Category: Crochet Basics

What’s in the Box?

Recently I did a blog entry about holiday gifts for the crocheter in your life. One of the gifts that I referenced is the gift that keeps giving….a monthly subscription box.

Because I am a yarn addict/hoarder, and have no plans to cure myself any time soon, I myself was intrigued by the idea. I had done a monthly yarn subscription before through Happy Yarn Mail, which has been (sadly) discontinued, and I loved the idea of getting a little surprise present in the mail each month.

Since Happy Yarn Mail stopped, I really hadn’t found another subscription that I wanted to try, until Christmas came around the bend and new offers started appearing in my email. One of the most intriguing came from Knit Picks, which is a smaller company that promotes itself as selling luxury yarns at affordable prices. I have purchased yarn from them before and have always been super happy, and their customer service is incredible. So, I decided to treat myself to a three month subscription.

I came home after a long day at work on Monday and found my first box waiting for me. Yay! What a great surprise. It really was a ray of light on a gloomy day. What was inside? What goodies awaited me. So, I wanted to share with you what I got – especially if there is anyone still on the fence for a Christmas gift for the knitter or crocheter in their lives.

The package was inviting and just made me smile. Look at the cute little balls of yarn. I loved the alpaca joke, I’m still laughing about it.

As soon as I opened the box I was greeted with two patterns that I could use the enclosed yarn to make (for protection of copyright, I did not take pictures of the patterns).

In addition to the patterns, which seem perfect for beginner to intermediate, I had four skeins of yarn and two faux fur pompoms (to add to the hats).

So what are my thoughts? I am very happy overall. This type of subscription is exactly what I would hope for – a chance to sample some of the yarns available to see if I like them. These probably would not have been yarns I would have selected for myself – I usually avoid wool, but I am excited to try them.

The bigger question (for the accountant in me), did I get a good deal. Well let’s see….

I subscribed to the three month prepay plan, which is $75 – that breaks down to be $25 per month (which is a savings of $2 per month from the month to month plan).

For each of these balls of yarn, I would have spent $9.99 (so that is $19.98 right there). I usually don’t use wool when I am crocheting – just because I know there can be an allergy factor included with this, but these don’t feel like wool. I am sensitive to wool (have been since I was a kid), and this just feels like a super soft hug. There is a mixture of acrylic in with the wool, so that might make a difference. Either way, it will be nice to give this a try.

I also got two super soft and squishy Swish DK balls of yarn. I just want to cuddle up with this yarn as is, no toy required. Again, this is wool (100% fine superwashed Merino), but it feels nothing like wool. There is no scratchy, irritating texture. It is just light and wonderful. I don’t quite know what I’m going to make with this – but I may have an idea or two.

Each one of these skeins would be $4.99, so that is an additional $9.98 I would have spent had I just ordered this through the Web site. Already, just in the yarn I received I have almost $30 in products (not counting the value of the patterns themselves).

I also got these super fluffy fake fur pom poms that I can use if I want to make the hats included in my pattern. If I add the value of these to my box, my total of products comes to $36.44, which means I saved $11.44 by getting this through a subscription. That’s a pretty decent savings.

Some may wonder, isn’t it better to just order what you want – or to go to the store and be able to touch and see the colors? I was leery about online buying for a long time. I had some early horror stories with Amazon that I would care to not repeat. However, now that I feel comfortable with some sites (lovecrochet.com and knitpicks.com), I am confident in what I am ordering. And the thrill of the subscription box is that you don’t know what you are getting: Maybe it’s something that I’ve seen and decided to pass on – for me, as I’ve mentioned, I would never buy wool for myself, but now I get to try it. Or maybe one month there is a splurge – maybe they will provide an ultra luxe yarn that I would not buy for myself on price alone, but now I get to play with it. That’s the fun of the subscription box.

So, yes, in the end I am so happy with my first subscription box from Knit Picks and I am excited to see what the next month brings.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

Sometimes it’s the little things

I don’t consider myself to be a super high maintenance girl. Yes, I like my yarn and some other goodies, but for the most part I’m just happy to sit and do my thing. The downside to this is that sometimes I can get upset over something that seems minor to other people, but the upside is that  small things can make me really happy.

Case in point….last night I was working on a new project; I am making a unicorn for next week’s Steel City Con. As part of the finishing touches, the pattern calls for pinkening the cheeks. The first time I made this, I ignored that part of the pattern.

First attempt at this cutie unicorn – without rouge

I was also making the first unicorn as a birthday present and didn’t want to take a chance the rouge wouldn’t be added correctly.

I’ve added cheek color before, but I’ve never been happy with it. It always ends up too light or too dark or too smeary.

I haven’t tried actual makeup on the Luvvies yet – I know some people swear by that as an option, but it just seems like that would come off far too easily, in my opinion. Plus, I don’t wear blush myself so I haven’t had any laying around the house to try.

I have tried using some of my daughter’s crayons – but I find the application to be uneven, and more often than not it tugs at the completed fabric of the Luvvie and distorts the finished piece.

More recently, I have tried fabric markers, but whenever I have used them directly on the piece the coloring comes across too harsh, practically screaming “HELLO, MY CHEEKS ARE COLORED IN. CAN YOU SEE ME, NOW?” And I am not happy with it.

Which leads me to my point and why I was so giddy with excitement – or maybe sleep deprivation, I’m not entirely sure at this point.

It was after midnight, I had to be up in 4.5 hours and I wasn’t done with my new unicorn, which I had hoped to finish. As I looked at her I decided I wanted to try to color her cheeks and I pulled out my fabric markers wondering how I could be less heavy handed and it dawned on me….makeup sponges!!!!

I’m not great at wearing or applying makeup, but I love makeup. Because of that, I have a large assortment of makeup accessories – including sponges that are used to blend makeup, or to help apply foundation. I dashed into my bathroom and grabbed a sponge. I took the pink fabric marker and applied several strokes of color directly to the sponge and then tapped the color to my unicorn’s cheek. With the taper side of the sponge – the side without color – I evened out the color a little to make it closer to natural. I still have to work on my technique a little, but this was the happiest I have been with pinked cheeks.

My semi-naked unicorn with her mane and tail curls ready for application and with her newly pink cheeks.

Although I was disappointed I wasn’t able to complete my new cutie last night, I was so happy that she looks as cute as she does. The color on her cheeks definitely made a difference, and I think she will be even more adorable once she is fully complete.

And with my little triumph at adding color to her, I consider that victory enough and promptly closed up and went to bed…after all, 5 am comes around very quickly when you are up past midnight; but, I do think my discovery was worth it…at least to me, it was.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

All I Want For Christmas…..

Thanksgiving hasn’t even come and gone yet, but already I have seen so many advertisements for Black Friday shopping and stores with their Christmas decor and candies out. I am more of a traditionalist. Yes, Christmas is my favorite time of the year; but, I also like to celebrate the holidays as they occur, not jump over them to prepare for the next.

However, in preparation for the holiday shopping season, I thought it might be fun to put together a list of goodies that would be awesome for the crocheter (or knitter) on your list.

LIL’ LUVVIES

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You know I had to do the shameless self-promotion thing. But, I really do thinkmy Lil’ Luvvies are the perfect gift for whomever you have on your shopping list. They are cute and cuddly and made to order. So, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t include myself and my babies in the conversation.

Aside from the Luvvies, all the other gifts I’m going to mention are items that I like to use, or have seen and would love to try myself (hint, hint Santa). I do not get any commission or compensation for anything listed in this post.

SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

I have to say I can’t think of subscription boxes and not start giggling like crazy because I remember National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Clark gets a jelly of the month club instead of his Christmas bonus and his brother-in-law responds it is the gift that keeps on giving. But, it really is the gift that keeps giving, and is a nice pick me up. Too often we only see bills and junk mail come in, so it is nice to get that special little gift even after the holiday season to let someone know that you are thinking of them.

The large majority of subscription boxes that I have seen actually are geared more toward knitters – with the yarn choices, the notions, and patterns. However, there are some companies that have boxes for crocheters, or that can be used by both crocheters and knitters alike.

One of the most reasonable options I have seen is Darn Good Yarn. For $10 a month, you can give fabric of the month, yarn of the month, or beads of the month. I received a three month subscription from a friend and really enjoyed the product. Darn Good Yarn specializes in ethically sourced yarn, so everything they provide is artisanal, and done in small batches. It was a nice way to try some silk yarns, or some new colors that I might not have tried otherwise.

Speaking of subscription boxes, I actually just enrolled in a three month subscription for one as a gift to myself. One of my favorite yarn providers, Knit Picks, is offering its own line of subscription boxes and they have one for the crochet-minded. A little more expensive than the Darn Good Yarn at $27 per month, the subscription is supposed to contain at least 150g of yarn, a pattern or book, and fun notions, valued at least at $30. I will be excited to try this, and will report back when I get the first one.

There are other companies with subscriptions, if your crocheter has a favorite yarn brand, check with that company first to see if they have a subscription and then go from their. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

YARN

I mean this is the heart and soul for every crocheter (and knitter). Find me a person who crochets who doesn’t have a yarn obsession and I would say you don’t have someone who loves the fiber arts.

There are so many options to choose from. Your artist might have their own favorite brand of yarn, or you may just want to let them go crazy on their own and give them a gift card to Joann’s or Michael’s. However, if you want some suggestions, or maybe want to get them something different, here are a few of my ultimate favorites.

Paintbox

I don’t even know how I found out about Paintbox yarns. And some days, if you ask me, I wish I never would have (lol). They are one of my top favorite yarns. Available in about 60 different colors, it is like having a box of Crayola crayons to crochet with. The colors are vibrant, and the DK weight is just perfect for most of my amigurumi. If your fiber artist has never used this brand before, it might be something fun to get them a 5 or 10 ball sampler pack to try. Of course, if they are like me, they will just fall down the rabbit hole and buy all the colors and then hate/love you for the hoards of yarn they have, but it is worth it.

Knit Picks – Mighty Stitch

One of the pattern designers that I buy from listed in a pattern that she used Knit Picks Mighty Stitch to make the display image. The colors were absolutely beautiful, so I decided to try some.

It still is a crap shoot for me if I am going to like yarn that I buy online if I can’t feel it first. I have texture issues, some of that is just me, some is me being super aware because of my daughter’s autism. I ordered a small quantity of yarn and fell in love.

With a silky soft texture and medium to light worsted weight, the Mighty Stitch yarn is 100% acrylic (good for allergens). Some of the online complaints are that it frays too easily, but I do not see that as an issue – I have not had any problems with mine and I’ve used probably 10 skeins. If your crocheter likes Caron Simply Soft, this would be something for them to try that is similar, but just a bit more luxurious, too.

Knit Picks – Brava 500

Once I started with the Mighty Stitch, I got regular email offers from Knit Picks and one day, I received a really good offer for the Brava 500. I am so glad I decided to try it. The stitches are consistent and clean. There is no fraying of the material. The composition is 100% acrylic (I have issues with cotton), and it is just a delight to work with.

I have taken to making the Shaun the Sheep duo that I am working on completely from this yarn.

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I think it has provided a study fabric and good stitch definition. The feel of it is very high end, but the price is ridiculously reasonable.

Y’all know I can talk yarn all day and there are tons of good purveyors (Lion Brand, Yarnspirations, Craftsy, Love Crochet) where you can find something special. And all of the sites offer gift cards, so again, you can let your loved one go crazy.

My only online caution would be for my beloved Amazon. I adore Amazon and do a lot of my own holiday shopping from the site, but when it comes to yarn, I typically do not buy from them. I find their prices (surprisingly) to be higher than directly through the companies, and I have never been as happy with the product I’ve received, even if it is from a company that I know well.

BLUPRINT

Earlier this year, Craftsy split into two entities. For its online store, it has retained the name of Craftsy; however, its library of streaming videos has been rebranded as Bluprint.

What is nice about this is you can pick and choose. You can give your loved one a year subscription to Bluprint so they can on demand stream professional videos of whatever new technique they want to pick up – whether it is crochet, knitting, embroidery, photography, cooking, or many others.

I enjoy going to You Tube for quick videos about how to do specific techniques, but the videos on Bluprint for learning an entire new skill (or ensuring your finishing is correct) are so helpful.

If you don’t want to purchase an annual subscription for your loved one, you also can gift them with one or two individual courses to give them the added edge they need to take their skills to the next level.

HOOKS, NOTIONS, AND NEEDLES – OH, MY!

And, if you are looking for that special stocking stuffer, purchasing stitch markers, new crochet hooks, or new tapestry needles can never misfire.

Sure, you can get all of these from Craftsy (and they have some awesome ones) or from Amazon (and yes, on this you can order from them), but if you really want to make an impression, there are gorgeous custom designed notions available from Etsy.

I just recently purchased some left and right, handcrafted stitch markers from Etsy so that I can put these on my amigurumi to know which should be the left and which should be the right leg. Not only are these extremely useful, they are so sparkly and pretty.

Just by doing a quick search of stitch markers or crochet hooks, you can find a whole world of beautiful items that will please the crafter in your life. Personally, I have my eye on some really sweet Magic Wand Crochet hooks, I think I may be asking Santa for those for Christmas.

Whatever you buy the fiber lover in your life that individual is going to adore the gift, because it came from you and from your heart. I wish you the happiest (and most stress free) of holiday shopping.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

 

Working on a new moose, eh? – WIP

I think I have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of the television show Supernatural. Because of that, the fandom has a particular love for moose. One of the first amigurumi I learned to crochet was a moose to represent the fandom. However, the further along I’ve gotten in my crochet journey, the more that pattern isn’t always my favorite. So, one of my dear friends suggested I try a moose chibi (or a baby moose).

What an interesting concept…

Jared Moose

The original moose pattern I started with

Read More…

What’s New in Luvvies – 9/4/18

Happy after Labor Day to all my American friends – and happy unofficial beginning of fall. I’ve already curled up with my first (two) pumpkin spice lattes of the season, and am waiting for the heatwave to break so that I can settle in to my absolute favorite time of the year.

As we enter the fall, we enter a busy time for Lil’ Luvvies. In November, I will be heading to Rhode Island for Rhode Island Comic Con, followed very closely by a return to Steel City Con. Added to that, I’m not sure what the holiday seasons will provide in terms of gift buying from my site(s).

In honor of Labor Day, I ran a sale on my Etsy shop for 10% off almost everything in the store. I didn’t get a crazy amount of orders, but I got enough that it will definitely keep me busy for the next couple of weeks.

In addition to that, I have been busily crocheting away making new Luvvies – as orders and as stock for cons.

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One of my favorite newer Lil’ Luvvies is based on a pattern from Blue Rabbit Toys I absolute love how scary and cute this little voodoo dollie looks. I added the pins to take some pictures of her, but they are not included in the finished product. This little girl worked up quickly and was so much fun to make.

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I’ve also been working on making some Winnie the Pooh characters. This was my attempt at a chibi Piglet. For a first attempt, I don’t think he turned out too badly.

Over Labor Day weekend here in the states, my husband and I took our daughter on a mini vacation. I ended up using the time to crochet – although I didn’t make as much as I thought I would. But during that time, I started working on a full-sized Winnie the Pooh.

The pattern said when he is completed Pooh will be 18 inches tall – I think he might be a bit bigger than that.

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I tried to crochet some in the car on our way to vacation, but there was too much construction and the roads were a little too uneven for me to get a good rhythm. Plus with my migraines trying to read a pattern in the car was a challenge. (Desi’s Eeoyre is not one that I made, he was actually mine from right after I got married).

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Once we reached our destination, I took over the “living” area of the room and created a makeshift work station. My husband took our daughter to the water park and I stayed to create.

Funny thing (especially considering I just wrote a blog about finding good patterns and everything you should do), this is the most complex and convoluted pattern I have ever read in my life. For the nose/muzzle area, I had to restart five times before I created something that was passable. There were a couple other areas that I had to rip out and restart, as well, and there were some areas that I said heck with it, and just left it not quite perfect (hoping that I can clean it up at the end)

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As I mentioned before, I’m not quite halfway with Pooh and I think he is going to be a bit bigger than I originally planned. I sent the above picture to my father last night (because he has to see all the pictures that I post to the blog and to social media), and – ever the jokster – he said to me, “Where’s Pooh’s head?” What you don’t see a fully completed Winnie-the-Pooh (lol)?

Although Pooh is for a custom commission, he is not at the top of my priority….he’s really not, it’s just I got started on him and now I want to see what he is going to look like once everything is finished.

All this fun has been in addition to me finding ways to creatively crochet through injury.

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I’ve recently learned that crochet is a contact sport and it hurts like anything to hold yarn with a pulled tendon in your hand.

I’ve tried wrist braces and the ever attractive compression glove (as pictured above), but none of these options seem to provide a good solution to prevent further injury. Soaking in Epsom salts and taking ibuprofen have helped with the swelling and the pain, but I still am looking for that viable solution to prevent further damage. I guess, as with anything, practice makes perfect.

I hope you all have had a wonderful week. Sending all my love and best until we chat again.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha