Wire armatures

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2015 by whimsyknitter

So, now that I’m the other side of major surgery and apparently the minor diety who had a bucket list of plagues for me, I finally got back here. So yay! It wasn’t a year and a half this time 😀

As far as what i’ve been up to- well, I made a cover for my well worn and well loved chair (don’t like how it turned out really, no pics!), and some hats for a friend of my mom’s. (How many requests have you had so far this year, fellow knot makers? I’ve had four.. and it’s February). I also had a bag full of body parts-

okay, doll body parts, but still.. kinda creepy. I’ve finally settled on a pattern I like (here)- with some adaptations because honestly I can’t do a doll and not at least give it thumbs. It just bugs me, you guys!

This is one of the most solid patterns I’ve found for the kind of dolls I want to make and it solved some issues I’d been having. It created a few others (no thumbs!) but I found workarounds for those. However, it did not solve the floppy head problem.

For those of you unfamiliar- crochet dolls.. well they’re soft. And mushy. They’re nice that way, but I’ve been asked over the years to find ways to make the necks stiffer. I’ve tried a couple of different things- stuffing a dowel between the head and the torso doesn’t work so well, however doubling up on the yarn and making the neck a little wider did help some. But I’ve never really found anything that really set well with me.

The aforementioned book mentioned wire armatures to make the doll poseable. I searched the internet to learn how to build one (thanks internet!)  and then went and bought some wire. The book calls for 8 gauge I think and I could only find 9 gauge at the local national chain building supply store. By the way, if you decide to do this- just ask them where they keep their hanging wire for photos- chances are you’ll find this stuff there and without the utterly mystified look when you ask them for “wire to make an armature with.”

Onto the good stuff. I brought it home and if I’m being honest it sat for a few days while I played through Fable III again (achievements, yo!). But.. yeah I got the time so here we are.

First up- the initial figure- let me apologize for the blurriness of some of the pics- I usually take a couple just to make sure at least one is clear, but I was so excited to get this posted that I forgot on some:

wire 01

That’s the basic armature and all the bits that went into yon doll. It’s made from two pieces of wire- very basic. I folded the ends back in on themselves so that even if they do poke out they’re not likely to hurt anyone.  I think for the next set of dolls I’ll actually intentionally put in a space for the wire arms. As you’ll see, that was the hardest bit of all of this.

Aww.. look at the Blair Witch figure trying on its human suit

Silly arms. Easily the worst part of this.

This doesn’t remind me of anything violent at all.

I’m including this just to prove I can take non-blurry pictures. Also, it looks like a doll now, mostly!

This is the basic process., I think you can get the idea of how it works from the pictures alone. And wow did it make a difference when I was done- no more floppy head and the whole structure just felt.. better. Stronger. The only downside I could see is getting poked by a wire. I have yet to decide if this is a design flaw and I’ll have to head back to the drawing board because of it. I really don’t want it to be. I’m going to talk with other moms and see what they have to say.

Here’s the final result. Oh and i”m not done with the Kool-Aid dyes just yet. After I was done with this (and wiring up four other dolls) I took some of my recently washed fleece and dyed it with two different colors. Results… later.

Just the strings to snip and this one’s ready for the next stage.

Kool-Aid Dye Results

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2015 by whimsyknitter

Alright, folks.. here’s what I found, and why I started doing this.

Quick breakdown- While the general consensus is that you can dye wool (or any protein fiber) there’s a myriad of ways that are presented on the internet on how exactly to do it. I have a bunch of curly curly fleece that’s going to need some serious color soon so I decided to investigate. But.. something bothered me- one site had mentioned dry yarn and wet yarn. Their assertion was that one would produce more vibrant colors than the other. So.. yeah, I had to test it.

To do the test, I decided on four distinct sample runs- for the dry a simple 15 minute and 30 minute application. For the wet, I let them soak for the 15/30 minutes, followed by a five minute soak in the dye. All test yarns were done with Lion Brand Alpine Wool in their Vanilla color, and all were between 5 and 5 and 1/4 inches. The dyes were all prepared the same way- one packet of powder in a 20 oz. washed and dried soda bottle, plus a quarter teaspoon of distilled vinegar and 1 cup of warm water (warm to aid in the mixing of the powder into the water) These bottles were shaken vigorously until there were no visible traces of powder in the bottom of them, and then re-agitated right before they were sampled.

The tests themselves were run in half pint mason jars (I’m a woman of many talents), with approximately 1/4 cup of solution. This.. might have actually been a problem. Some sites I have read on the subject have suggested that it’s possible that the dye can be interfered with by having too much pigment trying to into too few fibers… at least that was my understanding.

After their soaks of appropriate length, they were wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. In almost all cases (I’ll discuss the exception below), after the first 30 seconds the water was running clear so I rinsed them and placed them to dry. Then I mounted them to a foam board.

The point of  my post is not to give instructions on the proper way to do this- there are plenty of tutorials available on the Internet and I am by no means an expert. I simply wanted to answer this one question that was bothering me- is it true that dry yarn produces a more vibrant color? Cause boy howdy, if it does that’s the way I want to go- I like bright and work almost exclusively in bright colors.

So.. what did I find?

Here, in a nutshell:

Kool Aid 01Kool Aid 02 Kool Aid 03

These are most of the colors I was able to get a hold of- I still have packet of Pink Swimmingo and Rock a dile Red left over from the summer’s limited edition run. I’m loathe to use the Rock a dile Red.. it has sentimental value, you guys! Anyway I suspect that it’s not going to be tremendously different from say, the Strawberry up there. All pictures are cropped and rotated a bit, and were taken in natural light- there has been no retouching save for the cropping and rotation. Yes that’s my turrible handwriting and graphing fails- except for Orange.. I had a little helper for that one.

My results and conclusion-

In general, yes you DO get a more vibrant color with dry- however this should be taken with the following observation- for many colors it simply didn’t matter and there *were* cases where the wet yarn produced the more intensely colored variant. For many cases, the color differences were very minor between ANY of the four samples and in a significant number of them there was no perceptible difference.

For those cases where things seemed a little off (Ice blue Raspberry Lemonade comes to mind)- I’d like to redo the test on those at a later date to confirm my findings. One test is simply not enough for a solid data pool, but I’ve got to have my focus elsewhere for the next few weeks, so I won’t be able to replicate the experiment for a bit. I’d also like to expand the whole thing a bit and actually have some fun with color combinations. I’m going to see if I can find a reasonable source for tangerine Kool-Aid, which apparently is good for toning down some of these other colors.. makes me wonder if Orange would work as well.

Oh, as mentioned above- Grape and Purplesaurus Rex were the solutions that just wouldn’t run clear for me. Honestly, when I pulled the yarn out to microwave it, the samples looked gray and not purple-ish at all. I’d read it was a dingy purple color and I have to say I agree, but the color did resolve itself a bit better than gray, so I didn’t press to figure out how to get that blue back into the fiber.  In short if you’re looking for a super violet color, you’re not going to find it in grape- I’d suggest maybe some Wilton colors (which I have a few of those so maybe I’ll do a future post with those as a focus.)

In conclusion, it seems worthwhile to further explore some color combinations and perhaps rerun a few of the more quirky results in this experiment. I’ll admit I wasn’t as hard and fast on the timer with the first few samples and that might have made a significant difference. Oh and if you made it this far, you rock!

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Posted in dye, homemade, kool-aid, yarn with tags , , , on January 5, 2015 by whimsyknitter

So, because my husband loves me, he got a very unusual gift for me this past Christmas. I received, under the tree with a bow and everything- a box full of dirty, smelly lamb fleece. I was… thrilled. No sarcasm, this was easily my top gift of the season. You see, with the rekindled interest in dolls, I’ve been percolating different ways to do their hair. You see, the one problem I’ve always had is that the necks have been weak and they tend to flop around quite a bit. It’s a design flaw, and while I’ve improved upon the design I haven’t really every truly solved the problem to my satisfaction. I’m picky y’see.

So, there’s two things I”m trying- 1) Putting in an actual armature (read: wire skeleton) to support the neck better (bonus- they’ll be poseable) 2) Using hair that’s not as heavy as a whole mess of yarn. To that end comes the fleece. And needle felting.

I’ve tried this already (you can see the results in my previous post- the dolls on either side have needle felted hair) and it works fantastically. However, fleece comes in but a few colors. Hence my other problem- if I want the crazy colors I want in the lengths I want I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves and dye it myself.

So, being ever the resourceful (and humble) one, I looked into various types of dyes. Food grade dyes seem to be the easiest and as a bonus, they’re entry price is right up my alley- cheap.

However, as the Internet is a great and wondrous place, there’s only like half a million different websites that offer instructions on how to do this. While the general gist is the same, they have some pretty fundamental differences. Chances are if you’re reading this, you know what i”m talking about.

So, now the science. I’m an empirical kind of gal. The two large debates I saw come up are “vinegar or no vinegar” and “What difference does wet or dry yarn make?”

Here’s my solution: I used vinegar (if it doesn’t matter, then by reason it’s not going to hurt.) and… I started testing.

Here’s the idea, the summation of what I’ve read:

Dry yarn takes longer to absorb the dye and can be really difficult to get to soak in. However, the result is a more intense hue. Conversely wet yarn (it’s been soaked in water before placing in the dye) is generally a lighter shade, but works quickly.

What’s a girl to do? Why, start testing of course. I’m even making a handy dandy reference board. The results I’ve gotten so far are interesting, and I’ll post them in the next couple of days.

Adventures in the Real World

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2014 by whimsyknitter

So yeah.. I guess “I’ve been busy” just won’t cut it. I’ll spare you the details only I care about because I feel guilty for not updating this like ever and get into the reason why I’m excited.

Brief overview- I’ve continued to develop my monster making skills, they’re super cute and non-threatening. I’ve done a few craft shows (fun!) and I have an etsy store these days (complete bust, but probably somewhat my fault). I’ve actually been taking a break from monsters since late last summer, and instead have started exploring what got me into monsters in the first place- dolls. But not super cute (well okay they’re cute) super feminine dolls, but something more like this:

Clearly frightening, amiright?

Clearly frightening, amiright?

Or these trio of girls- forgive the middle one not having eyes, I forgot to snap a pic after I put them on… bummer, but still:
Punk girlIn short dolls have started to ignite my creativity again- so yay there!

So there I was…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 by whimsyknitter

Remembering that hey, I have a wordpress site that I’d like to actually tell some people about some stuff on.

And.. then I got busy. 

Okay fine, I got lazy. Busy is when you can’t post until the next day- Lazy is when you don’t do it for like.. two years. What can I say? I’m not always comfortable blathering on about myself and my activities. Seems so… egocentric >.>

So, here’s the situation. I’m a knitter, I knit and at this point, I’ve found a niche. I see that in the previous posts I was beginning to hop on the monster train and let me tell you a couple of things:

 

1) That stash has (mostly) been busted- not as much as I would like to have gone, but definitely more than it was the last time I posted 😉

2) I’ve settled down and found my passion in knitting- monsters. All kinds, shapes and sizes of monsters- crocheted, knitted, whatever comes to mind.

3) I even occasionally go to a craft show or sell them on Etsy.

4) I really really love it and wish I could make gobs of money doing it. Sadly some skills aren’t as profitable as others.

So I’ve made progress, even if I haven’t kept the faith here. 

 

Here’s a few of my guys that have found new homes recently:

Classes!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 23, 2013 by whimsyknitter

All kinds of news on classes- First of all- mine are *almost* done, just a few more weeks and the nothing but nothing until next fall- so yay there!

But.. more importantly, the girls have been going to a couple of different classes down at the local community center for the last few Tuesdays- one a science class on seeds and plants, the other a general recreation type of class, which is more or less a way for them to blow off some steam.

I’m really liking the classes down at the center though- it gives us a chance to get out of the house (although I see that as being less of a problem as its FINALLY starting to warm up. 

And with that I come to this- I’m going to start sharing some of the science things we’re doing here at home. I’m finding that both of the girls have lots they want to explore, and experiments they want to run- the problem there really is picking out just one thing to focus on. Right now I think we’re going to complement the seed and plant studies they’re doing with comparisons to meiosis and general sexual reproduction. Yeah I know.. light subject- hah! They’re both ready for it and keep asking me questions like “So, what do you mean when you say I have your eyes? I mean.. I really don’t have *your* eyes, what the heck?” or “I get how humans are made, but how are plants/bugs/mold/fungi made?” (we get that one a lot) 

Fantastic time to be starting this topic, I’ll try to hop on later this week with some of the conceptual stuff I’ll be doing with this if anyone’s interested.

Scraps Pt. 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 12, 2013 by whimsyknitter

Okay, so I’m late (by a day).. this is better than anticipated. heh

Alright, here goes… I wanted to start off with a monster, but that’s going to have to wait, it’s simply not what came to me. But.. to stay at least a bit on point.. here’s what did:

Of course it was a doll that came to me first.

Of course it was a doll that came to me first.

I like her I think..

She was followed up by:

Curly Sue

All made with recycled yarn with the exception of the little witches green hair. Added bonus? The curls in the other girls hair… apparently even acrylic holds memory if you keep it knitted for long enough.

So yeah, other than that one small confession- I DID go out and buy some more yarn today.. it was clearance-d out, and a really really good deal. I’ll feel bad about it tomorrow, promise.