The Tiny Orang-UtanFebruary 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Crochet | 1 Comment
Tags: Amigurimi, kumihimo
A few months ago a monkey-loving friend of mine was in need of a new guardian for her keys. While searching Ravelry for suitable patterns, I came across this adorable orang-utan. I decided to make this up using the orange Malabrigo Lace leftovers from this project. (Hmm, looks like I never posted the finished shawl. Must rectify that soon.)
The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, what I had is laceweight, so you can imagine I was working on a tiny scale. All went well for the head and body, there were enough stitches to work with. However, as soon as I started to make the arms and legs, I ran into a wall. Even after multiple tries, I couldn’t manage to make a tube in rounds of 4 sc with that yarn. I needed another technique to make the skinny tubes from.
Kumihimo to the rescue! Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding technique, which I came across quite a few years ago. Apart from making intricate braids, it can also be used to create very simple things, like the round braids you’ll usually find as shoelaces around here. While you can buy specialized equipment in craft shops, usually rubber discs with slits all around, the book I learnt from suggested using a simple cardboard disk. I made that disk back then, and it has been very useful to me on numerous occasions. I once bought one of the nice disks to give as a present to my niece, but am still using my handmade one.
I started by cutting the requisite number of threads for my braid long enough to be used for both arms, and then threaded them through the body to come out where the arms should start. This way, I only had one end of the braid to take care of at the end, with the other one already safely anchored. Here it is with impossibly long arms sticking out. I secured one side with a kitchen clip so I could work on the other one without pulling the threads out.
I then set up my trusty disk:
You can see there are six slits on each side, and a hole in the middle where the braid will be forming. The numbers can be used to describe patterns easily by stating from which slit to which other slit a thread should be moved. For the simple over-and-under braid I’m aiming for the description looks like this:
- 2 -> 21
- 8 -> 2
- 15 -> 8
- 20 -> 15
- 21 -> 20
- 4 -> 9
- 22 -> 4
- 17 -> 22
- 10 -> 17
- 9 -> 10
Repeat until the braid is long enough. However, it turned out there was a problem with my braid. The laceweight yarn made much too skinny arms!
This is were I threw this project into a corner and forgot about it for a few months. The solution was pretty obvious, using more threads for the braid, but I didn’t look forward to opening up the braid and starting again. However, that’s exactly what I ended up doing, just a bit later than expected.
This is the new start, doubling up all the threads:
This time things worked out just fine, and soon I had a finished little orang: