Sunday, 24 April 2016

Taylor the Swift

I've long debated on this blog post as I don't really have enough photos of the finished object serving in its intended purpose. But then I think, hey I created a mascot for a Pom team that went to Disney World and the World Cheer and Dance Championships and I'm damn proud of that (as well as being exceptionally proud of my daughter and her team)! So blog I will... (And it is almost exactly a year since the event this mascot was made for took place so it's certainly high time).

The knitting challenge I received from my eldest daughter: Make a mascot to mark the center of the stage for her team’s Pom performance at the 2015 Cheer and Dance World Championships in April at Disney World in Florida. Her team are the Swifts. She did send me a rough sketch for colours and an idea of the size.
So I first made this little guy as a prototype. You can read more about him (and see more photos) in his own blog post: #20swiftteen. He is gorgeous and I'm happy with how he turned out  be he was but not quite what they were looking for. (Don't worry, this little swift is not a poor homeless birdy. He was quickly snapped up by Coach Casey)

Cue a modified sketch. They added a hat, hightops and dog tags - a little more gansta swift. It also needed to be larger - about 30 cm high.

It all began with these cute little crocheted hightops. This is the only pattern I used in creating Taylor. It's from a Mollie Makes magazine - a Christmas special I think. I'm proud of these as crochet is very much my secondary craft skill. I also learnt surface crochet to do the black line embellishments. They are green as that is MCA (Melbourne Cheer Academy) and hence the Swifts colours. I edged these with black and white striped ribbon, used real black shoe laces, stuffed them firmly and glued them to the base of the body.
I knitted the body and chest piece, head, wings and under wings, beak and tail separately flat on two needles, seamed them and stuffed the body and head and then attached the wings, tail and beak. The tail helps with the overall balance so Taylor stands properly. The eyes are toy safety eyes and she has real false eyelashes glued on. After embroidering the black line on her beak we added lipstick as clearly she needed her full stage make-up to compete. The boy donated the dog tags and we found a short  black chain.
The hat is sewn. The front and brim are made from black velvet and the back from acetate mesh. I'm not entirely happy with the shape of this as it doesn't stand up as vertically as it should in the front. Pattern drafting is definitely something I could sharpen my skills in. In hindsight, I should have stuffed  the hat before attaching it to help it maintain its shape. The hat is glued to the head and the 15 on the front is iron-on crystal numbers.

Here she is already to help the Swifts train to World Championship Domination.
I got to see my mascot proudly marking the center of the stage at the final rehearsal before the girls went overseas.

It was the trip of a lifetime if a little more drama filled than one would want. That's my daughter right at the front in their first team photo at Disney World. She spectacularly injured her ankle in rehearsals three days before comp and didn't get to compete on stage with the the rest of the team in the preliminary rounds. But massive applications of ice and some heavy duty strapping plus an extreme unwillingness to come this far and not compete, saw her take the stage for the finals.
Check that ankle strapping!
MCA (My daughter's cheer academy) made a little YouTube miniseries of the Swifts Road to Worlds. This is the final episode showing their performance in the finals. They finished in the top 20 in the World. Not bad for a team from Down Under where cheer has nowhere near the massive profile or funding that it has in the US. (These athletes are all amateurs with full time jobs or study commitments not semi-professional).

I'm not entirely sure what happened to Taylor. I haven't seen her since she disappeared into a bag for her trip to Florida and Disney World. Maybe she's an illegal immigrant haunting Disney World and the cheer hall at ESPN representing her little heart out forever. Go Swifts!!!

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