Selasa, 18 Desember 2012

Conformation Joke from 1891

Conformation joke from 1891: "Whatever became of that greyhound you had?" "Killed himself." "Really?" "Yes, tried to catch a fly on the small of his back and miscalculated." "Bit himself in two." -- Brooklyn Life "Not short enough in loin very likely."

Growing Notice of Whippets: Forest and Stream v. 36, 1891

Whippets have definitely made their inroads by 1891. In the article on The Chicago Dog Show, there was a reference to areas set up for the dog circus and whippet racing.

Referencing whippet type is seen in the article on The Binghamton Dog Show (Binghamton NY) in reference to body type in Fox-Terriers.

And at the Toronto Dog Show:

At the Toronto bench show, Sept 14 to 18, there will be several greyhound and whippet races which will add materially to the "fun of the fair." The stakes announced are: Grand greyhound sweepstakes, $5 entrance, divided into 50 per cent to first, and 40 per cent to second. To this the Association will add a silver medal valued at $20, to be known as the champion and running, medal open to all. Greyhound race, 300 yds, $15 to first, $7 to second and $3 to third. Whippet race, 200 yds, $15 to first, $7 to second and $3 to third. There will be no extra entrance charged in these races, but all the competing dogs must be entered in the regular classes in the dog show. This a very good move, and will no doubt afford an acceptable change from the usual monotony of the dog show.

More on racing:

The newly formed Whippet Racing Club, whose existence has been brought about through the exertions of the editor of Canine World, will hold its first meeting next month. A 200yds handicap will be run with $500 added money. This ought to draw the best dogs in the world and such prizes at meetings properly conducted will soon place whippet racing among general sports to be indulged in by high and low, as they may desire.

We learn from the Detroit Tribune, that Messrs Campbell & Blake's whippet Benbow, made a record for himself on the Detroit Athletic Grounds last Saturday. He ran the 200yds on a cinder path in 12 seconds under careful timing. This is the dog that ran so well at London last fall. Mr Blake also writes us that in the race last Saturday, the wind was against the dog.

Notes and Notions: Forest and Stream v. 36, 1891

A distinct gain to kennel Interests everywhere is the return of Mr Vero Shaw to kennel matters in his papers contributed to the London Stock-Keeper. We are too apt rush ahead on our own abstract notions, relying on our intuition (if on anything) for the safety and wisdom of courses, and that there is such a thing as experience, or it can guide us, is almost lost and forgotten, and the recital of the experiences of as old a hand in "fancy" as Mr Shaw, should open our eyes to a good many things. The last suggestion of his that has impressed itself upon me as of importance is that of the great value of the professional dog breeder to dogs at large. This is worth taking home and thinking over. It is all very well to prate about "gentlemen" and gentlemanly dealings, and abstractly there is something in it, but in practical application, the man who breeds and sells dogs as a business is apt to breed better ones than the gentleman who does it as a diversion, and not uncommonly the gentleman who goes into breeding as au amusement finally gets to be as commercial as anybody. I am not aspersing the character of our gentleman breeders, their personal characters need no defense, but certainly they cannot and will not breed with the practical skill of the professional, and it should not be lost sight of, that many of the revivers, almost creators of breeds, bred professionally for the money to be made out of it. The Yorkshire terrier owes his development and his wonderful variation from his original stock almost wholly to English workingmen, whose wives and daughters expended the time on their coats that has made them such marvels. The whippet is as well defined a breed, and as far as my observation goes, breeds as true as any breed, and they owe their existence to the same class of English workingmen. In fact, but a few years since, whippet racing was looked upon as a shady diversion, both here and in England, and entirely on account of the men fostering it.

The world moves nowadays, and men who are fond of excitement have begun to interest themselves in this little racer, and surely we have a precedent for the better class sportsmen to take this sport up, when we remember fox terrier coursing, which has been aptly named a "bastard" sport, finds its most strenuous supporters on the other side among the same class of men who foster whippet racing. Fox-terrier coursing on Long Island has received stamp of fashion, then why should not the harmless amusement of whippet racing afford the same excitement to our leisure class that horse racing does, with this advantage, that the most squeamish person can find nothing in it to oppose on the score of cruelty.

Forest and Stream v. 36
By Charles Hallock, William A. Bruette
Feb. 1891 - July 1891

Whippet: The Encyclopaedia of Sport, Volume 1 1897


This is a dog originally produced by crossing with a terrier and greyhound sometimes with the Italian greyhound It is now a distinct variety which breeds true to type and in fact is a pocket edition of the ordinary greyhound He may weigh anything between 10 lbs and 25 lbs not larger than the latter weight and any colour is allowable The Whippet is much in request by the lower middle classes for running purposes either to course rabbits or to take part in short distance races the usual course being 200 yards The competitors are handicapped according to their height or weight A dog 20 lbs weight has been known to cover the full distance of 200 yards in 12 seconds The sport is very popular in Lancashire Yorkshire and in the north of England but the attempts to bring it into prominence in the southern counties have not been altogether successful The competitors run on a cinder path and are started by a pistol On the mark they are held by a friend of the trainer the latter runs in front of the dog up the course dangling a pigeon's wing a towel or anything attractive to encourage the dog and the judge at the goal decides each race promptly and expeditiously In coursing matches rabbits are used twenty one or thirty one trials being run the kill only scoring In the large handicaps of this kind each dog runs from three to five rabbits with his opponent and it will be seen that stamina as well as pace is required in a Whippet to be a champion at rabbit coursing In some districts the Whippet is known as the Snap Dog.

The Encyclopaedia of Sport, Volume 1

edited by Henry Charles Howard Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire, Hedley Peek, Frederick George Aflalo

Senin, 17 Desember 2012

Luke Skywalker times three

Luke Skywalker must take after his mother with the number of costume changes he has in his three films! While his pal Han rocks the classic trousers, shirt and waistcoat through most of the films, Luke is always wearing something different. I've always thought it would be nice to improve my Luke amigurumi pattern by adding a variety of outfits and now I've done it. As well as giving a bit more detail to his Tatooine 'farm boy' look from the original Star Wars film I've come up with versions of Luke in his X-Wing pilot uniform, including the helmet, and in his black Jedi clothes from Return of the Jedi, along with a tiny lightsaber.

This new version of the pattern is now available in my Etsy shop, and I'm happy to send it for free to anyone who bought the original Luke Skywalker pattern in the past. Just contact me on Etsy with all the details of that order (order number, full name and date of order).

Sabtu, 08 Desember 2012

My Pet Caterpillar or Worm

It's that time of year again when I've been busy making lots of tiny things for the Christmas Bazaar at my son's school. These little caterpillars (which can be fuzzy or not as you choose) or worms, are very quick to make, they don't even need stuffing. I think it's cute to put them in little matchboxes, so they look like something that a kid would pick up in the garden.

My Pet Caterpillar or Worm
Use whatever colour yarn you want your worm or caterpillar to be. If you want your caterpillar to be fuzzy, you’ll need a little bit of eyelash yarn. You’ll also need some black yarn to make the face. 4mm hook.
ch = chain
st = stitch or stitches
sc = single crochet (US), double crochet (UK)
dc = double crochet (US), treble crochet (UK)

Special stitch instructions:

3 dc bobble: YOH (yarn over hook), insert hook into second ch from hook, YOH and pull through loop, YOH, pull through 2 loops, *YOH, insert hook into same stitch, YOH and pull through loop, YOH, pull through 2 loops, repeat once from*, YOH, pull through all 4 loops on hook.
2 dc bobble: YOH (yarn over hook), insert hook into next stitch, YOH and pull through loop, YOH, pull through 2 loops, YOH, insert hook into same stitch, YOH and pull through loop, YOH, pull through 2 loops, YOH, pull through all 3 loops on hook.

Ch 13, turn.
Miss 1st 2 ch and do 3 dc bobble into 3rd ch, (sc in next ch, 2 dc bobble in next ch) 4 times, sc in next 2 ch, ch 1, turn.
Sc in next 11 st, ch 2, turn.
3 dc bobble in next st, (sc in next ch, 2 dc bobble in next ch) 4 times, sc in next 2 ch, (change to eyelash yarn here if you’re using it) ch 1, turn.

Join the edges with slipstitch, putting the hook through back loop of current row and the other side of the original chain. Make sure you put the original tail of yarn in the inside as you join, you’ll need it to make an antenna. (Keep the start of the fuzzy yarn inside too, it’ll save tidying it up later). Finish off, leaving enough yarn to make the other antenna. This is the head. If it’s a caterpillar, the joined side is the top (I think the bobbles look like stumpy legs at the bottom), the other way up for a worm, so take that into account when you sew on the features. There is an open part at the front of the head, so tie a knot in the black yarn and sew it through from the inside to make an eye. Leave the black yarn hanging and use one of the ends to sew up the front of the head, then make an antenna by sewing once in the same place, tying a knot where you want the end of the antenna to be, and cutting off any excess. Do the same with the other end for the other antenna. Finish off sewing the features, another eye & a mouth (the creature is so small it doesn’t have to be very detailed), take the black yarn through the body & cut off.  You can also glue on small googly eyes instead of sewing features.

Rabu, 05 Desember 2012

iPad 2 Vs Galaxy Tab 10

For the past couple of weeks, I've been testing out Apple's new iPad 2 against its most immediate competition, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1v. I should point out before I start this that I've been using an iPad (version 1) since Australian launch last year, whereas the Galaxy Tab 10.1v is much more of a newcomer. Android tablets have been available since last year, but the 10.1v is the first model in Australia to use Google's tablet-specific version of Android, informally known as "Honeycomb". Make of that potential bias what you will.
iPad 2 16GB: $579/$729
Galaxy Tab 10.1v: $729
The two pricing variants on the iPad2 are there as Apple offers it in both a with and without 3G option; if you see the cheaper iPad2, it's the one that doesn't offer mobile broadband, just WiFi. It's pretty obvious that this is a clearly tied pricing race for comparable tablets, though. There are catches to both approaches that may not be immediately evident. It's possible to spend quite a bit more on an iPad2 -- up to $949 -- but that comes with increased storage capability, up to 64GB, where the 10.1v is a stock, set, unchangeable 16GB. On the flip side, the 10.1v, which is exclusive to Vodafone, is offered by the carrier under contract from as little as $39 a month with data included. From a budgetary perspective, that's pretty compelling.
Look & Feel:
Apple's whole marketing schtick behind the iPad2 is that it's slimmer than the original iPad, and this is indeed true; at 8.8mm thick it's slender and tapered beautifully. The Galaxy Tab 10.1v is by comparison a chunky beast, but this hides something of a hidden advantage. The back of the tablet is textured and gently contoured inwards, making it easy to grip even without a case. By comparison, the iPad2's back is relatively slippery unless you pop it in a case -- at which point the thickness advantage goes away.
Base specifications:
iPad2: Screen: 9.7" 1024x768 Processor: Apple A5 Dual Core 1Ghz Memory: 16GB-64GB
Galaxy Tab 10.1v: Screen: 10.1" 1024x768 Processor: Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core 1GHz Memory: 16GB
Again it's pretty neck and neck; the larger screen of the 10.1v and improved resolution are nice, but the fact that it's a fixed memory size is an oddity in the Android world and sticks out like a sore thumb.
This is a considerably more subjective thing, and a lot harder to call. There's no doubt that Honeycomb is a much better version of Android than the previous tablets offered, as the native applications make better use of the screen space, the onscreen navigation is very snappy, the mail client works well and the browser is just that little bit quicker than the iPad2. Using the online Browsermark benchmark, I recorded a score of 88717 for the Galaxy Tab 10.1v compared to 70310 for the iPad2. If your application needs are modest, the Galaxy Tab 10.1v delivers nicely. The problem for Android is that there's still a dearth of genuine "Honeycomb" applications for Android, and running older Android applications is a very hit and miss affair. Some scale up to the full screen neatly, while others occupy only a tiny area of the screen, or shrink everything down so small as to be useless. Comparatively, the iPad2 not only has a rich array of native applications on offer, but also scales up the vast majority of iPhone applications with only a little bit of pixel chunkiness as a drawback. Honeycomb should improve over time in this regard, but right now it's not quite there.
The 10.1v is a solid iPad2 competitor, but it's not quite there yet, and it's something that Samsung's all too well aware of. The company has already announced that newer models of the Galaxy Tab 10 will be forthcoming in slimmer frames and possibly with more storage. It's good to see competition to Apple in this space, but for right now, I'd still say that the richer application infrastructure supporting the iPad2 makes it a better buy. If you're staunchly anti-Apple for whatever reason, I reckon it'd still be worth saving your money for more Android tablets, and critically more native Honeycomb applications to hit the marketplace.
Alex Kidman - Geeks2U

Selasa, 04 Desember 2012

Types of Galaxy Tabs

Last year, Samsung introduced its first tablet, the Galaxy tab P1000. At CES 2011, the company made it clear that it has strong plans to introduce few more tablets to give Apple tough competition. During summer 2011, the South Korean giant rolled out Tab 8.9, 7.7, 7.0 Plus and 10.1 tablets. Here is the detail all Samsung tablets released so far.
1) Galaxy Tab P1000: The P1000 features a 7 inch display that packs WSVGA resolution. This means that its screen has 1024 x 600 pixels. Battery life of the P1000 is around 5-6 hours which is about 4 hours less than iPad. However, this Samsung tablet is much more portable than the Apple's offerings. It weighs in at 400 grams and is equipped with a 3 mega pixel camera at the back for taking pictures and recording videos. Samsung even gave it a front camera for video calls. Also, unlike iPad, it can make voice calls.
2) Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus: This is being touted as the successor to the P1000. It has same display size and resolution, but comes with a much faster processor. Its predecessor came with a 1GHz hummingbird processor that had only one core. The tab 7.0 plus has a dual core 1.2GHz processor that makes everything run very fast. Menus and Samsung's TouchWiz user interface are butter smooth. The company also worked hard to make the battery runtimes better than P1000. Now, you will be able to get somewhere around 9 hours with it.
3) Galaxy Tab 7.7: Compared to the 7.0 plus, the 7.7 Tab offers better screen resolution. The slightly bigger 7.7 inch display packs 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. Increased screen resolution means that the pixels are more tightly packed against each another which implies that you will be able to see more data at a time when compared to the 7.0 plus' display. Processor is also tiny bit more powerful. It comes with a dual core 1.4GHz CPU that is 200MHz faster than 7.0's processor. Battery life is 10 hours, thanks to the mammoth 5,100mAh battery.
4) Galaxy Tab 10.1: The 10.1 is the real contender to the Apple's iPad. It has a 10.1 inch screen that features 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, just like Tab 7.7. However, it has just 1GHz dual core processor, but battery life is more than 10 hours. This is chiefly due to its huge 7000mAh battery.
5) Galaxy Tab 8.9: If you want for a tablet with the specs of 7.7, but with a bigger display,

Senin, 03 Desember 2012

The Awesome Benefits of Recycling - Tiny Bird Houses

Do you know someone who collects Bird Houses? Perhaps you do and already have your living room full of them. Well, here's a new idea on how to get some tiny birdhouses for free, by making your own. They're great for the Christmas tree or to hang on your wall or set on a table all year. They're all made of recyclables and you won't have to send a dime to China. You can do it with some small boxes and just a few tools:
1-12 small boxes like W.M. pies come in or vitamins or anchovies or oysters come in
Newspapers or newsprint with no print on it, like the kind you find stuffed in those packages you get
Cardboard from cereal boxes or cracker boxes
Glue either thinned white glue or homemade (I'll tell you how)
Paints-Acrylics, wall paint to what have you, mostly white or a light color. Then smaller amounts of green, black, red and brown. Plus any other colors you might find for flowers and such
String or yarn
Masking tape
Regular flour
I said 1-12 boxes because you might want to make just one to start with or make a bunch of them and let them all dry at once. If you're timid about paper mache you might want to make just one since it can be messy. First, I'll tell you how to make the glue that you can use for any paper mache project you can dream of:
Step 1. Put 1/2 cup of water in an old bowl. Stir in 1/8 cup of flour. Place 2 1/2 cups of water in an old pan and bring to a boil. Gently boil the water while you gradually add the flour mixture. Stir for about 3-4 minutes at a gentle boil. Then let it cool before using.
Step 2. While your glue is cooling, tear your newspaper into 2 inch squares until you have a nice pile. You'll find that newspaper or newsprint has a grain and tears more easily one way than it does the other. Tear it long ways first and then tear the squares across the grain. This seems to be the easiest way. Now you have a nice stack of torn paper. Don't use scissors it doesn't stick as well.
Step 3. Tape or glue any torn parts on your boxes back together.
Step 4. Put layers of news paper or a sheet of plastic or wax paper on your table to protect it.
Step 5. Begin to dip and squeeze out each piece of paper by pulling it between your fingers to drain off some of the glue back into the pan. Apply each piece of paper to your box, overlapping and smoothing it out as you go. When you have it all covered, front and back, top and bottom. Set it aside to dry overnight or 1 1/2 days. It must be dry before you can do the next steps.
Step 6. Decide how you want to orient the boxes straight up or I like the point down on the pie boxes. It just looks more like a bird house. If you happen to have a spaghetti box you could make a three decker Bird House. Cut some strips from the other cardboard for the roof. Just a bit wider and longer than the top of the box, 'till it looks right. Use masking tape to attach it to the box. Cutting a piece to fill in the triangle at the top, if you have one. Glue this in place.
Step 7. Paint your Bird House in the white of light blue or what have you. Set aside to dry, probably overnight again.
Step 8. Paint a black or brown "hole" in the front and paint the roof. Now, decorate your Bird Houses how ever you want, using an ivy stencil, painted flowers, cherries or birds set aside to dry.
Step 9. Put string through two small holes you've punched in the top area of the box to hang it by or put a tack in the top tab to attach it to the wall.
You now have some nice Bird Houses to give a friend or to put on your own wall and enjoy. Next time you need a gift or some thing to brighten up a corner of your own house just look around your house and see what you can find. Then, write about it!!

Rabu, 14 November 2012

The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker

My Chapbook, The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker, is available to pre-order! You can do that at The Ledge Press. If you order by November 30, you save 10% off the cover price and receive free shipping.

Thanks to Elly MacKay for the cover art, "On that small hilltop in the mountains, their lives were intertwined."

Sabtu, 27 Oktober 2012

Wee Mousies in Inside Crochet!

The latest copy of Inside Crochet has just come out (issue 35) and my pattern to make a pair of cute little mice is in it!

These Wee Mousies are only 9cm tall so they're perfect to make for little presents or stocking fillers. They'll fit perfectly in a pocket and it would be sweet to make them a little bed out of a box, and crochet a tiny blanket for them. Their clothes are crocheted as part of their bodies, but you could easily make them little accessories - my prototype has no clothes but he does have a scarf.

If you like to crochet you should check out Inside Crochet, it's always full of gorgeous patterns; clothes that I'm dying to make but will probably never get the time - there's a Ruby Sweater this month that has an amazing texture - and smaller projects that I really want to try. The Milly, Molly, Mandy scarf on the front cover looks delicious and there are some beautful, understated scatter cushions that I fancy giving a go. There are also some great inspirational articles and a 'how to' section that's useful if you're new to crochet.

Jumat, 26 Oktober 2012

Admiral Ackbar amigurumi

Well, here's the latest of my mini Star Wars amigurumis, Admiral Ackbar. He's a Mon Calamari who leads the Rebel Alliance fleet in Return of the Jedi, and is famous for shouting, 'It's a trap!' when he realises they've been lured in by the Emperor. The Mon Calamari come from a watery planet and I just love their design, with their big, bulbous heads, fish-like eyes and finny hands.

As my Ackbar is pretty small, only 4" tall, I simplified him quite a bit to match with all the other mini Star Wars amis I've made. Even so, I'm pleased with some of the detail I managed to get into his clothes, and I think I might try working on some of my earlier designs to see if I can add a bit more detail to them. Luke, in particular, would benefit from some alternatives outfits, I think.

The pattern to make Admiral Ackbar is now available from my Etsy shop, and you can also buy  all 14 Star Wars patterns I've made to date, or pick and choose selections of two, three or six patterns.

Rabu, 03 Oktober 2012

Elly MacKay's Theater Clouds

When I learned I won The Ledge Press Poetry Chapbook Competition last spring, I started looking for cover art. My publisher invited me to participate in that process, and I was giddy. Authors are not always offered this opportunity, and I appreciated the chance to be included. I spent hours on Etsy. When my eyes itched and burned, I rested them. But after I rested them, I generally always discovered that my shoulders were hunched and scrunched. So I un-hunched and un-scrunched them. But soon I was back on Etsy, where I found Elly MacKay's Theater Clouds. Oh my, such magic and enchantment in her dioramas!

I remember the magic of reading Beatrix Potter's books -- maybe, particualry, The Tale of Two Bad Mice -- and I remember my belief in the world Potter created. Each time I read that book -- even years later, when I read it with my son, I felt as though I entered Lucinda and Jane's dollhouse with Hunca and Munca, and I watched, uncomfortably, as the two bad mice broke the ham and bent the tin spoons and pulled Jane's clothes from her chest of drawers. And so it is with Elly MacKay and her art, but with less discomfort and more delight. Pure delight. I enter it, fully.

I am so happy Elly's art will be featured on the cover of my chapbook, The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker. I've carried this good news around in my heart all summer and into these autumn days. Imagine my pleasure when, yesterday, I discovered that her work is featured in the October issue of O Magazine (The Oprah Magazine).  It's a beautiful full-page spread. Page 38 of the actual magazine.

Here, also, is a link to Elly MacKay's work featured on Flavorwire. Her prints are lovely, but it must be wonderful to stare into her full dioramas, built with layers of paper and filled with sailboats and foxes and little houses with smoke puffing from chimneys.

Kamis, 27 September 2012

Little Lion Pattern Swap

Welcome to the LucyRavenscar/Louie's Loops pattern swap - two patterns for the price of one, and they're both free!

Louie has come up with this cute little Lion pin pattern, which will look adorable on your coat or bag, or sew a hair clip onto it and stick it in your hair!

Crocheted Leroy The Lion Pin Pattern


Lion Brand Cotton/Lily Sugar’n Cream
/Lion Brand Cotton-Ease
(basically any 100% cotton works)
-Crochet Hook-Size G6 4.00mm
-Needle to sew in ends with

-SL.ST = Slip Stitch
-SC = Single Crochet
-HDC = Half Double Crochet
-Ch = Chain
-Rnd = Round

Rnd 1: Ch 2, sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook. Don’t turn (6)
Rnd 2: Sc 2 in each st. (12)
Rnd 3: Sc 1 in first, 2 in next, repeat 6 times. (18)
Change to Brown
Rnd 4: In back stitches only, hdc 2 in first st, in next, repeat 6 times. (27)
Cut, tie off and sew in the remaining yarn.

In beige, create a slip knot and pull it through the back connection between Rnd’s 3 and 4. Ch 7.
Rnd 5: Starting in the 2nd ch from hook, 1 in each ch. (6)
Cut, pull through and tie off, sewing in the remaining yarn.

Embroider on a face with black yarn before you sew on a pin (if you do sew on a pin)

You can buy Louie's cool patterns on Etsy or Ravelry. He also has loads more free patterns on his blog, where you'll soon find my pattern for Boris the Tiny Lion (named by my kids after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, because they think he's funny!) 

Rabu, 26 September 2012

Lionheart Project and Pattern Exchange

Well, it's been a while since the Olympics and Paralympics ended, but alongside the inspiring athletes there was some extra inspiration for crocheters. The Cultural Olympiad ran alongside the sporting one, and the Lionheart Project was an amazing example of extreme crocheting. The artist, Shauna Richardson, spent the last two years crocheting freeform 'skins' for three giant lions, which represent Richard the Lionheart's crest of three lions. They've been touring parts of England in an enormous glass case (they're currently at Twycross Zoo) and spent the summer in London at the Natural History Museum. A friend of mine went up to London before the Olympics started and saw them making their way to the Museum:

At the start of the summer, when all the excitement of the Olympics was just about to begin, I was contacted by Louie of Louie's Loops, a crocheter who makes cool and geeky patterns, like Batman gauntlets and an adorable fox hat and scarf combo. He thought it would be fun to do a free pattern swap, where we both come up with fun little patterns and post them on each other's blogs. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the giant lions that I'd been hearing about, so I set about making a tiny lion amigurumi.

I came up with Boris, the tiny lion, and he came with me and my kids to London, so we could see the giant versions. They are massive, very impressive in real life, and it's easy to see the amount of work in them. I love all the different shapes the artist made as she was creating them.

We (and Boris) also checked out some more famous lions in London, in Trafalgar Square.

At the same time Louis was working on his own lion project, a super-cute mini lion motif that you can turn into a brooch or hairclip, or sew onto whatever you like. Come back tomorrow and I'll post his pattern, and Louie will put up the pattern for Boris on his blog. See you then!

Selasa, 18 September 2012

Dalek Amigurumi Pattern - Free!

I'm a long time fan of Doctor Who - I started watching Jon Pertwee in the 1970s when I was very little, and I've loved it ever since, old series and new. The Daleks are a brilliant creation, scary and iconic, and I just had to crochet them. I made three a few years back, two for swaps and one for a present, but I never made any for myself. With the new season of Doctor Who just starting (and with the first episode featuring a selection of different types of Daleks) I knew I had to make them again.

I tweaked my original pattern a bit and came up with a design I'm really happy with. It's quite fiddly to make, but it has most of the essential details. I've made a classic grey and black Dalek from the 1970s and a bronze and gold one from the new series. However fearsome the real Daleks are, when they're reduced to 7 inches tall and made of yarn, they're suddenly much more cute and cuddly, and fun to play with. One of mine found a wig I'd made for something else and decided he'd look good in it. I can't decide if he looks like Boris Johnson or if it's one of Captain Kirk's!

The pattern is free - make as many Daleks as you like for yourself, friends or family, but please don't sell them. You can download the PDF from Craftster or Ravelry

Woolly Monkeys

I've been working on all sorts of things over the summer, but not getting many of them finished. Now the children are back at school I'm finally getting on top of everything again, so I'll probably do several posts in quick succession.

I started on these monkeys a few months ago, trying to refine a design I came up with back in 2009 (Fuzzy Monkey). I made that with a fuzzy yarn that isn't always easy to get hold of, so I wanted to make the design workable in both smooth and fuzzy, mohair style yarns. For the smooth ones I used a nice yarn that had a bit of texture and a mix of colours to give a bit of extra interest (James C Brett Marble), and I found a nice variegated mohair yarn for the fuzzy ones (King Cole Luxury Mohair).

I tried to keep the design nice and simple, without any detail in the faces. I experimented with embroidered features but it just didn't work. With no particular expression you can imagine they are looking however you want - sometimes they look cheeky, or confident, or friendly, or sometimes a little sad.

Woolly Monkeys are a real species of monkey, but my Woolly Monkeys are a lot more bright, and the stripy tails are just for fun. They are made out of wool (or acrylic that looks woolly!) though, so it seemed a good name.

The pattern is available to buy from my Etsy shop  or on Ravelry.

Senin, 30 Juli 2012

Emily Dickinson Visits Mackinac Island

Last weekend I visited Mackinac Island and found Emily Dickinson! It was lovely timing: near perfect, because I didn't know Emily was going to be there and I was giddy to discover her presence.

Here's the news: On July 28, from 7 a.m - 7 p.m., many people representing several organizations collaborated to present a 12-hour reading on Mackinac Island of Emily Dickinson's 1,789 poems. As I understand it, The Emily Dickinson Museum organized much of this.  I stopped by the Little Stone Church in the afternoon, where someone read aloud to me.  Then I walked down to Mission Church, where (later) a reproduction of Emily's white dress would be on display for a candlelight reading. I arrived there before the dress, before the people who brought the dress, and before anyone else was there.

Mission church was built in 1829 by a flock of Presbyterians. It was quiet and cool when I stepped inside, and I sat for several minutes soaking up silence and old Presbyterian austerity. I was a little sorry to have that silence interrupted when a few people arrived to set up for the evening, but I was glad to have a chance to see the dress and the candles, and to have that brief preview of what a candlelight reading in Mission Church might be like. I was sorry I could not stay for the real event.

Here's a little corner in the front of the church. I suppose it's what we call a narthex today, but "narthex" has too much high-church in it for this simple meeting house.

It was hard to walk out of that church, away from the dress and the candles and the promise of poetry, but almost as soon as I stepped outside I saw this:

Jumat, 20 Juli 2012

Rain: Live and Acoustic

Last night before I fell asleep -- and, even better, as I fell asleep -- I listened to rain. The windows were open, I had a roof over my head, and the world felt lovely and right. Rain is a sort of music, and the pleasure of it comes, in part, from long drought and unexpected arrival. It has occurred to me -- on other, different nights when sleep will not come -- that I could listen to a recording of rain. It's easier now than ever... as near as a free app on the iPhone. And yet. Something would be lost. What would happen to the sound of real rain if I supplemented dry, sleepless nights with moist recordings of autumn storms? What would happen to my experience of rain? I won't risk that, not for a hundred nights of good sleep induced by recorded drips and drops.

People used to wait for things all year: a Christmas orange! And then there's Wallace Stegner's beautiful, agonizing story, "Goin' To Town," about a boy waiting for a trip over the mountains on the Fourth of July (for a band and lemonade stands and a crowd and a parade and a ball game and fireworks), only to have his trip canceled because the family Ford won't start. That story sticks with me: it stains my bones, so purely, so viscerally does it share childhood anticipation and disappointment.

So much is available to us now so quickly. Want an orange? They're everywhere, every day. Want lemonade? It's everywhere. Want something different? Want to hear Beethoven? Spotify! (Which sounds like a spell taught at Hogwarts, doesn't it? Accio! Here is your music, like magic!) As a poet, I dwell in imaginary places, and my world is richer for that. But to wait for rain, real rain, is to know the pleasure of something real, something of this earth, something that sounds as a Christmas orange might once have tasted.

Rabu, 04 Juli 2012

Independence Day

Ours began as it usually does each year on this day, with coffee and music from "1776." This year, thanks to a transcription set in Imperial typeface and printed on the back page of The New York Times, I read the entire Declaration of Independence. It's quite fantastic, and easy to read when one is not trying to decipher 18th-century handwriting.

Have a happy day!

                    (Pictures from a trip to Charlevoix, taken last weekend.)