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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pig

When I was first learning to crochet, I quickly became bored of shawls and scarves. A quick search on the web introduced me to amigurumi. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting and crocheting stuffed toys. There are lots of free patterns out on the web. A quick Google search will point you in the right direction and I have some links to amigurumi blogs in my blog roll.

I thought it looked interesting, but I don't have kids and my one niece is getting a little too old for stuffed toys. However, I do have dogs. Dogs who love toys.

In fact, I have one little monster who has a whole bowl full of her own toys. Her name is KittyPig. Honestly. She grunts like a pig.
A real, live, KittyPig sitting under the Christmas tree.
I knew I would have to make this for her the minute I saw it.
Pattern found on Lion Brand Yarn.

This project was my first foray into amigurumi. I found the pattern on the Lion Brand Yarn website. Most patterns on the site are free (this one is!) though you'll have to create an account to open the pattern. It is pattern number 70589AD.

Let's talk about the good first. The stitches for the body of the pig are fairly even. Not bad for the first time crocheting in the round. The ears are kind of cute and the eyes aren't too bad considering I hate to embroider.

Now the bad. The feet -- not so good. They're not quite even and they're not sewn on very well. The stitches for the nose could be a bit tighter and more even. Tension is something I still struggle with.

Something you can't see in this picture, is the weaving in of the tails. If this was a toy for a child, I would say it's fine. They can play with it and it can even be washed and it should hold its shape pretty well. What I didn't take into consideration is that I'm giving this to a dog. A dog who likes to destroy stuff. Her main goal in life is to kill a sqeaky before the toy is one hour old.

With this in mind, my ends should have been tied off and glued. They wouldn't show because all the pieces had to be sewn on. Instead, I followed the directions and stuffed the ends into the body of the toy. Within a few days, KittyPig had all the ends out of the bottom of the poor pig's feet. At first I just let the ends hang out. I was afraid if I cut them off the toy would fall apart. At the same time, I wasn't going to stuff them back in. She would just get them out again. Finally I tied off each of the ends in square knots and cut them off. The pig stayed together and all is well. In fact, it's almost 2 years old and still one of her favorite toys. It's a mess from being chewed on and generally loved by a dog, but it still looks like a pig. Just an older pig.

Lessons learned: think about your audience. The finishing was fine if this was a toy to be given to a child. Now that I know better, I tie off the ends, put a drop of fabric glue (if needed), weave it in where it won't be seen, and cut off the rest of the tail.

I also learned that even dogs who can destroy almost every manufactured toy for sale cannot destroy a crocheted toy. She hasn't ripped it or pulled the stuffing out. I can't say that for the stuffed squirrel I used to buy every 6 months. I have more toy squirrel pelts than one person needs! The crochet toys, however, are still intact.

Lastly, I learned I get a lot of pleasure making these toys for my dog and the dogs in my family. It's nice to see them play with the toys and to see a whole bowl full of handmade toys. Even now, with all the toys she has, when KittyPig sees me coming home from work, she runs and grabs the HUGE felted ball I made her for Christmas. It's like she knows I made it for her and she wants to play with me, with the toy I made. Melts my heart every time!

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