the unicorn I'm working on!  One day sooner...

She got the book again and bought some colourful yarn to make another one.   She had thought she'd make one of each cat in the book, but she's picked the same pattern again.  Bit by bit, she's moving along :)
The yarn amount was included in the 2014 totals.  It took 18gr!  I wonder if my scale was off?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Earless Bear

I got a call from a woman who had seen the 5 bear hoodies I had done, and wanted one for her daughter.  Also aged 6.  Also the same mushroom colour.  And even the same button.  Which I couldn't find, so I used a similar one.

Don't have much to say about it, but I thought this time I might write down the actual details so I don't have to do another swatch and math again.

9mm hook (for me, it's the one with the black dot on the end).  Cozy Wool.  Chain 46.  Single crochet 45stitches, for 14 rows, decreasing down to 41sc on rows 13 and 14.  Cut yarn.  Find middle stitch, and start yarn again one stitch beside it.  Work around, single crochet, joining the two halves at the back and working around to that centre stitch, leaving it.  Work these 40sts for 12.5".  Sew the top seam, loosely so it blends, and steam.  Sew the lower back seam, leaving the bottom inch open.  Don't forget the button and your tag.  283grams means THREE  balls of Cozy Wool for size 6-8.  Luckily, I had some left from another ball, and I worked it into the main part of the hood.  I really could not see a difference in the dye lots.

Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out: 283gr + 496gr = 779gr
Balance: 279gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $21.19/19 days = $1.12/day

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Toothless #3

I was supposed to knit three Toothless stuffies for Christmas orders, but only got one done, and that was actually for Jan 2 (already shown), and the client for #2 and #3 said she'd just take one for Jan 11, her daughter's birthday instead.  Not much new to show by now LOL.



There's not a whole lot of ways to pose him, and it's cold outside!  Maybe next time, if it's warm, I'll take him out front or to the park.  There's also no way to make each one unique.  He is who he is!



Yarn In:  500gr
Yarn Out:  200gr + 263gr + 33gr (donation) = 496gr
Balance: 4gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:  $21.19/17 days = $1.25/day

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ooops!

I wonder how many posts I've titled "Ooops!"  LOL!

I made a nice black infinity scarf back (scroll down) in the fall.  I wear it a lot.  I figured it was time to wash it.  I carefully put it in the mesh lingerie bag and washed it, and dried it.  I had used a variety of chunky black yarns.  I assumed they were mostly Patons "Shetland Chunky".  Well, I guessed wrong!

See that bit in the middle, how the stitches have no definition and it squishes in a bit?  Yeah.  Apparently some of the yarn I used was wool and felted.  It goes in bands like this around the scarf.  Basically two rows fine, two rows felted.  I stretched it out a bit while damp so it's pretty much the same length now, just a bit shorter.  The new texture is kind of neat, and I'm okay with that...but sometimes accidental feltings do happen and the results aren't so easy to deal with.  Always wash an item with multiple yarns as gentle as the most delicate of the yarns says to.  And if you don't know the yarns, treat it as hand wash, or at least gentle cycle.  This would have been washed on a cool setting too, so some of the felting happened in the short time in the dryer.

Then, I noticed that the cream coloured scarf I made for myself (and a match for my mom) seemed to be stretching and getting longer.  Now, I KNEW the one yarn had wool content, so I put it in with a fairly hot load and checked it a few times to make sure it wasn't matting.  And wouldn't you know...no felting!  It's a bit longer than I'd like for two wraps around the neck, but three wraps are a little snug.  Whatever.  They're quick and easy to make and fun and easy to wear.  Made another one tonight :)

Stay Tuned

I've been having trouble getting my computer to read my BRAND new memory card.  It did the first time, but not since.  However, it didn't like any of my other cards either, so who knows.  I have photos from a unicorn surgery to share, but I took them on the iPad, just have to see if I can blog from it now.  And another Toothless!  I had two "in stock" hats go out this week, thanks to an online auction hosted by another crafty WAHM, and I have another teddy hooded cowl to go out tonight--except it has no ears, so it's just a beige hooded cowl :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Division

This year, I'm going to keep track of the yarn I get out of the house by donation/selling.  I'm curious to see just how much yarn I use up for actual projects and how much of my total is by donating.  I don't often get yarn donated to me, but once in awhile I do luck out.  Every time I see my stash, I think--I need to thin this.  Then, I try (or try to find yarn my daughters can use) and every single ball in my stash has a potential purpose.  Crazy.  I have a bin of odd balls of worsted weight yarns, for when I'm doing little hats, or stripes, or characters that need a small bit.  I have a bin of mohair type yarns, a bin of "textured" yarns, a bin of "good yarn" (ie--will never give away or sell but will probably never use cause it's too good), a bin of Paton's "Divine", a bin of cottons, and another bin of assorted.  And, a garbage bag of more, a cone tree, two six-cubby units, and cones on top of those units.  I really thought being in business would mean I get to use up my stash.  When I started out though, I got a little excited and did buy up lots of odd balls of textured and mohair yarns for newborn props.  I haven't done much new born props lately, but that yarn isn't good for a whole lot else, except scarves and trims.

Anyway, collected up 33gr of brown yarn for a fellow lunch supervisor's daughter who's doing a school project :)

Donated Out:  33gr
Donated In:  0gr