Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Project: Squeaky Mule

Project : Squeaky Mule
Date : Winter 2008-2009
Materials : Yarn (3 types), fabric (2 types), 2 beads, pipe cleaners, stuffing, thread, squeaky bladder from cat toy
Tools : Crochet hook, scissors, needle, cat brush
Finished Product:
Squeaky Mule, sittingSqueaky MuleSqueaky Mule

Squeaky Mule, in progress

I don't remember much about this project. I think I just started going with the purple yarn, letting me head wherever. I made sure it had a large enough butt for a squeaker toy (purchased before starting the project) and that it was long enough for 3 pairs of limbs. I crocheted the main part of the torso in the purple, then continued on a bit with the darker purple.

I stuck simple pipe cleaners through the body to get a fill of the size and placement of all limbs as soon as I could. These worked as guides for the rest of the project and were very helpful. I then crocheted the thighs- brushing the patches that I could as I went.

After most the brushing (though I continued to do so all the way throughout), I cut basic tubes of cotton fabric and sewed them to the leg stumps. The folds at the joints are actually sewn in- this definitely helps with shaping. I capped the bottom of the feet with a sort of satiny fabric.

The head was the same satiny fabric (the lower jaw, I thought for some reason, should be crochet and so I extended a patch of the white down there prior to sewing. I cut the pattern pieces for the head as I went and hand stitched it all together very hap-haphazardly. Luckily, the head isn't many pieces- a lower jaw, a top of the muzzle, and then a forehead. I added the eyes and then cut tiny scraps and sewed them down for eyelids/eye shaping. Vital for finishing the piece.

Thoughts :
Far more "cute' then I was expecting. An easy, relitively quick for crochet, mindless project with good results. It can both stand (on sufficiently rough surfaces) and sit in a very adorable manner. The eyes are so soulful and shiny and tiny! For some crazy reason I thought of making the head a skull- hence the pealed back yarn from the face, but wimped out in the end and just did it fabric. However, several people have commented that it looks rather skull-like. This makes me very happy.
I know it's just a toy. A long coil of string that has been fashioned into a shape by my hand. It has no soul nor life inside it- it has only the stuffing and squeaky bladder I put in it. But... I am unreasonably fond of this creature. Purhaps it's the pile of limbs that it looks like when it sits. It's shiny eyes that reflect the bright points of light, no matter how dim or diffuse, have such emtion as they peer from the scraps of fabric I've fastened around them. It's just things I've shaped, but makes me want to coo at it, snuggle it, and protect it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mutated Monster

Project : Mutated Monster
Date : mostly February & March 2009
Materials : Yarn, felt, fabric (2 types), wool (3 types), wire, 2 beads, magnets, thread, stuffing
Tools : Crochet hook, scissors, needle, needle felting needle, pliers, cat hair brush
Finished Product:
Gross MonsterGross Monster

At some point I made the body. It was a long time ago... back when I worked on the skeletal monster I believe... ages ago (as in sumer 2008?). Anyway, at some point in time I had made this mint green kinda' kidney shaped body that had been somewhat brushed. From there, I continue on....

I finished off the body with a couple green stitches to close the tummy and extend the neck up a bit. Then I brush it as thoroughly as I can. I then push some wire through it for 4 legs (of course I was thinking 6, but I just never got around to squeezing in the other 2). A friend comes over and so I'm talking about needle felting and we just sorta' go at the body willy-nilly with whatever wool I have. The spots and stripes and gag-worthy pink... "stuff" is added then.

Deciding that I'm not crocheting a single stitch more for this, I start to sew. I to a pinch of brown felt on the thighs of the hind legs and then follow it up with brown fabric. The legs are slender and the shaping coming almost entirely from the wire within. At the end, I put a tiny magnet it and close it off with a felt sole. Repeat or the other leg. Because this is now a felting project, I go hog-wild just stabbing some brown stuff onto the felt thigh. Not a lot of planning there. I don't want to work to hard on the project so the for-legs are just fabric. No felt means no need to cover with needle felting. Included the magnet though. This means the monster can stand against a fridge on all 4 legs.

The head is sewn on, made out of felt. There's weak attempt to make a wired jaw but the jaw wires are never anchored to the fabric and so it's sorta' lame in the end. A scrap of red fabric is just wedged in there- the whole skull tossed together rather freely. No pre-planned pattern, just rough shapes drawn out as needed and cut. Two *large* ears are sewn on. The head starts to get wool felted onto it... one ear is attacked by the needles but it turns out to look rather stupid, large, and floppy. The second ear (visible in the pictures above) remains untouched. Bead eyes are added on, basic eyelids added, and more skull felt. And then the project just stops. It's not really "finished", but I'm done.

Thoughts :
I'm just happy to get it done. It had been just a stupid body laying around for ages. It was either this or toss it. I like how evil the face sorta' looks. Sewing with felt was fun- it's *so* easy to work with! It however looks terrible to my eye. It was sort of liberating to say "To Hell With It!" and felt whatever. I'm sad about the ears... and *very* sad I didn't do the mouth right. Rather then be positionable, it's just sorta' lumpy now and forever hanging slightly open.
The eyes! The beads I selected (at the last moment) are awesome because they're vaguely yellow and look as if they glow. Gives him a sort of evil blind monster look.
Being highly positionable and on the fridge is fun- I just wish the magnets were stronger since he can't really hold anything up on his own- other then himself. Wire frame + magnets... not wise.
I let Mel felt some wool onto him. She seemed shy at first- here was my creation and I was giving her my blessings and craft supplies to alter it. I'm not sure how many stabs it took, but after affixing her second tuft of wool she seemed gleeful and giddy. There can not possibly be many things in the world as awesome as discovering a new craft. It's not merely learning how to do something. It's learning that there's this whole new possible way of making things. It's so new that you can't even comprehend doing it wrong- your eyes simply glaze over at the thought of doing it at all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Foo Man Choo-Chew Bear

Project : Foo Man Choo-Chew Bear
Date : March 2009
Materials : Yarn (3 types), fabric (2 types), wool (2 types), some wire, 2 beads, thread, stuffing, a battery, part of an old t-shirt, some tiny glass stones, a cat toy, stuffing
Tools : Crochet hooks, needle, pliers, sissors, needle felting needle
Finished Product:
Foo Man Choo-Chew BearFoo Man Choo-Chew Bear
Foo Man Choo-Chew BearFoo Man Choo-Chew Bear

Upon acquiring a neat skein of yarn, just start working on making something- anything. You can never go wrong with a fist-sized round-ish shape (a kidney shape would be better, but in this case the yarn was just too crazy/bitchy to take much shaping). Later, when you realize you've crocheted a lump, try to jazz it up by sticking a spherical rattly cat toy inside it. Hey, now it's a lump that rattles when you shake it! Make sure you line the inside of the creature with some fabric (old t-shirt) so that the stuffing doesn't ooze out. Oh, add some stuffing. Leave the bottom open for last-minute modifications later.

Switch to a softer, easier to use yarn and crochet up a stump of a head. When you get to the jaw level (top of the jaw), stop and sew down a mouth. Do this by folding some cardboard in half, trimming it to the right shape, taping tiny magnets to either side of it (the "outside" of the folded cardboard), covering it with red fabric, then sewing half of it down onto the yarn jaw. The magnets should cause the mouth to snap closed. When resuming crocheting, rather then grabbing the stitches the mouth is sewn to, make a chain as long as the circumstance of the mouth and work from that. Continue crocheting up and around. When you get half-way up the head, sew the upper-jaw yarn to the top half of the folded mouth. Now go back and finish the head (stuffing the whole time as you go).

Aim to make some stubby legs. Do a tiny pair on the front (in the end, they'll be the middle pair). Crochet them with a thick easy yarn- nothing complicated, just a tube. Then do the hind pair- crochet just far enough so that its ass isn't resting on the ground when it stands. Add a battery to the monster's rump to make sure it stays balanced. Close up the tummy.

Finish the legs by stuffing them, adding a couple glass stones/magic counters, then using tiny scraps of fabric to sew the legs closed at the end. Then add the forearms by sticking some wire through and crocheting down it. Make sure to bend the wire into loops at the end and crochet through & around the loops (it still wont prevent the wire from occasionally poking out, but it helps and hides any sharp points)

The main body is done! Now to add flair- select some really bulbus vaguely green beads, sew them to the head. Realize it's kind of hard to pry open the mouth so add a little mustache and goatee to grab onto. Note the vaguly oriental look the facial hair adds and cut & sew some fabric scraps down over the eyes to give it a heavier glaze. Looks more ancient and wise that way. No eyelids = stupid and/or anime looking. Fin.

Thoughts :
Bought the yarn totally randomly on trip to NY. Started crocheting it at a friend's house out there and found it fun (if not really a look I love). Came home and was compelled to finish it asap. I like how simple and carefree it is. The magnet mouth + wire arms makes him great to hold a note and a pen. Good office desk companion. Very random, very quick (for crochet at least).

Before he was given a face, Adam said he looked like an inset bear. The facial hair - added so the mouth was easier to open - was labeled as being foo man choo like. He has a mouth to hold and/or chew things. Thus the name.

It was unclear whether the bulbous shapes populating its back were the results of a terrible disease or merely the artifacts of an untidy hide. The creature's steps were short and far from graceful. Thin arms dangled down from its curving chest and swayed limply before it with every lurching movement. They continued to swing back and forth even after it came to a stop.

If perhaps it wore an expression as ridiculous as its form, she could laugh at it and dismiss it as joke. But of course there was only a sorrowful gaze offered over the top of the envelope it carried. Gingerly- hesitant to touch it- she tugged the letter free from its mouth before quickly stepping back to the other side of the road. Heaving what sounded like a deeply depressed sigh in miniature, the little thing rocked and swayed itself around and somehow managed to stumble back into the bushes.