Saturday, January 07, 2017

The "epic" project

I alluded to an "epic crochet project" that was part of what kept me from starting the sleeve of Hagrid. So I'll start off the Parade of Finished Stuff with it.

Meet "Fergus."

Fergus finished

The pattern is based on Ana Rosa's Shetland Pony in a Sweater pattern. I did a few changes:

1. I didn't put the "armature wires" in it. Because I like my toys to be cuddly, not pokey, and also I find I crochet sufficiently tightly (especially if using acrylic yarn) that they pretty much stand up and keep their shape on their own. As you can see, Fergus can stand up just fine without wires.

2. I did felt eyes rather than the crocheted ones.Yes, they are ever-so-slightly inspired by the MLP character eyes I do, with the highlights in them and everything.

3. The sweater is *totally* different - the pattern includes instructions for a crocheted sweater but by the time I was finished with making Fergus himself, I was like "Meh, not more crochet!" and also I read through the pattern and it seemed more complicated than I wanted to do (also: what is an "extended single crochet"? I don't think I've ever done one before).

So I decided instead to measure all around Fergus and see if I could make up a knitted sweater. That had the added bonus of being able to do a bit of fair-isley patterning on it (just very simple - stripes and a "lice" pattern).

I'm pretty happy with it.

Fergus sweater detail

Yes, there are even little buttons - it's a cardigan. (The buttons are some ceramic buttons I had bought years ago at a craft shop and that were stored away at my parents').

In retrospect, I might have done things differently - I actually knitted this flat (back and forth) which meant a LOT of carrying-along of the unused colors to get things to work out, and also I had to sometimes do the pattern on the purl rows. (I can totally see know why Fair Isle knitters knit in the round and steek stuff. But I was on a tear to get started and I didn't think about steeking right then - though this would have been an ideal first-project for doing a steek).

I suppose this also proves to me that I can more-or-less design from scratch using measurements and knowing the gauge at which I am knitting - so presumably I could design a sweater for myself if I wanted to. (Then again: a sweater for a 'stuffie' does not have to fit as perfectly or have the proper kind of ease in the armsyce like a sweater for a human). But still - it does tell me I can work from measurements and gauge and I might just take a stab at designing a sweater for myself sometime.

And here's Fergus' face.

Hello, Fergus

He....might look just a tiny bit like 1980s puppet phenomenon ALF. I don't know.

This took me a LONG time to crochet. It's a pretty complex pattern and also it's BIG. It didn't take the epic amount of time that Queen Chrysalis or even Dr. Whooves took, but both of those are larger (and Chrysalis had all those holes that were tough to make). I might not have undertaken the project if I realized just how huge it was, I don't know. (Then again: I was stuck at home for a long time, and more or less I could pick this up and put it down in between cooking and stuff. Though I admit at my most stressed-out over worrying about the situation, I couldn't even count right and I wound up having to rip back and redo a good number of rows.)

Also, getting him home was a challenge - at first I thought I was going to have to strap him on to the outside of my carry-on (which might have generated comments, though little else - Amtrak tends to be more relaxed about such things compared to the airlines) but I did finally manage to cram him in there by reshifting things.

A couple other things:

It's a good thing I looked at my mom's copy of American Scientist that came a day or so before I left (and ascertained there weren't any real "need to read for me" articles in this one) because of this:

"We care"?

That  was my mail for today. Looks like it got dropped in a puddle or something. It was folded up in a bag saying "we care" and sort-of apologizing. (If I really wanted to, I could probably e-mail Sigma Xi and get them to send me out a new one, but as I said: there didn't seem to be anything I felt the deep need to read in this issue). (If it was one of the knitting mags, I probably WOULD call up the publisher and ask for a new one....)

I took down the tree yesterday afternoon (after getting over the migraine) and put away most of the decorations. I did leave the fairy lights up; they are just white and would work for January as well and frankly I want them up a while longer. I also left my little "winter house" up - this is on the principle of those tabletop trees with a light inside them, and holes where you put little Lite-Brite type plugs so it looks like the tree has lights on it. My grandma had one of those and I always wanted one for myself, and then I saw the "winter house in a tree" at a craft show for a not-too-bad price so I bought it:


It's like a little house built into a tree (elves, maybe, or perhaps squirrels). The "lights" on the tree are bird-shaped. It's very cute and doesn't scream "Christmas only" so I figured I could leave it up.

Here's a better photo:

January decorations

I  arranged a few of my "80s-esque nostalgia" toys around it - the little Care Bear (and one Cousin) figurines (these were blind bags*). And Sapphire Shores, the Pony of Pop and her new friend Photo Finish (I really like those Explore Equestria Fashion Style ponies - they are nicer in quality than the small brushables [the hair is better] and the pop-on clothes are kind of fun).

And Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin. I bought this set - it was on sale at Target for a good price - before Christmas and I just left them in the box because I couldn't decide totally whether to keep them, give them as a gift to somebody, or donate them to Toys for Tots (in the end, I bought a different toy to donate and kept these). So I unboxed them yesterday. (And yes, they do smell like the old dolls did). They're by Bridge Direct, who seems to be reproducing a few of the old-style dolls like the ones I remember. (I never had a Blueberry Muffin doll, just Strawberry). I kind of hope they keep reissuing them - if they do an Orange Blossom, I'm going to get her, because I always thought she was cute but never had one. (The newer dolls - I think this is the second rebooting of Strawberry Shortcake - leave me a little cold as they are more like modern tweens than little girls in a fairy-tale land)

(*I have a serious weakness for blindbag toys. I think it's because I tend to expect most surprises in my life to be bad ones, so it's nice to have something that is a surprise but that you know won't be bad - the worst that can happen is you get something that is the same as one you got before, but even that's not so bad. Honestly, I think a tremendously fun thing like a present for someone would be a huge box filled with different unopened blindbag toys - there are Ponies, and there are Care Bears, and there are Monster High tiny dolls - I have some of those - and there are Pusheen toys and there are all the Tokidoki things like birthday present to myself may to be order a whole mess of different blindbags off of Amazon or somewhere and just have fun opening them to see what I get).

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