Summer visitors have inspired my crochet this month.
Lizards live relatively undetected in my vegetable garden, except for the occasional bite of my leafy greens; and in the heat of the summer when they choose to come indoors to escape the extremes.
I work my garden with native wildlife in mind, by providing a habitat for lizards–nature's pest controllers.
I provide lots of shady places–leaf litter and old boughs for them to hide in and under;
I leave bricks and pavers about for soaking up the solar heat so lizards can sunbathe.
An old and cracked terracotta pot lays on its side to collect water and provides a sheltered drink. The compost bin is populated by big juicy worms and crawling insects for a protein feed.
We used to get a lot of slugs and snails but not so much any more. I like to think that my reptilian friends are keeping them under control. It is a thrill to see results for my efforts.
Every summer small geckos find their way into my laundry. They like the crack between the door and the hinge. They also like to hide in the small gap between the washing machine and the floor tiles. I am sure they find the occasional spider to eat there too.
When I find them in the laundry, I will wet an old face washer and leave it close to their hiding place as a source of moisture to keep them going until they can find their way outdoors again.
|Marbled Gecko in my laundry (13 February 2014)|
The native marbled geckos move very swiftly and will hide from the light. I even found one entangled in my washing! After helping it to escape, I managed to get a photo of it.
Inspired by my summer visitors, I decided to make a family of crocheted geckos for a young friend interstate.
I made three geckos in different colours using Lion Brand's free "Gecko Bookmark" pattern. They are very easy to make and easy to post (which is important)–fun playthings for a school boy as well as useful bookmarks for a young reader.
It took about 1.5 hours to make each gecko and that was at a very relaxed pace in front of the television and with household distractions. A speedy crocheter's undivided attention could probably produce a gecko within an hour.
The pattern called for an aran (weight #4) wool yarn but I used the Lion Brand Bonbons DK acrylic (colour set: pastels # 620) in Peach, Sky Blue and Light Green.
I used a 3.5 mm bamboo hook. I like the light weight of bamboo hooks because they are easy on the arms but I find the aluminium hooks create less friction with acrylic yarns. (I would have preferred to use my favourite aluminium 3.5 mm hook but I couldn't find it anywhere!)
The bodies were made in a straight strip and the heads were created by wrapping a length of yarn around the strip and pulling tight. This method is easy to see on the green gecko. I made it less obvious on the other two by weaving the thread into the stitch pattern on the top of the gecko.
|The neck and head were created by wrapping the yarn around the plain strip and pulling tightly.|
It is visible on the green gecko.
|The neck thread is less obvious on the blue gecko as it is woven into the stitches across the top.|
I used the damp blocking method to flatten out the geckos (before adding their eyes), but their padded feet like to twist. The answer was to press them in a heavy book (my giant dictionary) for 24 hours.
The 6 mm googly eyes are glued on. Their packaging describes them as 'joggle eyes'. I was going to glue them on with craft glue but the eyes that I found are already sticky-backed. It is just a matter of removing the paper backing and sticking the eyes in place–no mess!
|Marbled Gecko on my front porch |
(7 February 2012)
Of course, real geckos do not have curlicue tails; however for the purposes of a bookmark, the curlicue prevents the gecko from slipping down inside the book and it is also a fun feature for a child to play with.
- head + body: 1 inch x 5–6 inches
- total length including tail: 10–11 inches
- total width including legs and feet: 5 inches
- Lion Brand Bonbons DK acrylic, colour set 'Pastels' #620, approximately 4–5 grams for each gecko. I used Light Green, Sky Blue and Peach, <http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/bonbons.html>.
- Arbee Craft Pty Ltd glue-on eyes, 6 mm 'Eyes Joggle Glue' (sold in packs of 20 pieces), <www.arbee.com.au>.
- Crochet hook, 3.5 mm
- Craft glue
- Arbee Craft Pty Ltd, 60 Bond Street, West Mordialloc, Victoria 3195, <www.arbee.com.au>
- Backyards for Wildlife, "Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden" web page <http://www.backyards4wildlife.com.au/index.php?page=attracting-wildlife-to-your-garden>
- Backyards for Wildlife, "Creating a Home for Lizards" fact sheet, <http://www.backyards4wildlife.com.au/uploads/BFW%20FS%20-%20Lizards.pdf>
- Backyards for Wildlife, Urban Biodiversity Unit, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 328 Shepherds Hill Road, Blackwood, South Australia 5051, <www.backyards4wildlife.com.au>
- Lion Brand Yarn Company, "Gecko Bookmark" free pattern #80356AD, <http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/80356AD.html?noImages=>