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!

❤ ❤

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

Bear_Etsy Order

Pink Whale

Sunset Tunisian Crochet Knit-alike Scarf

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.

cowl-on

 

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!

 

Triceratops profile

 

Triceratops from the back

 

Dino with Cupcake

 

Bear Amigurumi - Seated

 

Bear Amigurumi Seated 2

 

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

In the making

Finished!

Finished!

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. 🙂