Tag: Toys

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.

Read More…

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

img_3807

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.

img_4063

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.

Read More…

Under Pressure

stressed-stress-relax

As I mentioned recently, I just returned home from Rhode Island Comic Con. I learned so much from the convention, had great times with friends, and helped some luvvies find their new mommies and daddies. However, on the flip side (the business side) things didn’t work out exactly as I had hoped, as I didn’t even make back the fee for my table, let alone for the hotel and gas money to travel there. While I try to chalk the loss up to experience and getting the business out there to people who might never have found me, the accountant in me is stressing. Why did I do this again? Why did I agree to take on a business? Why didn’t I just keep this as a fun hobby? Read More…

Sometimes tastes change

I reached an interesting conclusion in the past week – I’m finding that my crocheting tastes have changed.

It’s not so much a fundamental change – I still use the same hooks and notions, and I still hold my yarn and hook the same way, but my taste in crochet patterns has shifted.

I guess that’s part of the journey – the learning and experimenting phase. But when I started, there were patterns that were my absolute go tos, like my little moose friend.

img_3609-1

There is nothing wrong with the pattern – and the one that I just completed for an order turned out to be one of my cutest yet (in my opinion), but there was just something about the pattern that I wasn’t feeling as I was making this. It is a reliable pattern with consistent results, but it left me a little flat.

The flip side to this conundrum is I remember back to when I made my first moose – back when I was learning the first steps in amigurumi. I remember how complicated this seemed. It must have taken me a week (or more) to make that first one; and, there were just so many things wrong with it. He’s still adorable – and so loved, Desi plays with him often – but he wasn’t perfect, and I didn’t quite have all the tools (literally and figurative) to make him yet. Compare that to when I made this little dude and it was maybe two nights, and he is a lot sturdier than my first version.

But the change in pattern taste has been happening a good bit recently. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been leaning toward patterns only by one or two designers and they have worked up so consistently and wonderfully that to go to something else is a little foreign. I don’t know if it is just the mood I have been in recently.

img_3772

I’ve worked up countless patterns from this designer – although again, it was more in my earlier days of working than recently. Last night I decided to play with this to try to make a Superman luvvie. The pattern is easy enough to interpret and it used the same stitches I’m used to in my stuffies, but I just wasn’t thrilled.

4a3497b3-2602-4569-a163-ff33e77b6d9d

He turned out sweet, but I couldn’t get over the fact that the head was bigger than the body (although some of that could have been overstuffing on my part), and his head just wouldn’t sit right on his body. He found a forever home relatively easily in Rhode Island, but I just didn’t feel like he was my finest work. Whether that was due to general tiredness and stress, or if it was just the pattern wasn’t my favorite.

I understand as we learn and grow, our tastes change. Things that were challenging in the beginning become second nature – and that is a good thing because that does show growth and increased confidence. However, so many patterns that I have made and loved, I worry that I will not feel the same about them in the future. I put so much of myself and my heart and love into my creations that I have a sincere worry about this. If I don’t feel this connection to the pattern, I worry I won’t feel a connection to the plushie and that will carry over to the new mommy and daddy.

I haven’t been making patterns from this designer as long, but I do feel a true connection to the completed works. Maybe it is because at least for the tatty teddy bear and the voodoo doll that they aren’t meant to be perfect…there is room for imperfection; so there isn’t that same level of expectation. Although with Marril, he is a recognizable Pokemon and that didn’t strike me with fear as I thought it would.

Then, there are tried and true patterns. I have made the items multiple times, and every time I make them, I feel as connected to them as I did the first time. What is the difference? The pattern’s difficulty didn’t change – in many cases because of the repeated practice it has gotten easier – but I still feel the same enjoyment each time I pick up my yarn to make them. Does that come down to a satisfaction with the end result? I don’t think so…as I mentioned before I still love how the moose turns out, I just don’t like the process of making him. Is it the number of pieces that are required? I know the moose has a ton of individuals pieces, but so did the lion bookbag and the tatty teddy bear and I’m happy with them.

It is such an interesting investigation into the mind to uncover what could be behind this change. It’s not even that I have made something too many times. It’s just certain patterns don’t speak to me the same way. I’ve experienced this to some extent when I’ve first purchased a pattern, and then find out that I am just not happy with how it works up – but, it is entirely different to have this be a successful, tried and tested pattern, and suddenly be turned off it.

I’ll be curious to see if as I progress in my crochet journey if I feel this way about the voodoo dolls and other luvvies that I currently adore making. Maybe there is just a season for everything – and some seasons end sooner than others.

Hugs and cuddles,

Elisha