Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bookshelf Peek of the Week #6

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi", by June Gilbank, is definitely the essential guidebook to have for both the beginner and the well-seasoned Amigurumi artist. The author provides complete details for everything you need to begin. She discusses the various types of hooks, stitch markers, yarn, needles, stuffing, eyes, and possible embellishments you can use.

The book is divided into three main parts. In part one, for the beginner; she explains the basics, along with wonderful step-by-step photographs to aid in your understanding of the instructions. As an added bonus, June also provides video tutorials on her website, I must confess that in reading these basics, I learned some new ways to improve my technique. SO, I really encourage even the well-seasoned crocheters to read through it all. There is always room for improvement!

In part two, you will learn shaping, color changing, stuffing, assembly, posing, and working with novelty yarns (the fuzzy and textured types). What I love about this section is the way June expresses the unlimited possibilities for creating your own designs with just a few basic methods. I feel inspired to get creative and allow my own artistic talent to come out into a design, while my usual tendency is to keep it hidden under the ease of using a pattern! Many fun ideas are surfacing for me, especially after reading part three.

In part three she instructs on the finishing touches. This is where your Ami really comes to life! From exciting options for eyes, hair styles, and a thorough look into embellishing. June makes it feel quite possible to create your own unique designs.

The last section of the book is filled with a handful of super cute patterns to get you going. The author has designed these patterns with your own creativity in mind as she leaves plenty of options for color changing, hair, and more.

Whether you make amigurumi with a pattern or design your own, your individual style is sure to shine, and you will feel so proud of such an accomplishment! Go ahead...give it a try!!!

By the way…June is my absolute favorite crochet artist! I will blog more about that another time, but for now, please take a look at the patterns she sells on her website, It’s the first place I go for patterns (as you may notice from my Etsy shop)! They are all very cute and realistic. Plus, her step-by-step instructions are phenomenal!! Click…click…click! I promise you will LOVE it!!!

*After you take a look, please come back and share your thoughts...* THANKS!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Last weekend I began constructing the Petal Pillow from "Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders". It's a round decorative pillow and is really turning out very pretty. The pattern has been easy to follow and suggests a light-weight corduroy. I chose a dark pink and will use black satin buttons to fill in the center of the flower.

The pattern also suggests cutting out 175 individual petals to be sewn onto the top circle of the pillow. Somehow I ran out of material and only ended up with 150 petals. I'm beginning to wonder about the "cutters" at my fabric store. This is the second time my yard of material has come up short! I'm going to have to get assertive about this issue next time! My 150 petals actually went very far. I only need three more to complete the flower. That will be an odd order for the "cutters"!

I've enjoyed sewing with corduroy. I think it's my new favorite material to cut too! I was worried about cutting a circle because I'm not very good with circles, but the corduroy cut so smoothly and it came out great! This is a delicate project with all of those petals! At times, it's almost like working with real petals. This project takes a lot of patience and care. Even though it's "easy", it takes a good amount of time to place the petals correctly and sew them on. Pins and corduroy don't mix, so for the petals you have to carefully place them and watch that they don't fall off while moving from table to machine. The corduroy kind of makes them stick though, so that helps a lot! All-in-all, a fabulous project! I'm very happy! I will post a picture of the finished product when I complete it. It's on hold until I find the right color piping to match for the edging of the pillow.

The petals will be flipped down for the finished piece.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Word About Needle Felting

Needle Felting is defined as: Piercing tufts of raw wool hundreds of times using a very sharp needle with tiny barbs to sculpt various shapes and figures.

I recently discovered the adorable world of Needle Felting while browsing around on Etsy. I am totally amazed by this beautiful form of art! The detail created on these pieces is truly astounding!

I loved it so much, I was compelled to curate a "Treasury List" featuring Valentine themed felties.

I urge you to join me in the admiration of these sweeties, and browse through the talented artists shops.

A special thanks to Purple Platypus for sharing my treasury on her Bits of Fiber blog.

Here's my treasury:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bookshelf Peek of the Week #5

This week's peek..."Vanna's Choice Easy Crochet Critters"

Oh for the love of little critters! This booklet is filled with ten wild and wonderful animals hoping to take form with that yarn stash and shiny hook hiding deep down in your project bag.

What a great book for those new to Amigurumi. Instructions are easy to follow and don't have too many parts to deal with. You need very little yarn to complete these animals. Vanna's Choice yarn is wonderful to use for Amigurumi because it keeps its shape well over time and does not tend to pill like some other yarns may do. There are so many fantastic colors to choose from too.

If you are intimidated at all by Amigurumi, give this book a try and be encouraged. You can do it! You will be making your own Ami-Zoo in no time!

My personal favorites from this book are: the seal, the penguin, and the alligator. Next on my list to try are the walrus and the monkey.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Mop-Top" Crazy

This week I'm making a bunch of Valentine-themed "Mop-Tops". I purchased the "Mop-Top" pattern from my favorite crochet artist, June Gilbank of a couple years ago. I've had so much fun coming up with different styles and themes for these crazy-haired critters!

Recently, I opened up my Etsy shop, and have had a few sales (Yay!). I "secretly" hope these Valentine cuties will stir-up some traffic in my shop. I think people like cute, fun, and unique stuffed items for Valentine's Day. I'm pretty sure these qualify!

Last November when I participated in a local craft show, I took more than twenty "Mop-Tops" and sold over half of them! I received a few custom orders as well. Most everyone visiting my table or even just walking by would react with a smile or giggle. You just can't help yourself. It happens to me with each one I make! They all seem to have their own little "personalities".

I'm trying to think of more accessories to add for the Valentine "Mop-Tops". Any thoughts?

Any ideas for future "Mop-Top" themes?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bookshelf Peek of the Week #4

"Simple Sewing" patterns and how to for 24 fresh and easy projects, by Lotta Jansdotter.

I absolutely LOVE Lotta Jansdotter's simple style. She has a wonderful way of making sewing look fun and easy. This is a fantastic book for beginners. The layout of her patterns is clear and easy to follow. The supplies are minimal, so you don't need much to get started. Many projects require less than a yard of material.

"Simple Sewing" is also great for the "seasoned sewer". There are three levels of difficulty for those wanting a more complex project. These patterns can be completed within just a few hours or throughout a weekend.

Chapters are divided into four categories. COOK--(stuff for the kitchen), GO--(totes and such), NEST--(for the home), and ORGANIZE--(cool stuff for stashing your stuff).

I have made a handful of things from this book, and found them all very simple, practical, and quick to make! I've made placemats, napkins, potholders, and a few tote bags. Next, I want to make the magazine holder and the Yoga mat tote.

This is one of those must-have, essential books. Everything is very useful and would make really awesome, personal gifts! Sure you can buy this kind of stuff, but how much nicer to choose your own fabric, create it, and give it! Check it out and ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pajama Boots

I am just having too much fun with this “Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders” book! This time I chose a pattern with my teenage daughter in mind. Using one yard of 60” fleece, I made the “Pajama Boots”. No bias tape in this one! Just fabric and thread. Easy peesy!

These were really fun to make. I love the softness of the fleece and found it very easy to cut. I would say the prep work on this is what took the most time. There were a lot of pieces to cut out. They can be made in sizes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, with a regular calf size or a larger calf size. I finally had a calf piece, a sole, and an upper shoe piece. The pattern includes use of a lining, so I had to cut four of each piece.

In my experience with fleece in the past, I had trouble with the fabric bunching up and the stitches turning into one messy glob.

With this book, I learned to use the walking presser foot;

a zig-zag stitch for extra stability due to the stretch of the material; and to use a 3mm stitch length. I couldn’t have been happier with the effect those changes had in making fleece a cinch to use!

Once the sewing began, and I saw the material transforming into boots, I really felt overjoyed that I could create something so fun and cool! I had to repeat the process four times in order to have two exterior boots with lining in each one. Phew!

I am very happy with the results of this project. I may make more and add them to my Etsy shop. What do you think?

What is your experience with fleece? What have you made?

As always, I would LOVE to see pics! Please share...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bookshelf Peek of the Week # 3

This week’s peek…Crobots 20 Amigurumi Robots to Make, by Nelly Pailloux.

Usually before I purchase a book, I like to check it out from my local library. I want to preview it and weigh its usefulness and price to be sure it’s worth my time and money. This paperback, however, was the exception! I saw it displayed in a book store and found myself hooked at first glance! When I flipped through the pages, I had no doubt this book would meet my expectations. I felt privileged that someone was willing to share their incredible designs.

Crobots is filled with twenty of the cutest little bots imaginable. The author uses a wonderful variety of crafting supplies to bring unique characteristics to each bot and then titles them to match. For instance, the “Mechanobot” uses two pen springs as arms, silver snap fasteners as legs, two brooch bar fasteners as ears, and he even holds a screw.
Here he is! (from the book)

Other supplies may include: sequins, beads, nuts, bolts, screws, valves, buttons, embroidery floss, felt and more! The author provides detailed instruction on stitching for the embellishments, as well as beginner crochet techniques. It's all there!

I hope you will check it out for yourself! These make a great weekend project, and Valentine's Day is just around the corner...

Here's a couple of my Crobots
Space Mouse

Ninjabot (without his red's been misplaced!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Swaddle Blanket

In my first “Pick of the Week” post, I mentioned my desire to make the “Swaddle Blanket” from “Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders”. I am thrilled to say I bought that flannel and made one! I only had to buy one yard of fabric, a spool of coordinating thread, and a couple packs of bias tape.

Unfortunately, the project did not go as smoothly as I had anticipated. I barely had enough fabric. I ended up having to keep an unsightly selvage end (with the brand printed on it) on my cut piece. I sewed an extra bit of bias tape to cover it up, which still didn’t help the look much. I found working with the bias tape so extremely tedious. It outlines the whole blanket and there are quite a few curves to deal with. The constant pinning looked like I was performing acupuncture on the thing! This about drove me nuts! I did finally get the hang of it by the end, but the blanket is a ridiculous mess. For example:

The fabric is pretty and I do love the concept of the design.
Here's the idea:

For some reason, I feel like giving it another try. I may just be crazy! I do believe in second chances, and hope I will have a better experience next time. Besides, there is a huge sale on flannel that I want to get in on! I did enjoy working with a new material. Wish me well on my second time around!

Do share……

Have you worked with flannel? What was your experience?

Any tips on working with an insane amount of bias tape with curves and 90 degree angles???