Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hobbit

I saw The Hobbit a while ago, and really enjoyed it. There were some parts that confused me a bit, and I'm certainly looking forward to the next two installments to complete the story. I enjoyed most of the characters, and was just happy to be back in the New Zealand version of Middle Earth.

I was intrigued by all the very odd beard and hair-braiding that the dwarves had going on, and was inspired to needle felt sculptures of them. First up was Bombur, as I particularly enjoy his loop of beard-braid that defies the Laws of Hair.

He was lots of fun to make, and very adorable. Since I had him sitting down, I was able to make him all out of wool without any internal support. Next on my list is Bofur, who is in progress at the minute. Since I wanted to try him standing up, and I had problems with that on my abominable snowman, I decided to try a wire skeleton to make him sturdier. It seems to have worked very well for overall stability, but he still doesn't like standing up on two legs - so I'm making him his weapon to provide a third point of support.

Right now Bofur is almost all done - just his hair and hat need to be added, so I should be able to post some photos in the next day or two.

Anyway, M posted a picture of my Bombur on tumblr, and it completely took off! It's been less than 24 hours, and there have been over 100 new views to my Etsy site, and several more people following me. It's quite exciting, the power of the internet (especially when fueled by fans!)

I already have a commission for a sculpture of Thranduil riding his moose, which is going to be fun! I forgot to take pictures of Bofur's progress, so I will be documenting the making of moose-riding Thranduil and putting it up here as a tutorial of sorts. I promise.

Hopefully I won't forget again.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Yes, I know I'm doing three posts in the same evening, even though I haven't posted for days and days.

But hey, I'm on a roll right now, and I figure it doesn't really matter so much. Especially since I'm pretty sure the only person who reads this blog with any regularity is my sister (hi! I love you!). Plus I might as well break it up subject-wise, for those who find me through search-engines.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at animation this evening for the first time. I was a little tired of sewing, and had been wanting to try this out on my new tablet for a while now. So I downloaded the free animation program (which is, sadly, rather limited) and came up with this:

It's called 'Roving Hedgehog Meets a Cow'.

Also, I apparently can't make it any bigger. :(

So it's really short, and very sketchy, because doing animations is very very hard. I have an increased appreciation and respect for all animators out there (note: I was already very impressed by all of that). It's hard to sit and draw the same or similar thing over and over, especially if you're not naturally a very patient person (or if you're also watching TV and drinking wine to celebrate your partner getting a job). And I am not a patient person, at least not when it comes to computer things.

I hope that sometime soon I'll come back to this idea, and spend more time on it. Until then, you can see this very poor first attempt, in the spirit of being open about things and sharing successes and failures.

Shrinking sweaters for felt

So about a week or so ago, I came across this post on Etsy. The mention of using old wool sweaters to make felt intrigued me, so I looked into it a bit further, purchased some sweaters from the local Goodwill, and felted them in the washing machine. I won't post a full tutorial here, since there are loads of good ones already on the web (just google 'felt sweaters' or something similar). But here are the most important points/tips I found:

1. Definitely put your sweaters in pillowcases or some sort of bag - they shed A LOT. I read that tip a couple places, decided to use it, and was very glad I did ( the pillowcases had lots of fuzzy bits inside after it was done).

2. Consider going to a laundromat, as it says in the Etsy post - I'm not sure, but I figure they run a bit hotter and faster, and might felt the sweaters quicker (it took a couple few times for mine to felt properly).

3. Pick thinner sweaters - I had one that was a Christmas sweater with images, and it was thick from all the colors of yarn. It felted, but didn't seem to go all the way through the way some of the thinner knits did.

4. Ribbing doesn't felt well, even if it's 100% wool (unless the tags were lying)

So, now for photos. Here's a couple of the sweaters before I felted them:

And here's some things I've made so far. I've been enjoying needle felting designs for iPod/cellphone/camera cases - it's something different from needle felting 3-D objects. And it's easier to sew stuffed animals/figures with felt, since the edges don't fray. To put it simply, I'm loving working with felt, and I love felting old sweaters, since I get all sorts of fun and unique textures, colors, and patterns.

Sorry for the blurriness - it gets dark so early, I ran out of time for daylight photos, but I wanted to post these today. Better photos and posting on Etsy coming soon.


So apparently I have this really irritating habit of planning on doing something, and thinking about it so much that I think I have done it, only I really haven't. You know how you can have a dream that you've done something mundane but important, like calling the dentist to set up an appointment, and when you wake up you're convinced you've already done that... so you don't call the dentist, and only realize later that it was just a dream.

Yeah, it's kind of like that, except for without the dream part. Case in point: I 'previewed' a colorful scarf a while ago that I also finished a while ago, and took photos of. I thought I had posted it on my Etsy shop, and was going to write a post here saying that it was finished, and link to the page... Then I thought I'd check and make sure it was up there, and guess what? It wasn't. I had thought about it enough and planned what I'd say, etc., that I had convinced myself it had happened.

Anyway, here are the photos of the scarf (it will be up on Etsy soon - it takes so much more time to list an item than to post the images here).

It ended up being very wide and very long. As my first knitting project in a while, I'd forgotten how much wider the actual item is compared to what it looks like on the needles when you're casting on. But I really like the size of it, especially since it's such a loose knit that it scrunches around your neck really easily. The colors are difficult to capture in photos, but these together do a pretty decent job. 

More photos of things I've done recently:

I was having fun needle felting, and made a little reindeer. He reminded me a bit of Rudolph, from the 1964 version (you can watch it here). So I also made an Abominable Snowman to go with him. The Abominable Snowman doesn't stand on his own very well (see below), so I think I'll be putting a loop of yarn on top so he can be an ornament. It was fun to needle felt something larger, though. Also, his fur gave me the inspiration for Dumbledore.

So here's my pre-New Year's resolution: be better about remembering to follow up on things, especially Etsy/blog/facebook posts. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Radio Silence

I just got a second job (yay!), so life has been very busy lately. I've still been making stuff, though, and have quite a few things to post about in the next few days. This post, however, is to tell you about a


A little while ago, I did an overhaul on my work, blog, and Etsy shop, and made a Facebook page. This coincided with a shop name change, to 'The Roving Hedgehog'. I realized that I have a few items I made before the name change, that are still labelled with my old name. So, they're up for grabs. I have a total of 12 handmade greeting cards - 4 sheep, 4 mushrooms, and 4 octopi. 

With each purchase between now and Thanksgiving (Nov 22), I will include (for free) two of these cards.  
(until supplies run out - so the first six purchases).

You get to pick which you want (two sheep, a sheep and a mushroom, etc). They were made with watercolors and handmade rubber stamps, and each card comes with a matching stamped envelope.

Go to my Etsy shop to browse what's there, and see if there's something you like! I have lots of hats for winter, and jewelry for holiday gifts. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

December movies

I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but I will go for months and months without being interested in any new movies, and then all at once there will be several that make me all jittery inside I'm so excited about them. This time around it's the first installation of The Hobbit, and the musical of Les Miserables.

There are two trailers for The Hobbit out now, but this one is my favorite. The song at 0:50 is brilliant and stirring. It promises to be another wonderful film of soaring landscapes and soundtracks. I'm only sorry that it's coming in three(!!) separate films now.... which in the long term will be wonderful, I'm sure, but right now I don't want to have to wait.

Also, I'm very excited about the cast. Bilbo Baggins is played by Martin Freeman, who is also Watson in the BBC tv series Sherlock, and is just absolutely brilliant at that. I'm looking forward to the wry humor that he brings to Watson showing up in The Hobbit (it looks like it will from the trailers). And Thorin Oakenshield. Played by Richard Armitage, who is one of my new favorite actors. He plays one of the main male characters in the miniseries North & South - and again, is just wonderful. If you are into historical dramas, this is a particularly good one, and it is available for streaming on Netflix.

I do have a few reservations about Les Miserables. I absolutely love the music, and have thoroughly enjoyed both performances that I've seen. I like the idea of having a movie musical that I can watch when I want to, rather than having to wait for the next time I can see the play. However, I'm a little worried about the cast. To be honest, I didn't know that most of them could sing, and I thought for a while that they might dub in other singers. But in this clip of behind-the-scenes, they say that not only are the actors singing their own parts, they are singing them live for the filming - at the same time as the acting, rather than pre-recording and lip-syncing. That does make me more hopeful, and either way, it's sure to be visually amazing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New project and a sort-of pattern

 I was knitting way before I learned to crochet. My third grade class was taught how to knit, and I started on a scarf. This scarf got put away, forgotten about, and re-found multiple times. It must have taken me at least five years or so to finish it. And, when I got to the end of the yarn that I had, it wasn't even scarf-length. Maybe a scarflette. Enough to wrap around my neck, but not much more than that.

I tried again a couple years later, knit a scarf or two, but couldn't be bothered to learn anything more than basic knit and purl stitches. And then, sometime in high school, a friend introduced me to the wonders of crochet. I fell instantly for it - I loved how easy it was to make something other than a rectangle. I still love the versatility of it. I make up most of my own patterns as I go, and it helps that crochet is so easy to undo a row or two of, and still know exactly where you are and not lose any stitches.

However, there are certain things that you can do in knitting, but not in crochet. For example, lately I've been infatuated with knit lace. It's just so beautiful and delicate, and there are so many beautiful options. I would love to be able to make things like that in addition to my crochet work. So, I've started knitting again. Nothing fancy, just a plain knit scarf to get my fingers used to the needles again.

Luckily, I've got this super fun multi-colored yarn to work with, and I'm using my larger gauge needles, so it's a very loose stitch. It ended up being way wider than I was expecting when I cast on, so it'll be one of those scarf/shawl/wrap things - the loose knit makes it lightweight so it'll scrunch up for a neck scarf. It's exciting to be back into knitting, and all my work with crochet has helped me to not make my stitches too snug (a major problem I had before). 

In other news, I've finished a new hat crocheted using a broomstick lace stitch. My first time doing that sort of thing, so my loops are all wonky, and I think they could have been larger to really get the proper effect, but overall it looks nice. I learned from this tutorial (also I love her blog - so many adorable animals!), but tweaked it a bit for my hat. Unless I interpreted it wrong, it sounds like she did one row of single crochet between the lace stitch, but I had to do two in order for it to be going the right direction.

So for me it ended up being:
*three rows of single crochet
*row of loops
*row of single crochet to make the lace stitch
*two rows of single crochet
*row of loops

Also I thoroughly intended on writing up a pattern for this one, but I have this horribly tendency to make things up as I go, and forget to write anything down. I know the rows that I did, but I fudged a lot of the increases until it seemed right. 

I did a series of increases in the rows from the beginning (top of the hat) to make a circle that continued to lay mostly flat. When it was big enough, I crocheted from there without any increases until I reached the point where I wanted to make the brim. I did a decreasing row there - probably decreasing about every third or fourth stitch, checking it at the end to make sure it wasn't too tight. The brim is rows of single crochet alternating with *front post dc, sc, sc* rows to make the fake ribbing. 

If I make this hat again (I hope to), then I'll hopefully be able to actually write a pattern for it. In the meantime, if you have any questions about my explanation here, I'd be happy to help.

This hat (made out of a lovely soft alpaca yarn), will be up for sale on my Etsy shop soon. Once it stops raining so I can actually go outside and take some nice, non-blurry photos!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Harry Potter Art

Just a quick sketch of the golden trio  - although Hermione looks a bit snarkier than I would have liked!
Click for full-size.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival part 2

In addition to all the wonderful yarns and fibers to be felt, and the adorable sheep and goats (and bunnies!), I also got to see some more about the fiber/spinning world. There were more vendors there than I was expecting, and so I got lots of business cards and information.

Here are a few of my favorite places I learned about :

Olympic Spinning Wheels - absolutely beautiful and wonderful spinning wheels. They are hand and custom made to the spinner's specification, with your choice of woods. The wheels have a very modern and unique design, but they're really fun to use. I got the chance to try one out at the festival, and it was very easy. Unfortunately they're a bit out of my range (since I'm only beginning), but for a second or third wheel they're really lovely.

Black Sheep Creamery - some of the most delicious sheep's cheese I've ever had. They had a whole range of flavors, which was nice. In addition to the cheese, they also sell some very nice wool.

Spindle Wood - some really beautiful wooden drop spindles. Again, slightly out of my price range at the minute, but still wonderful to look at and dream about.

There were loads more wonderful places, some which don't have websites, and some that I didn't grab a business card from, and so I can't remember what they're called. It was such a fun experience for me, though. I'm pretty new to the whole fiber world, and have been mostly self-taught, so it was incredible to be around so many people who love the things I do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival part 1

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival took place a few weeks ago. It was *amazing*. There were so many amazing things, from fibers to yarn to patterns, sheep, and spinning wheels. I'm going to post about the weekend in a couple different sections (and yes, I went for the whole day both days). 

First I'll talk about the fibers. Since I've gotten into spinning, I was more excited about all the roving that was available than the already made yarn. There were so many absolutely gorgeous bits of hand-dyed roving, in all sorts of colors and blends. 

Two 4oz braids of hand dyed corriedale roving, from a lovely lady who also sells on Etsy

Polwarth top in lovely shades of blue and purple with other colors thrown in.

A grab bag of mystery fibers in all sorts of colors - I think that bright yellow is silk!

I forget what fiber this is - either Shetland or Corriedale, I think. It's a lovely mottled shade of mossy green. I got somewhere around 8oz of this, I think - enough for a matching hat/mitten set I hope.

Sort of a dark mulberry merino roving.

The three multicolored rovings are merino, and the solid orange and green are a Colonial top. I can't wait to spin these and make hats out of the yarn. Or possibly fingerless gloves. Or mittens. Or.... 

I also purchased a total of two pounds of natural colored wool (different shades) just so that I'd have some bulk to spin. I do really like a lot of the natural colors - especially Shetland sheep, since they come in so many different colors.

In addition to the lovely soft merinos and exciting colors of hand dyed roving, there were some exotic fibers. Things like wild silk, and angora rabbits, and fancy merino blends. I expected all those. But there was also surprisingly soft nylons, cottons, and - wait for it - fibers made from milk. Yes, milk. Apparently they use the proteins somehow to make fiber. 

Also, bamboo. It comes in white (normal) and a charcoal grey (carbonized). I'm not sure what exactly the carbonizing process is, but it makes a really pretty color, and the fiber is super soft and sort of squeaky. So of course I had to buy a few ounces of this carbonized bamboo stuff, just to try it out. I haven't spun with it yet. Depending on how soon I get a spinning wheel, this fiber might be waiting for that.

Coming up next: I will be going through all the flyers and business cards I collected to give a post with some good links, and I'll write about the raw fleece that I bought. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Water Kelpie Costume sketch

The Scottish dancing group that M and I are a part of here is having their monthly social dance a week from tomorrow (!!). Since it's October, it will be a costume dance, and the idea is to come dressed 'as a dance'. 

Easier than it sounds - there are a lot of fun (and weird) dance names - Starry Eyed Lass, Witch's Brew, Haste to the Wedding, etc.  The one that I'm going for is 'The Water Kelpie'. Other than being a dance, a kelpie is a mystical water horse. Luckily for me (since I'm not a horse), they also can take the form of a woman wearing seaweed. 

The plan (so far) is to wear a skirt and top in appropriate colors, make some 'seaweed' out of some scraps of a shiny green fabric I have, and make webbed gloves from a pair of old tights (as long as I can find the ones I want to cut up). And then I'll dry and spike my hair, and do some epic green/blue makeup to finish the look. For the past several years I've done really intense costumes. And as much as I love doing large projects, I really just don't have the time. What with job searching and trying to expand my etsy shop, I need something a little more low-key. I'll post photos as I go ahead with this project.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Necklace stands

If you are wanting to photograph your necklaces, especially for selling, I highly recommend using a necklace stand.

Especially if you don't have a model/aren't comfortable photographing yourself wearing the necklace, it's a really big help. Even the most lovely photos of a necklace laid flat won't help the viewer understand how long the necklace is, how flexible, where it lies on the neck. 

Example: the first two photos I took on white muslin, and they are really beautiful. The colors show well, and the photos give a wonderful idea of the textures and the beauty of the beads.

However, they don't show what it would look like on a person. Here's where the necklace stand comes in:

Isn't that much nicer? It isn't an attention grabbing photo, and you can't see the details of the necklace, but for someone who is interested and wants to know more about the necklace, it provides that information. Without it, the viewer might be left wondering how to tell what it would look like, if it would be too short, too long, etc. 

I got two of these stands the other day from Michaels, for 7 or 9 dollars each (I forget). I got this one in a neutral linen, and one in black velvet. Although the black really makes some of the colors pop, it's kind of impossibly to photograph without looking dusty. So that one's on hold for now, until I figure it out.

Road Trip: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This will be the last post from our road trip that's this long. The National Park was just so wonderfully lovely I couldn't help taking so many photos. And the sky!! Such gorgeous long views and incredible clouds. Enjoy!