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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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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Pre-Made vs Made-to-Order

I want to give a shout-out to those shop owners who regularly keep items in stock, particularly those of the knit and crochet variety.

Whether you sell at fairs or have an Etsy shop or your own website, I find it daunting to keep items in stock, for several different reasons.

  • Anticipating what your customers want — try as I might to stay “on trend,” there is no telling what potential customers are going to actually purchase. There is so much subjectivity when it comes to buying something, especially if it’s a gift for someone else, that it’s hard to know what will fly out the door vs. sit around. I do check my stats regularly, and look to see what search terms are getting people to my shop, but I haven’t figured out any magic formula. Sometimes I don’t participate in the hot trends, however. Two examples that come to mind are ponytail hats (for autumn/winter) and mermaid tail blankets. I have made mermaid tail blankets, as I’ve blogged about, but trying to list a custom mermaid tail blanket was a bit overwhelming. People want to see color choices and they want to see an example. Since I’ve only made three in three different colors, I would have to ask people to use their imaginations, unless they ordered something exactly like what I’ve already made. Just typing all that out reconfirms for me why I never made a listing for them.
  • The more effort you put into something, the more you want it to sell. This is especially true for larger stuffed animals or any kind of garment. I have a baby blanket that hasn’t sold, even when I had a sale going on for the month of July. It’s colorful with a popular design (dragonfly) and is a terrific size, but…..nada. I try not to dwell when things don’t sell, for whatever reason, but it definitely shapes my decisions on what to make in the future, even if I’m just trying something out for fun. On the flip side of the coin, smaller and easier things don’t always sell, either. I’ve made several cute baby hats in the past that have just sat there, so they went into the gift pile, instead. Baby hats never go out of demand but it’s also a saturated market, so… c’est la vie.
  • I work full-time, so I don’t have as much time during the week as I’d like to dedicate towards crafting. I am in awe of and inspired by those who have creative careers where they can make and sell for a living (pottery comes to mind). Even if I didn’t work full-time, however, reasons 1 and 2 would keep me from making things in advance unless I were regularly setting up booths at craft fairs.
  • Limited space! While I do have a dedicated craft space for my yarn and other crafting supplies, storage space for finished objects is definitely on the smaller side. If I were to have a shop full of items in stock, I would have to be selling something 1-2x a week so I didn’t have 20-30 animals and blankets and things laying around.

For those reasons above plus those below, I enjoy doing custom orders as they come in:

  • have sold items in stock and I really love when I’m able to ship something out quickly without having to make the customer wait. That said, even when I make something for the current season, e.g. a cowl, there is no telling what someone is going to want. It’s great to have a little pile of pre-made gifts, but typically, I like to ask a person if I can make them or their child something, and 99% of the time it’s not what I’ve already got on hand. Case in point, I’m about to make my third hippo in a row as a gift to a friend — they’re just so cute, a terrific size, and the accent colors are totally customizable.
  • I can buy specific yarn for a specific project and know that it will get used. If you are a yarn addict as I am, you know the pitfalls of buying a bunch of yarn with no intended project. I made that rookie mistake AGAIN this past weekend, when I used a Michael’s store credit to purchase a whole bunch of Caron Baby Cakes yarn in multiple colors, just so I could try it out. Now I’m working on another baby blanket to use up 5 of the 7 skeins I bought. Worst case scenario, the blanket will be donated, but I have so many friends having children, I am sure it will be gifted or sold. (It’s a very pretty design.)
  • Making custom orders is giving someone exactly what s/he wants, down to color, size, etc, and it makes me feel all warm and toasty inside to be able to craft something precisely as that person desires, be it friend or customer. This raccoon and the big pink bunny are just two examples of that.

This is a random aside that doesn’t have anything to do with crochet or knitting, and I don’t mention it very often, but I have various photographic prints for sale in my shop. Photography, like crochet and knitting, is such a saturated market, that I rarely sell any prints or canvasses, even though these have a short turnaround time. I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of the photo listings. I’ve read that it’s better to have one particular focus per shop, as well, so it may be the little nudge I need to finally do away with them and stick to the yarny things for Etsy. I have bigger aspirations, and I may just need to see the light on this and stick with the crochet sales (and potentially knit sales in the future!).

If anyone who reads this blog is also an Etsy seller, I would love to hear your feedback, especially if you keep items in stock. I just don’t find it very practical for how long it takes to make things and hope for the best, but I see plenty of people who sell regularly from their stores.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until the next mishap or adventure!

Who Doesn’t Love a Big Pink Bunny?

When I first started working with this custom order request, I honestly didn’t know how big the bunny would turn out in the end, just that it would be “twice the size” of the Big-Bottomed Bunny* I already have in my shop.

I worked with the pattern to double the number of rounds and stitches, carefully monitoring the shape as I went along. She ended up twice the height at a full 12″ tall, but I think she ended up more like 3X the width around — look at that big old bottom!

Although it took more yarn than I expected, I’m really happy with this beauty, and hope her new owner is, too. She’s soft and squishy, and just cute to look at. Her soft pink color gives any room a nice little pop.

*Pattern is not mine–it is from the book Crochet One-Skein Wonders, which is a fabulous book!

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