Thursday, 29 March 2018

Firefly Amigurumi - Kaylee Frye

Well, I've finally finished my third Firefly pattern, and this one is for Serenity's kind and good natured mechanic, Kaylee Frye. She tends to wear practical jumpsuits most of the time, though she brightens them up with colourful tops and jackets.

With this pattern I've come up with two slightly different versions of Kaylee. You can make her with her hair up in two buns, wearing sandals and with her jumpsuit legs rolled up, with a separate jacket. Or you can make her with long hair, wearing boots. She will come out about 16 cm/6.5” tall.

The pattern is available on Etsy and Ravelry, and you can also buy the pattern together with the patterns for Mal Reynolds and Jayne Cobb at a reduced price, also on Etsy and Ravelry. If you would like to buy the Kaylee pattern together with just one of the other Firefly patterns, let me know, and I'll set that up.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Making Amigurumi - starting the first round

I get all sorts of questions from people making my patterns, and it seems like a good idea to share some of my answers, and any tips and tricks that I've picked up the time I've been crocheting and making amigurumi. A quick definition in case you don't know - amigurumi are toys that are made by crocheting in the round. This means you can create spherical and tube shapes that are perfect for making toy people and animals, and working in the round creates a strong crochet fabric that doesn't have large holes in it.

There are two ways I know of starting to work in the round and the one that seems to be recommened most often these days is to use an adjustable ring (sometimes called a magic ring). You'll find lots of tutorials online showing how to do this, but personally, I've never liked using it. When I learned to make amigurumi I used the simpler technique of making two chain stitches, then working into the first chain, which I'll describe in more detail below. When I first heard about the adjustable ring I tried it out, but I didn't find it as easy, or as secure, as my normal method.

Obviously, you should use whichever technique works best for you, but if you're new to making amigurumi, or if you've tried my normal method and not been entirely happy with it, I thought I'd set out exactly how to do it to make it work perfectly. All the instructions are set out for right-handed crocheters (sorry about that left-handers - despite being left-handed myself, I learned to crochet right-handed and that's the only way I know how to do it).

So, most of my patterns start like this (written in US terms, see below for the UK version):

Round 1: Ch 2, work 6 sc into 1st ch - 6 st.

And here is exactly how to do that:

1. Make a slip knot (you’ll need this to start any crochet). Note that the end of the yarn is on the right-hand side in the next three photos.

2. Put the slip knot on your hook, making sure the short end of yarn is to the right, you'll be working with the rest of the yarn with your left hand.

3. Chain 2 (to chain: yarn over hook, pull through loop on hook).

4. Start working into the first chain. Each chain stitch is made up of two 'lines' with a 'bump' on the other side. You need to push your hook between the two lines and underneath the bump. Work a single crochet stitch (sc in US terms; double crochet, or dc, in UK terms): insert hook into chain stitch as described, yarn over hook, pull through stitch, yarn over hook and pull through both loops on hook.

Since the first chain was made from the slip knot, it will expand as you work into it.

5. In this case the first round is made of 6 sc (most amigurumi start with 6 stitches, but be sure to check the pattern). As you continue to work the stitches you should work over the tail of yarn you started with. You won't be able to do this on the first sc/dc, but after that it should be no problem. Hold the tail of yarn over the hook after you've inserted it through the chain, pull the yarn through and continue with the stitch as normal.

The tail of yarn held over the hook (the working end of yarn is loose above the hook).

Yarn over hook before pulling under the tail of yarn and the chain stitch.

6. Once you have completed the six stitches, it should look like this:

7. Pull the tail of yarn to close the hole in the centre.

8. Don't worry if the hole doesn't look completely closed. Work the next round (in the photo below I have worked two stitches in each stitch of round 1 to increase from 6 to 12 stitches), then pull the tail of yarn again. The hole should close completely and be secure.

Before pulling the tail of yarn tight.

After pulling the tail of yarn tight.

I hope that helps, let me know if that makes it clear or if you have any questions.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Porgs - new Star Wars pattern

After I went to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi (which I enjoyed very much), I knew I had to crochet one of the cute little porgs, birds that live on the rocky island where Rey finds Luke Skywalker. They were actually created by the film makers because the real island had so many puffins on it that they would be a pain to remove digitally, so they came up with similarly shaped, but distinctly alien birds to replace them.

As I started looking at pictures of porgs I realised that the male and female porgs look different - they are both brown and white, but the males have gold coloured feathers around their eyes. That meant I needed to design a pattern for each of them, and a slight variation for the male ones, as the pattern of the gold on their faces varies.

Two male porgs

Female porg

Back of porg, showing its little tail

I thought about making a larger pattern, but in the end I decided to make them roughly to the scale of all my other Star Wars patterns, so they're smaller than any other character, only 5cm/2" tall. Being so small they're pretty quick to make, so before you know it you've got an entire colony of them - I made thirteen trying to get the patterns just right!

The pattern is available on Etsy and Ravelry, I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Fantasy Creatures Design Contest are holding a competiton to find the best cute fantasy amigurumi, and I've entered several of my patterns. I'd love you to vote for any of them that you like (or any of the other designs in the contest if you like those better). You get 10 votes so you don't have to choose just one.

Here are the designs that I've entered, just click on the 'Vote' link below each picture to go to the voting page with that pattern as the first one listed. If you want to vote for more than one of my characters you will need to stay on the same page and scroll through all the patterns. Voting ends at midnight on 10th December (UTC + 1), and everyone who votes gets entered in a raffle to win 100 Must-Have Minis yarn balls by Yarn and Colors.

Yeti and Bigfoot Families: Vote

Cuddly Dragons: Vote

Little Dragon Hatchlings: Vote

Tiny Baby Dragons: Vote

Chubby Gnomes: Vote

Bumble the Brownie Troll: Vote

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Making the wings for the Fierce Little Dragon

My Fierce Little Dragon pattern is one of my most popular patterns - since I made it available on Ravelry in 2011 it has been downloaded over 90000 times! However, it's not necessarily a pattern for total beginners, as there are some more complicated elements, in particular the wings.

I'm happy with the basic design, which is different from the normal bat-wing look of dragon wings, and was somewhat inspired by Wayne Anderson's illustrations for The Flight of Dragons.

I used front post stitches in the wings to make ridges that give them stiffness, but as the pattern stands the two wings aren't totally symmetrical. This doesn't show very obviously when they are sewn on, but I had a bit of a play with the design and came up with something that makes the wings a bit more symmetrical. I have updated the pattern with the new details (so go and download it again to get them) and I decided to make a little tutorial to show the more fiddly parts of making them. Whenever you want to make the dragon, read through the pattern for the wings, and follow this tutorial to help.

So, here are the new, improved wings. Upper side:

And lower side:

For many of the stitches (sc, hdc and dc, in US terms) you will be working around the 'posts' of the stitches, which is the main body of the stitch, rather than through the two loops at the top. With front post stitches (fpsc, fphdc and fpdc) you insert your hook from right to left around the back of the post, and that makes a ridge at the back of your work.

Working around a double crochet (dc) stitch, it's quite easy to see where to put your hook. Here are the dc stitches from the previous row:

Here's an arrow to show where your hook should go:

And here's the hook being inserted (after doing a yarn over hook):

You work around the hdc and the sc stitches in the same way. It can be a bit harder to see where to put your hook with the sc stitches, but once you have done it with the larger stitches you'll start to get the hang of it. Here's a photo showing how you do an fpsc around the last sc on the row:

At the end of the row, you then work an sc into the top of the last sc you worked around. This stops the edge of the wing ending up sloping to the right. This is what it looks like when you work into the last sc:

You then ch 1 and turn, here's what the wing looks like when turned (I undid the ch 1 as it's hard to count the stitches in a photo otherwise):

For the next row, you miss the first sc and instead work around the second sc. This is part of what stops the edge forming a slope. Here's where your hook should go:

And here's a photo showing the hook inserted:

I hope this helps, just ask if you have any other questions about the pattern, and have fun making your dragons!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Firefly Amigurumi - Jayne Cobb

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on a series of Firefly amigurumi characters, and the next one is now ready. The pattern to make Jayne Cobb, the Hero of Canton himself, is now available in my Etsy shop and on Ravelry. He's the same size as Mal, about 16cm/6.5" tall, and he comes with a removable gun in a holster, and his famous woolly hat.

Apart from the hat he's quite a simply dressed figure, and he has straightforward hair, but a lot of character in his face is created with his eyebrows and beard. I didn't give him a smile, because he's a tough-guy sort, but you might want to make him looking happier when he's wearing that hat!

I experimented with two versions of the hat, one made the normal way round, and one made inside out to give a different texture that maybe looks a bit more like knitting. I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so you can choose which you prefer.

I'm also selling the Mal and Jayne patterns together at a reduced price if you want to make them both, on Etsy and Ravelry.

I've got a couple more projects I'm working on right now, but soon I'll get on and design the pattern for another Firefly character - I think it'll be Kaylee next.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Firefly Amigurumi - Captain Mal Reynolds

After making a Mal Reynolds amigurumi as a gift, I have now developed the crochet pattern and it is for sale in my Etsy store and on Ravelry.

Mal is the captain of the spaceship Serenity in the SF show Firefly, played by Nathan Fillion. He's heroic and good-hearted, though he generally operates on the wrong side of the law. My crochet pattern lets you make a cute version of him, about 6.5"/16 cm tall, with a removable coat and gun in a holster.

I am now working on another Firefly character, Jayne Cobb, so the pattern for him should be ready soon. Let me know which other characters you'd like me to design.