My health is preventing me from working at the moment, so I'd like to use my time to help sick kids feel better, not with pills, but with crochet. Follow my journey on my blog ~

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Today is the first day of the dreaded four to six month separation.  I decided to make the most of it and get out of the house as much as I could -- usually I get tired very easily, but I've been working up to being out and about little by little.  The small one and I took a walk to get frozen yogurt.  Turned out there was an art festival being held down that way, so we wandered around and got lost in talent for awhile.  Then we got a ride to the other craft store to restore my supply of poly-fil, and then to the grocery store to stock up on supplies, where I found some new things to try.  I really am astounded at the gluten free selection these days.  And the man of the house isn't home to magically fit everything in the freezer... :(

New discovery for a quick meal... spinach-garlic gluten free sandwich wraps with guacamole and roast turkey.  Very satisfying.  Also brought home some kelp noodles out of curiosity.  Really not sure how that's going to go, but almost anything is edible with enough pesto sauce on it.

Have been learning to knot my own pearls by practicing on a bracelet... no way is it necessary to have this knotted individually but it's good practice.  I'm probably not doing it right... but... :) it looks pretty good anyway, I thought I would have messed up by now and be forced to cut the thing to bits.  Then again, I'm not even through the first of three strands yet.  Can't ever stay away from beading for too long, no matter how hard I try.  The shiny things, they call to me.

Back to working on pink bunny shortly, as soon as I make dinner.  There will probably be a nap involved in there somewhere, I probably over-taxed myself today... then again, how do you know your limits until you find them?  ...okay, that's a cop out for me.  Pushing things too far has been a bad habit, and I ought to take things a bit easier in general.  But today was stressful, and it's better to work the stress out than to dwell in it.  Same headache, but for a better reason.

Just got spammed with a text message coupon code after getting four gmail "codes" as though someone tried to reset my password (but no word from Google indicating someone really did try to access my account... and no indication of which account?)  So I'm confused.

Maybe it is time for that nap after all...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spreading the Word

I had to go to the craft store today to get more supplies, so while I was out I had my mom stop at a few local stores to drop off cards with this site on it.  I'm hoping that some employees who like crafting will see it, and maybe a few will even make items to donate!  I'd be happy to put them in with my own delivery, for those who don't want to go to the hospital themselves.  The important thing is that they get there!

I got a punch so that I could attach tags to each animal (not sophisticated, they're just my "business card" with my email and blog address, and information hand-written on the back).  Every one has an individual number so that I can keep track of what yarn I used to make the animal in case it needs to be repaired or replaced, and they have care instructions.  I also made sure to include design credits (although the back of the cards look a bit crowded).

I hope these little guys will find happy homes and bring smiles to the little ones who love them.  I made all the tags for the animals that are done.  It made my hand cramp a bit, but I think that's a good sign... means I've made a decent dent in my first delivery goal.  I'm so excited to make my first trip to drop them off! :)

Please remember to click +1 and share this blog with your friends.  You can also join my Google+ community, Crafts for a Cause.  The more people who know about this project, the more awareness will spread, and hopefully more people will choose to participate. Once I move, I'll be working on finding a place to hold meetings on a regular basis for people to stitch together.  I hope that the community will allow people to share ideas and inspiration about ways to give back, and maybe even connect with others locally -- if we all do what we can where we are, there will soon be many people donating across the country, and maybe even around the world.  That's the magic of the internet, let's use it for good!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tutorial: Finishing Amigurumi

I thought I'd share this with you guys, since I've figured it out recently myself.

I've always been a little nervous about my sewn on pieces coming loose somehow, even though they do feel tight when I pull on them.  I know some of my toys will go to children who will PLAY with them, and that kind of wear... well, I don't trust a simple "tuck the end in."  So I've devised this technique to more securely attach limbs, ears, etc.  This does require more than one "tail end" of an attached piece, but fortunately most pieces I've made do require more than one!

I hope this helps some of you.

Sew the pieces on securely.  Using your crochet hook, pull the tail end of both pieces through a single hole "across" from where the pieces are sewn.  Keep in mind that depending on how tightly you tie your knot, this may pull the two attached pieces toward each other slightly.  Note in my photo that I pulled the tails from the ears through the bottom of the neck.

 Tie a double knot snugly against the surface of the project (but not so tightly that it distorts the piece).  This will ensure that your stitches don't come loose, as well as making sure the tail ends of the yarn don't "pop out."
 Put your crochet hook through the piece, and wrap the tail ends of the yarn around the hook.  Carefully pull the knot underneath the surface, and "wriggle" the loop so that the knot gets embedded under the fiberfill (more important in pieces with larger gaps).  Cut the tail ends short, and continue to pull through until the ends disappear inside the body.

This is what the end result looks like -- no knot is visible!  If there is a small stretch in the hole you tied the knot in, it will even out if you rub the area gently with your finger.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Caught crafting again

And of course, after my previous musings on the animals that aren't yet included in my donations, I had to finally settle on...

...a hedgehog.

Design credit goes to Amy Gaines, from her book More Cute Little Animals to Crochet (Leisure Arts, 2010).  I have a lot of designs by Amy Gaines and they're all amazingly cute.  I never feel I can quite do them justice.  Sorry for the dark picture again.  Very, very, very early morning.  The little one was up several times in the night because of his allergies.  I got a second and third wind in there somewhere, and then just kept going.  It's fine with me though, when I have bad episodes it takes me forever to finish one thing, so I have to do what I can when I can.  One of his birthday presents was a trip to the circus, which is happening today... I'll get my chance to nap for a few hours while he's out, unless I get into another crafting frenzy. 

I'm all out of Keeping Up Appearances.  Got through the entire series already... guess I've learned all I can from Hyacinth for now.  I feel confident that I could hold an authentic candlelight supper, given the opportunity, even if I don't have any Royal Doulton with hand-painted periwinkles.  Such characters... I do love British television.

My craft box looks a little sad with no projects in it.  There's usually at least one thing partly complete in there... perhaps I'll just start another one... yes...

Friday, April 19, 2013

All but the tail

The frog is all done, and I managed to make the monkey arms and legs that match.  When I wake up, I'll just have to do the tail and stitch them to the rest of the body.  I've been watching Keeping Up Appearances and I work, picking up tips that I can implement when my world traveler gets home, for being a hostess and such when we have our house, ways to alienate neighbors... I'm not sure I could get my voice to be so grating, but I'll give it a go. 

Just two more days and then hopefully we can get this house hunt under way.  My son isn't too happy about having to move, but I hope he will feel better about it in time.  I'm not especially looking forward to the process myself, but it'll be better in the long run. 

Hmm, will also need an elephant in this animal mix of mine... I love it when I finish up the projects I'm working on, means I get to go dig through all my patterns and choose new ones to start on. Really tempted to mess around with some more wool yarn, it was so much fun making those koala bears.  They're a bit harder to shape, but for rounder creatures that's not a problem, and the end products are so squishable! 

Also must remember to get a hole punch and make a mini page on my blog for care instructions... I have some business cards with the URL and my e-mail in case of problems/questions, and I'll be writing the materials & any notes on the back.  My plan is to keep a careful log of all the animals I donate so I can give each one a number... then if an arm or leg falls off or they need a replacement, I'll know exactly what yarn I used and can make a (close) replica.  They don't fall apart easily, so if they do need fixing, it'll mean they're loved... and that's a good thing.  I'd certainly replace or repair them if needed! :) 

And now, I am tired, so off to bed I go.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pieces of Frog

Days and nights are backwards again, folks, and I haven't been able to get my stitches to gauge properly for the monkey limbs, so I decided to make a frog... got a bit caught up in it I guess (that and Mansfield Park on Netflix), finally noticed that it's 6:30 AM and probably time for me to get some sleep.  I think I'm addicted to Puffy Pals (having it on my Kindle is so convenient, and Sayjai makes her directions so easy that I can follow them even when half asleep).  I keep intending to do a variety, and so I have, but I keep coming back to the little round critters, and then I snap out of my crochet-daze and discover frog parts littering my lap.  I know it isn't easy being green, but you'll have to wait until later to be assembled, mister.  Even my stuffed animals look sleepy.  No, guys, that's not daylight... it's... light pollution... ?

In any case, I'll be up in a few hours.  I'm absolutely determined to finish my first delivery of donations before the move, which means before I have to pack up all the craft supplies, which means... well, lots of animal pieces on my lap over the next while.  Still missing from the collection (pile?) are a rabbit, bear, dog and cat.  Already have a lion, so for the sake of "oh my!" I may as well throw a tiger in the mix.  Then perhaps a duck, a duck and a goose.  I could go on, but I'll spare you... eventually I'll reach twenty or so, and I'll attempt to do it without causing you too many eye rolls along the way (although I've been told one should always make the best use of one's natural talents, and bad jokes are one of mine, especially when sleep deprived... consider yourselves warned, because there is not, as far as I know, an internet censor for those yet).

A few of my friends

Thought I'd snap a picture, bad lighting aside.  I've always loved stuffed animals, and I've kept collecting them over the years... I always think I'll stop, but they're just so sweet, and very comforting when I'm not well.  I've been curled up with them today.  I'll be on my own until Sunday, so they'll be keeping me company here.  
This puppy must have his place too, since he was brought from Switzerland last year, on the same business trip that calls away our fine breadwinner for the next few days.

I meant to sneak a little friend into his suitcase before he left, but got distracted and forgot.  And, to be fair, he didn't take a suitcase this time.  Carry on luggage only.  Less room for friends, how sad.

 And here are my little birds, always singing happily (when they're not squabbling... Calypso gets a little bit persistent sometimes, and Calliope will only put up with it for so long.)  They sing along with me when I sing to them, and they have their own favorite shows on Netflix (based around which ones have the best theme songs, of course).  I wish I could get better videos of them and their antics, they're so adorable.

 Calypso is here to the left, and Calliope is on the right in the picture above, and that's her squinting down below.  She's wary of the camera and everything that moves... she kept scrambling, so this was the best picture I could get.

These are my two darling guinea pigs, poor Charlie is no longer with us (the multicolored furry guy there).  Nelly is still going strong, even though he's starting to show his age, poor guy.  Not sure exactly how old they were when I adopted them, but they definitely qualify as "elderly."  Bit sad that Nelly is alone now, but the birds sing to him sometimes. Nelly is a lot more quiet than Charlie.  Together, I called them the "alarm pigs," because whenever anything was going on outside they'd start peeping madly.  Nelly only peeps when I come to visit him, or when the birds talk to him.  I'm sure he misses Charlie. :( we all do.

And here is my parents' dog, Pippin, making her derp face (best picture I have).  She's a husky mix, getting into her elder years.  Silly old thing but we love her.

And now I'm back to my handiwork ~

Sunday, April 14, 2013

When it rains, it... what now?

Sorry I've been a little absent from my blog -- just found out that our family is doomed to go through a bit of a shakeup.  I knew we would have to move out of this apartment at the end of the school year, but it turns out it's going to have to be... *right* at the end of the school year, and we don't yet have a place to live after that.  The man of the house has to go out of state for "four to six months," um, at the end of the month.  Meanwhile he has to go out of the country on business for a few days.  So he has to move his stuff out, so that I can pack up my things and put them in storage, meanwhile it's my job to find a new place to live, and we will have to somehow work it out so that he can come home and sign paperwork/get me the information necessary to get this to work out. And it looks like there will probably be about a month or two in between moving out of here and moving in somewhere else, barring a miraculous "meant to be" finding.  It's a little unsettling, to say the least, and if there's one thing that makes my various neurological issues flare up, it's stress.

I have a recurring mental image of me sitting on a street corner in raggedy clothes, crocheting away, mumbling to myself and jabbing my crochet hook at whoever accidentally gets close to my carpet bag of craft supplies...

More likely, we will find a house... which intimidates me, but is a good thing in the end.  Whatever happens, my time will be somewhat divided in the upcoming weeks between packing and crocheting and trying to find said house.  I'm trying to think of this as something that could be lucky... some of the best things in life happen by chance (or all of it, depending on how you look at it -- this just happens to be a very short notice sort of chance).  Send some good vibes my way!

I've made another Sundry, I just need to sew the eyes on/embroider the face, they make my hands a bit sore so I've been catching up on baby gifts to give my hands a rest. Will have more pictures up soon, I hope.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sundry's Debut!

I'm pleased to announce that I've completed the very first Sundry the Second Chance Monster!

I've been too spastic to deal with patterns or to be able to make even stitches, which meant it was a perfect day to follow the yarn where it took me, and this is the result!  I'll have to get some better pictures when I have something other than my cell phone to take them with :) The flash bleached out the blue button eyes a bit, but she really is quite colorful! 

I may be able to post an actual pattern for her at some point, but it's tricky because the yarn varies in size, so I basically had to stitch differently in each row to make them even (ish). Here's the basic concept: if you can get a bowling pin sort of shape about 24 stitches around at the wide part of the head, decrease to 15 or so stitches for the neck, and then back up to around 30-35 around for the body.  Keep going until it looks like the "right size" (some of the rows will vary in width, so don't worry about the number.) 

I did the bottom few rows in the back loops only so they would taper, and began to decrease around, also in the back loops only.  *This is important, since it effectively fixes the gaps that are sometimes left between stitch decreases.  Stuff rather gently, since the silk yarn has no give -- it molds very nicely as long as it isn't over-stuffed.  Finish off when the hole at the bottom is quite small by putting a slip stitch across the gap.  Tie off and pull the end of the yarn through the body, pull tightly so that the bottom will sit flat (this won't happen if there's a giant knot).

Hair: Wrap silk yarn several times around the widest part of your palm.  Gather in the center, and sew to the top of the head.  This is tricky since the silk yarn is so dense, I used a yarn needle and 4 strands of embroidery floss.  Wrap around and knot at the bottom first, rather gently, and then make as many stitches as you can up the center part.  Cut the loops so you get single strands of hair.

Arms: Cut three rather long lengths.  Hold one end of them in your teeth, braid.  Tie a knot near ONE end, leave tails for fingers.  Use a large crochet hook to pull the braid through the body, pull to desired length.  Make another knot for the other hand, cut off the braid, leaving tails for fingers. 

Don't worry if it looks lopsided, this design is very mush-friendly and will hold its shape nicely!


Enjoy & feel free to e-mail me/leave comments with any questions!!  These will be on sale at some point to help fund the materials for my donations.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Modest Improvement

I'm still pretty wiped out, but the zap-zapping in my brain seems to have decreased.  I'm hoping that the tension in my hands will be better today so I can do some more crochet.  I'm almost finished with the monkey I started (what feels like) forever ago, but when my brain goes buggy my fine motor skills go out the window.  Forget holding a hook or keeping even tension or even slipping the loops off the hook properly.  And my son wants some more silk caterpillars for his bug house... they're dead simple.  Frustrating when I can't even do basic things.  But my stuffed animal friends have gotten lots of hugs, and I've gotten some rest.  Perhaps I'll be more on track after another nap.  The poor monkey still only has one arm, seems a sad state to be left in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A useless day

I've been pretty wiped out since the trip.  Not sure what's going on, I have a feeling it's just some kind of bad brain phase, seems to happen from time to time.  Usually have a few days of blah and then a seizure, after which I feel somewhat better.  Doctor doesn't have an explanation or a remedy.  The EEG didn't show a darn thing, which he says isn't unusual.

For the last few days I've been feeling like someone's flipping a switch in my brain very rapidly, almost as though I sleep for a brief moment every few seconds, and now and then I get strange shocking sensations in my fingers, like something is pulling on them.  Coordination is really off, things are not where I expect them to be, for example, I often find that my glass hits the table more quickly than I had anticipated.  It's a pretty icky feeling overall.  Been curled up with my stuffed animals trying to rest for most of the day, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

It's more than a little disconcerting to me that I can be having symptoms like this that the doctors don't have an explanation for.  All the trips to the doctor don't seem to have done any good at all, and I don't feel especially motivated to continue putting myself through it.  I do need to have another body scan to make sure the thyroid cancer still isn't back.  I'm so tired of it all. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

To the beach and back again

We had a great time with our little weekend trip, since my son has been asking to go somewhere we decided to include it as a birthday present.  He's not hard to please trip-wise, and thankfully we managed to find a place to get gluten free pancakes, so all was well.  I'm a bit worn out, but it was well worth it.  He seems to be going through a sort of insecure phase right now, so spending extra time together was good. 

I'm nearly finished with a monkey for donation, and finally broke down and got a yarn swift to help me wind up these twists that sometimes give me trouble with knots.  Thankfully, my better half has a talent with such things, I like to say it's because he was a boy scout, but it's really because he flies kites (he started teaching my son while we were at the beach).  I don't mind winding the yarn by hand, especially the recycled sari silk, since it balls up so nicely.  The colors are so nice, too, I kind of enjoy exploring the different handiwork, colors and textures before they get hidden under layers. 

So much to do, so much bad weather to make me sleep -- but push on we must!  I was at least a little bit productive today.  My son's school project is to make an invention, and he decided to make an insect habitat.  I made him a fuzzy recycled silk caterpillar to use in his model.  Boys and their bugs.  The sari silk was perfect for the purpose though.  The more I work with it the easier it gets to make it do what I want it to (sometimes, hah). 

Just about time for me to get him ready for bed.  Hope everybody had a good holiday weekend!