WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Zooming, Bombing, and Sculpting

WARNING: This post contains a ridiculous number of pictures.

Part 1: Zooming

The photo prompt today was “extreme close up,” which is what I frequently seem to do anyway. This time I decided to see just how close I could get.

Staging and lighting: While I was out and about I decided to zoom in on an art installation. It was about 3 pm and partly cloudy. I took the photo about an inch away from the surface of the piece.


Just for fun, I Instagrammed the full photo of the art piece too. I like it better than the reference photo.


Anyway, back to the actual challenge photo…

Instagram edits: Lux, Mayfair filter and border

Computer edits: cropped, enhanced, increased definition and sharpness to the max

edited with iPhoto

edited with iPhoto

It’s hard to go wrong with something this abstract, but for the Instagram version I went with the filter that gave the biggest range of colors without darkening the photo. For the computer edit I wanted to bring out all the cool bubble shapes in the glass, so that’s why I pumped up the definition and sharpness. They both turned out awesome!

Part 2: Bombing

You may have noticed that for once my challenge photo is not in my house or my backyard. The reason I was lured out of my cave in the first place was because I needed to do a fitting for my yarnbombing. I have a whole section seamed together at this point, and many more pieces pinned together, but I needed to actually put those pieces up on the light pole to see how they all might fit together and how much more I need to do.


The main section I have seamed together fits on the lower part of the base quite nicely. I just need to smooth out the edges.


I purposefully did not seam together enough pieces to fit all the way around the pole yet. I needed to figure out where I would stitch up the piece when installation day comes. I think I will stitch it up along the corner to the right of the tentacle.


So now I just need to add about 7 inches worth of pieces to the other end of this section so it can reach the tentacle corner.


This strip of swatches should help pull the bottom section in tight around the middle of the base and prevent it from slipping down.


I had another strip of swatches that I wanted to use for the top of the piece to hold the whole thing up, but it didn’t quite fit around the rounded section I had initially intended it for.


It fits perfectly above the rounded section though, and it should help hold the piece up even better with that lip in the way!

Part 3: Sculpting

I made a LOT of progress on Ducky this week! I worked on filling in the holes around the left cheek.


Then I smoothed out the shape of the cheek.


I filled out the head shape some more and started building the brow ridges.


Then I attached the brow ridges and filled in the eyeballs. And with that, the sculpting of Ducky’s head was FINISHED!!!


I started coloring the nose and the brow ridges.


Ducky is really starting to look like Ducky!

Multiple WIPs Are Cracked and a Confession

Let’s start with the confession just so we can get it out of the way and hopefully you’ll have forgotten about it by the end of this post. Today’s photo prompt was “guilty pleasure.” I could have thought of some BS guilty pleasure to show everyone, but I was just too lazy for lies. I actually photographed something that makes me feel a little bit dirty every time I do it.  So, since that’s what I used for my Instagram photo I guess I have to fess up here on the blog too.

I’m a rubbernecker. There are all kinds of rubberneckers, the most well-known being those who gawk at car-accidents, but I’m a very specific breed of rubbernecker. I LOVE reading drama on the Ravelry forums. People behave badly on the internet all the time, and Ravelry is no exception, so when a throwdown starts in a thread I want to read every juicy second of it. It’s like watching a slap-fight on Jerry Springer. I’m not alone in this. There’s a whole group dedicated to locating drama and poking fun at the sheer spectacle of it, so I took a photo of the group page on my computer screen for the Instagram challenge. I’m not going to link them here for your own good. If you really want to find them you can look them up on Ravelry yourself and then figure out a way to live with your shame.

Staging: This is probably the weirdest photo I’ve ever taken…I just pointed the camera at my computer screen. I did expand the screen so all my bookmarks aren’t visible and zoomed in to the group header so it was easier to see what was going on, but that’s it for staging. Just point and shoot.

Instagram edits: cropped, tilt-shift horizontally, Sierra filter and border

Computer edits: cropped and enhanced

kind of edited with iPhoto

kind of edited with iPhoto

I only did the computer edit for the sake of continuity. There was really nothing to edit. I have no idea what to do with a picture of a computer screen. That being said, I like the Instagram better. The filter and the tilt-shift added some interest to it.

On to the WIPs!

I did some more work on the yarnbombing this week. I have quite a few fragments made at this point and yesterday I started piecing some of them together. Here are just four pieces pinned together and two more fragments waiting to find their neighbors. See how they’re kind of like a puzzle? That’s basically how freeform works.


Ducky is also inching closer and closer to completion! I finished coloring the upper jaw.



Then I attached the upper jaw to the head and started using some of the pre-felted pieces to form the cheeks.



Before I attached the cheeks I decided to work on the nose. I decided to just start slapping random colors on at this point to stretch the wool supply. As long as I use light colors or other shades of green it should all be pretty easy to cover. I put the basic shape of the nose together and then needed to add a bit more around the edge. Once I attached the middle of a long piece of felt to the front of the nose it looked like Ducky had a moustache, so I decided that was the perfect time to pause for a picture.



Then I attached the cheek shapes and started filling in some of the gaps with green.


Ducky almost has a face!

WIP-Cracking Wednesday AND Photocalypse!

First the WIP-Cracking

My week was mostly spent working on the yarnbombing. There was some family health drama and I was in need of portable crafting, so no needle felting progress this time.

I’m running with the Welcome to Night Vale theme and have been working in as many references as possible. So far I’ve made the Eye, red dots, a tentacle, a bunch of amorphous shapes and I’ve started sewing suckers onto the tentacle. I made a glow cloud at some point, but then I decided it was neither glowy nor cloudy enough and ripped it out. I may make another attempt at it. We’ll see.




Today’s prompt was “shoes” and seeing as I don’t really own any super-cute shoes like everyone else seems to be Instagramming I decided to go a more realistic route. I didn’t want to photograph boring empty shoes though, and it’s kind of hard to take pictures of your own feet so I asked my sister to be my stand-in. She pretty much only wears sandals though, which is fine since I have a very similar pair, but having bare feet in the photo just seemed…boring? odd? I dunno, so I told her to put on some socks. I’m a knitter though, so of course they had to be hand-knit socks. So basically I threw “realism” out the window during the course of staging this photograph because these are not my shoes, or my feet, and I don’t actually wear socks with sandals despite my geographical affiliation. I’m a bad North-westerner I guess.

Staging and lighting: There were two main light sources for this one – the dining room lights to the right and the standing lamp to the left and in front. I had my sister stand on a chair both to bring her closer to the light sources and to avoid doing detailed photography of the cat hair carpet.

light source on the right

light source on the right

light source on the left

light source on the left

location of lamp in relation to chair

location of lamp in relation to chair

For the Instagram I cropped the photo and used the Hudson filter with a border. The unedited photo was very yellow and the Hudson filter added the most blue to counteract that.

On the computer I cropped the image, enhanced it, and increased the blue.

edited with iPhoto

edited with iPhoto

It’s still nowhere near true-to-color. Conclusion: the living room lights are way too yellow to be a useful light source. If I want to do living room photography without the benefit of natural light I’ll have to switch out all the bulbs.


WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Ducky Progress Report

You know, when I posted this morning I forgot that the sun rising means that it’s tomorrow. Or today. Whatever, the point is, it hadn’t hit me yet that today is in fact WEDNESDAY and not still Tuesday. Let’s have a Ducky progress report!

When we left off, I was coloring Ducky’s spine. I stopped bothering to update you on it because it took approximately eleventy-billion years to finish it. It would have been easier to cover the little spine bumps if I had made them in the dark green instead of black, but at the time I was worried about running out of dark green wool. In retrospect I would have had plenty of wool to work with. Covering all those bumps with green while maintaining their shape is HARD. Even as I continued outlining the rest of the dark green area and filling it in I kept coming back to the spine bumps and finding areas that still had black peeking through.

IMG_4276 IMG_4348 IMG_4351 IMG_4368 IMG_4372

Finally after I finished coloring the body things started to get interesting! I began building Ducky’s lower jaw. Partway through this process I realized I had sort of unconsciously been building it anatomically. I started with the bone structure of the jaw.


Then I started connecting it together with tendons and muscle.


Next I made the tongue and started on the skin.


Until finally I had a complete lower jaw!


At this point I had to pause and consider how I should proceed. I had two options that I could see; build the rest of the head on the lower jaw and attach it to the neck when I’m done, or attach the lower jaw to the neck now and build the rest of the head from there. If I built the head first and attached it to the body later I would have more freedom to manipulate the head as I add in more detail, but I might have trouble making a solid bond with the neck and I would run the risk of screwing up the proportions. If I attach the lower jaw to the body now and build the rest of head while attached to the body the head was sure to be attached to the neck in the most stable way possible and it would be easier to maintain the correct proportions, but it may be harder to get the level of detail needed if I have to fight with the whole body rather than just a small head.

I decided the risk of having a disproportioned head that wouldn’t stay up was too much to bear, so I attached the lower jaw to the neck and started building up the back of the head.


For the base of the head I had used a core of white wool because it’s so much easier to layer color onto than the black wool. I started running low on the white wool though, so for the crown of the head I decided to use some of the leftover dark green wool as the core. I also started filling a few of the gaps with some previously felted bits of white wool.


For the upper jaw I went back to using the black wool as the base because for this section I knew I would have to layer on the final colors pretty thick anyway.


So there you have it! I’ve set the other felting projects aside for now because Ducky is coming together pretty quickly now that the body is finished!

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Quick Ducky Update

I’m gonna make this quick, ’cause I’m sick and my brain doesn’t like forming sentences when I’m ill. I’ve been coloring Ducky’s body, and it’s going well. So well that I’ve been focusing mainly on Ducky since the last time I checked in. Prepare for pic spam.

IMG_4241 IMG_4254 IMG_4261 IMG_4267 IMG_4270

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Against All Odds

This has been one of those weeks. It seems like the universe has just been conspiring against me and throwing all kinds of drama my way in an attempt to disrupt my workflow – family drama, tech drama, hell, even the electricity has been giving me attitude. Despite all of that, somehow progress has been made.

The monster has a face!


Now I just need to add his horns and a tail! I may even consider giving him arms.

I worked on Ducky’s back ridges some more.


Once I finished with that I breathed a sigh of relief because Ducky’s body is finally the shape I want it to be! Now I’m working on coloring. I concentrated on the tail first, so this is what it looked like after adding the light green on one side.


Then I added the light green to the other side of the tail and started filling in the hip area.


Not nearly as productive as I wanted to be this week, but there’s only so much I can do in the face of total chaos. At least the lights are on again.

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Un-Felting

Last time I updated you on Ducky I was starting to cover a small styrofoam ball for the upper body.

Ducky - upper body started on styrofoam ball

So, I set to work attaching that ball to the lower body. After about an hour and a half of work it looked like this (pardon the mess, I was crafting away from home).

Ducky - upper body fail

Ducky – upper body fail

The upper body shape itself looked great…but something was off about it. Here’s my reference photo again. See if you can spot the problem.

image from TV Tropes

image from TV Tropes

Do you see it? The legs look too small for the body. Or conversely, the body is too big for the legs. It looked fairly proportional before I added the upper body, so I decided the addition of the ball as the upper body was the problem.

How do I fix it though? You can’t actually un-felt something. Felting is kind of a permanent process. It locks the wool fibers together in a death grip and takes a lot of force to pry them apart. I had two options: I could try to cut the top off with scissors and be left with clean-edged areas of wool that are REALLY hard to felt into (believe me, I’ve tried it – it looks like crap), or I could try to pull off all the black wool that I used to secure the ball in place and risk distorting the top half of the lower body in the process.

I decided to try the ripping-it-apart-with-my-bare-hands route. It took some serious pulling, but I did finally get the upper body off with minimal damage to the lower body. I learned something it the process though – that styrofoam ball that I used to build the upper body didn’t hold up well to all that stabbing. The ball pretty much disintegrated inside the wool! I couldn’t really tell until I had to manhandle it though, so I guess it could still work as a core to build on as long as I don’t squeeze it too hard. I wonder if the larger egg-shaped ball that I used for the lower body is suffering the same fate? I’m not going to squeeze it to find out…

After having to rip off all my work it took a loooong time before I figured out what I should do next. I would just pull Ducky’s lower body out and stare at it every now and then, hoping an idea would come to me. Finally one did – why don’t I just try shaping the top half of the lower body so it looked like the upper body and then stick a neck on top of that?


That looks better! I was even able to re-use some of the pre-felted clumps that I had pulled off the failed upper body to shape the neck. You can see some black fuzz along the top of the body leftover from the tear-down, but that will all be covered when I color it in. You can also see where I started adding in some of the back ridges on the base of the tail. I continued that across the rest of the tail.


Now that I’m more comfortable with the overall body shape, I think I have a plan for how the rest of this project will go:

  1. Finish shaping the back ridges.
  2. Apply the final colors to the body.
  3. Shape the lower jaw and attach it to the neck.
  4. Color the inside of the mouth on the lower jaw.
  5. Shape the rest of the head, coloring the top part of the inside of the mouth, and attach to the lower jaw.
  6. Finish shaping the head and add in detail work
  7. Attach the arms.

That’s still a lot more work ahead, but it’s smaller pieces so hopefully it will go quicker? Or I’m having delusions of efficiency again… I’m still a bit nervous about how it will turn out because at this point it will NOT stand up. Not even a little bit. I’ll figure out how to deal with that once it’s done.

In between my staring contests with Ducky, I started on another project. Someone requested a monster. My sister creates illustrated characters all the time, so I asked her to design a monster for me. This is what she sent me:


Cute, huh? I decided to experiment with a fluffier style of needle felting for this one. I’m not going to make the monster super dense – he’s going to stay a bit squishy and fuzzy looking.

First I shaped the body and started on one of the legs.


Ula kindly lent me a paw for scale.


Then I finished up the legs.


It’s a bit small as you can see from the cat-assisted photo (though to be fair, Ula is a Ragdoll, which is a large breed of cats – think Maine Coon size), so I might want to make a buddy for this little guy. We’ll see how it goes.

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: MacGyver Edition

This post contains spoilers for the leethal Adventure Knit-a-long, so if you’re still having fun with your own choose-your-own adventure mystery you may want to look away. (And if you haven’t gotten the pattern yet, now’s your chance to get it before the price raises next week when she’ll be updating the format and adding charts! You’ll get the updated files even if you pay now.)



So I finished knitting this hat and was ready to block it. It’s supposed to be a slouchy hat, so it’s longer than your average hat. That is, longer than my actual head. The pattern used a bit of stranded knitting too, so it would NEED blocking – stranded knitting tends to pull in the fabric a lot and needs to be blocked so you can see all the stitches you painstakingly knitted. Once I started soaking the hat I realized two things:

1) I haven’t actually knit very many hats before, and the ones I have made didn’t really need much blocking. I just gave them a quick soak and laid them flat or draped them over something.

2) The few hats I have made weren’t nearly this slouchy, so this truly is new blocking territory for me.

The instructions said to smooth the hat around something slightly smaller than your head like a balloon or a foam head. So something vaguely head-shaped. Okay.

I went on a hunt for head-shaped things in the house. I didn’t have any balloons, so that was out. I did have a few head models, but only one of them is even remotely close to my head size. Unfortunately, the hat is way too long to block on the head! The bottom of it just dangled around the neck. Armed with a tape measure, I looked for other options.


I discovered a trash can in my room that I’ve been using to hold the parts for my light box is exactly the same circumference as my head at the bottom! It starts to flare out at the middle though, so I couldn’t block the hat just on the trash can or the edge would turn out way too loose. I looked for something that could add some height to the trash can. There was a foam ball that was way too small, but it added enough height to make the hat fit on the trash can.

When I put the hat on the foam ball/trash can contraption it still seemed too floppy at the top and I was worried there wouldn’t be enough stretching to even out the stranded knitting. I kept looking. Finally, I came across a decorative pot of my mother’s. It was the right shape, the right size, and by turning it upside down the opening at the top sat really well on the convex bottom of the trash can. The wavy top of the trash can made the whole thing unstable though, so I covered the head model in a towel and put that inside the trash can to stabilize it.


There! That works, right?


Once again, my blocking style is make-it-up-as-I-go-along. Whatever works I guess. Now I just need to pick out a button…

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: I’m Back!

Hopefully anyway…

I didn’t post last week. Blame Comcast. Somehow they made the internet stop working with their “service upgrade.” Last week was mostly spent trying to get my internet back. That attempt was marginally successful. It’s back, but it seems to be unstable. I basically am just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that all this typing I’m doing doesn’t magically disappear the second I hit “save” because that is the exact moment my wireless connection decides it has better things to do.

Let’s check in with the felting! I’ve fallen a bit behind on the photo editing queue, so what I’m about to show you isn’t 100% up to date, but I’ll catch up.

After bending the knees, I attached the legs to the Kodama.


Then I gave it a butt!


After that, I gave the head a face and attached the arms. I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of that step though…sorry. Then all I had to do was make a short neck and attach the head at a quizzical angle and it was done! Finished photos will have to come later though, they’re still being edited.

All together, the Kodama only took about 7 hours to make!


WIP-Cracking Wednesdays: Debunked!

I finally decided on the color order for my Fairy Pools shawl! I ended up going with purple, then blue, then white, like in this swatch:

yarn is indigodragonfly MCN Lace in "Don't You Have an Elsewhere to Be? - Cordelia (purple), Yo, Chillin' (blue), and Ooo...Shiny! (white)

yarn is indigodragonfly MCN Lace in “Don’t You Have an Elsewhere to Be? – Cordelia (purple), Yo, Chillin’ (blue), and Ooo…Shiny! (white)

I cast on and have gotten through the first section and started on the stripes.


While it is pretty, that’s not a very exciting update is it? Let’s see if I can add some intrigue to this post…

Remember the picture that inspired my yarn color choices? The photograph that I could not, for the life of me, find a source for claiming to be a photograph of the Fairy Pools of Scotland.

I would love to attribute this to a source, but it was posted on a forum in Ravelry without a link and it's all over the internet, so...no idea where this originally came from. Most important to know: NOT MINE.

I would love to attribute this to a source, but it was posted on a forum in Ravelry without a link and it’s all over the internet, so…no idea where this originally came from. Most important to know: NOT MINE.

I had always assumed it was photoshopped or enhanced in some way, because honestly, just LOOK at it. Those purples are way too bright and consistent to be totally natural. I did think that maybe those plants really were purple though, just not quite that bright. I know there are some rather large purple flowering plants around, like Wisteria, and perhaps some of those plants might grow to tree-like proportions. I don’t know, I’m not a botanist. I never really questioned the location though. It certainly looks like a place one would call “Fairy Pools,” so why not?

Apparently everything about this photo is fake, from the colors to the location. Someone on Ravelry (my source for all of my news) pointed out that this photo is actually of the Shotover River in New Zealand and is indeed heavily photoshopped. Out of curiosity I Googled the Shotover River to see what it actually looks like and came across this site which gives a side-by-side comparison of the Shotover River and the photoshopped image. Very interesting.

So, I learned three things from this little investigation:

  1. The actual Shotover River is very pretty and is reason #3,816 why I want to visit New Zealand (or maybe live there). You should Google image search it to see for yourself.
  2. The actual Fairy Pools of Scotland are also very pretty without any photoshopping required. You should also Google image search that and see how awesome they are for yourself.
  3. Photoshop can make very pretty pictures! I mean seriously, LOOK at it! Who cares if it isn’t real, it’s PRETTY and the colors work great together – hence the shawl.

I’m still calling it the Fairy Pools shawl though, just because I can.