Jess Hutch.

Friday, March 31, 2006

george

george
This is George, a new toy. I'm not sure what type of animal he is... lately my sketches seem to be just of generic animal-type creatures - if I had to guess I'd say he's a squirrel, or some kind of rodent.

This was a fun toy to make - I wanted to see if I could get an elongated head - not oval, not spherical, more like a cylinder with rounded ends. I can't think of an example of this sort of shape. A tube of premade polenta perhaps? Anyway, that's what I was going for. I was concerned that the flexible nature of knitted fabric wouldn't allow for this unless I was making the tube part very long (like a sock), but once you've knit 10 or so rows of the same stitch count, the fabric naturally stays in a more or less tube-like structure.

Has anyone devoted an entire paragraph to that topic, ever?

George is made from Lamb's Pride Worsted in Seafoam, Blue Blood Red, and Pine Tree (light blue-green, red, dark blue-green), and knitted flat on size 7 circular needles. The weather in SF has been very dreary lately, and this color combo (turquoise/red) seems so summery and rich. Jane, on her yarnstorm blog, posted images of a quilt in this color combo a few months back - it's so gorgeous, and the colors so invigorating.

As I mentioned on flickr, this photo, of the toy on an old turquoise chair in our workroom, sort of makes it look like he's floating in a pool. Funny, since that's where I wish I was right now!

Edited to add:
Hey! Do you live in the Bay Area, or plan on being here on Saturday, April 22? I'll be at the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds that day, holding a workshop on how to make this very toy. Entrance fee for the faire for one day is $12.50, and the workshop is from 12:30-1:30 - there are no sign-ups***, just show up and we'll start making. Just bring some colorful worsted weight yarn (less than a skein of each color), stuffing for the toy (I use polyester fiberfill) and needles appropriate for the yarn, along with a yarn needle, scissors, and any other notions you take a notion to bring. The kind folks at Imagiknit, an amazing SF yarn shop, will be there with yarn and supplies in case you forget anything or prefer to buy new yarn (always a good choice!). The workshop will last an hour, which isn't enough time to complete the toy - but I'll get you started, and I'll demonstrate all the important techniques.

The Maker Faire is a fantastic event that Make Magazine is putting on - there will be all kinds of exhibits, workshops, and presentations. If you're interested in arts and crafts, science, technology, engineering, DIY, or all of the above, this faire is going to be the place to be. I'm excited to be involved.

Here's a link to the info for my workshop. I hope you can make it! I'll be posting more info here on my blog as the date approaches.

***Edited to add: actually, you can sign up early! Go here to get on the list.

Monday, March 27, 2006

scottie

Avocado, harvest gold, burnt orange... wall hangings, rugs, and lamp covers... and that Scottie dog... isn't it stunning? I was so, so pleased to receive this vintage Patons Toys and Novelties pamphlet in the mail the other day from Tania - thank you, Tania, for the thoughtful and unexpected gift. Tania's funny, sweet blog and her prodigious talents are gift enough but this too? Gee.

My one year blogiversary (is that how you spell it?) came and went in February... I missed the actual day, then meant to mention it, then forgot... you know how it goes. I'd been reading blogs since my dot-com days in the earlier part of this century, but never had one, until Claire and her Month of Softies project gave me the inspiration - I wanted a place to display my MoS toys and other crafts, sort of as a motivational thing for myself, and I wanted to share the things that inspire me. What surprised and delighted me were the kind, supportive comments and emails I received, and the friends I've made while doing this. I've always been artsy and crafty in one way or another but never really presented my stuff to the universe. It was important for me to get feedback on creative stuff for the first time in my life - really (really) important.

So, to all you kind folks who read this, thank you so much. And to all you lovely folks who keep inspiring me with your amazing blogs, thank you too. And thanks again, Tania!

Monday, March 20, 2006

mr. toast

mr. toast in the kitchen
Dan Goodsell, whose Taschen Icons book Krazy Kids' Food is an indispensable source of inspiration for me (and which I wrote about here), liked my photos and asked me to take some of the toy incarnation of his character Mr. Toast. How could I refuse? Here's the result. This a corner of my kitchen - Mr. Toast seems to be running through on his way to something important. Mr. Toast's comic strip adventures can be found here. This is a current fave.

But don't stop there, Dan Goodsell's website is a treasure trove for sure. There's his collection of kid's food packaging, vintage photos of Disneyland, an exhaustive catalog of themed kids' parks (you've got to check these out) and other pop culture nuttery; his blog; and his art, including the aforementioned comics.

Thanks Dan! That was fun.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

loloko

lolokoI've been meaning to post about Laura's loloko store for a while... here's a pic of one of the (many) Decole items I purchased. Such reasonable prices, such cute and odd stuff, you can't lose. My favorite item doesn't seem to be available anymore - it's one of the magnet card stands, with an astronaut and an alien back-to-back. I got one for Jeff, too!

This is a wee glimpse of my desk at work, hence the fluorescent glow. Thrilling! I took two of these little dudes in to keep me company. One was in the paper clip shower thing but I put both of them on the chair (they have magnets on their bums) and now they stare at me all day from their little perch.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

pinkee

pink toy
My sister Kate's birthday was on Wednesday, and I promised her a toy, and here it is. She named it Lucia, which is a nice name. Inspired by the taffy shop I posted a few weeks back, I made her in pink and white (the pink is Berkshire by Valley Yarns, which is 85% wool and 15% alpaca, in Rose; the white is Lamb's Pride Worsted in White Frost). I'm kind of enamored with the idea of combining knitting with crochet, so I crocheted a little flower and stuck it on her head - the pattern for the flower is modified from one in the formidable Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, one of my most consulted books on the needle arts.

The toy itself is from my free bunny pattern - I just changed the colors, left off the ears, added the flower, and didn't do increases on the arms and legs (to make them more tube-like, less teardrop-shaped). I also embroidered on the eyes, which is becoming my preferred eye-depiction method. Plastic eyes are fine but I'm trying to get more expressiveness - I wanted this toy to radiate serenity. And pinkness.

More pics of the toy on flickr, just click on the photo to get to my photostream.

By the way, Berkshire is a great yarn for toy-making - it's very similar to LPW in its construction and its fuzziness, it even comes in a equally vibrant range of colors, but the alpaca content makes it slightly softer. Plus it's crazy cheap. And there's a sky blue (color 24)!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

drawing

Thanks for all the nice comments about the new kittle. He's pretty neat.

I got Jeff a wacom tablet for Christmas, and he's been doing some great stuff with it. I'd never tried one before, but with Jeff's encouragement (and inspired by Tania's lovely recent work) I sat down and gave it a go. I think I still prefer ye olde pencil and paper, but I can see some definite advantages to the wacom - it's easy to play with colors, mistakes are easily remedied, and you can sketch and sketch to your heart's content without wasting paper. If only it didn't feel like I was drawing with a 40-foot pencil... sigh. I suppose that goes away in time.

So I've been working on some toy designs on the wacom, and here's one of 'em. I wanted to try bringing the opacity down on the color to get a watercolor effect. Nice!

I'm home sick (getting over food poisoning) so I think I'll go back to bed now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

chuy

chuy chair
Here's our new kitten, Chuy. He's four months old and such a nice little guy. He's smart, friendly, affectionate, and only kept us up the first night he spent with us. OH what a little sweetie-pie such a little baby [incoherent babbling].

He came with the name Chewy, which we liked, but since I prefer human names for animal companions, we changed the spelling to Chuy (it's a nickname for the name Jesús). Here's another Chuy!

Check out that pink nose!

In other news, I'm working on some new toys, check in soon for pics.