I grabbed another amigurumi pattern I found in the book Animal Friends of Pica Pau by Yan Schenkel and made Jeremias, the frog!
Jeremias is a very talented amigurumi frog named after Miss Potter’s character.
He had an amazing olimpic carreer as a professional swimmer when he was a young frog. He traveled all arround the world with his team! After retiring from the olimpic games he wanted to use the amazing vocal sacs he developed as a professional swimmer. So he started to sing and training his voice instead! He met Paul McCartney who invited him to join his famous frog choir. Today Jeremias loves to pop into his crochet swimming shorts and dive into the river with his yellow fins. And then he hums some music under the summer hot sun!
Materials and a pattern review
As usual, to make Jeremias amigurumi I used cotton Catona Scheepjes yarn and simply followed the crochet pattern. I love cotton yarn crochet in summer: it’s light and cool in your hands. And I like it specially for amugurumi crochets. Plus, they are very simple and easy projects to make anywhere you go on vacations! As with the ones I already made, this crochet pattern was very easy to follow. In fact I think all Yan Schenkel Animal Friends patterns are very easy and perfect for beginners too. The thing I love the most is that they always inspire me to create a story arround the amugurumi I am making. Since I usually don’t keep them, I love to add a small story to fill their soul.
Perfect summer crochet project
After so many ocean and river swims I had, Jeremias turned out to be the perfect amugurumi crochet to end my summer season. And just in time to meet his new baby friend Lucas who may arrive anytime soon. What’s your next amigurumi project?
Homemade pesto sauce is one of the most versatile things I know. And basil is one of my favorite herbs that represents summer like no other. Who has never had a pot of basil in need of a trim after several months growing in the kitchen? Basil is an annual herb, an ingredient that appeals and brings back summer memories. It can hold up until the first days of cold weather but it will die before the freeze arrives. It’s in its genes. My basil pot had been in my kitchen for months. I grabbed a leaf here and there. With summer in full force, I couldn’t resist: I had to use it all up before lit goes wild!
I used only the traditional pesto ingredients for my pesto recipe.
At first the quantities were a guessing game until I got the version I liked the most. The improved recipe only involved a few septs. In a food processor, add a cup of fresh basil, half a cup of pine nuts roasted for 5 minutes on the stove, two cloves of garlic, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese to taste. Then you just grind it adding more olive oil until you get the right consistency. In the end I always taste to correct the salt.
The homemade pesto sauce is ready to go!
I can’t talk enough about how good this pesto sauce is with just a good dose of wholegrain spaghetti (or other pasta really) and a few shavings of parmesan. And nothing else! Any fresh pesto pasta can go the all way from a starter dish, but it’s so good that I insist on making it as the main dish. For the more demanding ones I suggest pesto with walnuts in your pasta and more basil leaves to crunch. It’s the best!
Pesto sauce can be used in many different ways and the second best is, without a doubt, is to add it to some beautiful tomato and mozzarella cheese to a classic pesto salad for a summer picnic. But it’s also perfect as a pesto dip for crackers or nachos, in a pesto pizza, pesto gnocchi. Add it to any stuffed pasta like tortellini to a pesto pasta salad, or to a baked pesto chicken or baked pesto potatoes with a touch of lemon.
Fresh pesto sauce recipes, especially homemade pesto, should be refrigerated with an extra layer of olive oil and must be consumed within a week or two. It is certainly superior to any pesto sauce you can buy at the supermarkets. Mine only lasted about 2 days, just because it was so so good. Anyone else with a basil needing a trim?
My haptic lab constellation quilt has been is a work in progress since mid-2020. It began as a long-term project from which I have learned a lot! Luckily I ended up doing it during the challenging year of 2020 and the first months of 2021. It was a reflection project that valued the routine and supported some challenging moments.
After introducing you to my handmade quilt here, I made the sandwich of the top, batting and bottom layer. This is something that is usually done almost last in a normal quilting project. To this Sandwich I also added the constellation quilt pattern on paper over the top layer. This was the basis for embroidering the stars. I think it is no longer possible to buy this paper version. But I admit that it was a blessing to still be able to get it!
Guidelines machine stitching
As a matter of consistency of this constellation quilt, I chose to machine stitch the pattern guidelines. This allowed me to dedicate the effort of hand embroidery only to the constellations. It also allowed me to manage expectations and be creative in the use of materials while reinforcing the stability of the quilt.
After stitching the guidelines I dedicated most of the time to the most fun, yet repetitive part of this project: embroidering. I searched for many possible material options for each element. I though about making everything in the same color, about the proposed stitches, and I came to the following conclusion. Since I preferred the guidelines to go unnoticed, I stitched them using a thread of the same color as the top layer. Thus, I was able to give more emphasis to the stars and relax the complexity of the design.
Embroidering the constellations
Regarding the constellations, I must say that the process was somewhat revealing. In one hand I didn’t know how the materials were going to work because the final effect was hidden below the paper pattern. So, I embraced my imagination to predict the final effect and trusted the process!
For the stars I used a 6 strand silver embroidery thread. I separated 3 strands to use each time. This thread was a headache to work because the metallic thread wears out quickly while embroidering. I learned to use smaller portions of thread to decrease the risk of tearing it too much. In spite of that, I was excited to use this thread! I think the 3 strands give the “bulcky” effect that I was looking for without the intensity of a perlé thread! In addition, I confess that metallic perlé thread is not my favorite at all.
For the connecting lines between the stars I used the same thread in a light gold. A light gold goes better with the rest of the color palette. I was undecided between an interrupted or uninterrupted line. But as I finished the first constellations, I found that the uninterrupted line created less visual clutter in the overall design.
Names and the Milky Way
Two more groups of information were missing: the names of the constellations and the stars of the Milky Way. To make them I went for a soft perlé in two shades of blue. I used the lightest for the milky way stars, and the “not so dark” blue for the names of the constellations.
In the case of the milky way stars, I had to make an important decision. I found many references saying that the French knot stitch that the pattern suggested created some problems when tearing out the paper pattern. Many stitches fall apart at that time, even if the process is done carefully. In addition, the French knot is a delicate stitch, especially if the quilt is handled a lot. Now, those who know the headache of making French knots as many times as the project calls can imagine what it is like to have to redo them over and over. So I left my perfectionism aside (or did I actually embrace it …?) and replaced the French knots with a very delicate cross stitch.
Tearing off my constellation quilt!
The embroidery part of my haptic lab constellation quilt is finally finished! Now I have already started to tear and carefully remove the paper pattern to reveal the constellations. I still have to add some details as well as trim the edges and make the binding. So I will save a final revelation, full of good photos, for a next post! For now I show you this “sneak peak” of the satisfying moments of removing the paper quilt pattern that hid the embroidery of my haptic lab constellation quilt!
After risking a child’s size, I had to put into practice what I had learned and knit a sweater for myself. I did it during the last months of 2020. It was a piece of joy to wear it in the first months of 2021. Despite the unique year that we went through, 2021 brought us knowledge and perspective.
After finishing my knit sweater, I think I placed more confidence in myself, a reflection of what has been happening throughout this pandemic period. It is true that all our plans left us last year: ones more than others. But there are always dreams to chase that keep us whole. It is just a matter of opening horizons and, “knitting one point after another”. We are on our way to materialize a project that is increasingly bigger. Our “handmade sweater”.
What seemed like a huge disaster in March 2020 forced us to be resilient. Forced us to reorder and refocus the contents of our daily lives. It also forced us create new dreams and new challenges for which we had to count on ourselves and on those with whom we cannot part with. Don’t get me wrong: I won’t be missing this crazy period. Nothing can erases the suffering so many of us have been through. Is was like an earthquake that hit the whole entire world. But it is a period to show us what we are capable of: to surpass, to discover and use our hands to make dreams come true.
An emotional review of my handknitted sweater
I took these pictures on the first day that the sun peeked out after two big winter storms. My sweater felt like a hot cloud against the harsh climate, the icy waves the sand full of marine litter that did not stop arriving … It was like a raw reflection (that I preferred to assume in the photos) of the impact that we have on the world. A harm that didn’t pause in the middle of a global pandemic.