It’s the Year of the Dragon this year! To celebrate, crochet your own fire-breathing cuties in a rainbow of colours for yourself or for your friends!
To tell you the truth, I was hesitant about making a dragon. Life got really busy as soon as we came back from our Christmas holidays, and Chinese New Year was fast approaching. I didn’t think we’d have the time, and it seemed challenging to make a cute dragon since I was so used to making my cute bears and bunnies. Ryan, who is always up for a challenge, strongly encouraged me to give it a try, saying that we’d have enough time and that it would be really special since it was Chinese New Year. It had been exactly a year ago since we had created our first original design and pattern: the Chinese New Year Doll. With his support and encouragement, we began brainstorming ideas of what our dragon would look like. The only dragons that came to mind were “Mushu” from Mulan, “Toothless” from “How to Train Your Dragon”, “Puff the Magic Dragon”, and the Dragon from Shrek. We looked for images of inspiration on-line by googling “cute dragon” and this adorable picture immediately jumped out:
We thought this little green dragon was so sweet! We initially had difficulty trying to find the artist who drew this picture as no one who used this image was able to locate the source. However, an astute tumblr reader informed me that the artist is actually Kim Rountree of Oborocharms (check out more of her kawaii art here). We based our amigurumi dragon on this image since he was so unbelievably adorable!
This Dragon’s head is different than all the other amigurumi I’ve made since it is not spherical or ball-shaped. Rather than starting off with the magic circle, I crocheted around a series of chain stitches to create an oval shape.
As you can see, I then started widening the head and then sharply decreasing. Ryan added the eyes and then stitched this cute mouth with a little fang!
Ryan then excitedly began working on the wings. He cut out two pieces of beige felt shaped like isosceles triangles. Next, he cut pieces of the same green yarn that I used to crochet his head and splayed them outwards from the tip of the triangle. Using fabric glue, he secured the yarn in place. He then trimmed the felt cutting from one piece of yarn to the next and then scalloped the edges between the yarn pieces. Ryan secured the wings onto the Dragon’s head using a glue gun. He did all this as I was checking my e-mail since he wanted to keep it a surprise…I squealed with delight when I saw how awesome his wings looked!
Next I worked on Dragon’s legs/body. I crocheted two circles and then joined them together. I then continued crocheting around these two joined circles, similar to how I made the baby P.J. Teddy’s legs.
I continued for a few rows until the cute little body was complete!
Ryan then worked on the four horns for our little Dragon. He cut out these pieces from dark brown felt, applied glue with a glue gun, and then rolled them into cone shapes.
I was so happy with how Dragon was turning out since he had so many cute details! After adding the horns, the pink cheeks and the body, I crocheted two small arms and attached them to the sides. On a completely unrelated note, Dragon matches perfectly with the pattern of my armchair!
Ryan then used felt and embroidery floss to add this scaled detailing to his body. Ryan is so adept at using felt :) I then crocheted a little tail and attached it angling a little higher up than normal so that it appears that Dragon is leaning back (visible in upcoming pictures). This tail also gives him balance so he can stand all by himself!
And now, may we present to you our finished little Dragon!
In the Chinese culture, dragons are symbols of power, strength and good luck. Because of this, the Year of the Dragon is very popular!
With his tail positioning, our little Dragon is leaning back…doesn’t it look like he’s about to let out a puff of fire? As you can see here, we also added a little spike to the tip of his tail!
We are so thrilled with how he turned out, particularly with all the details that Ryan added…
Here is a close-up of Dragon’s face: I love the shape of his head and his cute expression :)
And here is a really close-up view of his mouth. Haha, the little fang could also look like some drool coming down from this little guy’s mouth…
The four felted conical horns: the two in the front are smaller than the two in the back.
Another close-up view of his wing:
And another close-up view of his scaled body:
Isn’t he precious? I am sooo happy that Ryan encouraged me to make him. He brings a smile to my face whenever I see him…
I can’t believe it’s been a year since we made our first original design. We’ve come so far and made so many amigurumi since then, but Chinese New Year Doll is still very unique and will always hold a special place in my heart. They make a cute pair, don’t they?
Chinese New Year Doll has a new ami to chat up…will she get a new friend every year? We’ll have to see…
So now you have two ways to celebrate Chinese New Year! The Dragon would be a great gift for any babies who are born this year or for anybody who is the Year of the Dragon :)
I was trying to think of different ways to photograph our new Dragon, and I thought it’d be special to whip out my Chinese dress (cheongsam or qipao) that I bought in Hong Kong. I actually wore this dress during the tea ceremony of our wedding where we received a lot of red pocket money and jewelry. I love the detailing and pinkness of my dress since it is different than the traditional red ones!
As Ryan and I were working on Dragon at night, we noticed the scary shadow that he was casting… Wouldn’t it be funny if you saw this ominous shadow at night but then turned the corner to find this little cutie?
“Gung Hei Fat Choy” or Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! I hope you like the Dragon we made, and thank you for the wonderful response to him so far :) Ryan and I really enjoy reading all your comments on the blog, facebook and on tumblr, and it’s so rewarding being able to share our love of crafting with you all! I always enjoy working through the whole amigurumi process with Ryan, and I feel very blessed and fortunate that I have such a supportive, creative, crafty and encouraging hubby! The pattern for this little dragon can be found HERE while the pattern for the Chinese New Year Doll can be found here. Don’t forget to send me photos of your finished products through e-mail, facebook or twitter! Let me know what you think of him! Our dragon is also in desperate need of a name…any ideas?
[Note: People have been sending me photos of their baby Dragons, and I’ve compiled them into a Crochet Corner post here!]
Ryan and I both LOVE desserts, so Paris was the perfect place for us to satiate our sweet tooth. I tried to research exactly where we should go and what we should try in order to maximize our short stay in Paris. Armed with our cameras (our DSLR, point-and-shoot and iPhones), we documented our dessert adventures along the way. Ryan and I are both macaron aficionados as we enjoy trying macarons in different cities and comparing different textures and flavours. Imagine our delight and excitement when we got to visit Ladurée, the famed pastry shop along the Champs-Élysées. Louis Ernest Ladurée founded his bakery in 1862, and the pastry shop rose to fame when Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of Ladurée, had the original idea of the double-decker macaron in 1930. This is the macaron that we know and love today with two macaron shells filled with creamy ganache.
This place has so much history and is one of the most well-known (if not the most well-known) macaron makers in the world! I loved the beautiful, elegant storefront.
Unfortunately, the restaurant was being renovated while we were there, so we could not dine in for breakfast or for tea. Instead, we picked out some desserts from their shop and had to take them elsewhere to eat. Apparently there is usually a very long line-up, but there was none when we visited (probably because the restaurant was closed).
Everything looked so beautiful and delicious! It was very difficult to choose what to order. Interestingly, Ladurée was the one who made the pastries in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette”- I still remember the scene where the beautiful, colourful macarons are shown!
We were also very hungry this morning as it was our first official full day in Paris. We had had an early start to our morning to take some sunrise shots, so we could’ve gobbled up everything in a minute!
Armed with our delicious treats in hand, we went to go find a warm place to enjoy and savour them.
We ended up going to a nearby McDonald’s! We ordered a tea and coffee to go with these sweet treats. I love the elegant packaging and branding.
My all-time favourite flavours are still pistachio and salted caramel: thus, we ordered these flavours in the larger macarons and also picked up some blackcurrant, raspberry, chocolate and rose macarons.
We were told that their pain au chocolate amande was one of their best-sellers, so we decided to give it a try. We were delightfully surprised as this chocolate almond croissant’s filling was delicious and tasty with its bits of almonds and hint of chocolate. The texture was very unique, and we were really glad we tried this special croissant.
Next came the moment we had been waiting for: trying the famed Ladurée macarons! First up was pistachio! Their macarons were delicate with a crispy exterior. The flavouring was wonderful and the ganache was light and fluffy. Many people hail these as the best macarons they’ve ever tasted with perfect texture. Everybody has their own tastes and preferences, and I myself prefer a chewier macaron. I loved the chewiness of the macarons of Miette Patisserie in San Francisco, but Ladurée’s did have better flavour. I remember also really enjoying the macarons of Bouchon Bakery in New York City as they were both flavourful and chewy.
Mmm….look at all that delicious fluffy ganache filling! The salted caramel also had a wonderful taste, and we ended up saving the others to eat in our hotel so we could enjoy them later.
One of my favourite things to do on the trip was hop into bakeries to pick up some croissants to snack on along the way! This place was near our hotel and along the way to the Metro station.
The croissants were so fluffy, soft, and buttery. Since they were so light, I could eat a lot in one sitting!
This baguette was a delicious snack on the go in the Metro station. The crispy exterior contrasted the soft, warm and chewy interior. Mmm…I love bread :)
Next on our macaron tour was a stop at the famed Pierre Hermé. Pierre Hermé was dubbed “The Picasso of Pastry” and was the youngest person ever to be named “France’s Pastry Chef of the Year”. He worked with Ladurée before opening his own boutique in Paris in 2002. His storefront is noticeably different from Ladurée’s as it is more modern and sleek.
You can see me in the reflection, eagerly anticipating more of these Parisian treats! There was a line-up to get in, but the line-up went fairly quickly.
Once again, there were so many beautiful desserts on display. The “Ispahan”, a beautiful pastry made of rose macaron biscuits with rose petal cream, whole raspberries and lychee flavour is apparently one of Pierre Hermé’s masterpieces (you can barely see it in the back of this picture below- it’s visible in one of my Ladurée pics as they sell it too). I will have to go back to try this next time as I only read about this recently…I suppose I was too fixated on the macarons!
Pierre Hermé is known for his unusual and unique macaron flavour combinations, from olive oil with mandarin orange to chocolate and foie gras. We had to quickly choose which of these unique macarons we wanted to try after the sales associate rattled off all the flavours available.
Once again, we took our macarons to go as we wanted to enjoy them as we continued our sight-seeing of Paris.
We ended up picking four very unique flavours: Mogador (passion fruit chocolate), Creme Brûlée, Truffe Blanche & Noisette (white truffle and hazelnut) and Chocolate & Foie gras.
The colours and presentation of these macarons were absolutely gorgeous! I loved the elegant powder dusting on the macarons- they looked so fancy!
All of the macarons were exceptionally flavourful and intense and unlike anything I had ever tasted. Some have hailed these macarons as the best they’ve ever tasted. The texture of these macarons differed from Ladurée’s as we found the shells to be very soft and much less crispy. Once again, I prefer a chewier macaron, but I definitely appreciated Pierre Hermé’s unique and creative flavours. Look at the beautiful colour inside the Chocolate and Foie Gras macaron!
We also stopped by Angelina, a famous tearoom founded in 1903 near the Louvre and the Jardin de Tuileries that was frequented by many famous individuals, such as Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and King Henry V. There was a very long line-up outside, and since we had to catch our plane in a few hours, we opted to grab a few items from their store rather than dining in.
Angelina is famous for their ‘Chocolat L’Africain’ (hot chocolate), and I was so happy that we could take it to go in a portable cup. This hot chocolate is incredibly thick, rich, and dark…it tasted like I was drinking pure melted chocolate! Apparently when you have this in the tearoom, it is accompanied by a bowl of whipped cream to complement it and a glass of ice water on the side to offset the richness!
Angelina is also famous for their legendary Mont Blancs, made of chestnut purée, vanilla chantilly and a merengue base. Don’t they look unique? I had never tasted a Mont Blanc prior to this. The gentleman in front of us ordered 6 of these to go! This was a good indication that they were indeed delicious and were going to live up to their hype…
We ordered one and enjoyed it back at our hotel as we waited for our taxi to come drive us to the airport.
I had no idea how it would taste, and we were excited to dive in!
I managed to snap a quick pic before we completely devoured the Mont Blanc. The chestnut puree ontop had a delicious texture and flavour, and the vanilla cream was incredibly light. The merengue base added a delightful crispy, sweet contrast to the rest of the dessert. Ryan and I were both very pleasantly surprised with how much we loved it, and we actually concluded that it was our favourite new dessert in Paris! I hope that we can dine in and enjoy the full tearoom experience the next time we go!
Writing this blog post has made me incredibly hungry and I wish I had some sweet treats with me now. Thankfully, we actually have some exceptional macaron establishments where I live, such as the Duchess Bake Shoppe and Mirabelle Macarons, so I can enjoy these delightful Parisian treats without having to hop on a plane! My good friend Connie of Mirabelle Macarons has done a wonderful job of perfecting her macaron recipes and has experimented with some very unique flavors too. I have yet to try making macarons on my own, but I am definitely excited to give them a try :) Stay tuned for more pictures and posts about the restaurants and other famous attractions we visited on our whirlwind trip to Paris!
We feasted on so many beautiful and scrumptious desserts while we were in Paris. I hope you enjoyed my tweets as we traveled, and we can’t wait to share more photos with you soon! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a project I worked on before Christmas with you. I have a good friend who is a wonderful baker and cook, so when I saw this adorable crocheted dessert trio in Ana Paula Rimoli’s “Amigurumi Toy Box”, I knew I had to make these for her!
I first started on the dainty little cake by alternating between white and tan for the layers.
We made some modifications to our little cake. To make the layers more flat and solid, we cut out pieces of cardboard and glued them onto the white parts so they would not be as puffy when filled with stuffing. I only recommend doing this if you are making these pieces for an adult who will be putting the amigurumi on display rather than for a child who will be playing with them and probably getting them dirty. The cardboard will not fare so well if you will be washing the amigurumi! As you can see in the pictures below, we cut out a circular piece of cardboard as well as a doughnut-shaped piece. We also put some stuffing between the layers of cardboard.
The layers are much more flat and defined now, just like a real cake :) We then added the eyes and the dainty little smile!
Next I crocheted a pretty pink cherry adorned with a green leaf to sit atop the cake!
Here is the finished little cake! The pink cherry adds such a cute touch :)
The flan was very easy to make as I switched from brown to yellow and added the face. I love how these desserts have such big eyes and how minimal sewing is required!
This little flan gets a red cherry…
Here is the finished flan! We got these beautiful dessert plates as a gift, and I love their vibrant colours and wise quotes.
To finish up our dessert trio, I then worked on the hot cocoa. We once again added a circular piece of cardboard so that his base would be flatter. Then we added the eyes, smile and rosy cheeks!
Next I sewed on the brown hot cocoa part and added the curved little handle. He’s so dainty and tiny!
A melting marshmallow finishes off the look of this little hot cocoa! Working on him reminded me of the two amigurumi cups I made when I first started making amigurumi!
And here is my dessert trio altogether, displayed on my three-tiered platter :) I love using this platter when serving jello and other desserts at parties. Wouldn’t you be happy if you walked into a potluck or party and saw these three cuties staring back at you?
I love how the flan, cake and hot cocoa each have something special to decorate them ontop. These desserts would be the perfect gift for someone who has a sweet tooth or perhaps for someone who loves high tea (like me)! These three were quick and easy to make, and my friend loved them! They are proudly sitting atop her shelf in her office :) It’s fun not only making amigurumi animals but amigurumi food too! Adding faces to household objects and food make them look so cute (like my amigurumi Siu Mai)!
You can get the patterns to make the flan, cake and hot cocoa in “Amigurumi Toy Box”. If you haven’t checked out Ana Paula Rimoli’s three books yet, I highly recommend buying them or borrowing them from your local library. I went through her patterns when I first started making amigurumi, and they are very easy to understand and follow. Her patterns are always adorable! Who is your favourite? Do your friends have any favourite foods that you could perhaps amigurumi-fy? Thank you for reading!