Friday, December 30, 2011

Bookshelf Peek of the Week #2

This week we will peek into the book "Amigurumi World Seriously Cute Crochet", by ana Paula Rimoli.

This book is where my Ami love truly began. The irresistible features on the animals faces and the overall cuteness of them absolutely stole my heart as well as the hearts of my children! The book contains over 30 super sweet patterns to capture with your hook. I have brought to life 17 of them so far.

The author uses felt and embroidery floss to give the critters extra special character. The simplicity of the patterns makes for great practice of crocheting in the round. I think it's especially good for beginners. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Most of the projects in this book can be made within just a few hours. That is one reason I love Amigurumi. The satisfaction of a completed project comes rather quickly, and you end up with an adorable critter to enjoy for yourself or to proudly give as a gift.

The author sells her patterns and some of the critters she has created on Etsy. I encourage you to check it out if you feel the desire to make some yourself; or if you're not crochet savvy, you may like purchasing an item as a gift.

If you do decide to make some of ana's critters, please share your pics!

Here's one of mine (I could only find one right now....I made them a few years ago, and the pictures seem to be buried away somewhere...ugh):

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bookshelf Peek of the Week

I have enjoyed a large variety of crochet and sewing books, and I think it would be fun to highlight one each week. I’m going to call it (like this title) "Bookshelf Peek of the Week".

This week, I’ve chosen “Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders”, by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins. This book just came out fresh this year! The authors share some fabric fundamentals and sewing tips to go along with the 101 sewing projects designed by various artists. Sections are separated by fabric type. The fabrics are: light-weight cottons, quilted weight, home decor, flannel, woven pile, coated, fleece, knits, and wool. At this point in my sewing career, I feel quite confused by the differences between fabrics, weights, measurements, and equipment to use for each. I have felt somewhat “afraid” to use any fabric other than the typical light-weight cotton. Thankfully, this book covers it all and that fear is quickly fading. At the beginning of each fabric type, the authors explain the details of the fabric as well as needle types to use, sewing machine accessories needed, stitch types, machine settings, marking and more.

Now to marvel over the simplicity of using only ONE YARD of fabric to create something absolutely fabulous! How awesome is that? Many of the projects do require a few extra notions or embellishments, but ONE YARD of fabric, I’m sold!

You can almost always find a sale on a nice variety of fabrics at craft and fabric stores. Imagine a half off sale on your favorite fabric at only one yard. You could get out of there spending just a few dollars and make a simple, yet SUPER COOL design, such as the “Smart Girl’s Set”, which includes a wristlet, phone case, sunglasses case, and lip gloss case all with just ONE YARD! You get the satisfaction of saving your precious pennies, using your own uniquely chosen fabric, and personally creating it out of that little bit of material!

This book contains so many exciting projects! I’m itching to get started. I think my first will be the “Swaddle Blanket”. This one is made with flannel fabric. I’ve never used flannel and now I want to give it a go! Now that I understand the fabric,what needles and settings to use, I feel confident to run it through my machine.

I hope you will check this book out for yourself! I believe there’s something for everyone in these pages! I should also mention that Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins have also published the book entitled, “One-Yard Wonders”. It contains 101 sewing projects by various artists as well and has some really great tips. The projects are wonderful, again! Check that out too! You could possibly have 202 projects to enjoy!

What is your favorite fabric to use? If you have already experienced either of these awesome books, what projects have you made from them? I've made a cat bed and a chair cover so far.
Better-Than-A-Box Pet Bed ("One-Yard Wonders")

Folding Chair Pinafore Slipcover ("One-Yard Wonders")

Monday, December 19, 2011

Final Birthday Blanket

Lion Brand's Domestic Bliss

I finished the fourth and final birthday blanket just in time for my daughter’s birthday! Boy was it a close one! I am so thrilled with how it turned out. I think this one looks “store-worthy”. I don’t mean that in a boastful tone at all. I am not the designer of its pattern.

I view the process of constructing my projects the same as following a recipe. I’ll use cooking as an example: You find a recipe of interest, buy the ingredients, follow the directions, and Voila! You’ve created a fabulous meal. You may feel surprised and even comment on how great it tastes. This is similar to the feeling I get after examining the final touches of my creations.

I find the colors, pattern, and texture of this blanket all very modern and could imagine it stocked on a store shelf somewhere. My compliments to Lion Brand Yarn for the pattern and the wonderfully soft Homespun yarn they recommend for the project. I am so thankful for the endless resources of incredible artists out there providing patterns that can be used by those of us who just want a “recipe-to-follow”.

I am overjoyed at having completed these comforting blankets for all of my children. I often worried I wouldn’t be able to follow through on my goal. I credit those hopeful eyes on each of their faces as they anticipated their gifts. Their persistence proved quite motivating!

Now, back to the art of Amigurumi! I’m thinking…..Aardvark…….

I’m curious…what motivates you to keep your projects going? AND, Do you relate to the feeling of being surprised by your own creations?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Birthday Blankets

In the beginning of this year, I took a break from making crocheted animals so I could make blankets for each of my four kids for their birthdays.  I planned on allowing myself two months to complete each blanket.  The first one worked out pretty close to the plan.  That was in March.  The next birthday came in August, so I had a nice five month spread, which, of course, gave me plenty of time to work on that one.  Unfortunately, I ended up procrastinating and only left myself six weeks before my sons birthday to complete it!  I finished just in time!  The next birthday was in November, and I was able to follow my two month plan again.  I realized I had a problem by the last birthday because it falls in December...only one month after the previous birthday!  That also has left me with no time to make any Christmas gifts this year.  Oops!  My daughter's birthday is on the 18th.  I am half-way through the blanket with only 8 days left!  My hands will be getting a serious work-out this week for sure!  I WILL finish (I think I can, I think I can...)!

Along the way, I have learned new stitches and techniques with each style of blanket.  I learned how to make long stitches, granny squares (SO many!), block-stitches, and ripples.  Blankets take such a long time to complete, and it can get really monotonous.  Having the challenge of new stitching techniques as well as frequent color changes has helped to keep it interesting!

It has been a fun year creating such special gifts that my children  will be able to use even through their adulthood.  I made all of them large enough for that very reason.  These are a one-time thing for me!  I still have an afghan my grandma made for me when I was a child, as well as a baby blanket my mom made.  Now my kids cuddle-up in them.  They carry so much meaning to me.  I hope my kids will enjoy theirs just the same.

I am curious about other people's experiences with Afghans.  Have you made any for personal use, or given them as gifts? How did the recipient react? What patterns and colors were used?  Have you received any as gifts?  What occasions were they for?  I would love to see your pictures, if you'd like to share!

The Happy Recipients! (one more to go.......)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beginning Thoughts

     I have been making crocheted animals, a.k.a. Amigurumi (Japanese for knitted toy), for a few years now and even sold some at a local craft show.  I had so much fun with that and would like to do more shows in the future.  I also really enjoy sewing and want to add that to my crafting endeavors. 
I thought Etsy would be a nice way to sell my items, which brought me to the agony of coming up with a shop name!  I knew the name would need to be broad enough to cover crocheted items as well as sewn items.  I am a person who likes options (LOTS of options), and when it came to making such a final decision as a business name, I felt extremely anxious!  After jotting down pages and pages of names, my husband finally mentioned the name “Entwined”.  The definition read, “to twine together or around”.  Ta-da!  It felt like the perfect fit for what I am doing.  I like the way it captures the essence of crochet.  The empty yarn wraps around the hook and connects until finally transforming into something wonderful.  As for sewing; sewing would not exist without thread entwining the fabric.  Entwining causes it all to come together.  It is the final step in the creative process. 
For me, the most thrilling part of creating is taking that wound up ball of yarn or a flat piece of fabric and bringing it to life through art.  I find it a completely magical process.  I am amazed every time!  That is what drives my passion to create. 
This blog will be my way of tracking my journey and connecting with more artists and fans in the handmade world.  I hope to improve my skills by learning more from you, as readers.  I enjoy a creative challenge and  am open to suggestions.