Julianne isn't just an amazing maker but a storyteller too. In her children's book, Tales of Whimsy, Julianne's characters are just too cute! Here she tells us how Whimsy and Flit made their way from the pages of Wishweaver to crocheted amigurumi.
I’m a story-stitcher through and through, ready to bring many more of my characters into the amigurumi world of crochet!
What’s better than holding a hook in your hand and a crochet pattern in your head for a new character you plan to create? Not much, I can tell you that!
But when I became a storyteller, writing books for kids, a whole new cast of characters and possibilities walked in, and with them, something entirely better. It created in me a whole new level of love for the craft. It was how I planned to marry my passions and offer my crochet-loving followers a way to enjoy my books as well, by having the chance to make the characters from them. What a wonderful gift set it would be to send the books and their crocheted characters alongside them? I know it’s something I would have loved to receive way back when.
Images of my storybook characters in 3D swirled in my mind as I drew them in 2D on the page. I simply had to make them. So, I broke down the characters into shapes, for what is an amigurumi but a sum of its shapes, stitched to perfection?
For my process, it all starts with a drawing. I take the more detailed character from my book and simplify it. I use basic lines and shapes for each of the pieces. Eyes are usually safety eyes of different sizes. Facial details are most often embroidered. When it came to Whimsy, I knew there would be two elements that would take a bit more pondering to configure: her chest piece and her legs.
Her furry chest piece, I decided to hold together a strand of fun fur and a strand of yarn together. I didn’t want it bushy, just a bit fuzzy, and the fun fur mixed with a sleeker strand of yarn was going to be perfect!
On my drawing, I took notes on how I planned to best accomplish the look I was going for. To make Whimsy’s upper eyes, I decided on large French knots made with yarn. Her eyes were a bit too small to try to crochet, and a bit too large to embroider with embroidery thread, so I thought the yarn would give them a softer quality while still standing out.
Her legs were probably one of the biggest design challenges. I knew they needed to be wired because how else was she expected to stand? For internal wiring on my amis, I often use 12-gauge jewelry wire, so I decided to cut 4 lengths of wire and have them go through her chest piece to form the 8 legs. Since the ends of the wire were sharp, I made small loops on the ends to make them less pokey.
Whimsy looked pretty neat with just the wires for legs, and I offered to those crocheting her, that they might like to just keep them that way! For those making these little orb weavers for the kiddos in their lives though, I offered another way: wrapping the wires in a chain of yarn with little crocheted caps/hands for the end of each leg to cover the small wire loops. It gave Whimsy a gentler look, and the effect was exactly what I was looking for!
When it came time to make Whimsy’s best friend Flit, I knew that he would be unstuffed. He’s a little flat seed after all! Since his body is arced, I decided on using tucking stitches just like I did to make Whimsy’s head into a crescent moon shape. For his feathery skirt, I wanted to make a pompom but with less puff to it. Facial details I made using black and white yarn, although they could just as easily be applied with embroidery needle and thread. The trickiest part was deciding how to attach his head to his feathery skirt, but luckily pompoms have a tie through the middle of them to keep all the yarn strands together and it made for the perfect base to tie Flit’s seed head to.
Alas, my 2D characters had jumped from the page into their 3D forms. Poseable, playable, adorable little figures to stand alongside their first book in the Tales of Whimsy series, Wishweaver. What can I say, I’m a story-stitcher through and through, ready to bring many more of my characters into the amigurumi world of crochet!