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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Horned Lizard aka Horny Toad

As a kid in New Mexico,  my brother and I would occasionally find Horned lizards, but we always called them Horny toads.   Even though they have spikes all over they have really soft bellies and you can still pet their spikes.  I always thought they were super cute and sweet,  so why not make a soft plush version.

When I was starting with my sketches,  I had a hard time visualizing all the parts together so I quickly made a clay sculpt to help me work out the shapes for the pattern.

This is a much more complex project then I usually take on,  mostly due to the spike details,  but I'm very excited about how it came out.  I do plan on making some in more realistic brown tones,  but I couldn't wait for that fabric shipment to arrive so I went with a bold pattern of red, black and white.  This one is the Darth Maul of horned lizards.

Horned Lizard Plush

Horned Lizard Plush

My favorite horned lizard factoid is that they shoot blood out of their eyes to deter predators.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

T-shirt Quilts

I made my first t-shirt quilt in 2008.  It was comprised of shirts I wore in high school and college.  I pieced it by machine, but did the quilting by hand.  It took a long time, but was a nice thing to sew during the winter.  I think t-shirt quilts are a great way to keep all the memories that come along with clothing you don't wear anymore.
Finished size 61 in. x 61 in.

I just finished a t-shirt quilt for my friend Liz.  She saved a bunch of t-shirts that she had stopped wearing but didn't want to get rid of.  I put a little more planning into putting all these different t-shirts together in an interesting way.  Liz didn't really care how I put it together and she had seen the quilt I had made for myself.  I went with a jigsaw puzzle theme to connect all the images.  I pieced all the panels together by machine and did a combination of machine and hand stitching to quilt it.
Finished size  62 in. x 90 in. 

A detail with Alec's t-shirts design right next to his friend Aaron's awesome shirt design.  Obviously I did this on purpose since they're friends,  so their t-shirts are friends too.

A detail of some hand and machine stitching on the bottom edge. Knit is stretchy so it can be forgiving which is usually nice except on a quilt when you want no stretch at all.

Liz chose a soft,  cotton flannel printed with multi-colored stripe plaid for the back. I finished the edges with a light blue cotton bias that was left over from the wedding quilt I made.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My first felted wool hat

Last month, for my mom's birthday I attempted a new project.  In one of my knitting books there are instructions on how to make a crocheted and felted hat.  I had in my yarn stash a nice dark purple wool yarn,  purple being my mom's favorite color.  Sadly the instructions were for a child-sized hat and a yarn that I didn't have,   so I used those instructions for inspiration and made up the actual pattern.

Since I knit all the time, my first instinct was to knit the hat,  but even with my limited skill I knew crocheting would be faster.  With a size 9 (5.5mm) crochet hook I double crocheted the hat,  trying to make the stitches as loose a possible.

Misshapen crocheted hat before felting

If I was to leave it as is,  it would make a very misshapen hat.  I don't have much felting experience but I knew that I could manipulate the shape of the finished hat. 

I did a test swatch of the yarn to see how it would felt and how much it would shrink.  I did this by hand in the sink.  The swatch didn't shrink too much but it didn't felt much either, which I attributed to not agitating it long enough.  I took my chances and once the crocheted hat was done I stuck it in a bag and attempted felting it in the washing machine.  This didn't turn out well,  it really didn't felt much at all.  I didn't try the machine technique again,  instead I attacked the hat by hand in the sink.  I used to dish scrubber brush to rough up the fibers to get them to grab each other.  It took awhile, but the fibers eventually felt together.

With the hat still wet but felted to my satisfaction,  I created a makeshift hat mold out of Alec's Darth Vader cookie jar and some cardboard.  It took about 48 hours to completely dry,  but once it did the wonky crochet shape was gone and it was a nice round shaped hat with a flat brim.  On the inside I added a ribbon band to give some stability to the size.

Finished felted hat

The finished hat is not felted to the extent that you can no longer see any of the stitches but it does have a nice texture and it very much bonded together.  I added a flower pin made from pre-made felt and embroidery floss.

My mom loves the hat,  so I would call it a success.