Here is another version of the mantis from Amigurumi Knits, which is absolutely my favorite toy pattern book.  I could not believe how big that first mantis came out.  It is just way too big.  Also, I used pipe cleaners in the legs, and they are not strong enough to hold up the mantis body.  You set it on the table and it collapses, you pick it up and it throws its head back, and it’s grabbing legs in the air, as if to say, “Party!”  This little fellow is a vast improvement.  As I look at him now sitting on the table, he looks alert and ready to spring.  (Perhaps that isn’t what most people look for in a toy, but I like my inanimate objects to have a little personality.)
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I used plastic covered steal wire in the legs, so they are much stronger and more ridged.  Also that thin wire was almost too thick for the skinny legs, but it just fit.  The other alteration I made was to work the last row of the eye with the main body color, giving the mantis pupils.  I’ve included here a photo of the second eye under construction.  It just looks so creepy, mantis eye surgery. 
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To make this mantis I used 000 needles and sock yarn.  The brown is some yarn that I had left over from the snail socks from the first post on this blog.  The green is some lovely variegated yarn I bought in a department store called Coop in Switzerland.  It was sort of one of those “yarn in a department store, how novel, I must buy some” moments, but I’m so glad I did.  It came out so buggy, and I always forget that I don’t have a problem with variegated yarn in stockinette stitch.  I truly hate it, say, in the ribs of a sock leg, where it comes out so messy, but it looks very pretty here.  Though I did end up bending one of my 000 needles during some tight knitting, I’m so pleased with this guy and he makes me want to make all of the Amigurumi animals on a small scale.
Also,  a little side note.  I had first discovered the designer of this pattern, Hansi Singh on etsy.com.  She published a book of patterns last year, but many great patterns, including my favorite, the sea horse, were not in the book.  After the publication of the book, her etsy store closed, and I often felt very sad about it.  I love her patterns and want everyone to own them, but also, I hadn’t bought them all!  Well, it turns out that she still has all her patterns for sale on Ravelry.com, a fiber arts social networking site.  So, sheeps be praised, you can still get the patterns.  I find that almost as pleasing as this mantis. 
 
Well, I have to say that one of the foremost impediments to my posting is that most of the time I work on gifts.  I guess that, in combination with the fact that I have supportive friends who read my blog.  Therefore I can’t post pictures of projects until they have been received.  Case in point this cute little mailbox. 
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This was a commissioned piece.  A friend of mine who loves the mail and all things related to the mail found this pattern on Etsy and sent it to me right away with heart rendering pleas to make it.  The whole project is comprised of a mailbox, one parcel, and three letters.  I love making toys, so it wasn’t too difficult to sell me on the idea.  We went to Michael’s and looked at every shade and weight of grey, ultimately settling on a combination of a thin silver sparkle yarn from Vanna White’s collection and a nice wooly grey heather.  My friend loves orange, so we made the mail flag bright safety orange instead of the traditional red.  Also, we chose a sparkle white for the letters, just to make them a little more magical.  After all, the fun of a toy is that you don’t have to shoot for total verisimilitude. 
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I was going to do something much more complicated for the stamps, but then in my fabric stash I found a fabric that was printed with stamps with cancelations stamps and everything.  Pretty perfect.  To give them a little more oomph I embroidered little parts of the picture on the stamp, just one color per stamp to keep it simple.  For the name labels I first wrote what I wanted on the felt with a pen and then embroidered over that.  The pen ink bled a little bit, but I don’t think it was a disaster.  My only true regret is that due to the limitations of the skill of my embroidery and the size of the text I was able to embroider, I wasn’t capable of making return address labels.  But I guess perhaps letters that come from magical destinations cannot be returned.  If you are interested in my friend’s musings and more photos she took of the mailbox, here is a link to her blog.  If I had a blogroll, she would be on it.
If anyone recalls those yarn singles that I spun... I typed this and then realized that I had never posted those photos.  So to begin with, here are some photos of the original roving, think like a long dyed cotton ball of wool, and also of the yarn as I spun it and wound it around my spindle shaft. 
To begin again, well, those singles from a while back are now well on their way to being yarn.  At the knitting club meeting last night I got assistance and learned that a.) my singles are spun too tight, and in the wrong direction (for some mystical reason I was told that this would make it better for crochet), but that b.) it was still very nice first yarn.  I still have to wash it, but here are some photos of a 2-ply yarn, made by yours truly.  Pretty exciting stuff.
Finally, though this is not a blog for cats, because my cats do a lot of interacting with craft projects, I’m deciding that it is okay to post cat pictures if they are fiber related.  My younger cat has developed a great affinity for a little leftover ball of sock yarn, and has been doing various art installations around the apartment every time he finds it again, despite the fact that I keep rewinding it and putting it in higher and more difficult to reach places.  I can tell when I’m rewinding it that it is clearly an amazingly fun toy, so I’m not really too upset about it.  Here is a photo of the artist, explaining his work.  He looks a little defensive, so watch out critics of the art world. 
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