27 Nov 2014

owl pram spanner and discovering amigurumi

These little hearts are still part of my owl pram spanner project. The original pattern uses little flat flowers for the girls and flat leaves for the boys in combination with wooden beads to separate the owls. Part of my owl-family will be used for a mobile above the crib, so I wanted some extra shapes to put on that too. I quickly decided that I'd rather like to have something 3-dimensional there, and finally settled on little stuffed hearts.
I must say, it wasn't easy to find a suitable, free pattern on the internet. I quickly learned that all little, stuffed things are called 'amigurumi' and there are a lot of people making and selling patterns for almost everything you can imagine.
did you know...
...that Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed animals and fantasy creatures? The Japanese word 'ami' means crocheted or knitted, and 'nuigurumi' means stuffed doll. Amigurumi are typically animals, but can be anything with a 3-dimensional shape. Amigurumi first started appealing to the masses in 2003. 
Amigurumi are usually crocheted out of yarn using the single crochet stitch (double crochet in UK terminology). Click for a comparison of the terminology here. In order to achieve a tight gauge that retains stuffing and does not allow the stuffing to show through the fabric you need to use a smaller needle.

free amigurumi heart pattern
Most of the free heart patterns weren't the right size or shape to my taste or the surface looked not right (since using SC all around it is important where you increase/decrease the stitches). Finally I've found this great and easy pattern through Pinterest. The decreasing is mostly done at the sides which makes a nice surface from the front and back. Also the shape is pretty to look at, nice and wide. It is easy to crochet, since it goes in a spiral. You only need to mark the first stitch in every new round (I used a paperclip as a stitchmarker). You start with crocheting two separate round tops for your hearts, then attach them and start to decrease right away.
I used the smallest size (the pattern comes in 3 different sizes) which I think looks just perfect! Also, this was the first time I used a 'magic ring' or 'magic loop' to start out instead of chains an. You find a tutorial for that here.

struggle with safety eyes
It was the first time I used 'safety eyes' and of course I had no idea how they exactly worked. Apparently, the little 'screws' have a back fixation too. I was eager to sew on the crochet eyes to my little owls while waiting for the post to arrive, and the idea would be to attach the safety eyes first, secured from the back and then sew it on. Tried to perform 'eye-surgery' on the little ones by attempting to push the back rings underneath the (already attached) white crochet rings, unfortunately without any success. Lesson learned... At the end of the day I just used sewing thread to fix the back of the little screws, by pulling tight loops around them. No way they will fall out, or get lost now, for sure!
All that has left is to assembly my pram spanner!

24 Nov 2014

Crochet owls - progress

This week I finished the little 'owl-family' for the pram-spanner and the crib-mobile. Finally ordered the extra stuff needed, like black safety-eyes (little plastic screws which stay safely in place), colored wooden beads and elastic thread...

23 Nov 2014

Maternity photoshoot

Finally decided on having a professional photoshoot of my pregnant belly!
While we keep track on the progress with weekly 'shadow-pics' (and I don't feel radiant and pretty all the time) I knew it was now or never to have professional pics made.
In this stage of the pregnancy (32 weeks) some people prefer to spend money on 3d-echo pics of their baby, which is almost as expensive, but I my idea is: the baby will be here in just a few weeks, and my bump (with this baby inside) will be gone forgood...

I didn't want to wait for too long. They say the best weeks for a photoshoot is  between week 32-36. The last thing I wanted is to have expensive pics made of me with a huge bump, swollen ankles and face (you just never know...) so I had my pics made at 32 weeks. The bump is prominent enough by now, but the proportions seems still to be in balance.

Above part of one picture which I really like, to give an idea of the atmosphere.
I knew I wanted something different from the traditional 'casual' shoots (mom, dad, jeans, hearts and stuff) and settled on an etheric, fantasy-theme, inspired by Renaissance art (halfway between Botticelli and Michelangelo).
The photographer is a friend of us, and I knew she was good. She mostly does shoots with professional models and uses lots of accessories, make-up and Photoshop.

We used just a few accessories, I made a flower crown myself and there was some flowy fabric, with clean lines, simple white background and a minimum of make-up. I wanted just a slight amount of retouching afterwards, no more than slightly lightening up the pics, removing weird looking shadows and spots.

I must say, the finished pics look just like I wanted! Somehow they look incredibly tender and 'breakable', which is the reason I don't share them online.
A memory for a lifetime, for sure!

17 Nov 2014

a crochet project: owl pram spanner

Started another quick little project this week: crocheting little owls!
I bought this amigurumi-type pattern a while ago here. (There is also a Ravelry site for this pattern but the link doesn't seem to work...) The designer sells other accessories too, like the safety-eyes, clips and little wooden balls for the finishing touches.

For this project I use a cotton crochet yarn in the colors of the nursery (our stroller is black): Lana Grossa Cotone and crochet with metric size 2 needles. The stuffing comes from my trusty IKEA pillows (weird, but if you don't need large amounts it is way cheaper to buy the cheapest IKEA pillow than to buy a small bag of stuffing...)