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.

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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Finished! First Joined-Motif Blanket

Last we spoke, I was struggling hardcore to finish a blanket. This thing took over six months of my life, once I had done the research and bought all the yarn, etc. Realistically, we’re talking nine months in total.

I became stuck when I had a stack of squares to finish with weaving in all the ends (I counted–almost 300 of them). Thankfully, I had woven some in as I went along, but the task was still daunting by the time I had to finish those up before moving on to joining.

Joining.

That’s another chapter of the tale that I thought might make the whole blanket go down in flames. I had already started, frogged, and started over a Join-As-You-Go owl, with the extremely popular African flower motif pattern that Heidi Bears uses for her intricate designs.

I think that trying a JAYGO pattern before I had ever successfully done even a simple motif blanket was definitely putting the cart before the horse.

Fortunately, I had been inspired last year to purchase access to a wonderful class on Craftsy, called Joining Crochet Motifs with Edie Eckman, who is a fabulous teacher. If you have ever wanted to learn the intricacies of creating granny squares and want to know more than one way to join (and finish) a blanket, absolutely download that class! They go on sale pretty frequently and you get lifetime access. Just that one class has been a lifesaver for me, and in fact, it’s what helped me finish my blanket.

I had done some of the “homework” from the class last year, but needed a refresher. (The instructions on this particular pattern simply said “join by slip stitch,” which was not helpful at all. It assumes that one has already mastered joining squares together.) I simply went to the Slip Stitch Seam part of the class to get tips on what to do, and the joining up of the squares flew by so much faster than I thought it could. It still took me several hours on and off on a Sunday, but once the joining was finished, I was able to weave in the ends and focus on the border.

When it came time to do the border, I ended up doing the first two rounds as directed by the pattern. Then I did a cluster of two half-double crochet stitches in the chain space of the previous round. Lastly, I did a double-crochet picot stitch all the way around. It was the first time I’d done a picot and it took me a while to get the hang of the technique. I wound up doing two double-crochet stitches, a picot, and two more double-crochets.

I put the blanket in a mesh laundry bag, threw it in the washer on gentle, and after laying it flat while it was damp, I put it in the dryer on low for about 20 minutes. It came out extra soft and cuddly, ready to wrap around some playful kids.

The blanket was sent off to my friends and they sent me some adorable photos of their kids goofing off with the blanket as the backdrop. A couple of them are below.

I couldn’t be happier with the end result, especially knowing my friends will get a lot of use out of this blanket for years to come!

❤ ❤ ❤

Tunisian Color Block Throw

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Finished Orders from DioneDesign Patterns

There are a few “go to” amigurumi designers I keep at the top of the list when I receive custom orders and need to find that perfect animal for a baby shower gift.

One of those designers is DioneDesign, who has a shop on Etsy. She has a fabulous array of animals and does a terrific job of using increases and decreases to achieve specific shapes that make her animals more lifelike (her hippo is one of them and I have made countless of these).

My two most recently completed orders were requests for the triceratops and the bear (sans flower) from Dione. I was a little nervous about the triceratops because it is a more advanced, sewing-heavy project, but I was ready to roll up my sleeves and try it–it was just too cute not to go for it.

I don’t make a lot of bears, teddy or otherwise, so I was hoping that my experience with Dione’s patterns would carry me through the execution. I was not disappointed.

I took my time with both of these projects, as they were larger and more detailed, and particularly when there is a lot of sewing or you’re going for a specific look that the design calls for, exercising patience wins the day.

In the end, I was thrilled with how both of these turned out. Keep in mind, there are so many factors as to why dolls turn out how they do in each particular crocheter’s hand, be it tension, the type of yarn, placement and/or size of eyes, etc.

My tweaks were using slightly smaller eyes on the dinosaur and not putting spots on its back (I liked the blue body on its own), and then not adding eyebrows or paw lines on the bear. Just my personal artistic style.

If you have been making amigurumi for a while and want a fun (and slightly challenging!) animal to try, I highly recommend finding something in Dione’s shop. If you are also a fan and have made some things, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Triceratops from the back

 

Dino with Cupcake

 

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Bear with Balloons

First Improvised Projects!

Holy moly, it’s almost spring!

Over the winter (which wasn’t much of one this year), I created two things all on my own without relying on a pattern.

Some people come by this skill naturally. I do not. I’ve been crocheting for the better part of three years now, and it took that long for me to become confident in my skill, and be inspired by something I see around the interwebs and make it happen.

The first thing I completed was a star stitch headband. I had an image in my mind of creating a star stitch headband using this gorgeous Galileo yarn I had from Knit Picks, since it’s soft, has a sheen to it, and is just downright pretty and fun to work with. I used the color Valentine and I didn’t even end up using one whole ball. For my Ravelry notes, you can check out my completed project here.

 

The star stitch exploded in popularity, to where I was seeing lots of hats, headbands, bags, and all sorts of things made with it. It is a really cool and pretty looking stitch. Once you do it a few times, you get the hang of it.

The star stitch is really tricky only because of the number of chains to start with, and in the end how it makes the edges look slightly uneven, something that can be fixed with blocking (and even tension). Since I was making a headband where I would stitch the ends together, I didn’t worry about the unevenness too much.

The tutorial I relied on to create my piece was this one by Not Your Average Crochet.

What I like about her tutorial is that she uses HDC (half double crochet) on the second row of the star stitch, instead of single crochet. It gives it just a little more fullness than single crochet. Plus, I found for my brain, at least, that counting the number of stitches on the second row (or “return pass”) was easier her way.

I was quite pleased with the final result and definitely want to make more so that I can hopefully feature it in the shop at some point. The only quasi-decent photo I got was the one below. I need to whip out the DSLR and take better photos of it, or others I make.
Star Stitch Headband

The second project I did was a scarf for my brother-in-law. I started off making it in Tunisian crochet (full stitch, which I loved the look of!) but because I was using a softer yarn that didn’t hold up on its own, it drooped on the edges with the color changes and looked sloppy.

I frogged it. <sad trombone>

Note: I will use the full stitch for another project down the road. It really looks beautiful, and boy is it dense and warm!

Thus, I started over with the scarf project and decided to go with Old Reliable of double crochet, but going in the back loops only, which gives it some texture and a horizontal “knit” look in every other row.

I finished it off with a round of half double crochet in silver–I think it turned out quite handsomely. My brother-in-law seemed really happy with it, which is all that mattered to me. But in the end, I was just so happy that I could make something all on my own without referring to a design. It gives it that extra specialness upon completion.

Here’s to more projects like this in the future!

Scarf Detail

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Wearable Crochet

For those who do not make garments or anything else out of yarn, it seems that the word “crochet” conjures up images of granny square afghans, doilies, hats, and potholders. Crochet definitely can and does produce those items–and beautifully!– but crochet has made a comeback to the point where it is actually mainstream.

The blankets and throws from the 70s have made a roaring comeback and people have added their own modern twists; coupled with the infinite number of colors and types of yarn out there, people are now taking those motifs and turning them into fashionable, wearable items.

Take the poncho, for example. When I think of the word “poncho,” I think of a shapeless garment meant to keep you dry from the rain.

But some brilliant designer out there (Simone Francis) created a design for a cowl-neck poncho with a standard “granny square” motif as the mainstay stitch, and voila:

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It is my absolute goal to make one of these this year.

A woman I found on Instagram, and whom I now follow, has made over 60 of these ponchos! Her name is April–check out her Instagram. It’s incredible! I tend to get bogged down before I even get started with what kind of yarn and colors I should use. In reality, I should analyze less, grab a hook and some yarn, and get cracking. April’s photos show that there are endless possibilities with this design.

I am still relatively new to crochet, only having a couple of years under my belt, so I continually try to build my skills and tackle projects that are doable for both my skill level and meet my need to make something useful but also pleasing to the eye.

I posted a small update about this on the zavvy creations Facebook page, but a year ago today, I completed a project I was so proud of: a crochet shawl. The design is courtesy of Bonita Patterns and uses the crocodile stitch, one of my favorites that I learned to master. I made the below shawl for a friend of mine at work; seeing the memory on Facebook this morning reminded me of how much I enjoyed making something wearable, warm, and beautiful. Honestly, it inspired me all over again to want to make another one or something similar.

Crocodile shawl front and back

Finished crocodile shawl

Those who keep up with my Instagram or Facebook account have already seen the next item I just recently accomplished, but I can’t help but be proud of it because it meets all of my requirements in looking chic, being soft, and keeping one warm. It is the infinity houndstooth scarf. I rarely keep things I make, usually adding them to the shop or giving it away as a gift, but this one was too lovely to part with.

Crochet Houndstooth Infinity Scarf

I have a couple of other small things in the works (I think I have four to six things going at any given time), nothing I am any less proud of, but there is just something about completing a larger project that is so satisfying, be it an amigurumi, a blanket, or a wearable piece. I find I’m constantly in awe of people’s creativity when it comes to this craft, because at its core, crochet’s “foundation” stitches (chain, slip, single, half-double, double, treble) make up the world of crochet’s creations.

And, like most other Chronic Crocheters, I have a dream To Make list a mile long. But it’s only one stitch at a time and there are only 24 hours in a day.

Until next time, friends. If you have made anything you wear proudly, I’d love to see it! Leave a link to a photo, blog post, Ravelry project, etc. 🙂

Hodgepodge of Projects

Well Happy New Year, friends!

All I can say about my recent absence from the blog is, “Good grief!” (Charlie Brown style.)

I began a post in late 2015 to document what I was working on and life turned topsy-turvy when I changed jobs and then became consumed by the holiday season craziness.

December saw us going from Indian summer to having a chilly fall and then back to Floridian temperatures just in time for the holidays. Our Christmas was far from snowy.

I worked on a bevy of crochet projects between November and December. My memory may underestimate the number of things I did, which is why I try to take photos of my completed projects.

Below are some of the items I completed between November and January; I did a slideshow because there were a few too many to make readers scroll and scroll. Currently on my hook in need of completion are a houndstooth scarf and a new blanket I just started. I’m excited about both! I’ll finish the scarf pretty soon here and then the blanket will be an ongoing project…

Anybody working on anything really fun or interesting, or get anything for Christmas that rounded out your wishlist?

I received some more books on amigurumi, socks, and sweaters. I really want to kick things up a notch this year. And! My Etsy shop’s two-year anniversary is coming up! I think I’m going to do something a little special to celebrate. 😀

Until next time–keep up the delicious creativity!

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Love is: Diamonds in the Rough Tunisian Scarf for Men

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I think me and everyone else in the crochet world are having a love affair with Tunisian crochet. Everywhere I look, it’s Tunisian this and Tunisian that. Tunisian crochet adds just enough of a twist to standard crochet to make it interesting on its own, but with different possibilities, and of course limitless creations!

I remain blown away by what people come up with for patterns using stitches, negative space (read: holes), and their imaginations. For example, has anyone seen the explosion of graphghans that people are making with Tunisian crochet? I cross-stitch and it overwhelms me to see what people are doing with this technique.

Since I am still relatively new to the art of Tunisian crochet, I wanted to try my hand at a smaller worn accessory, such as a scarf. My husband was in need of a new one for the coming chilly months, and when I saw this pattern online, I immediately knew I had to try it out.

The designer, Michael Snow, has created a lovely and simple design that looks a lot harder than it is. It uses Tunisian Simple Stitch and Tunisian Purl Stitch.

If you’re like me, you might have groaned when you realized that you have to use TPS in this pattern. But once you master it, and of course that comes only through lots of repetitive practice, it becomes second nature, and the scarf will work up so fast you’ll wonder how you blinked and missed it. The most helpful tutorials I’ve found are from Kim Guzman and Stitch Diva Studios–give them a look-up if you’re stumped on mastering the purl stitch.

The diamond pattern is subtle but stands out nicely against the Simple Stitches. A relative had sent me some gorgeous Capra DK yarn from KnitPicks in shades of dark brown, light brown, and cream in order to get me out of my usual vibrant or pastel-colored wheelhouse. I decided I would use it for the scarf, even though the original pattern calls for fingering weight yarn. In doing so, I got a deliciously warm, wide, and long scarf, perfect for a guy on the go who wants something professional looking, but also cozy.

For those not in the know, Capra DK is merino wool and cashmere. Can you say YUM?

Folded Diamonds in the Rough Scarf

I did not intend to make this scarf a listing in the shop (at least not right away) but when I showed it to someone while it was being made, excited at how it was going to turn out, she immediately asked if I could make one for her son-in-law. Then someone else heard about the scarf and asked me if I could make him one, too! It’s hard not to want one when you see the pattern and feel the luxe softness of the yarn. You just want to cocoon yourself in it all winter long. (It also reminds me why participating in craft shows is so fun–once people can see and touch the stuff, you want to take it home!)

While my original scarf for my husband–who loves it, by the way–was done in color blocks, the IMG_1161 zvcothers I am making will be all one color, and I think it will show off the diamonds a bit better, because you don’t get distracted by the color changes. That said, it’s still a real showpiece. Hats off to Michael Snow for his ingenuity with two easy stitches!

My husband wanted a longer scarf, so this used five balls of the Capra, but if you want to go shorter, you certainly can. There’s no question he’ll stay warm in the frigid winter temps that Illinois brings. Furthermore, even though this is “men’s” fashion, it is a unisex pattern that would look great on men or women. I think it would be fabulous in a deep red, green, purple, or even pink; I guess I’m thinking jewel tones here. But no matter who you make it for, that person is sure to fall in love with it as soon as they lay eyes on it. I know I did!

Diamonds in the Rough Scarf - Color Blocks

Farewell to Summer and a Few Amigurumi

Happy post Labor Day weekend! I hope it was relaxing and a bit cooler than ours was in the middle states. Summer is still going strong but thankfully, cooler weather is on the way, so it won’t feel quite so ridiculous to be focusing on hats and blankets and scarves and other cozy items.

The weekend saw me  whipping out amigurumi orders, one after another–pictures below in a bit. On a whim, I listed this gorgeous blanket on Sunday and it ended up selling right away, which was a terrific feeling. It really is a beautiful blanket and I hope the new owner falls in love with it like I did when it was finished.

Corner to Corner Jewel Toned Blanket - Folded
Just before Labor Day when All the Toy-Making was happening, we had friends in town and the only thing I had out was some Chroma Worsted yarn from Knit Picks and a Tunisian crochet hook. By the end of the weekend, I had whipped up this ribbed hat :

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For what it’s worth, I do like the pattern, and the variance of knit and purl stitches keeps the hat from curling, which is really nice, since Tunisian loves to curl up on itself. My only gripe with it is that the top is a little bit holey when it’s all said and done. I think that’s why it’s pretty critical to put a pom on top–something I have yet to try. If you’ve made this hat and have comments, I’d love to hear!

Now on to the amigurumi. I’m currently coasting into the final toy of the final order I’ve received since late August, which is a cow. But over the weekend, I ended up producing:

  • One whale
  • One baby bunny (and a practice bunny)
  • One cornflower blue hippo
  • One chocolate brown elephant

It may not seem like a lot but trust me when I say making four (technically five) animals  is quite a bit from Friday to Monday, not including eating, sleeping, going to Zumba, Netflix, etc. Here are a few photos, some of which are not the best, admittedly. I’ll have more when I’ve finished the cow and I can take some ultra cute pictures of the finished trio.

Hoping to be able to work on some more wearables and holiday items now that we’re in the last few months of 2015 (where has it gone?!). More to come!

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