According to Wikipedia, Hippos can run at a speed at 30 km/h. Which is not a lot (although they are still faster than me!). But this story is about a different kind of hippopotamus. A happypotamus, actually.
I had a great plan. I was about to fly back to the city of skyscrapers and sand, to finally see the little daughter of one of my best friends. I had planned it, that I would land on Friday, and Saturday I could attend the little girl’s 1st birthday party. And of course, being me, I would make at least part of the gift, because I had lots of time.
And then things started happening… my husband got sick. Then it was my turn. And then my kid followed. And all of the sudden, it was already time to pack our suitcases. Summer dresses, sunscreen, and a great big bag of yarn and toy stuffing.
I did not make it for the birthday party (thankfully I also had a plan b for the gift!), but my friend and I still had some coffee dates ahead of us. It was a bit of pressure, but when I headed out to meet her for the last time before my departure I basically had a Hippo ready… and two separate ears. But I still had a 40-minute metro ride ahead of me!
Bless the commuters of Dubai Metro who spent most of my ride entertaining my daughter, so I could sit and stitch the ears. And very appropriately to Dubai, I finished the Happypotamus exactly at the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa station. And while the little girl was not sure what to think of the hippo, her mom loved it, and got a good laugh over the story.
According to the website of Dubai Metro, the trains run at an average speed of 40-50 km/h. So it was an accelerated hippopotamus after all!
Looking at when I last posted it might seem like I have fallen off the Earth. In a way it is true: for the past four months my universe has had a new centre. And while I have slowly been finding ways to crochet and knit from the side of a newborn, blogging requires more focus and energy than I have had to spare.
Even though I have finished quite a few items over the past months, there have only been a few things for my own kid. Somehow gifts for others are easier to plan and complete. Here is a collection of Happypotamuses that have found new homes from UK to Estonia.
The fun thing about those hippos is that when made with a 3,5 hook and Scheepjes Colour Crafter, they end up slightly larger in size than newborns, making them a great photo accessory for mini-birthdays.
And finally, my munchkin has a Happypotamus of her own! Lord knows this kid does not suffer from a shortage of toys… I suspect there is dark magic involved: we have tried to be very conservative in buying toys, but they are sneaky and come in from doors and windows as well-meaning gifts from friends and family. To my defense, I wanted to add at least one more hand-made toy to her collection… while store-bought toys come and go, I hope this will last as something special through the years. Maybe it will even inspiere her to crochet something herself one day?
It has been an exceptional summer for us Northerners this year… it actually has looked like a summer most of the time since the end of May! And to be honest, some of us find all that summer difficult to cope with, including yours truly. It is rather embarrassing: after having lived in (and most of the time enjoyed) the climates of Mediterranean, North Africa, Inda and the Persian Gulf; Norther Europe poses a challenge for me this year… I blame it on the hormones and the extra load I am carrying. My due date is just two weeks away, and I really hope I’ll turn back to “normal” again after that.
So, due to my inability to spend a lot of time outdoors, I find myself more and more on my sofa, working on projects. The most recent one I finished is yet another Happypotamus, this time in the colours of really sunny skies… The hippo will travel to UK to keep company to a fresh little baby boy, I hope it brings lots of sunshine to him too, even when that exceptional summer is over.
Lately I have been getting very antsy with minimizing my stash. I mean, I do have a rather modest amount of yarn, however there are skeins in these boxes that have been waiting to become something for years. Now, pair that with that foggy evening when I was feeling particulary low, and boom! a unicorn pony started to happen!
I will not get tired of saying how much I love HeidiBear’s patterns. They are fun, easy to follow, yet keep me busy 🙂 So, as a bit of retail therapy I decided to purchase her Fatty Lumpkin pattern (I do have to do some research on why on earth would she a call such a lovely animal like that?! :D).
From the bottom of my boxes I found several skeins of Steinbach Wolle, a mix of acrylic and wool. These are all leftovers from the time that I made dozens of baby blankets. Honestly, I am not sure how the babies who got those blankets feel about them, because right now the yarn feels rough and rather unfriendly. Sorry, babies!
However, the yarn feels like a good toy yarn. Here’s my progress so far… only the nose and the “accessories” to go…
Every now and then I get this massive urge to finish all my projects, but these last months that urge has been powered by a very different motive. In just two months our family is expected to grow by 50%, and it is not because we are getting a puppy (although my husband would love to have a puppy. Or two. Or more :D).
So, these days the craft-section of my brain is saying, “Got to knit and crochet all the cool stuff for the baby! But first, let me finish all the other projects! But first, let me start a few new projects, because when the baby is here, I’ll have no time for any of that! But got to knit and crochet all the cool stuff for the baby!”
At least I have managed to finish one thing, a Bunny Lovey, and I am loving it! The pattern for the head is from Bunny Lovey by Victoria Stewart, and the tutorial for the star blanket can be found here.
Here’s a sneak peak on what I am working on these days. Don’t you just love how the brightness of the colours!? It is a great way to use up some of the leftovers from the Hygge CAL (which I still haven’t blocked, by the way). I do love the range of colours that Scheepjes Catona comes in, but I really really can not approve of their new 10-gram format. It might work when it comes to embroidery, but you can hardly start crocheting anything when you already have to grab the next skein.
However, during my last order I picked a few skeins of a different cotton yarn: Scheepjes Cotton 8. I am not yet sure what I will make of them, but I have a few ideas. Until then, I just enjoy the colours.
My question about the appropriateness of a hippo without a head got answered by a 4-month old boxer pup we were babysitting over the weekend. The hippo was still headless, halfway stuffed and got a very loud growl from the puppy. So, in the interest of babies from all species, I had to complete the full toy.
The Happypotamus has already moved in with its new owner – a 5-week year old baby boy called August. He didn’t growl at it, so I guess he approves 🙂
I know that my latest blog posts only talk about starting new projects… Occasionally some of them actually get completed as well.
I have to start with a declaration: I am not a great fan of April Fools’ jokes. I think they are fun if you have kids, or there is a certain tradition with your family or friends, but generally they are just not my cup of tea. I am lucky that my husband does not care much about this kind of jokes either.
However, the Estonian weather has its own sense of humour. So, on the morning of the 1st of April, when everyone was already dreaming of spring, we had a snowstorm. One of those proper traffic-stopping, turn-your-heaters-back-on-and-sing-Christmas-carols type of snowstorms.
That kind of weather made me brew a bucket of tea, dig out the ball of Aade multicolour wool that I got as a gift for Christmas, and start on a pair of knee-high socks.
I love Aade’s yarn: being 100% wool it is quite rough, but it reminds me of my childhood. My grandparents used to have sheep, and even though the socks and mittens that were made of them were not particularly soft or sweet, they sure did their job of keeping warm. Aade’s yarn, of course, can boast a selection of colours we never even knew to dream of back then. And this particular colourway has all my favourite blue and green hues. The cabled pattern comes from Mary Webb’s “Knitting Stitches”, my go-to book for simpler lace patterns for years.
Another running joke around here is that winter is nothing compared to the weather during midsummer night. Well, whatever it will be, I have a pair of socks that will help me survive however cold it will be. Let’s see who’ll laugh about that, Mr. Weather!
Can I get away with giving a headless stuffed animal as a gift to a newborn, and say that it is a great way of stimulating his imagination? Or will the poor kid get traumatized for life?
A few months back I started another Happypotamus for a colleague who was due in the end of April. Her expecting a spring baby, and it being a baby boy, I had the perfect leftovers of Scheepjes Colour Crafter for the project: blues, greens, purples with a thin contrast line of dark yellow just for fun.
And, of course, I ran out of the contrast colour right before I could start crocheting the head. To avoid adding to my stash, I first turned to the local craft forums and Facebook groups to see if anyone had a bit left over. No luck. Then I started scanning all the local yarn stores, and came up with the same result. So, I had no other alternative but to look at online stores abroad. And I couldn’t just order one skein of yarn, because the postal costs would have been ridiculous, so I threw in a few extras in different colours and fibres 😉
I can not say a single bad word about the service of Black Sheep Wools, however online yarn shopping is just not my thing. I need to see and touch and compare and coordinate my yarns, or there will be consequences. This time, the consequence was that I ended up with 5 new skeins of Colour Crafter, none being the right colour. And I only have myself to blame for that, because I did not double check the colour codes properly.
So, what does a rational crafter do in that situation? She’ll start a new project with the newly arrived yarns. And I know I will be running out of the light blue soon, but that is ok. Gives me more reason to make another order. And this time, I will be checking the colour codes for at least three times before making the purchase.
Obviously, knitting with multiple colours is not my strong suit… So, it made sense to pick a new project to practice exactly that aspect of my knitting. However, I had no clue what kind of a challenge it would end up 😀
So, meet my husband’s newest pair of socks. I picked the Moose Parade pattern, because it seemed relatively doable. As I already had to tweak the pattern due to different yarn and sizing, I decided I will make my life easier, and just knit it how the pattern said – from the top. Boy, was I wrong about the easy part.
I actually studied how to knit that type of heel in school, but ever since I have preferred knitting socks from the toe. It is more intuitive for me, and to me it seems like it gives a more polished look for the toe and the heel. Added bonus is, that you never have to worry about running out of yarn halfway through. But now I had to scrape up the bits from my memory, watch through dozens of youtube and blog tutorials, and figure out how to go back “old-school”. I kid you not, I think I frogged and re-knit the heels more than 20 times.
I was so proud of myself when I finally finished this pair! I am still not completely happy with the tension, or the heel, to be honest, but my husband says he loves them. And even if he does say that just because he loves me, it is ok, I still choose to believe him 🙂
Of course, to recover from the heel trauma, and to celebrate a project that actually got finished, I had to celebrate by starting a rehabilitation project.