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15 April 2016

Butterflies and Birds -- Happy Anniversary!

Can you believe that we've been visiting, on and off, for a year?  Neither can I, but I renewed my domain name last night, so I know it's true!  I feel like celebrating -- more about that later!

First, an update to my last post, regarding the unavailability of the Yarndex.com resource.  I received a lovely response from  Natascha at Loveknitting.com, and here's what she says:




I visited the "Yarns" tab at Ravelry.com, and found it to be a very good replacement for Yarndex.  But the real gem here is Yarnsub!!  It's a yarnaholic's dream.  You simply type in the name of the yarn called for in the pattern, choose from the list of results, and it gives you a list of yarns that can be substituted for the pattern yarn -- and it tells you how closely the two yarns match, based upon weight, fiber, spin, etc.!  I'm replacing the Yarndex link at right with the links for the Ravelry "Yarns" tab and Yarnsub. If and when Yarndex gets updated, I'll add it back into the mix.  You can never have too many resources!

Now, for a farmyard update:  



The lilac is blooming (and attracting the most gorgeous butterflies!), the trees are leafing out, the pastures are green, and the butterflies are back!  The birdfeeder is less busy than it was when the weather was cold; our feathered friends are finding plenty of grub as earthworms and insects emerge from their sleep.  I did catch a Carolina chickadee posing on the maple tree (collage, top left) after a victorious territorial battle against a young blue jay.  Junior Jay was the larger combatant, but what Mr. Chickadee lacked in size, he made up for in valor!  Steve, the outdoor cat, was nonplussed.  He assured me that neither bird was a match for him.

Last spring, I dipped my toe into the amigurumi pond by making little birds.  I made the first one using the "Robin" pattern by Little Conkers; this pattern was recommended by Lucy over at Attic 24 -- she had used it to make a little bird for one of her crocheted wreaths.

Pattern: "Robin" by Little Conkers.
Although this pattern would be easy for me to work now, it was difficult back then: continuous amigurumi-style spiral crochet, color change, sewing elements together.  I was quite proud of myself when I finished it!  Yet it looked lonely, sitting there on top of my yarn shelves ... so I made it some friends.

Pattern: "Bird, Nest & Eggs" by Sol Maldonado.
All of these birds were made using the "Bird, Nest & Eggs" pattern by Sol Maldonado. This pattern is easy to follow!  The body and head are constructed as one piece; the wings and tails are crocheted separately, and sewn on after the body is stuffed.  By the way, I used Palette yarn by Knit Picks for all of these birds, and black #6 beads from Michael's for the eyes.

Loving birds as much as I do -- and being currently obsessed with the African Flower critters by Heidi Bears -- of course, I couldn't resist making her "Bluebird of Happiness" pattern.  In fact, I loved it so much, I made it three times this week!  I've got photos to share, but let me give you one word of advice about this pattern:

If you've been wanting to try the African Flower
animal patterns, but have hesitated because they
look complicated or have a lot of motifs,
this is the pattern for you!

This pattern requires only 16 motifs in total:  11 multi-colored pentagons, 2 solid pentagons, 2 multi-colored squares, and one multi-colored triangle.  The tail feathers are quick and easy to crochet and attach, as is the beak.  The directions are very well written (as are all of Heidi's patterns), and the size/complexity of this project makes it a great beginner project for anyone wanting to tackle Heidi's African Flower menagerie.

All three of my birds were crocheted with a size B/2.25mm hook, and Stroll sock yarn by Knit Picks (75% superwash merino wool, 25% nylon).  Let's start my parade of birds with one that's very near and dear to my heart!

Pattern:  "Bluebird of Happiness" by Heidi Bears.
I am crazy about crows.  They are my favorite birds.  There's a nest in a tall tree down near the creek at the back of the place, and I love to hear them calling back and forth to one another across the back pasture.  So of course, I had to make myself a crow.  I used only two shades of Stroll for this bird (whom I've named Huginn), Stroll Solids in Black and Stroll Tonal in Inverness.  The beak is made from Stroll Solids in Jackrabbit Heather.  The eyes are 14mm black safety eyes from JoAnn.

Next up is a very special little bird, made for a very special little fellow.

Pattern:  "Bluebird of Happiness" by Heidi Bears.
Back in February, a friend of mine became a grandma for the very first time.  Her grandson was born 16 weeks early, and weighed just under 2 lbs at birth.  He's been a fighter from the very first, and I'm happy to report that he now weighs over 4 lbs and is expected to go home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a few weeks!  I wanted to send him a "softie toy", so -- since birds have been my thing this week -- I made him this one.  I chose a bright color, white, and black for the flower motif; toys with strong color contrast are recommended for newborns, to help develop their eyesight.  I kept the background very neutral, to allow the flowers to really pop.  For this project, I used Stroll Solids in Black, Jackrabbit Heather, White, and Electric Blue. Because safety eyes aren't recommended for children under 3 years of age, I crocheted two circles* using Black, and attached them where the eyes go, with a bit of White for highlighting.  The beak is made from Stroll Tonal in Poppy Fields.

*Make a magic circle; ch 3 (serves as first dc) and then 5 more dc in circle.  Close circle and join to 3rd chain of ch 3.  Next round:  ch 3, 1 dc in same space as ch 3.  2 dc in each remaining dc (12 dc total). Join to 3rd chain of ch 3.  Fasten off, leaving enough yarn to sew eye to bird.  (US terminology used here.)

And now, to my third bird, who serves as the centerpiece of my First Anniversary As A Blogger Celebration!


Pattern:  "Bluebird of Happiness" by Heidi Bears.

This little beauty is Monet!  I named her that because the yarn I used to make the flower reminds me of the great painter's palette, and also of his Impressionist style.  I used Stroll Handpainted in Northern Lights for the flower, and Stroll Solids in Wonderland Heather for the rest of the body and head.  The beak is Stroll Tonal in Poppy Fields.  The eyes are 14mm black safety eyes from JoAnn.  And the best part is ....

one of you will win Monet for your very own!

All you have to do is visit my Facebook page and look for the Giveaway post!  If you comment, like, and/or share the post, you'll be entered to win this little bluebird. A few notes:
  • This giveaway is neither affiliated with nor sponsored by Facebook.
  • The winner will be drawn Monday, April 17th at 12:00 PM EDT.
  • The winner will be chosen by the Rafflecopter® Facebook app.
  • The winner will be notified by private message before being announced. 
  • This giveaway is open to everyone who comments, likes, and/or shares the post, regardless of where you live.  I'll ship anywhere!

(This is my very first attempt at hosting a giveaway, so if I have a few technical hiccoughs, please bear with me!)

And that's it for me this week!  Thank you all for sticking with me for a year -- I look forward to great things in the year to come.  Please leave any questions or comments, or photos of what you're working on right now, or pictures of your kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, etc., in the Comments below.  Know someone who would like to join our weekly visits?  Share this page with them!  Thanks for stopping by -- we'll chat again next week!

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