Friday, April 22, 2011

Meet the Roly Poly King and the Arctic Fox! (Finished Object Friday, 4/22/2011)

It's not actually clear to me how I got a lot done this week, but somehow, I did!

First, I finally got around to releasing two of my patterns (both previously seen on past FO Friday's):
Rockin' Rocket Ship

Available from Etsy and Ravelry. (You can read more about him in my blog here.)

Manny Man-o-War, Portuguese Man of War Amigurumi, Manager of the Oceans

Available from Etsy and Ravelry. (Or you can read more about him here)

Then, there are this weeks FO!

Romney Handspun
Thought I'd start with the least interesting. :) I finished that spinning I've been working on for ages, wrapped around the hanger that I pretend is a knitty noddy, and boiled it last night. Now I just have to wait for it to dry.

I'm very happy with it. It turned out MUCH more even than my first two attempts (though that doesn't show much in the above, because of course the outer layer is what I spun FIRST before I got in to the rhythm of things). Now I can finally start playing with the lb. of fiber I bought online, and in two weeks it's Maryland Sheep and I can get something that's, ya know, dyed. :)

The Roly Poly King
Last week for WIP Wednesday, I posted a strange purple ami at a bizarre angle and said I couldn't explain in case any Nerd Wars folks were reading my blog. Well, we on Team Ranger had a plan: On Wednesday, we staged a pitched battle between Green Drazi and Purple Drazi. It was epic, and I feel certain that the Purple would have won, had not our Fearless Leader stepped in and shown us all the error of our ways. Of course, the main feature of this battle was the finished objects we had each created in our appropriate colors. All of these had to align with a challenge whose theme was the number pi. Hence, I ended up with this:

This is the Roly Poly King. He's inspired by a character in Babylon 5, but the whole thing isn't worth getting in to. He's also almost entirely composed of spheres, circles and semi-circles. But I think in the end that I'm most proud of the crown.

I've had these Mill Hill beads sitting around for a decade, and I finally used some of them! Yes, I hand beaded that silly thing! :)

It was also fun to make his grumpy face. :)

Arctic Fox Amigurumi
On Wednesday, I challenged ya'll to guess what my strangely-shaped amigurumi was. I got some awesome guesses - pill bug, female bits, other internal organs, seal, manatee... - and I was surprised not to get what I considered to be the two most obvious guesses (bunny rabbit, kangaroo) - but it wouldn't have mattered, since it was none of these things! Right after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I joined an auction on LJ as a provider - in exchange for a donation to a charity of the buyer's choice, I would design them whatever amigurumi they wanted, with size and complexity based on how much they donated. (A restriction I ended up throwing out the window because it's ultimately more useful to me to design a "normal" sized one of my dolls than to do a small one just because). My buyer ended up donating $15, and she requested an arctic fox! She wasn't too picky; her only real restriction is that she didn't want it to be generic with big floppy limbs. The example she showed me all had something unusual about them, so I set my mind to the question: how would I pose a fox? And here's the result:

My inspiration was this picture:

(except in adult fox colors)

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out:

...though I'll own, in the second draft I'll be slightly redesigning the tail(s) and making the head about three rounds smaller. :)

So! That's me for this week. A lot, I know. :)

Hey everyone, now that you've read my post, why not check out the other going's on at FO Friday on Tamis Amis and Crochet Blog and Fiber Arts Friday at Wisdom Begins in Wonder!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - 4/20/2011

Tons to do, and a client crawling up my back, so I'll keep this brief. Finished one of my WIP from last week, made no progress on one other, and made progress on the other two (but no point in sharing the spinning, I didn't do much). Also have a new, mystery WIP!

Crochet Zouave Jacket

Now it's got two full halves! I think it's a little too small, though, and that I'm going to have to add a row or two to the back. (it looks too small in this picture, but note that it will have a border all the way around that will add a row.) I'm holding it in the back, but I couldn't get it to meet all the way around.

Mystery Amigurumi!
Last time I posted a secret amigurumi, I realized I could have a fun little contest. This time, I'm going to enact it! Here's my current WIP:

If you can guess what this amigurumi is, I'll give you a copy of the pattern for free when I get around to publishing it!

Looks obvious? Well, it's not! Good luck, everyone!

Take a look at everyone else's WIP over on Tamis Amis and Other Crochet blog!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aquarium Photography

I love aquariums (okay, I love most places). Whenever I find myself heading towards an aquarium, one of the first things I think is, "yay! Aquarium photography!" And then I get there, and I get reminded just how damn hard it is to take good pictures at the aquarium. First there are all the other people. Then there's the extra-reflective glass. There's the low light. And there's that pesky, frustrating way that the damn fish never stop moving. When you add it all together, I usually end up pretty irritated, and I get home with a bunch of pictures that either didn't turn out at all, or that I thought turned out but are actually a little blurry. Still, on the occasions that it works out, and I get a good shot, it's usually better than good - it's usually spectacular (if I do say so myself). I think it's that fish and other undersea types are so colorful and beautiful, and the lighting at aquariums is so saturated, that if you can get a nice clear shot, it's going to look good.

I decided I wanted to do an aquarium post after I went to the Aquarium By the Bay while I was in San Francisco last month, so here goes! These pics are from four different aquariums (the New York/Coney Island Aquarium; the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago; and the Aquarium By the Bay in San Francisco - I've got pics I took at Ocean Park in Hong Kong, too, but none of them made the cut). I've taken them on various trips between 2007 and now - three different cameras and a lot of different levels of experience! I'm going to keep commentary to a minimum - just some headers. :)

Shells and Shellfish



What can I say? Anemone photograph real pretty...

I think this is one of the best shots I've ever taken of anything, any where.

Sea Horses:

For at least a year after I took the above image, I would have cited it as the best photograph I'd ever taken. Now, it feels like a symbol of how far I've come since 2007. It's still a good shot, but not something I feel is out of reach.



Some tips?
1. Turn off your flash. It won't help.

2. Hold your camera against the glass. It's the only way to get around the reflection problem, and to hold your hands still enough to not have the low light result in all your photos being really blurry.

3. Be patient. Wait for your moment. Wait til the other people go away. Keep still, so you don't startle the fish, and if you just wait, often the one you're trying to get will wander by.

4. Pick a display that doesn't seem too challenging - say, one where there's an anemone or an urchin just sitting there, not going to move much, not going to swim away - and sit there and take the picture over and over again with different camera settings until you find a set that you like and where the colors read true. Take notes!

5. If at first you don't succeed...well, here is the first set I ever took in an aquarium, at the Shedd in May of 2007. You'll notice that aside from two lucky shots and a few shots that aren't of the fish, they all suck. Just keep trying. And it's not a coincidence that almost none of the above images that I shared were of things that were moving!

6. If it's not moving, get close.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring at the New York Botanical Gardens

I love spring, and I love spring flowers. Thus, I knew that if I couldn't find time in my busy work schedule to go to the New York Botanical Gardens and soak up the season, I'd be very depressed. And that's how I ended up playing hooky on Thursday afternoon and walking (and it's a loooong walk) to NYBG. And now you get to see some of the photos!

One of the biggest challenges I feel I encounter every year is photographing daffodils. They're my favorite flowers, but whenever I take a picture, I feel that it's not quite right. I don't know what it is, but I find it very difficult to take a picture of a daffodil that really captures what I love about them. This year, I think maybe I had a little success.

Then, of course, there are all of the other spring flowers: tulips, hyacinths, hellebore, and pasque flowers (and loads of others I'm not sharing just now)!

And of course you can't forget the cherry blossoms!

One of the big high lights of spring at the NYBG is the annual Orchid Show! I go every year and take ludicrous numbers of pictures of the gorgeous orchids placed all over the Conservatory. This year was no different...

And orchids aren't the only lovely plants on display in the Conservatory!

Finally, all that was left to do was to walk home beneath a glowing sunset. Yeah, I got a sunburn. :)

You can see the full set (which has more than 350 pictures!) here. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finished Object Friday, 4/15/2011

Well, I didn't finish either of the projects I'd mentioned on Wednesday that I hoped to have finished by today (shocking! ;) ) but I've still got two projects to show for the last few weeks of missing FO Friday/Fiber Arts Friday. :)

Wheel Chair Cushion Cover
A week and a half ago, I spent the weekend with my family down in College Station, Texas, to celebrate my grandfather's 93rd birthday. (No, we're not from TX - we're from New York, but my uncle is an A&M professor, and my grandfather now lives with him). For that occasion, I made my grand father a cover for the cushion on his wheel chair.

He's a really tough guy to shop for, but the cushion on his chair was really, really ugly with this gross semi-plastic stuff on it, so I thought a cover would be appreciated.

He liked it so much, it got transferred to the cushion on the chair he sits on all the time!

All in all, it was a nice party! There's a Mexican woman who we originally hired to help take care of him, but as events have unfolded over the past couple years, her entire family has become part of our family (or maybe we've become part of their family, I'm not sure). She and her family helped to organize a party for him. There was even a pinata!

We took a family shot:

From left to right, my uncle, my mom, me, my older brother, and my grandfather. And Sponge Bob. (it took the kids like an hour to break that pinata open...)

Jose Estrella, Star Starfish Shortstop for the Oceans!

I finally got around to doing the back stitching on Jose. After several trials, I decided to not give him a face - just his OCN #5 (for obvious reasons). The pattern is now ready for testing, if I can only find the time to get it started. :(

Join in on the Friday fun! FO Friday on Tami's Amis and Crochet Blog, and Fiber Arts Friday on Wisdom Begins in Wonder!