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.

Celebration! zavvy creations is Two!

My little Etsy shop has been open for two whole years. Wow!

This has been quite the experience ever since I picked up a hook again in late 2013: lots of trial and error, consuming books and patterns galore, connecting with new friends, and filling the spaces of my home with lots…and lots…..of yarn and fiber. Mmm.

I have completed dozens of orders through word-of-mouth and the shop itself, on top of experimenting with countless different projects and giving things away. I’m so excited to see what I will accomplish in 2016.

In honor of the anniversary, I am holding a special where any order of $12 or more will receive free shipping** through January 16, 2016! This includes crochet and photography items. Free shipping provides a sliding scale discount–the bigger the item is, the more you’ll save!

Just use the code TWOYEARS in the shop on any qualifying purchase. Can be used on custom orders, as well! Simply click the button on the home page of the shop that looks like this:Request

I hope to hear from some of you!

😀

** I have recently been made aware that international shipping is exceedingly expensive. As in, it doesn’t make sense for me to ship my creations abroad when the shipping will cost as much or more than the item itself. Of course, if there is an item someone is dying to have that they can’t get in their own region, a custom order could be created with agreed-upon shipping.

 

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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Yes, You Can Do Too Much Crochet

Although I have been steadily crocheting for about two years straight now, I go through the usual peaks and valleys in volume of projects and number of hours I’m at the craft.

As we are in the official frenzy of pre-holiday Making of Things, I have not been immune to feeling the crunch of squeezing projects in wherever I can. I have taken to bringing a project to work with me each day to be productive on my lunch breaks, even.

I didn’t understand until this week when I went to continue some rows of a scarf just how much I had overworked my crocheting muscles in my hands and arms. I type quite a bit for my day job and when my non-dominant hand began complaining as soon as I began typing, I realized I had pushed myself wayyy too much the weekend before. I had busied myself with other things but apparently the balance was still way off.

“Pain.” (This girl has experienced Too Much Crafting.)

This week, I concluded that the couple of times I have committed to the gym per week are rather critical; not only in terms of relieving stress and improving heart rate and muscle tone, but loosening up those muscles that want to stay cramped in one position after a while.

One thing I have tried (although it seems rather ADHD of me) is spending smaller amounts of time on the multiple projects I have going at once. For example, last night I finished the rows of a fingerless mitt, put it down, and moved on to finishing a dinosaur leg. Just sewing amigurumi limbs uses different muscles and gives them a break, but I still get the benefits of something monotonous and relaxing. Lastly, before bed, I worked on a Tunisian scarf until I got sleepy (which didn’t take long). Divvying up my time on projects made me feel like I was accomplishing a lot in one sitting, but also helped me balance the various different muscles I use for each individual project. +1 for multi-tasking!

I think the lesson here is less is more. I’ll be celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary this weekend and I don’t plan to spend it crocheting. It’ll be some nice down time from my usual craft corner on my couch–a way to “unplug,” as it were–good for both brain and body.

I fully expect to bounce back come Sunday evening feeling all the more raring to get back to working on simultaneous projects. In this particular moment, I’ve got going:

  • Tunisian scarf
  • Dinosaur amigurumi
  • Starburst blanket
  • Fingerless mitt to round out the first one I made

In the queue behind those are:

  • Another Tunisian scarf
  • Another blanket for some friends’ children
  • Another dinosaur amigurumi
  • Another pair of fingerless mitts
  • Christmas stocking
  • Personal project I’m working on designing

Yeeeeeah……I think some time spent gallivanting around and celebrating my anniversary is just what the doctor ordered. Next week, I hope to showcase some finished projects . Until then!

Shades of autumn

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Springfield

 

 

Love is: Diamonds in the Rough Tunisian Scarf for Men

Diamonds in the Rough - Diamond CU
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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Let’s Talk Yarn!

Now that I have kind of eased my way in to this total dedication of a website to my craft, I’m going to dive right in and flesh out a post that has been percolating for quite some time.

Having had the better part of two years to re-stoke my passion for yarn, I started making a mental list of the kinds of fibers I enjoy working with and those I decidedly do not.

I have steadily built up a collection of a variety of yarns for the kinds of things I have been primarily making, those being amigurumi, baby wearables, and adult accessories like fingerless mittens, scarves, washcloths, and hats. I am slowly but surely expanding on my skills and I intend to continue challenging myself, even if it seems crap-your-pants intimidating.

I don’t believe that one must work with yarn in order to love it, to say nothing of fantasizing about all the things that can be made from it. There’s just something about browsing in yarn shops that transfixes you; it’s quite the meditative experience as you caress the skeins or hanks that come in a rainbow of colors and fibers, animal and synthetic alike.

Personally, I was not a little amazed at how quickly the yarn stores amassed in my home. As I type this out right now, one half of my L-shaped couch is taken up with a portion of my yarn stash, a project I put down and need to pick up again, my Yarn Drum holding more supplies and my hooks, Polyfil stuffing, several books, and other paraphernalia. (I have an incredibly patient and tolerant husband, whom you’ll probably hear me mention from time to time.) I usually cram myself in the elbow of the couch in order to work and leave DH some room. It’s safe to say that it is a mutual goal between me and my husband for me to have a craft room just for All the Yarn and anything related to it.

So: below is a shortlist of yarns I like and one or two I don’t–it is BY NO MEANS comprehensive. In fact, I have yarns in my stash that I haven’t even worked with yet and won’t have time to mention. But I bought them because I knew I’d want to try them out. Those untapped skeins still hold a lot of whimsy for me until I actually put them around a hook and get cracking.

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Vanna’s Choice: a lovely acrylic worsted weight craft yarn. There are an abundance of colors and my local JoAnn Fabric carries it, so it’s easy to find in person. However, some of the colors I can only find online, and at least two have been discontinued, much to my consternation, e.g. Soft Pink and Duckie. It has some good spring to it but is also soft enough to the touch. I prefer to make amigurumi with this yarn, first and foremost. It’s also not bad for the occasional hat. Who knew the letter-turning lady from Wheel of Fortune was a yarn junkie, too?

Red Heart Super Saver: Another acrylic worsted weight yarn. I have read from many a crocheter that RHSS is great for blankets because it washes well and becomes soft. I remain unconvinced I’ll ever make a blanket with it. It is quite stiff and scratchy, especially the more colorful variegated skeins. However, it is very good for amigurumi. I began a Christmas stocking following a Red Heart pattern but I bit off more than I could chew and I need to start over. I was too inexperienced when I began it–file it under Crochet Fail. Pro: this yarn comes in a TON of colors and is available in many brick-and-mortar stores and websites.

Chocolate Easter Bunny

Made with “Coffee” – great for amigirumi like this “chocolate” bunny!

Red Heart Boutique: there are different variations of Boutique but I have tried Unforgettable and Treasure for various projects. For acrylic yarns, they do a nice job of making them soft and in a ton of gorgeous color-changing yarns.

Jewel Toned Blanket Border

This blanket was made with Unforgettable in Candied.

Hat Beauties

The hat on the right was made with Treasure.

Conversely, Red Heart With Love is one yarn I am not thrilled with. That is not to say that it isn’t a good craft yarn, for those who like working with larger, chunkier (acrylic) yarns. I bought a skein of it on a whim and made one granny square and was done. I am confident others can and do make very nice blankets out of it. It’s just not for me.

Bernat Softee Baby: this is a terrific acrylic baby yarn! It works up well for tons of things for baby, including blankets, hats, booties, etc. I have found it is limited in colors but what is available is lovely. Will keep using, for sure.

Mint and Cream Baby Blanket - Wide Fold

This went to a friend and it is working out wonderfully as a car-seat blanket!

Caron Simply Soft: I’ve had mixed results with this acrylic yarn. The pros are that it is, as it boasts, quite soft, has a sheen to it, and comes in some stunning colors, including and particularly jewel tones. I find it makes better garments or blankets than amigurumi. It has what experienced crocheters call “drape.” It’s taken me a few times of hearing or reading this word for me to pick up contextually that it means it takes to a shape nicely. No bunching. That said, it can be quite splitty when working with it. I believe one must use a larger hook, have looser tension, and/or use a hook set like Clover if you don’t want to pull your hair out when working with this yarn. My sharper Susan Bates hooks did not like Caron Simply Soft.

Profile of Golden Horse 2

Main body color, mane, and tail are Caron Simply Soft.

Purple Peacock Hat 9-12 months | Crochet

This is a gorgeous purple that turned out a “peacock” hat. Let’s call it Grape Drape.

Knit Picks: oh my goodness, where do I start with Knit Picks? This is a soup-to-nuts yarn company that offers terrific yarns from acrylic to silk at reasonable prices for what you get. For example, I was previously only using Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn for washcloths and dish cloths, but I will continue to buy cotton yarn from Knit Picks. CotLin is quite nice and I have Dishie on my wishlist. I have also made a gorgeous baby blanket from the Shine Sport yarn, which is a blend of Pima cotton and bamboo. I’m now working with the Comfy line in fingering weight on one of my New Crochet Challenges–it is ultra soft and comes in gorgeous bright colors! I have also made amigurumi from Knit Picks’ Brava acrylic line, fingerless mittens in Chroma, and have Galileo waiting for me in a few shades. I could and probably will do a separate post on Knit Picks later on. I just lurve this brand!

A few other brands I have used and quite like are: Deborah Norville (limited to JoAnn Fabric stores but Amazon carries a lot of it), Lion Brand, Universal Yarn, Cascade, and Berroco. Side note: some people may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Michael’s. While Michael’s has long been a favorite craft store of mine, at least in my local store, the yarn selection leaves something to be desired. So, while I still have love for Michael’s, and can roam around in there for far too long, it is not my yarn store.

Lastly, there are quite a few specialty yarn brands out there I have not yet ordered from but will someday, including Jimmy Bean’s Wool and Nerd Girl Yarns. I need to give a shoutout to LoveKnitting here because I have ordered several of the brands I’ve mentioned from them and they not only have loads of brands, terrific customer service, fast shipping, and frequent sales, but your order arrives in an organza bag. It’s those little touches, you know?

Anybody relatively experienced knows that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg and I’ve written an exhaustive post already. As I mentioned above, I will likely dedicate further blog posts to particular brands, especially as I branch out from mostly synthetic fibers. I do have some merino wool blends, a couple of worsted wool skeins, one alpaca/silk hank that I’m figuring out what to do with, and some angora blend skeins that I’m ruminating on what to make; I’ll update as soon as I have figured out just the right projects for those.

In the meantime, my hope is that I have helped out a few other novices or even advanced beginners like myself who want to “talk shop” and get a yarn dialogue going, or just shed some light to those who need some recommendations on where to start for a particular project. I geek out just a tad with all this stuff.

Until next time!

The Beginning

Well, folks. Here I am. I got to the point where I needed to have a website solely dedicated to the craft of crochet. My personal blog just wasn’t going to cut it any longer.

I intend for this site to be a little of this and a little of that; I’ll be spinning yarns (sorry, had to) on what I’m learning, what I’m making, and what I’m selling. And I’ll infuse it all with some humor along the way.

My name is Zoe and I love crochet–welcome!

Giraffe Straight Chillin  Gemstone Blanket