Tag: Crochet

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

Best Laid Plans, and All That Jazz

When I left work on Wednesday, I was full of high hopes. After all, I had a four day weekend ahead of me. I was not in charge of preparing the Thanksgiving meal, and there were no pressing concerns I had to attend to. It was a chance to get some work in and get pieces ready for Steel City Con (December 7-9, 2018, in Monroeville, PA).

The great thing about this plan – in my mind – was that I knew my daughter would be on board. She likes to sit with me and watch television and color or talk to me while I crochet. My husband would be able to attend to his blog, or have some much needed time to himself, and I could finally get work done and get some of this black cloud away from me as I stress that I will not have enough for the convention.

Pretty much as soon as I got home Wednesday things started to go off the rails. Four months ago, my father had asked me to make him a rainbow sock monkey, like one I made for last Steel City Con. I actually had started the project before leaving for Rhode Island and had made good progress, I just needed to finish it. As fate would have it, Thanksgiving this year also marked his birthday. Because it was his birthday and he had been waiting so long for the sock monkey (he affectionately calls “Bigfoot”), I wanted to work overtime to get this done.

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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

 

What’s New In Luvvies – 11/16/18

Things have been super crazy around here lately. In addition to working overtime at my regular job and some fun activities away from the house, I was laid up for about a week with a massive migraine, which really put a damper on my order fulfillment and preparations for the December Steel City Con. My migraine hasn’t fully left, but I have been trying to push through as much as I can.

I get so much joy from crochet, but sometimes I do wonder why I decided to make this into a business. I’m an accountant, but I don’t always have the best business acumen. I’m trying to learn, but sometimes I get swept away and caught in the stress of the business and not the relaxation and joy I get from the craft. I am working to make this a more equitable split.

Once the worst of my migraine (finally!) left, I was able to get caught up on a couple of rush orders….two of which were new patterns/designs and two that were tried and true.

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