Friday, April 26, 2013

Softie Circus Seal & Ball

I have been making a lot of crochet amigurumi items lately.  They are fun to make and a great stress reliever after a long day at work.  I am also getting a lot better at reading the patterns and faster at making them.  I'm trying to learn something new with each project that I make.  This seal was the biggest and most complex amigurumi I've made thus far.

Why a seal?  My husband has been on a work assignment for months with a seal as the logo, and he asked me to make a seal for him.  I found several free patterns, and I picked this one.
Circus Seal
(Circus Seal pattern by Michele Wilcox and picture at the Premier Yarns website)

--3 colors of yarn: 1 for the body and 2 for the ball
--embroidery floss
--crochet hook
--tapestry needle (mine is plastic)
--screw on plastic nose (optional) (available at craft stores for around $0.99 for several noses)
--locking stitch markers (I use colorful paperclips)

I used worsted weight acrylic yarn and a size H hook.  The pattern is all single crochet, and I did all of it in back loops only.  The seal ended up being quite a bit larger than expected, but it is really cute.

For the ball, you will need to make a couple yarn switches, but it was pretty easy to make.  The pattern for the ball uses typical continuous single crochet rounds requiring some increasing, continuation of the same number of stitches, and then some decreases.

The seal itself was quite a bit more complicated.  It was also all single crochet in continuous rounds.  First, I crocheted each part of the body--main body, head and neck, front flippers, and back flippers.

Next, I stuffed and sewed the parts of the body.  I stuffed and closed the main body, and then sewed the back flippers on (no stuffing).  Then, I had to add on the nose and whiskers to the head/neck piece.  The pattern has the nose and whiskers made out embroidery floss, but I used a plastic nose and embroidery thread for whiskers.  Next, I stuffed the head and neck, and I attached it to the main body.  Finally, I sewed the front flippers onto the seal. The pattern says to sew three 1 inch lines onto each front flipper (at the point furthest from the body), and then add some stuffing and attach.

Here, is my finished circus seal with ball:

I'm very glad it turned out well.  I was a little bit nervous about dealing with all of these pieces, and whether I could sew them together correctly. I was most worried about messing up the face.  My husband seems happy with the finished product, and he says his co-workers like it too.

Update on the Amigurumi bird:

It has multiplied!  Behold the bird family that has appeared in our home.  There are now 3 different sizes: smaller bird, taller bird, and bird with more stuffing.

The birds are getting faster and faster to make.  I'm glad that I started with this Stacey Trock pattern.  It's a great beginner pattern.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Angry Birds Perler Bead Magnets

I had a very busy week, so I never finished the bear and I skipped out on the baby shower, so I haven't posted those projects yet.  Yesterday, I had an urge to work with perler beads again, so I did several projects with them.  Today, I am sharing the Angry Birds Magnets.

I didn't find many perler patterns for Angry Birds.  I used patterns for the pigs and red bird, and I looked at the online images of the game for the other birds that I made.

I am including the pics of the unmelted perler beads for the patterns.  I thought about making some sort of graph for my own patterns when I did the Mario post, but I wasn't able to figure out a good (i.e. quick and easy) way to do it.  If the images are too small for you, you can increase the size.  I hit command and the plus sign to increase the size when using Firefox on my Mac, but yours may be different.

The only pattern I completely followed is the pig, and only for the first one that I made.  I ran out of the dark green, so I substituted a different green for the second one.

I didn't have enough black perler beads to outline the red bird, so I had to improvise and change it a little bit.

The following birds are my own patterns.

Yellow bird:

One of my nephews is a huge Angry Birds fan, and I recently learned that he likes Angry Birds Space a lot, so I wanted to also make him some Angry Birds Space magnets.

Angry Birds Space blue square bird:

Angry Birds Space green spotted bird:

After I put the beads on the boards, I melted the beads together.  To melt them, I put wax paper over the pattern and used an iron on medium heat.  This time I melted both sides.  I didn't melt the visible side as much as the side that would be hidden.  After the beads were melted and cooled, I used my hot glue gun to add magnets to the back.

These magnets were easy and fun to make.

While I had the perler beads out, I also made a Mario and Wario for one of my other nephews.  I had to make my own Wario pattern, and I will share it sometime soon.  I also made some cute floppy discs that I will share in a upcoming kawaii perler post.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lamp Shade Upgrade

I found this lamp at Target a couple weeks ago. 

It was about half price, and I got another 5% off of it.  I really like the color of the base, but the lamp shade was really plain. 

I thought of several different ways to decorate.  Originally, I was planing to do some sort of ombre paint chip decoration, but I couldn't find the right color paint samples, and it didn't look right.  I also thought about recovering it with a sweater.  I even found one that was pretty close in color, but it also just didn't look quite right.

Finally, I thought back to some ribbon I had from a summer wreath I made, and I knew it would go well with the lamp shade.  You can't see much of the ribbon in the only pic I found of that wreath, but it's at the very top.

Here is what I ended up with as a final product:

I used a glue gun to to add the ribbon at the top and bottom.  I think it added a nice decorative touch.  At one point, I thought about adding a beading around the center, and I bought some beads.  However, once I laid them on it, it looked too cluttered.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  Now, I just need to find the perfect spot for this lamp.  :)

I also did some more amigurumi projects this week, but I am not quite ready to share them.  I have a bear that needs to be stitched together and a project that I will not be able to post until next weekend after a baby shower.  I finished another amigurumi bird, and I will post it later with the bear.  I am definitely enjoying these amigurumi projects, and I already have a couple of other ones in the works. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My First Amigurumi: Gator Bird

(The nest is made from a scarf my very talented sister in law made.)

I was originally planing on revealing the lamp I am recovering, but I got distracted as usual by another craft.  I have been seeing lots of cool amigurumi animals and dolls on Pinterest and Ravelry, and then I saw Stacey Trock's amigurumi class on sale at Craftsy, so I got it.  I was a little bit worried that this project would be another fail like last week's Sock Fail, but I am very happy with how it turned out.  I learned to crochet as a child, but I never learned stitch names, pattern reading, or more than 1 type of stitch, so I was definitely a beginner when it came to crocheting.  However, while this bird was challenging for a beginner, it was actually pretty manageable and fun to make using the videos.  Now, I know how to read patterns, single crochet, crochet in the round, increase & decrease, and attach limbs.

The bird pattern is available though Craftsy and Ravelry by Stacey Trock.

--2 colors of worsted weight yarn
--2 animal eyes (99 cents for 6 at Hobby Lobby)
--crochet hook
--tapestry needle (mine is plastic)
--locking stitch marker (I use colorful paperclips)

The parts of this piece include 2 wings, 1 beak, and 1 body.  It's all done using single crochet in the round using the back loops. Here is a photo of the crocheted parts ready for stuffing.

(I didn't have any locking stitch markers, so I used paperclips. The paperclips worked well as a substitute.)

Once the beak, wings, and most of the body were crocheted, I attached the wings and beak by sewing them onto the body.  Then, I added the eyes.  Next, I added the stuffing.  Finally,  I crocheted the last few rounds to close up the bird.

Tah dah!!!!!  I created a  Gator Bird:

This project was a lot of fun and surprisingly easy.  I feel much more comfortable with crocheting now, and I have already started another amigurumi project--blue mario mushroom.  There are so many fun and cute free patterns available on Ravelry and blogs, such as dolls, stuffed animals, and foods. I look forward to trying more of them.