December 21, 2020

Alfur from Hilda

Do you watch Hilda on Netflix? If you don't, get on that. 

We've probably watched the first season four times through now, heading into a fifth as we countdown the days till Season 2 premiers. Our three year old girl loves it. I wanted to crochet a tiny Alfur, but the more I thought about it, the less I thought that would work very well. I considered Sculpy clay too... but of course decided to go and learn a new skill: Needle Felting. 

I ordered the Clover needle felting pen tool and a multipack of unspun wool that had the red and white colors I liked. I also ordered a set of leather finger covers and a needle felting mat from Amazon after I stabbed myself many many times the first few attempts. I basically just read a bunch of blog posts by others and watched a few you tube videos.

I made a yellow ball. I know... wow right. But then added another and worked up a few tiny eyes and a beak and voila! A fat chick spirit from Spirited Away! Then I tried out a sort of fuzzy ghost, which was cool to leave part of it unspun and unfelted to give it that wispy ghost look. More recently I'm trying to make a character from a webcomic I like, but am not sure how it't turning out...

These experiments helped get me a bit of confidence, but of course I couldn't just stop with needle felting... of course not. I decided I wanted him to be able to be posable. That meant needle felting the body around a skeleton. I attempted to make my own armature with beading wire, and while it looked ok, it was not the right color, nor very sturdy.
this black wire was way too thick

So I decided to outsource the skeleton to a friend who does paper flowers. I figured she would have a better knowledge of wires and could wrap it in black so that it would look correct to the character. 

my attempt

I sent her my rough drawing, a picture of what I had come up with, and an idea on scale and she sent back like the perfect thing. Shoulders can move a little and the wire is tough enough that a bend will stay in place. She also coated it in clear modge podge which should keep it safe should when I pose him in the leaves and stuff. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the new armature sans felt...

wrapped skeleton

With a round head, cone shaped body, cone hat, two small ovals for hair poufs and two long ovals for ears... I had me a little Alfur! The eyes, eyebrows and smile were tricky... But the pen tool has three needles, which can easily slide out, so I was able to use one needle for these small parts. Just takes patience and a lot of poking. 

Got to say... all that poking is nice and cathartic if you manage to not stab yourself...

Difficulty: Easy
Time to complete: about 4 hours

December 14, 2020

Brick Boy

I work in Acme Brick's corporate headquarters as a graphic designer. As such I get to do a lot of fun things - billboards, signs, trade show booths, print and online ads, logo design, t-shirt design, powerpoint templates, webpages, all kinds of stuff. Shortly after I started working there I was introduced to "Brick Boy" our life-size mascot costume that occasionally makes appearances at events. 

I made a few car decal stickers, put him on a mask design or two, and have now made him into a crochet stuffy. Compared to the recent super time consuming octopi, this guy was a breeze. 

I used yarn I had on hand lying around: 

    - I love this yarn in Terra Cotta, acrylic, 4 weight or the like
    - Rowan Summerlite 4 ply in Pure White, sock yarn
    - maroon or dark red sock yarn
    - black sock yarn

I made a Mr. Ramen a million years ago, so another square toy wasn't too hard. I went with the crunchy stitch for the front and back and simple single crochet panels for the sides. The body parts - front back and sides are all made with a 5mm hook. For the eyes, mouth, arms and legs in sock yarn, use a D 3.25mm hook.

Part 1: Make All The Bits

  • Front and Back
  • Eye whites, eye pupils
  • nose
  • cheeks
  • mouth with lip, teeth and tongue
  • arms with hands
  • legs
  • 6 brick "holes" for the sides

Body Front and Back, make 2, in body red or terracotta, in the crunchy stitch
Chain 26
R1: sl st in 2nd chain from hook, *(1hdc in next ch, sl st on next), repeat * across, turn (25)
R2: chain 2 (counts as first hdc), *(slst in next hdc, hdc in next sl st), repeat * across, turn (25)
R3:*(sl st in hdc, hdc in sl st), repeat * across, sl st in top of turning chain (25)
R4-16: repeat rows 2 and 3 to create texture. Bind off

Long Sides, make 2, in body red or terracotta
Chain 6, 1 sc in 1st ch from hook, 4sc across (5), chain 1 and turn
R1-23: 5sc across, chain 1 and turn. Bind off

Long Side Openings, make 6, in dark red or maroon
R1: Chain 8, skip 2 ch (counts as first hdc), 6hdc across, ch 1 and turn (7)
R2-3: 7hdc across, ch 1 and turn (7)
Chain 1 and turn your work. Do 4 slip stitches along the opening unfinished looking side to end up next to where you started your first chain. Bind off and leave tail for sewing. You will sew three of these to each of the two long sides.

Short Sides, make 2, in body red or terracotta
Chain 6, 1 sc in 1st ch from hook, 4sc across (5), chain 1 and turn
R1-15: 5sc across, chain 1 and turn. Bind off

Nose, in body red or terracotta
R1: Magic Circle, ch 1, 4 sc into circle (4)
R2: 4 sc increase around (8)
R3-4: 8 sc around (8), Bind off leaving tail to sew to body with

Cheeks, make 2, in body red or terracotta
Magic circle, chain 2 (counts as first dc), 9 more dc into circle, sl st to top of first chain (10)
Bind off with tail to sew

Eyes, make 2 in white
R1: Magic circle, ch 1, 5sc (5)
R2: sc increase around  (10)
R3: *(sc, inc), repeat 5 times (15)
R4: 4sc, hdc, (dc increase) in next 4 sts, hdc, 6sc (18) (makes a sort of tall oval)
R5: 4sc, (sc inc, sc) in next 4 sts, 6sc (22)
Bind off with tail for sewing

Pupils, make 2 in black
R1: Magic circle, ch 1, 4sc (4)
R2: sc increase around  (8)
Bind off with tail for sewing

Eyebrows, make 2 in dark red or maroon
Chain 5, 2sc, sc increase, 2sc.
Bind off with tail for sewing. Should be a sort of bean shape.

Mouth, make 1, making a half circle shape
R1: Magic Circle, ch 1, 3sc, ch 1 and turn (3)
R2: sc increase across, ch 1 and turn (6)
R3: *(sc, inc), repeat 3 times, ch 1 and turn (9)
R4: 2sc, sc inc, hdc, hdc inc, hdc, sc inc, 2sc (12)
R5: switch to body red, sl st in each to make bottom lip (12)
Bind off with tail for sewing

Teeth, make 1 in white
Chain 9, sl st in 1st from hook and across (8 sl st), bind off with tail for sewing

Tongue, make 1 in dark red or maroon
Chain 5, 2dc in second from hook, sl st in next, chain 2, 2dc in next. Makes a sort of heart shape. Bind off with a little tail for sewing

Hands and Arms, make 2, uses both dark red and white sock yarns
R1: Magic circle, ch 1, 6 sc (6)
R2: sc increase around (12)
R3-6: 12 sc around
R7: sc, 5dc in one stitch - remove hook and insert into top of 1st dc, then through last dc, draw up a loop and chain to secure - makes one big bobble stitch for the thumb, 10 sc (12)
R8: sc, dec, 3sc, dec, 4sc (10) (tapers the hand down a bit)
R9: 10 hdc (makes a sort of glove wrist part)
switch to dark red or maroon, you might also stuff the hand at this point and continue stuffing the arm as you go along
R10: 10sc in back loops only
R11-26: 10 sc around
Bind off with tail for sewing

Legs and Feet, make 2 in dark red or maroon, may help to stuff as you go along
R1: Magic circle, ch 1, 6 sc (6)
R2: sc increase around (12)
R3: *(sc inc, sc), repeat around (18)
R4: *(sc inc, 2sc), repeat around (24)
R5-8: 24 sc 
R9: 8sc, 4dec, 8sc (20)
R10: 6sc, 4dec, 6sc (16)
R11: 4sc, 4dec, 4sc (12)
R12: 4sc, 2dec, 4sc (10)
R13-28: 10sc

Part 2: Assemble Those Bits

Sew the teeth part along the top of the mouth half circle. Sew the tongue into place.
Sew the pupils onto the white eye oval.

Place the eyes, nose, mouth and cheeks onto whichever body piece you want to be the front. You want to get a good idea of how it will all sit and overlap when sewn down. I sewed the eyes first (using a tiny bit of the white to also go through the pupil as an eye highlight at the end), then the nose between, the mouth below and cheeks last to over lap the bottom of the eyes just a little. Add the eyebrows over the eyes.

Next sew three brick openings evenly spaced along each of the long sides, if you haven't already.

The arm gets sewn into the middle of the bottom of the three brick openings. However in my case I decided to add a double pipe-cleaner to the inside of the arms to make it a little posable. This is totally optional, but if you want to, I recommend putting the pipe cleaner in while you are stuffing one arm. Then you insert the end of the pipe cleaner in through the brick opening and the long side leaving it open inside the body. That way once you get all the sides on you can poke the other end back out the other side, slip the arm over it, stuff it and sew it into place. That makes it so you have one long pipe cleaner between the two hands going through the body. 

Sew the two legs to whichever of the short sides will be the bottom. Try to keep them to the center and nicely placed with a little space between.

Sew the long sides to the front with a simple stitch. I just went in and out of the holes between the crochet stitches, as I wanted there to be a very crisp edge. A whip stitch should work fine too. I worked around the face, doing a long side, then the top of the head, down the other long side and along the bottom. I did work out and back along the short corners so I could sew with one long piece of yarn and not need to cut it. 

Once you have a front and sides on, you can sew the back into place. I left the bottom open along the feet to stuff it up when three sides were sewn. That also helped with sewing the other arm into place over the pipe-cleaner I had threaded through the body cavity. Once he is stuffed, simply sew up the back.

Done! Just need to figure out how to get an Acme Brick logo on him...

Difficulty: Easy +
Time to complete: 4 hours

December 7, 2020

Apollo the Octopus & an Oppopus

Well it certainly has been a while since I've posted. Having kids will do that to you. But as the kids are now one and three, I am able to get back into crochet at least a little bit. Gotta say I missed it.
I had bought these three colors at a going out of business sale for the purpose of making fish hats in the colors like Rainbow Fish, but a pattern came along my crochet feeds and I had to switch gears.

Apollo the Octopus, by Projectarian, was making the rounds on social media and I knew I wanted to make one and these yarns practically screamed out ocean to me.

Yarn used: 

Cascade Yarns, Luna Paints, cotton hand painted (discontinued)
    - Dark blues - Blue Hydrangea, color 9990 - used as main body color
    - Green blues - Waterlily, color 9792 - used as color for suckers
Belly yarn was two kinds held together, as both were a bit too thin on their own.
    - Rozetti Lumen - white cotton with rayon shiny areas
    - Rowan Summerlite 4ply cotton in Pure White

For some reason I though that the three skeins of Hydrangea, two skeins of Waterlily would be enough yardage, but I was lucky enough to get a few more skeins from kind souls who had these colors in their stash on Ravelry. THANK YOU!

Not going to lie, the suckers are tedious... but they really are the best part once done. It's amazing to run your hands along them. I probably took about 4 months on this guy working on and off. It was tough to keep the kids from running around with the completed tentacles as I worked to finish all 8. 


While waiting to see if I could get enough yarn to finish it, once I had run out, I started on a second one for my daughter who desperately wanted her own "oppopus." I used a smaller hook, and a thinner silk and bamboo blend from Patons in Sapphire for the body. The belly yarn was Naturally Caron Spa, a silky bamboo blend in Misty Taupe, which is kind of a very soft tan, like sand... Of course I got two tentacles done and realized I had not enough to do the rest... So her Oppopus turned into a bit of a stash buster as I went through the single skeins of Naturally Caron Country in Ocean Spray blue, and Naturally Caron Spa in White. I had plenty of the Misty Taupe for the belly so the bottom is all one color. I did not do the suckers on hers.

There ended up being two white, four Ocean Spray, and two Sapphire tentacles. So I arranged them as if it were in the middle of  color changing from white to dark blue. Once into the body, I started carrying the two blues along with the misty taupe and had the idea to make the head sort of change color as well to match. So I used taupe along the white legs and the corresponding blue on the other legs, so that the color flowed up into the body. They ended up being sort of diamond shapes on the back. I softened the transition with the very last scraps of yarn by embroidering a few different colored pips.

Holding the yarns together took away any stretch that the shape had, so the head ended up being a bit tall instead of rounded. But I made the best of it with some overly anime-ish eyes and a happy face, as my daughter said it needed one. 

With hers done I could get back to mine now that the yarn had arrived to finish it.


Putting the legs together is a bit tough since they are so big. I had them spread out on the table so they could spin around flat while I would crochet along the tops. Id also used stitch markers to hold them to each other. After the initial few rows I tied them together long ways with some scrap yarn in one big chunk to make working into the head a bit easier. Compared to the tentacles, the rest of Apollo was a breeze. 

I really love the eyes, both because the pupil shape is so unique and perfect, but also because I was able to use up the super tiny bit of my absolute favorite color of Madeline Tosh I could not bring myself to toss. It's that multicolor right around the black pupil and I love the way it looks with the other variegated yarns. 
The solid blue of the rest of the eye is Naturally Caron Country in Peacock blue. 

Did I mention yet that he is huge? Such a nice weight too with the cotton yarn. He makes an excellent floor pillow as his head is a lovely shape and the arms add support or comfort. I was seriously laying in the sun on him watching my son play in the leaves.

How much better can it get? The real question is how long till I have to make another one for my son...

Difficulty: Advanced-ish, but the pattern has a million pictures which is so helpful.
Time to complete: about 40 hours for Apollo, maybe 15 hours for Oppopus

November 30, 2020

Flogging Molly Dress

Most husbands seem to amass clothing. I feel this is a universal. Even if they haven't worn something in oh say 15 years it's still in the bottom of the closet or shoved in a drawer. This is the case with mine anyway.

He's got several well worn shirts, but has been saying since day one of Sophie being around that I needed to make his well loved and worn Flogging Molly shirt into a onesie. I do love the idea, but at the rate she was growing and the rate at which I know how to sew and pattern, well I ended up going with a swing dress. I had just purchased a few cute ones from a friend selling Lularoe, yes I'm one of those housewives, and it looked perfect to pattern from.

Step one was finding a few pieces of tissue paper, which I always keep after getting gifts. I tried to find the fewest seams and made four pattern pieces, one for half the front, one for half the back and one for each left and right sleeve. Since my tissue paper wasn't that big the front and back patterns had to be only half and I would just flip it over to get the full shape on the fabric.

Step two was a bit harder. I needed to plan out how to lay out these pieces onto his old shirt with the minimum of cutting. I wanted the front and back to be one full piece each so that I could keep the Flogging Molly logo intact, but I also didn't want to feature the many, many holes that were in the shirt. I very carefully cut out the front and back shape, the front being the most important and I managed to get the logo to be kind of tilted towards the bottom which I kind of liked. The only real other way it might have fit was to have the logo upside down, which seemed odd. The two sleeve pieces I cut from the original sleeves themselves. That way I would not have to hem the sleeves.

Thank goodness my mother in law has a very nice sewing machine and I spent two evenings over at her house working on this little dress. I think I managed to do a nice job of it. Except that one sleeve is actually inside out, but as it is sort of a punk dress and I really didn't want to rip out that many seams on an already fragile fabric I just left it.

After hemming the bottom of the dress up, I tackled those holes that did end up being in the fabric used. From the scraps of the t shirt I cut out 10 different sized heart shapes which I used as "patches" over the holes. Several of the larger hearts covered two or more smaller holes. For these I used a large zig zag stitch to give it sort of an intentional messy look. Most of the holes and hearts float around the bottom of the back of the dress and there is one up on the back shoulder. The front of the shirt had nearly no holes, so I simply added one more heart over her heart just for decoration and to tie it into the back.

For now it is a bit big on her, but she still loved running around in it anyway. And of course my husband loves to see her in it. He thinks it was such a success that I will have to make more so it is a good thing I kept the pattern. In any case it was certainly a great way to get an old t-shirt out of the drawers and back into use for a little bit anyway.

Difficulty: Easy for advanced sewer, for me, intermediately hard
Time to Complete: 7 hours