Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Ravellenic Games

The Ravellenic Games are a just-for-fun yarn competition through my favourite site Ravelry.  You compete in 'events' such as "Scarf Hockey" and "Homestuff Hammerthrow"... making the appropriate items during the games and receiving virtual medals.  It's a fun way for over 12,000 people to knit, crochet, spin and dye yarn together.  It runs concurrently with the Olympics... July 27-Aug 12.

You can also be on a team.. I'm on two teams.  Team PlanetJune and Team Vaginal Fantasy (bookclub).

Here are my finished items...

And here are the medals I won...

The only thing I didn't get to finish was my Tunisian Purse... but my main goal for that was to learn the stitches and I did, so I'm still happy.  I'll finish it eventually.  :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

So I've been a busy bee this past month or so trying to get ready for my first trade show and then to get my first big design finished to enter into the Stampede Visual Arts showcase.

PlanetJune's Ravelry group has a Crochet-A-Long or CAL every month where people make things according to the theme chosen that month.  In June it was a free-choice of all of PlanetJune's patterns, and it was extended to July 15 because we will be doing another CAL-type thing with the Ravelry Ravellenic Games (a just for fun competition that runs during the Olympics) from July 27 - Aug  12.

So, I made a ton of things during this month... my items will probably make up almost half of the CAL entries this time around.  I'll link or share PJ's blog post when it goes up later in the month.

Anyone who is on FB or Ravelry with me knows the trade show is all I've talked about for the whole month of June pretty much, so here's the final result...

I had 70 items total for sale, and I sold 5.  But, I consider it a success and it was a fun day, so I signed up for the August 4th show.  At least I'll have lots of stock ready!  I had a couple of requests for things I didn't have, so I'll be making a few more things and hopefully those people will swing by the table again.

After that was over I turned to my biggest challenge yet, to design my own project.  I settled on an octopus because it's kind of steampunk-y, which I like and I have ideas to add accessories to it during the Ravellenic Games for my VF Team (book club).

The deadline for the design was July 10, so I really only had a couple of days to make it.  I'd sketched and had plans in my head, but it's hard for me to visualize without actually doing it.  So I just started... and I frogged (ripped it out to the start)... and started again... frogged... started... frogged... started and finally found a shape I liked.  Then I moved on to the arms.

That took a few tries too... but once again I settled on a shape and went from there.

I made a few arms, and eye sockets and then started on the 'easy to design but really hard to execute' suction cups.

I pinned them on at first, but it was a little stabby.

So I started putting them on kind of free-form.  And when I realized how long it was taking me to make them and sew them on, I put them on a lot more sparsely.

At this point it was the night before the deadline and I was feeling the pinch (and the stiffness in my hands and wrists from overuse)... but once I put those eyes in and pinned it together there was no going back.

I wasn't able to put as many suction cups that I wanted to, but I think she turned out pretty good.

Octavia the Octopus is now in the hands of the Stampede people, being judged and readied for the showcase.  I saw so many gorgeous photos that others have entered into the show... there is some stiff competition in the photography section.  But there was only 11 entries (when I dropped mine off ) in my section of Fibre Arts, Original Design, so that's good for my chances to win something.  :)

But at the very least, I am very proud of myself for making this and that's all that matters.

If anyone is interested in designing crocheted toys, I'd recommend June Gilbank's The Complete Idiot's Guide To Amigurumi ... it has great advice.

So, on to getting ready for my next trade show (August 4, Grandstand Room, Stampede Grounds), doing a few items that people have requested, and waiting to see if I've won anything.  :)
Oh, and getting ready for the Ravellenic Games... I'm team co-captain for Team PlanetJune.  I have decided to learn a new (to me anyway) crochet technique called Tunisian Crochet... it should be interesting.  And I have a shawl to complete for Team VF.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trade Show Prep

I'm working hard to prep for my first official show... here's what I've come up with for my Made To Order sheets.

Also, here is a look at my business card.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crafting Goodies From Vacation

We went on a family road trip to Vancouver Island last week.  We visited Joey's family and saw lots of sights, and a highlight for me was finding some cool craft stuff that I can't get in the Hat.
Here's my haul...

From left to right: Needle felting supplies (needles and two bags of felting fibre), Debbie Bliss Lace yarn in a gorgeous blue color, two (50% Fine Merino, 30% Baby Camel Hair, and 20% Kid Mohair) balls of yarn and a shawl pin.  In the very middle is a yarn bowl.
Everything but the bowl was from, Ingrid's Yarn & Needlework in Duncan, BC.  I made a special trip to that store and I was glad I did.  I wanted to get needle felting supplies and she was very knowledgable and helpful so that was great.

If you don't know what a yarn bowl is, well... you put your ball of yarn in it and feed your yarn end through the little dip thingie there and then your yarn doesn't roll all over the place.  Cool, heh?  The only problem is I don't know where to put it so it doesn't get broken...  Currently it's sitting on my dresser, home to steampunk fuzzy lamb.

I bought the bowl from a local artist (Barbara Strachan from her business card), in the store Pyromania Pottery in Coombs, BC, where they have goats living on the roofs of the stores.  Yup, goats.  On the roof.  Anyway, it was purely a happy coincidence to find a bowl, but it is my favourite purchase.  :)

Here are a couple of close-ups of my various goodies.

The camel yarn is definitely the most exotic, and I hope I can find a good project for it.  :)

I will be putting up lots of pictures of our trip on my Facebook page, but I thought some of my crafty friends would appreciate this.

Happy to be home!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Super Post - Start to Finish

Here's the progression of Annie Aardvark...

Thanks for reading!

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Part 5 - Assemble!

My least favourite part of making amis is the sewing, but this one wasn't too bad.

45 minutes total sewing time... including pinning to check positioning and stuffing the legs and tail.

Introducing Annie the Aardvark!

Isn't she sweet?

For those who were counting... just over 4 hours total time spent.  :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Part Four - All Parts Present and Accounted For

So I realized just how fragmented my crocheting time is when I was trying to time myself.  It's literally three minutes here, 5 minutes there... the only time I really get a good stretch in is when the kids are eating (or sleeping).

It's Tuesday, and I managed to get the rest of the crocheting done.  That's one ear, all four legs and a tail complete.

And that took 1 hour, 15 minutes.

All I have left is the assembly, my least favourite part.  :/

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Part Three - Monday Funday

I do enjoy Mondays, but only because my parents are awesome and take Katie (my youngest) when Isaac has gymnastics.  Then I can craft for almost an hour while he gets his sillies out.  Yay.

Rnds 26-42, 45 minutes

Rnds 43-52 finished the head and body portion, one ear finished, 45 minutes (yay gymnastics!)

So all I have left is one ear, four legs, a tail, then sewing it all together.  (2 hrs, 5 minutes time spent so far.)

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Part Two - One Stitch At A Time

I named my Etsy shop One Stitch At A Time because that's how a piece is made - literally building stitch upon stitch one at a time until you are left with something fantastic (hopefully!).  For me, that's the best part of crafting.

I got a bit of a start on my aardvark early Sunday...

Rounds 1-14 done, 15 minutes

Rounds 15-25, 10.5mm eyes added, stuffing added, 20 minutes

That's all for Sunday, but Monday is usually a good crocheting day because Isaac has gymnastics.  Later!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Anatomy of a Crochet Aardvark: Part One - The Tools

It's been a while since my last blog entry, but I had a brainstorm and just HAD to do this project...  I want to show a crochet project from start to finish, pictures and all. 

This is not going to be a tutorial by any means, more of a demystification of the process that takes such basic ingredients as a hook and yarn and makes something with so much personality. 

A great final product has a lot to do with the pattern (and designer)... designing is a mix of art and math.  I haven't designed anything but the baby lightsaber, which is basically a big tube, but it's a start.  (Side note - the Medicine Hat Stampede and Exhibition has contests for art, and the only category for crochet is the Fibre Arts Original Design... I would love to win, but I have to design something first!)

For this project I will use a pattern by my favourite designer June (of Planetjune).  I love her patterns because they are very well-written, detailed and realistic - everything I would eventually like my designs to be.  It is a bonus that she allows (and even encourages) sales of the finished products from her patterns.  You can find her patterns here:
(Bonus for me: I'm now part of her affiliate program, so if anyone goes through the above link to her shop and purchases something I get a small percentage in shop credit with PlanetJune.  Cool!)

For obvious reasons I can't share the actual pattern, but I can tell you that crocheting required learning something akin to a new language.  Everything is written in shorthand, and has a set layout that a good pattern will follow.  An average line of a pattern looks something like this:

Rnd 3: (2sc in next st, 1 sc in next st) six times (18)

Translation ~ round three - two single crochet in next stitch, one single crochet in the next stitch, repeat that stitch pattern six times, end round with 18 stitches total.

Anyway, that's probably still gibberish to pretty much everyone and if you're still with me - yay! - let's move on.  :)

So what do I need to make this adorable aardvark?

Brownish yarn, a 3.5mm hook, a stitch marker, two 10.5mm safety eyes, scissors, a yarn needle to weave in ends, polyfill stuffing and time!

I was going to make this all one big post, but I think it will be more fun if you can follow along as I go.  So I'll pause here, and I will try to update you on my progress every day or two.  Hopefully this project won't take super-long, but it should be worth a few posts.  :)
Until next time!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: "The Magicians" and "City of Fallen Angels"

So, I guess I promised a review of "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman.

For some reason I thought this book was a YA novel, but it really wasn't. By the time they got to a part with transmorgified fox sex I was pretty convinced this was not for kids. Anyway... the book was interesting. Part Harry Potter (magic school), part Bright Lights, Big City (aimless in the city after finishing school), part Narnia (fantastical world quest)... it was actually broken up into four 'books', because it was a lot of different things. I got a little bored in the middle, so much that I considered putting the book away, but I forged on and it got pretty good again. And if I'd had the next book on hand when I finished this one I would have started the next one right away. But, it took me a lot longer to get through this book than the next book I read... could have been more words in it though. (The font was pretty small.)
3 and a half stars out of 5

And, I also read the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, "City of Fallen Angels".
Not to give too much away to those that may want to start from the beginning of the series, it is a continuation of the previous three. Jace, Clary, Simon, Isabelle and gang continue fighting demons etc. The author does a pretty good job of creating a new 'world' with Shadowhunters (demon fighters) and Downworlders (vampires, fairies, warlocks, etc)
According to the back jacket the series is going to be a movie (series) from Sony Pictures, so I guess we'll see about that. Looking for the next Twilight series I guess.
The book was fine, good mystery, but like the previous books it felt pretty 'light'. It definitely didn't have all the layers of The Magicians. But that's okay. I'd recommend the Mortal Instruments series to those who enjoy a good supernatural YA read.
4 stars out of 5

Waiting for me to read, "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman and "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Update to Books I've Read

I finished "Virals" by Kathy Reichs the other day, and I think I'd give it 3-and-a-half to 4 stars out of 5. It had a good mystery and a good story overall, but I just couldn't really lose myself in it. I'm not sure why. I've put a hold on the next in the series "Seizure" I think it's called. I hope that now I'm familiar with the characters that it's easier to relate to them.

I started on "Magicians" by Lev Grossman. So far it's really interesting. It has really great reviews, so we'll see. :)

I have a few books on hold at the library and I've taken advantage of their new 'shelves' online. You can put books on your 'for later' shelf, so that's what I've been doing. Then when I'm done with the ones I have on hold I can get the others that I'm interested in. I just thought that was a good idea for the library. It's nice to have a list of books to read.

Anyway, I'll probably eventually make some sort of list of books I've read or series that I'm interested in. You'll see that it's pretty heavy on the 'urban fantasy' side of fiction. That's just how I roll. :P

Friday, January 13, 2012

Books I've Read Recently

I've been reading a bit more recently, and I thought I'd blog a bit about the books I've read.
Joey (with a little help from me) got me "The Nine Lives of Chloe King" by Liz Braswell for Christmas. It's actually three novels in one volume, so it was pretty hefty. But it was an easy read because it's technically a YA novel. I like to read young adult novels because they are fast and there are a lot of options for the supernatural romance-y types. Did you know teen girls like vampires? Hmmm, me neither. ;) There was a tv series based on the books (same name) on ABC Family last year and it was pretty good. There was a lot of differences though, and I liked both. At least the books were able to finish the larger story.
So, there's this girl who gets 'cat-like' powers and discovers she's part of an ancient race of cat people. She has boy trouble and school trouble and mom trouble, and also assassin trouble. So, good times basically.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars. :)
I also started into a 3 novel volume of Buffy books. The first was "Coyote Moon" by John Hornvolt. Buffy novels are tricky because it's hard to capture their 'voices', but this one was set season 1ish, so it wasn't too complicated. Good mystery, easy read...
3 and a half stars out of 5
Last night I started "Virals" by Kathy Reichs. I'm only a few chapters in but it seems pretty good. This is her first YA novel, she writes the books the tv show "Bones" is based on. I'll let you know how it is. :)
Later all!