March 21, 2014

A Lowly Worm

Guess it will be baby birthday time again... I've attended several one year old parties in the past few months and have yet another baby shower on Friday.

It is another "guess the sex" party and I guess they are waiting find out what it will be. As someone who needs a plan for everything, not knowing seems so stressful to me. It also makes getting gifts really hard as nearly all baby clothes are color coded pink and blue for the gender binary. So once again I was in the store looking at the toys and thinking, why am I buying a toy when I can make perfectly good ones...

Then I starting looking at children's books and thinking about what I liked and remembered. Suddenly Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm was in my head, shortly followed by the thought that he would be super easy to crochet and away I went. I bought The Adventures of Lowly Worm to go along with the toy to round out the gift.

Note: As I do not want to get in trouble, please do not use this pattern for creation of toys for profit or sale. Make Lowly for friends, family and as gifts only.

Lowly Worm from the Busytown books by Richard Scarry
Once again I feel this would be a great yarn consumption project, I already had every color I would need: Black for details, white for the eyes, collar and shoe bottoms, brown for skin, blue for the shirt, dark green for the pants, and red for the bow ties and shoes. I also decided I would make his hat and figured I could use the same dark green from the pants and pulled a mustard yellow for the hat trim. Hook size I used is 4.25mm and I tried to stuff as I went along. Also, this is not strictly amigurumi since I am going to make the rows flat with a chain at the beginning of each row so the clothes line up right.

I decided to start at the foot and work my way up. Instead of amigurumi rounds, most of this is in rows so that the colors line up at the seams. Unless it says otherwise assume that to finish a row, you slip stitch to the first single crochet and chain one.

Shoe and Ankle
Using white
chain 9, turn and do 8 sc down the chain, 3 in starter chain to make a turn around and 8 back up the other side of the foundation chain to make flat oval shape,
2sc in next sc, 6sc, 2sc in next 3 sc (toes end of shoe), 8sc,
Switch to red yarn and attach at heel end where you stopped with the white.
1sc around in back loops only, slip stitch to first, chain 1
1sc around in both loops, slip stitch to first, chain 1,
1sc around in both loops, slip stitch to first, chain 1,
1sc around in both loops, slip stitch to first, chain 1,
bind off and then attach red yard at tip of the toe and sew top of the last row of stitches together from the toe to about a little more than half way up the shoe, make sure the top of the shoe after sewing is flat. I stuffed the shoe and then embroidered some black laces on the top of the shoe that can actually be tied :) The shoe itself is a little bit of a high top, so attach red at the place the sewing stops and add another row of single crochet around the ankle area. Try to make 12 stitches, I did it by adding one extra at the back seam of the shoe. I bound the shoe off since I wanted the leg seam at the back.

Switch to dark green
Attach at back of shoe, sc in back loops only around 12 sc, slip stitch to first, chain 1.
Do 17 rows of green, sc around in both loops again, 12 sts per row.

Switch to blue
Change colors and do the first row of 12 sc around in the back loops only, always slip stitch to first and chain 1 to next row.
Do 15 more rows, sc around in both loops, 12 sts total per row.

Switch to white,
Change colors and do three rows sc around in both loops., 12 sts

Lowly's Bow Tie, In red
After I finished the three collar rows I took out my hook and made up the bow tie so that I could sew it into place before moving on. I find it is easier to attach things while I can tie it all inside and hide the ends in the stuffing.
Chain 5, sc across, chain 1 and turn.
Do 8 rows. Bind off. Wrap red yarn around center of rectangle to create the gathering for the bow tie. Tie the wrapped bit off and use it to sew onto the front of his collar.

Lowly's neck and head
Switch to brown and put hook back into open working loop.
Change colors and do first row of 12 sc around in back loops only
Do 5 more rows of brown 12 sc around
sc, inc,* 18
2 sc, inc,* 24
10sc, 4inc, 10sc, 28
12sc, 4inc, 12 sc, 32
sc around, 32
14sc, 4inc, 14sc, 36
Next 4 Rows: sc around, 36
sc4, dec,* 30
sc3, dec,* 24
sc2, dec,* 18 - stuff most of head here and try to stuff the rest as you close
sc1, dec,* 12
dec around till closed, bind off

Eyes Backs, make 2 in white
magic circle 6,
increase around to 12
sc, inc*, 18
Do a slip stitch into the next stitch and bind off
Then sew to head, on either side, once pupils are affixed.

Eye pupils, make 2 in black
magic circle 8, slip stitch to first sc
bind off and sew on to white backs.

Don't forget to also embroider a smile on the face, in black.

Lowly's Hat
In dark green
Magic circle 6,
increase to 12,
sc, inc, 18
sc 2, inc, 24
in back loops only, sc 24 around- at this point I did a slip stitch to the close the rounds, to go to rows, so the hat is even all around since amigurumi has uneven rows.
in both loops do 2 more rows of 24sc around.
sc, dec*, 18
sc around 18,
sc 2, inc,* 24
sc 3, inc,* 32
sc 4, inc,* 36
sc 5, inc,* 40
Now going to make the brim:
ch3, all in front loops only, tc in next 8 in front, dc in next 4, hdc in next 2, sc in next 3, hdc, dc, 2dc in one, 2dc in one, dc, hdc, sc in next 3, hdc in next 2, dc in next 4, 8tc. Should have two empty stitches left before the end of the row. Leave them empty and use the tail to sew up the brim back seam to get it to stand up. Using the front loops means there should be a clean row of loops to help it bend back up.

Hat Band and Tassel
Chain 28, slip stitch to first to form a loop. Chain 1 and sc around. Slip stitch to first and bind off leaving tail to sew down to hat.  Before you sew the band on, cut and tie a few lengths of yarn to one side and knot into place. Then fray yarn out to get the feather/tassel. Then use the tail from the band to stitch into place on the hat.

Place hat onto head, if this is for a responsible child...
For younger kids, maybe leave a long tail on the magic circle and sew onto crown of head to keep the hat with the toy but still allow it to be taken on and off. In this case, sad as it made me, I stuffed and sewed the hat on to the head so it cannot be removed.

Done! Time to completion, 5-6 hours. Skill level is easyish. Difficult bits are all the details and sewing as usual for me. Lowly is 17 inches tall from the sole of his shoe to the top of his hat.

Other thoughts: Might put a rattle toy or bell inside the stuffing of the head if looking to make it amusing to babies. Or consider making Lowly longer and tying him into a loose knot like he does in the books. Or maybe find an articulated spine, braided pipe cleaners, or use one of those wooden toy snakes that move, inside the body, instead of so much stuffing to get it to wiggle and be a bit sturdier.

March 3, 2014

Large Pineapple Doily

So, I have this really nice table I was given by my grandmother. It is hardwood of some kind. About 32 inches round, pedestal base with three legs at the bottom. The top also has a mechanism so that it can turn around like a giant lazy susan. I personally dislike it for the few facts that it does not go with my decor, by being much nicer than everything else, and that it takes up a fair amount of space. In my last move it got a bit scuffed on top from the lousy movers I hired.

In an effort to be able to use it and put stuff on it without feeling guilty, or damage it further, I decided to use my skills to make a doily for the top of it. Perhaps then I could at least use it to hold some books or something.

I looked around the internet for some free patterns. Most are of a style that date themselves to the 1940s when they were written and popular, however the "pineapple" shapes of a few were modern enough looking that I thought they would do nicely. I settled on this pattern: Large Pineapple Doily. It's repeating pattern looked intricate but not necessarily too complicated for a first time doily.

I had a large ball of white cotton thread. I think it was something like this. I also have a ton of hooks including very small ones. So I think my thread is a 10 weight and my smallest hook is a 2.25mm B/1. I figured that would do fine. The pattern, on the other hand, says to use a 30 weight (much thinner, go figure...) and a 12 stainless steel hook. I had to look it up and learned that stainless steel hooks have different classifications than the aluminum ones I have. A 12 is supposed to be 1.00mm.

Basically this means both my hook and my thread are too large. That means that my doily will probably be much larger than the 18 inches that the pattern says it should be when done. This is ok since, like I said, my table is 32 inches. I also decided to keep going since doing it in a larger size means that I can see what I am doing for this first time making a doily, which I understand can be very difficult to do right.

After only three rounds my doily was already almost 4 inches across and there are 34 rounds... I started to think maybe I should get smaller thread like recommended. However, since I am lazy and had already gotten several rounds into the pattern I decided I would keep going till it was the size I needed and then stop.

About half way though first pineapple shapes
Two things happened as I worked. I began to realize that since I only had that one skein of the white thread, that I should try to use it all up. I also realized that I would not be finishing the full pattern. I got up to round 18 and had what looked like only a small amount of thread left, so I stopped there.

After that I decided to close all my points, as I was one row into a new set of pineapple shapes. So after Round 18, I did the following:

Round 19: 3 sc in cluster chain space, ch 1, sc 5 in next space, ch2, *ch2, sc in top of loop*,*repeat across pineapple, ch 2, sc 5 across space, ch 1, 3 sc in top of next cluster, ch1, 6sc in large space, ch 2 over the joint from the row before, sc 6 in next large chain space, repeat from the start, join to first with slip stitch.

After my round 19, I still had a bit of thread, so I thought I would try to get around the outside once more to give the edge a thickness to keep it in shape.

Round 20: sc in each sc, 2sc in the chain spaces, join to first with slip stitch

At this point I did not have enough thread to do a third edger row so I bound it off. 

Finished to my standards.

I laid it out on my table... I would say that there is about 5 inches of space between the edge of my doily and the edge of the table, so that makes it about 27 inches across. I think if I properly stretch it out and stiffen it, I could probably get it to 30 inches as it has a lot of give. I do like the size, but think I will try to find a round glass top for this table, too.

It doesn't look anything like the patterns picture since I didn't even get two pineapples into the doily, but I am happy with it. Maybe in the future I will try it with the right thread and hook, but no wonder old ladies have bad eyesight and arthritis...

Time to complete this: Worked on and off over about a month... can't see completing something like this in one sitting, let alone one week. Perhaps maybe 30 hours total; 3 hours a night for something like 10 days... sounds about right.