Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): A Day at the Spa

Previous episode: Beatrix’s Perfume

SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): A Day at the Spa Join us at the picnic for more lighthearted fun!SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): A Day at the Spa Join us at the picnic for more lighthearted fun!SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): A Day at the Spa Join us at the picnic for more lighthearted fun!

So they checked into the spa and spent the day getting all the kinks worked out. Jelly Belly Bunny enjoyed having her ears rubbed. Rosa Robin got a seaweed wrap, which she ended up eating instead. Tina developed a crush on her masseur and bought a fifty-visit punch card on her way out. Hodge and Podge received paraffin paw treatments and now they’re ready to crochet up a storm.

SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): A Day at the Spa Join us at the picnic for more lighthearted fun!

Welcome the new and improved cast of Squirrel Picnic! They’re bigger and better. Can you tell the difference?

What do you do when your muscles ache from an overindulgence in needle crafting? Do you relax with a heat pad or get a massage? Try a different style of hook or needles? Do you take time off and explore another medium? If you’re suffering from a needle-crafting injury, I’m sending you soothing thoughts and some good wishes to get you back to your craft soon again…

Because next week, I’ll release the pattern for Tina Ballerina Bear and I know you’ll want to try this!


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Calling All Crafters! You Could Be Featured on Squirrel Picnic

Susan's Croshades

Susan uses croshades to turn urban sculptures into funny characters.

Margie's Mr. Potato Head

Margie’s Mr. Potato Head is amazing. She even crocheted the facial features!

Have you made a pair of croshades and used them to yarnbomb your neighborhood? Have you made a Batman mask, a Mr. Potato Head, or a Bowser sweater for your turtle? Do you have a Squirrel Picnic character that you’re proud to call your own? If so, I’d love to see it.

I’m in the process of putting together a roundup of crocheted awesomeness by fantastic picnickers like you. If you’ve had fun using one of my patterns, send a photo of what you made to squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com by August 22, and I’ll include it in the roundup.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!


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The Sleepyz Blanket: Joining Forces

SleepyZsNow that I’ve crocheted a ton of Zs, it’s time to join them all together. You may remember from the original story that once the Sleepy Zs get a hold of you, they join forces to take you down (nap time!).

The idea is simple enough, but coming up with a method of joining all those Zs took me months to determine. You probably already know my problem… once again, I had to try things the hard way.

When my husband (the Ideas Man) and I came up with the concept for the Sleepyz Blanket, we had very different ideas in mind. While he said that in the construction of the final blanket it should be obvious that it is made out of Zs, I’ve held a totally different opinion: the Zs should go together to create a completely new design (that may not look like Zs at all). So for months I attempted to connect all these Zs with a join-as-you-go method that would only require two or three FOs. I eventually drew up a chart, decided on an arrangement, and started working on joining them, only to decide in the end that it was just too complicated. Also, the holes in between the Zs were far too big… even by crochet standards. I had to admit that the blanket that this would create would be flimsy and shapeless in the end. Here are some of the design concepts that I explored.

So it was back to the drawing board and time to consult the Ideas Man again. This time he elaborated on his vision of a blanket with Sleepyz sewn onto it like appliqués. “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I said. “I just spent months crocheting all these Zs and now I have to crochet a blanket for them to go on?!” It took me a while to warm up to this idea, but once I tried it out, I was convinced that it would look better than any of my other options.

Here’s the plan for the blanket. I came up with four very easy, but also very interesting double-crochet stitches. I’ll crochet long strips made up of blocks done in each of these stitches. Then I’ll sew the strips together and sew on the Zs as well. I might also add a border of Zs and another border in white. What do you think? Could this work?

Sleepyz Blocks

Best of all, this approach is still in keeping with the original story: the Sleepyz create a blanket in order to wrap you up and send you to dreamland. I’ve even named each of the double-crochet blocks so that I can write them into the story to show how they work together to make you drowsy.

It won’t be long now before it’s all done! I can’t wait to show you the comic that will illustrate the Sleepyz story too. I hope you’re looking forward to the exciting conclusion of this series as much as I am!

Other articles in this series:

Crocheting Zs Everywhere I Go

Playing with Yarn

Making Zs by Trial and Error

Big Decisions to Make

Introducing the Sleepyz Blanket


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Mohair Brooch: a Crochet Pattern for Mother’s Day

My grandma receives a knitting lesson from my great-grandmother.

My grandma receives a knitting lesson from my great-grandmother.

Ask any knitter or crocheter where they learned their skills, and the vast majority will tell you from their mother or grandmother.

I remember when I first moved to Colorado, my mother flew out to visit me for a week. I was living in a studio apartment with nothing but a couch in my living room and not much to entertain us. My mom taught me how to crochet a granny square that week. (That’s all the entertainment we needed!) I really took to it, and before long I was crocheting granny blankets for everyone I knew.

Crochet Mohair Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel PicnicMy grandmother was also an avid and prolific knitter. I think she knit a sweater for every one of her grand kids. My brother got a sweater with a really cool dinosaur on it, and I got a Southwest-inspired one that I still have today. In most of my memories of her, she is knitting. Grandma even took her projects with her on all of the long, cross-country trips that she and Grandpa loved to take. I feel like she and I have so much in common. I am very thankful that I inherited her love of fiber arts as well as her abundant yarn stash.

In celebration of my mom and grandmother and all that they taught me, this Mother’s Day I thought I’d crochet a brooch out of vintage mohair yarn that once belonged to Grandma.

In keeping with the vintage motif, I designed a brooch that’s reminiscent of the filigree knot jewelry that was popular in the 1950s and 60s. I guess there is a chance that this mohair could be from that time period too!

Mother’s Day is just around the bend, but you still have time to make something for your mom. Maybe a brooch in her favorite color would do nicely. And don’t forget to thank your mom for everything she’s taught you, especially if one of those things was knitting or crochet.

Crochet Mohair Brooch

Difficulty rating 2Materials

Small amount of fingering weight mohair yarn in light aqua (ArtYarns Silk Mohair in Aqua, 60% mohair, 40% silk, 0.88 oz [25 g] / 312 yds [285 m])
Small amount of fingering weight yarn in white (Bernat Baby in White, 90% acrylic, 10% nylon, 1.75 oz [50 g] / 191 yds [175 m])
C-2 (2.75 mm) crochet hook
Yarn needle
1” bar pin
Sewing needle and thread
Beads (optional)

Instructions

Wrap aqua yarn around index finger 10 times to form a ring. Insert crochet hook, yo, and pull through all the loops. Slst to secure.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 1

Rnd 1: 24 sc into center of the ring. It’s easier if you sc a few before taking the ring off your finger.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 2

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 3

Join with slst to 1st sc.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 4

Rnd 2: (Ch 8, sk 3, sc) 5 times. Ch 8, sk 3, join with slst to 1st sc.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 5

Rnd 3: Sc 11 in ea ch-8 sp. BO

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 6

Rnd 4: Hold the brooch with RS facing. Ensuring that your yarn is in front of the brooch, attach white yarn in any center sc of the 3 skipped in Rnd 2.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 7

* Ch 12. Hold the next aqua loop forward. Working behind the loop, sc in the next center st by inserting your crochet hook from front to back.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 8

Ch 12. Hold the next aqua loop backward. Working in front of the loop this time, sc in the next center st.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 9

Rep from * to the end. BO. Weave in ends.

Crochet Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic

Sew on beads if desired.

Mohair Crochet Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic

Position the bar pin at the top of the center ring created in Rnd 1. Make sure that you can’t see it from the front. Sew bar pin on.

Mother's Day Brooch by Squirrel Picnic 10


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The Sleepyz Blanket: Crocheting Zs Everywhere I Go

It feels like I’ve been crocheting Zs forever! Everywhere I go, I have my yarn and my crochet hook. It’s a great way to keep my hands busy and to pass the time. I find needlecrafts to be very calming, especially when I’m cramped on a bus after a long day at work. So I guess it’s a good thing I have a lot of Zs to crochet! Does crocheting and knitting have a soothing effect on you too?

It’s been about a month since I started crocheting these Zs. Every night when I get home, I toss the Zs I made that day into a box to be wet blocked later.  When I finally took a look at my Z stash the other day, I was floored by the number I’ve already made! I almost have the 155 Sleepyz I’ll need to make a standard size afghan, and seeing them all together was a little overwhelming. I found myself getting sleepier and sleepier in their presence. It shouldn’t be that surprising, but crocheting Sleepyz will wear you out!

In the park, on the bus, in my office while at lunch. Crochet here, crochet there. I crochet Zs everywhere!

Other articles in this series:

Playing with Yarn

Making Zs by Trial and Error

Big Decisions to Make

Introducing the Sleepyz Blanket


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The Sleepyz Blanket: Big Decisions to Make

I like to think that we’re all designers in some way or another. Whether creating a beautiful work of art, a computer program, a tool, or even a sandwich, each of us creates unique things every day through the design decisions we make. So when you go about creating something new, where do you begin? Do you start with a pen and pad of paper or a digital sketchbook? How do you choose your materials? How do you make your imaginings real? I’ll share a bit of my own rather scattered course of action, but I’d love to hear about your process too!

For this blanket I had a lot of decisions to make: yarn weight, brand, color, fiber content, quantity, and price, to name a few. So here is how I decided what Sleepy Zs are made of.

A Big, Big, Big World of Yarn

Choosing yarn

There are so many yarns out there. How will I ever decide which one is right? When I have a design decision to make, I try to remember these things:

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Try not to get too attached to one solution or you might miss seeing easier, more interesting, or more elegant solutions.
  • Ask your friends. Special thanks to all of mine! (Especially my Squirrel Picnic friends on Facebook who weighed in on this very topic with some excellent yarn suggestions.)
  • Research, and more research.
  • Trust your instincts… and your sense of style. If it makes you feel good, go for it. If something feels off, it probably is!
  • Don’t shop for yarn without a list of what you’re looking for.
  • Ask yourself, what characteristics of the concept, pattern, and material are most important to me?

I’ve been thinking of this Sleepyz Blanket for a while now. After pondering over the design and discussing with Shelby about what the Sleepy Z should look like (he convinced me it should be Z-shaped and not more… globular), I think I’m ready to answer that last question.

What characteristics are most important for this yarn to have?

1. It needs to be super soft.
2. It should be thick worsted, probably Aran weight.
3. It should be a little fuzzy, but not so much that it will be hard to work with.
4. The yarn family should have a respectable color palette of at least 15 options.
5. It should be carried locally so that I can feel/test it out and so I can get more in case I run out.

I weighed a lot of yarns against these standards and consulted with a lot of people and websites before I finally made a decision. My Sleepy Zs will be made of… drum roll, please… Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Weight Cotton!

Phew, I’m glad that’s done.

I Love You, Pantone

Now to decide on colors.

I don’t know about you, but the crochet blankets that generally catch my eye have several colors that work together in subtle ways, usually through the stitch pattern or motif. Color combinations can be gleaned from anywhere. Nature is usually my favorite source, but every year when Pantone announces their color palettes for that year, I get a little giddy about the idea of using some of their colors in a crochet project. When I saw the 2014 Pantone spring fashion colors, I instantly fell in love with this combo.

Pantone Colors

And it turns out, Blue Sky Alpaca offers quite similar colors in cotton. Yippee!

  • Aloe (604)
  • Thistle (603)
  • Stone (626)
  • Mediterranean (632)

I had a feeling that with the addition of a cool white (Drift – 614), these colors would really shine together. I have several ideas on how the Zs could be sewn together in the end, but I don’t think I will know for sure until I have a bunch of them made and I can play around with the configuration. Because I’m going to be crocheting Zs in solid colors, the blanket’s layout will probably be some form of a striped pattern. So I put together a quick visual by taking a screen shot off the yarn.com website to help me see how these might “play” together. Not too shabby… what do you think?

The Sleepies Are Taking Me Color Palette

When It Comes to Yarn, There’s Never Too Much (How to Make Extreme Ballpark Guesstimates)

I really don’t know if there’s a logical way to determine how much yarn you will need for a project that has never been made before. I haven’t even created the pattern for a Z. Perhaps I should do that first — but wait, I need the yarn first. Oh, yarn, you got me again!

So there’s only one thing I could think of to do. I used Ravelry to determine about how much yarn I might, maybe, possibly need. I looked up patterns and projects that had been made using Blue Sky Alpaca cotton that were roughly the size of what I hoped my blanket would be.  In the end, I bought 13 skeins, but I’m thinking I might need more. Luckily, I know where to find it at my local yarn shop.

The next step is one of my faaaa-vorrrr-ite tasks. Winding the yarn into balls! I’ll go get my swift and winder and meet you back here later, okay?

Other articles in this series:

Introducing the Sleepyz Blanket


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Mayor Snack Frog Crochet Pattern

Mayor Snack Frog by Squirrel PicnicMayor Snack Frog was the very first fatimal I ever crocheted. What’s a fatimal, you ask? A fatimal is, well, a fat animal. And at Squirrel Picnic, the fatimal clan is a bunch of fun-loving, easygoing, party animals. From their embroidered noses to their tiny little hands and feet, there’s just so much to love about them. They never consider their size to be a disadvantage. They never let anything get them down — they’re too busy having fun.

Of all the fatimals, Mayor Snack Frog could be considered the leader, but the truth is that there’s not really an organization to lead and fatimals aren’t much for being led anyway. In fact, he’s the one who gave himself the title of mayor. No one else seems to mind, so what the hoot. He has friends from all over the world who sometimes stop by to visit. He really does know how to throw a good party.

Visit the cast page to learn more about the fatimals. I’ll be sharing patterns to make each of the fatimals throughout this year and I already have plans for a few more cast members to be introduced in the fall.

Mayor Snack Frog Crochet Pattern Continue reading

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