Twinning in Tweed

When I last updated, I included a green and brown tweed hat as part of my hat-knitting streak.

I’m happy to report I was able to turn around and make another one with the same colors, just in reverse order of the first. They’re soft and lightweight and absolutely perfect for fall.

So now I’ve got two tweed knit hats that would fit anyone from a child through tween/teen and it didn’t scare me off from working with tweed, even with the neps! 😀

I haven’t listed any of the knit hats in my Etsy shop yet; I haven’t decided if I want to do a whole shop restock when I amass a certain number or whether I want to do a trickle of listings.

did decide to list the knitted cowl I completed a little while back and an amigurumi squid I completed over the weekend. Check ’em out! Everything ships free within the United States.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. It still feels like summer in my neck of the woods but we’re supposed to have actual fall temps a week from now. I can’t wait!

A Cute Raccoon and an Update on Etsy

Hello, friends!

It’s been longer than I would prefer between updates. Life was pretty hectic for a while and the blog took a longer snooze than I thought it would.

I finished a custom raccoon order back in March and things were so busy at work, I didn’t have time to process the photos I took or blog about it. So now I’m posting the update on that. I was a bit worried that because I hadn’t done a raccoon in a few years, I would find the pattern overly technically challenging, but I was pleased to find it wasn’t. The most challenging aspects of making it were:

  • The color changes on the snout — getting nice, even tension with the changes
  • Placement of the eyes and eye patches and getting everything just so with the symmetry
  • Making sure to stuff properly but not overstuff; the head and body needed a lot for proper shaping!
  • All the sewing

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In the end, though, the pattern and my skills prevailed, and I was just as in love with this raccoon doll as I was when I made the first one. If you’d like to try your hand at this pattern, you can find it in Little Muggles’s shop.

Speaking of Etsy shops…

Between January and July of this year, Etsy has made some pretty significant changes to their platform. There are definitely some pros to what they’re doing for mega sellers. For smaller shops like mine, I’m afraid the overhead costs of having an Etsy shop are proving to be too much. I haven’t officially decided to close my shop because having the potential buyers on such an enormous platform is definitely worth some of the expenses. (Operative words: potential and some.)

Due to the changes Etsy made, I saw a SIGNIFICANT decrease in sales. I was getting the visits, largely due to Pinterest (I’ll save a rant on Pinterest for another time), but almost zero sale conversions. It wasn’t just me. I took to the forums to see if others were experiencing the same frustrations and they are.

I work hard to price my items fairly for my time and quality materials. I am definitely not someone who has all the time in the world to make a bunch of amigurumi and sell them at a discounted price. Nor am I selling at craft fairs. (Maybe someday.) I was also still using promoted listings at $1 a day to get my items in front of buyers. However, even dropping $30-35 a month on promoted listings, I have barely been able to sell anything, and I’m spending that money with zero guarantees that more sales will be forthcoming. On top of out-of-pocket costs, Etsy changed how they bill sellers and are taking a little extra chunk out of the total sales, as well.

The most recent change in the last few weeks is that Etsy has updated their algorithm to favor listings with free shipping. Honestly, I get it. I do. Everybody loves free shipping. But all that means for small-potatoes shops like mine is that we have to include the shipping cost into the price of the item, which makes the items seem overpriced, and I’m not sure free shipping is going to be the clincher to get a sale. If I were to tell someone that the hippos I sell are $45, they might say, “Okay, a bit pricey but seems worth it for a quality handmade toy.” (By far my most popular one.) But when I say they’re $54, I picture eyebrows winging up and a much faster decision being reached that that’s far too much. At least when I was listing shipping fees separately, a buyer could see that I did my best to keep them at $10 or under, and it was because I ship Priority Mail and with insurance.

I’m pondering over all of these changes and wondering what the best route for me to take is. I have had my Etsy shop for five years now and for the most part, it’s been really great. I have enjoyed the process, I’ve really liked having a wee side business that earns some extra spending money, which mostly helped me repurchase supplies for new listings, and I’ve evolved as a crafter and honed some more business skills. But with these latest changes, I feel as if my shop is being swallowed up unless I am willing to invest much more money up front, which I don’t have. If I were churning out items left and right, that would be one thing.

At the end of the day, having this shop is primarily supposed to be for fun. Crocheting and knitting are FUN hobbies for me. I don’t want to equate those activities with the drag of Etsy’s new policies or being a strain on my personal finances.

So what I’ve done in the meantime is keep a handful–and I mean handful–of listings active. I also have the “Request Custom Orders” turned on because anybody can go through my prior sales and figure out what kind of work I do and request something to be made. The listings that are available have free shipping but their prices look higher.

I’ve turned off priority listings, which means I’m not shelling out $35 a month for the potential of a sale. Not having as many listings also gives me time to make items in my own time and list them for sale as they become available. One of the options I have been considering is letting all of my listings expire and doing a shop restock when I get 5-10 items made. I’ve also considered selling items only through this website, which I am able to do, but I don’t have the audience, and purchasing options are more limited (e.g. only being able to take PayPal).

If you are an Etsy shop owner or if you are someone who shops on Etsy, and in particular if you’ve ever purchased something from me, I would love to get your feedback. I have found posts from people I follow on Instagram and the like, voicing similar frustrations, with some people actively shutting down their shops altogether. I’m still open…just…but need to figure out a way to make my craft hobby work for me without being subject to these large monkey wrenches.

For now, I’m knitting and crocheting at a leisurely pace and trying my hand at things I haven’t had the time for and I’m enjoying it. I hope you are all enjoying a lovely summer!

 

Luminosa Cowl and Happy New Year!

Earlier in the year (2018), I ventured to a nearby city and visited two independent yarn shops. At the second one, I found a cowl made with some gorgeously soft and also shiny yarn. The shop owner told me it was Luminosa by Cascade. She also pointed me in the direction of the free pattern, which is this one here, if you’d like to try it yourself!

Her cowl was done in pink and a brighter teal. They were out of the teal but I picked up the pink and a darker black and blue, which I thought would let the pink shine but still give a nice balance of color.

Still very new to knitting, as I only began to learn in 2017, I was nervous about the pattern and the fact that I dropped $40 on two hanks of yarn. It helped that the kind shop owner caked the hanks for me, so I could pick them up and start the project more easily.

Determined, I did pick up those cakes of yarn and got started not too long after this shopping trip, since I wanted to try something that would allow me to practice knitting in the round without worrying about decreasing (a hat I have YET to complete!). While it took me a while to completely finish the cowl, since I let it sit finished except for bind-off for about two months, I was extremely pleased when all was said and done. There were definitely some challenges along the way, as the purl-2-together was tricky for me, but I plowed through.

You guys…it is SO pretty and it is incredibly soft! Due to its size, it has some versatility with how it can be worn, but simply draped around one’s neck and shoulders looks lovely.

I’m still deciding whether to keep it for myself or list it in the shop. I put the Etsy shop on vacation over the holidays and now that I’m coming up on FIVE years of being an Etsy seller, which is nuts, I have started to think about where I want to take things with my craft and if I want to do occasional restocks versus having mostly made-to-order listings. More to come on that front.

If you are newer to knitting as I am, or if you are a yarn addict and need some inspiration for a project, grab some of this delicious yarn and maybe give this pattern a try. I would absolutely make another of these — but now I’m working on all the practicing of hats. 2019 is going to be The Year of the Knitted Hat!

❤ P.S. I also tried a technique I saw on Facebook from Petals to Picot about binding off with a crochet hook and once I tried that, it cleared the path for me to more easily and quickly finish knitted projects from here on out. It’s so comforting to know I don’t have to let things sit, lest they be ruined with terribly done bind-offs!

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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