If you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free, cause there's a million ways to be, you know that there are.
--Cat Stevens

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pattern Review: Hermione the Unicorn by Dawn Toussaint

Hermione the Unicorn is a free pattern by Dawn Toussaint.  It is available as a free Ravelry download and is a well
My Hermione is about 9 1/2
inches tall from hooves to horn
tip, compared to a recommended 
6 inches.
formatted PDF file.  When you open your pattern file the first thing you will see is a large blue rectangle containing a list of the techniques you will need know, and a list of the materials and equipment you will need to have to complete the pattern.  After that we jump right into the critical information.  As Hermione is a stuffed animal gauge is not critical and Ms. Toussaint has provided us with neither gauge nor a recommended yarn.  She does however suggest that  she used worsted weight yarn(150-200 yards of  color A, 20 yards for color b, and 10 yards for color ) and an f size hook.  I found this disconcerting as worsted weight yarn can vary much inside the class and most of the worsted weight yarn I have recommends using H, I, or J hooks.  Amigurumi are usually worked with hooks about 2 sizes smaller than is recommended for the yarn but I was worried that the f would be too small.  My unicorn is worked with KnitPicks Brava for the main color and a size H hook.
If you look closely you can see that the
muzzle is very shallow.  The little shaping
shown is formed by pressing the stuffing
into the desired shape.
Hermione is started by making all the auxiliary pieces first.  We make 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 ears and a horn.  The arms and legs are very similar, both start with color b in the spiral differing only in stitch count as the legs are slight larger.  After 7 rows we switch to main color and make the clever little scallop feature on the hooves before continuing for the length of the pattern.  The ears are simple an work up very quickly.  The horn is the only piece made in color C and I found the shaping to be a bit tricky.  After finishing the extremities we move on to the head and body.  The head and body are worked as one piece stuffing and joining the other pieces as you work so that by the time you are done crocheting you are also completely done assembling your animal.  All that is left is to embroider details and attach the mane.
I am sorry not to have better
pictures of the gaping holes
around the arms and legs but
 you can see above the right
 arm there some of the stitches
that I repaired.  I also wanted
 to note that Hermione is very
 floppy and doesn't sit well.  I
have tacked her arms and legs
 together for these photos to
 make her look better and
 be easier to pose.
My Hermione didn't go quite as smoothly as reading through the pattern suggested it might.  Despite excellent instructions and clear diagrams I had serious difficulties in attaching the limbs without leaving massive holes in my work.  I ended up having to duplicate stitch around the arms and legs to cover up said ugly gaping holes.  I am however certain my difficulties were due to user error and not a defect in the actual pattern.  Of greater concern to me was the lack of muzzle shaping in the head.  The head works up almost perfectly round and the muzzle is much to flat to look like a horse's face.  With great deal of stuffing and squeezing I was able to achieve a head shape with which I was reasonably satisfied, but had I known beforehand I would have added my own modifications to make a more horse-like muzzle. 
The mane was added using latch hooking techniques
 and is Nashua Handknits Sitar in the colorway gypsy
 wagon.  It has been brushed gently with a pet slicker
 brush to make it look fuzzier and sleeker.
Overall Hermione the Unicorn is an excellent pattern and I am certain to try other Dawn Toussaint patterns in the future.  Due my limited budget I often work free patterns, especially as a way to decide if I would like to purchase other patterns from the designer in the future.  I am grateful that Hermione was offered as a free pattern as I had a great deal of fun making her and now have a gorgeous unicorn sitting in my living room making me happy.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Everyday Magic

Some of you know that I have spent the last 9 months in a rather boring an intensive french class.  In many ways in was an amazing experience I met many people from all over the world who had moved here to build a better life for their families.  I made friends, learned a new language, and discovered more about the region.  In other ways it was boring, stressful, and downright unpleasant. From this experience I learned something--most things in life are just this way, and it is up to the experiencee to make a meaningful life out of the roller coaster ride.  One of the ways I coped with the unpleasantness of certain parts of the class was to knit or crochet obsessively (often during class ) so I have many finished objects to share with you but I will share a few at a time too keep it from being to overwhelming for both you and.
Hermione the Unicorn by Dawn Toussaint
When I was little  I used to say I wanted to be a dragon when I grew up.  I still do actually the difference is that I know it won't happen.  As much as I wish it were otherwise I have yet to see a dragon, pet a unicorn, or meet a wizard outside my imagination.  Sometimes I search for fairies in the wooded areas and although I have never found one I can't believe that they don't exist.  However dragons and fairies and unicorns are not really what I wanted to talk about.  I have realized that in my desire to find "real" magic in the world, I was missing something more important: everyday magic.

Side view to show off Mane.  

There is a spell of pure joy and peace that is found in learning to love what we already have.  This everyday magic can be found: in the quiet early mornings before everyone wakes, a stolen kiss, long talks with someone you love late at night, in joy of sport, or hidden moments with a ball of string and a couple of sticks.  The laugh of a small child is as a wizard's spell to sorrow, and the wonder of simple hot meal and warm bed can wipe away the weariness of a long day.  Finding the magic in the ordinary is every bit as much an art and science, as the magic  wizards in the fantasies I love practice. 
Finished in Mid-April.  Back view for the mane.
 For example, a few days ago I realized I had stopped listening to music.  I don't know why but I do know that for last few years music listening has been a fleeting occasional sort of thing that I did by accident.  As I child I listened to and made music every chance I got, and I couldn't imagine a world without music.  I have started making time to really listen to music again and you know what music is magic.  Music can spin straw into gold, mend broken hearts and allow a human to fly.  I hate cleaning but just yesterday evening I found myself in my kitchen cooking dinner and cleaning up while listening to music, and guess what I was having a blast!!!  Everything seemed to go by much more quickly.
My favorite new kind of string magic is spinning.  It amazes me that a stick with a little weight on it and a ball of fluff are all it takes to make beautiful yarn, and I am learning quickly, as is evidenced by my most recent creation.
Finished a couple weeks ago. 4ply from mixed wool roving.  About 200yds sock weight.  I am rather absurdly proud of it and have no idea what to do with it.
Last but not least I have finally gotten up the courage to really learn to draw.  I used to love to draw as a child, but was too busy to take art courses as an adolescent. Sometime on the way from then until now I convinced myself that I was no good at it anyway.  I have lately had many ideas and things I wished to draw and design and no way to express them adequately and I determined that it was time to learn to draw.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that although I still have much to learn I am much better at drawing than I thought.
Study in 3-D shapes and shading form a couple days ago.

See my tab on link parties to join me in looking at other great finished projects.