Orochi’s Knot

Knot for Orochi from Fire Emblem; Fates.
Knot for Orochi from Fire Emblem; Fates.

Figuring out the decorative elements on a cosplay can be a challenge, there are often buttons, or fastens or just pretty bits that are stuck on in odd locations.

Orochi’s knot that appears on the front of her top was one such detail. It is
possible to just cut the loops and glue or tack them to look mostly correct.  However, I approached this one from the idea that the artist likely drew it from a real knot, so I did a google search for a three loop frog knot, as it appears in the approximate location of a fasten.

Continue reading “Orochi’s Knot”


Taming the Teacup

Originally published http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/?p=147

The hardest part about learning to draw is learning to see.   Even though I used the lines of the towel to help me,  My own learned perceptions still came into play. I drew the plate bigger and rounder than it is.

Layers of teacups

On the other hand, I drew the open part of the cup as much more of an ellipse.

In this image I have used a graphics program to layer the two images together. I find that this can be helpful in helping me “see” what is off.

This comparison also shows the difference in color. Yes, I am drawing a white teacup, but only a few highlight spots are actually white.

Most of the photograph is in the mid tones, neither dark nor light. What I have drawing is mostly darks and highlights.

Usually when I point things like this out, the first words I hear are “Don’t be so critical, your art work looks great.”

Being critical is how we learn.  The important thing to avoid is being a critic of my own work.  Each thing I said about has an easy and specific fix.

It is all too easy to look at problems with our own art work and become a critic.  “I suck at drawing. I can’t draw teacups.”  Those are the thoughts to avoid, as there is not a specifc fix for either.

They are just negative and completely without merit.  By focusing on what you can do to improve, it allows you to see what needs fixing and usually how to fix it.

There is not a quick and easy answer, the only way to improve the way we see things and get them down on paper is practice. Different Instructors will suggest different ways, but there is not a right way and a wrong way. It is a matter of what works for you.




Painting Floor Cloths

I have always loved compass roses. When I decided to paint a floor cloth for my front porch, it was only natural that I choose to do this complicated project for a first time project.  I am a painter after all, how different can it be.  Compass Rose Floorcloth- WIP The answer to that is very. Since I paint with Golden Open Acrylics, which are slow drying, I decide to pick up some outdoor latex paint, which was what was recommended in an online tutorial that I read. The first picture is how it looked after I painted the first coat of all the colors. Which was great until it dried. All the brownish points, except the darkest color all dried to shades very close to the background color.  I decided to add a drop shadow to the points to make them pop.  Thus the floral floor cloth was born. I needed someplace to try these new shadow techniques. Despite the trying them out on a second floor cloth, I managed to make the first few a little heavy. WIP Painted Floor Cloth

Iris, painted floor cloth

So, I went back in with my background color to lighten them.  Remember that decision to use the outdoor latex paint?

The whole point of using that paint was so that you did not have to try and match paint color when you were doing touch ups.  I would love to say that I took the touch up picture when the paint was still wet, sadly that is what it looked like when it was dry. (And for the 3M purists, that is green scotch painters tape, not frog tape) So now I am touching up the touch ups.

I am not sure how the floral one is going to come out, I have been trying all kinds of new techniques on it, stenciling, stamping, shadows, stippling, blending,etc.  I am happy with how the blending on the flower petal came out.


I promised a follow-up on how the battle to improve SEO was going.  The grade is now up to an 85. More on that later.

Purple Mountains and trees


This is the latest work in progress on the painting with the working title of Purple Mountains. Previous images can be found:


I decided that the mountain were a little too bright and sharp for the distance, so I put in a hazy glaze in over the mountains and into the grass at the background. I blended it into the lower portion of the sky. In this painting, I wanted to create the appearance of a large field with the small pond. In order to help show the scale, I decided to add a grouping of trees. I was very pleased with how the trunks of the trees came out, I was looking at different ways of creating the appearance of texture. I usually try and paint more detail than would be noticeable from a distance so that I then end up smoothing it out and the trees seem flat.  Part of the process is learning to see not what you know is there, but what you actually see.


Ariel Wrist Warmers- Pattern still under construction!


What I mean by under construction is that this pattern has NOT been test knit by anyone but myself.  I am currently looking for test knitters and will update and correct the pattern as needed.

This pattern is written in four sections. The cast on and top border, the main body, the bottom border and cast off, and the thumb.  I worked the pattern in Cascade Fixation , knit on US 4 3.5mm double point needles

The Cast on and top border

Cast on 38 Stitches on 4 needles.

2 needles of nine stitches each for the front, 2 needles of 10 stitches each for the palm side.

I used the long tail cast on method.

Purl a complete round.

Knit a complete round.

Purl a complete round.

The Main Body

Cable Pattern

Combine the two sets of nine stitches to one needle. This will be needle one.

Purl 6 stitches, move three stitches to a cable needle. These will be held in the front for one glove, and the back for the other glove. Knit three stitches, then knit the three stitches from the cable needle. Purl six stitches. (This is the cable pattern)

On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit 6. (Or Knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 6)

On Needle three Knit 6 purl 2 knit 6. (Or Knit 6, purl1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1)

The pattern on needles two and three remain the same for the body of the glove, unless otherwise specified.

Plain PatternIMG_20110102_181206

On  needle one Purl 6 stitches, knit six stitches, purl six stitches. (This is the plain pattern)

On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit 6.

On Needle three Knit 6 purl 2 knit 2.

(At this point you should have worked one cable pattern round, and one plain pattern round)

Repeat plain pattern for 4 more rounds.

On the seventh pattern round, do a round of the cable pattern.

Repeat the plain pattern on the next 6 rounds

On the fourteenth pattern round, do a round of the cable pattern.

{For an extra long palm portion, repeat the 6 plain pattern round and a cable pattern round before proceeding to next step (+7 to all future row counts)}

Complete plain pattern for 1 round.

First increase round- purl 1, Make one by purling into front and back of purl, purl 4, knit 6, purl 4, Make one by purling into the front and back of purl, purl 1, On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit 6. On Needle three Knit 6 purl 2 knit 2.

The next round (seventeenth) is also in plain pattern, with the exception that:

Either the last two stitches of  Needle three or the first two stitches of needle two are placed onto a holder. (One makes a left thumb, one a right)

At this point it will not be possible to knit in the round, so you have to knit as if it were knit flat.

Second increase round-
On  needle one Purl 6 stitches, knit six stitches, purl six stitches. On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit 1, Make one by knitting into front and back of knit stitch,  knit 4.
On Needle three Knit4, Make one by knitting into front and back of knit stitch, knit 1, purl 2 knit 2.

Complete plain pattern for 2  rounds.

On the twenty first round, Make a cable round, and make four stitches to form top of thumb hole. At this point you return to knitting in the round.

Complete 6 plain pattern rounds and a cable pattern round for Twenty eight rounds.

First decrease round- purl 1, Purl 2 together, purl 4, knit 6, purl 4, Purl 2 together, purl 1, On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit1, knit two together knit 4. On Needle three Knit4, knit two together, knit 1, purl 2 knit 2.

second decrease round- purl 1, Purl 2 together, purl 3, knit 6, purl 3, Purl 2 together, purl 1, On Needle two knit 2 purl 2, knit1, knit two together knit 3. On Needle three Knit3, knit two together, knit 1, purl 2 knit 2.

Complete 4 plain pattern rounds and a cable pattern round for thirty five rounds.

Complete 6 plain pattern rounds and a cable pattern round for Forty two rounds.

knit 3 plain rounds to complete main body.

The Bottom border and cast off

Knit a complete round.

Purl a complete round.

Knit a complete round.

Purl a complete round.

Use a sewn bind off.


Pick up held stitches and additional stitches till a total of 24 stitches are evenly spaced on three needles. Complete three rounds.

Then on each of the following rounds, for each needle:  knit 1, knit two together, knit across to next needle and repeat until 4 stitches remian on each needle. knit another full round, and then do a sewn bind off.

While this pattern is under construction, it is still © Rennata Tropeano 2011.  You are welcome to use this pattern to knit the Ariel Wrist Warmers for your self or as a gift.  If you would like to knit them for resale, please contact me.

Bits and Pieces

Wow, this month has been an exciting and inspirational.  I have been feeling a bit scattered, and I was going to sit down this morning and get it all together. I was looking at my list of things I want to get done, which is chock full of ideas and inspirations and things that I have seen that have sparked my wanting to create. I feel as if I am so full I shall burst.  Once again I am getting around to posting fairly late in the day.

pencil ralphFor those who asked, this is the image I used to make the face in my previous montage. I created this by applying filters to a snapshot I took with my phone Halloween before last.

I then used a brush eraser in gimp (a free photo shop like graphics program) to get rid of the hard edges.  Then I blended it by working with layers and transparency.

Today I also took some pictures at my daughter’s school. They had lots of pictures of the Performing Arts, but not a lot of Academics, so I had fun taking pictures of kids doing school work. Their classes seemed so much more interesting than I remember classes being.  I’d post some, but the school is the one with permission to photograph them,  so the photos can only be used by the school.

The biology class were doing interpretive dances of mitosis. It was great to watch, and really fun to photograph, as the class was sitting against the mirror in the dance studio, so I could photograph them, and the dancers reflected in the mirror.

I also got to listen to a book report on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Quite fun and well done.

One class had created butterflies for The Butterfly Effect project. There were a lot of incredible butterflies, and watching the kids show them off was interesting.  All and all very cool.

All about Llamas, copyright and creative commons.

Llama by Ernst Vikne, Some rights reserved
Llama by Ernst Vikne, Some rights reserved

Yesterday, I suggested working from a photo of a llama. This morning I found a Llama photo that I could share with you, as the owner was kind enough to give it a creative common licence.  You can find the original photo by Ernst Vikne on his Flikr page.  Clicking on the photo will take you to the licenses page.

Anytime you want to create something to represent another one of the key steps is identifying what makes this what it is.   So far, I have identified my four leg creature as having a long neck, tall stick up ears, a flattened wedge shaped head and face and skinny feet and dark hooves.  Using Llama wool means the brown I choose is an appropriate color. 
What I noticed now is how the neck and the legs bend. Also important is how the neck connects to the body and the shape of it. It is  very different than a horses neck.  The shape and fur of the body is also important.
I wanted to be able to go ahead and post this early so I am not putting today’s post up at midnight again so I will have to add pictures of my llama later.
More on the copy right stuff.  Recently a friend of a friend had an article she had written and posted on her blog used and her copyright violated.
It turned into her 15 minutes of fame. (Just do a quick search for Monica and Cook’s Source if you missed this one)  It has made me more aware of  intellectual property of others and the risks of putting my work on the internet. 
Do I want to be able to share what I am learning in this process, yes.  Absolutely, that  is why I blog.  Would I want someone taking my stuff and using it without my knowledge  for their commercial gain. Not at all.
In creating my needleworked critters, I look at pictures of the animal I am creating. I usually look at several so that I get views from all angles so I understand how the animal is put together.   So normally, I do not feel that I need to credit the photographers, as I referencing their work, rather than copying it.  Now, if I where take my little llama,  pose him just as this llama is and photographed him against a barbwire fence in a field of yellow flowers, then once again I would need to credit the photographer as that would be me building upon his work.
So why have I detailed this process?  Part of what I want to teach in creating needle felted animals is how to create your own unique and original animal rather than just showing you exactly how I did it to create my Llama.  Once you have learned the basics of needle felting, you can pretty much look at someone elses creation and make one just like it.   Why not take it the further step and create your own based your observations.
One of the terms of the creative commons licence is:
  • Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
  • In keeping with this, This post of my blog will also be under the creative commons licence.

    Rennata Tropeano, Some Rights Reserved, 2010


    Needle felted llamas


    In order to take the covered form and make it into a finished llama you have to refine and shape it more like a real llama.

    I suggest working from an picture. Needle felting can have as much variety as drawing. By calling the covered form a llama, a lot of people start to see a llama.

    If I had said horse, or other four legged long necked critter, that is what they would have started seeing. I tend to start with the head and face, because that  that tends to be a well defined area on an animal, while fur, wool, feathers often obscure the shape.

    I am using a three needle pen by clover. This could be done with a single needle, it would just be a little slower.


    In looking at pictures, I decided that our Llama’s face need to flatten out a bit. The way to create flat planes is to use the needles perpendicular to the plane you want to create. The need is pictured in the position for the top of the head. The pink arrows show the angle for the other plains.  To create a rounded shape, you use the needle at a wide variety of angles

    The next step after the face would be to tighten up the legs, esp. the lower part of the legs.  Because like their friends the cows and the shaven sheep, the llama have skinny feet. (taken from the Suburbs song, Cows) Pictures will follow.

    And now our candidates for best support , in The return of the Llama.

    image of  bases for needle felted animals
    Free Standing Llama

    My daughter is a big fan of Llamas.  As a result one of my first attempts at needle felting involved a Llama.   That poor sad llama had two main things going against it, The first being a serious difficulty  standing, and the second being that our cat loved the llama as much as my daughter. The cat literally loved the llama to peices.  While the llama could be refelted back together again, it seemed that the standing issue became more of an issue with each repair.  It was clear that this poor llama needed a better support system.  Needle felted sculptures are held together in one of three  ways the I know of. They are just felted together and built up, this results in a solid dense sculpture.  They can be  sewn together, I have seen this used mostly in doll type creations.  Another way they are built is over an armature.  The armature can be most anything, but the most common I have seen are fabric,  paper and wire.  I think of wet felted wool as a fabric,  I know of some who argue that it is, and others who argue that it is not.

    The Llama and sheep bases shown in this picture are created out of pipe cleaners also known as chenille stems.  They are then wrapped with the fiber you are going to felt.  These have been wrapper and have had just enough felting to hold the fiber in place.  Different animals can be created by altering the basic shape to match that of the animal you are trying to create.

    Tomorrow, I will take pictures of the finishing process as I work through it.


    Needle felting

    Welcome to further adventures  in needle felting.

    Playing with the range of choices. I am having a lot of fun playing, trying new things and learning as I go.  I am finding that one of the really nice things about needle felting is that is very easy to pick up and put down.  Right now I am putting a lot of effort into writing as the word count for Nanowrimo requires that. I find that during this time I tend to stay away from the creative activities require a transitional or warming up period.  Painting requires gathering materials and setting up, or the drive to the gallery where things are already set up.  Drawing for me requires a sketching or warm up period before I can really get into the drawing.  I am finding needle felting to be something that I can just pick up and know what I want to do next.   While I was at the New England Fiber Festival,  I saw a lot of needle felted items. Some I liked, and some I did not.  There is a huge variety in styles, from some that were just enough stabs to hold the items together,  much like the dress part of the red head angel in my photograph, to some items that were fine art sculptures.

    It was at the fair that I saw a lot of ornament kits to make felted ornaments using the cookie cutters.  Some where thick and structural like the needle felted bear I made. Some were barely thick enough as to not be see through with ribbon or yarn bows added.  I was not so fond of that type, as I felt they ended up looking a lot like a child’s cut out of commercially made felt.

    Yesterday I tried the angel shaped cookie cutter. The first attempt I thought came out too thick, and almost abstract.  When I made the second one thinner, it had the above effect, so I added on some color and started building up depth.  I am not satisfied with either one.  I am not sure where I am going to go with them, or if they are just learning exercises.

    I did learn that the cookie cutters, while an excellent tool for making simple basic shapes, may not work as well for the more complex shapes. I kept thinking how much easier it would have been to build the second angel in the same way I had the doll.

    Learning is good, and the making was fun, so all and all I count these as a win.

    When I went to add this to the day’s list of links for AEDM,  I saw another artist making a self deprecating comment about their art.  These always make me very sad, as I hope everyone is getting more enjoyment than frustration out of their creating. Just remember there is a big difference between I am not completely happy with it, and it is bad.

    Mistakes are gifts that teach us something, learn from them. Do not let them get you down.