Remember my polymer clay frog from a couple of weeks ago? I decided to follow my own suggestion and remake it in crochet. As with the clay version, this is the ‘Blue Jeans’ colour morph of the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio), with a distinctive red body and blue legs:
This adorable tiny tropical frog from the jungles of Central and South America is only about 1″ long in real life, but the crocheted version is poison-free and a much more manageable size (about 6.5″ long).
Here she is with her inspiration, my original FIMO sculpture – there’s quite a size difference!
And, just for fun, I thought you might be interested to see my original notebook sketch I made after watching the Amphibians episode of David Attenborough’s Life, which set this whole thing into motion! A little glimpse into my process:
I’m fortunate to live only an hour’s drive away from the Bernat/Patons Yarn Factory Outlet store (in Listowel, ON). Twice a year, they have a massive sale, and it’s winter sale time again! Last winter, I went to the same sale, had an amazing time and bought a boatload of yarn. This year, it was a totally different experience for me: since becoming self-employed, my attitude to spending has changed. I’ve always been careful with money, but these days I rarely buy anything! As I walked around the store filled with amazing bargains, all I could think was “do I really need that?” and “24 balls of Patons Grace for $48 – I can’t spend $48 on yarn I don’t need!”
Just noticed that this photo makes it look like a fabric store with a bit of yarn! In every other direction, the store is floor to ceiling yarn 🙂
Everyone else in the store was literally filling black garbage bags with yarn! They probably make sweaters and afghans and other bulky items. My typical crocheted item takes less than 1 skein of yarn, so how could I justify that kind of buying? One lady stepped away from her bag of goodies for a moment (to pick up some more yarn), so I took the opportunity to snap this photo as evidence:
No, that’s not rubbish – it’s a bin bag full of yarn!
I was actually prepared to leave empty-handed, and then I saw the bin filled with mill ends of novelty yarns and other oddments, priced at 20c/oz. That’s practically free! I combed through the entire bin (and it was a big bin!) and managed to find some treaures. I ended up with 21 balls of various yarns for around $8:
My meagre haul
I also picked up this handy pair of snips with a cap that will be perfect to keep safely in an on-the-go project bag:
So, even though I didn’t really take advantage of the sale, I don’t feel too bad – I’m actually quite proud that I only spent $10!
What better way to celebrate than with a bunch of balloons? Made in pastels like these, they’d be perfect for baby shower decorations or for Easter. Made in bolder colours, they’d brighten any occasion!
(I certainly want to celebrate after being involved in a minor car crash yesterday: it could have been so much worse, but luckily nobody was injured. I wasn’t at fault, so my insurance premiums won’t be affected; I just need to take the car in to be fixed soon.)
I’ve created 2 different amigurumi balloon patterns for you: the standard round balloon, and the extra-fun long balloon. Each balloon only take a few minutes to crochet, so you can whip up a bunch in no time!
The balloons pattern is free for you to use. If you’d like to thank me with a donation, you’ll get a handy printable PDF version of the pattern as a thank you 🙂
Now I’m over my deadline, I finally have time to make a dent in the huge to-do list of ideas I’ve amassed over the past few months while I’ve been too busy to work on any of them. I have 4 projects on the go already, but ‘reorganise craft room/office’ has to be the most important (if boring) of them all.
I’m posting this now in the hope that I’ll finally be able to show you pics of my craft room next week (something I’ve been planning for a long time but it’s always too embarrassingly disorganised to photograph). I hope you’ll forgive a little mess – it’s a working room and I have a lot of craft supplies, so it’s just not possible to ever get it completely tidy!
For now, here’s a little sneak peek of the top of the cubbies that sit on one of my desks. One of the nicest things about making pretty things is getting to look at them: here’s my orang utan and my tissue paper carnations. In a crazy ‘night before the deadline’ moment, I decided my orang utan looked a little hungry and freeform crocheted a little amigurumi banana for him (that’s not weird, is it?!). I think he looks much happier now – what do you think?
Yesterday on Twitter I let slip that I had just turned in the manuscript for my new book! I’m so excited – I’ve been wanting to write this book for a long time and I’ve finally had the chance. I’ll share details of the book itself closer to publication – there’s still a long process of editing and printing to go through before it’ll hit the shelves.
This is the big secret project I’ve been alluding to for months, and the reason why I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like to for a long time – so now I have some catching up to do! I’ve been making lists of things I’d like to do ‘when I finish the book’ – new patterns, new products for the shop, and a lot of improvements I’d like to make to the website. And my craft room/office is in serious need of organisation…
As I’m the photographer as well as the author of my book, I had to develop some novel methods for taking print-quality photos with only two hands at my disposal! I thought I’d share the method I came up with for taking step-by-step photos that include my hands – you’ll see the benefit of this when I next make a tutorial, as the pictures should be much improved with this new setup.
(By the way, in case you’re wondering how I took this shot of myself at work, I used a 2nd camera on a 2nd tripod with a 10-second self-timer!)
A: White bristol board used as a seamless backdrop
B: 2 very bright lamps aimed at the backdrop to make it as white as possible in the photos
C: 2 less bright lamps aimed at my hands (one on each side of the camera) to light them without shadows
D: This is where the camera is pointing – at my hands
E: My DSLR camera on a tripod, angled so that I can comfortably look through the viewfinder as I sit
F: (Out of shot) Remote detonator control for my camera so that I can operate it with my toe when I have the perfect shot set up
I bought the remote control on eBay and it’s literally changed my photo-taking life. I’ve always had to take my tutorial photos by setting up the shot, moving my right hand to press the shutter release while keeping my left hand hand still, then scrambling to get my right hand back into position before the 10-second timer ran down and the picture was taken… Now I can just press the remote button with my toe (minimal dexterity required) at the appropriate time and I don’t need to use the camera’s timer at all. Huge, huge improvement.
Of course, this isn’t the only way, or even the best way, to light for this kind of photography, but it works for me and only cost me 2 cheap IKEA work lamps, 2 clip-on spotlights, and a sheet of bristol board, all of which I already had from my light box (shown below, click through if you’d like details of that too):
So, when you see the clear and helpful pictures in my new book, you’ll know exactly how I managed to take them – I hope this hasn’t ruined the magic! But seriously, if you make tutorials, I hope this little glimpse into my lighting setup has been helpful 🙂
Over Christmas, we watched David Attenborough’s fantastic Life series, and I’ve had tiny frogs on the brain ever since…
I worked so hard all day yesterday (on the secret project) that I was begging myself to do something relaxing and unrelated to work last night, so I got out the polymer clay and started mixing colours to make a Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog like the one that captured my imagination on Life. While we watched a movie on TV, I played with the FIMO and, 2 hours later, this is what I ended up with:
I was aiming for a life-sized sculpture – David Attenborough had said that they are only 1 inch long and I’d written that down in my ‘ideas’ notebook along with my sketch – but I didn’t quite manage that. My frog’s body is 1 1/4″ long and including the legs sticking out to front and back, the finished sculpture is 1 3/4″ long (I have small hands, so it’s probably smaller than these photos make it look).
I’ve surprised myself – I didn’t know I could do this! Yes, it did take me 2 hours, but most of that was spent on the legs. I hadn’t really considered that I’d have to make 16 teeny tiny frog toes until I got to them – not an easy task! I’m happiest with the shaping of the red clay around the eyes – it turned out exactly how I’d hoped.
I think my crafting ‘style’ may be to make things so cleanly that they look like they’d be really easy to make, even though they aren’t. I see it in my crochet designs too – I simplify the shapes and colours to make my patterns easy to follow, but it’s finding a way to simplify them but to keep the most important features of whatever I’m trying to make where this ‘style’ comes into play.
There seems to be a crossover between the different crafts that I do: I don’t think I could have made this frog without my years of examining the shapes of animals for my crochet patterns. I suppose you could call it an “artist’s eye”, although that sounds a bit pretentious so I won’t do that! But it’s definitely interesting how my experience in one medium is indirectly improving my skill and confidence in a completely different medium.
Maybe I should make a matching frog in crochet and compare the two! What do you think?
Would you believe I made this pattern over Christmas, and haven’t had a chance to publish it yet?! Time to change that – please allow me to introduce you to my Airedale Terrier. Called ‘King of Terriers’ because it is the largest British terrier, it has a very distinctive appearance with its squared-off body shape and squared-off face!
My Airedale pattern comes with instructions to give it a fluffy beard, and instructions to make one with just the square muzzle shape and no additional beard (it looks more like an adorable Airedale puppy this way!) so you can take your pick and choose the look you prefer. The AmiDogs Airedale Terrier amigurumi crochet pattern is now available in the PlanetJune shop!
If you’re tempted by my AmiDogs patterns (the Airedale is the 14th in the series!) don’t forget that when you pick a custom set of your favourite three breeds, you get the third pattern for half price! To take advantage of this, choose the AmiDogs Custom Set listing in the shop (you won’t get the discount if you add three patterns individually to your cart).
Have I missed your favourite breed(s)? I’ll be designing more AmiDogs patterns this year, and I’d love to know in advance which breeds might be popular (although I have a few on my ‘must do’ list already!). If you don’t see your favourites in the little pics above, please leave me a comment with your suggestions and I’ll take them into account when I’m picking new breeds to add to my kennel 😀
First, let’s cover the all-important prognostication: will we have 6 more weeks of winter? Punxsutawney Phil, Shubenacadie Sam and Wiarton Willie all saw their shadows this morning, forecasting 6 more weeks of winter. But, in my totally overcast Waterloo garden, my amigurumi ‘hog had a different story to tell, saying “I see no shadow. Please can I get out of this snow and get back in the warm? My tail is all wet!” (He’s a little spoilt from living in the lap of luxury on my desk all month). So that’s one vote for an early spring!
Now let’s take a look at some of the other amigurumi groundhogs! (All the following photos are copyright their respective owners.)
Other ‘no shadow’ votes come from mallallory‘s Japanese groundhog and IdaDown‘s tiny Aussie Bruce (a mini-hog at only 2″ tall!), although as they are clearly enjoying non-wintery weather already, I’m not sure how much stock to put in their predictions!
Refashionology‘s Gretchen (note the cute embroidered eyes) and sarahwww‘s little guy both wrapped up warm in knitted scarves!
Hattalahutta‘s groundhog reports no shadow = early spring for Norway! Veggie‘s little guy looks like he might not have enough light to see his shadow either way, but he’s still cute 🙂
SisterDiane’s hog says “Sure, I saw my shadow. But I chose to ignore it.” And kitchensinkdye’s Desmond is crocheted from two shades of her own gorgeous hand-dyed yarn! Very cool.
Kingscrown‘s groundhog has a lovely variegated colouring, and futuregirl‘s ‘Hog Along Cassidy has a ginger topknot!
xo-sonja‘s Big G is fashionably late to the Groundhog Day party in his red scarf! And last but not least, here’s seamaiden75‘s sweet little groundhog!
Aren’t they all great? It’s been so much fun seeing everyone working on them all at once, using different yarns and their own special touches. There are still loads of unfinished projects on the Ravelry group, so I’ll keep updating this post when more finished pics are posted – check back later for more groundhog goodness 🙂 (Have I missed your hog? Email me with a pic and I’ll add it!)
And now for the all-important question: did your groundhog see his shadow this morning?!