Tuesday, 30 June 2015

barbie knitted skirt (june crafting - update)

This month's challenge I actually 'completed' in one weekend. I did tell you I was taking knitting on holiday, thinking I would get LOADS of knitting done. But I was at an all inclusive resort in very hot and sunny Corfu, and didn't appreciate how hot and tipsy I would be all day ... So no knitting was done! But I had a whale of a time drinking cocktails and reading splendid books, and managed to design a skirt for Barbie when I came home a few days ago! 

Completed - Design and knit some clothes for Barbie (and similar sized dolls). 
I designed the green skirt using 3.25mm needles and 4-ply yarn (specifically Red Heart Margareta in 1195 Green). It is worked flat and sewn up at the back with a single seam. 

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the design process here, as I would much rather share this with you when I shared the written pattern next month! 
I should say that the pink top in the picture was not designed by myself - I started to design one but felt that I wasn't so interested at the time, but Barbie needed a top because she was hanging round my house with nothing on her chest and I think she was a little cold! You can find the pattern for the top here - it is a great, straightforward pattern, also worked flat and sewn up at the back. 
I hope you like Barbie's skirt! It was pretty satisfying to work out (and I almost feel I could transfer this simple design to an adult skirt!) and I think I will be designing more clothes for her evenatually, though I couldn't say when at this point!
What would you like to see designed?

I have been setting myself monthly craft challenges for 6 months now, and have enjoyed the challenges and writing the posts. I wanted to know if you enjoy reading them too? Any thoughts on what you think/how I could improve this aspect I would love to hear!
In the mean time I won't set myself a challenge next month as I have a busy month (Ben graduates university yippee and I have to get our costumes ready for Manchester Comic Con) and I would rather just go with any inspiration that comes as and when!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

fo: crochet baby eevee

Pattern - Baby Eevee
Yarn - New Fashion Double Knitting by Woolcraft (shade 885, Walnut) 
Ravelry project page - here

I was so delighted with how my baby Squirtle turned out last month that I was eager to try another one of Evelyn's patterns as soon as I can. In wanting to break up knitting a cardigan I knew a baby Pokemon would be perfect! 

I chose to do Eevee next as I assumed I would have the correct shade of brown, and I had bought some fluffy white faux fur trim to complete my Korra outfit for comic con last month. I printed off the pattern and was very excited, but to my horror I didn't have any brown! I abanonded Eevee for the time being and that weekend I was visiting Ben in Leeds with nothing to crochet or knit.

Once I got there though, I complained to Ben that I wanted to make Eevee really badly, and on a whim I googled 'wool shop Leeds', thinking I wouldn't get a hit. Happy surprise, there was a wool shop right there in the Merrion Centre! Very cheap and they had the colours I needed and I was even able to buy a cheap crochet hook, and I got to crochet Eevee that weekend looking up the pattern on my phone.

I couldn't remember what hook size I used for Squirtle so I bought a 4mm hook hoping that would be right. Turns out I used a 3.5mm for Squirtle and Eevee has been made a lot larger than I initially wanted (I was hoping to have all baby Pokemon the same size like Evelyn has made them).

can you see the size difference here? no matter!
Even though Eevee has turned out a little larger than intended, I absolutely adore her! All the delicate features have still shone through, like the slight bulges for the cheeks and nose, and also on the feet. Evelyn's pattern is so well written, she takes care to tell you where the FO stitch is in reference to the whole amigurumi so you can (in her words) stuff strategically.

I preferred this pattern to Squirtle in its simplicity. There was only one colour change on the tail, and the increase and decreases are so well thought out that all the shapes for Eevee are obvious with very little need to stuff/sew anything into a different shape.

As with Squirtle, I used felt for the eyes and then felted them ever so slightly using a felting needle to soften the edges. The ears and simply cut from felt and sewn into position, and the nose is a small amount of black yarn. I used faux fur trim (white) bought from Minerva Fabrics online, via Amazon for Eevee's furry collar (for want of a better description! Mane, perhaps?).

All in all I am absolutely delighted that my baby Pokemon collection is growing! I will make the further eeveelutions using a 4mm hook so they at least will be the same size, and I will continue crocheting adorable Pokemon so I can become a crochet Pokemon master!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

packing the holiday essentials

This Sunday morning (at horrible o'clock, I should add) me and Ben are flying to Corfu for 5 days for hopeful sunshine, heat, the beach, cocktails, and just general relaxing. We've got our Euros purchased, travel documents printed, I have my bikinis, Ben has his swimming shorts, my out-of-office email is set up at work, and we have plenty of sun cream too!

But surely what is most important when one prepares for their summer holidays has the be deciding what knitting to take!

Having checked the weather forecast for Corfu, it looks very promising in the high-20s (that's Celsius) and plenty of sunshine which is, although exactly what we want for this holiday, not necessarily ideal knitting weather. I am naturally a winter girl by nature after all and I do love my chunky knits. But for the longest time I have been meaning to try lace knitting, and have had a free kit from a Let's Knit magazine lying around for about a year now waiting to be tried. It is a kit to knit a light blue neck cowl, using the smaller of the yarns in the picture above, and it looks delightful on the pattern. This should be perfect beach knitting, as I won't get too hot using the extra fine lace yarn and light, slim, and small bamboo needles.

I want to knit on the flights too, though I had understood knitting needles were banned objects when it came to flying. A quick online search however placated me - they aren't necessarily banned by any airport or flight company, though ultimately this is decided by the security personnel checking your hand luggage, and short/blunt wooden or plastic needles are more likely to be accepted than long/sharp metal ones. Read Loveknitting's blog post, and Google it yourself, to find out more. (I'm packing spare needles in my checked bag though, just in case.)

With all the time I have, both on the beach and the flight/airport waiting time there and back, I'm pretty optimistic I will finish knitting the lace cowl and so I will also be taking some equipment to start designing my Barbie outfits. I haven't made a start on this yet as I've been distracted knitting a cardigan this month, and I was bed ridden for the whole of last week with a nasty virus, meaning no knitting was done at all. 

You know something is seriously wrong when you can't even knit!

currently on the needles - Aran Garter Stitch Cardigan
This is the cardigan I have been working furiously on this month, and I hope to have it finished in the next couple of days. It is way too bulky to take with me to Corfu (the skein of yarn is a 400g whopper) and in any case who wants to be knitting a wool and acrylic blend Aran in the sunshine! I've included this in holiday knitting because (hopefully) I will have this finished before we go away, so I can wear it on the plane there and perhaps get some sunny shots modelling it next week! I am so so close to the end - unfortunately torn between knitting this, and playing Final Fantasy VII on the PSP (spurred on by this exciting announcement!) 

Finally of course I've got myself the next 3 books in the The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon (just about finished the first book - The Gift - and it is absolutely fabulous!) to read when knitting becomes too hot a task.

What do you always make sure you take on holiday?

Friday, 12 June 2015

sewing with the teenage mutant ninja turtles!

Remember the teaser picture I shared with you based on my monthly crafty challenge last month? Well now I am very happy to say I have finished the idea that came to me during the last week of May, which was a set of 4 covers based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I was mainly inspired by some cushion covers I had seen at comic con the weekend before, and I pointed them out to Ben who dutifully said "You could make those". Of course this is not necessarily in the spirit of supporting fellow crafters in making their living in a craft they love, but I do not intend to sell these, and I was thinking of sharing a tutorial to make these but decided not to for the same reason. So I hope you won't mind! 

As you can see, each turtle has been given something to cover! Leonardo (blue mask) has been made into a cushion cover, complete with a zip along the top for easy removal for washing. Raphael (red mask) has been made into a much more snug-fitting laptop sleeve than the one I previously knitted, the main design feature being an over top flap which is fastened with a velcro strip to hold the laptop in securely. Michelangelo (orange mask) acts as a tablet sleeve for my Lenovo tablet and keyboard - a very helpful design feature which doesn't always exist with tablet sleeves. Finally, Donatello (purple mask) protects my Nintendo 3DS XL and he, as well as Michelangelo, match Raphael's over top flap design.

here are the 3 electronics' cases open so you can see the (expertly) sewn flaps with velcro fastening
I made all of these cases with fabric I already had in the house, left over from an Avatar The Last Air Bender blanket I had sewn many eons ago. The eyes and mask are all cut from standard felt (though the blue and red were cut from much larger pieces than one would normally buy in Hobbycraft or a similar craft supply shop) and the green material is actually much heavier duty than felt which is why I felt comfortable using it to make electronics cases. I can't actually speak as to what it is, as I bought from a market in Leicester where the man at the stall accidentally sold it to me as felt, although I believe it is actually a much more expensive wool blend of some sort.

I really love how all of these cases match so easily, achieved through the minimalist but distinctive design that (I hope) clearly denotes these guys as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were all very easy to make once I had the basic design worked out, and pieces were cut out free hand, pinned together and sewn using a machine. Initially I used a stick on velcro strip which didn't hold at all. I tried to sew it into place but the glue bunged up my needle on my machine, causing me to change it twice! I switched to a sew-friendly velcro and everything was fine in the end.

They aren't quite perfect - which comes from cutting out pieces free-hand and only pinning into place - but I am extremely pleased with how they have turned out. My room has that extra cowabunga touch to it now, as will my bag if ever I need to take the gadgets out and about. 
Hope you like them as much as I do!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

london comic con - the stuff

The cosplay isn't the only great thing about going to comic con (although I think it is pretty much my favourite part). There is so much more going on, such as sneak peeks of new games and movies, a chance to play in trading card game tournaments and sample new board games, and countless panels/presentations/autograph signings/photo opportunities with people from the 'comic book world'*. This being only my second con we still haven't quite taken advantage of a lot of these aspects, but there will be lots of time for that yet! What I most certainly do have time for is the mountains of 'stuff' (for want of a better word) that you can look at, drool over, and buy at a convention.

*'comic book world' is a very broad definition, as comic con is so much more than comic books - for example Felica Day and Gillian Anderson were at London Comic Con, as was John Noble and even ... Shane Richie.

Don't your eyes just drink in all this awesomeness? Above you can see a multitude of plushies available to buy (this was just one stand of many that could be found at the con) and doesn't even hint to the fact that 2 aisles over there was a pink alley dedicated to all this kawaii! I was convinced by Ben that perhaps I didn't need another soft toy. I loved all the Totoro garden ornaments and the etched spoons and chopping boards are gorgeous too! Just some of the examples of talented vendors who were at comic con.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

london comic con - the cosplay

As you may have cottoned on to, towards the end of last month I went to MCM Comic Con in London - and it was AMAZING!

Last year we had such a great time at Manchester Comic Con that we (me, Beth and Ben) decided we should go to London in the hopes of seeing some bigger names. We weren't too impressed this year with the celebrity line up - I mean, they had celebrities, but not any we were super keen to see necessarily (though we did go to a Batman Arkham Knight panel with John Noble), not like last year when they had Lena Heady. The sheer size of the show though was so splendid that we got almost a full 3 days of exploration out of it (though were were exhausted by the Sunday and couldn't manage a full day).

As promised I want to share 2 posts with you about the con. The first of these will be pictures from the cosplay we wore and saw at the con. If you aren't familiar with cosplay you can read up a bit on it here. In a few days I will share thoughts on the things we saw and bought.

WATCH OUT - lots of pictures in this post, so loading may take longer than usual.
Ben as a scout/Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan
Beth as Lagertha from Vikings
Me as Korra from Avatar - The Legend of Korra
As you can see, and hopefully agree, we all looked pretty darn awesome! Unfortunately on the Saturday morning Ben's ODM gear straps broke which is why he isn't wearing them in the picture, but I think he cuts a pretty dashing figure still! His boots were really uncomfortable though, he did so well to last the weekend in them. Beth hand stitched the details onto her leather 'corset' (I think that is the correct use of that word) and the detail is really exquisite. She promises me it took a painstaking length of time! I sewed the fur detail onto a pair of £3 boots from Primark - bargain!  - and the top is a crop top from ASOS of all places which I added the white sleeves to, it shouldn't strictly be a crop top but it was the best I could find. 

We dressed up on Friday and Saturday and really enjoyed the funny looks we received on the Tube and DLR! It was a bit of a relief to see other fans on the transport system as well. We decided not to dress up on Sunday as me and Ben had to get the train back to Manchester that evening, but Comic Con is decidedly less fun without cosplay, so I won't be doing that again!

We also had a bit of a contest to see who would be stopped the most and asked for their picture - I won :p but then again, my character was obvious and is pretty damn popular at these sorts of things.

proof of Korra's popularity!

Monday, 1 June 2015

crafty plans for june

Every month I aim to set myself, and complete, a ‘crafty challenge’ – a personal goal to help improve my knitting and crochet, and to embolden me to react to all the patterns and inspiration that is available on the internet! By sharing this with you I feel more encouraged to branch out and do these challenges by the end of the same month, and hopefully you will be interested in what I am working. Perhaps it will help inspire you to try something new as well?

This month's challenge is, I think you will agree, quite different to anything I've ever made or shared here with you, but it's something I've been thinking about for a long time!
Design and knit some clothes for Barbie (and similar sized dolls)
This is a project I have been very keen to try for a long long time, but have been putting it of because every time I come to it, it feels somewhat daunting. I don't usually knit such small and intricate things, and to set myself the challenge of designing some tiny items of clothing, let alone knit them, is quite a biggy! 
But what I've come to really appreciate about my crafting ever since starting this blog is that I am much more willing than I give myself credit for to attempt something new and to challenge myself. It feels good to come out of the comfort zone a little (when we succeed especially) if only so you can say to yourself 'well, at least I tried!'. This should also help me, with any luck, in better understanding how to design garments for people, as so far most of my patterns are crochet amigurimi. I do love these but I feel like the real achievements and strides are in knitted garment patterns. That's what I hope to be able to do within a few years at least. 
Also tiny knitting will be ideal for summer, if the weather ever picks up here in the UK ... I've started a Pinterest board to help inspire me, but if you have any recommendations do hit me up!
I aim to make at least one skirt this month, but hopefully within the interests of online doll decency I can match this with a top or a dress! Have you got any crafty plans this month? 
if you want to buy this (plain old) Barbie, she is £4.99 from Home Bargains - I've bought her so now I need to dress her!