The Rediscovery of Crocheting

I learned how to crochet at some point in elementary school, and from then on my grandmother provided the equipment and the advice for any of my needlework extravagances. Not that there were that many, I usually lost interest once a piece didn’t turn out the way I expected or once I felt like it would demand too much attention and learning to do this or that. I also learned how to knit, but I remember that I used to be a very tight knitter and that I did not finish anything except for a very tiny egg warmer that could be used to keep, say grapes or peanuts warm sucessfully… Over the years, other things got more important, so I lost sight of needleworks altogether. Other things like painting and music caught my attention, and I never expected I would come back to crocheting at some point in my life 😉

Until roughly two years ago. When I purchased a ‘DIY Penguin Kit’ at a local Christmas Tree Store. As far as I could see it included feltin different colors and filling material. At home I opened the bag and I was quite surprised to find a ball of yarn and a crochet hook inside the package.. Apparently one would have to CROCHET the body and then attach the felt! Now the instructions said ’10 years and up’, and that was the beginning of a very important challenge! I didn’t have the slightest memories of my early days as a crocheter, so there was no help from that side. Together with my husband I went through the instructions that came with the kit, but we just couldn’t make any sense of it, let alone a penguin’s body! Eventually we consulted Youtube and spent the rest of the evening watching crochet instructions over and over, but it just didn’t work… We were so frustrated, the ’10 years and up’ message was laughing at us, two graduates… We couldn’t just leave it like that, and suddenly it crossed my mind that there was some kind of a crafts and fabric store very close to my workplace of that time, and that they offered workshops for all kinds of crafts. We checked that online and found out that ‘Gather here and make something‘ was offering a basic crochet class for next week! Great, that was definitely a way out of humiliation!

How could I ever think that… after one hour of trying to figure out how to make a slip knot, how to hold the needle the right way, and how to catch the damn yarn with that needle I felt like a really useless, incompetent person. There was just one other student at that class and the teacher gave us all the time we needed, but it was still embarassing, that I needed A LOT OF TIME. However, at some point after my first foundation chain in years, something happened, something got revived through the ongoing stimulation in the so far abandoned parts of my brain. While my classmate didn’t have too many problems at the start, she was now struggling with the single crochet stitch in genereal and the sequence of hand movements you need to coordinate. For me it seemed to be just the other way around, I had difficuties with the basics, but once I had my foundation chain, it was some kind of natural movement and I was able to crochet pretty fast 🙂 I didn’t finish my pot holder that day, but I went home with the wonderful feeling of having rediscovered a long lost set of skills.

Elephant Walk or ‘My first custom work’

This has been my first custom work for a friend. I got the pattern for free after subscribing on Lion Brand Yarns. The smaller elephant you can see on the second image is the ‘model’ my friend brought me so that I could make him a similar one. My interpretation of the elephant turned out to be a bit larger, and I had to add a tail and the tusks myself (meaning that I had to try out some stitch combinations until it looked like the original, or at least like an elephant ;-). Also, the original consists of a very ‘wooly’ yarn, very soft and fuzzy. I used the good old Red Heart yarn because it is pretty much the only yarn the big craft stores are selling that comes in so many colors (especially that particular shade of blue) and that is suitable for amigurumi.

A closer look at assemblance

However, the original has been made with such perfection that I am not really satisfied with my copy, but that’s just the way it goes, right? You always have to try harder and harder, and after all those little imperfections here and there add some ‘character’ to the result 😉 But that doesn’t mean that I don’t envy the creator of the first elephant for her or his excellent crochet skills. And sewing skills! The legs and ears are exactly where they need to be and the whole creature is symmetric and flawless, almost as if it came right off the asssembly line 😉 Besides keeping track of my rounds and the pattern itself while crocheting to me the most difficult thing with amigurumi is the sewing procces. With almost every creature I make it happens that I have to rip up the seam of an arm or an ear that I just attached to the body… Using pins to fix the positions of all parts in advance doesn’t really help, especially since you can hardly fix the position of a huge head prior to sewing. Luckyly it is relatively easy to rip up a seam of cotton yarn (if you’re using the same yarn that you sed for crocheting, maybe even the tail of the finished part), and I’ve even done it a couple of times in a row with the same piece. The only problem I experienced with that is that at one point thin strands of the filling material might be pulled out with the yarn, so you should better put it back right away, before startig another sewing trial. Otherwise you might end up with very persistent knots of filling material that are peeking out here and there.

Paula the Pony

This wonderful pattern once again comes from amigurumipatterns.net. This is by far my favorite pattern up to now, probably because it took me a while to finish it and because it turned out so well 🙂 I just love everything about this pony, the mane, the tail, the eyes with the lashes, the smile, the ears with the fabric applications… I planned to use matching printed fabric but than decided to use simple felt, just because I had that at hand and I figured it would have been difficult to find a small amount of matching fabric at a store. But if I ever use this pattern again I would definitely go for printed fabric and maybe try to match the different types of yarn with the fabric I find in the store. (Un)fortunately that would involve some exploratory shopping at the local fabric-craft store 😉 I think it would also be fun to try this pattern with more natural colors such as a red brown/auburn for the skin and maybe simple black or cream for the mane. Or you could use the same pattern to make a unicorn, with white for the body and pink for the mane. One would have to think of a way to crochet the horn, though.

Getting ready for the Easter Holidays

I made these two little creatures last year, using a simple easter egg pattern for the body. The bunny’s ears and the sheep’s snout and ears I created myself, ‘freestyle-like’.

Crochet Garland

Crochet Garlands are fun to make, you can choose any color(s) you’d like and you can also make different pendants. I found the really easy heart pattern on Little Birdie Secrets and finally applied all the hearts to a simple crochet chain. I have yet to find a way to apply the hearts seamlessly, because with my current method you have to cut off the yarn after making a knot and afterwards there are always unwanted pieces of yarn here and there, especially if the garland gets twisted.

The Formidable Wrap

This wrap started out as a ‘Let’s see how far we can get with this pattern’ approach.

I found it in a crochet book I recently purchased. It is called ‘The Crochet Boutique‘ and it has pretty stylish and modern crochet patterns. I used a leftover skein of yarn for the wrap because I thought I would have to give up anyway because I would not understand the pattern or make mistakes and finally decide to send the pattern to hell… BUT it turned out that it was a pretty easy pattern, easy to read and to follow, so I ended up literally ‘crocheting the night away’, and before I even knew it I had finished up the leftover skein, with nothing left to continue…

The thing with leftover skeins

So here I was, with a pretty wrap that I just started, I had done almost 20 rows and I ran out of yarn… And the skein did not have the paper sleeve on it anymore, so I did not know exactly where I bought it or what the name of the brand was. Instead of the pattern now I felt like sending myself to hell… The mantra in that situation was ‘Stay calm and visit a yarn store’, which I did. I am a cheap buyer if it comes to yarn, I have to admit. That means I’d rather go to the big stores than visiting a shed in the woods were a misanthropist is selling naturally hand-dyed goat wool yarn…

Anyway, I took a wool sample to the closest Michael’s store and, tadaaaa, there ist was, a whole bunch of skeins of the same wool type I started the wrap with 🙂 Lucky me! I bought three more skeins and after one week of intense needleworking the wrap was finished! 🙂

 

Roary the Tiger

Ladies and Gentlemen! May I introduce to you the one and only mighty, incredible, scary and terrifying ROARY the tiger! A big applause please, believe me, we don’t want to disappoint this powerful guy, not even once! (sporadic clapping, then silence, nothing happens, sombody coughs distinctly) Well, ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, Roary is a man of the show, he likes to act big and if he doesn’t feel like showing up, he probably won’t show up! But I can assure you that with another round of applause we can make him change his mind, so please, clap your hands and give him a loud cheer! (More people clap hands, some are even cheering)

This time the heavy red curtain moves a little bit, as if someone plucks it, and at the right corner of the stage appears… Roary! It is the same procedure at every show. Of course the ringmaster knows that Roary is not terrifying and not even incredible. But this knowledge doesn’t help much since he has to heat up the crowd even more so that at some point the sheer fun of being excited keeps the people exhilarated. Hopefully by the end of the show they might not even remember that they did not see a scary tiger, and that the horses weren’t all bright white (in fact, none of the horses is white, they all get powdered with flour a few minutes before every show because white horses are much too expensive for the circus and also it is so hard to keep them clean while travelling from town to town).  So these people that are now shouting and screaming as if they’re going to see something amazing in fact see a lanky, midsize striped cat that strolls along the curtain, dragging its bushy tail along while the bright eyes are scanning the audience for little children. Not because children are the favorite dish of Roary. We will explain that to you later. Roary is keeping an eye out for children because they are the most demanding audience and not as easy to fool as the adults that are going crazy right now. Every time Roary sees a child in the audience he feels that this kid knows exactly what is going on with the show, the illusions, the fake and make-believes, and that it is just too caring and polite to let the adult know. As if the adult could not deal with the fact that there is no such thing as a bike-riding monkey with a vest and that people only make him do that by forcing him. Humans make animals do the things they want. Children know that and it can break their heart, but adults forgot that a long time ago and don’t want to be reminded.

If they all would know that Roary has a secret, the strangest secret a tiger can have! Not many people at the circus know it. The clown doesn’t know, although he is so nosy and wants to know everything about everyone. The ballerinas are not interested in anything but their dresses and performances, so they are easy to deal with. In fact, there are two people who know about Roary’s secret, and one of them is not even a human being but a parrot. The parrot belongs to the magician, although it is a bit weird that a magician has a parrot but no doves or rabbits that come out of his sleeves. So far the audience never complained about the missing rodents and birds, so the magician stuck to the parrot and they eventually became friends (to the extent that you can be friends with the confused, stuttering guy the magician was). One day the parrot was on his investigation trip after the circus had just arrived at a new city, and it happened that he stopped by at the carnivore tent. Next to the carnivore tent Roary had his home. That’s right, Roary does not live with the other lions and panthers, and that is part of his secret. The parrot, whose name is actually just ‘Parrot’ (but due to the stuttering magician the name turned into something more like ‘Paparo’) flew by the carnivore’s tent and wondered why the tiger was kept in a separate tent. The next thing he saw was the keeper Elliot with a huge basket of greens, salad, kale, beans and other vegetables, and a huge melon that he balanced waggly on the top of his head. With all that food one would expect him to visit the alleged white horses or to stop by at the elephant’s home. But Paparo saw that Elliot walked straight into Roary’s tent. Paparo was not a curious bird. As the assistant of the magician curiosity can often be dangerous and is of no use in the circus business at all. The nosy clown, for example, gets his beatings every time he is a little too curious about the underwear of the ballerinas. But this time it was different, this time Elliot’s behavior drew Paparo’s interest. He had never seen anone walk into Roary’s tent before, and now he WAS curious! He flew a wide circle around the tent to make sure nobody was following him, and then he landed near the top of the tent, where he could peek through a hole.