August 8, 2017

I made this

Well you might have noticed the site isn't updating anymore. Pregnancy and having a newborn will do that to you. I do hope to start crocheting again once I have two free hands and some free time, but that probably won't be anytime soon. At least I know I'm putting my hobby on the back burner this time for possibly the best reason of all... taking care of Sophie.


A post shared by Angela Skees (@khyarete) on

Anyway, thanks for sticking around.
- Angela

March 6, 2017

Library Logo

I was asked by our school's librarian to help out with some bookmarks and as I haven't had a lot of creative work outside of my normal day to day, and the yearbook, it was fun to put my brain into another gear.

The school mascot is the Viking and all the direction I was given was "a viking reading", and so my first idea was to simply look around some cool stock photo sites and see what they had, which was not a lot... But a few of the vector ideas were cool and got my wheels spinning. I thought it might be nice to show you my thought and work process here.


So here is the original inspiration logo I had seen on iStock. A pegasus in a book... not sure how it got onto my viking search, but something about the pegasus shape reminded me of a boat and the scrolls reminded me of waves...

Before I knew it I had sketched out an idea for a logo for the library. This is not what they asked for, but I figured I could use it on the bookmarks in any case, if I liked it. You can see I was messing with the sail shape in pencil, but the inked over strongly the final shapes I did like. Then I simply snapped a picture with my phone and emailed it to myself.
Photoshop one color selection
Took my sketch into Photoshop and used color select on the blue to make a new, rough, one color image that I could take into Illustrator.

Illustrator expanded trace

In Illustrator used the Image Trace function, set to Black and White logo, to get a vector drawing I could start messing with. Of course it came out really messy, so the first step was to use the Path tool to Simplify the shape and remove a bunch of extra points that I didn't need. Then I went back and took out even more points by hand so I could start getting clean simple curves and shapes.
 
I worked on it in three sections, the book/waves, the boat itself and finally the sail. The shapes around the shields on the side of the boat and the sail both ended up changing from my sketch. And I spent a good amount of time getting the left side of the water/book area right and then simply copied and flipped it to make the book be a perfect symmetrical image.
After tweaking the boat to where I liked it, I took the circle shape from our school logo and changed the bottom text to Library. Then I added my new library stuff to the center.

Finishing touch was to add the school shield to the sail of the boat and tweak the blue color to be more of the correct color for the school (even though we do not have a set Pantone blue which would be a big help...).

Well the librarian loved the logo and we are still working on a few ideas for the bookmarks themselves, but this was a pretty fun little tangent for my brain to take.

Note: The first and third are using stock images from Shutterstock along with my new logo. The middle has a quote from my favorite book on it, get it on Audible if you love yourself.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to complete: 4-6 hours

February 6, 2017

Mr. Fox

Been a while since I've made presents for a new baby. Some friends from college recently announced their first son! We always knew we would call it a Ringlet as a play on their last name. So I was very excited to think about making them something.

Anna, the mom to be, sometimes makes some super cool art and puts it up on her instagram.


So when I saw this Mr. Fox guy, I thought he would make an excellent toy and drew up a sketch. Not too different from the Mr. Skees Bears I made back in 2012.


I think the hardest part was figuring out his football head shape. Fun fact: the technical, geometric term is prolate spheroid, but you can't search that term on Ravelry and get any results. I don't think I got it quite the right shape, but the top does have a nice taper and the overall head was pretty good I thought.
I made this toy with the same Jacques pattern (that I made the Skeesbears and Monkeys from) by Pica Pau, but again with my own head and a few alterations. The head has the same number of stitches in each row, I just moved all the increases out to the sides to get a much more oval shape.

The ears are shortened versions of the ones on Pica Pau's free pig pattern on her blog. The nose is a shorter variation of the one I made for the wolves. I did a little different with the nose this time and just embroidered over the top of my nose which added another dimension to the face which I really like.
ears and nose cone
I thought the head was a bit large compared to how I remember these turing out, but it is hard to tell since I do not have any of the monkeys, wolves or bears I have made at hand here. So I added one row to the shirt and the seat to make it a little longer. I also decided to make his feet in red, instead of black to give it a little more definition between them. I debated trying to make felt eyes like in the painting, but as this is going to a kid I wanted it to be baby friendly and parts that can come off are a no go. So he got 18mm safety eyes.

The arms are the same as the wolves and skeesbears with long sleeves and hands. I made a shorter, narrower version of the wolf tail for the fox. Then made up the tie and vest from the skeesbears. And finally I wanted to add those face whiskers that are in the original inspiration artwork. Those were just three shells on a short foundation row.
Once all the parts were made, it was only about another half an hour of assembly and sewing. I kind of really love the face whiskers and think they really make this guy cute.


Time to complete: 10 hours
Finished size: 11 inches tall
Difficulty: Easy

January 9, 2017

News for 2017

It's now 2017 and I fell off the Earth again.

But this time I had a good reason. Well, as good a reason as any I guess. In October we found out that against all odds, my husband and I are going to have a baby.

I don't want to turn this post into a long diatribe on the failings of private school sex "education". But I also want to share a little bit about why in particular I feel this might just be a miracle.
Don't want the blah blah blah? Skip to the end past the ----

----
I have PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. If you have heard these letters in this order, you know already what I am going to say, but as a topic no one really talks about I'm betting you have no idea, so I want to educate you. This hormone imbalance is something that if you know you have, you can take steps to manage, but that's about it. In women, it causes extra hair growth on your face, skin tags, a tendency to be overweight, and to have irregular cycles, to the point where skipping three months is common. But as a teen and in college I did not know that this was even a possibility, so rather than freak out all the time, I started taking the pill. I was on it for seven years.

Two years into our marriage, I stopped taking it after we decided we wanted to try to have kids. I've never been good with kids or babies, never baby sat, or wanted to coo around newborns... And I cried after the first time we were intimate knowing from years of schooling that unprotected sex = pregnant = life over. Looking back I guess scaring kids into not having sex seems the best route to prevent teen moms, but as an adult, that conditioned fear did not go away.

After a year of trying they said I had unexplained fertility issues and we started blood tests every month and rounds and rounds of medications, which often did nothing more than make me sick. It was at this time that they finally said, oh, must be PCOS, and the blood tests confirmed it. Four years later, we were still trying and I was getting frustrated and hopeless. The pill had been regulating my cycle so without it I went back to skipping months at a time, and each time we hoped it meant I was pregnant only to get our hopes dashed. To say it was hard is an understatement, but I started talking to other women in my life, only to hear the same story of how hard it can be for many couples. Thank goodness for good friends.

I guess I just wanted to share so that you can maybe understand both why I am both more terrified and excited than most. Please have compassion when you are talking to married couples without kids. I had so many people ask and assume, and society makes it seem so natural and easy. But for some of us it is genuinely a miracle to look down and a see a little red plus sign.
----

So, where does that leave this blog? Well I do have a few finished crochet projects to show off and I will schedule those posts to go in the future. And now that I'm safely out of the constant nausea period, hopefully I can finish those other projects I've got started. I want to continue making things, but forgive me if I am a bit more focused, at least for the near future, on making something a bit harder than crochet...a person.

Thanks for the support. Let's all work to make this new year less awful than the last through compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and perhaps most importantly, patience.
- Angela

October 31, 2016

Pumpkin Anthos

Ok I thought I was done making clothes for Anthos for a while, but turns out I had one more item to make; a halloween costume. Yeah I know, sewing a costume like this might have been a lot easier, just not for me.

First I had to come up with an idea. A ghost would have been easy but maybe I'll leave that for the future. Instead I thought it would be really cute to use his leaf as part of the costume and I decided to make him a pumpkin. But it's the wrong kind of leaf, I hear you say. Look I know, but it will be cute.

Besides, I wanted to try out onion peel yarn dying, which supposedly gives you a lovely pumpkin shade. Collecting peels makes you feel and look like a crazy person at the store. I usually just went to the brown and yellow onions and lifted them all out and stuffed a produce bag full of the papery skins that were there. After two trips I had plenty. I felt like I was stealing, so I did always put the bag of peels on the conveyor belt with my other items. Each time I would tell the cashier, no, I want that bag of garbage, please don't toss it, it's to dye yarn.

Getting the color out is easy, just simmer the skins in some water on the stove for about 30 minutes. Then remove the peels and add in your presoaked yarn. This time I wound my yarn into a large loop and tied it in two places. This loose wind and the presoak helped with even coloring immensely. I let the yarn simmer in the water for maybe 15 minutes and then took it out and let it dry.

Not quite the shockingly orange that most pumpkins are, but nonetheless still a very pleasant shade and what I would call pumpkin. Also it looked lovely with Anthos' skin and leaf tones.

Next I set about making the pumpkin suit. I figured I would be easiest to make an inside and an outside and then add stuffing between and use a little embroidery to get the segmented outside. So I just made two rectangles, one a little longer and taller than the other. Both had arm holes because I wanted Anthos' arms to stick out as I figured it would be funny.

I wasn't sure I had enough orange dyed yarn to make both the inside and outside however, so I made the both pieces from undyed yarn. Which was good since I used this first little skein to add the pumpkin embroidery at the end. Thinking back it might just be easier in all cases to make the outfit and then dye it, rather than guess at an amount of yarn and hope I have enough.

Once I had the two pieces made, I needed to dye them again. So I got a few more peels but I think I left it in too long, hard to tell wet... I let them dry, which helped the curling they had been doing, and then sewed around the armholes together so it would be lined up right. Then I sewed along the top and bottom.

Next I added some stuffing, less than I thought since I didn't want it to be too small to actually fit on him. I seamed the back and had a donut sort of shape that could slip over Anthos' head and into place. Finally, I used my first little skein of orange yarn to wind around the donut and segment it into more of pumpkin shape.

His arms sticking out really made it cute. So fat.

Something seemed missing though. So while wandering around a craft store I found a hank of green embroidery thread in the clearance bin for .58 cents and took it home and made him a pumpkin plant shaped leaf with a few curly tendrils to wear on his head. The leaf is from Amy's Crochet Patterns and I just tweaked the stem row to add a few long shoots of sc and slip stitches to get the long curly tendrils.

Of course we had to go take a picture with other mini pumpkins...

Happy Halloween!

Time to complete: body: 8 hours for crochet, dye, sewing and details
leaf: 30 min
Difficulty: Easy

October 24, 2016

Anthos' Striped Sweater

Of the three colors I dyed with Kool-aid, I still had the two reds made from Black Cherry and the mix with the leftover Blue Lemonade water. I really kind of liked the way they looked together on their skeins, so I thought a striped sweater might look really cool. Anthos' first sweater is a very simple and classic look, and I wanted to make a longer one anyway.
To get inspiration I googled striped sweater and saw the one above in black and white which would work nicely I thought for my two reds. Unlike the first sweater which was worked as a long rectangle and seamed, this one I would need to work in the round to get the horizontal striping right.

First I used the dark solid black cherry red to make a long strip (3dcs) for the bottom of the sweater, then seamed it up one side and started working along the long side in the round joining my rows at the end so that the stripes would also line up right.

I worked two alternating rows of each color in hdcs around for several stripes, each time putting it on him to where I liked the length of the bottom of the sweater to fall. Then I had the challenge of making arm holes while still working in the round and keeping the stripes in line. I decided to do this with a 10 chain space and skipping 3 stitches, then working the next rows onto the chain while slip stitching along the top to make sure the rows still lined up around the arm holes. I could have stopped and turned and worked the back and then gone back in and worked the center, but I knew that would mess with the color gradient that was happening on each of these skeins too.

After the arm holes were done, I was able to back to making complete round rows which worked out great. I did one more stripe and then did the rest of the top in the light red only, just like the inspiration sweater. Finally I went back to the arm holes and made super sort sleeves in the dark red to match the bottom trim.

You can sort of tell the rows apart but I guess the colors, though they looked really different wound, were actually almost too close to tell apart when worked. In any case I still can see the difference from the bottom to the top, so I still like the way it turned out.

I also super love the length on Anthos compared to the first one. And of course I still have plenty of both colors, so I might try to make a red-riding-hood-esque cape next time.
Not quite fall here yet... those leaves are dead from drought.
Time to complete: 8 hours
Difficulty: Easy+

October 17, 2016

Anthos' Shawl and Hood

Now that I have tiny colored skeins of yarn, I figured it would be fun to make a few more items for Anthos to wear. First up was that lovely blue.

As we noticed, it had sort of a nice gradient when I wound it on the bottle so I knew I wanted to make something that worked from top down so that the finished piece would also look nice. Lately I've been sort of obsessed with the knit and crochet clothing items made for Ears and Dears' dolls, especially the shell shawl, so I figured I would try my hand at making one.

Looking around Ravelry, I decided to go with the fantastically named Knock Knock Knock Penny shawl by Anke Spilker. Of course it would need a few modifications, but I really loved the look of it, so I set to work. Since this was going to be such a small shawl, I firstly halved the starting chain from 100 to 50. I know after my first sweater, that 50 is a good number for Anthos' circumference measurement. Im using the same 1.3mm hook as before and jumped straight in following rows 1-3 as written.
I'm going to go blind as well as get arthritis
After that I decided to make it more of a cape though by turning at the end of each row. Halving the pattern and adding the turn meant that my ends didnt always finish up right so I sort of made it up and tried to add a sc at the start and end of each row to give it a straight opening. I also made up a sort of cheat sheet chart for rows 5-10 so that I could get my mind around how it was written.
a rough chart
I worked the pattern though row 10 and stopped there as it was already plenty long enough for such a tiny body. I simply bound off and hid the ends and voila! A beautiful tiny shawl with the gradient intact.

ready for tea and garden parties
Time to complete: 6 hours
Difficulty: Easy

As I still had at least half of the blue dyed yarn left I wanted to make something else. For some reason I kept thinking a silly pixie hat with point would look really cute on Anthos, so I went back to Ravelry and picked the Pixie Bonnet by Shara Lambeth. This hat is so simple and easy to make, that I kind of want to make myself one now.
the flat piece gets seamed up the back, then you make the ties
Anyway, I followed the pattern exactly as written, just with my tiny hook and thread. I do think it came out a bit big, and I really want to make another that is much longer so it is more like a long hooded cape (maybe in the red) but for now it came out super cute. I did shorten the round ties but kept them long enough to be tied under the chin.

Time to complete: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy

This area of the dye job doesn't really have the nice gradient as the first half and so somehow these two pieces don't really match each other in my opinion, but it is adorable to see all these little pieces become a wardrobe for Anthos.

It's a good thing I don't own other dolls or I would be making clothes left and right.
Next week's post is on what I did with the two other colors from my dye lots.