Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Goth Cupcake Amigurumi


· Black worsted weight yarn (I used Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Onyx)

· Dark grey worsted weight yarn (I used Lion Cashmere Blend in Charcoal)

· Fiberfill or stuffing of your choice

· Small burgundy ribbon rose (available at craft/fabric stores – or make your own)

· Black felt (6mm/ 1/4 “ circles for eyes)

· Light grey felt (12mm/ 1/2 " circles for cheeks)

· Black thread

· Light grey thread

· Burgundy embroidery thread

· Size E (3.50 mm) or F (3.75 mm) hook, depending on how tightly you stitch

(I used an E hook.)

· Yarn needle, embroidery needle and sewing needle for finishing.

· Stitch marker to mark beginning of rounds.

· Blocking pins to block chain loops.

Abbreviations used (American):

ch – chain

dec – decrease (single crochet decrease)

R – round

sc – single crochet

sk – skip

sl st – slip stitch

st(s) – stitch(es)

* - repeat directions between pairs of asterisks the number of times indicated


Cupcake Bottom – use dark grey yarn

Rounds are spirals, you’ll have to mark 1st stitch of each round.

R1 – Make magic loop and make 6 sc in loop; 6 sts.

R2 – Join and tighten loop; 2 sc in each st; 12 sts.

R3 - * 1 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 18 sts.

R4 - * 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 24 sts.

R5 - * 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R6 - * 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R7 – Through back loops only - * 4 sc, dec 1* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R8 - *4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R9 & 10– Sc 36; 36 sts.

R11 - *5 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 42 sts.

R12-14 – Sc 42; 42 sts.

Bind off, secure loose ends.

Cupcake Top –use black yarn

Rounds are again spirals.

R1 – Make magic loop and make 6 sc in loop; 6 sts.

R2 – Join and tighten loop; 2 sc in each st; 12 sts.

R3 - * 1 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 18 sts.

R4 - * 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 24 sts.

R5 - * 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 30 sts.

R6 - * 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 36 sts.

R7 - *5 sc, 2 sc in next sc* - 6 times; 42 sts.

R8-11 – Sc 42; 42 sts.

Continue to make chained edge:

R12 – *Sl st 1, Chain 7, skip 5, sl st 1* - 6 times; 54 sts.

R13 - *Sl st 1, Chain 10, skip chained 7, sl st 1; 84 sts.

Bind off, leave 18” tail to sew cupcake halves together.


· Attach ribbon rose to cupcake top as pictured.

· Attach felt eyes with black thread as pictured.

· Using light grey thread, make 2 or 3 stitches on black felt eyes, slightly to the right and down from the center of the eye.

· Attach light grey felt cheeks.

· With burgundy embroidery thread, stitch 2 straight lines as pictured for mouth.

· With tail of black yarn and yarn needle, sew top and bottom pieces together, catching top chain of each grey stitch from cupcake bottom and the back of each black stitch from the final sc round from the cupcake top. Stitch until only 2” (5 cm) of the piece is still open.

· Fill with stuffing, being careful not to overstuff.

· Finish stitching piece together.

· Mist top chains with water until fairly wet, and pin chains into place with blocking pins until dry.

· When piece is dry, remove pins and scare your neighbors with your gothic goody.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Long Time Making

Here I am at almost 2 years old. Just hanging out by the kitchen, playing with blocks. Making a Roman Colosseum or a temple of some sort. Who knows? But I loved to make things, even then. (My mom made the nightgown I'm wearing here.) Mind you, almost everyone I knew made things. Both my grandfathers were engineers, and were constantly tinkering in their garages and workshops building all sorts of things - hydroponic tanks for growing tomatoes, a large smoker for barbecue, electronic gadgets, fatal-looking farm implements. My great-grandmother, as I've said, sewed, crocheted, embroidered, and cooked. My grandmother cooks, my mom cooks, my dad cooks. ( I cook, too. That's a different post entirely.) My mom knitted, crocheted, embroidered, and sews. An aunt embroiders and sews. My uncles both build things all the time. My brother, Nick, cooks and does handcrafts. This, I think, is unusual.

Among those of my generation, handcrafts used to be seen as kitschy and grandmotherly. Among my mother's generation, handcrafts were briefly seen as groovy - before they pursued career and family. Among my grandmother's generation, handcrafts were seen as something that was uncomfortably reminiscent of their childhood years during the Depression - or something only those who were poor pursued. The last 10 years have seen a revival of handcrafting in all three of our generations as well as among those of the next generation. But will it last?

I grew up during a backlash against handcraft during the late 1970s and 1980s. Home-Ec was seriously uncool (I still took it for 3 years.) Shop classes were for dummies (I took them for 2 years.) If you were a serious student, you took art classes if you wanted to make stuff (I took 6 years.) This period was chock-full of crass consumerism, conspicuous consumption, and yuppies who posited that only expensive name-brand goods were worthy of notice. Handmade was definitely OUT.

My mother's generation made stuff in their teens and early twenties in a manic hippie handmade love-fest. Soon after, many abandoned craft in a feminist backlash against all things reminiscent of housewifely duties. Craft was seen as a betrayal of the feminist movement, unless it could transcend the name of craft and be considered ART. The irony inherent in women denigrating women's work instead of valuing it in its own right would later be a central theme in the post-feminist discussions of art vs. craft of my generation.

My grandmother's generation felt the thrill of mass-manufactured goods for the first time in the U.S. Why make when you can buy? Her childhood was spent in the heart of the Depression and her teen years in the middle of World War II. I'm sure many were glad never to have to make or make-do ever again. Handmade objects earned a reputation as things produced by the poor, or something to be made for children, if at all.

The current generation has had the benefit of a world where craft projects and supplies are widely available and where craft is seen as cool. The past few years have even seen an increase in interest in Eco-Friendly materials and monikers. Craft in the last ten years has seen a huge upswing in popularity, even celebrity. But will there be a backlash again? Will the saccharine sweetness of Big Chain Craft Store projects and supplies overrun artisan-produced fabrics, yarns, and other materials as well as the independent shops that stock them? Let's hope not.

I support locally-owned shops for my supplies as much as I possibly can. I also buy fair-trade or locally made materials from these shops. Crafters support a whole chain of people; from the local yarn store owner to the local shepherd to the local fabric shop. These support others in turn. And we make stuff. Glorious stuff, silly stuff, strange stuff, and sublime stuff. We fill our homes and clothe our children. We beautify our environment and amuse our neighbors. Let's hope this lasts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not re-inventing the wheel, just assembling it.

I finally got a spinning wheel of my own. A Schacht Ladybug that spins beautifully. It took 8 weeks to get here, and my local yarn store lent me the use of another Ladybug for 4 weeks. Thanks very much to Suzanne at Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas for that particular kindness. It took me about 1 hour to assemble - with child help. It might have been faster without it, but not as much fun.

Now, I started to spin thinking that it would give me more control over my knitting. I thought that now I could pick exactly the fiber I wanted, in exactly the color, exactly the shade, exactly the weight of yarn, exactly.... What I have learned in the last two years is that the fiber is going to do what it wants to for the most part. I can pick the color and shade, yes. I can pick the fiber, yes. If it is not meant to be fine lace-weight, it will not even begin to cooperate. What I have learned is that I have to make good decisions to begin with, but I will have to let the yarn be what it is going to be. What I have learned is that the fiber has more control of me. Sounds like having children.