Tag: CrochetBasics

Sometimes you have to improvise

I’ve been on my crocheting journey for about 18 months now – rediscovering a love for the craft, and trying to balance my obsessive tendencies with using crochet for the therapeutic benefits I recognized in it early on.

One thing I have not ventured into much in this time is designing my own patterns. For the most part, I rely on people more talented that I am to design amazing patterns and then I use that roadmap to create my new friends. I have designed one pattern fully in my time and it had mixed results.

However, I have come across an interesting dilemma recently, and that is the need to improvise.

For two orders I was asked to customize a Luvvie. This was a little overwhelming to me. I wanted to do something quality and awesome for the customers, but I also was aware of my (perhaps self-perceived) limitations of needing to have that pattern to guide me. I’m actually the same way with drawing – I cannot free hand draw, but if it can follow someone else’s drawing, I’m typically able to do a rough facsimile.

With the picture on the left, the ask was to modify the voodoo dollies that I regularly make and create a type of voodoo princess, complete with a succulent crown. In the end, this one only had limited improvisation needed – I added some rows to the neck to give her a longer, taller frame, and I used the pattern from another design to create the crown. All in all it was improvisation, sure, but it was definitely within my comfort zone.

However, with the picture on the right – that was decidedly out of my comfort zone, but I am insanely proud of how she turned out. A custom commission from someone I met at Steel City Con, this was to be a Luvvie representation of her Furry avatar – the character she cosplays as and created. I wanted this to be perfect for her, and looking at it there still are things I would have changed. In the end, the finished product is very similar to what the character looks like. I ended up cherry picking ideas from about five different patterns to come up with the finished product and was happy with the results.

There is a difference, though, between planned “improvisation” and true, on the fly improv.

Recently, one of my all-time favorite Etsy designers released a series of Winnie-the-Pooh inspired characters. Pooh and friends are some of my favorite characters and have been for years. I have made versions of some Pooh characters before, but because her patterns are always super cute and work up easily, I was stoked to be able to make these.

As I started with the first pattern, Pooh himself, I soon realized there was something not quite right.

In one of the rounds, the designer wanted me to reduce my stitches but in doing the exact stitches asked and counting what I was doing, I just wasn’t ending up with the right amount. After driving myself crazy for about 30 minutes, I finally stopped trying to crochet and pattern read at the same time and sat to actually read the pattern alone: It was then that I realized, the stitch count would never match because it looks like a line in the pattern had accidentally been omitted. So, I faced a dilemma – what was I going to do? Should I message the designer on Etsy? That would probably mean I couldn’t work on this any more for the rest of the night. But if I didn’t figure out what to do how would I move on?

This is where improvisation came in.

Reading the pattern, I saw where the designer was trying to go, and I could envision how this row was going to lead to the next row – the only question was even though I could see what was needed, how was I going to make it happen? Once I get into a rhythm with a project, I usually don’t like to stop because then it is more difficult for me to get back to where I was at and sometimes (though I’m told it is only me who thinks this) it looks like the stitches are different from one working session to another.

My solution was a mixture of techniques and hodgepodge. It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but it was able to get the job done and I don’t think my Luvvie is that worse for the wear. Basically, I went by the number of stitches that were indicated for the row, and if that meant I had to add an extra stitch, or single crochet for three stitches where the pattern didn’t indicate, or add a decrease then that is what I did in order to make sure the next line got on track.

Although it might not seem like a big deal, to me it was an example of how far I have come in this process. When I first started doing amigurumi, if my stitches didn’t work out exactly I got so flustered I wasn’t able to figure out what to do, and I wouldn’t dare deviate from a pattern. That is the one good thing about working in the round versus working in rows; if you need to add an extra stitch or remove an extra stitch between rounds, in 99% of the cases, you won’t be able to see where the issue occurred – rows are not quite that forgiving and often you start to shrink in or expand out when a stitch has been gained or lost.

I may be all for celebrating the small victories, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to go completely rogue at this point. I still consider myself a student of the craft, and I’m still learning, so patterns are the best way for me…I’m just slightly more comfortable to dip a toe into the ocean to personalize or to regroup if there is an error in the pattern itself. Who knows? Pattern designing might not be far behind for me, but for now, I’m happy with my Luvvies just the way they are and grateful for the people far more talented than I who make these amazing patterns available.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

She sells she sheds….sometimes

My yarn stash and other amigurumi materials have finally done it – they have taken over about fifty percent of the usable space in my house. You can’t walk in my living room currently without stepping around a skein of yarn, or a bag of fluff, or seeing yarn remnants on the floor. I try to be organized and keep my materials in one location, but they seem to multiply (and we are not talking about my inability to say no to purchasing new yarn).

It is coming to the point where I have to make a decision about what to do with everything I use for business – especially during these times when I am frantically preparing for a con and there are projects half done (also known as PHd) left and right, and more that are completed packed in storage containers. My daughter thinks it is hilarious to see all the yarn and plushies all over the house; my husband is probably not as amused.

With all this as a consideration, my father and I have been talking about either adding on to my house – extending and finishing my basement to design a work room – or creating a true she-shed for me.

I had never heard the term “she shed” until I saw the State Farm commercial about a year ago with Sheryl calling State Farm because she thought someone burned down her she shed. Once I heard the term I just lost it; it became the funniest thing in the world to me. Men can have their man caves – we will have our she sheds thank you very much.

Although, as I mentioned, it is undeniable that my working materials for the business have taken over living space in my house and I need to find a better way to organize them, and there is something super appealing about having that personal sanctuary to call a she shed. My fear with this is if I would get a she shed, I would never see my family again.

That meme is so true that I cracked up for about half an hour after I first read it because it is me. The positive is all my work is in our living room, so I am present in the room with them and can watch TV and movies together as a family even while I am crocheting. If I would relocate to a she shed, that might become my permanent residence – especially if there would be a day bed out there. But to have a place of my own, there’s a great appeal to that, too.

I know no real decisions have to be made, and maybe this will just remain a pipe dream – for all I know the business could crash and burn and I would just crochet here and there in the future and a she shed would be useless. And if I did have a place of my own, I would end up separating myself more from my family, which I don’t want – that is one of the major benefits of crochet is that I can sit and talk with them while playing with my yarn.

Oh I just don’t know. I guess the only thing I can say at this point is – watch this space to see what happens.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

Happy New Year – A Look Ahead

It’s difficult to believe that another year has come – and gone. While 2018 wasn’t an easy year, it was a year filled with changes (some good, others not so good). And as with each year that passes, the changing of the calendar from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 brings about a time of reflection.

I’m never a good one for making resolutions, usually those go by the wayside for me in about a week into the year. However, I do appreciate the chance to revisit the highs and lows from the previous year to see if there are ways that I can improve.

A year ago, I never would have imagined having a blog – I am not the most steadfast companion, and although I used to write for a living, I can’t always find the time to sit and choose the perfect phrase that I like to present when I know something is going to be published. I’ve tried blogs before and have lost interest in them, seeing them go to the great landfill of blogs that were started with the best of intentions. Yet, here I am, with a blog, and maintaining it (semi) regularly.

I also would not have expected a year ago to have a business. When I first started crocheting, as I have mentioned before, I did it as a way to reduce stress and to relax. The decision to try to make a go as a business was a more organic offshoot, as was the decision to go to cons as a way to get my Luvvies out there and to network.

One thing I can say for sure is I have a lot to learn. I have learned a lot about crochet and patterns and yarns and my preferences, but there is a wealth of information I still have to learn. I also have more to learn about the business side of things: Yes, I am an accountant, but I am not a business major – this just means I can balance the ledgers and file taxes, it doesn’t mean that I know about marketing and promotions or how best to approach things.

Something I need to consider seriously in 2019 is marketing – which includes promoting myself at conventions. In the three cons I did in 2018, I met a lot of wonderful people, and found some Luvvies some great homes, but I also lost money because of the price for tables, and the fact that I don’t like to charge a lot for my items. Whenever someone asks me how much something is, my gut reaction is to say $15 – even if it cost me $15 in yarn to make and took 20 hours of work. My one friend says it is because I try to price my items as though they are mass produced and not the limited number that they are. That probably is true. I don’t take into consideration the time and effort it takes me to make something – I think more about what I could buy a comparable item for at Wal*Mart, and it definitely is not an apples to apples comparison.

There are so many patterns I want to try for the new year, but the funny thing is for as many patterns as I have backlogged that I am dying to try, I keep stalking Etsy, Ravelry, and Amigurumi.net to try to find new patterns. If I would quit my day job tomorrow and just crochet my little heart out, I don’t think I could make one of every pattern that I have in a year’s time; however, I will still be on Etsy five minutes from now looking to see what I might have missed.

While I still navigate through some of the growing pains associated with starting a business and learning more skills in my chosen craft, I am so grateful that I get to share this journey with you. Thank you to all for the follows, for the likes, for the comments – sometimes when I wonder what the heck I am doing, these things can give me a much needed boost to get through the day.

I am sending love and warm wishes for an amazing 2019 to you and your families. I am so excited to see where we go on this winding path together.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha

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