Shopping Spree

Yesterday was Amigurumi Day at Echtstudio. With discounts, Dutch crochet celebrities and goody bags!

Of course, I had to work ūüė¶ But a friend of mine lives near the shop and she went in my place (so awesome!) ^_^ I had a small shopping list of things I’d been meaning to get in the near future and now was as good a time as any.

The stuff I bought:DSC05164

The latest pattern book by Tessa van Riet-Ernst: “Amigurumi & Mini’s” which has loads of patterns for actual tiny amigurumis. Some fluffy yarn and normal white yarn for a pattern I have yet to purchase, but really want to make in the future and some other normal yarn to add to my stash. I was out of black again already, so I figured two skeins would get me through some projects for now and the red is for a project I have yet to figure out.

The best part:

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Free translation: “To Lydia, have loads of crochet-fun with these mini’s, Tess”

My friend got the book signed by the author ^_^

With my purchase, I got a goody bag with loads of fun stuff inside:DSC05167 DSC05168

The goody bag came in the form of a cute and huge knitting bag from Phildar with loads of patterns inside for all kinds of small and cute amigurumi, some cute postcards¬†and a bag of stuffing, which is always a good thing. I go through so much stuffing in one month, every little bit I can get for free helps ^_^” I pretty much immediately fell in love with the pattern for a “Stekelvarkentje” by DenDennis. It’s pretty hard to translate the name, since a¬†porcupine (the actual translation)¬†isn’t really the same. As you might be able to see in the picture, it’s a combination between a piglet and a cactus and it is totally cute, so I can’t wait to get started!

I have got loads of planned projects for the near future, but I don’t really know how I will execute half of them. For now, I will stick with completing the My Little Pony set. Apple Jacks body is complete and now I’m working on Twilight Sparkle’s. I haven’t done the hair yet, I’m kind of keeping that till last, since I’m not entirely sure how I want to make it..

After that, I want to start working on a design of my own to enter into this competition.
Plus, I want to make all the mini-gurumis from my new book ^_^

Don’t worry if you don’t see many posts the coming weeks. I’m pretty much booked for October by my job, which isn’t such a bad thing, since I will make more money to spend on crochet-stuff ^_~

How are you spending your weekend?

Cheers, Lydia

PS: I entered my¬†previous post, with Crocodile Steve, into a BYATWF contest over at Echtstudio. The winner gets free tickets to¬†a craft-fair and a meet and greet with DenDennis, which would be totally awesome! So wish me luck ūüôā

Why crocheting in a group is great fun and totally sucks

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a pretty rant-y, negative post. If you prefer to read about happy little crochet projects, please come back another time or browse my older posts ^_~

Last night, I went to my second Hook-In at Echtstudio. The first time I went, I had loads of fun, met new people and was able to talk about different techniques and materials. Yesterday was, well, different. Overall it was fun, I took the big Minion with me and some oohs and aahs were uttered when he came out of his little box. A couple of my friends were there as well, which is always nice. I love seeing familiar faces in a crowd.

Cause that’s what it sure was, a crowd. Echtstudio moved to a new studio since the last time I’ve been there and it’s gotten a lot bigger. Also, I guess a lot of people came especially to see DenDennis, an up and coming¬†pattern designer (I got my picture taken with him, yay!) All in all, it ended up a lot less cozy and personal. At least, that’s what it felt like to me, could have been a completely different experience for anyone else.

I went in the hopes I would be able to buy the yarn for the Afghan I want to make. I pretty much picked out the material I wanted to use: Stylecraft Special DK. The only thing I wasn’t sure about were the colours. The pattern calls for three different colours, one main and two contrast. So I picked out a couple I liked and went to my friends to ask for some feedback. Two of them were sitting at a different table and when I got there, someone else who was sitting there as well asked me what I was going to make with it. So I told her about the pattern and what I wanted to use the blanket for.

And that’s where things went wrong for me. She told me that I absolutely HAD to use a different kind of yarn: Paris Drops. I have worked with this yarn before and I really didn’t like it. It splits, gets stiff and just doesn’t feel right to me. Also, I’ve been seeing a lot of projects made with Stylecraft lately, especially blankets and wanted to try it out. Plus, I would¬†need twice as many skeins to make the thing with Drops.¬†So I told her what I thought.¬†But she kept going on and on about how if I used the Stylecraft I wouldn’t be able to get the cat hair out of it and it would get all dirty and be too warm and the Drops would be so much better. Right.

Then she said something that¬†made more¬†sense to me: calculate the difference in price. So I went and summed up the price for Stylecraft and Drops. Turned out, Stylecraft would be about 10 euros cheaper. Since these kinds of projects cost a lot of money and time either way, I think that pretty much settles¬†it¬†for me. After all, I am going on vacation and should be careful with my spendings for a while. She didn’t see it the same way. Apparently ‘only 10 euros difference’ is another great argument to keep pushing her favorite brand.

Apparently yarns wasn’t her only expertise, when I showed her a picture of the Afghan in colour, I had to change that as well. Since the ones I picked weren’t exactly the same as in the pattern. All I could think of was: I don’t need the exact same colour scheme, I can make it in whatever colour I darn well please!

For those people who are more visual, here’s a picture of the Afghan in question:

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The biggest problem wasn’t her though. It was me and my ever so insecure personality. I started to doubt whether it would be a good idea to make such a big project with a yarn I hadn’t ever worked with. And if maybe Drops wasn’t really better after all, because well, cat hair would definitely get on it. And maybe I just needed to get used to¬†working with the yarn and then it wouldn’t split so quickly anymore. And maybe the colours are a lot brighter and better… And so on and so forth.

So I ended up putting everything back and not buying anything and going home feeling a bit bummed and not even having had a lot of time to work on the penguin I took with me to work on.

In the end, crocheting with a group of people, whether they are your friends or not can be¬†real fun. I think it’s great to be able to share whatever you’re working on with others.

But I really dislike it¬†when people you don’t really know and who don’t know you start giving you unwanted advise and don’t listen to your counter arguments and only want to push you to do what they want you to do. I’m sure she meant well, but to me, it ended up being a pretty bad experience.

I guess I need to learn to stand my ground and not be swayed so quickly by what other people think.

Now that I think about it, I believe she was the same person I had a discussion with last time I went to the Hook-In. About fuzzy yarn and which one is better/easier to work with. I guess some people just can’t see that whatever material they prefer to work with isn’t always the best for someone else.

Oh well, I got some extra time to decide if I really want to make an Afghan or if I will just bring some extra paperbacks with me to Greece ūüôā

How do you handle unwanted, but well meant advise and the insecurities that come with it?
And what kind of material or brand of yarn do you prefer to use when making blankets/afghans/whatever¬†(if you’ve ever made one)?

Cheers, Lydia

I need this!

I need dis

Couldn’t resist, I love this little guy ^_^

Have you ever come across something you didn’t even know existed and all of a sudden you realise you can’t live without it any longer?
A while ago I was just clicking around on PlanetJune and I came across this handy, little gadget:

Stuffing tool

Detail stuffing tool

Now, I have tried stuffing small parts with pretty much anything: the back of my crochet hook, scissors, pens, needles, my own pinky. But it can be ever so hard to get the stuffing in properly.¬†I manage, that’s not the problem, but ever since I learned about this tool I’ve noticed that it should be so much easier.

The same kind of goes for stitch markers. I usually just count out every round, or I put a small safety pin of a bit of¬†yarn¬†at the beginning of a row. But lately I’ve realised that it would be easier to use something that’s actually made for it.

Stitch markers

Stitch markers

Plus, I think I really want June Gilbank’s book: ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi’. Because after working on her ‘mop top mascots’ pattern (they became my Lemmings set), I really think I could learn a lot from her.

Now all I need to do is either win the lottery, or be a bit careful with my spendings for a month and I’ll be able to order some of this stuff ^_^”

Is there anything you can’t live without to work on your crafts?
Cheers, Lydia

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

When I first started to crochet, I never imagined how much I would like it. I figured I didn’t need much when it came to materials, just some yarn, filling and a single size¬†hook. I have never been so wrong…

The first thing I started desperately needed was: eyes. I figured I could sew the eyes onto my little amigurumi’s and it would still look adorable. Error number two, they look right out freaky.
People’s exibit A:

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See, it haunts you in your sleep -_-“

Then again, sometimes it doesn’t look too awful, but because my embroidery skills are below zero, it turns into something like this:

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I have to admit that I have gotten better at it, but still, it’s not the look I’m going for.

So the search was on to find some decent safety eyes. Apparently, no one uses them in the Netherlands. When I did finally found some, they were expensive, one size and still not really what I was looking for. They have these little loops on the backs of them that you need to sew through a million times before they’re secured. I still don’t like using them for baby gifts because I can never be sure how well they are attatched. Sometimes, they seem to pop out of the face, making it look like I made some animal with googly eyes.

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But, the internet is your friend and after some searching, I ended up at a site I hadn’t been to in a long while: Etsy. I knew it’s a community site where you can buy and sell all sorts of handmade products. But it never occured to me that I could find materials there as well. Now, my favorite shop there is 6060. Here you can find pretty much any size, shape and colour when it comes to eyes, but also a lot of other stuff like noses, eye lashes, joints, beads.. I could go on forever.

What I mostly get from this store are the simple black safety eyes with washers. They’re easy to fasten (mostly) and look good on pretty much any project.

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DSC03140There are two kinds of washers: plastic and metal. I don’t really have a preferance for either one, but when it comes to small eyes, I think I like the metal ones better. They are a bit easier to press on, so you don’t have to endlessly fidget to get the washer on.
When you do have small eyes with plastic washers, here’s a trick that saved me while making the Lemmings set a while back. Just take something with a hole¬†that’s small enough to fit¬†onto the washer, to give you some leverage. I used the back bit of a clicky-pen:

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You just put the eye in place, put the washer on top and fit the hole of whatever you’re using¬†onto the washer and push. Do make sure you’ve got a sturdy underground, I could have easily made a nice couple dents in our coffeetable if I hadn’t used a coaster underneath.

Every once in a while, a project just calls for a little colour in the eyes. Luckily, now that I know where to look, it’s easy to get them in all sorts of colours, with washers ^_^

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Simple, round coloured eyes

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Cat eyes, perfect for all your feline amigurumi (or dragons!)

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Of course, there are always other ways to make eyes. Like using felt, I did this when I made the My Little Ponies, some of my pokémon patterns (Vulpix and Charmander) and of course for my Kyubey pattern:

Kuybey front view DSC02467

Or using iron-on cloth and painting the eyes:

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I have also read about making eyes out of some sort of clay, but I have never tried it myself. Could be a lot of work to make them, but on the other hand, you’ll always have the right size ^_^

I guess it all depends on what kind of look you want your eyes to have. Can they be simple, or do they need a lot of detail?
What kind of eyes do you guys like to use?

Cheers, Lydia

Today I went to a newly opened craftshop in my home town. I got to talking with the owner, a sweet little lady, and we got to the subject of safety eyes. She told me she’d made a monkey pattern and the book called for 9 mm eyes, but she hadn’t been able to find them anywhere and was actually told by someone that they didn’t exist. So once again, I¬†got to share a bit of my¬†‘crocheting wisdom’ and told her where she could get them. It’s so important to know where to look for things and to not be afraid to think outside of the box ūüôā

It’s so fluffeh!

Today, I’d¬†like to talk a bit about materials.
Normally, I use plain and simple yarn for my projects. Here in the Netherlands, the brands that are the easiest to get are Katia and Phildar. These brands come in all kinds of colours and thicknesses, which make them perfect choices for anything you need to make. Phildar is usually a bit shiny and more rugged, with bright and bold colours. Katia is softer and can thread apart a bit easier, but this brand has softer colours. So both have their strong and weak points.

But sometimes, you feel in need for a real eye-catcher. And that’s when I usually turn to fuzzy yarn.

It can be a¬†downright disaster to work with, but once you get the hang of it and aren’t focussing too much on whether or not you have the right amount of stitches, it is one of the most wonderful materials to make amigurumi with. At first you really have to experiment with the yarn. Try out different hook sizes and make sure you have enough light. If you normally work on you crochet in the evenings, make sure you have a strong lamp right on your work or I can guarantee quite a bit of frustration. I prefer natural light when it comes to this type of yarn, since it makes it much easier to see your stitches. Also, it is important to work ‘inside-out’ with this yarn, since most of the fuzzies end up inside you work otherwise. Luckily, with this yarn you can’t really¬†tell which side is which, so it’s pretty much invisible if you just turn your work ‘wrong-side out’ in the end. There really isn’t a definite wrong or right side with this stuff! Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, to be honest, it really is. But it does take a lot more time and effort to make a full project with this yarn, so I usually just use it as a detail.

I have used different brands of fuzzy yarn, but I have to admit that I don’t really have a favourite yet. It all depends on what look you are trying to achieve.
The brands I have used so far are: Katia Brazilia, Katia Coral, Schachenmayr Nomotta Bravo Color, Phildar Phil Douce and the house-brand of a local store (Zeeman).
Brazilia¬†and the house-brand are the hairiest of the brands I’ve used. These can be hard to use, since all the fluff gets in the way of your stitches. But at the same time, this gives a really nice effect, almost as if you didn’t crochet the work at all!
Coral and Bravo Color have shorter, quite stiff fluff, which does give the fuzzy effect, but isn’t nearly as huggable as with the first two. These brands are easier to work with though, because they aren’t so fluffy that you can’t see your stitches anymore.
Phil Douce was awesome to work with, since it’s so very soft and doesn’t have long fluff at all. It is easier to see your stitches, but not as clearly as you would with regular¬†yarn.¬†It does come out a bit different than other yarns, so it’s important to keep an eye on your work and how it is supposed to look when it’s finished. Sometimes, you need to adjust the pattern a little to get the shape you want. Also, this yarn just makes your work very, very soft. It doesn’t really have that furr-look that the others have.

I’m sure by this time, you are all tired of my rambling and want to give your eyes a rest. But before you do, I’d like to share some pictures of a couple of stuffed animals I made with the fuzzy yarns. Picture time!

My first attempt at using fuzzy yarn.

My first attempt at using fuzzy yarn.

The camel was supposed to have two humps, but I really lost count of my stitches with this one. So, it became a dromedary camel ^_^

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Funky Sheep

The head of this sheep is made with the house brand, but it didn’t really come out the way I wanted it to. So I made the body using Bravo Color and that looked a bit better. I never got around to make a new head for the poor thing, so it has to make do with two types of yarn. (my apologies for the blurry picture)

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a Zebra, obviously

The manes for this zebra are made with the house brand. They did come out a bit bigger than they should have, but this is because I kept following the pattern with a bigger hook than the one I used for the body. With these types of things, it’s important to keep an eye on your work and simply quit when it is big enough to go with the rest.

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Awesome Lion

This one really made me happy, since you use the fuzzy yarn for the last part of the head. So it’s a simple case of decreasing your stitches until the hole is small enough to be sewn closed. It is important to keep an eye on the head and make sure that you don’t decrease too fast, otherwise, the head becomes quite flat.¬†For this one I used Katia Brazilia.

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SQUIRREL!

The tail came out a bit too big at first and then, I couldn’t get the shape exactly right, but I still think it looks really cute on him!¬† It is made using Katia Brazilia.

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Another sheep

This one is made with Katia Coral. It’s a bit easier since you can see your stitches, but then again, I think this would look a lot cuter with a bit more fluff to it.

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Frog and Dog, I don’t have a picture of the dog on its own…

The dogs ears are made using Katia Brazilia. They did come out a bit small. This is due to the fact that I had to ration my yarn, since I only had a little less than one skein for this project.

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Little polar teddy bear

This one is (almost) entirely made of Phildar Douce. It doesn’t have that long furry look, but it is so amazingly soft. It was an absolute horror to make though, since the shape didn’t exactly come out when I followed the pattern. So it took quite a bit of tweeking to get this one right. It’s still one of my favourite fuzzy works though!

There are a lot of other fuzzy yarns for sale all over the internet and I’m sure you can find it in your local craft or yarn store. Be sure to give it a try, it’s a great challenge that comes with some wonderful results!

Cheers, Lydia