Friday, December 28

Meet Togepi, the Crocheted Christmas Pokemon

!!This is a BIG HIT with Toy Tester Bob and friends!!

I finished it in time for Christmas and frankly, at first I wasn't sure I would. The pattern was in all Japanese. The diagrams are fantastic though and after a few false starts, the rest fell into place quickly. For example, the diagram that I thought was for the head was actually for the bottom. I should have realized that the diagrams are color-coded, so since the head is yellow, so is the diagram. The feet and crown points are not perfect spheres and that threw me off at first, but there is no better way to explain it than the diagrams that were given.
The yarn is Bernat Cottontots because that's what I have in pale yellow and white. (Classic amigurumi is made with worsted-wt acrylic but I think I like Cottontots yarn better for this.)
Was unable to get felt pieces in the right shades of red and blue, and I have a thing for fabric paint anyway, so I went my own way and used it for the details. In the third photo it is freshly applied and very wet. It dried well as you can see in the first pic.
I actually prefer the fabric paint for the surface decorations--it has a durable and shiny-rich surface, but I wish I had embroidered the face so that I could've ripped it out until it was exactly perfect.

Friday, December 21

Pokemon Commemorative Lanyard

This custom Nintendo accessory, which commemorates game earnings in Pokemon Pearl, Diamond, and Emerald, has been thoroughly tested and approved by Toy Tester Bob.

Meanwhile, I used it to explore some crochet jewelry-making moves--mixing chaining and braiding and different kinds of beads and closures.

The prized Squirtle bead dates from the early days of my son's infatuation with Pokemon; he was about 4 years old and I don't remember what kind of toy it was a part of.

Monday, December 10

Shaun the Sheep: Yarn Saves the Day

I'm such a fan of Shaun the Sheep that my son looks at me funny. He'd probably pat my head if he could reach! Shaun the Sheep is created by the Wallace and Gromit folks. I discovered them way back when my son was captivated by claymation. This is 21st century claymation, friends!

I looked all over for a legal video clip or photo still of the Shaun the Sheep episode called "Timmy in a Tizzy". The whole episode is great and I love how a ball of yarn saves the day! Above is Timmy, the youngest of the flock.

The website has preview clips, games, activities, and other downloads. Play Woolly Jumper! It's not as easy as it looks!

Monday, November 26

First Baby Cardi I Ever Made

I just found this cardi, it had been packed away. I crocheted it while newly pregnant and back then I was in the dark as to whether I was pregnant with "Bob" or with "Olivia Genevieve". I wanted to get started so I looked in my stash for 3 yarns that might work ok. One is Peachesn'Cream cotton, one is Sugarn'Cream cotton, and one is a fancy expensive silk and rayon of which I had a single skimpy-skein. The pink yarn is supposed to be peach, and I figured that if I had a boy, peach with brown shades and real leather buttons would work fine; I like peach more than mint green.
In the photo, "Bob" is ONE DAY old. I was in heaven just resting in the garden with him. It was April and those are red banana stalks behind me.

Monday, October 29

Blogs Collide

Boo! I have two posts on my main blog that I could post here instead, so this is a heads-up about them. I guess otherwise this Toydesigningvashti planet really does orbit the sun on a different path than the Designingvashti planet.
One post is a conference report about the toys I brought home for Bob. I don't usually find Bob-worthy toys at crochet conferences so I hope this is a new trend. Here's a bonus pic of Bob with the goods. That's my cutie.
Today I just posted a Halloween crochet report over there because it involves The Chaps of Fashion 2007, but if I had any pics of the kids in costumes too, I would have posted them here.
At any rate, I will pick up the pace of posting to this blog. I've been doing toys for publication and haven't been able to blog about those.

Monday, August 20

Pokemon Crochet Book ARRIVED

Straight over from JAPAN where some of my MOST FAVORITE crochet books originate:
I bought it from an eBay seller named Megs Favorites, a great source for Japanese crochet books. Not only did it arrive fast and in great shape, but Meg also speaks English, a big plus for me over ordering books through Japanese Amazon.

About half of the projects are knitted (basically the sweaters). Most everything else is first-rate happydance-worthy crocheted amigurumi, YAY!
My toytester "Bob" is shiny-faced for a Togepi first and a Poliwag second. In case you've somehow managed to avoid learning about Pokemon, Togepi is white with blue and red triangles, and Poliwag is blue--won't that spiral be fun to make?! Like most kids, he would have chosen red-cheeked Pikachu first but already has some. Togepi toys are less common.
All right, I admit it, I like Pokemon too. I love Clefables, all the Evees, Bulbasaur, and the legendary ones. I love it when lightning comes out of Pikachu's cheeks and what happens when Jigglypuff gets mad. I love that in battle, some Pokemon can use Friendly Look or Heart Swap to confuse.

Friday, August 17

Fireside Boy's Cardi finished

Finally took some pics of a sweater my son requested back in early Spring. One reason I tend to crochet toys is he hates wearing sweaters. So when he requested a crocheted sweater, even picking out the yarns and colors from my stash, I got right to it.
I winged it (as you can probably tell) and it was my first time using tunisian stitches for the modified drop sleeves. They feel soft and cozy and drape so nicely! The fun-to-do color pattern is Stitchdiva's 3-Color Tunisian(TM).
The overall silhouette of it makes me think of a '50's camp jacket. If there were some orangey or brown tones in place of the white, I think it would look even more so.
He loves dragons, volcanoes, fiery reds, fireworks, etc., so I tried out different stitches that might look like spiky flames as I went. He also loves angora and found a partial ball of Tahki Jolie (the white stripes). It's the same yarn I used for this bunny and this teacher's gift.
Other yarns used are: Karabella Aurora 8, S. Charles Collezione Victoria, Caron Simply Soft, Red Heart Plush, and Lion Brand Wool-Ease. When it cools off outside I'll put the buttons on. It also has pockets!

Monday, July 9

When Your Kid is the Designer....

....that makes you the contract crocheter! "Bob" drew up a firebunny plan for me to execute (this was 3-4 years ago). He shopped in my stash for firebunny-appropriate yarns. I drew a simple bunny outline. He ok'd the outline and then "designed" it by coloring it in to show me how he wanted the finished bunny to look, based on the available yarns. We ended up going with the top, side view sketch when we realized that he needed to pick a color for the tail.
It was a fun game! I enjoyed the challenge of trying to match his color changes!

I remembered last night that I never blogged about this toy because at bedtime he looked at it affectionately and said, "This is a special bunny. I'm glad you made it for me. I wonder why the ears don't stand up?" (I said, "Because it was the first time I'd ever tried to crochet bunny ears.")

Sunday, June 10

G'morning Peacock Babies!

Seven hatchlings have their first breakfast in the corner of our backyard. Cheerios brought excited sounds from mom and babies. I managed to catch 6 babies in this photo.
Looks like 3 will be white! I don't know if there's a way to tell the girls from the boys yet. Here's a photo of mom's face. Can you find all 4 bebes in this photo?
The round red thing in the center foreground is a peach. These peacocks are dining in the shade of a peach tree and since we don't live in Georgia, these are nowhere near as large as Georgia peaches, but the flavor is outrageous! Concentrated peachiness. The cool thing about peaches fresh off of the tree is that the fuzz is warm and dry, and if you smother them in heavy cream, there's something about the fuzz that turns the cream into thickened "clotted" cream in 5 minutes or so. It seems more like a chemical reaction than a simple fiber thickening and it doesn't happen if the peach is rinsed or storebought.

None of this has anything to do with crocheted toys....yet....

Tuesday, May 15

10-Minute Fishin' Belt

Tonight 'Bob' was in a school play. He played the part of a boy who just wants to go fishin' all summer vacation. Only problem was, his jeans wouldn't stay up. Well, it's not a problem if yer ma crochets.
His ma figured, if jute's good enough for the hamster, it's good enough fer my boy! And with a P hook, she did 65 foundation single crochet stitches in the 10 minutes it took fer Pa to drive to school.
(Photo tutorial here for the fsc.)

Saturday, April 14

Guest Designer "Bob"

My guest designer for today, "Bob", invented a toy for his crochetin' Mom:
It's a helpful caddy that has a large well to hold the yarn or thread, smaller wells for beads, stitch markers, buttons, tape measure, yarn needles, etc., and clay loops for crochet hooks and scissors. This one is v.3 and includes Bob's signature feature, a tensioning hole through which the working strand of yarn/thread can be fed. (The 2 earlier designs are smaller with fewer pockets and loops).
"Bob", a longtime clay builder, just turned eight and his wish for a pottery wheel came true:

Friday, March 23

Crochet for the Classroom

National Crochet Month revelry has not abated! As suggested by #12 on the list, "Crochet something for your child or child's teacher to be used in the classroom so that everybody sees some crochet at school", here is an angora pencil cup freshly crocheted for my son's teacher. She likes to put interesting things on her desk for students to explore.

She also likes my son's stories. One of them concerns a leprechaun who wanted an angora coat. The teacher asked him to explain the word "angora" to the class. He said that his mom crochets with all kinds of yarns and her favorite is angora because it's super soft and comes from bunnies. He came home glowing because his teacher praised him for using a special new word.

You can see why the pencil cup had to be angora.

Saturday, March 17

Hamster Hemp Hammock

(update on jute yurt follows)

It's a hammock when suspended horizontally, and it kind of hugs the hamster, which I think pleased her. It doubles as a ladder when hung vertically as in the photo, and she put it to use right away. But get this: she might associate it in her wee hamster mind with the yurt because as she experimented climbing up the "ladder", she made a detour to check in on the yurt before climbing up the ladder some more (see photo below).

It has some design elements that could make it salable/publishable. I didn't set out to design hamster accessories professionally so I have to think about whether I want to try submitting designs like this and if so, to whom!

Update on the yurt: Bob and I are so excited! Just when you think National Crochet Month can't get any better, there are signs of nibbling on the jute yurt! This is like when you crochet gifts for people and they either USE them or they store them. Crocheters usally want the recipient to USE the gifts (so that they can make MORE gifts to replace them, right?). When a hamster uses a crocheted gift, it shows its appreciation by nibbling on it and you know it's sincere, not just trying to make you feel good.

As you can see, we tried flipping it over to become a nest-like nook and then added some fluff. It gets lots more action this way. She also loves to find a nut or seed in it here and there.

Friday, February 9

Jute Yurt

What's the difference between a yurt and a hut? One's a better Scrabble word. What they have in common though is being a hamster magnet.

According to a hamster handbook I just read, jute appeals to them. I happen to have some jute lying around, maybe from the '70's. It smells like earthy hay, it's scratchy and stiff, and sheds all kinds of debris as you crochet it. It also polishes your crochet hook.
Preliminary test results:
1. Bob the tester says, "If you get a hamster and the cage doesn't come with the house, you should crochet a house for it. Hamsters love little houses."
2. It is stiff enough to work as a house. The corners curl a bit.
3. Aisha the hamster explored it right away, hung out in it for long periods (for a hamster), and kept returning to it.
4. The true test is if she nibbles on it lovingly. Also if she furnishes it with fluffy stuff and nuts.

Wednesday, February 7

Hoppy's Party Frock

Hoppy is a special friend. Bob has lots of friends, but only Hoppy got a crocheted gift commissioned by Bob--Bob informed me that Hoppy said that she would like something to wear, and that the hot pink Moda Dea Bowties yarn caught her eye.
Le frock looked like a simple sundress until I added an organdy bow at the neckline. Now it's a party dress and you should see Hoppy when she's rockin' out in it. She can really get her ears going!
Someday I'll figure out how to upload a videoclip.

Wednesday, January 31

Rock Beds

One way to impress a seven year old with your crochet powers is to make him something in 5 minutes.
Would anyone like the pattern? ;-)

Monday, January 1

"Massively Mini Media Player" Layer

Thought of a stocking stuffer for my son at the 11th hour Christmas Eve: a 'cozy' for his Chanukah present, a Massively Mini Media Player. This iPod-like gadget is small and slippery (and expensive) so it needs some kind of protective case. "Bob" is into "hippie" stuff lately (he asked for a lava lamp, tie-dye kit, and a magic 8 ball too), so I figured he'd wear something crocheted as long as it didn't look girly. Luckily I finished it just in time--it maybe took me 2 hours. He wears it proudly (red is his fav color) and I wish I had a photo of his face when he unwrapped it and realized what it is. He is most impressed that the holes allow him to press the buttons on the front and use the headphone jacks at the top. I didn't tell him that making holes wherever one wants them is what crocheters do best.