Thursday, January 19, 2017

(Please Vote For Me!) My Entry in the Mochimochi Land Annual Photo Contest

If I've only got your attention for a quick second, just skip the rest of the post and CLICK HERE TO VOTE! lol Mine is The Tragic Tale of Piggie Antoinette. Thank you so much if you do vote!

If you're here to read the post (and then vote after ... please ... lol), then please read on :)

I've long watched the annual Mochimochi Land photo contest and wished I could join in. I love Anna Hrachovec's patterns, but I never felt like I had made enough of her patterns to make a proper entry in the contest. This year, though, I was struck with inspiration. It all started with Arthur, the big pencil:) As soon as I finished him I remembered that the deadline for entries this year had been extended and I would have just over a week to some up with something, and the ideas flowed from there. So this is what came from my original inspiration: Letters To Santa.
It's amazing what having a large knitted pencil does for your creativity with photos, lol. I had a heck of a time making the nickels by their hands noticeable, and it's very hard to focus on both large animals and small ones in a convincing way. In the end, it didn't really come out as well in real life as in my head, but I still think it's cute :) I ended up getting an honorable mention for this entry! Not bad for my first time entering the contest :)

Once I had the Letters To Santa finished, I decided to keep on shooting. I made the Pig With Wigs pattern years ago (because it's awesome) and I branched an idea out from the Marie Antoinette style bouffant wig the pig pattern includes. At first I thought I would just do a series of photos, sort of like a comic book, but then I got the idea to turn it into a gif and it just took off from there. So here is The Tragic Tale of Piggie Antoinette:
Again I'll confess it didn't turn out as well in real life as I had hope, but I still think the idea is pretty silly and fun. I used a Carolyn Burnett oil painting I got at a thrift store years ago as the back ground (it's one of my favorites), and I had to create a sort of platform for the animals to be level with the street in the painting. I clothed my pig with a scrap of stretch lace from my wrap top I made last year so she could look more like Marie Antoinette, and I made little torches for all of "the angry mob"  using toothpicks and drawn flames, lol. It's silly, but I think that adds to the overall ridiculousness. The animals I used are mostly from Anna's patterns with a few added friends. I love the Confused Moose with the torches, lol. I had to make one for each bird. I do wish I knew more about making videos though. Photos I can do, but I've never got into video, so I don't know the software and whatnot. I used Giphy to make this a gif, but I wish I could've had more control over the timing of each shot and that I could've added music (I had picked out this song, but I couldn't get it to attach to the gif no matter what website I used - I like to just open it up in a new tab and let it play as I watch, lol). This is my first ever gif though, so I'm pleased it just exists.

And that brings me to by shameless plea - Could you vote for my video? The prize packs are pretty awesome, and there are 5 other videos competing. CLICK HERE TO VOTE If you love another video more, please feel free to vote for it as well (you can pick more than one), I just figured since this is my blog it couldn't hurt to ask, lol.

This whole experience has really got my creative juices flowing, and my husband and I are already dreaming up ideas for next year's contest :) This time I will have longer than a week to make it all happen, lol, so that's something. Thanks so much for voting, and I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Christmas FO: Justin's Chilly Podsters

This final Christmas gift of 2016 (that I'm blogging about - there are more to come in the future) was actually finished in 2017 - whoops! This one also has something of a back story, so read on!
Years ago (like literally multiple years) my husband really wanted a pair of gloves with cut off fingers but also with a move-able flap. He was working as a police officer at the time and was always having to take off his gloves in the cold to write paperwork, so I started looking for patterns. I discovered the free Chilly Podsters just in time for it to get warm that year, so I just kept the pattern in my queue and forgot about it. Fast forward to Christmas of 2015. Everything was falling apart between my husband and I, but we still were exchanging gifts. We didn't end up celebrating together until over a week later, but I just hadn't felt motivated to make anything for him if I'm perfectly honest. I was so frantic making things for all our other family members that I put his aside and just wrapped up a copy of this pattern with the yarn I was going to use and gave him that with the promise to make them soon. Shortly after that we split up, so I certainly wasn't going to spend my time making him anything. It's been a whirlwind few years, which I may explain one day, but things are looking a bit better lately and we have been "hanging out" (lol that sounds so lame, but I can't think of what else to call it). So when I started brainstorming for what to give him for Christmas, I thought it might be poignant to finally make him these gloves.
Little did I know how involved of a project these would be, so I only had one glove finished to give him for Christmas, and I finished the second one on New Year's Day. Ah well. At least he has them now, right? About 4 years later, lol.
So onto the pattern! Like I said, this is the Chilly Podsters pattern, which is free on Ravelry (follow the link). IT's really neat how you make these. You knit the ribbing first, then separate and make each finger, then go back and make the mitten top. I made this in a black acrylic yarn because 1) my husband loves everything in black and 2) he can wash them and I won't worry they are ruined. I picked this yarn up at a thrift store a while back, so I'm not sure what it actually is, but it worked great for this project. It's a hardy yarn, so not a lot of pilling going on, yet not so rough they itch or anything. Overall I found them very comfy.
I totally love the thumb! The gloves are really mindful of what people need nowadays, I think. Not only can you remove the cover on your fingers, but also on your thumb. This is part of what took longer in making them, but it was definitely worth the extra effort in my opinion. Now he can use his phone without removing the mittens.
They are a bit big on my hand, lol, but they fit my husband just right. It was a bit hard to gauge the size, so I kept having my dad try on the glove as I worked each section to make sure they still felt ok. Turns out they have similar sized hands, so it worked out.
Once I finished the gloves, Justin asked if I could add a button to secure the mitten top open with. I thought about doing it before hand, but I figured he wouldn't use that feature so I left it off. Whoops! It was really quick to add. The buttons are just 2 from my stash and I just made a single strand of yarn loop for them - since it's acrylic I don't have to worry about just one strand breaking with use. Hooray! I think the buttons are a nice finishing touch, so I'm glad he had me add them.
I will say I liked these gloves enough to want to make some for myself, so perhaps you'll see this pattern up here again. Maybe not til next year, but it will happen sometime. Aren't free patterns the greatest? I'm so glad this one is out there, and I definitely recommend it if you like the style.

So those are the Chilly Podsters and that marks the last Christmas gift post for the year! Hooray! You made it! lol

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Christmas FO: Shannon's Stripey Plan-Frew

One of my only sewn items this Christmas was a refashion. I decided to give making a shirt for Shannon another try after I kept the one I made for her birthday, lol. The plan was to actually make the same shirt, just with more "Shannon" fabric. She's a big fan of neutrals, so when I looked through my stash, I knew this one would be perfect.
I purchased this skirt at a thrift store a few months ago specifically to refashion - it was a dumpy and boring knit skirt with an elastic waist originally, but the fabric is a lovely, drapey rayon jersey. I'll confess - I originally bought this to use for myself because the fabric was so buttery soft. But since I already stole one gift from Shannon, I knew I needed to make the sacrifice this time, ha ha. The skirt was originally a size 2XL and about ankle length, so I had plenty of fabric to work with. I was even able to salvage the elastic at the waist since it was just threaded in a channel, so now I have a nice piece of 1" wide elastic for a future project - woo hoo! Anyway, when I went to my stash, I knew this would be a great basic item for Shannon.
I went with my Plantain/Renfrew combo pattern since Shannon likes her shirts fitted at the bust and then flowy around the tummy. I was able to fit all of my pattern pieces on my fabric except I didn't quite have enough width for my second sleeve, so I will confess that I did a little creative piecing at the back of one sleeve. I don't think anyone would even notice in this basic fabric, but there it is, lol. 
And the back view - don't you love this tiny stripe on the heathered gray? Normally I shy away from stripes (and so do my siblings), but this one is so small I figured it would be ok. I mean, I would wear it, so there you go. I know it's hard to see the sleeves on the dress form, but can you see a seam back there? I can't either :)
I did have a little snaffoo with this project that I don't normally have (of course, because I was making it for someone else and I was on a deadline). I stitched the neckband like normal, and then top stitched with a twin needle all around just outside the seam. I was able to keep the neckband piece straight with the stripes which I think looks really cool, so I thought it was done and I was really happy. When I went to stitch the hem, I noticed that the neck band top stitching was already coming undone in the back - when I looked closer I saw the wool nylon on the bobbin thread had pulled out from under the top stitches with stretching the shirt. Not good! I tried to just fix that spot, but to no avail. I had cut the bobbin thread too short. I finally just ripped the whole thing out and sewed it again making sure to give a good overlap to the stitches this time and it worked fine. It's just so weird I've never had this happen before, but now it makes perfect sense.

And that is Shannon's shirt :) I'm sorry to say I have no modeled shots of this shirt, but considering there is quite a bit of snow where she is I'm willing to forego this time. I will confess that it took a lot of restraint not to embellish this shirt. It's a perfectly fine shirt, don't get me wrong, but it is undoubtedly the most boring thing I've ever sewn, lol. I contemplated putting a floral knit mini pocket on it or something, but then that would've been to my taste and not Shannon's. My mom and sister agreed that leaving it plain was the way to go. I hope she likes it!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christmas FO: The Big Pencil

I always try to ask my younger brother what he would like me to make him for Christmas. He's really into tall socks right now, but there was no way that was going to happen before Christmas, so I asked him what else he would like. He really loved my Giant Roly Poly that I made a while back and asked me to make him a giant animal of some kind too. Easy enough, right? I just pulled out my copy of Hue and Huggable Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec and consulted my stash of big yarn to see which pattern options I had to choose from. I don't tend to use bulky and super bulky weights often, but I have been known to buy up a bunch of yarn if it's super on sale (especially when I first learned to knit, but didn't yet know about types of yarn) and I had quite a few skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA in different colors from Walmart clearances. I wanted to make him a Capybara at first, but then I noticed it used just regular bulky yarn and I only had super bulky on hand. Bummer! That left me a bit dejected since my only remaining options I felt I had the yarn for and could tackle in time were the tooth brush and the pencil. I thought the tooth brush might be seen as a sarcastic jab (he is a teenager, after all, so the command, "go brush your teeth" needs to be given on occasion), so I decided to go with the pencil. Meet Arthur :)
Arthur is actually the only pattern from the book that is also available for free on the Lion Brand website, so follow that link should you decide to make your own giant pencil. This ended up being a far quicker knit than I anticipated and I finished it in about 3 or 4 hours. Pretty crazy!
Can you believe I had all the right colors of the recommended yarn in my stash already?! I know! lol. The only yarn I didn't have was the pink for the eraser, so I just doubled up and knitted with 2 strands of Red Heart Super Saver in the Perfect Pink colorway and it worked ok. I find that doubled up thin yarn tends to stretch more than the thicker yarn does, so you can see the channels between the stitches a bit more in the pink area, but it's not that bad and I doubt any non-knitters would notice.
I love hoe nice and orderly the top of the pencil is :) You start on the eraser and work your way down, which I was happy about since my decreases never turn out as tight as my increases on amigurumi - I'm still trying to figure out why that is.
The metal band under the eraser is the Dallas Gray colorway, the yellow is Pittsburgh Yellow, the wood tip is Virginia Beach, and the top is Okaland Black. The Virginia Beach really is just the perfect color for wood, don't you think? I love how the colors turned out. There are 2 rows of color work where the yellow and brown meet, but it was ridiculously simple to do. It gives that zig zag edge you get when you sharpen a pencil, which was a nice touch I thought.
I had quite the time keeping the pencil straight looking while stuffing - and man, did this thing take a lot of stuffing! I'd stuff in a huge wad of batting only to have it obviously need more, so the different wads became a bit complicated to smooth out. We got there in the end though. Also thebook recommends 15 mm eyes, but I used a pair of 18 mm eyes because I liked the look of them better. This gives a closer together look than the 15 mms in the example, which I tend to think looks better. Just my opinion though. And it was my pencil, lol.
And the back view. You can see a bit of the color jogs between rows, but it's not bad. This really turned out as a nice pillow size. I used it to lean on while I laid on the couch after finishing it, and I was perfectly comfy :) It's also a great size for a lumbar pillow or a neck pillow, so lots of practical uses for this seemingly ridiculous knitted creation, lol.

Completing this guy also inspired me to do a little photo shoot for the Mochimochiland Annual Photo Contest before I gave him over to Briggs for Christmas (look for a post on that soon too!) and he;s pretty fun to play with. My family all had the idea that I should've put an actual pen in the tip so it would really write, lol. Maybe on the next version.

So that was Brigg's Christmas gift :) He seemed to like it, so that's another win I say. Soon to come - more Christmas gifts! lol