Little Fox Tail

When my friend K announced that he and his wife were expecting their first child, I threatened to make an inordinate number of animal hats for the kid. The first of these turned out to be a Failynn Fox Cowl, which while adorable, is also much too big for a newborn no matter what the pattern said. See the picture? Those are my full-sized adult glasses. In a pinch, I could wear this hat, and while I’m a smaller adult, I’m not that tiny.

Failynn Fox Cowl + Fox Tail

In for a penny in for a pound: I figured if it wasn’t going to be a newborn sized present, I should make it more toddler-friendly an add a tail so it could be more of a costume. Unfortunately, there weren’t any tail patterns around that matched what I wanted, so I had to make my own.

Toddler Friendly Tail

Little Fox Tail

– Extra Bulky Yarn in two colours (I used orange and white)
– 9mm needles, either two circulars or a set of DPNs

Row 0: Cast on 16 and join ends, being careful not to twist
(I cast 8 on each circular, but whatever works for you.)
Row 1-2: k16 (all the way around)
3: {k1, increase, k3} 4 times (20)
4: k20 (all the way around)
5: {k1, increase, k2} 6 times, k2 (26)
6-11: k26 (all the way around)
12: {k2tog, k3} 6 times, k2 (22)
13: k26 (all the way around)
14: {k2tog, k9} 2 times (20)
15: k20 (all the way around)
16 {k2tog, k4} 4 times (16)
17: Change to second colour (white in my case), k16
18: {k2tog, k3} 4 times (12)
19: k12
20: {k2tog, k2} 4 times (8)
21: k8
22: {k2tog, k1} 4 times (4)
tie off to make a nice little point on the tail

I also made a seed stitch belt to attach the tail to, but for some reason I never took a picture of that. It’ll be a while before baby V gets big enough to want to play with this, but hopefully it’ll be fun when she grows into it!

Failynn Fox Cowl + Toddler Tail

A passel of penguins

Last year at Pycon, I made a bunch of teensy amigurumi penguins to give to the friends who were sprinting on GNU Mailman with me. (Small round penguin ball pattern here) Florian commented some time later that he nearly didn’t get to keep his, as his wife is a huge fan of penguins, so since he had a new baby at home by the time of the next PyCon, I figured I knew what I should be doing: making a small pile of penguins for his family.

Amigurumi Penguins

The emphasis was indeed on small since Florian would have to fit them in his suitcase for an international flight but not too small, since they were sort of intended as baby toys. Below you can see a size comparison of the largest one (in proto-penguin form) with a spatula (made unintentionally hilarious later on when the spatula was discovered lying on a pillow in the spare bedroom and questions were asked).

Penguin + Spatula

And here’s the smallest one, with my hand for size. It may help you to know that my hands are fairly small — I can just barely play a full-sized violin and would probably be more comfortable on a 3/4. (Well, okay, I haven’t actually played the violin in years, but the point is that I have almost child-sized hands.)

Amigurumi Penguin

The patterns

The big round penguin

Amigurumi Penguin by Lion Brand Yarn. I’d made this pattern before, and it’s actually what inspired my small penguin balls from last year. It’s a very easy pattern for beginner crocheters, and you can get a fair bit of expression out of adjusting the penguin’s beak and wings.

The tall penguin

Penguin Amigurumi by Tamie Oldridge. This one’s especially fun because he has a little separate hood that you place over the top ball (hence the bowling-pin shaped proto-penguin in the photo with the spatula).

The pink penguin

Amigurumi Penguin Cell Phone Strap by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd). As you can tell from the title, this one was meant to be made with smaller yarn or cotton thread, but I scaled up so it wouldn’t be a choking hazard. People were so entertained by this one that I made a few more at the conference and gave them away too.

Here’s two pictures of one of those little wool penguins, before and after felting, with my apple power connector, watch and ring for size comparison. You can see that it didn’t get that much smaller but it definitely gets fluffier with the hand felting.

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The yarns used for that one were Knit Picks palette yarns, which is one of my staples for travel since I can take small balls and a handful of stuffing and still make cute things. (If you ever feel a need to buy me hundreds of dollars of wool, you can buy a sampler pack with all the colours. I’d use them, promise!)

The felting was done by hand in the hotel using hot water from the coffee pot, a mug and shampoo from those teensy little hotel bottles. Who knew hotels contained everything you needed for hand felting? Heat water without any coffee in the machine, pour a few drops of shampoo on the penguin, dip it in the hot water, roll it around in your hands or scrub at it, rinse, repeat, replacing the water if it gets cold or too soapy.

Finally, here’s one more picture of the big pink penguin hanging out on my windowsill in Albuquerque:

Amigurumi Penguin

Leafy sweater for Baby O’Byrne

This little leafy sweater is a present for Baby O’Byrne, whose name is a secret until she makes it out into the world. She was due a few days ago as I’m writing this; I’m just waiting for the announcement of her arrival! I’ve scheduled this post to go up on May 31st, and we’ll see if she comes out before it does.

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I’ve been friends with Baby O’Byrne’s dad for a long time, so this sweater was made with him in mind. Ken and I have spent a great many hours hiking and camping together, so I had bought some variagated green yarn and when I saw this pattern in a book at the library, I figured I had a match.

IMG_9430

The little details of the pattern are what drew me in. I really like the leafy motif and the little seed-stitch edging is not only cute, but keeps the piece from curling up too much at the edges. Clever! And speaking of details, aren’t those buttons adorable? I bought them originally for a project of my own and had enough left over for the sweater. Here’s a close up:

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This isn’t the only piece I’ve made for her, but I forgot to take photos before packaging the rest up in time for the baby shower. (This one wasn’t ready in time so got sent later.) Oops! Her dad has a new camera, though, so maybe he’ll have time to take pictures of her wearing the two hats and two sets of booties I sent along before this sweater was finished. We’ll see how co-operative she is, though!

The Pattern:

Autumn Leaves by Nikki Van De Car from “What to Knit When You’re Expecting.” I really liked the book and will probably be buying my own copy rather than monopolize the library one again!

A Moose for George

My colleague George is from the lovely tree-filled part of the west coast and went to UBC for his undergrad. For some reason, this meant that when he and his wife announced they were expecting, I thought “Hey, I should make a moose for George!” And so I did, but I wound up making a new pattern to do it, so here it is!

Moose for George

I’m a big fan of Ravelry, an excellent site for knitters and crocheters that provides a huge repository of patterns, so that was the first place I looked for moose patterns. But for some reason when I searched for moose none of the patterns really looked like what I had in mind.

Eventually, I realized why. What I wanted was a Moose version of the giraffe I’d made for another colleague at UNM:

Crochet Giraffe

Look familiar? Having established the what I wanted to see, it wasn’t too hard to go and adjust the pattern to make a moose!

And now, on to the instructions!

The original pattern

Gigi Giraffe — It’s free and nicely written. If you’re not set on a moose, I highly recommend just doing this pattern as it is! It’s so cute!

Two more pictures of the giraffe I made for another colleague: here and here

My moose-y modifications

Obviously the largest one is in swapping out the yellow for light brown (the dark brown for the hooves is actually the same as the one I used for the giraffe).

The neck

The next is the neck: I shortened it considerably. I forget exactly how many rows I did, but it was probably somewhere around 5 compared to the 17 repeats in the original pattern. You can maybe even count the repeats in this picture if you’re desperate to duplicate my moose exactly:

Moose for George

You’ll note also that I sewed the neck on a little funny. This was intentional! Moose are funny, humpbacked kind of creatures and this was my way of making a nod to the “yeah, I know what a moose looks like” while still going for something chibi-cutesy in true amigurumi form.

The antlers

The antlers obviously didn’t come from any modification of the pattern. Let’s look at them again:

Moose for George

They’re made in 3 pieces that all start like this:

Row 0: Magic circle (6 stitches)
Row 2: {increase (2sc in one stitch), 1sc} repeated 3 times (9 stitches)
Row 3-?: sc around (9 stitches)

Basically, make one short antler tube for the end piece (probably around 5 rows long), a longer one for the part that comes out of his head (around 9 rows), and one to attach the two together (again, around 9 rows). If you want him to be an older moose with a more impressive rack, make the joiner piece longer and add extra antler bumps on top. Stuff each tube relatively firmly and sew together.

Tail

The tail is also brand new and not part of the original pattern. I crocheted a little circular-ish piece and sewed one end to a bit of a point, then sewed the other onto the moose’s bum. The pattern was probably something like this:

Row 0: Magic circle (6 stitches)
Row 2: increase (2sc in one stitch) repeated 6 times (12 stitches)

It’s possible that I only went to 9 like I did with the antlers, though.

So in conclusion…

If you, like me, are making this for a baby, remember to sew things on really well, and tie extra knots as you go. Smaller pieces like the tail could be dangerous if removed and swallowed, and kids are tenacious. That said, crochet tends to tighten up into horrible knots when drooled on and pulled on, so it’s pretty safe to give to kids. And I should know: my grandmother made me a lot of crocheted things, and I seem to have flourished and “inherited” some of her talent for making new patterns on the fly. Clearly this means crocheted gifts are a way to foster creative adults, right?

Happy moose-making!

Moose for George

PS – For my records, this moose was finished ~ March 7, 2013. My next set of works in progress is also a gift, but the recipient gets the pile o’ projects at PyCon, so you can expect a post about that when it’s been received!

Plants vs Zombies Sunflower Plushie

Welcome to Dr. Terri’s maker blog! Since you can just read the about page to find out what’s going on here, I’m going to skip ahead to the part where I show you something I made: A plush Plants vs Zombies sunflower!

Dr. Terri's Plants vs Zombies Sunflower

John’s father is a huge Plants vs Zombies fan, and when I went to visit for thanksgiving I was highly amused by how much time he spent playing. I thought he might get a kick out of having a sunflower plushie so sit on his desk. I could have bought one, but there didn’t seem to be any in stock that were a nice small desk size, so I bought some polar fleece and set about making a pattern:

Dr. Terri's Plants vs Zombies Sunflower with "pattern"

As you can tell, my pattern isn’t exactly complex: draw a big oval for the face, petal-like shapes for the petals, and leaf-like shapes for the leaves.

Petals

I sewed little pockets to make petals, then ran a line down the centre to make them look right. There’s no stuffing in those because my fleece was thick enough and it would have made sewing them to the face really annoying. I purposely didn’t make them identical because I thought a little bit of wonkiness would look more right.

Face

I hand-drew some eyes and mouth and appliqued mine on by hand. You could easily embroider this instead (and I think that’s what they do with the licensed plushies).

Leaves

Like the petals, these are sewn as pockets with a line in the middle. You could probably put stuffing in these without making your life too hard, but I didn’t bother. Leave the pocket opening at the base of the leaf so you can just tuck the ends in and sew it to the stem.

Stem

The stem is just a tube of green. I filled it with a pair of twisted-together and folded-over pipecleaners to get it to stay up. Make sure to leave a big loop of pipecleaner at the top for sewing into the head if you want it to stay up without flopping over. If you want the sunflower to be able to stand up on its own, make the stem fairly long so you can curl it around underneath to make a base.
Dr. Terri's Plants vs Zombies Sunflower

Assembling

Put the two head pieces face together and arrange the petals sticking in with the pocket ends out and sew around the side, leaving a large chunk of space at the bottom and 1-2 petals to fill it in. You can’t see the back of the head in my photos, but it’s just a second brown circle — you could use another colour if desired. Be careful not to overlap the petals (that much fleece is a pain to sew through) or horrifically mis-angle them, although again, some wonkiness is a-ok.

Turn the whole head right-side-out. Insert the pipecleaner loop in and adjust it to suit you, then add some stuffing. Stick your missing petals in and sew through them and the stem. (I did this by hand because it’s awkward to pin and a bit dangerous to stab your sewing machine needle into wrapped wires.)

Sew leaves onto stem. In my case, I sewed them halfway up and then bent the remaining stem in a curl so that the sunflower could stand on its own (or perhaps be wrapped around something).
Dr. Terri's Plants vs Zombies Sunflower in bucket

I really wanted a flowerpot for this so that it could look like a roof-level plant, but we couldn’t find a sufficiently small one since I made this in November and even in the sunny southwest, that’s not really a great time to find flower pots. However, I did find a tiny craft tin bucket, so that’s what I used. The bucket is about 2 inches tall, to give you an idea. The sunflower made its way to its new home in time for his Ayyám-i-Há celebration a few weeks ago, so I figure it’s safe to share the pictures with the world now.

Enjoy!

Gallery of Plants vs Zombie Sunflower Photos