Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Filling the "Penguin Pail"

In 2014, I did a pattern bucket list. I think I started in July, with 25 items, and it took me a few months to finish.

For 2015, I want to do a monthly bucket list of ten items. I'm calling it "The Penguin Pail." I am nearly done with my January list, so it's time to start thinking about my February list. With five days left to go in January, I have completed 36 projects, using over 11 pounds of yarn. I have only have three projects going at the time (a bit low for me), because I'm focusing on getting stuff done!

So, back to the Penguin Pail.

A few of the spots are already spoken for... my youngest daughter asked me to make her a pair of bulky knit mittens. Since she is (almost) always a willing model for my wearables, when she makes a request, I try to honor it ASAP.

I also have had two "if you make it, I will buy it" comments on Monster Pants, so they're definitely on the list.

And, I got a book of Amish Puzzle Animals for Christmas, so a Dinosaur Puzzle Ball is on there.

Oh, and I have been challenging myself to do a "giraffe of the month club", so I will make another Striped Giraffe. I'm thinking a tan/blue "beach colors" combination, so I can call the giraffe "Sandy".

So, four spots are taken... six are open. Here is a list of some of the projects I'm considering. I will have a vote going on my Facebook Page if you'd like to chime in. You can vote on an item from this list, or suggest a new project!

Snowman Doll (Olaf)
Snowman Fingerless Gloves
Two-Strand Boot Cuffs
Tiger Hooded Cowl (design idea)
Mini Monster
Baby Dragon
Baby Cupcake Mittens
Penguin Scarf (made from a picture shared with me)
Horse Scarf (made from a picture shared with me)
Penguin stuffed animal
Elephant stuffed animal
Unicorn stuffed animal
Puppy Hat
Fancy Owl stuffed animal

Is there a project listed you would love to see finished? Or one you'd like to suggest? Head on over to Penguin Place on Facebook and vote! 



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Octo-Minion

Well, if you saw my last post, you'd know that I've been on an Octopus kick lately, making scrap yarn octopus dolls with different eyes, different sizes, different personalities.

Yesterday morning, an idea popped into my head... what if I made a cross between a Minion and an octopus? If Dr. Nefario and Gru decided that the Minions weren't being productive enough, and tried to give them more arms?

And so the idea for Octo-Minion came about.
Octo-Minion...taking over the world!
This is a loosely-scripted pattern, since I didn't take any notes, and didn't weigh my yarn before I started. Since I used a bunch of scrap balls of blue yarn for the tentacles, it was hard to keep track. The whole thing, with stuffing, weighs 9.8 ounces, so I'd guess about 3 ounces of yellow yarn and 4 ounces of blue. You also need small amounts of white, black and gray for features.

I made this one with a size K hook and three strands of knitting worsted held together. I used the Navaho technique to get three strands of yarn from one skein. That was one of the new skills I learned in 2014. (Hairpin lace is on my list for 2015).

I digress...

Octo-Minion
At the end of each round, join with a slip stitch. I use a chainless HDC (tutorial here) at the beginning of my rows, but you could also start with a ch 2 before making your first HDC. Usually I would make a scrappy Octopus in continuous rounds, without joining, but I wanted a straight line for the color changes.

Round 1: With yellow, 8 HDC in magic ring
Round 2: 2 HDC in each stitch (16 stitches)
Round 3:  HDC in first stitch, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (24 stitches)
Round 4: HDC in first 2 stitches, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (30 stitches)
Rounds 5-7: HDC around (30 stitches)
Round 8: Switch to black, HDC around (30 stitches)
Round 9-13: Switch back to yellow, HDC around (30 stitches)
At this point, sew on the eye on the black band. 
Round 14: Switch to blue. HDC in first 4 stitches, HDC decrease, repeat around (25 stitches)
 Embroider mouth
Round 15: HDC in first 3 stitches, HDC decrease, repeat around (20 stitches)

Round 16: HDC in first 2 stitches, HDC decrease,  repeat around (15 stitches)
Add stuffing 
 Round 17: HDC in first stitch, HDC decrease, repeat around, (10 stitches)
Make a slip stitch in the stitch directly across the opening from your last stitch. This tightens up the hole at the bottom.
Tentacle:
Chain 40.
Two sc in second chain from hook, then one sc in next chain. Repeat (2 sc in stitch, 1 sc in next stitch) until you get back to the base of the octopus. Slip stitch in next available stitch of your final 8 stitches, and repeat tentacle instructions. Keep repeating until you have 8 tentacles.

Eye: with a single strand of white yarn and size H hook
Round 1: 6 sc in magic ring
Round 2: 2 sc in each stitch (12)
Round 3: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next, repeat around (18)
Round 4: change to gray yarn. 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next two stitches, repeat around (24 stitches).
End off, leaving a long tail to sew on. Sew a small button or sew-on gemstone to the center of the white. Sew eye on, centered on black band.

Top hair tuft: I took four strands of yarn, about 4" long, folded them over, and pulled the loop partway through the top center stitch. Then I pulled the ends of the yarn through the loop and tightened. That made a single top-knot. You could also do single strands in a few places on the top of the head.... there are lots of different Minion hairstyles.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scrappy Octopus

I saw a cute little octopus stuffed animal on Facebook the other day, and it got me thinking. I have been making a lot of Kooky Owls (pattern here) lately, so I wondered how it would turn out if I used some of those basics (three strands of knitting worsted held together, size K hook) to make a quick and easy octopus.

I'm still playing with eyes and size, but here's what I have so far:

Scrappy Octopus

Takes 3 balls of scrap yarn, about 1-1/2 ounces each for the smaller octopus, 2 ounces each for the larger one.
Sizes K & G crochet hooks
Yarn needle
For button eyes (pink octopus): two white buttons 5/8" and two black buttons 3/8"

Smaller (Pink) Version


Do not  join rounds - work in a continuous 
With three strands of yarn and size K hook, make a magic ring.
Round 1: 8 HDC in ring
Round 2: 2 HDC in each stitch (16 stitches)
Round 3:  HDC in first stitch, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (24 stitches)
Rounds 4-6: HDC around (24 stitches)
At this point, sew on the eyes on row 5. Center the black button the white button, and sew both on together. 
Round 7: HDC decrease, HDC, repeat around (16 stitches)
Add stuffing
Round 8: HDC decrease around (8 stitches).
Make a slip stitch in the stitch directly across the opening from your last stitch.
Tentacle:
Chain 20.
Two sc in second chain from hook, then one sc in next chain. Repeat (2 sc in stitch, 1 sc in next stitch) until you get back to the base of the octopus. Slip stitch in next available stitch of your final 8 stitches, and repeat tentacle instructions. Keep repeating until you have 8 tentacles.
Body is smaller version, but tentacles are longer, as in gray version.


Larger Gray Version:
Short version: same as pink, only I added two more rows in the body, and made tentacles with a chani of 30.
 Eyes:
With size G hook and white, make magic ring
6 SC in ring
Round 2: 2 SC in each stitch (12 sc)
Round 3: SC in first stitch, 2 SC in next stitch, repeat around (18 stitches)
End off, leaving long tail for sewing on.

Embroider black pupil at center of eye (option - sew on small black button).

Eyelid:
With gray, make magic ring. 10 DC in ring. Pull tight, but do not join. Finish off, leaving long tail for sewing on. Sew on top of eye.

Body:
Round 1: 8 HDC in ring
Round 2: 2 HDC in each stitch (16 stitches)
Round 3:  HDC in first stitch, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (24 stitches)
Rounds 4-8: HDC around (24 stitches)
Around row 6 or 7, sew on the eyes on row 5. 
Round 9: HDC decrease, HDC, repeat around (16 stitches)
Add stuffing 
Round 10: HDC decrease around (8 stitches).
Make a slip stitch in the stitch directly across the opening from your last stitch.
Tentacle:
Chain 30.
Two sc in second chain from hook, then one sc in next chain. Repeat (2 sc in stitch, 1 sc in next stitch) until you get back to the base of the octopus. Slip stitch in next available stitch of your final 8 stitches, and repeat tentacle instructions. Keep repeating until you have 8 tentacles.


You can have fun with these by varying the yarn and hook size. I just got a size S crochet hook... I could make a really big octopus with about six strands of yarn held together...that would really put a dent in my scrap yarn collection!


XL Version - Sleepy Green Octopus

About 20" tall without stretching, but tentacles will stretch from 12" to about 24"

I used three strands of yarn - one strand of "thick and thin" off-white, and two strands of green knitting worsted. I used a little over 2 ounces from each skein of green yarn, and about half of the skein of thick & thin.

Body:
Round 1: 6 HDC in ring
Round 2: 2 HDC in each stitch (12 stitches)
Round 3:  HDC in first stitch, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (18 stitches)
Round 4: HDC in first two stitches, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (24 stitches)
Round 5:  HDC in first three stitches, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (30 stitches)
Round 6:  HDC in first four stitches, 2 HDC in next, repeat around (36 stitches)
Rounds 7-11: HDC around (36 stitches)
Around row 10 or 11, sew on the eyes. 
Round 12: HDC in first four stitches, HDC decrease, repeat around (30 stitches)
Round 13:  HDC in first three stitches, HDC decrease, repeat around (24 stitches)
Round 14: HDC in first two stitches, HDC decrease, repeat around (18 stitches)
Round 15: HDC in first stitch, HDC decrease, repeat around (12 stitches)
Add stuffing 
Round 10: HDC decrease around (8 stitches).
Make a slip stitch in the stitch directly across the opening from your last stitch.
Tentacle:
Chain 50.
Two sc in second chain from hook, then one sc in next chain. Repeat (2 sc in stitch, 1 sc in next stitch) until you get back to the base of the octopus. Slip stitch in next available stitch of your final 8 stitches, and repeat tentacle instructions. Keep repeating until you have 8 tentacles.

Eyes: 
With single strand of white knitting worsted and size G hook, make 6 sc in magic ring.
Round 1: 2 sc in each stitch (12 stitches)
Round 2: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next, repeat around. (18 stitches). Finish off, leaving long tail to sew on eye.
Using a little black thread, embroider on eyelashes as shown.

Hair Tuft:
Cut 4 strands of yarn about 4" long. Double over and pull a loop hrough a stitch at the top center of the head. Pull the yarn ends through the loop and pull to tighten. Unravel yarn for a fuller look. Trim to desired length.

CEO Redding
(Crazy Eyes Octopus)
For this guy, I did the same body as the gray version, but did mis-matched eyes.

The eyes are made with one strand of knitting worsted and a size H hook.
Smaller Eye
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: 2 SC in each stitch (12)
Round 3: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next, repeat around (18)
Finish off, leaving long tail to sew on. Sew on small button.

Larger Eye
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: 2 SC in each stitch (12)
Round 3: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next, repeat around (18)
Round 4: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next two stitches, repeat around (24)
 Finish off, leaving long tail to sew on. Sew on button.







Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blessings beat tadpoles, fish and spiders

This story starts about a month ago, in early December. I don't know the exact date, but since I was listening to Family Life Network on my car radio, it must have been before my Straight No Chaser Christmas CD made its way into the car.

I was listening to Pastor Chip Ingram's program, "Living on the Edge."  He told of a day when things weren't quite going his way. He was looking for his sermon notes. He searched and searched his briefcase and home office, and couldn't find them, so even though he had promised to take his wife and daughter to dinner, he had to stop at church to look for those notes. When he got to the church, he found a homeless woman huddled in a corner, trying to keep out of the cold. He and his family took her out to dinner, and got her housing for a couple of nights. She told them that, just before they arrived at the church, she had called out to God, asking for His help in meeting her needs. Even though Chip Ingram's notes weren't in the church office (when he got home, he found them in the briefcase he had gone through before), he needed to be there at that moment for God to use him to meet the needs of a sister in Christ. Chip referred to blessings like that, when the people of God meet a person's needs, as "hugs from an Unseen God."

I was in a bit of a low spot when I heard that story... tired and discouraged. I thought, "I could really use a hug like that." When I got home, I went to start a project that I had been putting off for a while, so I went down to the basement to do some "yarn shopping." I needed a good-sized ball of bright white yarn, in worsted weight. Even though there is a big tote with just white yarn, there wasn't enough bright white in that weight, off-white yes. Cream, yes. Bright white, no. I looked in a few other places... no bright white yarn.Since it was an order that needed to match something I'd already made, I really needed bright white.

All this and no bright white yarn???


Now, I have been trying to stay away from craft stores. I admit, I'm a Yarnaholic. Even though I have enough yarn in the house to keep me "in stitches" for years, if I go into a craft store, I will come out with too much yarn. The colors, the textures, the possibility are just too much for me to resist! I spent more than $500 on yarn and other craft supplies in 2014, much of that on yarn that I haven't used yet. Toward the end of 2014, I declared myself to be on a "yarn diet" and didn't set foot in a craft store for over 6 weeks.

So, I had a need for bright white yarn... and the need for one of those "hugs from an Unseen God." So, I put in an "order" for a special hug... for somebody to give me some bright white yarn. It wasn't all that unusual. Four or five times in 2014, I had people give me bags of yarn, or leave some yarn on my desk at church. A few days passed. I still didn't start on that scarf order because I didn't have the white yarn. A few more days passed. I decided that my "order "was too difficult... so when I placed an Amazon order for some Christmas presents, I added a skein of bright white yarn to my order.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2015. I had been making a lot of stuffed animals for craft shows. I was getting to the bottom of my last bag of poly-fill. I remember thinking, "Oh, well, I guess I'll have to make a trip to Joanns and hope I can get out of there without buying too much yarn." The whole lesson about "hugs from an Unseen God" didn't even occur to me. I planned on getting to Joanns on my next day off, five days later. But God had another plan. I was sitting in my office the next day when a friend walked in with two bags of poly-fill. She said, "We got too much of this for a craft and it's taking up too much storage space. If you can use it, it's yours."

When I got home that afternoon, and picked up my current project, I saw the skein of white yarn and realized that I had just gotten my hug. And then, this morning, I got part two, when reading the Daily Bread Devotional. It started with a bit of an unusual story, about the fact that tadpoles, fish and spiders have all fallen from the sky like rain. But God showers His people with blessings. The last line of the devotional really drove home the message for me: "Whether many or few, the good things we receive come with a message from God: I see your needs. You are mine, and I will care for you." 

There are big needs in our lives and there are little needs. Sometimes it's when God meets the little needs that we remember that He's caring for the big stuff too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pages and pages of adorable stuff!

As I work on promoting my Penguin Place Shop, I have been sharing products through various link-ups. The way that it works is that each crafter shares 2 or 3 of their items, and all of the items show up in clickable form on the blog.

Here's an example: Handmade Mania on the Kiser Krafts website. I was honored to have one of my products, Neon Leon, be selected for a "staff pick" last week!

There are so many wonderful products in theses assortments: stuffed animals, soaps, yarn, jewelry, wall art, clothing & accessories!

Here's another page of homemade goodies: Daft Craft Happy Homemade - 

I think my favorite item in Happy Homemade this week is the Designer Heart Soaps From Sudzy Bums. That shop has the most tempting collection of handmade soaps I've ever seen!

So, take a few minutes to click on the links and check out some of the neat stuff! And if you're a crafter with an online shop, go ahead and add your own links! The more, the merrier!

Happy Shopping!



Thursday, January 1, 2015

January Project Bucket List

Starting out 2015 by getting organized, making a new project list. Think I can finish up these ten projects in January?

Pictures will follow as I finish them.

1. Ben's gift... Belated birthday gift. It's a dishcloth with a steaming mug and "Must Have Coffee". He likes it!


2. Penguin scarf... Custom order - about 20% done


Monday Night. 25" = 40% done

3. Furby...because it's cute. Well, I started out making a Furby, but got frustrated with making the eyes and decided to make it an owl. It turned out so well that it's already sold!


4. Mini Minion doll... One of my best sellers - DONE - added a new design... Octo-Minion!

5. Fox hood... Hoping this will be a new best seller  - Done!


6. Penguin Hat... Because it's something Penguin! - DONE


7. Mama Bear Hat... Custom order -


8. Striped Snake...fun scrap yarn project - DONE


9. Purple giraffe... Started 1/12 - Finished 1/18


10. Yellow and brown giraffe... DONE To give a customer a choice of natural or fun giraffe
See that pile of leftover scrap yarn? I couldn't resist... I made a Kooky Owl.

This is what I ended up with from all those little balls of yarn.



Nine down, one to go, with six days to work on it!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Goals - How did I do?

Here it is, the last day of December. Time to check in on how well I did with December goals:

Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase DONE! 

2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy  Finished other custom orders that came in, but didn't get started on the scarf. The customer said, "Whenever", so I kept pushing it down the priority list.

3) Listing items... DONE!

4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!

5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this) DONE! - Finished a scarf that I started back in July!


I set some goals for 2015, regarding sales, clearing out my yarn stash, and trying new things. Hopefully there will be at least 8 new patterns on my blog in 2015, as I develop the ideas I have on paper.


I had fun with the bucket list idea last year... so I definitely plan on doing that again!