April Fools!

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Several prototypes

I have some exciting news…I’ve decided to focus all my attentions on my true passion. I’m going to be opening up an etsy shop called Polly Wants Panties: Artisanal Underpants for Discerning Birds. I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter of my life!

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First Circular Knit: West Desert Hood

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I finished my very first circular knit just in time for fall! I used the absolutely fabulous West Desert Hood pattern.

A note on the ribbing– I found that using a 8 ply yarn with US size 8 needles made for some very loose and rather sloppy looking ribbing. I had never done ribbing before so I learned this the hard way, and it involved a lot of ripping out my work while making an angry monster face. SO after much trial and error, I ended up using US size 6 needles for the ribbing and then transferring it over to the US size 8s for the rest of the pattern (until the final ribbing). I suppose it’s a matter of taste; I prefer tighter looking ribbing.

I didn’t get any in-progress shots, but it’s really quite a fun and simple pattern!

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I used Malabrigo Mech in Archangel, which is just the most gorgeous yarn, with its blend of reds, oranges, and purples. I discovered it in a little yarn shop in Maine, and I’m absolutely hooked!

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Bonus cell phone selfie! It was about 80 degrees outside when I took this and it’s quite a warm cowl, so that might account for the crazy eyes.

Crochet Sputnik Amigurumi

So this past October 4th marked the 58th year of Sputnik 1’s launch into orbit! I guess I’ve been thinking about Sputnik recently because I just visited former East Berlin. Also, who doesn’t love the early space age? So exciting! Anyway, to mark the happy occasion, I made my own little Sputnik:

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He’s so cute! If you want to make your own fuzzy Sputnik, I used this pattern for his body (specifically the row 14 sphere), sewing on the face and filling him with stuffing before closing up the ball. I made up my own pattern for the legs.

Leg pattern:

Starting: Magic circle, ch1, sc 4 into the magic circle, slst to ch1
Round 1: Ch1, sc in each sc on the outer loop, slst to ch1
Rounds 2-25: ch1, sc in each sc around, slst to ch1

I used a 3.0 mm crochet hook for the legs since I wanted them nice and thin. I poked a bit of stuffing into them before sewing them onto the body.

Anywhooooo, I have been busy working on some other things in the past few months. I’ve been toying around with the idea of opening up an etsy shop (and got a commission!), but I ended up getting an Adult Person job, so I’m not sure if it will happen.

Hammerhead Shark: My First Crochet Amigurumi

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Drink umbrella for size. And shade.

In honor of Shark Week, I made my first amigurumi! I named him Sharkie Shark (but he does not hang out with the funky bunch). He likes hanging out under tiny drink umbrellas in the sand and collecting seashells.

So, I actually really love sharks as an animal, and hammerheads are one of my favorite sharks. While I like the concept of Shark Week, I am really not a fan of Discovery’s programming (I think its filled with unscientific fear-exploiting garbage that just harms the reputation of sharks). But I wanted to make a little amigurumi shark to celebrate the wondrous toothy creatures anyway!

I’ve never made an amigurumi before, and I found it to be a fun and quick experience! I worked from a pattern in this book. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it though– the instructions were a bit unclear and the fin pattern was a complete mess. I ended up creating my own pattern for all of the fins (tail, dorsal, and pectoral) and changing the eyes (why use french knots in yarn when you have beads?).

Bonus pictures:

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Crochet Garden Flowers Shawl

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*Drumroll* I finally finished my shawl that I have been working on for…..a million years? Okay, maybe just a year. Life got in the way! The timing is at least good…it’s finally spring!

It is made up of 39 individual flowers that were then joined together continuously. I had some issues with the pattern, so I’m going to post some of my corrections here.

The pattern: here it is! 

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Oh my Ford, I approached this like an assembly line. I made all the little centers of the flowers first. Here is a nice little pile of them (but obviously not all of them).

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Then, of course, I did the petals on the flowers. Here is a picture of a stack of about half of the flowers I made.

Okay, here is where things start getting tricky. The pattern for the flowers themselves was great. The pattern for joining the flowers…less so. Honestly, it was riddled with issues. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look:

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Source.

Here is the diagram in the pattern for joining the flowers. It’s great except for one glaring problem…

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Following the pattern exactly as it’s written will result in those gaps in the border (in the darker blue) in between the flowers! Compare the first row of flowers (wherein I followed the pattern exactly) with the second row (where I made some corrections). One clearly looks much better.

In order to get the border around the entire flower and also join it in two places, you will have to backtrack over some of your work. (Is this starting to feel like a weird middle school math problem yet?) I’m really not much of a pattern writer at all, but I did make a little diagram to help make things clearer for anyone who would like to do this pattern with corrections:

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So, loosely following the diagram from the pattern, this is what you will have when you’re ready to go around the bottom of a row of flowers. They will be half joined on top. Following the numbers in the picture:

1: continue working the pattern as written– (sc, ch 3, sc) in ch-1 sp, ch 5, sc between 2 sc, ch 5, repeat.

2: again, continue working the pattern. (sc, ch 3, sc) into the ch-1 sp, ch 5, sc between 2 sc, ch5. But then slip stitch into the ch-1 sp.

3: Slip stitch along the chain joining the two flowers and slip stitch into the ch-1 sp on the other flower. You should now be on the other flower.

4: Once in the ch-1 space, ch 5, sc between 2sc, ch 5.

5: Sc in ch-1 sp of the flower you are working on, ch 1, sc into ch-3 sp of opposite flower (you made the ch-3 sp on step 2, and this joins the two flowers), ch1, slip stitch back into ch1 space.

6: Ch 5, sc between 2 sc, repeat pattern as written with these corrections.

Hopefully some of that is coherent? It results in the most consistent-looking joins at the petals. Anyway, here are some more pictures of the finished shawl:

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All folded up.

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Folded in half because why not, I guess?

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All laid out so it looks like the joining diagram!

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Garden flower shawl in action! Disclaimer: it is beautiful but not particularly warm.

The Legend of Korra Crochet Gloves

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Wow, it feels like I haven’t completed a crochet project in approximately 5000 years. I’m close to finished on several larger things I’ve been working on, but I took some time in between to make these gloves!

So, I’ve been (obsessively) watching The Legend of Korra. I finished Avatar: The Last Airbender and didn’t know how to go on, but then I discovered that Korra is actually the better show (sorry Avatar fans). I especially love its design and the titular character. I was watching one day and thought “hey, her armband and bracers would make some wicked gloves!”

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Source.

So I set about making them! Given how narrow the triangles are and the constraints of working with yarn, I had my work cut out for me. My first wristband featured fat triangles that were just too big.

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Too big!

So I tried again and came up with a better pattern for more slender triangles:

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To the left is the initial part of the triangle and then to the right is the finished triangle with a border of single crochet. It gives it a little bit more substance and makes sewing them together a lot easier.

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Here are all the triangles sewn together but not yet sewn into a circle. I decided to go with a raised blue bauble (instead of just a flat circle) on the white triangles because…well….I liked how it looked better. It gave it that extra razzle dazzle! Once the triangles were all sewn together and joined into a wristband, I crocheted the easy part– the dark blue glove.

Lest anyone think otherwise, the hardest part of this whole endeavor was modeling the gloves. I have a rather heavy DSLR camera and taking one handed pictures with my left hand is easier said than done. And I have photographic proof!

Glove photoshoot outtakes:

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Nope, I totally missed.

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Okay, we’re getting closer now.

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Almost….!

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Welp, there’s pretty much no excuse for this one.

My Journals (like blogging but in real life!)

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These are my fourteen journals! As you can plainly see, I’m a really strong believer in journaling. My past two New Year’s Resolutions have been to write in my journal every day (and I have!) I think keeping a diary is, in my ways, very rewarding. Despite the fact that rereading some of these entries motivates me to get a degree in engineering from MIT just so I can create a time machine and go back and slap my younger self, I really like looking back and seeing what my dreams were, what I cared about, and how much better my handwriting was (seriously, how did it get worse?) 

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These four diaries date from 1996 to 2003.

I have no idea where these diaries are from. Probably Barnes and Noble (or whatever the early 90s equivalent was). Yes, I was one of those kids with the diary that locked. And I made sure everyone in my vicinity took that lock seriously.

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I was a bird-nerd even as a kid. Unfortunately, I also did not understand the concept of plagiarism. On the left is my heavily copied “paraphrased” report on the great horned owl. On the right is a dollar bill I found on the bottom of a pool (serious business). Eleven year old me would have swam to the bottom of the Marianas Trench if there were a dollar at the bottom.

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Two four-leaf clovers I found once. You can see my 15 year old self’s obsession with drawing terrible smiley faces.

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These four diaries date from 2003 to 2007.

Three of these journals were from Barnes and Noble, including my very coveted Shakespeare handwriting journal! The one on the top left is from Kinokuniya.

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To the left you can see what is probably the most horrifying leprechaun drawing ever made. To the right is a ticket to ride in a Daytona car at Disneyworld. That car…was very fast.

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Oh lord. So to the left you see my little keepsakes from the prom. (Hey, it was fun!) And to the right is something I apparently felt should be memorialized. I had a skirt that got a little too close to the heater. Fashion casualty.

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To the left is a ticket from my time in England, which included trips to London. I went to see Death of a Salesman. …..I cannot give a ringing endorsement of that play. I definitely fell asleep at one point. To the right is what happens when you’re an art minor at a liberal arts college. I had a printout of a paper that smudged, so I cut it up and pasted it into a little poem. …I know.

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I don’t always write my entries in English! Here is my terrible, terrible Japanese. I was just learning it and trying to practice!

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These four diaries date from 2007 to 2012.

The green diary is from Barnes and Noble. The New Yorker diary is from a trip I took to England. I was concerned about running out of the space in the diary I brought, so I bought one at Waterstones. The cat journal is from Kinokuniya. The pig journal I bought in Tokyo at Tokyu Hands (my favorite store eeeevvver). It was so cheap!

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To the left is the effects of law school. And a solved sudoku puzzle! To the right…I somehow managed to skip a page in the journal. This somehow happens more than you might think.

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Stamps from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Japan. I toured the museum and had the opportunity to listen to a survivor of the atomic bomb speak to us about her experiences. While sitting in the Peace Park, I found another four leaf clover! …I don’t know why I keep finding them. I’m not particularly lucky…

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Japan likes stamps, I guess! Here is a stamp from Mt. Fuji’s 5th station visitor’s center. I never got to the top of Mt. Fuji, but it was an awesome experience.

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And these range from 2012 to right now (my current diary is on the right).

The journal on the left I bought in Venice! That’s the Venetian lion on the front. The one I’m using now is from some random card store in Quebec.

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I went to an art show called THE(UN)FAIR, and there was an art installation that stamped dollars with this. I loved it!

So, if you don’t keep a journal, you really should consider it! I think it is a more personal experience than keeping an online blog. It allows you to tape in little things you find interesting or that make you giggle or jot down thoughts you have throughout the day. I have to say, I am so glad that my teenage years predate social media. At least all of my embarrassing angst and drama is contained in these diaries and not on Facebook!

Little Crochet Projects

I have many a crochet work in progress at the moment. These are smaller projects that I pick up between the larger (read: blanket) projects.

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Here is a shawl near completion that I made using this pattern. Unfortunately for both me and the shawl, I think I might unravel it and use the yarn for something else. I was making it as a present for my sister, but I’m really not happy with it for a variety of reasons, namely that it’s way too small. The pattern suggests using a size J hook, which I did. So to anyone who plans to try it out…you’re gonna need a bigger hook.

This failure lead me to this…

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Spring flowers (made with crochet hooks and not April showers)! I’m not going to link the pattern (which shows the finished object) quite yet, because I don’t want to give away what it will be. Spoiler alert: it will be awesome.

And finally, I’ve had some fun with baubles. Personally, I love baubles. They’re happy, fun, and super easy to do! But what can you do with baubles? A couple of ideas instantly came to mind…

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Source.

Bubble shooter! Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I love this game. I grew up playing it on the computer as a kid, and I downloaded it as an app the minute I got a smartphone. We won’t talk about all the times I was up until 4 AM trying to get three stars on each level.

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These (unlike everything else in this post) are actually finished. I had a good time making them. Depending on which bubble shooter game you’re playing, the colors of the bubbles sort of vary, so I just went with the colors I already had and thought looked best together.

Remember candy buttons? Of course you remember candy buttons. They were only the best candy ever made!

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Source.

I love them so much that I crocheted a candy button scarf years ago. It was the second scarf I ever finished! Well, I’m currently working on some matching fingerless gloves:

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Glove! Obviously I only have one so far, but the other will be along forthwith. And I shall try not to nibble on them when I wear them.

Crochet Teabag Label Bookmark

So I was bored this past weekend and decided to start on a project that popped into my head a few weeks ago. Here is the final outcome:

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Kindly ignore the horribly depressing words of the book, Into Thin Air.

I’ve been chugging crazy amounts of green tea lately, and one night I looked at the string/label and thought it would make an adorable little bookmark! So I made one! Here are the materials I used:

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So, we’ve got off-white yarn, green yarn, red felt, off-white felt, a sewing needle, different colored sewing thread, and black thick thread.

First using the white yarn, I crocheted a chain as long as I wanted/thought looked good. I then single crocheted in the second chain stitch from the hook and in every chain stitch after. I then broke off the yarn.

Moving next to the green yarn, I made two identical label pieces. I chained 10, then single crocheted in the second chain from the hook and in each chain across for a total of 9 stitches. I then chained one and single crocheted into each stitch for eleven more rows to make a rectangle. On the thirteenth row, I began decreasing stitches at the ends. This means I single crocheted two stitches together to make one single crochet stitch on each end (for symmetry). I did this for three rows until I ended up with three stitches. I then broke off the yarn.

There ends the crocheting part! Everything after this involved sewing (yaaay, my favorite…). I cut out a piece of white felt and a heart on the red felt. I first sewed the heart onto the piece of white felt. I then used the thick black thread to embroider the word “tea” onto the white felt (by far the worst/most difficult part). Once that was finished, I sewed the white felt onto one of the green crocheted label pieces. I then placed the long white chain between the two green label pieces and sewed them together! And there you have it, a cute little bookmark.

More pictures:

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Bookmark in a closed book.

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Public service announcement: never use books as coasters!

Making Alchemy Earrings Using Lost-Wax Casting

So, I made a pair of huge asymmetrical earrings:

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Clearly they go well with bright red lipstick. 

Okay, so I’m not going to go into the whole blow-by-blow of how to make something using lost-wax casting again. If you want to read about that, go here.

I did, however, chronicle making these earrings, so I’m just going to picture dump BECAUSE I CAN!

DESIGN PHASE

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Initial rough drawing.

I had the idea to make something with alchemy symbols for a while. I was going to somehow do a ring of it, but it was impractical. So here is the fruition of my alchemy idea! I first chose my symbols based on meaning and design appeal. I didn’t want them to be just random symbols with no connection to anything, so I chose the symbols for silver, silver spirit, the torrefaction of silver, and wax. I’m So Meta Even This Acroynm (thank you, XKCD). I had to redesign the alchemy symbol for silver spirit just slightly as you can see by adding a top part for the post/symmetrical reasons. I also added arrows to it so that it would better connect to the other earring and not look totally unrelated.

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Final to-scale drawings. 

Straight lines are not my friends. I am terrible at drawing straight lines, as evidenced above. I was also super careful to make sure that the earrings were of the same length. Asymmetrical is one thing, but different lengths is annoying (at least to me).

WAX PHASE

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I used wax sheets (seen above).  Using the master drawings of the earrings, I traced copies and then laid the drawing over the wax sheet. I used a knife to cut the outline of the symbol in wax.

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Taken with my phone, hence the weird color.

This was a good deal more difficult than it sounds. I initially tried to use an x-acto knife, but the shape of the blade resulted in strange pressure issues on the sheet of wax and instead of cutting cleanly, it more or less tore it. The curved blade (above) was perfect (although in a moment of idiocy, I cut my thumb open with it…).

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Here we see a bunch of paper cut-outs and a reject silver spirit made of wax. Oddly, it was the less-complicated silver spirit symbol that gave me the most trouble.

CASTING IN METAL PHASE 

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By some miracle, I managed to cast all the pieces together in one cylinder. As you can see in this picture, I ran out of time (as usual) and didn’t fully clean off the investment from casting. I also hadn’t dipped it in the acid, so that’s why it’s not white. I made the holes for the jump rings (the ring that holds the two pieces together) in wax using the tip of a jewelry blade because it was much easier than drilling into metal.

FINISHING PHASE

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Here are the pieces detached from the sprues, dipped in acid, but before being filed down.

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Here are the sprues. I used a pair of shears to cut some of them off because, as mentioned in another post, it’s less accurate but much faster. I did use a saw for a few of the sprues, though, because they were attached the back of the piece and filing down the nubs left over from the shears would have taken me forevvveeerr.

So after filing down the pieces (which took a while), I polished them up using a polishing machine. Let me just say, you need to have a very firm grasp on your piece while polishing it or it will fly out of your hands. That obviously happened to me…and those moon points and arrows are sharp. Needless to say, I gave myself a few stab marks trying to polish the pieces.

Finding jump rings that fit the small holes I made was a bit tricky but after some trial and error at AC Moore and Michaels, I managed to find some that fit (it also involved using a jewelry saw blade to widen the holes slightly). And in my most controversial decision– it made every jewelry-maker I talked to make a very judgy, disgusted face– I glued (yes, glued) the posts to the back of the earrings. (Shhh, don’t tell.) I basically ran out of time and soldering is not my strong point. In my defense, the posts are holding very well.

And finally, in what was the most distasteful part of the process, I slapped on bright red lipstick and took about 500 selfies of myself wearing the earrings. Taking close ups of my face/skin is definitely not on my Favorite Things list (it’s just after talking about feelings and eating glass), but I don’t have a model available.

BONUS PICTURES:

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THEY ARE SO SHINY. No really, they are super shiny and catch the light when you move your head. And I adore them.

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I felt like the shininess didn’t show as well in the picture with a black background.

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Mugshot wearing them to prove I have a top-half of a face.

All in all, I really, really, really like them a lot and will actually probably wear them in public. Which is progress, considering I almost never wear anything I make. They are huge and shiny, and that is all I want in anything (but especially earrings).