Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Amigurami dolls

One of my latest passions is to crochet Amiguramies. Hunting for good patterns, I found this fantastic blog (see By hoock by hand under My favorite blogs). On this blog I found several free patterns of different Amigurami dolls. Beth (who writes this blog) has also posted free patterns for clothing and pets for the dolls.

My challenge in making these dolls was to find all the right materials. First, I needed a thick skin colored acrylic yarn, which was impossible to find in Norway, as most shops and producers only sell wool yarn. Searching the net, I found an American net shop selling the exact same yarn as Beth used when making her dolls (see Craft Design 4 you under my Favorite Net Shpos). My next problem was that I could not find eyes that did not look like they belong to a teddy bear in my local craft shops. However, Beth had posted a couple of links to craft shops on the net selling several beautiful eyes (see e.g. Suncatcher Eyes under My Favorite Net Shops).

I made a version of Beth’s Free Spirit doll for my daughter for her nine year birthday. I tried to make the doll look like her, with blue eyes and blond hair. I also crochet several outfits for her. My daughter loved her doll.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lilac leaf shawl

I have spent hours on in search of good crafts books. Ones, while searching for crochet laces, I found a very beautiful book describing the tradition of Estonian knitted laces (here is a link to the book). The book was filled with the most beautiful patterns, in addition to telling the story of how the local women of Haapsalu, on the Baltic coast of Estonia, during the 19th century knitted the entire winter in order to sell their shawls to wealthy Swedes and Russians visiting their town during the summer months. There are also specific stories to several of the shawl patterns, making it very interesting to read and to knit.

I decided to make the lilac leaf shawl for my Spanish sister in law as a birthday present. I had problems finding a lace weight yarn. None of the Norwegian producers made such a thin yarn. Finally I found an Italian lace weight mohair yarn. Knitting laces with a mohair yarn was a challenge, but it made the shawl warm and fuzzy, and very suitable for cold spring days (Norwegians celebrate their national holyday on the 17. May, when it may still be very cold).

In order for these shawls to look good, they must be blocked out after knitting. The finished shawl is gently washed, and stretched out on a wood frame with brass nails in it, and air dried. This makes the pattern more visible and the finished shawl very thin and even. It also gives a nice effect, making the edges wavy where the shawl has been attached to the nails.

Discovering Amiguramies

One day, when I was shopping for a birthday present for one of my daughter’s class mates, I spotted a little book about crocheted Amiguramies. It reminded me of the Zech puppet theatres of the children’s programs of my youth. The book was full of very sweet and small Amiguramies, and I couldn’t resist buying it.

I have crocheted a couple of the puppets in the book. Several of the Amiguramies are so small that I only use a couple of hours making them. I have started a tradition crocheting a little doll to attach to each birthday present, instead for writing a card. It has become very popular among my daughter’s class mates.

I was not the only one in my family to enjoys Amiguramies. My daughter started an Amigurami club, where she and her friends meet every Sunday to make things for the Amiguramies. I have crocheted a little bear for everyone, and they are making dresses, hats, sleeping bags, skirts, and much more for their Amiguramis. It has been a nice way to teach them how to crochet.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Keeping track of all the colours

I have not embroidered much in my life, but when my mother i law showed me a book she had bought, featuring various animal motifs, I was hooked. The book was in French, but it didn’t matter as the patterns were easy to follow. I searched the net, and eventually found an American net shop selling this and several other absolutely fantastic books (see “The French Needle” under My Favourite Net Shops). I bought several books, and they did not disappoint me. In particular, I fell in love with a book with patterns of Beatrix Potter’s pictures.

When I started to sew, I soon discovered that things got very messy, and it was difficult to find the right colour. I also had a tendency to loose the wrapping where the colour number was written. Furthermore, I only used one of six strands of thread, so I had a lot of loos threads lying around. It was obvious that something had to be done.

To better organize my sewing projects, I quilted a little folder. It had pockets for each colour, a place for my scissor and a pocket to put the pattern and embroidery. The thread pockets were made so it fitted the floss bobbins, and I could see the colour and colour number. I found the floss bobbins in a British net shop (see “Sewandso” under My Favourite Net Shops), where they also sold boxes to store the floss bobbins, threads and patterns. To decorate the folder, I made one of the patterns in the Beatrix Potter book, of a tailor mouse.

The folder is working well, and I have full control over loose treads, it is easy to find the right colour and it is easy to bring my sewing projects with me while travelling.

Yellow orchid

I love orchids. They are the only flowers that survive in my house, and some of them blossom for months at a time. I have about twenty, and my favourite is a yellow and red orchid. Unfortunately, it doesn’t blossom very often, and only for a couple of weeks.

I have planned to quilt an orchid tablecloth for a long time, and the last time the yellow orchid blossomed, I decided that now was the right time. I drew the blossom, and designed a tablecloth for my dining room table. The flowers are appliquéd in a fantastic batik textile I found on one of my favourite net shops (see “Quilt design” under My Favourite Net Shops). The leafs is pieced, sewn onto paper, as I wanted them to give the impression of turning, and the stem is done by sewing a cotton thread on to the tablecloth with zigzag stitches.

Unfortunately, the yellow orchid had faded when I took the picture, so I used a pink orchid instead. Now, the tablecloth is lying on my dining room table, reminding me of my yellow orchid even when it is not blossoming.