Monday, December 19, 2011

Waiting For Santa - Free Cross Stitch Chart

I'm very excited by the news that Margaret Sherry will be launching a new series of patterns next year. For now, I'll have to satisfy myself with this cute cat waiting for Santa, which she's posted as a free chart on her new site.

Both cats were stitched over two strands on a 32 count Belfast Linen in cream. The stitched area measures about 2.5 by 3.5 inches. The one to the left I've made into a tree ornament and I'm going to be keeping it for myself.  The bottom one, placed in a sparkly red stand-up frame (found on sale at Michael's), will be a stocking stuffer for my mom, who is also a major cat person.

Sorry the second one is looking a little blurry. To get the pictures I set these on my scanner and since the second kitty is recessed a bit in the frame, it comes out a little blurry. I assure you in real life he's quite clear, and adorable!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree - Crafts in Action!

Most years we don't put up a Christmas tree because we go to other family members' homes to celebrate the season. This year we decided we wanted a tree of our own and decided to decorate it with our geeky, non-traditional tastes.

With all the sparkly lights, taking a clear picture of the tree is no easy feat, but the boyfriend did his best. Nestled among the branches you may be able to see a few of the cross stitch ornaments I've posted on Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins before, some beaded ornaments I've made over the years, our Browncoat ornaments and a few other handcrafted items.

Though not hand-made, but just as awesome, our tree is also decked out with a few plastic dinosaurs, a Despicable Me minion, a Farscape Ka D'Argo action figure and of course, our Cookie Monster tree topper.

I've been busy working on homemade gifts for this holiday season which I hope to post on the blog come January, after everyone has received their Christmas presents.

'Til then, I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Softies for Mirabel 2011

These little cuties took flight last week and are on their way to Australia where they'll be helping out with this year's Softies for Mirabel campaign. Each year people around the world contribute handmade softies which are then given out as Christmas gifts to children supported by the Mirabel Foundation. The foundation assists children whose families have been affected by substance abuse.

Pip. of Meet Me At Mike's, is one of the main organizers for the Softies for Mirabel campaign and you can learn more about the effort and where you could contribute your own softies by clicking the link in the top paragraph.

Softies for Mirabel is a great excuse to make some toys. It helps children in need, allows you to try out some new patterns and gives you an opportunity to use up some of that extra yarn or fabric that's been building up in your stash.

Need some inspiration? Check out the patterns I have available under the My Free Patterns tab in the left sidebar. Of course, don't feel your creativity is constricted to just crocheting. Mirabel gladly accepts any child-safe toys that are handmade. Feel free to pull out those knitting needles or warm up that sewing machine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My First Knit Toy - Elefante

I've made a lot of crocheted toys over the years, but here at last is my first attempt at a knitted toy.

This knitted Elefante is a free pattern courtesy of Susan B. Anderson. Everyone who has seen him keeps telling me that he should have a longer trunk, but I think he's pretty cute as is. Besides, he needs that short trunk to act as a fifth leg and hold up his enormous head!

The instructions were easy to follow and I love how soft and squishy knitted toys come out compared to their crocheted counterparts. For this Elefante, I used some leftover Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in May Flower Ombre. Anyone who has used this yarn knows it's not the softest choice, yet by knitting with it instead of crocheting, I did end up with a rather cuddly elephant.

I find making crocheted items relaxing, but mastering the balancing act of keeping my stitches on four different needles at once was a tad too stressful for my down time. I think I'll stick with making crochet toys in the future. Plus, I'm sure this would eventually come with more practice, but I find I always end up with a bit of a gaping hole between the first and last needle no matter how hard I try to avoid it.

One final picture, showing the cool spiral effect you see when looking at my little elephant from above.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin, Cthulhu!

Just received an email from Hilde that included this adorable Halloween cthulhu that she stitched up for her son. Anyone else out there decorating their house with cthulhus tonight? I love his little shirt!

Happy Halloween everyone!!! Thanks for the great picture Hilde!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cthulhu Cousins - Looking Good in Green!

It wasn't until after I had put together this collection of cthulhu cousins that I realized they were all in different shades of green. Despite being similar in colour, it's easy to see that they each have their own unique look!

In the top left corner is Psychogere's tiny cthulhu. Those red eyes are making it look pretty scary!

Rob created that cthulhu in top right that's posing with its favourite book. Rob wrote that he is new to amigurmi and that this cthulhu had some "teething troubles", but I think it turned out great.

On the bottom left is a lovely tiny cthulhu that was stitched by Chelsea. She also writes that this was her first crochet project and I think she did a terrific job.

Just below Chelsea's cthulhu on the lower bottom left is Tuome's tiny cthulhu. I love those big eyes on her cthulhu and the way it's blending in with the foliage. I may just have to use this photo as a desktop wallpaper someday.

I really like the jade coloured eyes that you see on the cthulhu in the bottom right. This one was stitched by Amanda.

Move over Johnny Depp, there's a new pirate in town! There in the middle is the Dread Pirate Cthulhu that was stitched by Emilie. I'm actually going to share a larger photo of this one, just so you can see all the detail that Emilie put into this project. Very cute! I love his little peg leg!

And because it was such a great photo, I'm also going to share this larger picture of Tuome's cthulhu. Isn't that a sweet photo?

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share pictures of their completed projects. It's always great to see my patterns in use. If you want to make a cthulhu of your own, the patterns are available in the left sidebar under the My Free Patterns heading.

Have you made a cthulhu or one of my other patterns? Got a picture to share? If so, feel free to email me a copy at the address you see in top left of the blog, or post a link in the comments section for the pattern you used!

Happy stitching everyone!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here Be Dragons

I've had my eye on Lucy Ravenscar's Fierce Little Dragon pattern for a long time. And at last I had some time and some yarn that I suspected would be perfect for giving it a try. The pattern is available as a free download, and while there are lots of parts to these dragons, the instructions were quite straightforward and there are plenty of pictures you can use as references when it's time to stitch everything together.

My first dragon was made using some James C. Brett marble chunky Jeweltone that I had left over from the V-Stitch afghan. This is a chunkier yarn than what is recommended for the pattern so I upped the crochet hook size and ended up with a rather sizeable (more than 2 foot long) pet dragon.

My crafty friend Lisa has made a few of these dragons, and I can see why, the pattern is highly addictive. After putting together the first dragon, I couldn't resist making him a companion. I wanted this second one to be a bit smaller, so it's made with Patons Astra sport weight yarn in Purple.

It turned out about a foot and a half long and is much stiffer than the first dragon, making the wings sit more rigidly. It is also quite lightweight. One of these dragons made in sport weight could easily rest on a persons shoulders with the assistance of a couple safety pins. Now wouldn't that be great for a Renaissance fair or costume party?

Now, don't ask me to choose a favourite because I'm very happy with how both of these turned out, and I'm resisting the impulse to fill the entire house with dragons. Ultimately, I think I'm going to be keeping the larger dragon, and the little purple one is going to be going to charity (more on that in a future post). But for now, they can frolic together and guard our living room.

Want the Pattern?

Lucy Ravenscar's Fierce Little Dragon pattern is available as a free .pdf via Ravelry.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New to the Blog List

I've made a couple of new additions to the list of Blogs I'm Reading, which you'll find in the left sidebar.

The first new addition is the Margaret Sherry Lovers fan blog. I've also joined this site as a contributor, and made my first post there a few days ago. Margaret Sherry's patterns are always adorable and I found the community at Margaret Sherry Lovers very welcoming. Anyone who makes patterns with her designs is welcome to contact the blog administrator and become a contributor to the site, creating their own posts displaying their Margaret Sherry stitchings and other related news.

I'm also very excited by Pinwheel Ponders, which I accidentally discovered while searching for something else. Author Pinwheel makes ornaments (mostly cross stitch) for her friends and family every Christmas, and her blog is a treasure trove of gift ideas and crafty tutorials. There are lots of great ideas here for creating various types of cross stitch decorations and how to reuse greeting cards. I was very impressed with the level of detail, clear instructions and numerous pictures in the tutorials. I'll definitely be going back to read more!

So that's two blogs I think are worth checking out. Let me know what you think of them. And if you've got any recommendations for other blogs I should add to the reading list let me know with a comment (and links).

Things I look for when I consider adding a blog to Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins reading list:
  • it covers a topic I'm interested in such as amigurumi, crochet, cross stitch or geeky crafts
  • it's still active and gets updated fairly regularly (there's been at least 1 post in the last 2 months) or it has an extensive archive of interesting posts/patterns.
  • it offers some free patterns, tutorials or other crafting advice/insight
  • it isn't just a vehicle for the blogger to display the latest item they're selling
  • it's focus is primarily crafting, as opposed to being the person's day-to-day life story with occasional mentions of what they're crafting.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation - Victoria, BC

If you're a crafty geek then Victoria, British Columbia is a wonderful place to visit for your summer vacation. Back in July the boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, and I were able to get away for a few days to this great city.

We stayed at a hotel in the downtown core where we had not one, but three different comic book stores and right across the street. There are also numerous bookstores, for both new and used books, and at least 3 different yarn stores all in or around the downtown core.

We parked the car at the hotel the first day and then walked everywhere for the rest of the vacation, which was a treat in and of itself. We also ate lots of wonderful food and spent a day at the Royal B.C. Museum, where they had a pretty interesting feature exhibit on the life of Emily Carr.

I'd love to say I took lots of fabulous pictures of the sites and scenery, but the truth is I only took the picture of the parliament buildings that you see above and a couple other pictures. So instead, I'll tell show you my vacation through the awesome fibres I was able to pick up during the trip.

Considering the one local yarn shop in my town packed up and moved to a new city, I was pretty impressed to find three independent local yarn shops in Victoria, each with their own unique style and line of products.

The first one we visited was Knotty By Nature where I picked up this Kidazzle hand dyed 70% Merino/20% Kid/10% Nylon yarn which is made by Fleece Artists, in Mineville, Nova Scotia. This stuff feels incredibly soft and has a beautiful assortment of colours in it. Sometime this fall/winter I'm hoping to knit some of it up into a pair of fingerless gloves.

Knotty By Nature focusses heavily on natural ec0-friendly products. It has a large selection of hand-made products, many of which come from spinners throughout Canada.

I was also really excited that the store had a mechanical skein winder (first time I'd ever seen one of these!) and in only a couple minutes they were able to transform the skein I was purchasing into a workable ball of yarn for no extra charge! Those who read Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins regularly know of the headaches I've had trying to wind skeins into balls.

Next on our yarn tour was The Beehive where I picked up this unusual, and extremely soft skein of Bonsai Colors, which is a mix of 97% Bamboo and 3% Nylon. I only bought one skein of this and I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but it was so unusual I couldn't resist getting some.

The Beehive is a fairly large 2 room store that carries a good selection of yarns. There were a lot of hand dyed/spun products, as well as products from well known manufacturers like Patons. I think it's a yarn shop that could fit any budget and any skill level of knitter/crocheter. They also had a mechanical skein winder, and when we came in one clerk was in the process of winding several skeins for a woman who was buying enough wool for a sweater.

While at The Beehive I also purchased three balls of Sirdar Escape chunky which is 51% wool/49% acrylic. I'm not sure what I'll make with this, but I really liked the mix of colours in these balls so eventually I'll come up with something.

The last stop on our yarn store tour was the Button & Needlework Boutique, though truth be told, I think I went in here 2-3 times during our trip, trying to decide what I should buy.

This store carries a variety of crafting materials including yarn, cross stitch supplies and a large selection of buttons (hence the name). I was impressed that not only do they carry a lot of cross stitch patterns, they also have a framed, stitched copy of every pattern they sell. Anyone who has ever stitched a large cross stitch picture knows how long it takes to complete, so having one finished for every pattern the store carries is a pretty big achievement.

I finally settled on getting three balls of Glint yarn in blue from the Button & Needlework Boutique. It's a blend of 80% cotton, 12 % Nylon and 8% metallic. What can I say? I liked the way it sparkled in the light. Again, I'm not sure what I'll make, but something will come up.

I also picked up a copy of the cross stitch pattern for Vancouver Island artist Sue Coleman's Cougar Kitten. I'm looking forward to finding some time to stitch it!

And that is how I spent my summer vacation! We had a lot of fun, and I came home with a suitcase full of books, comic books and lots of crafting supplies to keep me busy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More Cthulhu Cousins!

Apologies to Rachel, whose wintery little cthulhu somehow got left out of my final round up of 2010 cthulhus. Rachel shared a great story about this little guy too, so I'm really sorry he got left out.

The hat this cthulhu is wearing comes from the Innocent Smoothies Big Knit campaign, which Rachel takes part in. Being in Canada, I hadn't heard of this UK charity before, but as Rachel explains, "[it] involves knitting tiny hats to go on the top of Innocent Smoothie bottles. The hatted bottles are then distributed to our local supermarkets, and a small amount of the sale goes to Age UK, a charity to help the elderly."

What a great idea! We don't have Innocent Smoothies in the stores around here, but I know if I saw a drink with a little knitted hat on it at the grocery store, I'd buy one, especially if it was helping out a charity.

And now a few other great cthulhus that I've received in the past couple months...

Remember when I was asking readers what they thought of glow-in-the-dark yarns? Well, Rosemarsh Art decided to test some out on a tiny cthulhu. In the top left photo you see how her cthulhu looks in the daylight, and in the top right photo you can see his glow. Very cool, and kinda creepy looking!

In the middle photo we have a beautifully striped cuddly cthulhu from Terra-Storm. That angry cthulhu you see in the bottom left was stitched up by Ginny, and Knotical Knits created the jolly Santa-Cthulhu on the bottom right as a gift for her sister-in-law last Christmas.

Once again thanks to everyone for sharing their creations. As always, if you've made something with my patterns feel free to share a link in the comments section on the pattern you used or send me an email at the address you see in the top left corner of the blog.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Simple V-Stitch Afghan

I had to put this one aside for a while because it was just too warm to be crocheting a wintery afghan. It's based on the Cottage Decor afghan in the July 2011 issue of Crochet! magazine, only I opted to use a variegated yarn rather than creating solid stripes with multiple balls of yarn.

The yarn is James C. Brett marble chunky in Jeweltone, which I was lucky enough to pick up at a buy 3, get the 4th ball free sale while visiting the awesome Crafts N' More store in Steveston, BC.

The blanket is a dream to work up, especially if you want something a little mindless that you can work on while focussing on something else. It's stitched with a size J (6 mm) hook and is essentially row after row of V-stitches. Then it's finished off with a fairly simple shell border on two opposing sides.

It's simple to stitch, but comes out looking quite fancy. I had fun making this and really love the shades of blue and purple in this Jeweltone yarn, although I don't think I really got a photo that shows them accurately. Hopefully you get the idea!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cthulhu Cousin Collage!

I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone here. Or maybe the new adage should be killing two pigs with one bird...Anyways, I thought I'd post a few more of the great cthulhus that readers have been making with my patterns and try out my new HP Photosmart Create software at the same time.

Okay, I'll be honest, I don't know if this is new software. I was checking what was in some of the folders on my harddrive and I came across this. It may have been part of a recent software update from HP, or it may be that it's been on my harddrive for years. Still, it's a neat little program that allows you to drop .jpegs into predesigned layouts, without the hassle of having to crop or rotate the photos yourself. Quite fun!

But enough about software, let's talk about cthulhus! In the top left corner is a great little cthulhu, who looks like he's wearing a Hawaiian shirt, created by Nita. Top right is a cuddly cthulhu stitch up by Helen. In the bottom left Augusta crafter stitched up a tiny cthulhu in what I think is a wonderful shade of blue. Nekochan is hoping that her cthuhu, in the bottom right, has an evil spark in his eyes. I think he does! I also like how he appears to have a backpack clip or some other type of hook coming out of his head, perfect for travel.

Finally, I'm going to give honorable mention to the blue cuddly cthulhu in the middle that was created by Raven Corinn Carluk. It's hard to tell from the picture, but he's actually a mini-cthulhu. Raven wrote, "He's DMC size 5 color works thread, done with a #3 (2.25mm) hook. The eyes are glass buttons I found at Joann's. He took about six or seven hours total to make, because I'm still new to crochet."

For a beginner project I think he looks terrific and I love the eerie quality that the glass eyes give this little monster. Plus, I don't think I'd have the patience to stitch a cthulhu with a 2.25mm hook, but the results are wonderful.

Thanks to everyone for sending in their pictures showing me how you've been using my patterns. As always, if you'd like to share your project feel free to post a link to a picture in the comments section for the appropriate pattern or send me a .jpg at the email address you see in the top left corner of the blog.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Magaret Sherry Cats

Someday I'll have a craft room and these cats will decorate it. For now, I'll have to settle for them decorating our computer room (where I blog about my crafts).

I just finished the last of these two over the weekend. They are Margaret Sherry's Knit One (to the left) and Roly Purrly (below) which were initially published by Heritage Stitchcraft.

Most of Margaret Sherry's older patterns are out of print, but I was lucky enough to find Loving Stitch still had copies of these ones available for a reasonable price.

I stitched both on a 32 count cream linen. The smaller one, with the pink ball of yarn, is in a 4 inch flexi-hoop, while the larger is in a 6 inch flexi hoop.

I guess I could consider the whole project an endangered species, as much like Margaret Sherry patterns, I'm finding the flexi-hoops are becoming harder and harder to come by in my area.

There is also a third cross stitched cat in the series entitled Purr One, but despite much searching of the internet I wasn't able to find a copy available anywhere. If anyone has a copy they'd like to trade, share, or sell feel free to drop me an email message at the address you see in the top left corner of the blog. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hoping to Prevent a few Skein Headaches...

I spent the better part of a week trying to unknot this 800 yard skein of yarn and convert it into a useable ball, with the assistance of the boyfriend. (Who was not only wise and witty, but also very patient!)

I tend to have bad luck with skeins and in this case the second I cut the two ends free and gave one a tug it seemed I had a gigantic clump of knots. I think the only thing that prevented me from tearing my hair out was the fact that the yarn in question was partially rayon and quite slippery. Rather then ending up with tight knots, the yarn was slippery and easy to untangle, but incredibly time consuming.

Not wanting to go through the same headaches with other skeins I have waiting to be unravelled, I thought I'd turn to the internet for some advice. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only one that is skein challenged out there.

Out of my searching comes this video, courtesy of Twenty Pound Tabby, that demonstrates how to untwist a skein of yarn:

Followed by a Part 2, which shows how to wind a skein into a ball:

I think there's some great advice in these videos, plus I'm totally digging the instructor's Animal t-shirt!

My purpose for sharing this is twofold. First, I'm hoping it will help some other knitters and crocheters who are plagued by tangled skeins. Second, I was hoping we could get a discussion going in the comments section for further tips, advice or questions about unravelling skeins. Have you seen any other great advice related to this elsewhere on the web? If so, feel free to share a link or tell us about your own skein unravelling experiences.

I don't buy skeins too often so I don't want to invest a lot of money in gadgets like the ball winder or an umbrella swift. We don't even have any four post legged chairs, like the one in the video, in our house. I'm looking at the knobs on our bi-fold closet though and wondering if I could use them in place of the chair legs? Any other ideas for common household items that could make the skein unravelling/ball winding process easier? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Catching Up on Cthulhus!

I know things have been a little quiet at Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins lately. I was away on vacation for a while, (more on that in an upcoming post). I've been working on a large crafty project that I won't be able to show in the blog until after the Christmas holidays, and our vacation was followed by several weeks of internet connection problems. Now the large project is finished and the internet connection seems to be connected once more, so hopefully I can get back to more frequent posting.

First off, I thought I'd show a few more of the terrific critters that fellow stitchers have been making with my Tiny Cthulhu and Cuddly Cthulhu patterns. (Check out the left sidebar for the free patterns).

In the top left of this post you see the awesome and fiery maroon cthulhu created by Miss Crafty. I really like the button eyes on this one. I think they really suit the colours of yarn that were chosen.

And speaking of great eye choices, these stitched eyes that Amber J. used on her cthulhu are giving him a look of wide-eyed innocence that I'm sure will easily lure victims into his clutches.

Someday I should do a post that just shows all the pictures readers have sent me of their cthulhus posing with cats because there are a lot of them. What is it about cats and cthulhus that draws them together? You know, I have yet to be sent a picture of one of our cthulhu cousins posing with a dog. Why is that? Perhaps cats just have more of an affinity with evil that draws them to the dreaded cthulhu? This latest instalment of Cats & Cthulhus comes from crocheter Sam B. and looks quite cheerful.

SuziQ put together this Cuddly Cthulhu. Aww, isn't she pretty in pink? I don't know, maybe that bow is making her angry.

Now here's a more traditional Cuddly Cthulhu courtesy of Elizabeth. In her message she mentions that this was her first time making something beyond blankets and scarves, and I think it turned out great! Elizabeth was inspired to make the Cuddly Cthulhu for a friend who's hard to shop for, but happens to be an H.P. Lovecraft fan.

I guess it's only natural that over time the Tiny Cthulhu would evolve legs and learn to walk on the land. This latest link in the evolutionary chain was created and captured on film by Belruel.

Not to worry though, I still find the legless Tiny Cthulhu absolutely adorable as well, especially this fine little cthulhu crocheted by Sam. (That's a different Sam than the one who made the cthulhu posing with kitty above.)

Wait a minute, this isn't a cthulhu! I was incredibly happy to receive an email from Michelle B. who completed this Smiley Bone as a Christmas present for her sister-in-law. While I get lots of pictures of cthulhus (thank you everyone!), I don't often see pictures from people who have crocheted the Bone cousins using my patterns. Thanks Michelle, he looks wonderful!

Once again thanks to everyone who sent in pictures of the things they've been making. If you have a picture you want to share you can post a link to it at the bottom of the pattern you used, or send me an email at the address you see in the top left of the blog.

There are plenty more great cthulhus pictures that readers have sent me which I'll try to post over the coming weeks/months. I'm also hoping to get up some pictures of projects that I've been working on lately. That's right, crafting is happening, I just haven't had a chance to blog about it...Stay tuned everyone, and thanks for visiting Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins!