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 ----

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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.
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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