Category: Uncategorized

The Crayola Effect

From the time I was little I have always loved Crayola crayons…not Rose Art, not the restaurant bulk crayons, Crayola crayons. But I always was super picky about my crayons: They had to be new with sharp points. Even if I would use the built-in sharpener from the box of 64, the points were never perfect enough again (although the new sharpeners have gotten much better).

The box of 64 brings me to another point that I always needed with my crayons: Variety. I wanted to have as many hues available in my crayon box as possible. When the 96 box came out I was in my glory. My mother was much the same. There was just something about the smell of Crayola crayons (especially from a freshly opened box). And being able to use different shades to capture as much realism in my coloring as possible was just an added bonus.

Why am I talking about my borderline-obsession with crayons in a forum that is primarily about my crochet journey? Because history has a funny way of repeating itself with me.

I’ve talked before about how I’ve been searching for “the one” when it comes to yarn. I want to have one go-to brand and weight that I know is going to produce consistently amazing amigurumi, be affordable, and be awesome to work with. With this goal in mind, I’ve sampled a lot of yarn in not quite 18 months. But, like I said, history has a way of repeating itself.

There are several companies that I have tried, and they make a perfectly lovely product, but they just aren’t my Crayola – they just weren’t the right fit for me. Some came close, some missed the mark, and there are some that aren’t quite there, but they are close enough that I can happily use them, especially in a pinch. But I do think that I’ve found a yarn winner: Knit Picks.

I have been using them pretty much exclusively for two months and am impressed with the consistency and quality of the product, and the cost effectiveness. I have found that both their Brava Worsted and their Mighty Stitch are my favorites, although I would like to make a teddy bear with their Wool of the Andes blend.

The funny thing is I have noticed my Crayola tendencies rubbing off on my yarn picks. Knit Picks is currently my “crayon” of choice, so of course I want to get as many different colors as I can. But, just like I hated as a kid to use a crayon after the point wore off, or got down to a certain stump, I am the same with a skein of yarn. I enjoy the satisfaction of beginning a new project with a new ball of a yarn. And, if I work on a project and I only have a few yards of yarn left, I tend to wind up that yarn and put it to the side instead of starting another project with it, only to have to change to another skein in mid-row. I guess some habits just die hard.

Considering that both crayons and yarn involve bright colors and a degree of creativity, I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised that I have similar tastes and habits with both, but I still kind of am. I wonder if my love from this brand of yarn will be as long of a partnership as me and Crayola (we are 41 years strong), or if there will be another skein of yarn to tempt me away. Oooh, look at all the pretty colors. (I’m such a dork).

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

525,600 Minutes

I’ve been so crazy busy these last few weeks with work, home, Luvvies, orders, and convention planning that I completely lost track of the date, until I was doing some maintenance on the site and realized – holy crap, it’s been a whole year since I’ve had Lil’ Luvvies.

March 27, 2018 I made my first post on this Web site and officially opened up to share about my crochet journey, offer Luvvies for good homes, and see what could happen with this hobby that I had taken up.

Of course, I had been practicing and making stuffed animals for several months before I officially took to the Interwebs, but the day that I decided to make an official go of it has already been a year. In some ways that time has absolutely flown, in others I feel as this has been part of my life forever.

There has been a lot of learning and sharing – triumphs and failures in that period.

And even though I have gotten stressed about how some of the Luvvies have turned out, every day I have enjoyed what I have done. And looking back now and seeing early projects (like the entire top row above), it is so cool to see how thinks have progressed. I have been so lucky over the past year to have gotten to go to conventions and talked with people, and gotten to make custom designs for people that (hopefully) brought joy into their lives.

As I start into the second year of this endeavor, I am looking forward to what is to come: I am anticipating going to four conventions this year, creating new designs, meeting new people, and just learning more about what makes a great stuffed animal and how I can improve my skills.

Of course an annual retrospective would be remiss if I didn’t also take time to thank everyone who has supported me in my endeavors. My family who have gotten so used to me sitting on the couch with yarn in my hands that I think they forget what I look like without it; My friends who have to endure the “it looks terrible, why did I ever start doing this in the first place” conversations; and, to everyone I’ve met physically and virtually who have interacted with me – left words of encouragement – ordered a Luvvie – or just have liked posts or pictures that I have shared, it really has meant a lot.

I have so many people to be thankful for and so much that I have learned from Luvvies and so many ways that I have grown, I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring…and I can’t wait to share this crazy awesome journey along with you.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

To Stuff, or not to Stuff – that is the question

Teetering on the edge or overstuffed – due to the stitches being pulled and the white stuffing peeking through

One of the things I struggle with as I learn more about amigurumi and techniques is how much to stuff an item. This is one of those skills that you really can’t be taught

Most designers will say – stuff until the animal is firm; or, make sure the animal is well stuffed. But what is the definition of firmly stuffed?

From what I can see, this various by designer and varies by artist. Most patterns will recommend the crocheter keep their tension relatively tight so that the stitches don’t pull apart when stuffed; or to use a hook one to two sizes less than supported by the yarn to get tighter stitches.

Other designers will say it’s better to lean closer to overstuffed because the fiber fill will redistribute and settle as the toy ages. Part of me wishes I could have a good weight to know that is the perfect filling.

But alas, there often are too many variables for this to be an option. Yarn weight can vary; tension can change; distribution of the stuffing itself can change – so what is good for one stuffed animal isn’t good for another.

I definitely err (most times) on the side of overstuffing. I want my Luvvies to have a good weight to them and be super cuddly. The only problem with this is sometimes the stitches do pull and the stuffing shows through – making the finished product look not quite as professional. The Catch-22 with that is if I don’t stuff to almost the point of overstuffing, when the fiberfill redistributes the Luvvie can droop and look sad…and no one wants a sad plushie.

So what’s the answer?

I don’t know – I’m hoping that you do (lol).

I’ve gotten better over the past 18 months with proportion. There used to be a time that I would have stuffed Dobby (above) until his head was three times the size of his body. But, I’ve learned when to stop that urge. So, that’s progress.

I had someone on Instagram recommend to me recently to use pantyhose to put the stuffing in so that the white of the fiberfill doesn’t show through as much. I’m curious about that – I kind of want to try it, but I worry that with as many Luvvies as I make, and with all the various sizes that pantyhose won’t be big enough to help with my situation; but I still want to see what happens.

While I try to determine what the appropriate level of stuffedness is (I think the OED should use that as their new word of the year: Stuffedness) for these cuties, I think there will be variations form project to project. One Pooh might have been on a diet to get out of Rabbit’s entry-hole. Another Pooh might have had a bit too much hunny and looks stuffed to bursting. I have to try to fight with my perfectionist tendencies. My Luvvies are not factory made, mass produced: They are made individually, which is what makes them so special, especially to me.

So, though I may not have the ratio of stuffing to yarn mastered, I’m continually trying to get better. I’m learning new techniques every day, and if there are no two Luvvies that look exactly the same, I have to try to think of it as adding to their appeal.

I guess, in the end, the answer of my question of whether to stuff or not to stuff is to stuff, but only so far.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

I’m still here…I promise :-)

Oh my goodness, it feels like forever since I have posted anything: 2019 has definitely been keeping me on my toes. Between my day job, my Luvvies, family, and some illnesses I feel like the first part of this year has just passed in a blur. Hopefully, this is the storm before the calm – or something like that (lol).

I’m just getting back to really feeling like myself after having a terrible migraine cycle that had me incapacitated for almost a week – at it’s worst it was so bad I couldn’t even hold my hook and yarn properly so I would just sit and watch TV – I got caught up on some movies though, so there’s a silver lining, I guess.

Now that this cycle has passed, I’m looking forward to getting back on track and preparing for some of the conventions I have scheduled for this year. It’s difficult to believe it already is March, and my official convention season starts up in about a month – look out Awesome Con, DC, here Luvvies come.

To prepare for the convention I have been playing with some patterns and have tried to expand some of my use of yarn to create even more memorable and distinctive friends for people.

I usually have a strong aversion to using cotton yarn – it’s something textural that just bothers me, but I’ve found this line of Scheepjes called Stone Washed, and it is primarily cotton, but has some acrylic mixed it, and I have been so happy with the depth that it has provided some of my projects. It is a little more expensive (for a smaller bundle) than what I typically use, but I think the details it picks up really help.

My little Citron dinosaur made with the Scheepjes Stone Washed

I’ve definitely been on a pattern buying spree – there are so many awesome designers (especially on Etsy) and they all are doing such amazing designs, I want to make everything – all at once.

In addition to having fun playing with yarns and colors, I have been on a voodoo doll making spree. For some reason those little cuties have just been really popular right now (not that I’m complaining, I love to make them). It got to the point where I was making them so frequently I was creating daily adventures with them on my Instagram page (using the hashtag #voodoodollieadventures). I definitely was getting punchy after a while, but I was so happy to see the voodoos get lots of love and all go to great homes.

Peace, Love, and Understanding

With Valentine’s Day/weekend just past so my of our subliminal (and not so subliminal) advertising has centered around showing those around us that we love them. What doesn’t get any mention during this time is a harder subject to face….it’s about looking within to love yourself.

I made a promise to y’all in the beginning of this blog that I wanted to keep things light; however, sometimes real life has a way of interfering and demanding that a serious topic be addressed – this is one of those times.

I have made no secret that I struggled with anxiety and depression and self- esteem issues definitely factor into this. It is in these times when we are being told to share our love that we might give so much of it away (and maybe receive so little back in return) that we come away from this time of year emotionally and mentally fatigued. I certainly have been feeling that way. For the past few weeks I have been sequestering myself in my house more and more – to the point where even my father has made mention of it and he seldom comments of these things.

Some of it is that things have been so hectic and draining at my day job that once I get home that is my sanctuary and refuge and I really don’t want to leave it, unless absolutely necessary, and even then not always joyfully.

Some of it definitely is my actual OCD kicking in where I am enjoying crocheting so much that I just want to hang out and do that in the free time that I have. Partially, it’s that I only have about 70 odd days until Awesome Con and I am determined to have product to sell, unlike at Rhode Island where my pickings were slim to none.

But it also is just my brain saying no, we are done going out and giving of ourselves, we need some private time. And it is hard to accept that of yourself: It feels like getting into a rut, or sinking into a depressive hole. It is in these times when we need to love ourselves even more, but it is so difficult to do so – especially if family doesn’t always understand.

It can be difficult to explain to family in these times – when I might not fully understand myself – why Sunday on the couch in pajamas watching Top Chef reruns and crocheting is better than leaving and trying to do something. It can be especially frustrating to loved ones when this happens on a recurring basis; or can be seen as an excuse to get out of things.

I find this time of year definitely gets draining and triggers more depressive episodes, although this year seems worse than most. And once I get everything together for Valentine’s Day parties and to make the day special for my daughter, and prepare for my husband’s birthday, I just have nothing left to give – and certainly nothing left to give myself.

There are no easy answers to this. I wish there were, not only would it help my state of mind, it would probably make me fairly wealthy because I know a lot of people feel this way. It is the dirty little secret that we are taught not to talk about. It is seen as unseemly to discuss anxiety or depression. I haven’t even gone to the grocery store in about three to four weeks because I can’t people – I can’t bring myself to go into the store because I’m either going to have a panic attack, or I’m going to lose my temper and go off at someone.

Despite there not being any answers to be found here, what I wanted to do was to share my own feelings and thoughts. Maybe some of you have been feeling the same and felt guilty for having these thoughts; or thought you were alone in this – I just want to say that you are not alone. There are others that feel like you. I do find some safety and security in my yarn and being able to hug my little friends once they are made – but, as much as I still struggle with self-esteem issues and trying to please everyone by doing and being what they want – I am learning to be more accepting of myself. And, if I need Saturdays and Sundays to be PJ days, then that’s what I need – I probably will not always need that, but I do for now, and I am learning to be okay with that.

Thank y’all for reading, as always.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha