Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pinwheel Complete!

Well, this was certainly more than the seven day project that the book promised. I'm not complaining though because I love the final product. It was a fun afghan to make and I really like the swirly candy-like effect of the pinwheel stripes.

Not counting the couple of times I took this apart when I was trying to figure out the pattern, it took me about one day per stripe followed by another day to make the exterior border. So, let's call this a thirteen day afghan. I was worried the blanket would pucker up a bit with the three rows of border around the outside. Thankfully, it doesn't. I haven't taken exact measurements, but I'd say it's between 50 to 60 inches wide. Certainly bigger than your average baby blanket. Of course, it could easily just be folded in half over baby for extra warmth.

My version was made with Vanna's Choice in White and, appropriately enough, Mint. I was so excited when I read the label because all along I'd been planning for the blanket to look like one of those swirly mint candies you get in restaurants. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the version of the pattern I was using comes from 7-Day Afghans by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. There's also a version available in this leaflet from Bernat. Although that one is knit and has six stripes instead of twelve. The one in 7 Days is the only one I've run across that's crocheted.

A close up so you can see what the stitches look like. It's a simple sc 1, ch 1, sc 1 pattern which turns out looking pretty intricate. For those that are curious, I actually ended up keeping the white stripe from the practice version I was making in the previous pinhwheel post. I tore out the mustard colour that I wasn't happy with and replaced it with this one. I think it's a much better combination!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Show your support, lend a hand...

Okay readers, you know that I don't ask for much. The occasional picture of something you've created with my patterns. Other than that, I'm not too demanding, right? Well, there's an event coming up next week that's pretty close to my heart so I thought I'd put out a little request for some help from my loyal readers.

Next Friday my boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, is taking part in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life. School prevents me from participating, but I'm supporting the team morally and with my financial donation. For those unfamiliar with the event, it's a twelve hour relay in which team members take turns walking around a track. Each team member is sponsored through monetary donations and those donations go towards cancer research, prevention, and support for cancer patients and their families. I think the Canadian Cancer Society is an incredible organization and they've done a lot to help friends and members of our family.

So how can you help? Take a moment and stop by my boyfriend's Relay for Life page and make a donation in any amount you feel comfortable with. Hesistant? Maybe you don't live in Canada? Maybe you think it's a little weird to make a donation supporting someone you've never met? Those are good arguements, so I've come up with a list of reasons that might persuade you to donate:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society is a great organization and every little bit helps people in need. 
  • You enjoy reading Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins. Remember this site is a labour of love. I don't make any profit from it. 
  • You appreciate that Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins is ad free. 
  • You've used the free patterns provided on Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins.
  •  I've shown pictures of a cool thing you made or promoted your blog or Etsy shop in one of my posts. 
  • You want to take advantage of one of the free gifts my boyfriend is offering over on SF Kapow!
  • "Our world is an English Village!" (Sorry, I've been rewatching The Jane Austen Book Club) With the connections we can make through the internet we're all neighbours. So why not help each other out?
Okay, thus ends the public service announcement. If you're feeling motivated, follow the link and make a donation. 

We now return to our regularly scheduled crochet and crafty talk. Since the daffodil is the symbol of the Canadian Cancer Society I figured a vase of crochet daffodils would be a suitable addition to this post. Check out the free pattern availabe from PlanetJune. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crobot Roll Call...(and Review!)

Thinker, Babybot, Catbot, Dogbot, Crooooowwwwww...wait, how did he get in there?

Crobots: 20 Amigurumi Robots to Make is, in a word, awesome. That’s it. That’s my short review. Go out right now and add this one to your collection. Or read on to find out more about why I’m so impressed with this book.

Crobots is the first published crochet pattern book by Nelly Pailloux, whom some folks might know from her Etsy shop, La Fee Crochette. This 96 page paperback consists of 20 unique amigurumi robot designs and each design truly is unique. This isn’t just one pattern for a standard body shape and twenty different ways to decorate it. Each robot has it’s own shape. While there may be some similarities among the robots, no two use the exact same body.

Two critical things that you should know about Crobots; first off, the idea is for these bots to be small. Pailloux suggests making the bots with sport weight yarn and a size C2 (2.75 mm) hook. Not having a hook that small in my collection and wanting to use up some of my stash of worsted weight yarn I broke that rule. My bots still turned out cute, but they are much bigger than the designer’s suggested height of 3 to 4 inches. Please keep that in mind when you’re looking at my pictures.

Second, the crobots will make great gifts for adult friends, but made as is, they aren’t suitable for young children or any households that have small children around. A quick look at the materials lists, which include items such as pen springs, bugle beads, nails, washers, screws, small faceted nuts and tire valves is enough to make any parent shudder. Of course the crobots would still maintain their cuteness even if some of these pieces were omitted or changed, but readers should keep in mind that they will need to make some alterations if their toddler has an affection for robot toys.

Normally when I’m testing a book for review I make one or two of the designs to see how I like it. The fact that I’ve made four of these little guys and there are still others that I’d like to try is a testament to the strength of the designs. I think the book’s strongest feature is that Pailloux incorporates new shapes like square heads and takes old notions such as beads and sequins and uses them in ways you don’t typically see in amigurumi. The book made me think about amigurumi shapes and accessories in new ways and that’s something you don’t come across in too many pattern books.

The patterns in Crobots range from easy to difficult, although from my experience that rating system seemed more related to how long it will take you to put the bot together than how challenging the process actually is. For example, Thinker is rated a two, while Dogbot is only a one. I found Thinker to be just as easy, if not easier, to make than Dogbot.

Regardless of the ratings, this book would be suitable for crocheters of all skill levels. The first few pages explain the magic ring and all the basic crochet stitches that you’ll need to make the patterns in the book. The instructions are clearly written and illustrated. The directions for each bot also feature a detailed assembly diagram so that you can see exactly where each piece goes.

I also like the household objects approach that Pailloux uses to accessorize and decorate the bots. One of the first bots you encounter in the book is Mechanobot who sports tiny spring arms. My first thought was “Oh no, I’m going to have to buy a whole bag of tiny springs when I only need two.” Turns out I was wrong. Looking at the materials list for this bot, I noticed Pailloux suggestion, “dismantle two retractable ballpoint pens to obtain these.” Perfect! I love the idea of using items that you’ll naturally have lying around the house to make the crobots.

The only problem I encountered in making my four bots was some discrepancy in the direction for Baby Bot. Looking at the picture of this robot on the cover of the book it is clear that his tummy panel is crocheted in white. When you examine the instructions for this bot, however, you find that it directs you to make this stomach panel out of felt. This pattern is also missing the instructions for one side of Baby Bot’s head. Out of the four patterns I’ve worked on this was the only one where I encountered any mistakes. Both of these problems can easily be solved by any experienced amigurumi maker, but they may cause some frustration for a beginner.

That problem aside, I’m still a huge fan of Crobots. It will make a great addition to anyone’s amigurumi collection, providing a wonderful series of adorable crochet robots to liven up your home or give away to family and friends.

My Other Book Reviews...

Tiny Yarn Animals Truly Terrific
Creepy Cute Crochet: Approach with Caution
Amigurumi Word. My thoughts...
Mr. Funky's Crochet Elephant

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chibi Servo with Free Pattern!

I know that people don't always go back to read all the comments on a blog post, so I just wanted to mention that MageAkyla, creator of last week's Cute Thing of the Week has now created a chibi version of the Tom Servo she made for her brother. And the best part, she's posted the pattern for free. Check it out on her blog MageAkyla's Crocheted Creations or follow this link directly to the free pattern. Perfect! Now all I need to do is get myself a decoupage globe and some free time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spike In Charge Cross Stitch

I made this last fall as a birthday and graduation gift for the Infamous and Crafty Lisa, who has just finished up a four year nursing program. I finally got the chance to give it to her last weekend and now I can put up a picture of it without spoiling the surprise. I did all the stitching and the boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, helped select the frame and matboards. The picture is called Spike In Charge and it was created by designer Margaret Sherry. If you're not familiar with her work, you can check out a few samples here. Many of her designs are currently discontinued, including Spike, whom I bought a few years ago. Her pictures tend to feature pudgy animals ranging from cats to elephants, and they're always adorable. You may have also seen them on scrapbooking stickers or greeting cards.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tom Servo Crocheted! Cute Thing of the Week!

Words can not express how much I wish I'd come up with this one. I am in awe of its complete awesomeness. Tom Servo is the proud creation of Craftster user MageAkyla. His whole body is crocheted except for the arms, which are made out of electrical tubing, and hands made with sculpy. (Note to self: must get better at making things with sculpy!). Tom's clear plastic head is a clear decoupage globe. Can you imagine how cool it would be to curl out with this little guy while watching your favourite episode of MST3K?