Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Announcing the Make It! Challenge Recipients for 2015

The response to my call for challenges was the best ever this year! As exciting as it was to receive so many Make It! Challenge proposals, with only three slots to fill, it also made for a very difficult decision. Thank you so much to everyone who submitted their ideas. I wish that I had the time and resources to pursue all of them. If your idea wasn’t chosen this year, please don’t be discouraged. Keep working on your idea to make it truly unique and resubmit it.

I think you will be very pleased with the challenges that I’ll be tackling. I’ll be trying a few new things and maybe even writing a knitting pattern! But before I ruin all the surprises, let me just announce the winners… Make It! Challenge 2015 RecipientsCongratulations! I’ll be emailing each of you in the coming weeks to let you know my schedule for the year and when you can expect for me to complete your challenge. I hope you are just as excited as I am to get this new year of challenges rolling.


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Challenge Me to Make Something Awesome

Island Play Set by Squirrel PicnicI’m so overjoyed at the response I’ve received from the release of last week’s Make It! Challenge Island Play Set. It is especially gratifying to be able to publish a pattern that makes so many people happy. That’s really why I started the Make It! Challenge series in the first place and why I’ve decided to continue it for another year. I’m currently accepting challenges for 2015 and have three slots to fill. Read on to find out more about this series and how you can get involved! Continue reading


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Make It! Challenge #9: Mr. Potato Head VIP (Very Important Potato) Edition Crochet Pattern

For Make It! Challenge #9, Daniel requested I crochet him a Mr. Potato Head doll. He was kind enough to let me decide on the accessories. I had a ton of fun thinking up new parts and facial features to make!

It is interesting to see all the different parts that Hasbro has come up with for Mr. Potato Head since he was invented in 1952. The first Mr. Potato Head kits came with ears, eyes (two pairs), facial hair (eight pieces of felt), feet, hands, hats (three), mouths (two), noses (four), and a pipe. Today, any Mr. Potato Head fanatic could show you an elaborate collection of accessories. Some of my favorites include party hats, pierced ears, handcuffs, bare feet, a pirate’s peg leg and eye patch, and a hockey player’s gap-toothed grin.

But with all the characters Hasbro has made into potatoes, I think there are a few opportunities they missed. What they need is a VIP (Very Important Potato) line of celebrity potatoes. Just picture it: Tiger Spuds, Morgan Fryman, Spuddy Holly, Elisabeth Shue-string Fry, Oprah French Fry, Vladimir Poutine, Mashton Kutcher, James Hashbrowns, to name a few (thanks to Becky for many of these ideas!). In the end, for this challenge, I decided on making Channing Potatum, Tater Swift, and Barack Au Gratin for my real-life celebrity potatoes. And then I threw in Harry Potater, because, well, Harry Potter’s name just screams make me into a potato.

Unfortunately due to licensing concerns, the pattern to make Mr. Potato Head: VIP Edition is no longer available. My apologies for any inconvenience this causes.


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2014: It’s a Good Plan

A sneak peak at the next Make It! Challenge. What is it? I'm not telling.

A sneak peak at the next Make It! Challenge. What is it?

Last year was an amazing first year for Squirrel Picnic, and I have you all to thank. I hope that I can continue to provide fun and interesting patterns for you and that the gang will have plenty of adventures to go on. To be honest, though, 2013 was draining on both my bank account and my personal life. I fell in love hard with Squirrel Picnic, much to my husband’s chagrin. Every moment that I wasn’t at my full-time job, I was working on the blog. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about the activities you love, but time spent with friends and family is very important too. So my big goal for 2014 is to create more balance in my life. That being said, you know me. I’ve already got big plans in the works for Squirrel Picnic… I just might have to work on them under the cover of night (don’t tell my husband). So in addition to that big one I already mentioned, here are my goals for 2014.  

  1. Tackle five Make It! Challenges. Congratulations to this year’s recipients: Shelby, Daniel, Becky, Brooke, and Diana!
  2. Publish more Squirrel Picnic comics: oh, the adventures we have in store!
  3. Publish free crochet patterns for each of the fatimals: starting with Mayor Snack Frog in the next month or so.
  4. Join the Counterfeit Crochet project: this looks like so much fun!
  5. Learn more knitting techniques with the intent of eventually offering more free knitting patterns here.
  6. Publish stories featuring your handiwork! If you’ve crocheted a Squirrel Picnic character using one of my patterns, I’d love to feature it on the blog. For more information, see the submissions section of my About page.
  7. Recuperate some of the costs of maintaining this blog. I spent way too much money on yarn last year… you don’t even know. So I’ve been pondering the financial aspect of blogging lately. I’ve decided not to sell ad space just yet, not until I can have complete control over what companies and products are advertized. (I know you don’t want to see that stupid belly fat ad here, and I won’t let that happen.) But I still need to make enough to support my blogging habit, so the plan is to stock my Etsy shop with squirrelly stuff and try to get some of my patterns published in magazines. I’m not expecting much, but it’s worth a try. Do you have any ideas? If you’re a blogger, what do you do to support your blog?
  8. Show you more of what happens behind the scenes: how I put together the comics, how I create my patterns, and reviews of the fiber arts books and fellow bloggers that have taught and inspired me.



Wow! That seems like a lot. I better get started! What are your goals for 2014?


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Make It! Challenge #7: Rainbow Donkey

Bill Brown’s comic The Evil Squirrel’s Nest, which he publishes on his blog Rainbow Donkey / Unicorn Crochet Pattern by Squirrel Picnicweekly on Thursdays, features a ragtag group of squirrels, skunks, cats, and various other wild animals who are always getting into something interesting. The main characters – Hooly, Odyssey, Hottie, Mini, and Clem – were all inspired by people Bill knows in real life. But of all the characters, the one most loved by fans is Rainbow Donkey, who is also the subject of this Make It! Challenge.

The story of how this “donkicorn” came to be is just as interesting as the character himself. Bill says:

Rainbow Donkey’s embarrassing debut appearance

Rainbow Donkey’s debut appearance

“The very first drawing of the ‘unicorn’ that would become Rainbow Donkey was a small avatar for my message board…. It was one of my first attempts to draw any member of the equine family, and to say it looked like complete crap is an understatement. Even my online friends, who were very encouraging of me for what at the time was some really bad art I was drawing, couldn’t help but point out how ridiculously awful the unicorn looked — with most of the replies being that it looked like a cow. In fact, Rainbow Cow was the first nickname being bandied about for it, but being as taken in by the real life Hooly as I was at the time, when she began calling it Rainbow Donkey, the name stuck… as did the character.”

I accepted Bill’s challenge both because I ES and SP Rainbow Donkeysadmire his work and just really like him as a person and because, much like Bill had never drawn a horse before Rainbow Donkey, I had never crocheted a horse/donkey/unicorn before. It turned out though that crocheting a donkicorn wasn’t the most difficult part. The toughest thing about this challenge was trying to capture that rough but loveable charisma that has made his donkicorn character so popular among fans. It might have something to do with his illustration style.

Bill does most of his sketching by hand, then uses MS Paint (I’m so impressed by anyone who has the patience to draw a comic in Paint!) and Photoshop to bring the images to digital life.

Click here to see how he draws his comics.

Click here to see how he creates his single-frame images in Paint too!

This process creates scenes that are bright and lively and, he admits, a little rough around the edges. I think that’s what makes them so endearing, and it was my biggest hope that I would be able to capture that quirky beauty in my crocheted version of Rainbow Donkey. I hope that you, too, can see the charm in his stubby feet, giant ears, and crooked smile. Because like Bill says, it’s our flaws that make us loveable.

Click here to read more of my interview with Bill.

And as always here’s my free pattern to make your very own…

Rainbow Donkey Continue reading


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Make It! Challenge #6: Jack Russell Clutch

Jack Russell Clutch For Make It! Challenge #6, Ranee Galambos challenged me to make a purse inspired by her favorite pet, a Jack Russell terrier named Nina.

“I loved her energy, devotion, intelligence and her company. She was the most amazing dog I ever owned and always made me laugh at her craziness,” Ranee said.

It was my pleasure to design this clutch inspired by such a wonderful furry friend.

I was excited to start this project because I knew it would be a great opportunity to try my hand at felting. I did some research and asked tons of questions, and now I’m ready to tell you all about this very fun and interesting technique that will make your clutch soft and cuddly as well as beautiful.

First, I stopped by my local yarn shop to hear what the experts had to say. When I went straight to the bright white wool, they stopped me and graciously advised that you shouldn’t use bleached white wool for felting because the bleaching process has damaged the fibers. Also superwash or washable wool will not felt. The higher the wool content, the better felted the final piece will be.

More helpful advice came from Kiki and Steven of Luscious Gracious. I recommend checking out their “Murphy’s Laws of Felting,” which provides pretty much everything you need to know. Most importantly, I learned that in felting, a knitted piece will shrink more in height than it does in width. With this in mind, I made a swatch first and recorded the size before and after washing it three times in a top-loading washing machine set to “Whites.” Would you believe that my swatch shrank 20% horizontally and 45% vertically? It made me really glad that I had taken the time to do this test! Designing the pattern 20% wider and 45% taller was a little tricky and the dog that I knit does look a little wonky, but thankfully the dog I pulled out of the final wash had shrunk to the exact size I had anticipated.

Therefore, the best advice I have for you is to make a swatch and wash it in the same manner that you will use to wash the clutch. Record the setting you use and the number of washes it takes to get the level of felting you desire. Then use that information to guide you at the felting stage, because even if you use the same yarn I have used, you’ll most certainly have a better washing machine than the ancient one I used in the basement of our apartment. Most likely yours will take less than three washes!

Jack Russell Clutch Continue reading


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Challenge Me to Make Something Awesome

There’s no doubt about it. Friends of Squirrel Picnic, or fellow picnickers if you will, are some of the most creative, innovative, and humorous people I’ve ever met. You have big imaginations, and you’re not afraid to try new things. Best of all, you agree that the world needs a lot more fun.

Through the Make It! Challenge over the past six months, some of you have inspired me and pushed me to my craftiest. You’ve challenged me to make a toddler’s hat in the shape of a roast turkey, a felted sloth, and a Batman mask. And I’ve had a blast exploring your ideas and creating each one. But I want more! I have a few more challenges lined up for the rest of the year, but I also have several open slots. Now’s your chance to be included in this one-of-a-kind project.

The concept is pretty simple. If you have an idea for an awesome item that can be created through knitting, sewing, or crochet, email a detailed description and any sketches, photos, or links to me at squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com. Keep in mind, the more information you include, the better the chance that I will accept your challenge. And if I do accept your challenge, I’ll publish the pattern here at squirrelpicnic.com so that others can make my original design too. Best of all, I’ll send you the sample, free of charge, as a thank-you for your idea.

For more information and to see the Make It! Challenge Hall of Fame visit the new Make It! Challenge page. I can’t wait to see what you think up next!