Steampunk Soiree!

In case you didn't catch the write-up for the back page of the fall 2014 Interweave Crochet, here's more info for my Steampunk Soiree:

The stuffed animals and amigurumi I make are decidedly anthropomorphic, and I started making up narratives for them. It was natural for me to start putting groups of them together and making dioramas. I got interested in Steampunk at the same time, so making up a Steampunk scene was the next logical step.
“Steampunk” explores what the past would be like if the future happened sooner--imagine a Jules Verne world set in the Victorian era, women hiding gamma ray guns in their corsets, pirates in airships, and mad scientists with time machines. I imagined a group of amigurumi animals getting together to plan their next grand adventure.
The animal bodies are all made in the same yarn to keep a cohesive look. I used Rowan Felted Tweed in grey mist (discontinued color), a DK weight yarn, because I like the feel and look of it, especially when using a small hook for a very firm fabric. In order to keep the Steampunk theme going, I chose metallic yarns for the clothing and accessories: Vanna Glamour by Lion Brand, and Stardust from Red Heart. I had fun seeking out and repurposing items for their accessories.
I like jointed limbs on stuffed animals, so instead of buttons, I used real watch gears, another acknowledgement to the Steampunk motif. Pipe cleaners in the arms and legs make them very poseable--especially the octopus!

Steampunk Amigurumi Soiree, designed by Donna Childs

The octopus’ name is Professor Octavius Cephalopod, a deep sea treasure hunter. He sits upon a chest filled with the latest finds that will finance the group’s endeavors. His goggles are jewelry findings, and he holds a tiny compass (a button with a real compass imbedded into it). His underside is studded with textured washers to represent suction cups.
Madame Rowena Lapin, the rabbit, is a sponsor of the arts, a suffragette, and quite possibly a spy. Her clothing consists of a corset, with a bustle that nicely sheaths her bunny tail. Her hat has slits to accommodate her long ears, and it’s topped with the requisite goggles (jewelry findings). She carries a parasol (a repurposed cocktail garnish) and a heart-shaped key--her secrets are locked away.

The elephant, Captain Eli Maximus, is a military man. His whistle (a working jewelry charm) is at the ready to call the troops, and he’s not afraid of getting into the battle himself with his trusty sword (canape pick).
Baron Peter Scurday is a squirrel--a flying squirrel. Along with his bomber jacket and flight scarf, he wears an impressive set of wings (painted wooden pieces, gears, and rhinestones), as well as a propeller cap (top of a vinegar bottle and jewelry findings).
Dr. Maxwell Wallaby, the kangaroo, doesn’t like to be called a “mad” scientist, but his experiments can get messy. He wears a lab coat, and his apron has a big pouch--of course. His still (light socket, clock gears, tubing, rhinestones) is cooking up either an absinthe cocktail, or an ice cream float. He holds a bottle with something bubbling over (real glass bottle, glass beads, mohair yarn). His cap is made from a salt shaker top, tiny lightbulbs, and springs from a ballpoint pen.

I am currently hard at work on a book-length allegory with a different theme. Check back on this blog for my progress on this latest project!

Designer Contest at CGOA

My little Steampunk Soiree won second prize in the Crochet Guild of America's designer contest in the category of Artistic Expression:

Steampunk Amigurumi Soiree, designed by Donna Childs

They will be featured in a crochet magazine article--stay tuned for more details!

For more winners check this LINK. I am honored to be chosen as a winner--the entries are some of the most extraordinary pieces of work you'll ever see.

Knit and Crochet Convention!

I'll be at the Knit and Crochet Convention in Manchester, NH all this week--maybe I'll see you there!

New pattern in Interweave Crochet--Scout Bag

The newest Interweave Crochet Magazine is due out any day now, and there's a cute model showing off my bag:

I had fun collecting the buttons at flea markets and antique stores. This would also be cute decorated with seashells or with tiny toys. You can decorate it to make it truly your own design!

Super quick and easy bag; you know you need one--or more!

Baby Bird Nests

Orphaned baby birds need nests--get a free pattern (with the address to send completed nests) here: Link

Master Crocheter in Progress...

I'm working on my Master of Crochet Certification (Advanced Stitches and Techniques) through the Crochet Guild of America, so have not had a lot of time to post news. Here's the badge I'm working toward:

It's all about the jewelry...

Putting my crocheting down for an hour to watch finale...

...of How I Met Your Mother. And it's a good thing I had some tissues handy, because anything heavier would have broken the TV screen when I threw it.

That's all I'm going to say...

March is National Crochet Month--kitten love!

Personally, I celebrate crochet every month!

Here's a kitten I made as part of a series I'm working on. The crocheted and embroidered background is inspired by the style of paper we used in first grade to practice our lettering.

Bunny Rabbit Wedding

I made this for a Ravelry swap, How I Met Your Mother, which is all about a wedding this season. The dolls are about 5" tall.

On the road, North Conway, NH, part 2

With a name like Nancy's Alterations and Yarn Shop, I fully expected the yarn to be an afterthought in a taylor's shop. I couldn't be more wrong; Nancy's has an amazing selection of yarns. I especially liked that the sample "swatches" were actually full-length scarves.

And the "swatches" for the sock yarn are actual socks.

If you get a hankering for yarn early in the morning, you're in luck--Nancy opens her doors at 8am or earlier. Her shop is behind the stores on the main road.

If you're hungry, stop by Chef's Market on the same block. There's something different in the display case every day--except Tuesday. Don't go on a Tuesday--they're closed.

On the road, North Conway, NH, part one

North Conway, NH has two fabulous yarn shops. The first one I visited was Close Knit Sisters--how sweet is that for a name?

The cute stuffed animals were checking me out as I checked out the skeins.

It's a friendly place, with people hanging out and knitting, and other people coming in and being greeted as old friends. The prices are great, lower than I'd expect for a tourist area.

If you're in the area, you'll find plenty of shopping opportunities close by--it's a mecca of outlets. Personally, that's not my thing--but I do like the local independent bookstore, White Birch Books. And for vintage-style fabrics at really good prices, you've got to make a stop at The Quilt Shop at Vac and Sew.

50 years ago...

I was just learning to crochet! 
Oh yeah, and listening to the Beatles for the first time ever.

On the Road-Newburyport, Massachusetts

Back home at my local yarn shop: Loom With a View.
Don't let the name fool you; Betsy may like to weave, but there's plenty--classes, tools, patterns, and kits--for knitters and crocheters. The samples change often and are extraordinary. Sign up for the newsletter for secret sales and previews of the next season's yarns.

Cozy, isn't it? You'll find it on Green Street, right across from City Hall and the police station. 

And if you're in the neighborhood and looking for a nice place to sit and crochet with your new yarns, walk down toward the waterfront, to a hidden away gem: Plum Island Coffee Roasters (note: it's not actually on Plum Island, but the views of the river are outstanding). If you are looking for an interesting lunch, try another one of my favorites: Middle Street Foods--the specials change daily, and the baked goods are exceptional.

On the Road--Montpelier, Vermont

Montpelier is a friendly place, but to make it even better, you'll find "Vermont's friendliest yarn shop" there: The Knitting Studio.

Enter, and you might think it's a tiny shop, but keep going to find an Alice-in-Wonderland-like hallway to the rest of the shop.

All the way in the back is a wonderful workroom, and an incredible variety of yarns:
And in another area is a selection of lovely local yarns:
In the front of the shop I discovered something I've never seen before--mink yarn! Seriously!

You can have your "mink stole" without having to slay any little mink animals. We can all feel better about that. The yarn is as soft as you can imagine, and not very expensive.

And to make my visit even more special, I discovered I got a discount on my entire purchase because it was my birthday!

Right next door is one of my favorite places to visit--the New England Culinary Institute's restaurants. Fancy dinners upstairs, casual pub meals downstairs, and everything in between on street level. There's always something fabulous on the menu. I highly recommend the superb Sunday brunch. But plan ahead if you want to do both--The Knitting Studio is closed on Sundays.

Montpelier might be the capital city, but it feels like being in a small town--a really cool small town.

On the road--Japantown, San Francisco

One of the places I just had to visit is the Kinokuniya bookstore in Japantown in San Francisco. Two floors of inspiring books! My favorite area, of course, is the aisle of craft books, especially the Japanese crochet books: amigurumi, lace, motifs, edgings, accessories, etc.

Kinokuniya Bookstore

You don't have to know how to read Japanese; the patterns use the international crochet symbols:

There are also a lot of amazing magazines and art books, and of course: manga. The store is in a small mall, with gift shops (origami papers! hello kitty!) and restaurants (sushi! noodles!) on the ground floor.

Japantown isn't as well known as Chinatown, but it's definitely worth a visit. Click on the link for special events and festivals throughout the year.