I feel like I’ve seriously had my work cut out keeping focused lately, what with so much going on around here. It’s the summer holidays so no-one is in their usual routine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fabulous having a houseful of my own kids, even one back from uni for a few weeks, but it’s hard to concentrate too! Having said that, I’ve made an heroic effort and actually managed to complete the write up of Katie the Caterpillar’s pattern. I love how she turned out with all those jazzy stripes. I hope you do too!
Now of course I’m biased but I do think that colourful Katie is already a true beauty, with those distinctive markings and big yellow eyes – I’m quite sure she’ll be the talk of the town when she finally decides to become a butterfly. For now though, she’s in no hurry to grow up, it’s just so much fun being a caterpillar. When she’s not playing in the garden with her friends you’ll probably find her chomping her way through a juicy apple with a side salad of crunchy leaves – she’s got a lot of plumping up to do before she’s ready for that cocoon!
It all began as I was sitting testing the final draft of my Papa penguin pattern. As is often the case it was the colours that inspired me. The black, orange and yellow I was using in his design got me thinking of a caterpillar – with the addition of a big splodge of green they would be perfect, and an image immediately popped into my head. So I did a quick sketch, just a simple doodle really, but that’s all I generally need to start me off. Taking a much needed break from scanning penguin pattern lines I picked up my hook and got going.
For me this is where the true designing comes in, keeping a keen eye on the proportions as I crochet, ripping back any sections that don’t look quite right and starting again where necessary. This part went pretty smoothly and I made sure I wrote down my hieroglyphical markings as I went along. This is my shorthand, as I hate to get bogged down in too much writing when the creative flow is at full force. Nine times out of ten I’m able to turn my scratchings into a neatly laid out pattern. Sometimes I do get stuck on deciphering things, especially if I leave it more than a day or two, but if I do end up scratching my head and thinking ‘what the …?’ I can usually work out what I did by counting rounds and stitches on the crochet work itself.
Top tip when working stripes – don’t be in a massive hurry like I was and end up with a horrid tangle like this. It takes ten times as long to sort out as it does to gently untwist each colour as you go along!
After a few hours the first pieces of the caterpillar are off the hook, stuffed with fiberfill and pinned together.
It sure does get hot sometimes in my south facing studio. The slatted blinds can only screen out so much of the sun while still leaving me enough to see what I’m doing, so when it gets to be too hot to handle I like to work outdoors.
It’s lovely to spread the blankets out in the dappled shade, hoping to catch a breeze or two.
I have a new gadget, which I love! A pretty little yarn cutter flower. I’m always losing my scissors when I’m working, although they are usually not far away, at the bottom of a basket, down the side of the sofa, or I’m even just sitting on them (potential big ‘ouch’ there!) Now my new yarn cutter can be worn around my neck so I can trim those yarn ends without the perpetual rummaging around.
It has a useful fine needle threader in the base too. It’s been a real boon, I just want to know where this gadget has been hiding all my life and why I never had one before!
Katie #1 gets to explore the garden while I work on Katie #2
But she pops back regularly to see what I’m doing. She likes to keep an eye on my progress!
It’s not long before she has a playmate to chat to as they chew through the grapevine.
The pattern’s eventually ready for it’s final formatting. Time to bundle everything up and head indoors as I need the computer for this bit.
Polishing up the how-to photos and creating a front cover are the next stages.
Looking good! Now a final run through to triple check… and then there were three!
Time to introduce them to the rest of my garden inspired creepy crawly patterns. Shelley the Snail, Spencer the Spider and the little frogs from an earlier Minimals pattern are thrilled to join in the fun.
All in all, the caterpillar has taken me about a month, dipping in when I’ve had the time and dipping out to finish other projects and commissions, but it’s great to have another job crossed off the list of things to finish up. I have a herd of alpacas vying for my attention next. I’m also still working on the alley cat, a shawl and stitching together some nearly finished amigurumi from the past two years of pattern designing.
If any of you lovely people out there have an idea for an animal I haven’t made yet, or a new spin on one I have already made, I’m all ears. Just leave a comment here or let me know on Facebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts, after all we can’t let the Work in Progress pile get too small!