Llama Rama Ding Dong

Over the summer, I had a request to do a custom llama – white with some black included, based on a photo.

This animal is a challenge for several reasons, one of which is the abundance of llama patterns out there. I ultimately settled on one where the emphasis was not on sewing a bunch of limbs together, and the final shape was a very obvious llama.

My only challenge with this pattern is that you have to turn it inside out before seaming it up the back, and then you quickly have to stuff all the limbs before moving forward. It’s unconventional but I will credit the designer with a pattern that works well in the end. The llama stands up on its own and is really cute.

Due to the success of the first one, I received another order for a pink one to send to a family member who’d just had a baby girl. This one was a bit easier because it was all in one color and it turned out great!

I finished this amigurumi in October and I have taken a little break since then. I am gearing up again since the holiday season is on top of us (where did this year go?) and I would like to get a few things accomplished that are holiday-oriented. (Remember this post from last year?)

Cute photos below!

Chevron Convert

IMG_2202 zvcWhen chevron was blowing up a few years ago, I didn’t get into the trend right away. But after I tackled a couple of projects that used it, I really liked the look of it, colors depending.

Last year, Jeanne from The Crochet Crowd designed this chevron “hugs and kisses” blanket using Caron Baby Cakes. I liked it as soon as I saw it. My transfixed inner voice said, “I must make the thing.”

It took me longer to complete than I would have liked, but largely that was due to my getting sidetracked with orders, work, and other life goings-on. It is not a difficult pattern.

For my blanket, I decided to blend two different colorways, Dreamy Mint and Frosted Pansies. I wanted a pop of yellow in there to break up the teal, grays, lavender, and cream. I liked working with this yarn, for the most part, but it can split at times. It is very soft and warm, though, and I like how easy it is to wash and dry it.

I found this project relatively soothing to create, although I had to keep careful track of my rows, since it the pattern repeat consists of 8 rows. For the bobble stitches, I switched from my usual comfortable Clover hook to my Furls Odyssey hook, which has a nice long neck, ideal for working with a fluffier, thicker yarn such as this one for bobble stitches. Because you alternate with something different each time, it keeps you on your toes. It is not dull or mindless to complete.

I ended up not using all four cakes, since I did not chain as many initial stitches, opting to make something slightly smaller than the pattern calls for. (I believe it calls for 6 cakes.) Because I didn’t want the blanket to be overly taller than it is wide, I stopped with the cream color of the fourth cake. I had enough to do a single crochet border in cream around the entire blanket, which gives it a nice finished look. My blanket is roughly 31″ wide and 36″ tall.

I didn’t have an intended recipient for this blanket, so I’ve listed it in my Etsy shop. It’s largely neutral and I think the colors pop so nicely with the chevron pattern. Jeanne did such a nice job with the design.

Have you tried your hand at this one?

 

Challenges with Color Changes

Late last year, I had two back-to-back orders for baby penguins. Due to the holidays and typical year-end madness, I didn’t get around to doing a post about either of them.

In previous renditions when doing the color changes in the head (white eye areas on a dark gray/light black background), I have kept my two colors of yarn going simultaneously, but I have had mixed results with the color changes looking loose in the end product.

I made an executive decision as a woman who takes pride in her handcrafted goods. I changed things up by snipping one of the colors for each round (the white in the head) and tying secure knots with the loose ends. I found this to be much more successful in keeping the stitches tight (as color changes can produce looser or sloppier looking stitches), not to mention not wasting a lot of yarn carrying tails back and forth around the head. In the end, the dolls looked polished and professional, and I didn’t have to worry about a stray end coming loose if the doll ends up in the hands of a careless child or pet.

Finished penguin with tight color changes

Fast forward to the present moment. In one of the crochet groups I am in on Facebook, someone posted this blog article, where the author wrote about doing more seamless color changes in amigurumi.

I gave it a try the next time I worked on a doll (this time, a giraffe) — and I am pleased to say it is a successful technique!

Giraffe with new color changes technique used

As you can see from the photo, where the color change happens when you’re working in the round (without a join), the jog isn’t as noticeable. Check out the horns. It doesn’t glare out at you and you don’t get the “zig-zag” effect. Sometimes the zig-zag looks okay for a particular effect but for the most part, it looks nicer when it can be avoided.

Even my husband, who doesn’t notice much of what I’m doing with crochet most of the time since I’m always working on something, thought the this color-change technique was noticeable and one to keep using.

There are a couple of key points I discovered: slip stitching loosely is important, or the piece will look slightly shrunken on that round. If you’re going for the shrunken effect, slip stitch more tightly. The other point is to make sure there are enough rounds between the color changes that aren’t doing a lot of increasing or decreasing. In fact, it is ideal to change colors when there is another round of one single crochet stitch in each stitch around.

Lastly, the slip stitch round + doing the next round in the back loops with single crochet = one round. Knowing that helps with counting your rounds, since you’ll see the two horizontal lines next to one another. See photo below:

If I’m not mistaken, the blog post I linked to above has gone viral in the crochet world, because I have seen the “big time” crochet designers doing their own posts showcasing their successes with it.

Have you tried this out? What do you think?

 

Lulu the Unicorn: Raising Funds for Lupus Foundation!

Guys, I am so excited to share this finished creation and post with you!

A friend of mine is the President of the Lupus Foundation-Heartland Chapter in St. Louis, MO. Although I live 2.5 hours away, I do what I can to donate time and resources to this not-for-profit. Lupus is still undergoing research into how it operates, which means it’s more difficult to get a diagnosis, and treatment for the disease is challenging. Because it’s so “mysterious,” it doesn’t get the same kinds of attention that other illnesses do, such as breast cancer.

The types of services Lupus Foundation provides include support groups, camp for teenagers, and countless others to those of all ages.

The Heartland Chapter serves a large corner of the Midwest. As it goes with all not-for-profits, they have various fundraisers throughout the year. Their big event is The Purple Ball.

This year’s Purple Ball is at The Four Seasons on Saturday, April 7, 2018. It is a really fun affair; my husband and I were able to attend last year. We aren’t able to go this year so instead, I was asked to create something as an auction item.

I thought the unicorn pattern from My Krissie Dolls would be the perfect thing to be creative with, particularly if I made the unicorn with shades of purple for the mane and tail.

I gave myself plenty of time to make the doll (especially because you can’t rush a good mane) and honestly, it came out exactly as I’d hoped. I think she’s a stunner! She is a very large doll, too, at 18″ tall.

Currently, there is a post on the zavvy creations Facebook page with a “Donate now” button and the event information. If you are in the St. Louis metro area and want to inquire about attending the event OR if you would simply like to give to a terrific cause (with a small but mighty team of people who work for Lupus Foundation-Heartland Chapter), hit up that post or this link for more information and/or to donate on their website instead of through Facebook.

Every little bit counts, so if you are able to give even the smallest of donations, it means the world to me and to those who will be able to benefit from the services this organization provides.

Lulu 3

Lulu 1

Lulu 2

Lulu 4

If nothing else, happy Spring and pastel season! Bunnies and eggs and chocolate, oh my!

Update as of April 18, 2018: Lulu and the rest of the auction items helped the Purple Ball raise a significant chunk of change to make it an incredibly successful event! Thrilled for my friend and the organization. 

Completed: Sepp the Seahorse Doll from Lalylala

Hi, friends.

I believe a little while ago I mentioned that I had finally completed the seahorse doll (pattern from Lalylala), which took me the better part of two years to make, but only because I put him down for long periods of time.

At last, I processed a few of the photos I managed to get before I shipped off the doll(s) to their new home. I didn’t get any really terrific shots with my nice camera because I was under deadline to finish it as a gift for a new baby back in January.

I heard that the family did love the seahorses, as their theme for their baby son’s nursery was the ocean.

Success!

A relative had given me a bunch of shiny Bernat baby yarn a few years back and when the seahorse project came up, I decided I would use it to create a shimmery look. It worked out very well for this purpose, but because the yarn is thin and crinkly, there were times I almost gave up making the doll with this yarn.

On top of the difficulty of working with the yarn is the fact that Lalylala designs her patterns with tons of details for the maker. I would think I was nearing the end and I realized I had to do the fins and details for the body. Those took me much longer than I anticipated because doing surface slip stitch with teeny thin yarn that splits easily is not exactly fun.

Regardless, I plowed through, and I am really pleased with the overall result. If you’re on Ravelry, you can see the project details here. Despite using much finer yarn, this doll was huge at 14″ tall.

I think I could do another one of these dolls but probably not as a custom order, since it’s difficult to predict how long it will take me to finish it. But I could see myself making another and listing it in the shop someday.

Here are the photos! Whee!

IMG_1170_zvc

IMG_1173_zvc

 

 

The Cuddliest Snowman

Well, folks, we’re getting down to the last week of 2017! (Hurrah!)

While I usually mourn how quickly a year has gone by, this one I am ready to bid adieu so I can say, “Hello, 2018!”

I am still working on a project here and there, and it’s possible I’ll finish up one or both before 2017 gasps its last breath, but my most recent finished project is too cute not to share and celebrate.

The pattern is from The Crafty Fox Crochet. I saw this snowman in my Instagram feed a lot in the last month; it was a really popular creation amongst crocheters this year. I decided to try my hand at it and I really liked making my inaugural cuddly snowman!

The color options are endless for the scarf, hat, and pom-pom, though I find poms are more of a yarn commitment, since it takes so much to make one. My first one fell apart and I was very squinty about the waste of yarn before I finally got the second one to work (pictured).

I ended up using this snowman as a giveaway gift in a white elephant holiday game, but I think in the future, I’ll reserve making them for those who really treasure these kinds of gifts.

I hope your holiday season is going well, friends. Happy jolly merry holi-daze!

 

All I Want for Christmas is to Make a Wreath

All I want for Christmas is to make a wreath
to make a wreath
see to make a wreath
Gee, if I could only make a Christmas wreath
Then I could show you my amazingly crafty crochet skills on my front door for Christmas!

Or something like that. It’s a simple request, really.

I went down a pretty wild rabbit hole over the weekend, trying to find the “perfect” crochet Christmas wreath pattern.

I did find two that I really liked for the base of the wreath, since I want to do twisted colors instead of just simple color blocks.

Example:

Crochet Wreath 1

Courtesy of Craftsy

I have a creative brain but I don’t have an engineering brain, so reverse engineering this just makes my brain go to mush. I’m sure there is a very simple way to make the stripes twist, but I just can’t figure out how to get there. (If anyone has any tips for this, please share!) This was a pattern kit from Craftsy, and is no longer available and is available once again.

I sent a message to the designer of the pattern, hoping to find out if she has the pattern for sale somewhere, but haven’t heard anything back yet it seems the pattern only comes with the kit and not as a standalone. I love this concept and think it would be super pretty with red, green, and possibly white. Or red, green, and a hint of gold.

Another example of the twistedness that I liked was this one:

Courtesy of ilikecrochet.com

Unfortunately, THIS pattern is only available through a crochet magazine and you have to pay for a subscription, so there is no direct access to it otherwise.

AHHHH! I just want to get cracking on a wreath already!

If you are on Ravelry and want to take a gander at the vast number of wreaths available to make (and this is just crochet), check out the search results here.

I’ll keep you few readers posted if I succeed at this project. I have had a styrofoam base sitting in my craft room, just waiting to be used for decorative purposes….

To be continued….

Update as of November 28: I don’t think the wreath is happening this year.

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!

Up ‘Do

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