Friday, April 11, 2014

Patty Cake continued

Yesterday I learned details about two concepts that are new to me. The first is the provisional cast on which is a zipper-like cast on, done with crochet hook and knitting needle. The cast on thread can be pulled off when needed, to allow for the project to be worked on again. In my case the collar will be attached to the top of the coat after the coat is finished.

The second concept is that of the Fibonacci stripe generator, named after an Italian mathematician and his numerical sequencing that seems to generate pleasing patterns in nature and on knitting needles.

I am thrilled to learn new things, but even more so, I am thrilled to be creating three dolls instead of one. To Ann-Katrin (25") and Natalie S. (21") I have added D.D. (15"). To accomplish different sizes I am using different yarns (from bulky to superfine) and different needles (from #7 to #1) , but sticking with the same pattern.
That I am impatiently attacking my iPad for late Thursday night or early Friday morning clues, revealing the next step for this project, makes me laugh out loud. Of course, in my haste I misread a clue this morning and happily knitted almost half a coat before I realized that I had made a mistake. As luck has it, the provisional cast on will allow me to redo the beginning with ease.

As for my three Patty Cakes, they are eagerly awaiting the completion of wardrobe, facial features, and hair.

Natalie S., Ann-Katrin, and D.D. In the beginning ....

Artistic interpretation generated by an application named PhotoFunia

Step 2 - bloomers for all

Playing with PhotoFunia that allows me to place my images into preset designs

The three girls trying on dresses in various stages of completion

D.D. Testing the outside world in her newly knitted dress.

It's midnight and all three dresses are finished.

Week Five - Friday morning clue: pattern for coat. Unforeseen complication? I misinterpret the pattern and knit the collar first. But ... the cast on is a provisional cast on and by pulling on the yarn end I can unravel it and "reinterpret" the pattern. Or, I can ignore the pattern and leave the collar as is.
In our group discussion we called it "winging it" and it looks like I am not the only one who began knitting immediately, without questioning the wording of the pattern. As long as my three Patty Cakes get their coats by next Friday morning all is well with the world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Motherbear Face Tutorial

It's been a long time since I took a few pictures while putting a face on one of my Bears. I always intended to pull all the instructions together into one post, with some luck as Youtube video. Never happened. As I started my fifth face today, I thought I should take pictures again. My steps have slightly changed, not much though, and, who knows when I will be Youtube ready.

The wind blew hard on my front porch, knocking the Bear down several times; once the background white board collapsed and flew into my face, and, when I checked the pictures I had missed twice, showing my feet instead of the Bear face. Luckily there was Bear number six, a good reason to repeat the effort.

So, I will show you how I make a Bear face. There are as many different faces as there are Bears, and if you already have a way to make your Bear smile or wink and look into a child's eyes, disregard all this. But if you are sitting in front of your first stuffed Bear and he/she has a blank face that scares you a bit, because you don't quite know how to begin, this post is for you.

And here I go, on a windy afternoon on my front porch, shivering just a bit, but in need of daylight and a plain background. I am staring at a finished, stuffed Bear, some black yarn, a tapestry needle, a pair of scissors, and my iPad. I am determined to document stabbing this Bear into life

I use about 30 inches of black Worsted weight yarn for a darker Bear, brown yarn for a lighter Bear, or, occasionally, purple or hot pink, depending on my mood.

I insert the needle in the back, in the middle, where head and torso meet and I leave five or six inches of a tail

I come out in front, about four or five rows up from the neck wherever I perceive the middle of the row to be. If the scarf I have knitted is wide, I go up a bit more.

Now I insert the needle to the left, about three stitches from the middle and one row up and exit at the same height and amount of stitches to the right.

I insert the needle once again in the middle, meeting the other half of the mouth, and then exit about four rows up to the right of the middle stitch

Now I go across the middle stitch two or three times forming a little nose. When I am really brave I attempt a little triangle by enlarging the loops slightly toward the top. (It doesn't happen very often, but I like the way it looks.)

After the last stitch for the nose I exit the needle three stitches to the right, a row or two above the nose

And insert again one or two rows above that, depending on how big an eye I want. I repeat, in and out in the same stitch four or five times, then, after the last repeat, I exit for the left eye, in mirror image fashion.

After the left eye is as big as the right eye I exit just below the nose, in the middle of the middle stitch, as close to the nose as possible, so as not to leave a space. To finish the face I reenter into the middle of the mouth, between the two halves of the mouth

... and exit in back, a stitch away from the beginning of the face journey

All that is left now is making a knot, weaving the two ends toward the sides ...

... and cutting the ends. The knot will later be hidden by tying down the scarf right over it.

And here you have it - Bear face number 306.

Bears 301 to 306 are awaiting "detailing" such as hats, scarves, purses, headbands, flowers, and the weaving in of a few loose ends. More about them in my next post.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Patty Cake

My favorite Ravelry group at this time is "We make Dolls." On March 14 we started a "Mystery KAL," a knit-along producing a doll with the help of a pattern named "Patty Cake." Each week we get a clue and we knit for a week, asking and answering questions on the project page, wondering what the doll will look like when she is done, admiring each other's progress, sometimes giving advice, sometimes just adding our votes to "love" meaning that we like what we see.

The first step was to get the yarn together. Deena Thomson-Menard is the artist, the knitter-in-chief, the person who started the group. She is the person who gives out clues. Her Ravelry name is IMakeboys and she is, by any standard, a wonderful doll designer, and it is a pleasure to await her "orders" which are, of course, suggestions. I like the assortment of yarns she put together for "Patty Cake" and tried to get as close to her choices as possible. This is what I came up with. Maybe not the final decision - I tend to stray - but certainly a good combination.

For the first week we were told to knit the head and torso and skull cap. These come from a previous, free pattern Deena had created, available in her Ravelry store as "Lottie Doll Basic Body."

A week is a long time for me to wait, though others might consider it too short to finish the assignment. Most people work outside the home, have kids, husbands, all sorts of responsibilities that keep them from knitting. I am free as a bird - a night owl actually - and as long as my right hand doesn't get overworked and begins to hurt, I am good for six hours or more at a stretch. I always have several projects going; Bears for the Mother Bear Project, socks, a scarf here and there, an occasional amigurumi mouse, a gift, or just something I have to try.

Yesterday I became a bit restless. Another "Patty Cake" torso and head flew off my needles. Will she be different? Identical in clothing? She is smaller, due to a somewhat softer yarn and close adherence to the original pattern. But I simply couldn't let the first one wait alone. Now I have the pleasure of making outfits for two when the next clue comes out.

The two of them are going to be part of my Deena Thomson-Menard inspired orphanage and I have given them names. The larger, older one is Ann-Katrin.
Her little sister is Natalie S. And here they are, testing family ties.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Luna and Soleil and all my Other Projects

Stitches West is opening today. On Saturday I will be sewing hearts to Bears at the Mother Bear Project Booth 709. Accompanying me to the Santa Clara Convention Center will be Luna and Soleil, Bears 299 and 300, and Silvester, my first Bear for 2014, who did not join the rest of his group "Singing in the Snow" in the box to Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago.

Besides knitting Luna and Soleil I have been busy knitting a spring scarf for my daughter, a Bear just for me, have finished Marley, made a soccer ball for Lorenzo and a little Bear as birthday present for a friend.

This was a two night project while I was watching the Olympics.

Here is Sochi, now a faithful companion during Olympics watching evenings.

Marley was a joy to finish. Her braids make everybody smile. And she watches her little brother Lorenzo when I am not there to protect him.

And, finally, I have finished the soccer ball for Lorenzo. The pattern was not difficult, but I ran out of light green yarn and had a hard time organizing hexagons and pentagons. Is my age catching up with me?

I call Daffodil, the little bear, a spirit guide. She is supposed to help a friend during a very difficult time.

A few days ago I made a picnic lunch and rode my tricycle through a close-by park. Joggers looked up briefly, walkers smiled, little kids giggled when they saw Lorenzo in a tree, trying to rescue his soccer ball. And when he finally rested on the lawn I realized how much fun it is to take one of my creations out into the world. Thank you Lorenzo.

As if the trees in the park weren't enough of a sign that spring is rushing to California (I am sorry for my friends who are caught in the polar vortex) I had fun with a bunch of pansies from the nursery.

See you at Stitches West 2014 in Santa Clara.

It will be a nice six years of knitting Bears anniversary for me. I saw my first Mother Bears in February of 2008 at Stitches West, bought the pattern, went home, started to knit, and on February 28 I finished my first Bear.

Here I am with my traveling companion Tyana J. LittleString at Stitches West in 2008.

And this is Gigi, Bear Number One for the Mother Bear Project.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Minimal Update

Since I am way behind in documenting my knitting, I have decided to just minimally update with a few photographs.

Bear 295 - Epiphany

Beat 296 - Spring

Bear 297 - Gregor

Bear 298 - Philomena

These are the Bears I have knitted in January, besides Silvester, who was finished on January 1, 2014. around four in the morning.
Mostly I was consumed with Marley and her little brother Lorenzo, two dolls I have developed as my "Jamaican children." Lorenzo's hero is Zinedine Zidane, a former soccer player, and he is still waiting for his own soccer ball.
Marley has just gotten her braids and I am in the process of dressing her. I am having a wonderful time imagining the two siblings' wardrobe and their lives.

Lorenzo and Marley

Because of the intensity of my doll knitting - yes I am still in the throngs of this obsession - my kitchen table was a mess for the last three weeks. And in the middle of it all I had to put potted daffodils. It seems to be spring; winter never really materialized in California, it seems. In the shopping center parking lot the trees are in bloom. I love it, but we need water, and lately I am using a stop watch to take a three minute shower.

That's it for now. More to come as soon as Marley is ready for her official portrait.

P.S. My brain hasn't been standing still while my hands manipulated knitting needles for many hours at a time; I have thought about some of the interesting options this decade provides. Eventually I will have to think more about a few concepts and their influence on our modern lives. For instance - how has "technical snow" changed skiing vacations? And - what will 3D printing add to our life styles, our handicrafts, our economy? Will it bring us more advantages or further do away with precious old skills?