Llama Rama Ding Dong

Over the summer, I had a request to do a custom llama – white with some black included, based on a photo.

This animal is a challenge for several reasons, one of which is the abundance of llama patterns out there. I ultimately settled on one where the emphasis was not on sewing a bunch of limbs together, and the final shape was a very obvious llama.

My only challenge with this pattern is that you have to turn it inside out before seaming it up the back, and then you quickly have to stuff all the limbs before moving forward. It’s unconventional but I will credit the designer with a pattern that works well in the end. The llama stands up on its own and is really cute.

Due to the success of the first one, I received another order for a pink one to send to a family member who’d just had a baby girl. This one was a bit easier because it was all in one color and it turned out great!

I finished this amigurumi in October and I have taken a little break since then. I am gearing up again since the holiday season is on top of us (where did this year go?) and I would like to get a few things accomplished that are holiday-oriented. (Remember this post from last year?)

Cute photos below!

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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Completed: Sepp the Seahorse Doll from Lalylala

Hi, friends.

I believe a little while ago I mentioned that I had finally completed the seahorse doll (pattern from Lalylala), which took me the better part of two years to make, but only because I put him down for long periods of time.

At last, I processed a few of the photos I managed to get before I shipped off the doll(s) to their new home. I didn’t get any really terrific shots with my nice camera because I was under deadline to finish it as a gift for a new baby back in January.

I heard that the family did love the seahorses, as their theme for their baby son’s nursery was the ocean.

Success!

A relative had given me a bunch of shiny Bernat baby yarn a few years back and when the seahorse project came up, I decided I would use it to create a shimmery look. It worked out very well for this purpose, but because the yarn is thin and crinkly, there were times I almost gave up making the doll with this yarn.

On top of the difficulty of working with the yarn is the fact that Lalylala designs her patterns with tons of details for the maker. I would think I was nearing the end and I realized I had to do the fins and details for the body. Those took me much longer than I anticipated because doing surface slip stitch with teeny thin yarn that splits easily is not exactly fun.

Regardless, I plowed through, and I am really pleased with the overall result. If you’re on Ravelry, you can see the project details here. Despite using much finer yarn, this doll was huge at 14″ tall.

I think I could do another one of these dolls but probably not as a custom order, since it’s difficult to predict how long it will take me to finish it. But I could see myself making another and listing it in the shop someday.

Here are the photos! Whee!

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Geoffrey Giraffe, Because Cutesy Alliteration

I’m skipping ahead to show one of my recently finished creations, because I haven’t yet processed all the photos from my finished Lalylala seahorse doll, first mentioned way back in this post.

(But let me just put in a parenthetical, “Whoopee!” for that thing being finished.)

It had been a while since I had an occasion to make a giraffe — I think it had been over a year when I made this one and had it delivered early (on Valentine’s Day, no less!) to an Etsy customer.

This giraffe pattern is from Little Muggles, one of the earliest designers of amigurumi I found when I first delved into this animal-making journey. I have purchased a plethora of her patterns, and she frequently has at least one new pattern in the Zoomigurumi books. Come to think of it, the next Zoomigurumi book that is coming out will be featuring a mallard pattern from Little Muggles that I have been dying to make when she debuted it on Facebook.

All that is to say, her giraffe pattern is a stellar one, and I have enjoyed making the few I that I have. Usually I stick with the bright yellow version, as pictured below, though I have made alternate colors previously.

For the most recent one, I decided to mix things up with the colors of the horns and spots being different than the color of the hooves, and I think it was a successful choice.

Without further ado, here is my version of Stanley the Giraffe, whom I’ve dubbed Geoffrey, simply because I like alliteration.

❤ ❤ ❤

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Handsome Fancy Goldfish

For one our Christmas exchanges, I made our nephew a fancy goldfish. He has an aquarium and just loves his fish but it’s a bit hard to cuddle them when you can’t take them out of the water.

I went with the standard orange color for my goldfish, and using a pattern I found on Ravelry from Kate Wood, I went to work. (By the way, have I mentioned this pattern is free?)

I used Knit Picks Brava Worsted yarn in Orange and clear eyes I happened to have in my eyes stash (that thought made me laugh). Although the tail/fins get a bit tedious, it’s worth it in the end for the overall look. I did make two tail fins, as suggested by the pattern designer, and she was right that it gives a fuller look, while also supporting the fish.

You can see a couple of the in-progress photos in my goldfish project on Ravelry — but here is the final little guy below. I was extremely careful in placing the side fins, so as to keep them symmetrical with the eyes. The clear eyes really give the fish a more authentic feel, I think.

Isn’t he so handsome? You just want to pick him up and snuggle him, which was the whole point. He was a hit and it made me really happy to be able to do that for our sweet nephew.

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You could make these in just about any color under the sun and the project page shows a few in different stripey versions, too. I think I will definitely be making more of these.

If you have made any or try this pattern based on my endorsement, I’d love to hear how it goes!