Vacation & Sock Monkey 101

So I am officially the worst at this blogging business. I am, however, very good at falling off the face of the earth. Actually, I've been living the good life in the California Desert.
desert

My parents live out here and I came to visit and enjoy some of the sunshine and warm weather. I swear, one of these days I'm moving to Southern California. Just for the vitamin D from all that sun. I am in such a better mood out here.

It's not all holidays though. There has been work on done on my thesis (which is one of the main reasons I really suck at this blogging stuff).

thesis in progress

and I've been at work on craft project: my first quilt!! Pictures to follow (I haven't really taken any yet).

Not that my entire trip has been spent indoors with books or with crafts:

pineapple's toes

Sadly, my annual dose of sunshine is about to come to an end: I head home on Wednesday! I'll be happy to see le husband, the cats and all my friends, but I'm going to miss the sun and heat (it was almost 100 degrees fahrenheit today! I don't even understand fahrenheit, but I do know that 100 = damn hot!).

Softening the blow of my return to Nova Scotia springtime (the forecast is rain all week long) is Sock Monkey 101 at Love, Me Boutique. Seriously! I'm excited for this. If you're in Halifax on Saturday, you should totally grab some socks and come down to Love, Me on Birmingham Street - near Woozles bookstore. By the time the workshop is done, you should be able to make your own monkey awesomeness. Check out Love, Me's website for all the details on time/cost/registration (you still have a few more days to register).

yellow_monkey.JPG

Posted byHello Pineapples! on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 1 comments Links to this post  

In Stitches (part the first)

I like to challenge myself with crafts. I have a mental list of crafts to learn and when I can afford the time and money, I teach myself how to do something. Aside from failed knitting and crochet lessons as a kid, most of my crafting has been a mix of guesswork, book learning and internet how-tos. The explosion of craft blogs has made learning a new craft so much easier (and cheaper! if you don't count my internet bill).

When I started to make sock monkeys, I decided to embroider a mouth and nose on them in a backstitch, as this was all I really knew. At my first craft fair, someone asked if I could embroider the eyes on, rather than have buttons, as it was for a baby that was in the "i put things in my mouth" phase of babydom. So I sort of did this embroidered eye that could technically be called a "satin stitch", but it was a fairly lame version of that stitch. This is because I didn't even know what the stitch was, I just did it. I was also trying to embroider monograms onto some of the monkeys, and while these looked okay, I wasn't really happy with my work. I could only live with the guesswork for so long (and I was annoyed that I still hadn't used the Sublime Stitching patterns I had bought). I was determined to learn to embroider.

My first instinct was to get a book, but didn't really use it. I had picked up Hip to Stitch and it seemed straightforward enough, but it was very project oriented and the projects were just a wee bit beyond my skill level. I wasn't quite ready to jump head first into the embroidery pool. I needed to ease in. And then,
way back in September, I came across some wonderful blog posts on how to embroider. I found Crafty Daisies via Craft magazine's blog (I think that's how I found it).


The embroider tutorials on Crafty Daisies were fantastic - easy to understand and I learned quite a bit from them. Check it out:


1. crafty daisy, lesson 1
2. crafty daisy lesson 2

3. crafty daisy, lesson 3
4. crafty daisy lesson 4

I didn't actually follow along with the lessons as they were posted, and I took a bit of a break between the third and fourth lessons. The fabric I used for lessons 1-3 was leftover bits from my bedroom curtains. They're Ikea and look lovely on the window, but if you try to use it for embroidery, you're left frustrated with how it splits everywhere. Despite my poor choice in fabric, I was happy to come across this online tutorial. She did a great job with explaining how the stitches worked and her photos were also great. If I had any complaint, is that the nature of a blog format: Since I wasn't following along as they were posted, I was having to go back and find the tutorials on the site (poor bookmarking on my part) and then scroll down through all the lessons to find the one that I was working on. I was also trying to avoid seeing what others were doing with the homework, so I wouldn't be influenced by what they were doing. Overall, a pretty minor complaint.

Since following the Crafty Daisy tutorial, I've been playing around with some different projects, filling in what I don't know with Primrose Design's Stitch School and the Hip to Stitch book. So far, I'm pretty happy with my progress (although, I've yet to break open the Sublime Stitching patterns). It's a little late, so I'll post tomorrow with how I've been using my newfound stitching skills.

Posted byHello Pineapples! on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 0 comments Links to this post  

I'm for sale!

hooray monkeys!

My monkeys are now on sale at Love, Me Boutique! I brought them by yesterday afternoon. I've been meaning to get monkeys there for some time, but life, school, procrastination, all got in the way. I'll still try to sell some on etsy, but it's really neat to think of my monkeys sitting on a shelf in a store, just waiting for someone to buy them. Sort of like Corduroy the bear, but with monkeys.

If you're local and you haven't been to Love, Me yet, then you really should get over there. It's pretty fantastic. It's on Birmingham St., just past Chintzy's fabrics and Woozles bookstore. (If you're anything like me, you need the 'landmarks'...I never know the street names, but I know where all the stores are. I feel awful when tourists stop me for directions. I end up looking like the dumbest local ever).

I have a sneaky feeling that if I do sell some monkeys, I will probably spend a chunk of it there. There are a number of pretty things there that I have my eye on.

Posted byHello Pineapples! on Wednesday, April 02, 2008 0 comments Links to this post  

experiments in crochet and amigurumi.

I try to challenge myself with new crafts, but I'll always be a knitter at heart. This meant that I really didn't have much time for crochet. Why crochet when you can knit? At least, this was my thinking before I discovered amigurumi. Craft that exists solely to be damn cute? Sign me up!

Really, it all began when I found otamas and I became determined to learn crochet. I broke a plastic Susan Bates crochet hook trying to make my first otama (some crazy tight tension). My first otama were okay, but nothing to write home about:
Photobucket

Thanks to Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker, I have finally learned crochet. Now I'm trying to master the amigurumi. Here are some recent attempts:

bird/duckie/baby chicken:

"duckie"

My plan is to write that guy up into a pattern. We'll see how it goes.

Next up, the Panda Ball, as inspired by a drawing by Blandy Snorhal (which you can buy at her etsy shop):

panda ball + etsy original

panda ball

Since panda ball is an experiment based on someone else's idea/drawing, it is being made as a gift for a friend's baby (i hear babies like the black/white contrast thing) and not as something to sell or a pattern to share. I'll make the gift and then won't make any more. Somewhat ethically challenged, but when I saw the drawing, I knew had to see it as a 3D plush. I was going to make it just for myself...but I really don't need another one of my plush sitting around on my shelves. And homemade gifts = affordable gifts (especially with so many people i know having babies these days).

I'm not super happy with the final product. I think I unravelled it about a dozen times. It also needs a bit more stuffing - the shape isn't round enough. I also need to figure out how to change colours better when working in a spiral. Since the colour change always looked off, I tried making the little dude in "rows" and I think that affected the outcome. Anyway, it's a start. I've got a crazy long flight coming up this weekend, so maybe I'll attempt to work on it while on the plane.

Regardless of the outcome, both Panda Ball and duckie were great yarn stash busters. No idea where I got that yellow yarn or what I used it for (possibly a Dr. Who scarf), but I'm now out of it and that works for me (the "pattern" was created altered in order to accomodate how much yellow I had. there were a few tight moments while making the wings).

Posted byHello Pineapples! on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 1 comments Links to this post