touchet crochet! … and a death in the family

I was able to finish the Glaceon toy entirely in crochet! The craft gloves I purchased seemed to help my wrists, and I also gave up some of the tightness of the gauge to help my hands relax more. It’s not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well, and Jonah is happy with it. (except for the curling of the ear flaps, but we are fixing that with blocking tonight.)

crochet glaceon

I also crocheted Mae’s Pokemon this weekend: Mew (pattern here). It went much faster, mostly because it’s all one color, and had less pieces to assemble. I think it turned out pretty cute, and the Suncatcher eyes I used really brought the face to life.

mew crochet

My biggest motivation for finishing these toys this weekend was as a comfort and distraction for my kids, because on Friday we discovered that one of our guinea pigs (Alice, the red and black one) was very sick. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with some sort of mass in her abdomen (possibly an ovarian cyst or a tumor). They couldn’t tell for sure without x-rays, but either case would require an operation, and guinea pigs don’t do well under anesthetic in general. The kids were very sad, Mae especially, since it’s her guinea pig, but she wasn’t ready to put her to sleep right away, so we brought her home to see how she would do. Guinea pigs can hide their illness for a long time, but once they start showing symptoms, and not eating, they deteriorate very quickly, so we hoped she wouldn’t suffer much longer, but pass away in peace at home. During the last couple of days it was hard to watch her grow weaker, but it seemed like a very sweet time for her and her sister, cuddling almost constantly, with Tornado grooming her and comforting her, so I’m not regretting the decision. She wasn’t acting like she was in pain, so I believe that this was the best, most natural process for them, and that it might also help Tornado understand the loss of her sister. Today, Alice left our lives in peace, laying down quietly most of the morning, and eventually slipping into to her final sleep. Tornado left her alone at the end, interestingly enough, as if she knew her time was close and she was ready to let her go, and now that Alice is gone, she seems much more active, wandering around and eating and drinking more normally than she had been the last couple of days as she spent most of her time with Alice. It’s as if she feels some relief after this watching and waiting time, or maybe I’m just projecting my own emotions on her. The kids, in their turn, were amazingly sweet and brave. Before, they had not wanted to talk about her dying, and said that they didn’t want to bury her, as they have sad memories of helping to bury our dog 2 years ago and sharing stories around her grave, so I wasn’t sure if I should wait until they got home to do it, but decided that I wanted to give them one last chance to say goodbye. So I put her body in a sweet little shoe box of Mae’s, and wrote her name in gold sharpie on it, and told the kids they could write things on it for her if they wanted to. I tried to tell them that they didn’t have to do any of this, but part of what it means to be a pet owner is being brave enough to talk about and think about what you’re going to do when they die. And they really rallied, even through their tears. They got excited about decorating her shoe box, and also a rock to put on top of her grave, and put all the effort they could into helping to bury her. I wasn’t going to push them to say anything after we buried her, but Jonah asked if they could, so we all talked about what we remembered about her. Once again, Mae got teary talking about Alice and Tornado playing tug-of-war with carrots, but she was so very brave to do it anyway.

guinea pig funeral

guinea pig funerl

I really have some pretty amazing kids, who are learning some tough things about life. Pets are really great to have around, but eventually you have to say goodbye. But they are still worth it for all the joy they bring to our lives and what they can teach us about life. Thank you for the lessons you taught me, Alice, including the true merit of a dandelion, and how to die gracefully with your loved ones. Rest in peace in fields of dandelions forever, sweet little guinea pig.


crochet… eh?

I haven’t really done very many crochet projects, even though I learned the basics when I was young… long before I learned to knit. I think the farthest I got then was half a scarf, because when I ran out of yarn, I gave up. The concept of pulling loops through other loops to make the stitches helped me learn to knit though, and since I’ve been knitting, I sometimes use crochet to add a border, or make the curls for my pixie dolls. But lately my kids have become absolutely obsessed with all things Pokemon, and have been begging me to make them Pokemon characters. Unfortunately, almost all of the patterns out there that I could find are done with crochet, which is the norm for amigurumi characters in general. This blogger is exceptionally prolific with giving out free patterns for Pokemon and other characters, and their creations are amazing: so I decided to start there. I thought it would be a good experience for me to learn to crochet toys, after all they are pretty darn cute, and any abbreviations I didn’t understand, I could Google.

I started with a simple one, a PokeBall, (pattern here) and I think it went pretty well. I really like how easy it is to make nice neat circles and globes with single crochet stitches:

crochet pokeball - pattern by wolfdreamer

I then started on something more complicated. Jonah’s character he really wants is called Glaceon:

Glaceon illustration

Yeah, that looks pretty easy… not! Fortunately, I happened to have just the right colors in my stash though. Wolfdreamer doesn’t have a Glaceon pattern, but they have a similar pattern for another character, Umbreon, and I then found another blogger that made a Glaceon pattern modified from Umbreon, so I’ve been going back and forth between the two patterns. I finished the body and the head, and then somewhere in the middle of the first leg I got totally lost trying to make the diamond shapes. Also, the Glaceon patten for the shoulders didn’t work out right, and the diamonds looked pretty messy, so I asked Jonah if it was OK if I just made them half dark teal, and half light teal. He agreed.

crochet glaceon half done

Then I discovered a bigger problem. Crocheting these tight stitches on these tiny parts has been causing me to grip with my fingers very tightly, and with all of the twisting of the hook, my wrists started Killing Me. I already have carpal tunnel syndrome that comes and goes, and now it feels like it’s moving to the top of my wrists as well… tendonitis??? Yuck! I tried taking a break for a few days from any crochet or knitting, then I tried knitting again, which didn’t seem to bother my wrists as much, probably because I’m more used to keeping them relaxed, and there’s not as much twisting… as long as I’m using good posture and wearing my glasses. Then, a few days later I picked up the Glaceon leg again. It only took a few rounds for my wrists to start screaming at me. So now I feel stuck. I’ve been crocheting about 1/2 a leg every other day, (only a few rounds!) and it’s all I can stand. I have one leg left, but then I still have the ears, and the tail, and the earflaps and hair and diamond accents!  Jonah doesn’t want me to continue if it hurts too much, but I hate to quit now, when I’m halfway done! I’m considering toughing out the final leg, and then trying to make up the other parts knitted instead… perhaps in garter stitch, so the stitches aren’t too different looking, but I’m thinking that it still might look odd to combine the two. Thoughts? And for you crocheters out there, any tips on how to keep my fingers/wrists relaxed while still keeping a firm tension?