Saturday, February 17, 2007

crocheted balls for cassia

for cassia, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

these are the soft throwing balls i made for cassia for her first birthday (she turned 1 when eva turned 19 months, on the 7th -- so easy for their mamas to remember the age difference!).

this is basically what i was going for on my first attempt, but it came out more in line with my expectations this time. i used a different pattern [note: link now broken, sorry! i didn't save the pattern, either -- if anyone has a good one, post it in the comments. 02.07.2008] (one that lora found for me on craftster), and the increases in stitches by row is much more methodical and makes for a round ball, which is... you know, preferred.

i found this great yarn, nashua handknits "julia", which i bought (at hill country weavers on south congress) in eight colors so i can mix and match for several different projects. it's alpaca/mohair/wool, and has to be hand washed in cold water, which is of course ideal for children's toys. :) i used a G/4.00mm hook, which was sufficiently small to keep it tight and preven the stuffing from escaping (at least at first, i guess it may work its way out over time?)

i'm a big fan of the orange and pink one, very modern and sleek. the green and pink one is okay, but i learned not to put the darkest color on the ends because the optical illusion make it look oblong. i'm not a fan of the stripey one -- it looks too reminiscent of a 1970s afghan, which i guess can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.

as it turns out, cassia is a big fan of balls. they have a game of playing soccer with them, with cassia trying to throw the balls into a box or the like, so her parents can throw up their arms and shout "goooooal!". jenny and cassia introduced this game to eva when they were here for dinner, and she was suitably impressed. (however, eva's probably confused as to why, when you throw up your arms, you sometimes shout "goal" and sometimes shout "touchdown". it's good, this early exposure to multiculturalism. haha.)

i really love the colors of this yarn. that's the best part. i'm getting faster at crochet, so let's say these took me maybe 6 hours for the set...

i'm so bad at estimating, but i'm doing it because it sort of adds to the sense of accomplishment in a weird way. the opposite of saying "look how many hours i wasted", rather, i can say "look how many hours of my life i spent doing something i enjoyed, and making something for the people i love." i'm explaining, lest my struggles at estimating the time be taken the wrong way.

enjoy, cassia, and happy birthday! goooooal!!!!!

sadie's blanket

img_7350.jpg, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

this is the blanket i crocheted for eva and "seh-deee". it's nine granny squares (you know, remember those multi-colored crocheted blankets? all granny squares). i used bulky yarn -- okay, i don't know all the yarn terms and the label has since been tossed, so i'll just call it "bulky" but not super bulky -- and a 8.0mm hook, which was one or two sizes up from recommended. i wanted an open look, and it is fun for eva to stick her fingers through, but i tends to get caught on things like toy stroller handles. it's probably about 30" square.

unlike many of my crochet projects, this one actually uses more than just single crochet -- hurray for chains and double crochet! however, the best part was the pattern of stitches. it was very appealing to the mathematical side of my brain. each square is worked from the center in six concentric circles, and each "round" has its own pattern, for the sides and one for the corners. crochet patterns aren't written exactly this way, but i essentially "convert" them into a more mathematical formula because it makes more sense to me that way. it's surprisingly similar to computer programming, with all the nested loops and such. hey, i get to use my brain!

so, on the first square, it took me a good amount of time to decipher it all out and "translate" it in my head. then, the second one was easier, and by the third i had it memorized and eva was free to play with my scrap of paper where i had jotted down the code (her scribbling was slowly obscuring the numbers anyway :). by the ninth square, though, it was no longer challenging, so that's how i knew the blanket was big enough. next time i'll do a different kind of square so it will be fun all over again. or, now that i know how it works, i'll make up my very own patterns! even better.

after i got the hang of it, i could complete a square in under an hour. so, including the time it took to stitch it together, it probably took just over 10 hours.

eva's favorite way to use this blanket is to convince someone to throw it at her from across the room, and then she whips it off her head and giggles. she does on occasion put sadie on it, but she prefers the 4"x6" blankets that came with her doll house. apparently toddlers lack a sense of proportion.

river's ball


this was my first attempt at crocheting a ball. i looked at an unreliable pattern, so while i thought i was making a 5" diameter ball, it ended up several inches larger. oh well, that just makes it a two-handed throwing ball. (in addition to the size being off, it's pretty flat on the "poles" and straight on the sides, making a cylinder of sorts.)

i embroidered his name using a basic chain stitch. i found out that crochet rows in effect run in a spiral (as opposed to knitting where you have a definite grid pattern). so, i started out stitching the letters using the crochet stitches as a grid, but then noticed my letters were all in reverse italics! i compensated for this eventually, but overcame my urge to rip out all the existing letters. so, it's got that definite homemade look going for it -- that and the somewhat 70s colors. :)


this ball was filled with basic fiberfill (polyester, i'm sure). i'm sick to death of using that stuff (it's all i've been able to find in the horrible chain stores), so i finally ordered some wool stuffing from some lovely waldorf doll people online. that way, i'm not using nice wool yarn and crappy stuffing, or working for ages on a natural cotton doll (like sadie) and stuffing it with gross polyester. i think that would give the items some much needed heft, as well.

i also bought some bells... i thought about using them, but then does it start to seem a bit too much like a cat toy?

i'm not really sure, but i think (due to the larger than expected size), this probably took around 6 hours. i'm bad at estimating, but i'll try to keep track (a little) in the future. who knew i spent so much time crafting!

anyway, i know river likes to throw soft balls, so i thought he might like this. this project was a definite learning experience, but i'm sure river doesn't mind.

doll sling

ella's doll sling

today's fun-during-naptime project was to make a baby doll sling for our little friend ella, who is having her second birthday party today! (nothing like waiting until the last minute, but i couldn't think of a good idea until this morning.) ella loves her babies, and is about to become a big sister, so this seems like a good gift. (maybe she already has a doll sling? but, who can have too many slings?)

it's not like you really need a pattern for a doll sling, but i have had great luck with the practical, easy-to-follow patterns from jan andrea in the past. sure enough, she steered me right once again.

the fabric is from a duvet cover that was on clearance at target last year (look for a dress for eva in the same fabric coming "soon" -- there are pearl snaps (ala western shirt) along one edge, which i hope to utilize for that project, still thinking it through...) anyway, it's a nice soft fabric, girly-fun but not princessy.

it's a basic ring sling, really, with a box pleat on the shoulder. i added a patch on the tail with ella's name, and i'm proud that my skills at using a basic zigzag stitch to machine embroider (sans computerized machine) are improving. i worry that the sling may be a bit small, but i didn't want the tail to be too long and become a tripping hazard... hopefully it will work. (i'll test it on eva when she wakes up, she's roughly ella's size).

lots of doll slings i've seen don't seem to keep the dolls in very well, and i think that's because the "pouch" part isn't secured, so the kid ends up wearing a tube rather than a pocket. i tried to fix that by folding the fabric in half before affixing the rings, but that inadvertantly made it work for one shoulder rather than both. i guess i'm okay with that, since having the baby stay in is probably more important.

ella's sling

i must credit the jan andrea pattern for the idea of using velcro at the rings. rather than permanently sewing the rings in place, they're secured with velcro. that way, if the child gets the sling caught on something and pulls, the velcro should come undone, thus avoiding a strangulation hazard. i bought velcro that has both hook and loop on each side (cool, huh?), so it should be snag free -- so if you forget to close it before throwing it in the wash, it doesn't attack and destroy your underwear.

i think i completed this in just over an hour (not counting my jaunt to the fabric this morning for macrame rings). pretty quick little project. i'm a fast sewer, in part due to practice, and in part due to the fact that my presser foot was maladjusted for years, so my machine only had "off" or "zippy-fast", so i got good at zooming along. :) i've since had it replaced, so normal speed sewing is now an option.

thanks to winky for being the model. off to get ready so we're not late for the party.

: eva ran away screaming "no!" when i attempted to have her try it on. she seems to have this reaction to everything i sew, which is moderately distressing, i'll admit. wendy liked it, so it just remains to be seen if ella will. if she doesn't, i'd bet she'll warm up to it once she sees her mama carrying the new baby. modeling is a really strong instinct (i say, as eva is across the room next to papa turning a screwdriver at various bolts and things on larry's project.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


sadie, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

sadie is the doll i made for eva, let's say "for christmas" (since she didn't get anything else from us, and i made this between christmas and new years, so it's sort of a yule/solstice time of year thing, i suppose). she's an 18" doll with moveable arms and legs (but no knee/elbow joints). straying from the pattern, i added embroidered ears (my mom said that dolls my grandma made had ears, and i tried to copy the idea as best i could understand it over the phone), and i added the all-important belly button and nipples, which eva spotted immediately. i also changed the hair dramatically from what it said in the pattern, but i'll save that for another time.

i used the eyes suggested in the pattern, but i'm not that happy with them. i made a doll for a friend's girl many years ago, and i made up a method for making multi-hued/flecked irises that i remember liking much more. i'll return to that in the future. these eyes give her a bit of a dopey expression, i think... i did the left one first then took 8 attempts at the right one to make it match exactly in size, angle, position, etc. i don't know why it was that difficult -- or why i was being such a perfectionist making eyes i didn't like in the first place!


the dress is some fun japanese fabric i found, i thought it struck that balance between classic and a bit fun/modern (and of course avoiding anything overtly floral or princessy). i used the dress pattern that came with the doll, but it's a bit too traditional, with the puffy sleeves and all. i'll make something up for the coordinating bit of japanese fabric i bought for a second dress. the thing about doll clothes is that for less effort you could make toddler clothes (easier because the bits aren't so tiny), so we'll just see how many outfits sadie really needs.

that said, the apron is eva's favorite part. after a lucky bit of suggestion from a friend's 3 1/2 year old (they know all the fun tricks!), she's been enjoying having the apron tied on her so she can dance, waving her hands turning in a circle jumping around, saying "dansh, dansh, dansh!". she sometimes insists "mama wear apron. mama dance!", but as it is about 5 inches wide, it takes more of a cod piece or fig leaf appearance on my size frame. to this end, i made her a dancing skirt, which she hates (as of its introduction today, we'll try again later). she runs away screaming "nooooo!" and when i tried tying it on her to show her in the mirror (usually a fun activity), she went into full on back arching rolling on the floor tantrum mode. yikes. so much for the dancing skirt.

i have no idea how much time i spent on this doll. several hours to sew and stuff the body (6ish?), a good 3 on the embroidery, maybe 3 on the clothes, a good hour on the first attemt at hair which i then had to cut off because the yarn frayed dramatically, at least an hour on the ears, 4 or so teaching myself to crochet and making the wig cap, and probably 5 evenings hand tying the hair one piece at a time, so maybe 10-12 hrs. of course, i forget to consider things like washing and pressing the fabric, cutting out the pattern, ... and, i tend to dramatically underestimate my time. so let's say something around 40 hrs in all? that's a total guess, but better than nothing.

so, such is sadie. i'm sure she'll be making return appearances in this blog...

craft blog

Craft blog, craft blog, craft blog... that's been bouncing around in my head for a month. Here it is. I'll start from where I am (current/recent crafts in no linear order), and add in old stuff as I become inspired to do so. This isn't meant to be any serious crafter sort of thing; more it's just to share with friends and family what things I've been working on.

Sewing, quilting, embroidery, crocheting, dollmaking, Ukrainean eggs, cakes (cakes aren't technically crafts, but we'll just get over that), origami, ..... we'll just see where this goes.