Saturday, January 30, 2010

feelin blue

Friday, January 29, 2010

:: Harugurumi ::: Sleeping Sheep 2nd Birthday giveaway!!

:: Harugurumi ::: Sleeping Sheep 2nd Birthday giveaway!!

Check this out! :)

Favorite websites to visit

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on the internet researching and utilizing the many wonderful website that exist for crocheters. My obsession began around the time when I wanted to learn how to do stitches other than single crochet and chains, how to read crochet pattern abbreviations and how to find free crochet patterns. I went online and was absolutely shocked to discover an entire culture, a wealth of knowledge and lovely people that were just as (if not more) excited about crocheting as I was!

So, over the past couple years I have compiled this list of wonderful websites, blogs, and other resources on the web I visit almost daily for inspiration, learning, and just plain fun!

1. Lion Brand - it's simply an amazing resource with over 3000 free patterns to use (all you need to do is go through their free register process, and you can download all you want)! Not only that, but there are tips, explanations of stitches, a customer gallery where you can share what you've made and oggle at other's creations, and you can request their free catalog. Basically, I love this site. Almost any amigurumi I've ever made has been from a free pattern, from this site. Thank you people of Lion Brand, you are awesome!

2. Ravelry - equally amazing site. I doubt there is any other resource out there that could immediately connect such a large community of knitters and crocheters. Another quick and simple free registration, and you are ready to view all sorts of projects, ideas, yarns, patterns (many of them free and available for download!), links to excellent blogs, and it's all connected in this wonderful way! Any pattern that is in the ravelry data base that is added to someone's notebook as a "Project" is immediately added in a collection of other projects that were made from the same pattern. Why is this awesome you might be asking? Well, because if someone in Denmark has an amazing idea to modify the pattern, colors, yarns, etc. they will often display it, maybe tell you how they did it, and you can absorb so much creative juices that you just might explode! Can you tell I love this site?

3. Etsy - This site is all about buying, selling, and loving handmade goods. I love it not just because you can sell your crafts and find some really neat things here, but because, once again, it is a community of people that love what I love! One of my favorite things to do is to type in something that I'd like to make -say a giraffe amigurumi, and see what the sellers have listed. They are all artists with wonderful talent, so I love to just take a look around and be inspired by their creations. If you have never looked at, purchased from, or even talked with anyone who knows about Etsy, I urge you to do it! You will love it!

4. Crochet Pattern Central - They have an entire library of free patterns, all organized by category. They take any and all free patterns posted on the internet, and organize them into one central location. You can go there and then be redirected to other sites and blogs where the patterns were originally posted. This one is always a little more of a search for me to find good patterns from because 1. they don't have pictures of the posted patterns on the page where all the pattern names are listed, instead you have to go to the link, and then sometimes have to search for a link to a picture posted on yet another page.  2. They don't have "designers" for this site, they simply take what is available and post it. This means, sometimes you get really amateur pattern writers who simply wrote up a little diddy on their blog. They might be difficult to understand, they might not have a picture of the finished project, and sometimes the finished object just looks...weird. Though I love this site, you have to really want a certain type of pattern for free to really utilize it.

5. Crochet Me - their slogan, "Linking the crochet community" is quite accurate if you choose to really utilize this site. They have free patterns, links to great blog posts from their writers at Interweave crochet magazine, videos, photo galleries, forums to dicuss all things crochet, and even a glossary. They are a great group of people, and it is a wonderful place to get ideas, tips and more than enough information! All you have to do is become a member through their free membership sign-up.

6. Free tons of patterns, articles, tips, and more! The only downside to this free membership, is you are bombarded with lots of offers to purchase things and sign up for all these "deals" they offer. Otherwise, it is wonderfully useful!

7. Crochet Spot - an excellent blog by Rachel, a passionate crocheter. She also has a store with all her original patterns. I am signed up for her weekly newsletter, and I just love reading her ideas, tips, and general musings about crochet! If you ever download one of her patterns- know that she is the kind of person that just cares so much, I know she would offer her personal assistance if you ran into problems...not that you would! I have an earlier post where I linked to a free pattern for a rose from her site. She is awesome :)

There are many more lovely places to visit, but these are my top. I hope you enjoy, visit these sites, learn and most importantly, be inspired!

Sleepy Sheep

Free Pattern from Harugurumi Blog- Sleepy Sheep

Sleepy sheep will soon have a new sleepy sheep friend

Want to make your own? go to this site!

Amigurumi Friday! -sewing

I can't believe it's that time again! Yep folks, time for the second installment of "Amigurumi Friday"- the series that's all about our favorite crocheted toys!
For this installment, I wanted to talk about everyone's least favorite part of making amigurumi. The sewing together of all those little pieces. I want to offer a few tips that make it a little less arduous and a little more successful using a project I just finished: Lion Brand's Pond Friends Stacking Toy.

As you can see, this little toy, has a LOT of separate parts and pieces, even facial features and antennae to sew on! So, lets get started!
(I'll be using the bee ring as my example)
Here are the tools you will need:

That's right! Safety pins and a yarn needle (which you can find at a craft store in the same section as knitting needles and crochet hooks, normally right next to the stitch markers!) I recommend a round yarn needle because they seem to go in smoother than the square ones. If you have a knifty knitter, you'll have a square needle, and those just don't seem to work as well for such tight crocheting. 
Tip #1: Once you finish an individual part (say a wing for the bee), finish off the end by pulling the yarn completely through your last stitch, and leave a good amount (10-12inches) of yarn on the end to sew with. This way you don't have to attach any extra yarn (extra work!) and you already have the right color yarn to sew with ready to go! You will be left with only one end of your yarn to hide after sewing as well. 
As you can see here, I finished the white wing, then left a long tail to sew with.

Tip #2: Saftey pins are your friends! How many times have you crocheted up everything perfectly, but after sewing it all together the amigurumi just looks wonky? I know I've had that experience, so now I always safety pin on all my pieces and parts before sewing them on. This has several advantages, the first being that you get some idea of what it is going to look like after you sew it on. If you start sewing without holding things in place, the pieces can slip and adjust their position-ending up in a completely incorrect or weird place. That leads me to the second advantage- You don't have to struggle to readjust and hold the dang piece on while you're sewing! It's marvelous! Lastly, if you have a lot of pieces that need to be balanced out with each other -lets say an arm looking even with another arm and not to far from the neck, or in the case of the bumble bee- wings that are even and a head that is directly across from a stinger- then you can check the balance and get everything proportionate before it's too permanently affixed. 
Tip #3: Use the stitches you have to sew evenly. If you try to match up stitch for stitch in what you are sewing on (assuming that you've kept an even gauge in both pieces) you will have no problem in spacing out your stitches evenly and making sure that your piece is sewn on in a sturdy and even-looking manner. I normally go into the piece I'm attaching the new piece onto before picking up a stitch on the piece I'm attaching. (Sorry if that doesn't make sense) For example- here I went down into the bee ring with the white wing yarn, then up the wing. 

Tip #4: Hide your ends within the amigurumi! Once you've finished sewing, take the extra end, and pull it through the amigurumi to another side. Then just stuff in the extra yarn. No need to tie knots. Your piece is secured by the stuffing. 

Wa-la! You are done! There are no visible knots because one end came from the piece you just sewed on, and the other was hidden within the amigurumi!

Here are some more pictures of the process with the head of the bee: 
My last Tip #5: is that sometimes is best to stuff as you sew. In this case of the head, it was hard for the head to stay on, even while pinned with the stuffing in it. So I approached it as I would a pillow. I went around 3/4 of the way, then stuffed the head in the finger sized hole left to sew. 
I know that it can still be a rather tedious process, but hopefully with these tips your toys will come out marvelously! 

Happy crocheting!

Valentines Day

As you all probably know Valentines Day is coming up so I figured now is a great time to feature some cute "Valentine themed" decorations in my house.  This idea came to me because my dear sister just bought a house and now has an amazing built in hutch where she can display her seasonal decor. Her blog "Keep it Simple" featured some of the decorations she came up with (all without spending a dime!) for her hutch and I was inspired. You can see her lovely decor here. So here are my results:

Everything was pulled from things I already had around the house, including a red frame with "Love" across the top, and a picture of Michael and I in it, a couple red boxes that normally hold my jewelry and trinkets, fake bright pink flowers (Dollar Tree purchase), and some hearts I cut out of scrapbooking scraps pinned on to extra pink curling ribbon I had laying around the house. 
I encourage you to "shop" your house for seasonal decor and find ways to make your house just a little more beautiful :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Molly is 6 months!

I cannot believe my niece is already 6 months old! And she's huge!

I made a pair of booties for her for Christmas, and they were too small, so I had to make a second pair. Now I just hope I can get them to her before those ones are too small too!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A really good day!

Yesterday was a fantastic day!

First off, my husband and I got a car for me to drive around. It's a 2001 Honda Civic with just over 75,000 miles, and it has been taken very well care of.  I think it's super cute and am so happy I don't have to drive our crappy other car anymore! YAY!

Then, the mail came. Now, just so you understand a little something about me, my husband would say I am obsessed with getting mail. I check the mailbox probably half a dozen times daily. I love getting mail! So imagine my complete elation when I got the mail and received my diploma that I've been waiting for a month and a half to arrive! There's something so wonderful about having the physical proof, the actual document in your hand, to make the accomplishment real. So folks, here it is!

I graduated Summa Cum Laude!

AND not only that arrived in the mail, but the latest Lion Brand magazine arrived! YAY! more pretty patterns and lovely yarns to look at :)

But the wonderfulness of this day did not end there, oh no! Next amazing thing to happen, I got a job!
The school district that I student taught in is hiring me as a sub, and I made an appointment for Monday to fill out all the paperwork to make it official. This is awesome because it means that anything I make from subbing goes directly towards paying off our new car, and then saving for a house!

Then to end my fabulous day, I ate at what I deem to be the best dining experience I have had in months! My husband and some friends and I went to this hole-in-the-wall place some friends had recommended called Laguna Cafe. First off, as we drive into the parking lot, they've got a sign outside that says "Live Jazz tonight," seriously? Could it get any better than good live jazz? It was wonderful :) ...just a little combo, drums, guitar, bass, and trumpet playing some of my favorites like, "My Romance" with such taste and skill! Then we sat down only to have the owner personally seat and greet us, recommend some amazing drinks, and welcome us. We all ordered something different but were blown away by the quality, taste, and reasonable prices of everything. I had a strawberry lemonade smoothie that was the absolute best smoothie I have ever drank, and we all left saying it was an extraordinary place!
All in all, I went to bed wondering if there will ever be a day so unexpectedly lovely like this one anytime soon...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Amigurumi Friday!

I have decided to start a segment I'm going to call "Amigurumi Friday." And this segment, posted (hopefully) every friday will include helpful tips, tutorials, free patterns, etc. all about and for amigurumi!

In this first installment, I would like to recommend: The MAGIC Circle.
All amigurumi's are made in the round. That is, the pattern makes continuous spirals on to the previous round you have just made. Therefore, it is easiest to start off your project actually using a circle instead of the silly Ch. 2, sc 6 (or whatever #) in 2nd ch from loop on hook. Trust me, once you start using the magic circle to begin your amigurumi, you'll NEVER go back!

How do you make a magic circle? Well as much as I could explain it, I think it's best I just show you some of the excellent resources out there that have already done excellent tutorials on the subject!
First, check out this video, or you can visit this site, although I think the video is clearer and a more effective way of learning.

What makes this so wonderful is that once you have your allotted # of stitches in the circle, you simply pull on the tail to close the ring tight, and you're ready to go!

Michael's Sale

Michael's Arts and Crafts store is having a big sale this weekend!

Get coupons for 25% your entire purchase (including sales items), and 40% off a regular priced item here.

Quick! Go stock up! :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teddy Bear

(I love his little bum!)

I usually am against purchasing patterns, simply because there are a plethora of amazing free patterns online. My thinking is, if I can get something just as good for free, why pay for it? The problem with my obsession for free patterns is that sometimes, there simply isn't a good enough free pattern online for the object you desire to create. This is the problem I ran into when trying to find a cute-enough teddy-bear pattern. I wanted it to actually somewhat resemble a teddy bear, and it seemed that although there were plenty free patterns out there, nothing looked right. That is until I came upon a pattern on under their crochet section. Sandi Marshall has designed a teddy bear, and a good sized one too that is super cute, and I finally had myself a pattern worth making! (You can find the free pattern here)

My friend's baby Josiah just had his 1st birthday so he was the lucky recipient of this adorable bear! Now all I need are pictures of him playing with it!

This is some of the construction of the teddy bear. I used worsted weight yarn on all his features including his nose and eyes so he is completely baby-safe!