Chevron Convert

IMG_2202 zvcWhen chevron was blowing up a few years ago, I didn’t get into the trend right away. But after I tackled a couple of projects that used it, I really liked the look of it, colors depending.

Last year, Jeanne from The Crochet Crowd designed this chevron “hugs and kisses” blanket using Caron Baby Cakes. I liked it as soon as I saw it. My transfixed inner voice said, “I must make the thing.”

It took me longer to complete than I would have liked, but largely that was due to my getting sidetracked with orders, work, and other life goings-on. It is not a difficult pattern.

For my blanket, I decided to blend two different colorways, Dreamy Mint and Frosted Pansies. I wanted a pop of yellow in there to break up the teal, grays, lavender, and cream. I liked working with this yarn, for the most part, but it can split at times. It is very soft and warm, though, and I like how easy it is to wash and dry it.

I found this project relatively soothing to create, although I had to keep careful track of my rows, since it the pattern repeat consists of 8 rows. For the bobble stitches, I switched from my usual comfortable Clover hook to my Furls Odyssey hook, which has a nice long neck, ideal for working with a fluffier, thicker yarn such as this one for bobble stitches. Because you alternate with something different each time, it keeps you on your toes. It is not dull or mindless to complete.

I ended up not using all four cakes, since I did not chain as many initial stitches, opting to make something slightly smaller than the pattern calls for. (I believe it calls for 6 cakes.) Because I didn’t want the blanket to be overly taller than it is wide, I stopped with the cream color of the fourth cake. I had enough to do a single crochet border in cream around the entire blanket, which gives it a nice finished look. My blanket is roughly 31″ wide and 36″ tall.

I didn’t have an intended recipient for this blanket, so I’ve listed it in my Etsy shop. It’s largely neutral and I think the colors pop so nicely with the chevron pattern. Jeanne did such a nice job with the design.

Have you tried your hand at this one?

 

Finished Knitted Objects! Whee!

Friends, I am so happy to post that I have a few more finished projects and this time they’re from needles and not hooks!

I feel as if I’m the world’s slowest knitter, even having learned to knit continental style, but even so, I can actually pick up knitting needles and knock out something that resembles a real thing. I just need a few…months….longer than most people might.

Since around this time last year when I first completed a pretty raggedy rendition of a dishcloth, I’ve gone on to attempt numerous swatches and other projects that have either been frogged or relatively unsuccessful.

It took the better part of six months, but I finally completed a knitted wool scarf for my husband to replace the previous one I’d made for him. Pictures to follow. In addition, I whipped up a few more wash/dish cloths.

Here are the cloths, all made with Knit Picks Shine Sport. Because this a mixture of Pima cotton and bamboo, I prefer using this yarn for wash cloths (facial cloths). Dishie or another mercerized cotton yarn, is sturdier for dish cloths. The Hydrangea and Cream colors are knitted in the same pattern, a “fancy stitch combination” called sugar cubes stitch. I got the tutorial from Very Pink Knits. The bright teal colored cloth is actually done in Tunisian crochet but it has a lot of Tunisian knit stitch in it. It also makes for a gorgeous and sturdy facial cloth.

The photo of the cream cloth shows the difference between the finished cloth without blocking and the cloth after a light wash, some time in the dryer, and some steam blocking with an iron. Side note: still getting the hang of binding off, a loathsome process.

Now, onto the scarf! This thing is 8.5 feet long. Yes, that’s right. My husband really wanted a long scarf and while this seems excessively long, it’s actually an appropriate length. It took four balls of Capra DK from Knit Picks, which is a merino wool and cashmere blend. Particularly as I’m a beginner knitter, I had to be careful with this yarn, because it could be splitty and too much handling meant it would start to felt. By no means is this scarf executed perfectly, but the stitches and the wool helped hide any glaring flaws.

The pattern is easy peasy for beginners (knits and purls only) from B.Hooked Knitting. One side is only knit stitches and the other side switches between knit and purl stitches. It creates a gorgeous textured scarf on both sides. No matter how this scarf is wound around the neck, it will be pretty to look at.

Blocking really helped the wool relax and get it fully shaped. My husband is very much looking forward to wearing his scarf come winter. It’s soft and cuddly and very handsome in the navy.

Tada! I think I’ll go rest my hands for a while.

Folded with the front facing out

Squishy and thick!

Shows both the back (on the left) and the front) on the right, draped

Folded with the back of the work facing out

Folded with the back facing out from above

 

Challenges with Color Changes

Late last year, I had two back-to-back orders for baby penguins. Due to the holidays and typical year-end madness, I didn’t get around to doing a post about either of them.

In previous renditions when doing the color changes in the head (white eye areas on a dark gray/light black background), I have kept my two colors of yarn going simultaneously, but I have had mixed results with the color changes looking loose in the end product.

I made an executive decision as a woman who takes pride in her handcrafted goods. I changed things up by snipping one of the colors for each round (the white in the head) and tying secure knots with the loose ends. I found this to be much more successful in keeping the stitches tight (as color changes can produce looser or sloppier looking stitches), not to mention not wasting a lot of yarn carrying tails back and forth around the head. In the end, the dolls looked polished and professional, and I didn’t have to worry about a stray end coming loose if the doll ends up in the hands of a careless child or pet.

Finished penguin with tight color changes

Fast forward to the present moment. In one of the crochet groups I am in on Facebook, someone posted this blog article, where the author wrote about doing more seamless color changes in amigurumi.

I gave it a try the next time I worked on a doll (this time, a giraffe) — and I am pleased to say it is a successful technique!

Giraffe with new color changes technique used

As you can see from the photo, where the color change happens when you’re working in the round (without a join), the jog isn’t as noticeable. Check out the horns. It doesn’t glare out at you and you don’t get the “zig-zag” effect. Sometimes the zig-zag looks okay for a particular effect but for the most part, it looks nicer when it can be avoided.

Even my husband, who doesn’t notice much of what I’m doing with crochet most of the time since I’m always working on something, thought the this color-change technique was noticeable and one to keep using.

There are a couple of key points I discovered: slip stitching loosely is important, or the piece will look slightly shrunken on that round. If you’re going for the shrunken effect, slip stitch more tightly. The other point is to make sure there are enough rounds between the color changes that aren’t doing a lot of increasing or decreasing. In fact, it is ideal to change colors when there is another round of one single crochet stitch in each stitch around.

Lastly, the slip stitch round + doing the next round in the back loops with single crochet = one round. Knowing that helps with counting your rounds, since you’ll see the two horizontal lines next to one another. See photo below:

If I’m not mistaken, the blog post I linked to above has gone viral in the crochet world, because I have seen the “big time” crochet designers doing their own posts showcasing their successes with it.

Have you tried this out? What do you think?

 

Hippos of the Rainbow

As many of you know, I have made dozens of hippos. They are a huge hit and my best seller in the shop. (Giraffes and penguins are second and third, I think.)

Just last night, I finished an order for a red hippo  — my first boldly colored hippo ordered in a long time. I was really excited for this one, because I think the hippos can look good in any color, but don’t get an opportunity to stray outside of standard colors very often. The red makes me think of that game Hungry Hungry Hippos from the 80s — anyone remember that one?

In the end, he turned out so handsomely! Check out this good-looking fella:

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I have my eye on other kinds of dolls to try out but in the meantime, I’ll keep going on the hippo train!

Do you make crochet or knit animals? Do you have any suggestions for others I could try out? Leave a comment below!

Pattern Overview: Robot from Amigurumi Today

I received a request to make a couple of little toys for two small boys who were going to be traveling. They had their own unique interests so I worked with the client to try and find patterns that would sync up to their particulate tastes.

For one little boy, I made a butterfly, the pattern of which is from Theresa’s Crochet Shop. She designs “affordable cuteness” and is very talented. For my version, I added a little sparkly white color for the inside of the wing and used a teal color for the rest of the butterfly. S/he turned out super cute! I’m really happy with this pattern, despite the vast amount of hand sewing involved, and will make more.

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When it came time to find a good robot pattern, I landed on this free one from Amigurumi Today:

Image courtesy of Amigurumi Today

I really had to work to get the head just right, because when working in continuous rounds and making a square shape, you’re actually creating a parallelogram, so it’s pretty slanted and not a decisively straight-edged square.

Image courtesy of Twisted Turns Rebooted

Because this is whimsical and for a little boy, I didn’t think he would mind, but the perfectionist in me was struggling a bit. I used a 3.5mm hook and light worsted weight yarn so the stitches would be nice and tight. Between the head, the face, and embroidering, those alone took a couple of evenings.

 

The head is oversized compared to the body. When I sewed the body to the bottom of the head, it looked centered in the front and completely wonky in the back; something I had to live with. Here’s the back:

By the time I got to the arms and legs and got them sewed on, the doll looked less crooked. But there is definitely a reason you don’t see the back of the doll on the pattern page. 😉

Ultimately, I made a couple of variations to my doll that strayed from the pattern but nothing major. I would probably make another of these if I could figure out some better techniques for embroidering the face. While I know how to cross stitch, embroidering faces onto a crochet canvas is not something I’ve completely mastered.

Skill level: experienced intermediate | Pattern rating: B+

Here’s my very sleepy looking robot doll — or maybe he’s rebooting?

Without the bottom legs, the robot isn’t really taller than the butterfly!

Puppy Love in Shades of Teal

Hello, friends!

Earlier this month, I received a custom order for a puppy dog in shades of teal. The customer wanted whimsical–I think this little guy delivers!

If you’re interested in trying out this puppy pattern for yourself, look up “Scout the Puppy” from Little Muggles; it’s also available in the Zoomigurumi 5 book.

I used shades Tidepool and Cornflower from KnitPicks Brava Worsted. For a couple of the pictures below, I thought it’d be cute to show him next to the Easter egg bunny I made in similar shades.

Please feel free to contact me here or through the Etsy platform if you are in the market for a puppy dog of your very own!

😍

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What’s Better Than One Hippo? Two Hippos!

I’ve had a rash of hippo-making recently. A very generous client fell in love with the hippos I make and ordered one, then two, and then another set of two hippos so she could have a pair in stock for the numerous people in her lives who are having babies.

I admit, I understand the obsession. This pattern is terrific (designed by Dione Design) and I quite enjoy making them. They remain my most popular item for sale to date.

If you or someone you know loves hippos, feel free to ping me on this site or in the shop for customization — I have done these in all kinds of color combinations! The pink and gray are the classic and most requested colors.

On to the photos! 🙂

 

Finished: Meyer the Mallard from Zoomigurumi 7

Another stellar pattern from Little Muggles!

I have been eyeing this pattern for months. Amy from LM finally announced a little while back that her mallard pattern would be available in the Zoomigurumi 7 book.

So, I had to bide my time and wait to pounce, and as soon as that sucker came up for pre-order, I jumped on it.

There are truly some adorable patterns in this book! (I bought the PDF version because I can access the patterns on my iPad — very handy.) I always want to make all the things when I get a new pattern book, but I honed my sights on the mallard and got to work.

I had to bookend making it while my day job ramped up, but when tax season finally ended and we could all breathe again, I jumped back into finishing it.

I know from previously making Little Muggles patterns that she favors Vanna’s Choice yarn. I had a bunch leftover and I happened to have just enough of each color to get me through making the mallard. It was truly a stashbuster project, which is always an extra bonus.

I will say, and the book also states this, that it is a relatively challenging pattern due to the loads of color changes for many rounds, plus the shaping, and also the eye placement (you do this well after you’ve made the head and have had to stuff it a bit). It’s a tricky little bugger but looks so awesome in the end. For my doll, I ended up cutting each color for each round and starting anew because it was easier to tie ends together into a knot to prevent any loose stitches. But to each her own when it comes to color changes. I would rate this pattern as a high-level intermediate; definitely for those who are comfortable making amigurumi and not just starting out, as you do have to rely on your intuition and experience.

Okay, so let’s get to the photos! I’ve got this handsome guy for sale in the shop. In addition to the mallard, the pattern also gives you the baby ducks you can make to go along with him. I opted not to this time but will probably make a few down the road. They will be far easier to make in one color, that’s for sure.

If you decide to try out this pattern, let me know! I’d love to see your mallards and duckies. 🙂

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Lulu the Unicorn: Raising Funds for Lupus Foundation!

Guys, I am so excited to share this finished creation and post with you!

A friend of mine is the President of the Lupus Foundation-Heartland Chapter in St. Louis, MO. Although I live 2.5 hours away, I do what I can to donate time and resources to this not-for-profit. Lupus is still undergoing research into how it operates, which means it’s more difficult to get a diagnosis, and treatment for the disease is challenging. Because it’s so “mysterious,” it doesn’t get the same kinds of attention that other illnesses do, such as breast cancer.

The types of services Lupus Foundation provides include support groups, camp for teenagers, and countless others to those of all ages.

The Heartland Chapter serves a large corner of the Midwest. As it goes with all not-for-profits, they have various fundraisers throughout the year. Their big event is The Purple Ball.

This year’s Purple Ball is at The Four Seasons on Saturday, April 7, 2018. It is a really fun affair; my husband and I were able to attend last year. We aren’t able to go this year so instead, I was asked to create something as an auction item.

I thought the unicorn pattern from My Krissie Dolls would be the perfect thing to be creative with, particularly if I made the unicorn with shades of purple for the mane and tail.

I gave myself plenty of time to make the doll (especially because you can’t rush a good mane) and honestly, it came out exactly as I’d hoped. I think she’s a stunner! She is a very large doll, too, at 18″ tall.

Currently, there is a post on the zavvy creations Facebook page with a “Donate now” button and the event information. If you are in the St. Louis metro area and want to inquire about attending the event OR if you would simply like to give to a terrific cause (with a small but mighty team of people who work for Lupus Foundation-Heartland Chapter), hit up that post or this link for more information and/or to donate on their website instead of through Facebook.

Every little bit counts, so if you are able to give even the smallest of donations, it means the world to me and to those who will be able to benefit from the services this organization provides.

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If nothing else, happy Spring and pastel season! Bunnies and eggs and chocolate, oh my!

Update as of April 18, 2018: Lulu and the rest of the auction items helped the Purple Ball raise a significant chunk of change to make it an incredibly successful event! Thrilled for my friend and the organization.