A Movie and a Mushroom

What do you do on your Saturday nights?

After some hard crunch time working on my most recent manuscript during the day, we settled back to watch one of our favourite movies, the musical Singin' in the Rain! The cast is superb, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor make an excellent dancing and comedic team, and Debbie Reynolds tops it off beautifully.

If you've never seen it, put it on your list. It's hilarious and the musical numbers are great. Some of the best dance sequences are with Kelly and O'Connor, like "Fit as a Fiddle" and "Moses Supposes". Not too mention O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh".

While watching movies I like to crochet but I didn't have anything started at the time. I couldn't sit through a whole movie without crocheting a little. So I went through my list of to-do projects and remembered my love for those delightful little things called mushrooms.

There's just something about the pleasant round, bulbous shape of a mushroom that I cannot resist. I've had it in mind to create some in clay and crocheting (not together, of course) but so far I hadn't got around to it. Well, now I have. At least one of them.

Isn't it cute? I told you, I can't resist them.

I started with the mushroom cap and followed typical amigurumi structure. Honestly I am surprised at how well it turned out. I planned to make one that was very basic: the round cap with a slight pyramid shape and straight stem. Then on the next one I would endeavour to gain the plumper cap and cute rounder stem. Surprisingly though, it came off right the first time. I didn't have to rip and try again once. Happy!

Only recently have I started venturing into the amigurumi sphere, being solely an accessories or home decor sort of person. My sister, who crochets as well, has always leaned more toward amigurumi's so, in an effort to help her, and enhance my own skills, I gave it a try. And I liked it. I've made some panda sisters for my  younger sister, a unicorn for my second younger sister, and a ladybug for myself. Actually, the ladybug was my first amigurumi.

Here's my pattern:

Adorable Mushroom Pattern

-- Worsted Weight Yarn, approximately 15 yards of colors A and B (I used Vanna's Choice Scarlet for color A, and Red Heart white for color B)
-- Crochet Hook J (6mm
-- Polyester filling
-- Yarn Needle

Round 1: with color A, make an adjustable ring, ch 1, 6 sc in ring, sl st in first sc: 6 sc
Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 3: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 4: ch 1, *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 18 sc
Round 5: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 18 sc
Round 6: ch 1, *2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, sl st in first sc: 24 sc
Round 7: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 24 sc
Round 8 - 9: ch 1, sc2tog in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 6 sc
Stuff, working the fluff up into the top of the cap and flat around the bottom, pushing out the sides.
Round 10: ch 1, sc2tog in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 3 sc

Finish off, leaving a long tail. Use tail to go up through the center of the cap, catching a st in the top of the cap and coming back out the bottom, twice on opposite sides of cap. Pull gently to lift bottom, and straighten top back out. Weave in ends.

Round 1: with color B, make an adjustable ring, ch 1, 6 sc in ring, sl st in first sc: 6 sc
Round 2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 3: ch 1, in blo (back loops only) sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 12 sc
Round 4: ch 1, sc2tog, sc in next 4 sc, sc2tog, sc in remaining sc: 10 sc
Round 5: ch 1, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sc, sc2tog, sc in remaining sc: 8 sc
Round 6-8: ch 1, sc in each sc around, sl st in first sc: 8 sc
Fasten off leaving a long tail for sewing. Insert washer(s) or beans to add weight to bottom, then stuff with fluff. Sew to bottom of cap. Weave in ends.

And voilĂ ! you have an adorable mushroom.

The wonderful thing about amigurumi's, or crocheted objects, you can give them a pull here and a tug there to shape them the way you want. Perfect!

This isn't the end of my mushroom experiments. I hope to make some more, maybe more squat, taller or larger, and different colors as well, and will try to post the results. Stay tuned!

So go ahead, pull out a good musical with your yarn and go at it. Create! It's wonderful.

In My Backyard - Issue #8 - Dark-Eyed, Slate-Colored Junco

Dark-Eyed, Slate-colored Junco. If you've never heard of them you might be a bit surprised at the name. Or you might pass it off as peculiar bird taxonomy. But trust me, there's more to it than that.

In this issue of In My Backyard, I've decided to pick one of our backyard regulars. At first we called them snowbirds, since they arrived in the winter and seemed to be the most noticeable in the snow, but then we looked them up and discovered their real names. The funny thing is, they are actually at times referred to as "snowbirds". How coincidental!

 The Slate-Colored Junco is a subspecies of the species dark-eyed Junco, as opposed to the yellow-eyed juncos, all who are part of 70 genera known as Juncos. Even further, if you can bear with me, juncos are a part of the Emberizidae family, also known as buntings, or sparrows. So, in actuality, the exciting little Snowbird/Dark-eyed, Slate-colored Junco is a small sparrow. I was surprised to find this out, but there it is. And we're not the only one's who think its confusing. Experts in this field are still unsure of some of their biological systematics, (the study of diversification).

As you can see in the photo above (and pretty much all the rest) the junco subspecies in question is almost a complete black on top with the females being a darker brown. Their bellies are stark white in contrast, and they are known for their pink bill and long tail.

Their design reminds me of an outfit I once saw. (That's the fashion hound in me). I can't remember where I saw it; some old movie, I believe. It was a Spanish lady. She wore a black wrap that covered her hair and arms and reached down to the hem of her gown, a flouncy white petticoat, with only the very front peaking out. My description is so-so; I hope you get the idea. I did intend to find it and show a picture as an example but alas, I could not. Sigh.

Juncos are ground birds. They hop along the forest floor eating seeds and insects, or under the feeder, unlike other sparrows that feed on feeder and floor alike.

Their nests range from 3 - 5.5 inches across and are made in rocky crevices, the roots of overturned trees, or other protected ground areas. The female builds the nest with a variety of natural materials, weaving it in and out with her beak and gradually shaping it with her body. This takes from 3 - 7 days.

The speech of the Junco is a mixture of chirps, trills, and songs. They absently chirp while foraging, as if they have so much to say but its not too important. I would say like a group of gossiping women but I don't like that picture. They're too cute for that. If you are interested in hearing them, visit AllAboutBirds.org.

Here's a bit of trivia I found especially interesting:
Juncos in the more mountainous regions tend to stay in one place instead of migrating like most juncos and as a result they bear shorter wings.

While taking pictures of the juncos, I had a few visits from some other regulars. I just had to add them to my blog post as well. On the left is a female Sparrow which I am not sure yet if we have Eurasian Tree Sparrows of House Sparrows. According to one site, Eurasian Tree Sparrows are rare for this area, but another site said otherwise. I'm still working on it. On the right is what I would guess to be a young blackbird. At first I pegged it as a female, but its fluffiness is not usual. Its tail feathers seem to be well-grown but if you check out the picture below it looks even fluffier. (Too cute!)

Check out the Fluff!

And this concludes February's version of In My Backyard. I hope you enjoyed it, and I'll see you here next month. Remember, I love to hear from you and know what you think. Until next time...

In The Mood for Valentines!

My sister and I both agree that February is the best month of the year. This is so for two reasons:

First of all, the month of February hosts both our birthdays, and birthdays are important. Its kind of like a day all your own, and its special. We choose our favourite meal and dessert, and evening activity, which usually consists of a movie. This year I said I was going to have an Alan Ladd marathon, but I doubt a movie marathon qualifies. By the way, if you haven't seen any Alan Ladd movies, let me recommend my just a few of my favourites: Whispering Smith; Captain Carey, USA; and (ooh, this is hard)... Branded. That's just a few, mind you. I have a post planned on all my favourites. For a rainy day.

But secondly, its the month of Valentines! We celebrate together in our own way. Mum prepares a special meal that we eat by candlelight on a specially decorated table, with soft Valentine's music playing in the background. We really enjoy it. This year she's going to fix Red Snapper, a fish we've never had before. Should be interesting. Plus she bought a CD, Lifescapes' Moonlight in Paris, from Target just for the occasion.

But, what have I been doing meanwhile? Crocheting! What else? In light of the season, I decided to make Crochet Today's Valentine's coasters. The colors were so bright and vibrant, naturally I couldn't resist.

I played with the color combinations, mostly following those they already used, but substituting some colors for others I had. Funny thing, out of all the colors I have, I don't have any yellow, and me, a yellow/green sort of person. Hm. I used a lime green in its place.

My little sister liked the hearts too, so I sewed a couple together and made a plushy. (The one in the middle). It's hard to tell in a picture like that. I couldn't quite get the 3D look I was aiming for. I'm not a photographer.

I my last post I said I was looking for something to make for my cousin. Seeing how today is Valentine's day, obviously I figured something out. I was searching through Red Heart's patterns when I came upon a pattern for crocheted earrings. I love earrings, long, dangling ones, that is. And I found some that were gorgeous. So that's what I finally decided to make for her, earrings. Here's the result:

Don't they look elegant? They're not my patterns, even though I made some changes. Both of them came from people right here on Blogspot. The first is from livingthecraftlife.blogspot.com. The second are my rendition of One Stitch Designs at onestitchdesigns.blogspot.com. I read where you could stiffen them with Elmer's glue but I liked the way these seemed to hang so I didn't try it.

While taking these pictures I was "assisted" by a sweet buddy. See his paws? His name is Mr. Darcy and he's something else. He walked up and started pushing against the camera. He didn't care that he was ruining my scene.

I've actually made some others I got from Vickie Howell's blog, (click here to see), I'll have to take some pictures of them as well.

But for now, that'll have to be all. See you next time right here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

New Crochet Pattern (Part Two): Floppy Scarf

(Updated pattern coming soon!)

Hello again!

Ever since I received my first issue of Crochet Today last month, I've been thinking, sleeping, and eating, yarn. I don't do it as much as I wish, and I do have other interests that vie for attention, but I get around to it.

In fact, I've come back to my first inspirations. Know what it is? Making baby clothes. Well, that's one. The other is snowflakes. Years ago, I checked out a book of cute baby clothes to crochet and I adored it. The outfits were too adorable and I really wanted to try them. But a number of things halted my advance. First, I wasn't as experienced at that time so the patterns still looked a little daunting; and then who would I give them to? I've never liked making things and then tossing them aside until I could find a use for them. I usually make what I want at that moment or what someone might need. Lastly, since I was more inexperienced, it would take me longer to make them and I couldn't keep the library book that long. Of course, I could have looked some up on the internet, but there was still my other two problems to consider. So I kind of let it fade and interested myself in other things.

In the March/April Issue (2013) of Crochet Today, they feature a babies coat pattern called the Sunday Swing Coat. It's made with Red Heart Gumdrop in Smoothie. I love the colors of that yarn! My next project I hope will be this one; that is, after I make something for my cousin. Her birthday is on Valentines (mines four days after). Love Valentines! But I don't know what to make for her. Not a stuffy, done that before. She doesn't wear hats or scarves that I know of, or any other like accessory. Hmm... help?

Picture Courtesy of Crochet Today

Anyway, after seeing this pattern in Crochet Today, my interest in making baby clothes was renewed but I still had the problem of what I would do with it, or them. Thankfully, I told Mum. She suggested I sell them at baby boutiques, or similar shops. I liked that idea, since I know of at least one I could try. Then I thought of my Etsy shop. A few months ago I started an Etsy shop but I never got it up and running. As you'll remember in a couple of posts back, I said I felt God was encouraging me to let it go and focus on my writing. And I believe that is what He wanted. But what if God wanted me to get my mind off my first idea so that eventually He could point out something better? Instead selling this and that, like I had intended and honestly didn't much care for, I could sell more exclusively by sort of pinpointing my interests. I must admit this sounds much more enjoyable than my first attempt. At this point, I'm not sure if it will work out, but it seems right. We'll see where God leads.

So, to get to my real reason for writing today, allow me to present to you the matching scarf to my Floppy Hat. I changed some things in the pattern since I wrote it after making the scarf. I liked the scarf I made but it turned out I was a few feet short of yarn for making it all around the scarf for the border. Please let me know how your scarf turned out if you decide to make it, and if I made any mistakes. So without further ado:

Floppy Scarf (To Match Hat)

-Homespun yarns: 1 ball Apple Green, 1 ball Golden,
-Hook size 9.00mm (M13)
-Tapestry needle

Notes: Scarf is worked by switching colors every two rows unless otherwise specified.
One ball each is enough to complete both hat and scarf.

Extra stitches
V-Stitch: (Dbc, ch 1, dbc) in same st.

With Apple Green, ch 168,
Row 1: Turn, sc across. 167 sts.
Row 2: Ch 3 (stands for first dbc), turn, * work v-stitch in next stitch, skip two sts *, repeat from * to * until you have one st remaining. Dbc in last st.
Row 3-10: Repeat Rows 1 and 2, switching colors every two rows.
Turn, sc around whole scarf. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Copyrighted by Amy Lynn Yarbrough, 2013

Now I'm off to make Kale Chips. Another future post...