Wedding Amigurumi

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Photo credit:ARBR Pictures

Sarah wanted amigurumi wedding cake toppers** for her wedding and asked if I could make them. Yes! I would love to!! She showed me a picture of the style she was looking for and I started searching my pattern collection, library books and the internet looking for inspiration about how to make them. I found the basic building block with this pattern for a Amigurumi Kokeshi Doll.

I made remarkably few changes to the pattern. I omitted the arms, hands and obi, as well as a few rows on the base. I added a ruffle to the bottom of the dress and side bangs on the hair. I also resized the hair bun to be smaller and positioned it further back on the head. That was all it took for the bride. The groom was exactly the same but without the ruffle, bangs and bun and with the addition of a bow tie.

The prototype was worked using size 10 crochet cotton thread and that looked fine and cute but Sarah was looking for something slightly bigger with a softer stitch definition, so I tried Knit Picks Palette which is a 100% wool fingering weight yarn and we were both very happy with the results.


Side-by-side comparison of versions.
Crochet cotton (left) and wool (right)

Sarah has two cats, Stevie and Olive, who are doted on by her and her fiancé. The creation of the bride and groom toppers was going so well she asked if I would also consider making two cats. Of course I would, they're family!

Cats are not well represented in the amigurumi world, maybe because it's hard to translate that "we cats are superior to humans" attitude they have, but Sarah found and really liked this pattern for Pusheen the Cat.

I ordered a new batch of yarn colors in the shades of Stevie and Olive and got busy. Other than different colors, the only changes to the pattern were adding one extra row to the feet and making one cat as a mirror image.

The final detail to the wedding cake topper ensemble is a heart and that project morphed into an even bigger one which has its own blog post - Wedding Heart.


Stevie checks out his amigurumi self.


**Pie and cookies were the desserts for the wedding so Sarah designed and made a special cake form to display everything.

Hue Shift Afghan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

There haven't been a lot of blog posts this past year but it's not because I haven't been crafting. My daughter Sarah got married in July and both she and I crafted away for the event! The coming series of posts are about my handmade things for this milestone.

It's a tradition for me to made afghans for big life events like going off to college, first apartment and getting married. When I saw the Hue Shift Afghan pattern I knew that it was the perfect one to celebrate a wedding.

The Hue Shift Afghan pattern is addictive knitting . Each mitered square took about an hour to knit and every time I finished one square I had to start the next one --"just to get it going". It was often hard to stop. Even though it's a big and time intensive project, it doesn't feel that way while knitting it (until after the first 100 hours, that is).

There are major pros and cons to consider before starting this project. Consider them VERY carefully before starting , this is a reminder for me as well as a warning for you! Most of the time this pattern has to be purchased but Knit Picks occasionally offers it for free.


Pros:
  • Stunning and gorgeous looking afghan.
  • The yarn used in the pattern, Knit Picks Brava sport weight, is very economical. If the yarn is bought on sale the total cost for the afghan can be as low as $25.00.
  • The afghan is worked in four panels of 25 mitered squares which break the knitting into manageable sections. There is a sense of accomplishment when each square and block are finished.
  • Easy pattern. How a mitered square is made can be quickly understood and memorized. Also, how the color shifts occur isn't difficult to grasp.
  • Minimal amount of seaming. The mitered squares are started by either casting on stitches or picking up stitches from other squares so the only seaming is stitching the four panels together.
  • There are negligible amounts of yarn left over. Each color uses all but a few yards of the entire skein of yarn.
Cons:
  • It will take a LOT of total time to knit.
  • Gauge is important with this project. The amount of yarn left over for each color is only a few yards and if there is ANY variation in your gauge or if the amount of yarn in the skein is short by the slightest amount you will not have enough to finish. I ran short by about 10 yards on only one color but that particular color was backordered for months. Luckily, a kind knitter on Ravelry answered a plea for help and I was able to forge ahead.
  • The techniques needed to make this afghan are not difficult but they are fiddly (getting corners just right, picking up stitches, seaming, stretchy bind-off.)
  • Yarn is only available online from Knitpicks.
  • While Brava is an inexpensive yarn, it has a few problems: The plies split easily and the yarn starts to shred if pulled apart and reworked. Some colors felt thinner than others but interestingly that did not translate to a change in gauge (go figure!)
  • Because it's an acrylic yarn the afghan is washable but the ends don't want to stay tucked in after being woven in.
My Knitting Notes:
  • I worked the sections in this order: #1, #2, #4, #3
  • Swapped the colors C (wine) & D (fairy tale) because I have a preference for the light to dark shift over the red to purple.
  • I started by using a marker for the center stitch but after a few mistakes I also double checked the stitch count before and after the three stitches of the center decrease. After a while, I stopped using the marker and just counted.
  • Used the backwards loop cast-on and considered it the first row. This gave a clean edge when picking up the border stitches.
  • Picked up and then knit stitches from the right side.
  • When knitting the first two rows of each square, I worked the three stitches at the corner tightly . This helped keep the center of all the connected corners flat.
  • Watch for a smooth connection between squares when picking up stitches, especially at the beginning of rows when casting on. It makes a difference when picking up stitches to knit the border.
  • "If square 2 begins with the same color, consider this last remaining stitch the first picked-up stitch of the next square." This instruction from the pattern initially confused me because it only occurs at the first square of section 3. That's a pretty specific general instruction for something that happens just once in the pattern! However, each row has one color that runs its entire length and I carried that color.
  • I knit the panels with size 5, the border with size 6 and bound off loosely with size 7 needles.
  • After I knit the border I took needle and thread and with a few stitches straightened some crooked corner connections.
 Ravelry Project Page - Hue Shift Afghan