Wednesday, December 12, 2012

happy birthday, Lev

I'm been super busy sewing and knitting gifts for family and friends, so I don't have much to show you right now. I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season! I've also been trying to keep things under control, despite solo-parenting for a week, various people being sick, parties to organize, cook for, and attend. (But I imagine life is like that for many people, at this time of year). In the middle of all this, my first son Lev turned 4 today!

Here he is, a few weeks after he changed my life forever. There was no way to know what sort of person would develop out of that tiny, sleepy baby.

Today I know that he is sweet, loving, silly, courageous (but cautious), smart, and fun. He is as good a big brother as I could have hoped. He loves throwing balls and frisbees, playing in the snow, and will happily go for long walks (especially if there is water and a rocky beach at the end). His other interests change from week to week, but that keeps life interesting. I'm sure he'll grow and change just as much in the next 4 years, but hopefully he will always be these things that I love most about him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

review of some helpful hints

There are a few projects from my new holiday pattern popping up on Ravelry. It seems that the baby seal is more popular. These ones by feltalicious7 are very cute. She did make a comment about the head being difficult to shape, so I thought I would offer a couple tips.

First, the most important step to making your knit toy look it's best (after knitting everything correctly) is stuffing it. It takes some patience and practice to get just the right amount of stuffing in each body part, smooth it out, and then add a little extra where it's needed. Even after you sew it closed, you can move stuffing around with a darning needle, and smooth it out with your hands. A toy that's well loved will get squashed over time, but you can replace the stuffing, or adjust the existing stuffing with a darning needle. To use the darning needle, insert it halfway into where you need to adjust the stuffing. Wiggle it around, moving the stuffing to where you need it. You can also insert the needle just under the knit fabric, and wiggle it around to smooth out lumpy stuffing. Practice a bit, it can be fun!

The second tip is that you can also make stitches on the face to pull in the fabric under the eyes and make the nose more prominent. (I will try to make a video tutorial of this, as it's a trick I use on most toys, but it's hard to convey in written instructions). Basically, put about 12" of yarn the colour of the face on a long sharp needle, then insert your needle under the chin, and have it exit just under one eye. Pull the needle through, leaving 3" of yarn where you entered. Make a 1/4" stitch under the eye, then thread your needle back to where you started. Tie together the two strands of yarn - this will pull in the fabric under the eye. When it looks good, make the knot secure. Without cutting your yarn, repeat for the other eye. Then weave in your yarn ends. It may take a couple tries to get the hang of it, but it can really improve the look of the face, especially for toys which need a more prominent muzzle.