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07 April 2016

Oh, I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside!

Looking south, across the valley.

I would especially like to be there today.  It's cold, windy, dark (with brief glimpses of sunshine) -- it's more like March than April, here on the farm!  The thought of warm breezes, sunshine, blue-green water and white sands is tempting, I admit, even though I've never been a beach lover!

Looking northwest, to the end of the lane.
In the midst of all this blusteriness, there are still signs of spring.  The tree at the end of the lane, which is my bellwether for the changing seasons, is decked out in yellow-green leaves. And the redbud trees are holding their bloom longer than usual this year, thanks to the cooler temperatures.

Maple seed on the porch step.
The maple trees are putting out their "helicopter" seeds, which are being widely distributed on the strong winds.  The gusts have also brought down some older branches out of the trees around the house -- and tossed the garbage can several feet!  (Glad Steve, the outdoor cat, wasn't under it when it landed.)

Best of all, my lilac bush is blooming!  Its scent is strongest when there's warm sunshine, so the past few days haven't been fragrance-friendly.  It is, however, thick with blossoms, which is pleasing to the bees and butterflies that light upon its branches.  The birds, too, like to sit here to wait their turns at the bird feeder, and on warm days, Steve reclines beneath its laden boughs like a maharajah.

I confess -- I've spent the past several days in a crochet frenzy.  After choosing to do another of Heidi Bears's African flower animals, I experimented with some sock yarn, and was delighted with the result.  (Did you see the sneak peek on Facebook over the weekend?)  In fact, I am so delighted with how this project turned out, I'm going to experiment more with the African flower motif and multicolored or handpainted yarns!

Are you ready to meet the latest addition to my menagerie?

Meet Tiffany!
Very well -- I'm pleased to introduce Tiffany, the African Flower Stained Glass Sea Turtle!  Tiffany, say hello to our friends! ;)

Right side view. 
I had planned to photograph Tiffany outside, but the weather didn't cooperate -- so we opted for an indoor photo shoot.  (Please excuse the dog hair on the couch.)  Doesn't that variegated sock yarn look fabulous, set off by solid black?  It makes me think of stained glass windows.  Here's a list of the supplies I used:
  • The pattern is "Atuin the Turtle" by Heidi Bears
  • The yarns used are from the Knit Picks "Stroll" Line.  In the shell, the center of each block is Stroll Tonal in "Poppy Field"; the rainbow colored yarn is "Playtime", a Stroll Handpainted that, sadly, is no longer available; the black is Stroll Solid in "Black"; and the dark green is Stroll Tonal in "Pond", a gorgeous blend which is, sadly, being discontinued. The head and flippers are Stroll Tonal in "Springtime", a blend that seems to be unavailable now.  That's the problem with stocking up on yarn, especially handpainted yarns -- when I get around to working with them, they're no longer available!
  • Size B/2.25mm hook.
  • The safety eyes are from Joann Fabrics.
Another of my favorite sources for handpainted yarns is Lorna's Laces.  Sooooo gorgeous (handpainted AND solids), but -- at $25 for 100g -- a little outside my budget!  (For comparison, Stroll Handpainted from Knit Picks is $10.99 per 100g.)  However, Tiffany's shell turned out so well, I think I might save my pennies and buy some LL Shepherd Sock to play with .... but how will I ever choose a colorway??  "Rainbow" looks promising ... but there are 168 handpainted colorways from which to choose .... (KP Stroll Handpainted is currently offered in 10 colorways) ....

Tiffany's back.
One quibble I have with the pattern is that, in the total motif count, it doesn't differentiate between the multicolored motifs and the solid motifs.  So for those who might want to make this pattern, here's my count:

Multicolored back & belly:  1 octagon, 2 heptagons, 11 hexagons, and 8 pentagons.
Solid head & flippers: 7 hexagons, 10 pentagons, 3 squares, and 2 triangles.
Total number of motifs:  44

Left side view.
Instead of using "join as you go", I sewed my motifs together using a running stitch through the back loops.  Now I don't know if this was the reason, but when I began making the edging, the 134 chains called for in the pattern were not enough to go around Tiffany's shell.  So I tried to eyeball it, and chained 200, then worked the edging.  I ended up with too much edging, and I had to cut and sew it together at Tiffany's neck.  (If you look at the photo of her back, you'll see the seam.  I'm not pleased about that.)  If I make this pattern again, I'll chain 170 and work the edging on that base.  

Tiffany's belly!
I made another slight alteration to the pattern.  Tiffany's shell, front flippers, and head are constructed as one unit, then stuffed and closed.  The hind feet are made separately, and attached last.  Maybe it's whimsy, but I wanted those front flippers to flip more!  So I stitched each front flipper together at the seam where the flipper joined the shell.  This gave Tiffany a bit more flippability.  Is that a word?  If it isn't, it should be!!

One last hint, which is helpful for any of the Heidi Bears patterns you're making:  those African flower triangles are real pains to make!  So instead of following the directions and beginning with a chain-3 loop, I use a magic circle.  It's so much easier to work in all those Round 2 dc's (tr's for our friends across the pond) and chains, and once it's closed up tight, you can't tell a difference.

I'm already working on my next African flower critter!  I'm leaving the seaside and coming home to the farm for the next one, and I'm thinking that -- if it turns out well -- we will have a giveaway!  So if there are friends, relatives, acquaintances, etc. who might like to join our visits, share this post with them.  And don't forget, you can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest, or by email (just click the appropriate link in the column at left).  Now I'm off to turn up the heat (brrrrrrr) and get back to my new project!  See you next week!

PS.  My friend Jayne received her Dala horse, and loved it!  

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