posts tagged: toys

put a bird on it!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group projectWhen we found out that one of our own was pregnant, the members of KBC started discussions of what kind of group gift to give. A quilt, sure, but not everyone sews. So we brainstormed an additional knit idea, and we eventually decided a mobile of knit birds would be cute and kind of funny—the parents, recently relocated to the East Coast after years in Portland, would be no strangers to the concept of putting a bird on it.

Finding a bird pattern led to much snickering when we settled on a free Blue Tit bird pattern from Lion Brand. Be warned: It is a finicky knit, and there was much swearing by all involved. The pattern is clear, it’s just a pain to knit. My bad; I am the one who found the pattern and decided it was the one! Ultimately one of us decided to knit the branches instead of wrestling the yarn into a bird (fine by me–finding random branches and ensuring they were bug-free was kind of stressing me out). Another took on the task of quilting and binding the group quilt (more on that separately), so in the end we had 7 unique birds!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile

Here’s my bird—knit using a random assortment of Cascade 220 from my stash. When I perched it on the branch I made it more “squished” than its natural state, so it got a little chubby. And maybe cuter than it originally was!

I set to perching them either in flight or on the branches so that they made a balanced mobile and oh boy was that a challenge. I used to make mobiles a lot in high school, so I thought it would be sooo easy. But hello, that was 20+ years ago, my skills were rusty, and most of those mobiles involved PAPER ORIGAMI. Not heavy, various-weighted knit birds! I did learn a fishing lure knot tying technique that I think is pretty sturdy and is good to use with filament thread (though I never really succeeded in making it look as taut and neat as in the video), and I feel really good about the finished mobile. I so badly wanted some birds to sit atop branches, but they were so heavy they’d flip right over; thinking to string the vertical supports through the birds was an inspired bit of genius, I thought!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

We finally gave the mobile to the family at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday. And cutiepie Hazel, knowing it was her flock of birds, set to claiming it immediately—nomming on one right away!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

crocheted amish puzzle balls

pepperknit | crocheted amish puzzle balls

Despite the couple of sweaters you’ve seen lately, I really prefer making toys for babies. They have a longer life, given how quickly babies outgrow garments, and they allow for some fun and experimentation. They also are great for using up leftover bits of yarn and they’re just darn cute. I’m always favoriting toy patterns on Ravelry, and recently I came upon the Amish Puzzle Balls.

pepperknit | crocheted amish puzzle balls

I’ve seen these puzzle balls as sewn projects as well, but I had a feeling crocheting them would be a million times easier than sewing one up. And I was right—these are mindless fun to make, and the results are so lovely. I had plenty of leftover Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn after finishing the entrelac bolster, so I made two, one the inverse of the other (color wedges or gray wedges). They’re not very large (they’re about 5 inches in diameter), but hopefully that means they’re good for little hands. The only “tricky” part of these is figuring how densely to stuff the wedges, and trying to put the same amount of stuffing in each. I definitely just did it by feel and it was fine. And as a note: These do not make for good group stitching nights. The wedges are made by increasing in every row, which basically means you are constantly counting. This was my plane crafting on the way to TNNA, but I discovered quickly there was absolutely no way to work on them while trying to have a conversation. I can watch TV with them, if the TV show is mindless, but anything requiring additional brain power rendered me useless. No Jeopardy while making these, for example.

(Though, I posit that trying to count while also trying to recall trivia might be the best kind of brain exercise there is! I was shocked at how difficult it was, actually.)

pepperknit | crocheted amish puzzle balls

Sadly I used up all the gray I had, but there’s still plenty of the 4 other colors, and I’m considering some two-toned balls next!

another monster

pepperknit | knit monster

After I knit the Mama + Baby Monsters last year I was on a bit of a monster kick. I grabbed a copy of Rebecca Danger’s The Big Book of Knitted Monsters and picked a different blobby guy to knit for friends in Colorado. They took in a baby who needed care and love, and I realized that they probably weren’t going to get a traditional baby shower. So I knit Dot up in the same Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed by Plymouth Yarn, and even employed the same technique for making the little eyes. (I opted not to add the “dot” around one eye that gives the original her name.) I striped it to make it a little different and omg how cute is this guy!

pepperknit | knit monster

 

pepperknit | knit monster

2014 in review

How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!

pepperknit | finished knits in 2014

Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…

pepperknit | finished sewing in 2014

Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.

pepperknit | finished embroidery in 2014

But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!

I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?

Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!

knit mama + baby monsters

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

Pardon me while I gush over the cuteness I have brought into the world. Yeah yeah yeah someone had an adorable baby and it’s a miracle, new life, perfect boy—LOOK AT THE CUTENESS HERE. Rebecca Danger‘s adorable pattern for Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster is so simple, so mindless, and yet pays off such rewards!

I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (full disclosure: I, ahem, took this yarn home with me after we shot it for the Yarn Market News cover with the owls. So yeah, I got it free but it’s not like they expected me to knit with it), which I am currently obsessed with for baby toys. It is SO squishy and soft, and being bulky it knits up fast and makes things satisfyingly large. I used it for the hedgehogs, but have so much remaining that I also used it with this pair. I don’t really know how  big this was supposed to be, but Mama came in at 12 inches tall and her baby is 5.5 inches tall. I embellished the pocket just a touch, with a little free-hand surface crocheted heart out of Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn. I love its luster and shine.

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

I crocheted the little black eye discs out of Universal Yarns’ crochet thread, and on Mama I added some white to simulate button eyes. I know baby toys shouldn’t have buttons for risk of choking but I’m telling you, a baby who puts this alpaca in his mouth is going to be in for a rude surprise! Best to hug it and squish it and use it as a pillow, I think.

It’s going to be hard to pack these two up in a box and ship them out, but the baby is here early so I need to get on this! Expect to see more monsters from me—I’ve got a copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and I’m not afraid to use it!