Recent Cutie Patooties

I have been on a bit of a tear lately finishing (and starting) various projects. I even started a knit dishcloth the other day, but it’s TBD on whether it’ll be a useful item or be wound back up into a yarn cake.

But here are a couple of recently finished (crocheted) items, both of which turned out SO well and are so freaking cute!

The first is a paper boat amigurumi from the talented designer Lalylala. The other is a standing bunny rabbit from the designer StufftheBody. Both can be found on Ravelry and Etsy.

The bunny I decided to list in the shop. I have plans for the paper boat, but likely I’ll make that a custom listing down the line.

Happy Fourth of July weekend, everybody!

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The K Word, or: Knitting Is Hard

Last year, my mother brought me a bunch of things from her abode that she was ridding herself of; a large bag she gave to me yielded a bunch of knitting needles in all sizes and textures, some magazines from the 70s and 80s, and some really old yarn that I ended up pitching.

I didn’t pay much attention to this horde of items for a while. I loftily thought that maybe, maybe one day, I would “pick up” knitting when I had more time .

Turns out, I don’t have more time. No one does. But I got to a point where, after organizing my things and putting the knitting stuff in its own cubby in my craft room, that I noticed a seed had been planted in my brain. I know a few knitters from a local crafting group I’m in, and I have one or two friends who have dabbled in knitting.

Aside: while there would appear to be a fierce “rivalry” of knitting versus crochet, I prefer to think of the yarn arts as inclusive, and we’re all doing something to express ourselves creatively, no matter what it is.

In any case, after the planted seed had sprouted some teeny tiny roots, I decided to do some research online to see what was available for those wanting to learn to knit.  A couple of women in my group had commented about Continental knitting being easier to learn for crocheters like myself, since you don’t “throw” the yarn, but “pick.” I was intrigued.

During my initial research, I came across this well worn (but very useful) demo of Continental knitting by a woman named Lorilee Beltman:

It’s not a HD video but Lorilee shows how sprightly one can knit and even specifically mentions that when crocheters want to learn to knit, learning the Continental method makes sense for them.

The little seed grew a few more roots, and I personally contributed somewhere between 5-10 views of that video as I continued my research in how I would learn this new craft.

As fortune would have it, Craftsy not only has a Continental knitting course, but it is taught by none other than Lorilee herself. (Right now, it appears to be 50% off at $20, which is a bargain! I heard on a podcast with Lorilee that she had to pitch Craftsy three times on teaching Continental knitting before they finally said yes. I’m glad she persisted, because she’s truly a fabulous teacher.)

I took a deep breath, snatched up the course, grabbed some straight needles from the pile in my craft room, and began to watch and learn. Truth be told,  I had some concerns before starting that I would go down the rabbit hole and abandon crochet for long periods of time as I spent money and time on this new skill. Fortunately (or not?), I found knitting to be HARD, and so I have been forced to slow down, take breaks, and relax my brain with crochet in between bouts of learning how to knit.

When you start learning a skill such as this in your late thirties, it is decidedly not the same as learning something in your teens. I don’t know if it’s the learning curve or some by-product of age, but it just hasn’t come to me the way crochet did. I’d like to just make the blanket statement that crochet is easier than knitting (an opinion I hold) but I don’t think it’s as black and white as all that. I was practicing a knitting swatch with a seasoned knitter a couple of weeks ago, and she told me that for her, crochet is not relaxing, and her hands grip the hook very tightly. The opposite is true for me. Crochet is extremely relaxing and my personal technique does not make my hands hurt, though if I sit for too long with a bigger project, such as a blanket, I can make my arms and shoulders ache a bit with overuse.

All that aside, learning a skill that takes using both my hands at the same time is similar to learning piano. I *did* take piano starting at a young age, and despite having hundreds of hours of practicing scales in my lifetime, it did not prepare me for the knitting experience.

Since I am a firm believer in mind over matter, I expected to come to knitting similarly (but perhaps with a bit more difficulty) as I did with crochet. I didn’t learn to make amigurumi overnight, and it took a few dozen animals before I hit my stride (mostly with the sewing aspect, but still). In the past four weeks, I have hit frustration levels where I thought I won’t be able to do this, and have come close to tossing in the towel. (I mean, casting on and getting through ONE row of knitting took ages!)

Perhaps it’s Lorilee’s teaching style — which is not only thorough and well done, but Lorilee has a warm and personable sense about her — but I stuck with it, and I have learned the knit stitch and the purl stitch, and am on my journey of swatching. And swatching. And swatching.

A heap of swatches

I even joined a couple of knitting-help groups on Facebook to provide assistance where I get stuck along the way. Two examples are: attempting to make a swatch of seed stitch was really messing with my head, since I kept knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls, creating ribbing (or some mashup of stockinette) — I had to learn how to identify the stitches when I turned my work, which is still a work-in-progress; creating a selvedge (selvage) that wasn’t just a knotted mess when I would turn my work and would create a chained look. To be honest, creating the selvedge in Tunisian crochet proves to be much easier. (Tunisian crochet, in general, is easier to learn, in my opinion, but it does have some limitations.) Why learning knitted slip stitches is hard is beyond me, but that was another challenge I’m slowly learning.

The TL;DR version of all of this is that I find learning even basic things difficult with knitting.

Little by little, I’m getting there, and my hands are slowly less achy, and I’m getting a bit quicker. When I get to the point where I’m asking, “Now what?” is when I might try to learn to read a knitting pattern, or follow a simple pattern via YouTube, as I did when I was first learning to crochet and made baby hats. I suspect the first thing I’ll actually make will be a washcloth or a potholder of some kind, but that will also entail investing in a set of circular needles. I have begun to abandon the straight needles, as I find them a bit too long and unwieldy with Continental knitting (a point Lorilee makes in the class, and she’s right). Practicing on my plastic needles with acrylic yarn was a terrific way to have some friction while learning hand placement and getting tension. But I have finally moved on to needing the slippery-ness of steel/aluminum needles, and circular ones at that.

The journey continues, my friends! We’ll see if I become a knitter yet!

Question for readers: Anyone else bi-stitchual?  😀  Anyone else learn knitting first and then crochet, and find crochet more difficult than knitting?

 

Blocked: Sunrise Knit-Alike Tunisian Scarf

This scarf took me three months to completely finish, including blocking. Scarves are one of those things that seem easy, and for the most part, they are. But when you get over halfway through and you just want to be finished already, getting to the end can seem like an eternity. Also, I’ve noticed this is more the case with Tunisian crochet scarfs than traditional crochet where you merely turn and keep going.

In any case, I was working a lot of hours between January and April, so it didn’t really take me three months as much as I had to put it down and motivate to pick it back up again on numerous occasions.

All that aside, I absolutely love the look of this scarf! The pattern is from bhooked. It may look intimidating, but it’s just two Tunisian stitches: the knit stitch and the cross stitch. I also followed her lead and did the same colorway as the designer did. I’m not usually a super bright colorway person, but there’s just something about those colors. I didn’t have a specific person in mind when I set out to make it, either — I just knew it needed to get made.

When I first began trying my hand at Tunisian crochet, I was unsure if I would get the hang of it. But I caught on pretty quickly, and like many others who have become addicted to it, it fulfills that yearning to create something denser and less loopy. I have dipped a toe — A TOE — in the learning-to-knit pool, and so far, it hasn’t taken. I’m going to keep at it but my hands just don’t want to cooperate with where I’m supposed to put my fingers to keep tension, the movements, etc. (I am working on learning Continental knitting, as it’s an easier transition from crochet and it is more efficient, which is right up my alley.) When I get frustrated at my clumsiness with knitting needles, I toss them aside and pick up my hooks again, feeling right at home.

I digress.

This scarf is super long, warm, cozy, and bright. It would make a wonderful autumn-into-winter scarf. Mine turned out pretty wide at 6-7″. I also used bhooked’s method for wet blocking. Blocking is a pain but it does work! My ends didn’t uncurl completely but it’s not terrible. It just gives the scarf that little extra handmade look.

For blocking, I used some rubber/foam interlocking mats, T-pins, and sprayed down the scarf with water from a spray bottle I had. I let it dry for a couple of days before unpinning, which was the most tedious part of the whole process.

I haven’t decided whether to list it in the shop or just keep it in my gifts pile. But I’m excited for the day to come when it goes to an ecstatic new owner!

Edit: added to the shop!

Back in the Saddle

That loud whooshing noise you hear is the dust being blown off the blog.

I know I only have a handful of people who read this wee craft blog, but regardless of time lapsed between posts, it still means a lot to me to be able to post projects and other goings-on related to this love of crochet.

I hold down a full-time job at an accounting firm, which means that the first four months of the year become increasingly stressful as each month passes, until there’s just work and sleep between April 1 and Tax Day (U.S.). With tax season now behind me for the remainder of 2017, I can resume my crafty passions on the side.

Rested and refreshed now, I have all of these ideas percolating for projects. I know I’m not alone in Potential Project Land, where your mind goes here and there and everywhere coming up with All the Things you could be making.

Things on my To Make list include:

  • A Tunisian crochet pillow cover; I’ve had the supplies sitting in my cart for a few months now. Yeesh.
  • Amigurumi patterns I haven’t tried yet; I just purchased a new bunny pattern and a new pig pattern. I also need to FINISH the one I started almost a year ago now (a seahorse from Lalylala) — it needs details on the head and body, the arms sewn on, and the baby seahorse made. I also have loads of patterns in books, both digital and paper copies, to choose from.
  • Amigurumi orders and gifts to friends that are currently being worked on or are in the queue
  • Challenging stitches, such as broomstick lace. I have a Craftsy class on working in broomstick lace. It also means I have to go out and buy a giant knitting needle (or two, since they come in pairs).
  • A new blanket pattern; there are way too many to choose from, but I have a new pattern for one I’d love to try (with little owl motifs), and another one I want to do is a Tunisian entrelac blanket. Where I get hung up is trying to create a cool plaid pattern and then I just sit and swirl about colors.

Despite being incredibly busy from January to April, I still completed some crochet orders or worked on things to help me relax (even since the Big Red Fox). In no particular order, below are a handful of photos of those items. It’s more or less a photo dump of anything from my camera roll since the last time I updated, which is admittedly a long time ago.  Take a gander!

What have you been up to? I’d love to see anything you’ve been creating!

 

Dragonfly Blanket Over Chair

Babies: Pig, Lamb, Whale

Quad of Gifts

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Pink Whale

Sunset Tunisian Crochet Knit-alike Scarf

Feel the Love and Savings

Hallo, everybody!

I thought I’d let my handful of readers know about a discount code I’ve got active in the Etsy shop right now: ZVCTHANKS shaves off 10% of any purchase in the shop, be it crochet or photography items.

My shop is three years old and so I am passing on the love–and savings–to those who have lurked and waited for the right time to buy something.

This code is good through February 16! Happy shopping!

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Big Red Fox

img_9645I’ve been making efforts to make projects that I like and would get enjoyment out of, even if there is no intended buyer (or person to give the item to just yet). Working a full-time job means I crochet in my spare time. I’ve discovered that if I start something and put it down, even for a little while, it will easily turn into months before I pick it up again or find the motivation to finish it.

(Case in point: Sepp the Seahorse, my first Lalylala doll, has been a work-in-progress since June of 2016 — yeesh!)

I bought this red fox pattern a couple of months ago and finally got around to making it. I tracked my progress on Ravelry and was surprised I finished it in five days. That is pretty quick for me, but I also realized afterwards that I prioritized it over other projects. I’m glad I did, though, because it kept the momentum going, and this handsome fella came out of it!

This pattern from Kristi Tullus calls for using joints, which I did not use. I labeled it as easy or medium-easy on Ravelry, but I would say that this pattern is definitely meant for an experienced crocheter and/or amigurumi-maker. I had to do some very careful sewing since I wasn’t using joints, and I made some mental notes about what to do for future foxes.

I do love the long limbs, and using Vanna’s Choice yarn was a great “choice,” since it yielded a bigger doll, even using a 4mm hook. Plus I just love that rich orange color, don’t you? The colorway is called Terracotta, for anyone who wants to use that. The pattern calls for using a dark brown but instead I used a Lion Brand yarn, colorway Smoky Mountains, which is dark gray and wisps of silver. I thought it gave the paws and accents a bit more depth.

All told, Big Red is 15″ from the top of his head to his tippy toes.

As much as I love the fox, I decided to list him in the Etsy shop because I feel like he could make a kid (or collector, whoever) very happy. So he is officially for sale! And I threw in free shipping, just ’cause. **Edited to say he sold!**

Here are some photos for your enjoyment! And if you have any questions about the making of the fox, please do comment below or send me a note at zavvycreations {at} gmail dot com.

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Latent Mermaid Tail Photos

I kept my promise to myself and took photos of the completed mermaid tail blankets with my DSLR, so I have a few more pictures to share. I was quite pleased with how these turned out and I’m told the girls they were intended for love them.

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*Note: I don’t know why some of the photos appear blurrier in WordPress except that they are larger than they appear, and so downsizing them causes the blurriness.

Super Fluffy Cowl with Celtic Basket Weave

I decided to challenge myself during a recent bout of illness where I could do nothing but sit around at home, for days. During the times when I did have a little energy, I would work on this cowl. I wasn’t sure at first whether I would actually finish it, but I was determined to see how it would go for several rounds, at least.

Little back story: I have had two skeins of Scarfie yarn from Lion Brand sitting in my yarn cart for months, waiting to be made into something. It’s ultra fluffy and soft but is a pain to frog and takes a jumbo hook to use it.  (Example: I have tried and failed so many times with Moogly’s Squish cowl and have just given up on making that project; I can’t get a split bouillon stitch to work with Scarfie to save my life.)  In late 2015, I made a hooded cowl with one skein of Scarfie, and while it turned out well, I also used a wooden hook for that project, which greatly fatigued my hand.

By now, I have invested in a Susan Bates aluminum M hook and that helped immensely for trying this cowl pattern. My personal note about the pattern is that it is crucial to watch the video tutorial that she links to. Learning the Celtic basket weave stitch is best with visuals, in my opinion. It still took me a few rounds before I felt comfortable knowing what I was doing. Due to the size of the hook and having to be super careful with the fluffy yarn,  I never got up to my normal speed of crochet, but I was still able to finish this piece over the course of doing a round here and there while being sick.

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In the end, I love the final product! It feels like a springy cloud around your neck and is ultra warm because of the dual layers of basket weave stitches. The mocha colors are so pretty and go with a lot of winter wear. I’m really happy with it and may even devote my other skein of Scarfie yarn to make another of these down the road.

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A Tail of Procrastination (Three, Really)

When I was “commissioned” to make three mermaid tail blankets for some friends’ daughters, I thought I would have had them completed by summertime.

Fast forward to November 8, and I have finished just one and am rounding the bend on the second. It isn’t that they’re very difficult to make, but that I worked on completing other projects before even thinking of starting on them. Then a whole bunch of stressful stuff happened in my family life between June and September (almost no crocheting took place), and then the ticking clock prompted me to get cracking. These are intended as Christmas gifts, so it’s definitely go time.

To that end, I figured a good way to keep me accountable would be to post my progress as I went along.

I definitely plan to take better photos when all is said and done, so bear with me with the phone pics!

The first one I finished is for the youngest daughter in peacock blue with a multi-colored fin:

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The second one I’m working on for the oldest girl is in a hot pink color (Hot Rose from Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Yarn”) and it will have a Peacock Metallic fin.

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I’ve actually begun the fin, just don’t have an updated photo, since I would prefer to post it when it’s completed.

Only one more tail to finish after the hot pink one (in purple!) — goal is to finish all by the end of the month.

More progress to come!

Edit as of November 14: mermaid tail #2 is complete! On to number three!

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As of December 6, 2016, these babies are in the can! Woo!

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Flash Photo Sale for Fall!

Hi, folks!

Some of you may have seen on the social medias that I moved over the summer. After a month or so of settling in, I’m happy to be back to creating with yarn and photos.

Speaking of photos! I’m currently holding a photo promotion in the shop for 10% off ANY photo listing through Sunday, October 16! Use the promo code PHOTOSALE16. It’s good for prints, canvasses, or custom orders!

Feel free to message me through this site or on Etsy with any questions. 😀

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