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04 January 2016

A Brand New Year!

Welcome to 2016! It still feels odd to write that number ... doesn't seem possible!

I was still weaving in yarn ends and wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve morning, but I finished all my Christmas knitting!!  Everyone enjoyed their gifts, although grandson's socks were a wee bit long in the foot.  Never mind, he'll grow!  Here are some photos of the recipients:

Friend Catherine's grandchildren


Granddaughters #2, #4 and #5

I had intended to take a break from needlework in the week between Christmas and New Year's.  If I did any work at all, I thought, it would be knitting myself a pair of socks from Knit Pick's self-striping yarn, Felici (you may remember my Facebook post, regarding my purchase of a colorway inspired by Dr. Who). However, I went in an entirely different direction, abandoning my knitting needles in favor of a crochet hook.  Elder daughter's half-sister will leave this week for her exchange semester abroad, and it will be her first-ever air travel.  Her family have had quite a lot of sorrow and worry in the past few months, and so I decided to make her an amigurumi friend to take along.  She enjoys gaming, so I decided a crocheted Pikachu was just the ticket.

Pikachu (pattern by Sabrina Somers)

Isn't he cute?  You can't see the back, but he has a zigzag tail, held aloft with the insertion of a pipe cleaner.  He stands about 5" tall, just the perfect size to be tucked in a backpack or coat pocket.  Now, for the details.  The pattern by Sabrina Somers is free with clear, easy-to-follow directions. I used Palette yarn by Knit Picks (fingering, 100% wool) in Canary and Black, with a 3.25 mm (US D/UK 3) aluminum hook.  I also used Knit Picks' Stroll Tweed sock yarn (fingering, 65% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 10% Donegal) in Farmhouse Heather for the brown stripes on Pikachu's backside (not pictured). For his eyes, I used black and white felt. His nose and mouth are easy embroidery in the black Palette yarn. For his cheeks, I used Pebbles, Inc. Pearlescent Chalks in Jewel Tones. I love using this product for the cheeks of amigurumi and stuffed animals (known as "softies" to my UK friends). Sabrina's pattern gives instructions for crocheting small red circles for the cheeks, but I like the blended look of the chalk better. I also used one white pipe cleaner/chenille stem to maintain the shape and stiffness of his tail.

 The unexpected consequence of this project was an overwhelming desire to do another stuffed toy.  I've done just a few in the past, and none have been larger than 6".  I wanted to try my hand at a doll.  So after a lot of searching, reading reviews, etc., I decided to go with the "Dolls from the Tea Room" pattern by Susan Hickson.  I chose this pattern because (a) the dolls are knitted (a first for me), and (b) the pattern is easily customized to suit the knitter's choice of colors.  I'm using Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes Sport -- White for her underwear, Black for her little boots, and Oyster Heather for her skin.  Oyster Heather is a fabulous color for skin tone.  It's a perfect neutral, a good blend of white, beige, tan and pink, and it's also available in the fingering-weight Palette yarn.  So far, I have two legs/feet knitted, sewn and stuffed, YAY!, and have begun work on the torso.  I'm still undecided regarding clothing.  The pattern includes directions for beautiful little pinafores, but I'm toying with the idea of dragging out the sewing machine and making doll clothes from fabric.  That's how my love affair with all things needlework began, and I think it might be fun to give this doll a wardrobe. I'll keep you updated with my progress!

As always -- please post your questions, comments, or updates regarding your own projects in the Comments section below!

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