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1  Re: The littlest pony in Halloween Costumes by swamps42 on: November 11, 2011 03:13:59 PM
He knew something was up at that point, but he didn't know quite yet.

My favorite picture of him is when I tried on the saddle tree...with a Jake LIV doll in it. That scowl is pretty serious! It think his real problem is that I made him get up to take the photo at 2 AM. He was sleeping on my bed without being invited up though, so I think it's fair.

This face just says, "Let sleeping dogs lie!"
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2  Re: The littlest pony in Halloween Costumes by swamps42 on: November 09, 2011 11:34:41 AM
Thank you! Halloween is my favorite holiday by far. It's a holiday all about crafting (costumes/decorations/scary looking food like monster toes), and candy AND goofing off with friends. That sure beats the family kinds of stress and mom's raw food only "cooking" on Christmas morning!

I did promise progress shots, and here's the first batch - the saddle blanket! I made the saddle blanket first mostly because I had no idea how to make a saddle, but the prize had just been announced and I really wanted to get started because quite frankly I really want that sewing machine.

I researched saddle blankets for a couple hours. It seems the best ones are made of wool so that the sweat is wicked away from the body and the horse doesn't get chilled. Pretty much all the wool yarn I have in my stash is fingering weight because I like working on bitty needles. I'm a huge miniatures fanatic. I do have a stash of acrylic since people tend to give me their partial balls and on the rare occasions I get low, it's pretty easy to find on freecycle.org in my town. So since dog's can't sweat like horses do, I picked out a few colors of acrylic yarn I liked for the weft and some crochet cotton for the warp. The colors I picked were to roughly match the old Mexican saddle blanket designs, very common in the old west. My inspiration was this photo from this site: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/cott-o/item/el-bl/:

I measured my dog and made a loom out of some cardboard I'd stashed in my craft corner. I notched the ends of the cardboard and made a loom...the kind of loom I hadn't made since probably first or second grade. I warped it with the crochet cotton and started weaving my design. I used plastic yarn needles for the shuttles, but it would have been easier if they were longer. For all but the last few rows, I used a ruler to make weaving in one direction go faster at least.

Here is the blanket still on the loom:

It took nearly 5 hours to weave the whole darn thing!

Then I flipped the loom over:

You can see that I wrapped the warp all the way around the loom so I'd have very long tails. I never thought to do this as a kid, but I wish I had. Back then I'd just weave up then down and when I popped the mini dollhouse rug (that's all I wanted to weave as a kid) off the loom, it would just have a bit more play since the warp was always a little bit long where it ran behind the cardboard notches. So this was my first time every trying to finish a bit of weaving properly. I'm pleased with how well it went.

I cut all the warp crochet cotton strings across the center back of the loom:

Then I very, very carefully freed each bit of crochet cotton from each notch in the cardboard loom and lifted the cardboard off:

Yowsa that's a ton of ends to weave in! I whimpered a little at the idea of even just threading the needle that many times, but I am a perfectionist and I wasn't going to tolerate a shoddy saddle blanket with the ends just cut off close-ish.

My first step was to tie knots in the warp across one end. I used a square knot to tie two neighboring strings together. Because there is an odd number of strings on each side, on one end I had to tie three strings together. I tied two on the end into a square knot and then took the string closest to the inside edge of that knot and tied a square knot with the still free third string. If you do this all the way across you can get a very clean looking edge with the warp showing. I wanted to minimize the visibility of the warp so I only did this where I absolutely had to.

Then I started knotting the other side of warp in the same manner. On the second side you have to be careful to tie your knots at just the right tension so that the saddle blanket can still sit flat but also so that the weft is held tightly enough that the saddle blanket is thick and sturdy, just like a real saddle blanket. You can see how my knots are holding the weft just right. Where I haven't tied it yet the warp still shows through the weft.

Finally, before pulling my yarn needles back out to weave in the ends, I tried the saddle blanket on my dog, Sketch, just to make sure I liked the fit of it. There's no sense in spending 4 hours weaving in yarn ends if you don't like the size of the blanket!

I did like the size of the blanket on him, so I set about weaving in every end of crochet cotton and acrylic yarn. I thought I'd never be done weaving in ends.
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3  The littlest pony in Halloween Costumes by swamps42 on: November 08, 2011 03:41:15 PM

My dog's costume was inspired by a Halti I bought for training him years ago. When I put it on him, I thought, "Hey! He could be a pony!" Years passed and I never dressed him up as a pony. This year, I finally got around to it. I wove him a saddle blanket, carefully crafted a western saddle from real leather, and tied a lead rope onto his Halti. He also grew out his mane and tail hair for an entire year! I haven't clipped it off him yet, and every time I look at him and his little forelock falls across his face I have to give him a pat. It's just too cute.

The costume was perfect for my little dog, Sketcher. He is a semi-retired service dog. He works for me around the house still doing things like retrieving medication, helping me get undressed, and going to get help when I fall. He used to go everywhere with me, but he's gotten too old to keep up with working 24/7 as a service dog. I'm currently saving up to get a new dog - one that is much, much bigger. I'd like a dog big enough to help me up if I fall or to even do bracing work to help keep me from falling. Of course Sketcher will live out his retirement with me. He's my little baby and my best friend. He thinks he's a big dog and can do anything. He's got the heart of a horse in a miniature schnauzer body!

The saddle is the real special piece of his costume. I spent an entire month just researching how western saddles are created. Then, I came up with creative ways to miniaturize the traditional techniques to make a small dog sized saddle. My goal was to not buy anything to make the costume since I'm disabled, unemployed, and beyond broke as a result. Medical bills will eat anyone alive! My crafting has to be near free for it to happen. I almost made it without buying anything too. The only things I bought were a leather sewing needle and a thimble. The leather I used was a scrap my mom was going to throw away, the bitty conches were from a friend's mom who gave me a box of odd bits when cleaning out her stash, the yarn for the saddle blanket from my stash, the saddle tree (inside the leather) was made from cracker box cardboard, newspaper, and mod podge, and the odds and ends fasteners on the saddle all came from my bead box.

And yes, I took plenty of great photos of the whole process of making that saddle. I figure you all will want a tutorial.

Now that Halloween is over, I think I'm going to have to make a miniature saddle stand to hold up his saddle and blanket. Then I'll use it as a bit of home decor. I'm currently building a small home in the country which is where the photos were taken. Rather, my parents are building a small place for me and I have to slowly pay them back as I'm able. I lost my home when I was disabled in two hit-and-run accidents a year apart  (the luck!) and have been living with my two dogs in a roughly 200 sq ft basement since. I know I'll be healing faster and needing less pain meds once I have the house. Space to move around and exercise, the yoga swing my PT wants me to have, a full kitchen (holy cow am I sick of TV dinners, it's been 5 years like this!), and a HUGE studio for the crafting business I want to start. There's even space for me to teach workshops...I was an arts and crafts teacher for adults and children before I was disabled and now unable to work a full-time job. I can't wait to get back to teaching at least part-time!

The property is also to be a small hobby farm. I will be raising small fiber animals. A friend has even given me a donkey to protect my herd. I've been joking that my boy Sketcher has been upset I've been spending so much time training the donkey that he had to dress up as a horse to get my attention back on him!

It worked. I'm now leading my dog about the property, not a donkey.
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