Fly, my pretty!

Sometimes, you write a comment on someone’s blog post and it leads you down a very interesting path… for example, I never expected that my comment on The Contented Crafter’s blog would result in me owning the picture that the post related to. I simply said, of her lovely creation,  that ‘I would have it on my wall in a heartbeat!’ In no time at all the picture was offered to me in exchange for a dragon. Inspired by the one that went to Narf in Tasmania to guard her plants:

A dragon for Tasmania

A dragon for Narf in Tasmania

this one, however, was to be a water dragon…

And so I started the hunt for appropriate wool… none to be had locally, but plenty of choice on the internet. I chose “aqua” as the main colour, with support from “oxygen”(lighter) and “peacock” (darker).

Colours for a water dragon

Colours for a water dragon

Originally, I had a vision of an undulating dragon, but somehow as I worked on it, I couldn’t create the shape I had envisaged and after some frogging I made a much straighter body. I then decided to make the spines down the back sinuous by creating two intertwined rows in different colours… like a meandering river. As a water dragon, he could not have feet like a terrestrial dragon, so I made him webs for improved swimming ability!

Adding the spines

Adding the spines

I made the wings in “oxygen” and edged them and then remembered that I had a few freshwater pearls that would provide some appropriate embellishment. In the same box as the pearls, however, I came across an old film canister containing pearlescent beads. As soon as I saw them, I knew that they, not the half-dozen pearls, were just the thing.

Working on the wings

Working on the wings

But what about the eyes…? I tried mother-of-pearl, but the poor creature looked dead. I tried black , like the Tasmanian dragon, but they were too stark, I went to every shop in the area that sells buttons and couldn’t find anything that spoke to me so I resorted to e-bay – the world’s biggest haberdashery shop. There I was tempted by all sorts of glass buttons and I ended up ordering a selection because I simply couldn’t decide which would look best. In the end, I used vintage Czechoslovakian turquoise glass buttons, but now I have quite a few other buttons that will make great eyes on dragons to come!

Blue glass eyes

Blue glass eyes

I decorated the wings and spines with the pearlescent beads, and added some darker beads to the edges of the wings. Had this dragon been going somewhere in the UK, I would have wired the wings to give them extra support to counter the weight of the beads and make them poseable, but I was concerned that an x-ray at customs revealing a network of fine wires might result in the untimely destruction of the dragon in a controlled explosion (and it is, after all, a water dragon not a fire dragon). The final touches involved some needle sculpting and silver tufts on ears and chin.

And then the dragon was flying off to New Zealand and a new life…

It turns out that bartering for art is very satisfying!

Playing hooky

Today I’m supposed to be editing a paper on forest economics, but it’s not very exciting and so I keep picking up my crochet hook instead. The particular piece of editing does not need to be sent back until next week, so the temptation to do something else (and more creative, although less lucrative) is really strong, especially since the dragon neck warmer commission is starting to take shape and I’m rather enjoying the scale pattern that makes up the bulk of it:

Dragon scales

Dragon scales

The client selected yellow eyes, so those are inserted and there’s nothing fiddly in the pattern for about another 60 rows. My last post yielded some useful comments about having a few ‘attention grabbers’ on my future craft stall, and I may make another of these dragons for that purpose as I think it’s going to be quite striking. Anyway, here is progress so far (eventually there will be horns and spines too on the head):

Dragon progress

Dragon progress

But that’s not the only thing I have been up to in the past few days. I decided as  a bit of light relief to continue making dish/wash cloths (without patterns) and I’ve added two more to the stock, that’s three since Saturday. These are fairly quick to make and are using up cotton yarn that I have quite a bit of, so they feel like a winner in terms of de-stashing.

This week's cloths - too nice to use?

This week’s cloths – too nice to use?

And finally, I want to share a piece of work that I made weeks ago, but has only just reached its new owner. As one of my random crafts of kindness, I responded to Pauline The Contented Crafter’s appeal for lovely things to go to Marlene, who is ‘In Search of It All‘. This is what Pauline wrote:

Marlene has recently moved into her new forever home and has been hard at work turning what might have been described as a pigs ear into a silk purse.  Marlene has a china cabinet and loves keepsakes.  I am going to [possibly make and] send Marlene a small New Zealand icon.  Would you care to [possibly make and] send her something that will represent you to her so that every time her eyes fall upon your gift, she thinks of you. Wouldn’t that be the grandest thing!

So, what better to represent me than some crochet? But I also really wanted to send her a piece of my paper porcelain plus I  wanted to acknowledge the lovely links we all share through blogging. So here is what I came up with:

It’s just decorative, although you could use it as a pin cushion (voodoo roses, anyone?). The base is made from some British wool from Blacker Yarns and the crochet roses are made from some of the yarn oddments sent to me by Jenny at Simply Hooked along with the squares she donated to make another charity blanket. I’m rather pleased with the result.

Well, that’s probably enough hooky for one day, I’d better get back to work…

The eyes have it

Commissions are interesting things… I have a love-hate relationship with them.

On the negative side, you can end up working with a yarn you don’t like, or making an item that you find deeply unappealing. There’s also the issue of deadlines; it takes quite a long time to make many items and clients sometimes do not appreciate this. Then there’s the need to manage expectations: handmade items are very variable and are always individual: however closely you follow a pattern and ensure you use the same yarn there are going to be differences, which customers who are used to buying mass-produced items do not always appreciate. And finally there’s the problem of making sure your time is not undervalued… an almost impossible task sometimes!

However, commissions can encourage you to broaden your horizons and have a go at something you would never have dreamed of making otherwise. They also provide the opportunity to use new materials and sometimes an excuse to work with a yarn you’ve been hankering after for a while! In addition, you can really make someone’s day when you hand over the finished object… especially nice when you get some money or a bartered object in return. Lastly, you sometimes get to buy things you would otherwise never have owned (however temporarily)…

Today I had the joy of receiving a package to allow me to continue work on a commission. In fact, to be honest, I’m not sure that this particular piece of work will get bought by the person who originally asked for it, as I’m not certain she’ll like the way it comes out, but I know someone will want it at some point. The original request was ‘could you make a dragon scarf?’ To clarify, this is a scarf in the shape of a dragon rather than a scarf for a dragon (I don’t fancy knitting with rockwool!). I found a pattern and immediately started making modifications before realising that I was going to need some suitable eyes. I don’t often make toys, so I don’t have safety eyes… I usually sew them or use buttons… but in this case I really wanted to use some slit-pupil safety eyes.

And so started the internet hunt. This resulted in the discovery that pretty much the only such eyes I could get in the right size in the UK were yellow. Of course, I’m awkward, and I wasn’t convinced that yellow would look good, in fact I wasn’t sure what colour I did want. So, away to etsy to see what was available…. whereupon I found a wonderful shop selling eyes of all shapes, sizes, colours and varieties… in the US. After a little dithering I decided to bite the bullet and order a selection pack. Apparently, these are suitable for ‘dragons, frogs, cats, mermaids and fairies’:

A lovely selection of colours

A lovely selection of colours

So, this morning I have been having fun with them. Crochet is great: being full of holes you can insert and remove the eyes as much as you like until you are happy with their placement and your colour choice. I still can’t quite decide which to use but I have enjoyed playing…

I rather like the red as there are red flecks in the yarn. What do you think?

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