Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I've created a monster!

It all started Sunday morning, when I was ready for church, but my daughter wasn't. I pulled out the bag of yarn I have set aside for my August Penguin Pail Challenge, figuring while I waited, I could pull out that tangle of yarn in the bag and get at least one little ball wound.
Surprise, surprise... that whole mess of yarn was nothing but short strings, mostly between 4" and 18" long. At first, I thought I'd have to toss the whole mess, but then I thought a monster with multi-color, multi-length hair just might look cute. The wheels were churning, and later that evening I started on one.

Since then, I've made three... all different, but the same concepts, so I'll try to explain what I did.
For reference purposes, let's call them (L-R) Baby, Mom, & Dad

The first one I made was the one on the left, Baby. I grabbed a small ball of green yarn (maybe about 1 ounce worsted weight) and a G hook. I started with one leg. I did 6 sc in a magic ring, then increased in each stitch for the next round. Then I worked even for a couple of rounds. Finish off that leg, make another to match. Then I did a chain two, crocheted around the top of the first leg, back along the chain two, and around the second leg, then back across the chain, to make one big circle for the body. I did a few rows even, then did a decrease at the outside center of each leg to start tapering the body. When I was almost out of yarn, I ended off, leaving a long tail to sew up the top.

For Mom's body, I made her legs longer and did a longer chain between the legs.  I had a bigger ball of yarn to play with. With Dad, I was working with sport weight yarn and a size E hook, and wasn't sure how far it would go... so I made his arms and legs stubby... but then the yarn kept on going and going, so he ended up pretty tall. Hey, they're monsters... anything goes... monsters come in all shapes and sizes!

For Baby's arms, I did 6 or 7 sc in a magic ring and worked even for about 3". I didn't stuff the arms.
For Mom's arms, I did 6 sc in a magic ring, increased to 12 in the next round, worked a round or two even, and then decreased back to 7 or 8 and made about an inch more of arm (although I put them too high and they look more like horns than arms!)
For Dad's arms, I did 6 sc in magic ring, then increased to 12, and only did 1 or two rows. He has short, stubby arms.

One thing I learned after Baby - making the arms first works best... then I can just keep going with the body until I run out of yarn, rather than guessing how much I should leave for making the arms.

For the eye,
Black yarn: 6 sc in magic ring
Round 2: 2 sc in each stitch. Finish off.
Round 3: Attach green yarn. 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next stitch. Repeat around.
With white yarn, embroider a highlight on the border between black & green. Baby & Dad have a simple V. Mom has a square.

Once eye and arms are attached, stuff and sew up the top seam on the head. Then have fun with the hair! 

For the hair, just grab a couple of strands of yarn, pull through a stitch to make a loop. pull your yarn ends through the loop and pull to tighten. Repeat across top of the head. If you want a fuller head of hair, repeat with another row on the back of the head, one row down from the top.
The Messy Monster family continues to grow, with Cardinal O'Harry
 Updated 8/5
I made a taller guy, Cardinal O'Harry. You can see he has different legs. I started out with 6 SC in a magic ring, then went to 12 stitches in the next round. I worked one or two rounds even, and then decreased back to six (stuffing the foot a little before I did all the decreased) for the rest of the leg. Arms are similar... but I increased to 9 and decreased on the next round, to make the arm ends a little smaller than the feet.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The August Penguin Pail

Oh, I came soooo close to finishing in July! Just one more day, and I might have aced my Penguin Pail! But, I didn't finish the Amish Puzzle Ball Turtle, so he carries over to August.

1. Finish Amish Puzzle Ball Turtle - DONE

I'm starting out the month with about 18 of 25 pieces done, so it's only a few more hours work... I hope...
Finished Sunday night, 8/2

2. Make another dinosaur blanket, with some pink! (Started Monday night, 8/3) DONE - finished 8/15

3. Design a fish blanket - DONE - Finished 8/22

4. Finish my yarn inventory (I've inventoried 6 bins with 135 yarns...some multiple skeins, and have 9 bins to go. I am estimating 18 hours work to finish it.)
8/4 - 7 down, 8 to go.
8/11 - DONE! (I figure that 138 pounds of yarn would last me, oh, about two years...)

5. Another Scrap Bag challenge
It started with this $2 bargain bag from Goodwill, but as I inventoried yarn bins, when I found little balls of yarn that I didn't want to weigh, photograph and enter into inventory, I crammed them into the bag also, so I have about three pounds of scrap yarn to turn into cute little items!

Sunday 8/2 update: I went through the scrap bag this morning and discovered that what I thought was a tangle of yarn that could be untangled into some usable balls of yarn was actually a wad of short strands of yarn, 4" - 18" in length. I was about to toss it all when I pictured a shaggy-haired monster!
Nothing longer than 18" in this mess...

Scrap Yarn = Messy Monsters!

And off we go!!!
August 7
One week into the Use It Up challenge, and I've made 5 Messy Monsters, a dragon scarf, a headband, and a happy face scrubbing mitt. The bag that was stuffed so full I could barely zip it now has about 3" of empty space at the top.

Almost two weeks into the Use It Up challenge and the bag is only about half full...
Another week's worth of projects...
 This week, I made two stuffed animals (puppy and giraffe), three Messy Monsters and two dishcloths from my scrap bag (well, I had to add some off-white for the puppy, and some more variegated yarn for the giraffe). Bag is about half empty now, but I'm setting it aside for a few weeks to focus on the other projects. I figure the smaller projects from that bag will be easier to work on in the car during a long trip at the end of the month.

Another week, another batch of critters:
The bag only has about 6 ounces of yarn left in it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Getting Started...

Wow, it's July.

That means I need to make up a new Penguin Pail.

Life has been crazy and I haven't had the time to get one together!

Today's #CreativeDaily keyword is "Getting Started" - so here I go! I'll just make up an ambitious list off the top of my head!

July 2015 Penguin Pail

1. Finish both of the WIP I currently have started: DONE

I am working on a baby blanket made of Monster Granny Squares. It will take 36 squares: 18 Monsters, 9 solid color squares with off-white border, and 9 off-white squares. I have 14 of the 36 squares done. At the back left of the picture, you can see my other WIP (Work in Progress) - Baby Shark Slippers. I have one done and the other one started. Should be able to finish up with a few more hours' work.

Finished July 6th

Finished shark slipper on a wiggly 9-month-old!

2. Jake the Giraffe - DONE
I want to make another striped giraffe, one of my best sellers. I wasn't sure of what color scheme to use until my daughter was talking about a wedding she attended. She said the color scheme was coral and navy blue and that she really liked that together. So, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and used a gift card to pick up a few skeins of yarn:
I went over to the Stripe Generator at the Biscuits and Jam website and punched in my color choices, then refreshed a few times until I got a stripe pattern that caught my eye. Now I can start on Jake (the groom at the above-mentioned wedding was named Jacob).

Jake is all done!

3. Hooded Dinosaur Blanket. ( Pattern Here ) - DONE!
  Snappy Tots offered a free pattern last month, and I got this one free... so I bought some yarn and am eager to get going on this project!

Two evenings' work
This project has been at a standstill due to the weather. It has been so hot and sticky that I haven't been able to stand having a heavy blanket across my lap as I work on it!

Finished 7/30/15

Doesn't quite fit my 5'8" daughter, but she loves it!

4. Bucket of Fun Project - DONE
Got it filled!
My "how many projects" last month was fun... so I'm going to do it again, on a slightly larger scale. I have an empty tub from pretzels.

I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I am going to fill it with balls of yarn and mostly-used up skeins, and work on little projects through the month to finish it off. I'm eager to pop out a few more Twirly Birds and Mini Teddy Bears.
Project #1 from the bin
A few more projects from the scrap bin: a lion and a cupcake!
This finished off  a ball of yarn from the bin!

Manny the Monster is using up yarn scraps like crazy

This Patriotic Pony almost finished off the red, white & blue variegated yarn.

Manuel de Monster - done!

Made up a little striped  owl as I went along...
Two more projects finished 7/22 & 7/23 - mini turtle & yellow dishcloth

And then I did an old favorite - Calypso the Kooky Owl!
This was before I made the two owls. Now the gallon-sized bag is about half full.

July 23 - about a week left in July, and the yarn is almost gone.

Sugar-free, gluten-free, high-fiber cupcake! ;)

Started out as an owl, turned out to be an alien...

Sam the Owl finished off the red, white & blue variegated!
All that's left Friday morning, 7/24

5. Another Amish Puzzle Ball critter! Maybe a dinosaur this time... okay, a turtle. Started 7/29
The project starts with lots of little pieces... 12 wedges, head segment, leg segments, tail... I have ten of 12 wedges done as of 7/30 evening.

Finished July with 18 of the 25 pieces done. Should be done by Monday! 

Since this list of 5 items will probably generate about 30 finished items, I think I'll end there!

Let the July crafting begin!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Twirly Bird

As you can see from the Giveaway post, I gathered up yarn from around my chair and challenged myself to use it all up for various projects. Last night, I found myself with one project in the works to use up a skein of blue (but with that on size 4 knitting needles, it's going to take a while) and two very small balls of green yarn.

I wanted to make an owl with the green yarn, but stripes seemed too boring. I wondered how it would work with a spiral... and that's how Twirly Bird came to be.

He weighs just under half an ounce with button eyes and stuffing, so you only need a little bit of yarn. This pattern is easy to adjust to larger sizes. For an overview: I made a circular base using the usual increases (increasing in every stitch on round 1, 1 stitch between increases on round 2, 2 stitches between increases on round 3, etc.) When the base was the desired width, I attached the second color and started my swirl pattern. I used a pattern based on 5 stitches (2 light, 3 dark). I had 24 stitches around - so since that was one less than a multiple of 5, it makes the swirl pattern.

Once I ran out of one color (the light green), I finished off with the dark green, chaining ten at one side and working my way back with 2 sc in each stitch. I held the top closed and did SC across the top, then did another chain 10 and worked my way back with 2 sc in each chain to make the curly tassel on the other side. Added eyes and beak, and it was done!

Okay, now I will attempt to write up the directions as a "real" pattern.

Two small balls knitting worsted weight yarn (making a little owl like the green one above, the balls of yarn were about an inch in diameter, loosely wound). In the picture below, I didn't use all the yarn when I made Twirly Bird 2
Small quantities of white yarn for eyes (I used sport weight yarn) and yellow or orange for beak
Size G hook
Two small button eyes
Yarn needle

Beginning with the yarn you have more of, do 6 sc in magic ring. You will work continuously without joining rounds, so it is helpful  to mark the beginning with a stitch marker.
Round 1: 2 SC in each stitch (12)
Round 2: 2 SC in first stitch, sc in next stitch, repeat around (18)
Round 3:  2 SC in first stitch, sc in next 2 stitches repeat around (24)
Round 4 - EndAttach Color B. *2 SC with Color B. Change to Color A. 3 SC with Color A. Change to Color B. * Keep repeating until your piece measures about 3" tall, or when you get to within about a yard of running out of yarn.
Your stitch pattern should be working out like this:


I like to attach the eyes and beak before I stuff the owl. 

Tassel: Chain 10. 2 SC in 2nd chain from hook and each chain. Slip stitch to the same stitch where you started the chain. Change to other color (if you have any left!). Chain 10. 2 SC in 2nd chain from hook and each chain. Slip stitch to the same stitch where you started the chain. 

Stuff owl. Hold top of owl together and SC across top. At other side, repeat tassel instructions. Finish off and tuck in loose ends. 

Note: with the green owl above, I had run out of light green, so I only made one tassel on each side in dark green. For the brown owl below, I made one tassel of each color on each side, which I liked better.
With white sport-weight yarn, make 6 hdc in magic ring.
Round 1: 2 hdc in each stitch (12). Fasten off, leaving long tail to sew on.
Sew small buttons on eye, slightly lower than the center.

Sew on, using picture above for reference.

Cut a piece of yarn about 40" long. Fold it in half and make a loop at the fold. Using both strands of yarn, chain 5. Make a slip stitch in the second chain from hook. Make a SC in the next chain, HDC in the next chain, and DC in the last chain. Finish off. Sew to owl as shown in picture above. (I pull one strand of the tail through to the inside and use the other strand to sew the beak on, then tie a good knot on the inside to secure both strands.)

If you only sew the top of the beak, it will  curl up on its own, giving the face a nice 3D effect. If you would rather have the beak lie flat, you can sew it around all the edges. 

For more ideas on eyes, check out the pattern for Calypso the Kooky Owl

Twirly Bird #2 in the works

Now that you have the basics... you could make these in all sizes. You make the base as big as you want, as long as your stitch count is 1 more or less than a multiple of your pattern repeat count. You can do all sorts of pattern repeats... 3+3, 2+4, 1+3... have fun!



Thursday, June 11, 2015


I found out this morning that I won a free pattern from Snappy Tots, so I'm celebrating my win by doing a giveaway myself!

One lucky winner will get a $15 credit toward any item in my inventory. The winner will be the person with the most points.

There are three ways to earn points:
1) Guess how many projects I will finish from the pictured selection of yarn. I gathered up about a dozen balls of yarn and partially finished skeins from around my chair and decided I was going to use them all up. I should end up with some interesting items! Some items might be bigger - some might be pretty small. I'm just making up items as the inspiration strikes. One item that I finished yesterday and another that I started yesterday will be included in the count, since they used the yarn in this bin.

So, If you guess the number exactly, you get 5 points. If you are within 1, you get 4 points. Within 2, 3 points. Within 3, 2 points, and within 4, 1 point.

2) You can make up to 5 guesses/suggestions as to what I make with the yarn. You get 3 points every time an item I make matches one of your guesses.

3) If you share this giveaway post, you get 5 points. (Please comment or send me a message if you share directly from this blog. I will be able to see when people share my Facebook post, but I don't think I will be able to see that from this blog.)

Guesses can be submitted here or on my Facebook page until Sunday, June 21st (get your guesses in before midnight that day).

Points will be tallied once all the yarn is used up.
So, here is the collection of items I made from the bin of yarn pictures above. 
Mermaid, Minion, four owls, a puppy, a bear, a slug, three donuts (only two are pictured, because I mailed one out as a gift), unicorn, turtle, triceratops, snake, TARDIS fingerless gloves, African Tree Frog, headband. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

The June Penguin Pail

Here are most of the projects I made from the bin of yarn for my Giveaway challenge, filling the "Color Bag" category.
For April and May, I finished up my Penguin Pail before I ran out of month... so I guess I'll have to be a little more ambitious than ten projects. I came up with the idea to make up a looser list - a grid of twelve projects that should keep me busy for a month:

Here's an explanation of the squares: 
(Done - Zeke) Critter corner = one of my best seller stuffed animals, like giraffe or monkey
(Done - Mermaid) Fantasy land = mermaid, dinosaur or unicorn
(Done - Striped Owl) Scrap = anything that uses the small balls of yarn left after bigger projects

(Done - Bear, Turtle) African Flower = something using the new pattern I learned doing May's Fancy Owl
(Done - Sid the Squid) Variegated = anything using up variegated yarn
(Done - made a fancy owl) Rock the Croc = something using crocodile stitch
(Done - Pretty Pink Tractor) Vehicle = plane train, automobile, tractor
(Done) - Four Square = finish four squares of a specialty granny square for a blanket
(Done, with my "use it up" challenge) Color bag = 4 or 5 coordinating colors in a project bag, make stuff till yarn is used up
(Done - Twirly Bird) - Design = Work on a design idea
(Done) Minion - Anything Minion
(Done - Cupcake Purse) Purse - cute little kid's purse

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Some items will cover more than one square... for instance, I'm working on a new Minion design today, so that would cover both the Minion square and the Design square. When my daughter (who is far better with colors than I) makes up the color bag for me, it may be used for Critter Country and African Flower).

Even though there are twelve squares, I will end up with more than 12 projects, due to the "Color Bag" and "Variegated" options. For those, I want to use up the yarn, so I'll end up making whatever it takes to use up the skeins.

Okay, here goes...

First project finished - a pair of Mermaids. Technically  they  fit three categories: Fantasy Land, variegated, and scrap yarn. I will count them as Fantasy  Land.

Now, designing a vehicle. If you have ever seen Tim Hawkins sing Little Pink Tractor, you should love this one!

Tuesday 6/2 was a busy day, with time waiting during medical appointments and a lot of time in the car. Finished off two little projects that will qualify for the "Scrap" category.

Finished up my "pretty pink tractor" - but I want to tweak the pattern a bit. I got the texture I wanted on the tires, but my double crochet stitch lets the white stuffing show through. And the top of the tractor is supposed to be pink, too. This one fits the categories Vehicle, Scrap and Design... but I will count it towards Vehicle.

Zeke the Giraffe finishes off Critter Country
Owl made with the Crocodile Stitch

African Flower category - Turtle

Since I was having such fun with African flower projects, I made another one!

For the Purse category, I made a cupcake purse.
Cross Minion off the list!
Four Monester squares done

Here is Sid the Short-Changed Squid. He only has 7 legs, since I ran out of yarn...