Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homemade Clam Chowder

Clam chowder in a bread bowl
We were looking for something different to cook one weekend and because we're now in a place where we can actually buy fresh seafood, we decided to try clam chowder. We used a low fat clam chowder recipe from Food Network.
Getting the clams was a bit of an adventure. Most of the big fish markets were closed because it was Sunday, but we found a tiny Asian fish market on the other side of town that had them. Of course when we got home and went to pick up a few ingredients at our local grocery, we discovered that they had clams too so we had wasted a trip.
The chowder was good but I have to say that the clams were probably more trouble than they were worth. It probably took an hour outside the rest of the soup to soak, clean, cook, clean again (once they opened) and chop them and in the end we couldn't really taste them except as a few meaty bits in the soup. The recipe we used had potato and bacon in it which made up most of the flavor. If we made it again, we'd leave out the clams and make it a potato bacon chowder. Bacon makes everything better!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Harry Potter Amigurumi Dolls

Harry, Dumbledore, Ron, Hagrid and Hermione

I made these five Harry Potter amigurumi dolls for a friend and her kids who all love the series. I had a lot of fun making them though they took much longer than I expected. Part of that may be because I was trying to made a duplicate set of dolls for myself at the same time because I knew if I didn't make them then, I never would. Unfortunately when we decided to move I had to rush to finish them and didn't get to make Dumbledore or Hagrid for myself.

Since I don't own the rights to Harry, I can't post a pattern. However, I will explain some of the basic techniques I used to create the dolls. I ended up doing a few new things for these dolls that I had never attempted before.

The bodies: I used a basic mushroom body shape, like the body I made for my Nativity dolls. Hagrid needed to be bigger so I added stitches to make him fatter and added extra rounds to make him taller. For Dumbledore, I didn't add extra stitches but I did add extra rounds.

The hair: This was my biggest challenge as I had never done hair on an amigurumi doll and it took a lot of experimentation. I think I will do a separate post with photos of the methods I used, but for now I will summarize by saying that for Hermione, Dumbledore and Hagrid's hair as well as the two beards, I crocheted a "wig cap" then threaded yarn through the spaces between stitches. I put glue on the underside of the cap so the hair wouldn't get pulled out. I pulled apart the strands of each yarn then used a wire brush to gently brush the yarn so it got fuzzy (except for Hermione, I didn't brush her hair out). I then attached the cap to the head. For Harry and Ron, I embroidered the yarn directly on to their heads.

The robes and Hagrid's vest: I started with my pattern for Joseph's robes and just added sleeves by picking up stitches around the arm holes and then crocheting in a spiral until they were long enough. Hagrid's vest was a short version of the robe without sleeves.

Scarves: I experimented with crocheting and knitting ties and scarves out of embroidery floss but when nothing turned out how I wanted, I switched to regular yarn and a homemade four-stitch knitting Nancy to make the i-cord scarves (this could also be done by using the double pointed knitting needle method, see this video).

Details: The faces and details were embroidered with embroidery floss. The eyes were safety eyes. Dumbledore's hat was a simple cone.

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