Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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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

Crochet Mayor Snack Frog from The Big Acorn Race: A Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects

Mayor 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.

Mayor Snack Frog Crochet PatternDifficulty rating 1

Finished size without top hat: 6″ tall and 11 1/2″ around at the widest point
Finished size of top hat: 2″ tall and 12″ around the outside of the brim

Materials

(A) 85 yds worsted-weight yarn in green (Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage, 6 oz [170 g] / 315 yds [288 m])
(B) 32 yds worsted-weight yarn in black (Caron Simply Soft in Black, 6 oz [170 g] / 315 yds [288 m])
(C) 5 yds worsted-weight yarn in light green (Caron Simply Soft in Pistachio, 6 oz [170 g] / 315 yds [288 m])
(D) small amount of worsted-weight yarn in white (Caron Simply Soft in White, 6 oz [170 g] / 315 yds [288 m])
G-6 (4.00 mm) crochet hook
Size 12 mm safety eyes
Polyester Fiberfill
Tapestry needle

Gauge

5 sts = 1″
5 rows = 1″

Instructions

Mayor Snack Frog Parts by Squirrel Picnic

Eyes (Make 2)

With D, ch 2.

Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around, join with slst. (12)

FO. Weave in ends.

Set aside for now.

Eyelids (Make 2)

With A, ch 7.

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and ea ch across (BL only is ok), ch 1, turn. (6)

Row 2: Sc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc, slst.

FO, leaving long tail for sewing.

Set aside.

Body

With A, ch 2

Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook. (6)

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around. (12)

Rnd 3: * sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (18)

Rnd 4: * 2 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (24)

Rnd 5: * 3 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (30)

Rnd 6: * 4 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (36)

Rnds 7-15: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 16: * 5 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (42)

Rnd 17: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 18: * 6 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (48)

Rnd 19: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 20: * 7 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. (54)

Rnds 21-30: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 31: * 7 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (48)

Rnd 32: * 6 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (42)

Rnd 33: * 5 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (36)

Rnd 34: * 4 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (30)

Rnd 35: * 3 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (24)

Insert safety eyes into the center of the white eyes and attach to head. Sew eyelids to the frog’s head so that it wraps around the white part of the eye.

Stuff frog lightly.

Rnd 36: * 2 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (18)

Rnd 37: * Sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (12)

Rnd 38: * Sk, sc, rep from * 5 more times. (6)

Join with slst. FO, leaving a tail. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull to close. Weave in end.

Nose and Mouth

Using B, embroider two French knots for the nose and using a back stitch embroider a smile for the mouth.

Using C and back stitch, embroider an M above the nostrils and a line below the mouth to outline a snout.

Belly

With C, ch 2

Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around. Slst in 1st sc to join. (12)

Rnd 3: Ch 1, * sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. Slst in 1st sc to join. (18)

Rnd 4: Ch 1, * 2 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. Slst in 1st sc to join. (24)

Rnd 5: Ch 1, * 3 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. Slst in 1st sc to join. (30)

Rnd 6: Ch 1, * 4 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times. Slst in 1st sc to join. (36)

FO, leaving long tail for sewing.

Sew to the middle of Mayor Snack Frog’s belly.

Feet and Hands (Make 4)

With A, ch 2.

Rnd 1: 4 sc into 2nd ch from hook. (4)

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around. (8)

Rnds 3-5: Sc in ea sc around.

Tuck in ends and press flat.

Row 6: Sc this closed with 3 scs (skipping the sts on either end where it is folded). Turn. (3)

Row 7: Ch 2, 2 dc in each of next 2 sc, (2 dc, ch 2, slst) in last sc.

FO, leaving a tail for sewing.

With the tail, thread through the 1st of the 3 sc in Row 6. Pull the thread up and over the dcs in Row 7 and back through the same space. Then thread through the 3rd sc in Row 6. Pull the thread up and over the dcs in Row 7 and back through the same space. Weave in to secure, but don’t trim just yet. (You’ll use the rest of the tail to sew the arms and legs to the frog.)

For feet, sew two of these to the bottom of the frog so that the toes stick out from under his belly. For hands, sew two of these to the sides of the frog so that the fingers reach out just in front of his belly.

Mayor Snack Frog's Top Hat by Squirrel PicnicTop Hat

With B, ch 2.

Starting at the flat top of the hat:

Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around, join with slst, ch 1. (12)

Rnd 3: * sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (18)

Rnd 4: * 2 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (24)

Rnd 5: * 3 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (30)

Rnd 6: * 4 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (36)

Rnd 7: * 5 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (42)

Moving on to the sides of the hat:

Rnd 8: Sc in BL only of ea sc around.

Rnd 9: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 10: * 5 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (36)

Rnd 11: Sc in ea sc around.

Rnd 12: * 4 sc, dec, rep from * 5 more times. (30)

Rnds 13-15: Sc in ea sc around, join with slst, ch 1.

To create the brim:

Rnd 16: Sc in FL only of ea sc around, slst, ch 1.

Rnd 17: * 4 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (36)

Rnd 18: * 5 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (42)

Rnd 19: * 6 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (48)

Rnd 20: * 7 sc, inc, rep from * 5 more times, join with slst, ch 1. (54)

FO, weave in ends.


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We’re on Vacation

Hodge and Podge are on vacation

Looks like Hodge and Podge are already relaxing in the sun, while I’m still here stuffing my luggage full of yarn. It’s about time I join them for some much-needed R & R.

But don’t dismay, we’ll be back just in time for some Halloween fun. Join us on October 23 for an in-depth look at some of the creepiest crochet on the web and on October 30 for the very first Squirrel Picnic Halloween Comic!

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing lots of Hodge and Podge photobombs on Facebook and Twitter.


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SQUIRREL PICNIC (the comic): New Friends

Previous Episode: Welcome Party for Eric

Episode 2_1

After hiking down a hill and through a glen, over a bridge and across a meadow, Podge arrives at Eric’s laboratory with the welcome basket from everyone at Squirrel Picnic. She rings the bell on a massive door at the base of an oak tree… Continue reading


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Knit and Crochet on the Go

You may find it interesting to know that I don’t spend my days playing with yarn. As much as I would love to do that, I need a full-time job to support my yarn habit. I work in the editorial department of a greeting card company and do most of my knitting and crocheting on my two-hour round trip commute. And don’t worry, although I once saw a driver knitting behind the wheel, I’ve never tried it. I’d rather take the bus.

Anyone who’s traveled with a yarn project can tell you the importance of having a good kit to hold your project and supplies. Whether you’re commuting by bus like I am or you’re packing for a summer vacation, here are some articles to help you get organized so you can take your skills on the road, and read on to find out about the kit I finally chose. Continue reading