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Amigurumi for Kiddo

31 Jan

I usually make amigurumi for my friends, but it’s been hard to plan for a baby and make the time to make them for myself. But, a couple of months ago I asked Doug what kind of animal he thought I should make for Alex that was somewhat unusual. He thought for a moment, and then said,

A platypus!”

Since I’m not really a fan of patterns, I had to wait for a time when I could think about how to design and think of a way to make a platypus. I tried some fuzzy yarn but then realized that it would be harder to wash and for kiddo to chew on. I started and stopped several times because of holiday knitting. But, finally a couple of weeks ago I finished Polly the Purple Platypus.

ami pic

Polly

I then wanted to make a zany zebra with some leftover yarn from Alex’s baby blanket. I quickly crocheted up the head and the body. As I was working on the mane and ears, though, I realized that this amigurumi was destined to be something else — either a dragon or a martian. I put it to Doug, and he immediately said,

A Martian!”

So, a Martian it is. Don’t have a name for him yet, but have been kicking around a few. For now he’s just Little Martian.

Martian

Little Martian

Have another knitted amigurumi I’m working on. Might even have time to post the pattern (if kiddo doesn’t come within the next week or two!).

 

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Show Me Your Ami…

1 May

There are some really fun knitting/crochet blogs that I love to keep up with (see the blogroll for many of them, others yet to be posted…). It’s fun, though, when someone tries your pattern. Joan at the Local Needle in Florida posted a picture of her knitted kumochan amigurumi, ‘Vera BRATley’. Vera’s a cute little spider putting her many arms to good use — with tons of shopping bags!

Some of the other blogs I have seen with great amigurumi:

  • Owly just posted her first crocheted amigurumi pattern, Sarita, a really cute Mexican doll with sweet braided hair and such a cute face.
  • Kinoko has a whole gallery of critters posted.
  • Bittersweet has a lot of amigurumi (complete with charming stories) and some great free patterns (even a few knitted ones…). Her latest is a really awesome purple owl.
  • Amelia at Ask The Bellweather just posted a FO/OWL named Wowl who is also extremely sweet (and purplely).
  • Calypso has a cute little monkey – her first amigurumi which is just adorable (I love his smile!)
  • Patti Haskins has a couple of super fun and colorful crochet cats.  One of her colorful creations was posted recently on the Softies Central website.

I know that there are tons of great amigurumi bloggers out there who create really cute things and are also willing to share their patterns. If you know of any or if you would like to share your amigurumi creations, feel free to post a link!

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One can only give so many scarves…. (or the belated b-day present)

5 Apr

So, I have this rule that I only make things for people I truly care about. In the past I’ve made the mistake of giving my woodblocks or crocheted (seldom knitted because of the time involved) things to people who have turned out to be uncaring or who no longer hold a special place in my life. This new rule has worked out well because I know that the things I so lovingly create will find a good home and will be truly appreciated.

The only thing is, just how many scarves do people need?

This year I ran into this dilemma. Each one of my girlfriends had been a proud recipient of at least one scarf and a woodblock print. What else was there that I could give them? I wanted something that would look cool but would also not take too much time away from my other projects.

I found the answer while surfing on Crochet Me – jewelry. I had tried working with wire before and whatever I did looked like something a 5-year-old could slap together. But I found the pattern It’s Electric, and I was so (ahem…) wired. I mean, here was something I could make that was simple, elegant and yet wouldn’t take hours of work.

So, I did a trial run on a set of jewelry for my mom. (The necklace was cool, but the earrings are probably a little over-bearing. Oh well, mom’s pretty cool about receiving experiments.) The next person to get something was Dalit. I had found some really nice beads that matched her eyes. Then there was Rae. I originally had purchased two sets of beads, one, a set of deep shimmery brown for another friend, but decided the brown would look best on Rae. The last person on my list was Stef. I had really wanted a garnet color for her, but have been at a loss finding something — just like most yarns, the colors tend to be too red or orange.

Luckily Stef had a kid recently and has been pre-occupied because I didn’t make her gift in time for her b-day.

In fact, I didn’t finish it until two days ago….

jewelry

(The earring pattern came from the book “Wire Jewellery” by Kate Pullen)

See, (yes, this is part excuse & part justification) it was hard to find beads that worked. I searched and searched for them. Finally I found some blue beads in the garmet district here in LA (the only place to get reasonably priced beads, I have to say..). But, lord knows when I’ll see her again because, as with most friends who are new parents, it’s hard to keep up with each other. I understand her situation completely, but I still miss her company.

So, by the time she gets this, it might be for the next b-day. 8) But, after all, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

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Yamorichan (Little Gecko)

23 Mar

Yamorichan 2

I love geckos. (Probably pretty obvious given the moniker for my blog.) Even though I have a cat, the gecko is my favorite critter. There is something soothing about the clik-clik-clik they make while I’m sleeping in a thatched bamboo hut on a South-East Asian beach knowing that they are dining on all the pesky mosquitos that might otherwise dine on me. It’s nice coming back to a place being greeted by these little creatures who so unassumedly take care of me.

I always feel lucky whenever I find a gecko or anole in my house.

Once when I was living in Florida, a lizard fell on my head in the shower. I shrieked, but was happy knowing that it was there. Another time in Japan I noticed my cat playing with something (I thought it was a string or a cat-toy). Upon closer examination, it was a gecko. Machan (the cat) had laid into him, biting off his tail. There was blood on the carpet. She just didn’t get that the gecko was a friend — keeping the demon-like spitting mukade (poisonous centipedes) and mosquitos at bay. Luckily I found him in time, gently putting him outside and hoping for his recovery. I kept seeing him around my front door that summer, somewhat battered –but still alive– and I never had one single mukade the entire summer.

If there is such a thing as an animal totem, the gecko (or lizard) is defintely mine. They are said to be intuitive, sensing things that happen around them which may not be readily apparent. They are creatures of change, growth and dreams. What to one person may seem a slithery thing, to me is a sleek and shimmering animal of beauty — agile, knowing and patient (qualities which I don’t necessarily posses, but rather aspire to).

For years I had been drawing little geckos in notebooks without really thinking. I love having anything gecko around me (as long as it’s not Southwest-style kitsch). When I decided to get a tattoo about 10 years ago. I thought about it deeply. Ankh or yin-yang symbol — too common. Japanese kanji (character) — not quite right. Then one day I saw a temporary gecko tattoo and it just felt right. If I was going to get permanently inked, the gecko was it — we ‘cliked’. Now with the gecko permanently affixed to my left shoulder, I know that it is my animal, that if it is at all possible, we are linked in spirit.

I’m not one to have super cutsy things in my house. Although I love designing toys and such, they are usually meant for others. But, just once, I wanted to create one just for me, something that would follow me throughout the day, and my latest amigurumi, Yamorichan, (‘little lizard’ in Japanese) was born. He rests on my handbrake, reminding me (although often unsuccessfully!) to remain patient and aware. Keeping me safe from the blood-sucking LA drivers, bringing me back to the peace and tranquility I found on the beach in a thatched hut.

Yamorichan

(Yamorichan Handbrake Cozy)

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Afghans & Amigurumi no mushi-tachi

23 Feb

One of my closest friends is having a baby. So, when I found out in May I started working on a lap blanket for her. I initially tried to follow a pattern in Debbie Stoller’s the Happy Hooker but then just decided to make a simple, striped, blanket out of TLC Cotton Plus.

afghan.JPG

I love the sheen of this yarn and I had a lot left over, so I indulged in one of my latest obessions — amigurumi.

Amigurumi, from the Japanese meaning knit or crocheted dolls, are nothing new. I remember my mom getting me a pattern book back in the 80’s with all sorts of crocheted animals. Back then, though, knitted toys were really uncool. So, I never really considered making any until about 4 years ago when a friend of mine had a baby. I found a pattern book with critters similar to the ones from the 80’s, but somehow they seemed cooler than when I was a kid (which might have been the resurrection of 70’s-inspired fashion and the retro boom rearing its head). So, I started making animals from patterns and giving them as baby presents.

Only once did I try to make up my own pattern — a duck. It turned out so funky, that I thought I would have to always follow a pattern (something I really have trouble doing…). That is, until I started reading about the amigurumi craze in Japan.

The Japanese have updated crocheted dolls so that they are much more anime- or character-good like. They are part of the latest vinyl doll craze and there is something about the larger heads and smaller bodies that make them look so much more fun and funky than the earlier dolls. There are a few websites devoted only to amigurumi and a tutorial . I also saw a lot of really cute patterns for sale online, but really wanted to know how to design them so that they’d look more fun and creative. So, during Christmas break, my boyfriend and I went to Kinokuniya (a book store) in Little Tokyo and I got a book about amigurumi with a lot of cute patterns. I don’t know what it is, but the way the book was laid out and the diagrams really made it clear not only how to make these but also how to design them so that they won’t turn out too strange or lopsided. I think that the books I saw would be accessible even for people who don’t know Japanese, although it helped that I remembered some of my now fast-dwindling nihongo (Japanese).

The first pattern I made was a little bear from the book. He turned out really well and is sitting on Doug’s desk at work. I decided that none of the other patterns were really things I wanted to make just yet, so I used my new-found skills to make a few toys for my friend’s soon-to-be new baby using the leftover yarn.

Nowadays people are freaked out about the small bits on crocheted toys, so I always embroider the faces to reduce the smaller parts. But one thing I noticed is that many of my friends put the toys up on the dresser — they look cute but have no real purpose. So, I decided this time to make three little bugs (mushi, in Japanese) and put them together in a mobile.

The first one I made was a bumblebee…

bee

the second a butterfly

butterfly front

butterfly front

and the third, a dragonfly.

dragonfly

Making these guys was the easy part. Trying to figure out how to balance them on a mobile was a little more challenging. I tried wrapping wire in yarn, but realized that it the wire would poke through. I then put the wrapped wire in a small tube I crocheted in the back loops. I tried both 20 gauge wire and pipe cleaners — the 20 gauge wire doubled worked best. A crocheted chain was too heavy-looking to hang each doll and thread or fishing line wouldn’t look right, so I just used plain cotton yarn (embroidery floss would work as well) and finally found a way to balance them on the single yarn-rod with a simple loop at the top for hanging and a few crocheted flowers for the butterfly and the bee.

mobile 1

mobile 2

It turned out pretty well — I don’t really want to give it away!

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