December 6, 2013

Gunter the Penguin Crochet

It has come to my attention that some of my traffic here is from students. Welcome!
Apparently there is also the notion that I have a store... I do not. Sorry :(
However, I am always open to the idea of commissions as I generally have a plethora of yarn and time. As always, these patterns are written for fun not profit so be kind and give credit if you use or link to me. And please do not sell your creations from these patterns, gifts are cool though.

I was approached at a football game and asked if I knew of Adventure Time (HECK YES I LOVE TO WATCH A.T.) and if I would make a Gunter. Seemed easy enough, I recalled seeing a pattern somewhere so I said sure.

The most evil of Penguins.
After looking around I realized the penguin pattern I remembered seeing was for the Madagascar penguins and was totally different. So I made this one up. Here goes.

Gunter the Penguin from Adventure Time
Supplies needed: Black, White and Yellow yarn, Stuffing, Embroidery Needle, hook size H8 5.0

Main Body, in black1. MC, sc 6
2. (sc 2 in one) 6 times (12)
3. (sc 1, sc 2 in one) 6 times (18)
4. (sc 2, sc 2 in one) 6 times (24)
5. (sc 3, sc 2 in one) 6 times (30)
6. (sc 4, sc 2 in one) 6 times (36)
7. (sc 5, sc 2 in one) 6 times (42)
8-27. (20 rows), sc all around
Bind off

White face/ belly1. chain 15, plus 1 to turn
2-21. (20 rows) sc 15 across, chain 1 and turn
21. Sc, hdc, dc, dc, 2dc, tc, 2tc, tc, 2tc, tc, 2dc, dc, dc, hdc, sc (makes an arched top)
At the end of row 21 chain one and do a sc down around the outside and back up to arched row to give it a finished look to the edges. Bind off. 
(Note, I didnt think this was rounded enough so when I eventually sewed it to the body I tucked the corners under and sewed it down. Cheating, but I was too tired to rip it all out again and make a perfect pattern.)

You could use black and white felt, and sew it down to front of white face body piece, but I have trouble with real needles and thread. So I did the following:
Make 2 large eyes in black.  MC 6, then 2sc in each (12), Bind off, leaving tails to sew down with.
Then make 2 smaller eyes in white. MC 5sc, bind off and sew onto the black eyes where desired.Then sew the eyes to the white belly near the top arch leaving room for the beak between.

Beak, in yellow1. Chain 6, slip stitch into first to form a ring, make sure you have a tail for sewing on later.
2-3. sc 6 around
4. sc 2 together to decrease, sc in 4 (5)
5. sc 2 together, sc in 3 (4)
6. sc 2 together, sc in 2 (3)
7. sc 3 together, bind off and hide end from tip of beak inside.
Sew to white face/belly between eyes.

Wings, in black, make 2
Chain 11
1. turn and sc in second from hook and next 9, chain 1 and turn, 
2. skip first sc, sc, sc, hdc, hdc, 2 dc in one, hdc, hdc, sc, slip stitch in last, chain 1 and turn 
3. sc back down original chain 10, bind off leaving tail to sew to body. 

Feet, in yellow, make 2
1. MC, sc 6
2. sc 3, (sc, dc, dc, sc in one) (slip stich into next stitch, chain 1, dc, dc, sc) (slip stitch into next, chain 1, dc, dc, sc) sc in next to to get to back of foot.
Bind off, leaving tail for sewing to body.

Note: Make all parts first! Once all parts made sew eyes and beak the the white belly, then sew the belly to the main body shell. Then sew wings to body at edges of white just below and to the sides of the eyes. For sitting Gunter, sew feet to front bottom of white body, for standing wait till after stuffing and sew them to the bottom. Stuff Gunter's body with poly fill. You can add a small sachet of bead weighting to the bottom if you want, before closing it off.

To Close Main Body
1. fpsc around on last row of single crochet. should have 42 stitches
2. (sc5, sc2tog) 6 times (36)
3. (sc4, sc2tog) 6 times (30)
4. (sc3, sc2tog) 6 times (24), be sure to add more stuffing at this point to make sure its nice and full.
5. (sc2tog) 6 times (12)
6. (sc2tog) 6 times (6)
Bind off
Sew feet on bottom with toes sticking out if wanted Gunter standing.

I kind of feel like he should have been taller but I was working inside the parameters of wanting to do this project with leftover yarn scraps of these colors. And I had just enough black to get it this size. He is about 7 inches tall. Took about 10 hours. 

December 4, 2013

2013-2014 Show Choir Logo

So as you might remember, last year I worked up a quick logo for the Nolan Catholic HS Show Choir. Well once again I was asked to do this years. I was given a sketch to go from and the information that they would like to have all 20 kids names included.

With my old file at hand and the sketch done by one of the students in hand I set out to try to replicated it in a way that would look nice.

The front was simple enough. The shirts would have an updated Show Choir logo as well as the dates, in a normal placement on the breast. Clean and simple.

The back however was a different matter. Since it would have the names of the students it needed to be larger and incorporate the sketch that I was given.
Sketch by Student Mandi O'Neal
Step one was to take the sketch and try to recreate it in Illustrator so it could be clean and I could easily change up the colors to see what looked best. It also needed to be scaled to the larger size that the back design needed to be legible. I sent in this to make sure that even though I changed it up a bit they still liked it and felt it was close to the original intent. At this point the shirt color had not been decided as it was up to a vote.

The original thought for the student's names was to have them in the cloud of sound coming out of the phonograph, but with the text of the Show Choir logo overtop the text of the names it might have been a bit too busy. I presented a different option of using a record sleeve. At this point they had voted on a navy colored shirt and we threw out the idea of using white and gold printing.

I tried to make the design tight and self contained so that it would look nice centered on the back of a shirt. I also played with the colors of the lines and the fills. I also soon realized that black on navy is almost illegible. Those black outlines were not really cutting it. You can also see that in one, I removed the ornamental flowers since they seemed to get lost and distract the eye. I also added in a record sleeve as my idea for how to incorporate the names of the students. There was a few rounds of going back and forth on just printing in gold and white and no black, but none were really as sharp as it needed to be.

I then got the suggestion to make the navy shirt be the outlines and text, and just have the areas around filled with the gold and white printing. It took a little work, but once I started working it was clear that it was much better. I also realized that with the record sleeve in perspective that I would have to make some names smaller than others, and I did not want that to be the case, so I changed it as well.

I sent it in and we all agreed that it was done.
Final Back Design
Cant wait to see what it looks like in real life!

October 23, 2013

FrankenGirl Doodle

So my Plan A costume for this year needs more time. A lot more time. It's one of those that needs to be done right or not at all.

Plan B costume came together this past weekend after a quick trip to a few halloween stores and rummaging through my existing wardrobe. Inspired and excited I drew up a sketch. And then colored it. And then used it for my icons on Tumblr and Twitter.

The photo of the page in my sketchbook.
Cropped and filtered in Diptic. Lazy, I know.
Anyway, I haven't drawn in months and it shows. I haven't crocheted in months either. This is due mainly to the fact that I have started taking a class at a local community college to learn to play the piano. It sucks up my free time.  

September 11, 2013

ACNL Doodle

I am sure this joke has been made a thousand times, but since today I actually did get a pyramid out of a tree in my town I wanted to draw it. So sue me. (Please don't.)

Probably should have done the first one, scanned it and used it for the background for the second, but oh well. 

4F pencil, sharpie pen, colored pencils, 30 minutes.

September 6, 2013

Logo Opinions

Logos are important. They need to say a lot visually without saying much more than the name.
That is why a good logo is priceless and why people who design them can charge quite a tidy sum if they are any good.

I'm personally not all that good at them yet, but I can tell a good one from a boring one.
Yahoo's new logo is boring.

I do love this article page where they show all kinds of ideas and rehashing of the logo idea. But the new font, from the thin straight lines and the identical nature of the two o's read "bank" or something else equally obsessed with order. Now the fact that the o's are two different sizes seems conflicting with the formality of the font itself. Sure the little tiny scoops at the top of each stroke of the letters is interesting, but it is rapidly lost as the logo is made smaller, to the point where I did not even see them on first glance at the new logo on their search page.

Obviously a lot of thought has go into their logo blueprint. The angle at which the ! is tilted, the exact size difference between the o's, etc. However whereas before I read Yahoo with that same sing song kind of phrase that they used in commercials... YaaahhoooOO000ooo! to now reading it like ya-hoo. Or to use it in a sentence: "That kid in the hoodie over there looks like a real yahoo."

I guess it is not as bad as it could be. Some of them also struck me as for different products. For example Day 2 looks like Yahoo is a feminine product or a yogurt or brand of yoga pants. Day 6 could be a toy manufacturer or something. Day 11 reads "dairy" to me.

My favorites from their list are Day 25 with the hidden smile, Day 23 where it looks like a bit of a funnel like its coming to a point, which is the goal of a search engine... to find the one thing you want, and Day 5, which just feels friendly and relaxed to me without the capitol letters.

Of course everything is subjective and as long as you have pleased the client and gotten paid, at the end of the day, the graphic designer's job is done.

Which one was your favorite?

July 26, 2013

Vintage Animal Crossing

So, you might have noticed I have been playing a lot of Animal Crossing. Well I guess it is at least good for inspiration. Still working on my Blather's crochet, but it coming along slowly since I keep ripping it apart and starting over trying to get the body shape right.

I have created characters for my husband and me (see the last post): Cerulean and Grump. Well I for some reason wanted to draw them together in a formal portrait... Not sure where that urge came from, but like a family thing. So then I started thinking about poses... Both standing? One sitting? So then I thought about famous art... naturally... and thought about the painting American Gothic. I might have to revisit that idea and do another painting, seems fitting for Animal Crossing. Anyway I then thought about old daguerreotypes, because my dad used to collect them. So I found this one in particular which I liked so I based the pose off it.

Decided to watercolor it since I could use the black and white to get the grays and it might be a challenge to work in black and white. It was. Started off with a light gray wash to get the camera lighting kind of idea then started with the blackest parts. Mistake there. It was ok for Cerulean's feather markings, but not for Grump's jacket since then I immediately lost the ability to put in any details since I could not go any darker. I tried to pull some of the black back up with a wet brush and it helped a little. Then I could put down white for the buttons on top and it looked ok. But I lost the pocket so I cheated at the end an used a bit of black ink to crisp up some of the details that I could not paint in.

Overall it took me about an hour to do this. I can't help but think there is a fun idea here. Animal Crossing takes place in real time, so their world could have existed in different time periods... I mean imagine Animal Crossing in the Renaissance! Anyway, it could be fun to do more portraits.

July 24, 2013

AC Tumblr

Just a quick note here. Been playing too much animal crossing I think (especially considering the contents of this upcoming Friday's post). Anyway. I made a tumblr blog to put up all my pictures from in game. They will be of anything that I find interesting that happens, QR codes for new outfits I work on, etc. I will most likely post any fan art I do here as well as over there, but this blog is not the place for in game snaps.

Blog address is if you want to visit or follow.

Speaking of fanart for the game, I drew my husband and me as animal residents. I am a blue jay, simply because I wanted to be blue like my hair and couldn't seem to pick an animal. Plus it helps that I have always wanted to be able to fly. For my husband, I had already made his likeness as a bear so it was only natural.
Cerulean and Grump

Also made this custom background for my tumblr page. It's vertically repeating.
Ask if you want to use it. :)
Happy Crossing!

June 21, 2013

AC:NL Fashion Designs

I've haven't been very creative lately. At least not in anything outside of work. I have also been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf pretty much every time I sit down. AC is plenty inspiring, heck you saw my new icon design from the previous post, didn't you?

UPDATE: Visit Starlite with dream code 4100-2197-2605 :)

I do have a few things to share though, hence this post:

1. I have decided to work on a crochet pattern for Blathers.
If you don't know, he runs the Museum in AC. I have always loved his design. This pattern is going to be a tough one. Since I plan on writing it all out as I go along, I don't expect to have it out anytime soon. Plus I have already spent a few hours of head time trying to figure out the best way to go about making him look as close on model as possible. The body shapes are easy enough, but the argyle sweater pattern of his chest and some of the more specific details will be a challenge. He is going to be a lot of pieces and embroidery. 

2. Here are the QR codes for the two cosplay outfits I have made for my AC character.
Nausicca Dress Animal Crossing QR code
The first here is for the dress from the very end of Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind. I have noticed that a lot of the cosplay outfits that I see combine her first dress tunic with the gun shell holders with this dress from the end. Not right. They are two separate outfits, in fact this dress, when she gets it from the refugee women when she is captured and escapes, is originally pink and only changes to blue after it is soaked in the blood of the Ohmu.

Katara A:TLA Animal Crossing QR code
This second dress is Katara's Watertribe and bending outfit. It is when she starts wearing the skins of water on her back when they are in the Earth Kingdom and after.

Feel free to scan and wear them out and about, just share where you got them please if anyone asks. Thanks :)

May 10, 2013

Angela's New Leaf

While I am enjoying (to my surprise) Fire Emblem: Awakening for my 3DS, it is really a hold over until next month when I can finally enjoy Animal Crossing: New Leaf.*

Anyway, I have sunk countless hours into the game cube version. I specifically asked my husband to set the cube up for me as one of the main consoles to the projector, specifically so I can play the original AC. How many more hours have gone into AC:Wild World... I have no idea.

New leaf has been on my radar for more than a year now... I had it pre-ordered when its release date was October 2012, then January 2013. So needless to say, I am excited. I just hope they have added a lawn mower, although some part of me enjoys picking weeds after a hiatus from the game.

Been wanting to make a new icon for Twitter and other online personalities... So this is a good opportunity. And I should mention that I was inspired by this tumblr post by Steps Over Snails, whose illustrations I adore.

This was sketched on paper with a 6H pencil, then inked with 03 and 01 pens. Thn scanned and pulled into adobe Illustrator to get clean vectors. Then colored in photoshop.

*Just as an aside I am super annoyed that they have made a limited edition 3DS with animal crossing theme on the outside and that I did not know about it before when I bought my boring blue one a few months ago. Wish they had mentioned that when I reserved my copy last freaking year... Ok, rant over. :(

May 6, 2013


A big congrats to Ramen Party for making their Indiegogo goal! Thanks to you too if you helped that happen! I know I am happy to have had a small part as a contributor. Tomorokoshi and I are really happy!! So here is the "pattern" to make your own Tomorokoshi (corn)!

Yellow yarn
Black Yarn
12mm black safety eyes
crochet hook (4.25 mm)
embroidery needle
scrap felt in black and white

Here is why I used pattern in quotes. This was so fast and organic that I did not write out what I did as I went along.

I think I chained 25, turned and sc in one loop only all the way back to the start. Then I did two sc in the end stitch to make a turn around the end of original chain to then chain 24 back down the other side of the loops. You can then continue around doing a sc in each straight sc and two sc in the corners. That should make a long oval shape. Once it is big enough that you like it, mine being about 3 inches long by about 1 inch wide, then you can just do sc around until the body from that top oval till the piece is about an inch long. Then I started decreasing to get the corn tapered shape. I did one decrease in the center of the long sides and continue around for a few more rows like normal. Then did a row with two decreases on the long sides and then continued around for another row or so. Then I did one more decrease on each long side and crocheted around once more even single crochet. This gave me the kind of corn kernel shape I wanted. I bound off leaving a long tail to sew up the bottom in the future. If it looks too short to you, keep going with decreasing and regular rows.

Face Details:
I used 12 mm black safety eyes and placed them low on the body like in the picture. Then used a little black thread to make the black line under the eyes and the eyebrows. This is why we did not stuff and sew up the body. That would make putting eyes on impossible, and the embroidery harder to do.

The mouth I made from felt pieces I had lying around. I drew the mouth shape on some paper and used it as a template for the black felt. Instead of cutting teeth out of the black shape I used white and cut teeth to glue on top of the black mouth shape. I also used white but colored it with a yellow marker to make the tongue. I glued it all down to the body, but next time I might sew it on.

A note on the limbs, be sure to leave long starting and ending tails to yarn for tying into body.

chain 9, turn slip stitch 8 back
I tried to make fingers, but this piece over all was too small. I tried to
A) in end stitch do a tassel of two piece of black yarn, fold to make loop insert loop through end stitch, pull ends through and secure. these 4 dangles are now fingers - did not work as planned.
B) when tassels did not work, I tried just tying two long threads and then trimming the end to look like finger lengths.. looked awful, so no fingers.
Then sew the arms to the sides of the body, lower than the eyes and mouth.

Now you can stuff and sew up the bottom of the Tomorokoshi.


chain 11 (8 leg, 2 foot plus 2 for turn)
turn, sc in next 2 chain from hook, slip stitch 8 back. bind off.
Sew them onto the bottom of the body where you sewed it closed and hide the ends inside.

DONE. My final size is about 3 inches by 3.5 inches.
Time to completion: 1 hour.

May 1, 2013

Totoro Tattoo Concepts

I am such a chicken. I don't even have my ears pierced, and yet I have wanted a totoro tattoo for as long as I can remember knowing about them.

Getting a tattoo is kind of a taboo thing for my family. Pretty sure I would get a lot of misery for it, especially since what I want is so "childish". I can just hear the Really?! How old are you? from certain family members...

But, I have a lot of friends with them, and my husband even has one. I have heard a lot of advice too, most of it kind of contradictory. The one piece of advice that I seems to have stuck in my head is that you shouldn't get one unless you have wanted it for at least a year. I guess that is to ensure that your tastes have not changed drastically. (Saw a guy with a Mitt Romney logo tattooed on his head on a TV show the other night.) I guess it might also prevent things like getting a tattoo of someone's name who you are dating, but might not eventually be. I don't have that specific problem... I have wanted it for at least a year now. Easily.

Personally I feel like it would sum up a lot about me. I like art, folklore and myths, make believe, childish things, cartoons, anime, Japan, drawing, coloring, good design, logos, etc. Plus, I can't look at one without smiling... and a reminder to smile constantly being on me might be a good thing, since I don't very often.

There are a lot of decisions to make though. Black and white? That might hurt less since it would be in theory faster. Might also stand out less, draw less attention, plus then it looks like a drawing. Color? If I ever got this done, might as well go whole hog and get the coolest thing. I love the color blue and the totoro I am leaning towards, the Chu Totoro, is blue. Wouldn't he be cute peeking up over the side of my ballet flats? Smiling? Contemplative? Leaf or no? Where to put it? Has to be somewhere I can see it or that defeats the seeing to smile purpose, and if I am going to go through it I want to look at it without a mirror.

Plus I have seen some bad tattoos... I would also need to find an artist with excellent line work, and preferably someone who also loves Ghibli so I know they would try hard to do it right.

Permanence is scary. Maybe I will try sharpie for now.

UPDATE: No I still have not gotten it yet... but I think I've gotten to what I really want for now, by simply changing a small detail. The kind of leaf. Now it is a Gingko leaf. Like my pup. I think it is too big now though so maybe I will have the leaf bend down behind totoro, give it some depth...

April 25, 2013

Mr Ramen

So my brother sent me a video called Ramen Party. There is an Indiegogo for using these characters to teach children about different types of food and cultures. It is pretty darn cute. After watching it and working on the Putti Cat for so long, I wanted to make something fun and less of a challenge.

Ramen Party!
Mr. Ramen is just the kind of strange and cute thing that should be made into a plushy. So I started thinking about how I would go about making one. First thing I needed would be a good yarn. I thought about using a solid yellow, however I thought he might look like a certain other yellow square character. So I found a Lily Sugar n' Cream yarn in a color called Daisy Ombre. The yellow fading to white color combo was perfect.

Next I needed to find a good stitch to use. Since he is a rectangle shape, I would not be using amigurumi for this one. I wanted something textured and that would replicate the woven up and down sort of pattern on his ramen noodle body. My first thought was a wavy crochet stitch, but that came out flat, and since the color is all the same white and yellow, it was hard to see the wavy lines.
I also tried a crunch stitch, thinking the random look might get me what I was looking for. I didn't really like that either, and it had a lot more holes than the image showed.

Looking through my mother in laws books I found what was called a Rocky Road stitch. It had the random look I wanted, but I wasn't sure it was the one. Glad I tested a swatch because it ended up being what I went with.

The Rocky Road Stitch
Chain a multiple of 4 plus 3 (for turning). I chose 24 chain, plus 3 for turning (27).
--> That legnth was about how wide I wanted the body to be. And that gave me 6 sort of wavy humps per row.

Foundation Row: 1 sc in second chain from hook, *[1 sc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next chain, skip next 2 chain, sc in next chain, repeat from * across within  last chain 1 sc.
--> This puts 2 sc on the end of every row. Be sure to chain 1 for turning.

Row 1: Chain 1 (for turning), 1 sc in first sc, *[1 sc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next sc. Skip the 2 dc and chain 2 from last row and do one sc into the sc that starts that cluster. Repeat from * across the row.
--> This was confusing to me at the beginning. I watched this video which helped. Basically your cluster is going behind or in front of the cluster hump shape of the previous row. This gives it a kind of layered point look. The wavy up and down look was perfect for me, plus the variegated yarn kind of came out random looking which was important to me, since the other stitch swatches I had made had the white of the yarn line up into rows.

To I ended up doing about 18 rows of this. To end, I just bound off at the end of the last row. I did not try to make it be a straight bottom since I liked the pointy wavy look and I thought it was more true to the character. I made two square pieces like this. Be sure to realize that there is a front and a back to this stitch, meaning it is not reversible. When working the rows I was sure to keep the points all on the same side which would be the outside of Mr. Ramen. (Kind of like if you were doing a popcorn stitch.)

Next I had to figure out how to make his body edges. Since the animation is flat, but we know what ramen looks like, I figured I wanted an inch or so thickness. For the edges then I would make one long piece that I would use to attach the front and back of the body to.

Body Sides
Chain 4 plus 1 to turn.
Rows 1-3 : 1sc in second chain from hook, 1 sc in each across, turn. (4 sc)
*Row 4: 1 sc in each of the 4 stitches in the BACK LOOPS ONLY.
Rows 5-6: 1 sc in each of the 4 stitches, chain 1 turn. *
* Repeat until you have 6 V shapes to go along the bottom. (about 36 rows)
Once you do, you can ignore the back loop only instruction for the le
--> Doing the third row of stitches in the back loops makes what would other wide a long flat rectangle into a long wavy rectangle. These back loop rows make V's that should be about the same size as the V's made from the last row of the Rocky Road body stitch. That means that sewing the bottom of the body up should be easier to do. Since the left, right and top sides of the body are straight the wavyness isn't needed. Hence why after the 36 rows or so for the bottom of the body you can stop the back loop variation, for the sides and top.
What a cutie.
Face Embellishments
Once you have the three pieces done for the body, front square, back square and long side piece, you can take the time to create. Mr. Ramens chibi features. Pick one of the squares to be front. Be sure you know the front from the back and put the features on the right side! I used 15mm black safety eyes. I folded the square to make sure they were about the same apart and at the same height. Just go with what looks right to you. Once the eyes were in place I used black yarn to embroider some simple eyebrows. The mouth goes between and below. I also took two 4 inch strands of yarn and folded them in half. These were threaded horizontally through at stitch below the top edge and pulled through a loop like a tassle to secure them. I then took the yarn that stuck out and untwisted them all and then twisted it back together as one piece. I curled it a little with my fingers to give him his little but of hair. I used a dry paintbrush and a little bit of light pink fabric paint to give him the little cheek blushes. At this point he should be smiling up at you.
Face done :)
For the noodly sort of arms he has, I used a weird idea to get those done quick. Make 2.
Since the body came out larger than I had realized it would I made these arms and legs using a kind of hybrid amigurumi. I worked in a circle, but also branched out for the arm and fingers. Use a place marker at the beginning of your rounds. To get a left and a right one, just make sure you turn them the right way when you sew them on.

Magic Circle 7 sc (one space for each finger, one for a space between thumb and fingers and one for the arm)
sc in first, chain 16, turn, sc 15 back, sl st in same first st (to make arm)
sc in next stitch, chain 3, turn, sl st in next two sts, sl st into next stitch (to make thumb)
in four remaining stitches, chain 4, turn and sl st in next 3 stitches, securing with sl st in next stitch
bind off. (to make 4 fingers)
To attach to body, I then needed to attach some more yarn to the end of the arm.
Completed hand and arm.
The legs are the same sort of noodly appendage, but much shorter. He also has white shoes. The shoes created a bit of a dilemma since I wanted to do the white and black, so these are in a more traditional amigurumi style of working in rounds.

Magic Circle 6 sc
2 sc in each, 12
2 rows of one sc in each, 12
Bind off.
Use tail from start or end to sew up 6 of the stitches to close most of the circle off at the top. Stuff with a little bit of polyfil. Then attach white to any of the 6 remaining open stitches and use those 6 as a new circle. Do 2 rows of 6 sc to get the shoe to come up to his "ankle".
Switch to black yarn, and attach.
One sc in each back loop only around. (makes the color change have a hard edge)
Do 12 more rows of black, one sc in each around.
Bind off and leave a tail for sewing to body.
Foot part on the left, Complete shoe on the right.
Now that the face is done and the arms and legs are ready to go you can put him together. I recommend using a single crochet to attache the face to the side of the body along the long edge first. Then attach the backside to the other long edge of the side piece. Be sure to stop before you come to the end so that you can stuff his body. Or use a small piece of craft foam if you really want him to stay rectangular, be sure if you do that, to add the foam once you have three sides done to make it easy on yourself. The arms and the legs should just get sewn on to the sides in their appropriate locations. Use the long tails, insert it into the body, pull it out again, thread it through the last stitch closest to the body on the appendage and tie it down. Hide the tail once it is secure inside the body.
Mr. Ramen!
Done! This little guy took me about 8 hours since I did a lot of trial an error stitch swatches. I also spent a lot of time making the face look right.

Just as an fyi: I always feel it is important to ask before you post, especially if what you are creating is inspired by something that someone else created. I did just that before this post went up and got a very positive response:
"WOW this is amazing!  For sure feel free to share it and thank you for letting us know in advance -- please please do post it on our FB page!  We are so honored that you've created a Mr. Ramen of your own :)"  - Lillian and the Ramen Party team

Personally I would have loved to have learned about the many different tasty dishes that come from other cultures. I am Italian and was raised on pasta, but I never had different kinds of noodles till I got to college! I would have loved to learn about foods like Ramen, Pho', Pad See Ew, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Bahn Mi before my 20s...

April 22, 2013

Putti Cat

The last month has been really busy between going on a school spring break ecology trip to Big Bend National Park, the Easter Break and prepping for the end of the school year, weddings to attend, prom to chaperone, etc...With events every few days, art takes a back seat.

A good friend of mine from college at UD, Carol, (who's blog is linked on my side bar) asked if I would try to make her cat, Putti, for her. Trying to match someone's beloved pet is daunting, since they know them like you never will, but I was willing to give it a go.
As you can see, Putti is a fluffy cat. This makes the medium of crochet a bit ill suited, as I feel needle felting might be more realistic, but as I can't needle felt and custom pet portraits are expensive, I tried to find a happy medium. Regular amigurumi uses worsted weight yarn, but to emulate the fuzzyness of Putti, I wanted to use a furry yarn to match. Anyone who crochets or knits knows that the yarn called "fun fur" is anything but fun or easy to work with. I also generally feel like it produces something that looks a mess rather than like it has fur.

Hunting through Etsy, I came across a pattern by a lady named Barbara for a Baby Kitten. It had the right amount of softness I felt, to get the soft fuzzy look without resorting to fun fur. Plus it was close in the placement of color to Putti herself.

Notes about the yarn:
To complete the pattern I bought one white and two black skeins of Joann Fabrics brand Sensations Beautiful yarn. The Sensations Beautiful yarn is really soft and fluffy which makes it almost impossible to see your stitches. The magic circle starting is impossible because of nearly instantaneous felting of the fur. I was going to give it up and go back to regular yarn, but I found a few tips to try. These tips allowed me to get more than several rounds done successfully. First, I used a chain start instead of the magic circle start. I also stitched a little looser than I normally would.
Yarn and thread.
Carrying the fluffy yarn and the thread allowed for a little bit of the stitch to be seen. (Near my thumb.)
What helped the most, was for me to use a second strand of white or black crochet thread and to carry it along with the fur. This made the stitches a lot more visible since the black and white thread was shiny and created a little more definition. I was also sure to also have a lamp over my work so I could really see what I was doing. I had to go slow, with no music or distractions, and counted out each round as I went. I also used the back loops only throughout the pattern so that I could actually get into a stitch and it also allowed me to get a read on how many rounds I had completed.

I also ordered a pair of 12mm gold cat safety eyes off of amazon since I could not find any in my local stores. Which once I got the head done, I felt were too small, and had to go find the 18mm ones I had from a project I never used them in.

Upon reading over the pattern I knew I would have to make some changes to get Putti as opposed to the kitten she made. My changes to the pattern are as follows: (Black and White, not cream and tan)
1. I made the head in all black, embroider a small patch of white on the inside of one cheek.
2. Don't worry about black outlines for nose or eyes.
3. Body color switching suggests decreasing amount of underbelly white, I didn't worry about that since Putti has a solid white underbelly.
4. Use black worsted yarn for nose, not brown. Same thing for the ears rather than pink, use black.
5. Whiskers in white thread, Add set of two whiskers over eyes.
6. For the tail, no switching colors.

Since I wanted the white chest to continue into the body I had to change a bit of the way that section was written: My Round 5 involved not attaching black like I said to.
Round 6 was now my last increase row, and was still in white yarn.
Rounds 7- 24, I starting doing the color switching Round 14, also ignoring the white decreasing.
I had to rewrite Round 14 to read as follows: Continue *in white for next 10 sc, switch to black yarn, continue sc in black for the rest of the row, 26.  when get back to the beginning of next row, pick up white and continue from beginning *

The switching between black and white made the inside a little strange to stuff since the threads went back and forth across the inside, I also had to be sure not to pull the excess inside too tight, so that it didn't make the finished body form look strange. I guess you could bind off and reattach every row, but that seemed more of a pain.
The inside of the body.
The pattern also called for making the feet and legs as separate pieces and then sewing them together when finished. This also seemed like a lot more work than was needed and I was hesitant to have to sew with this fluffy yarn. So I rewrote the leg patterns. I also made a separate pattern for the front and back legs since the coloring is different.

Body with white belly. Front and back feet complete.
Front feet: (Just toes white)
chain 2, 6 sc in first chain, in white
2 in each sc, (12)
2 in first, sc in next, repeat around, (18)
sc in one, popcorn stitch (4 sc in each stitch, pull together, chain 1) in next four stitches, sc around
attach black, sc2tog, sc in next, around, (12)
sc in each around for next 8 rows
leave long tail for sewing to body and bind off

Back feet: (most of leg and toes are white)
chain 2, 6 sc in first chain, in white
2 in each sc, 12
2 in first, sc in next, repeat around, 18
sc in one, popcorn stitch (4 sc in each stitch) in next four stitches, sc around
sc2tog, sc in next, around, 12
sc in each around for next 5 rows
attach black, sc around
sc around in next 3 rows
leave long tail for sewing to body and bind off

White belly with legs on. There are toes on those paws...
The head was the most difficult part, so I left it for last. This was good and bad. Good because I had time to get used to the yarn/thread combo. Bad because I was worried that I had made the body too long and that it would look out of proportion. Also, I am pretty sure that I did not create the nose ridge right. Which made the nose itself too low, and the mouth even lower. Also, I do not think I got enough definition between the fuzzy black for the body and the smooth black for the nose. Perhaps I should have used gray or something.

Overall the pattern took about 20 hours to make and assemble. Maybe with regular yarn for a smooth hair cat, the pattern might be easier. The one thing that bothered me most I think is the head to body join... There is not really a neck which I think adds to the strangeness of the finished piece.
Finished "cat".
I am not really happy with how this turned out, not sure it looks anything like Putti, let alone a real cat. I suppose, yes, there is something to be said for it being handmade. But when I feel like you could buy a better representation of an item, than I can make, well it leaves me with the feeling of why did I try. So maybe I will stick to cartoon-y looking stuff in the future rather than attempt realism.

March 29, 2013

Old Characters

I've created a lot of characters over the years for various role playing games with my friends. I've got images in my head for each of them since I usually did some rough drawings during sessions.

Some the the stuff I have posted here early on were sketches of some of these characters: Lin Kohaku and Nori Nori were ideas for a Once Piece based game. Adia was a bard with dueling scimitars from a DnD game from college. Also, Agent Sonar, is another one of my more recent characters for a Cthulhu game. The most recent character I have created is this image of the Tech-priest for a Dark Heresy game.

Other older characters I am kind of annoyed to say that I must have lost the drawings for.  For example, I made this cool x-men character for a game whose name was Lilly, aka Willow Wisp. She had lead shoes because her atoms were turning into helium slowly so she would float all the time and could control a small area of wind around her. Once I made a cleric named Yzma who had a giant hammer and smashed stuff. I also have a record of a 20th level Gestalt, Human Druid Fighter dnd character who had a lion mount. No drawings though. :(

But, I have found a few of these missing sketches today because I was thinking about one of the characters I spent the most time on, Lady Adone. She was for a Whitewolf campaign, it didn't get too far into the game, but I wrote her a 5 page backstory, chronicled each session in a diary format, and even wrote short stories about her house, her companion a raven who could talk, and a special item she had which was a Very Helpful Book. She could speak to inanimate objects. Was dark and lonely, had gold eyes, and was very pretty. So today, I dug out the sketch I did of her.
Lady Adone Ravenwood
While I was digging through sketchbooks, I found a few more drawings of other characters. So I figured I would share. Please keep in mind these are all at least 7 years old...

This one is Chei Mazo, her name means tossed by the tempest. Was going to be a pilot character for a Serenity campaign.
Chei Mazo
This one is another version of something I was thinking of for that One Piece campaign that Lin and NoriNori are from. You can see she has a giant fishhook which she used as weapon. The various versions were all supposed to be a fish girl. The weapon changed from giant fishhook to anchor and back and forth, but was going to be used to hit people with on a long rope. Pretty sure that all of these characters that I had been working on ended up fusing into Lin Kohaku cause she was the most unique looking.
One Piece is a weird anime.
This was an elf hunter from an early dnd campaign. She had a Stag companion. Might have been a druid... not sure. Thinking I might have just seen Princess Mononoke for the first time around then.

This one is an early sketch of the same bard I mentioned before, Adia. At this point in the campaign she only had one scimitar and was mostly a bard. By the end she had a few ranks in just about every class you might think: Bard, Barbarian, Fighter and Dervish... it was nuts. And totally freaking awesome. She eventually had a kid and saved the world and I think she had an airship too.

This was for a Naruto based game. Her name was Black Lotus and was a ninja who could use dances to manipulate the air. Funny thing, her real name was also Chei Mazo, and I liked the name so much I reused it when I needed a name for the Serenity campaign.
Black Lotus, 2006
God this one must be even older, I'm thinking 2004. Still reading a lot of Ah, My Goddess! at this time clearly. Another elf, this one is probably a hunter since druids can't wear mail if I remember right. Wolf companion this time. That is one strange looking dog, and that torso... goodness.

And finally, Khyarete. She was from an Arcana Unearthed game. This character was probably one of the first I ever made. She is the namesake of my Gmail account and twitter handle. She was really cool, had this super special halberd. This game was special since the world had a lot of water and islands and boats were common settings rather than the usual generic landmass and dungeons. Khyarete is the reason that I gave Skyrim a go, since that game had a race of cat people.
Wonder what will be next? Bottom line is, if people ask you to play in a role playing game, you might say yes. I know some people will call you a giant nerd, but they were all really fun and good outlets for creativity.