Tag Archive | Tools

Yarn Shopping Spree!

I was cleaning out my wallet when I found a gift card to Joann’s. I received it for Christmas from a friend. I treat gift cards same as cash and sometimes agonize over how to spend them properly. I have a frugal heart already and when someone gives me a gift card, I want to honor that by spending it as wisely as possible. I went to Joann’s awhile back armed with a 60% off coupon for one regularly priced item and my gift card. Joann’s is very smart. You can’t you use that coupon on sale items and usually what I want is on sale. I did have a coupon for 15% off all purchases but not on door busters. But naturally, what I wanted was a door buster. I walked around looking at things with my 16-year-old son in tow.  He wasn’t rushing me but I knew Joann’s wasn’t his favorite place. I didn’t really want anything specific and the sales and my coupons weren’t in sync to optimize what I did want so I didn’t get anything at all. I forgot about the gift card until I noticed it in my wallet yesterday. I was also thinking about that pretty sweater I posted about recently and how I wanted to get the yarn for it. Now was a good time to get it because of my gift card AND some good coupons. I was going to need 13 skeins of yarn. I had five 60% off coupons and a 20% off any purchase coupon. I was ready!

I went into the store and looked for my yarn. It was not on sale so that meant I could use my coupons. The first problem was that I could only buy five skeins of yarn when I needed 13. I already knew this and was prepared to reprint my coupons two more times and make two more trips to the store before they expired on Sunday. It was inconvenient but doable. The second and bigger problem was that the store didn’t even have all the skeins I needed. One color was completely out and the main color I needed (8 skeins) only had three or  four. The third color was fine. I didn’t want to buy what they had and run the risk that they wouldn’t get more when I needed it so I went on a search for similar yarns. I pulled out my phone and spent a long time looking at yarns and calculating prices based on the coupons I had, whether they were on sale or not and if they carried a similar yarn. I was going a little coo coo but I was having fun. No one was waiting on me and I had all the time in the world to calculate to my heart’s content.

I eventually settled on a compromise between price, available colors and softness of the yarn. The yarn I chose wasn’t as soft as the yarn called for in the pattern but it wasn’t bad. The colors were good and very close to what was needed. The pattern calls for black and two grays. This line only had the black and one gray. I could work with that. I thought might even have a gray I could work with already in my stash but if not, I could make do.

yarn scissors

Soon to be a sweater!

Continue reading

Freebie Friday -(on Sunday :-) Cardigan

I have a tale of woe to tell. It is the reason I didn’t get out my Freebie Friday post out on, well, Friday. I hate to admit that I accidentally dropped my cell phone into a tank of water. This, after having done the exact same thing about a few weeks prior, but that time, my phone survived its swim. Alas, this time, it was destroyed. Worse still, I have only had my phone since November! There was a heated debate in my household as to how I could do the same thing twice when I had never done this with my previous phone. My very good argument was that the case I had purchased for this phone was very slippery and was a catastrophe waiting to happen. My hubby seemed to be of the opinion that my new phone was larger than my old phone and that’s why it kept slipping out of my hands. We are probably both right. Being without my phone was difficult. Who knows how many important texts I missed! (None probably 🙂 ). I was scrambling around trying to  get it repaired but in the end, I was forced to get a replacement. I am now up and running again and can now focus on getting my post out!

Lately, I’ve been seeing some really nice sweaters while out and about. I would go so far as to say I envious of the beautiful sweaters I’ve been seeing. I always wanted to make myself a lovely sweater and just never got around to it but lately, I have the itch to make one. I used to have this long, black, sweater that was made from yarn but I’m sure it was mass-produced. I’m not even sure where I got it from but it disappeared at least a year ago (but probably a lot longer). I loved that sweater and vowed I would either buy a new one or make one. I never did find one I liked and just didn’t get around to making one. Here’s one I found online that I think is worth trying. It looks pretty and not too difficult to make. Hopefully I can make it before the winter season is over. I don’t have much time so I better get started soon! The pattern can be found here.

Sweater Lion Brand

I am not affiliated with any websites nor do I make any money from these sites. They are simply patterns I like or would like to try myself.

Minecraft Steve Doll Pattern Progress

Someone asked me if I had written the pattern for the Minecraft Steve Doll I had made and posted in a previous post. It’s been a crazy busy year and I got side tracked. I had every intention to get this out a lot sooner but you know what they say about good intentions and all :-).

As I’ve mentioned before, I can read patterns and am passable at writing them (which is why it’s taken me so long to get this out). I had hoped to make another doll and force myself to write down what I did as I went but I just haven’t had the time to make one. So I’ve started a new one recently and my goal was to finish the doll with the changes I wanted to make to the last doll and post the pattern the last two Fridays. The first Friday, I realized there was no way I was going to finish the doll and it’s pattern by my deadline. Instead, I thought I could give a tutorial on what I did so that people could make it from that and I would still have a post for Freebie Friday and I would finish the doll by the following Friday and I would have an actual pattern. Continue reading

Funny crochet slippers

Brown Crochet slippers_2

Now that winter is here, I found myself wanting  some warm slippers. My mom used to make slippers for everyone in the family but now that she’s gone, I don’t have that luxury so I decided to have a go at it.

Traditionally, I don’t have a great track record with crochet slippers. I can make the heck out of one slipper but the second one tends to be a little more elusive. Either it comes out too small or too big, even when I do the exact same thing (at least that’s what I tell myself). Inevitably, I try to match the size of one of the slippers but instead, I end up with a craft bag full of different sized slippers. Lol  Well no more, I told myself! I was going to make myself a pair of slippers. And they would match! Continue reading

Crochet Rag Dolls

Today one of my second grade students asked me if I would sit with her and teach her to crochet her own doll. I know she doesn’t have the skills yet to start a doll as she still doesn’t have the fundamentals down. Unfortunately we don’t have much time during the week to just sit and crochet but I told her that on Friday we could find time to do it (since we don’t do homework that day).

When I got home, I was thinking about how they all want to make dolls because they see me doing them. Very few (only one actually) ever reached the point where she could make one that actually resembled a doll. I definitely want them to feel like they can reach the goal of making a doll. I thought maybe they could try making squares and rectangles that we sew up to make rag dolls. The ones that move beyond chains (many are happy to make chains all day long 🙂 eventually learn to make squares and rectangles so that will be my next project with them. I have a fourth grade student who does single crochet pretty well and this project will be right up her alley. She’s always very helpful with the other students who are just getting started, especially the younger ones. Often, when they can’t get the mechanics of doing a chain, she is able to teach them how to do it in her own way. I love how patient she is with them and they love it as well. I think she will be excited about making her own doll and then she can show off her work to the other students. That’s the best part! 🙂

I will make a rag doll out of squares and rectangles myself as a prototype and see where that leaves us. I think they will be excited about being able to make something even though it’s not exactly what they had in mind. I am very excited myself to give this a try. I will post photos of my first attempt as well as photos of the students’ finished results in a future post.

WA bag 72

This is the general idea.

Frozen Anna crochet Doll completed

Completed Anna Frozen

I’m so happy she’s done. My favorite part of the whole process is searching in my stash for just the right yarns in just the right colors. I feel a sense of victory when I don’t have to run out and buy more yarn. With yarns and hooks in hand, I started on my adventure.

Anna’s outfit turned out to be more complicated than I expected. I started with her bodice and worked my way around her torso. The gold edging came next. The dress has a lot of design on it and deciding what to include and how to go about representing the artwork on her dress took me a few days of pondering. I went for a little embroidery on her top to represent the flowers and stems. Continue reading

Success!

I am extremely excited! My sister-in-law and one of my best friends just finished making her very own doll using the techniques in my almost finished book. I gave her a rough copy of the book to try out so she could give me feedback. She is my target audience, namely someone who crochets but is intimidated about creating something off top of their head. My book is more of a tutorial than a pattern book. I wanted to pick her brain about whether said tutorial made any sense and how I could make the book better. I can’t describe how elated I felt to see her post on Facebook showing off her finished doll!

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“She’s wonky, she’s lanky, and just a little funky, but she’s done…made a ton of mistakes…like giving her so many curls her head flops about…but I’m smitten. Got get her decent…thank you Yolanda. I’m on to make her a sister!”

Based on her ideas and how I actually saw her using the book, I found some areas that I could definitely improve upon. Every time she had a question, it was an insight into how clearly I wrote that particular section. Her input was (and still is) invaluable but the best and most awesome part was seeing her get excited about making her doll. And she is even ready to make her next one 🙂

She has been there right along with me as I’ve been improving my skills on my dolls. She would often make comments about how she wished she could do it herself. I would explain the process to her but she would always say she wasn’t creative like me. She would argue she couldn’t just pick up a hook and make one without a pattern. I always shot back that she was creative and she already crocheted and knitted (which I can’t do so kudos to her) so she was already creative. I would start prattling on about how I created them and about how It was a process I followed and not necessarily a pattern and blah blah blah. That’s when her eyes would glaze over. I suspect she just wanted me to make them for her (giggle). The idea for the book was actually born and inspired by her because I absolutely knew she could just pick up a hook and make a doll (or whatever else she wanted).

My friend and I are both avid readers so instead of prattling on to her about how I make my dolls,  I decided to put it down on paper and surprise, surprise, she discovered she is creative! It didn’t work when I was throwing words at her but I’m so happy it worked in book form. I am so proud of her (and grateful she was willing to spend time on this whole project) and I love her doll!

To Sell or Not to Sell

As a crafter, the topic of selling my finished pieces often comes up (as I’m sure it does with all crafters). I love creating crochet items, especially my dolls and often, well-meaning friends and family (and sometimes strangers) tell me I should sell what I make. I appreciate and love the sentiment because it means they really like what I make. It makes me feel great. And then I get nervous thinking about it.

I have sold a few of my items but it’s not a business. Every now and then someone asks me what I charge and I halfheartedly give an answer because I have no clue what to charge. I come up with something and sell them what they want. A terrible way to do business! I also do a craft fair every year around Christmas at the elementary school where I work. I’ve done it for about four years now and I’m finding that people tend to under value the work involved. I have a hard time sticking to a price because I tend to under value what I do as well (*head hung in shame*)! I tend to feel a lot of stress on how to price my items. I know there are formulas out there based on materials used and so forth but the truth is, I am a lousy sale’s person when it comes to my work.

I spend many hours and days creating a doll using yarn that I acquired from many different places. I have yarn that was given to me, yarn I bought at yard sales, and of course, yarn I bought at craft stores. I just grab what I have that matches what I want to make.  I have no idea what the costs are for the materials I used to make that individual doll. People always ask me how long it takes me to make something and I stare at them blankly. I can’t really answer because I don’t usually take note of it. I crochet when I can in fits and spurts so figuring out formulas isn’t that easy. Some dolls are more expensive to make than others but I couldn’t say by how much. But they all take time and effort.

My friends and family always tease me about my negotiating skills. Namely, that I don’t have any. 🙂

True story and usually where the teasing begins: About two years ago, I was doing one of those craft fairs I mentioned above and had a set price for a doll that I thought was fair. The hair alone had two skeins of expensive yarn. The doll was a large one so it took some time to make. It was priced at $60. I had another smaller one priced at $40. One of the little girls in the program I worked for wanted that $60 doll. Her sister wanted the $40 one. It was right before Christmas and their grandfather came to look at them. He looked at the price and must have made some noise to indicate they were pricey so I immediately offered it for $30. He bought it and then the sister chimed in that she wanted the other one so I lowered the price to $20. Did I mention that he didn’t even ask for a lower price…for either doll? He took them both and my family has been teasing me ever since.

Side note: the girls who ended up with those dolls (and are no longer in the after school program) still come up to me at work to tell me how much they still love their dolls. Well, I guess I can’t put a price on that :-).

Large red hair doll_1

This is one of those dolls they bought.

front of doll

This is the other one.

I know I want to try my hand at making money with crochet. I’m finishing up a book on making dolls I started 4 years ago! This year, I finally put some real work into it. It’s almost done and I’m very proud of that. Now when people ask me how my book is coming along, I can honestly say it’s almost done with pride in my voice versus mumbling something about how I’ve been busy.

As for selling my pieces, I’m not sure if I want to sell but I AM thinking about it. I’m learning about online stores like Etsy and Stonenvy. I recently bought some books to help me learn about the process of selling my wares. I’m not sure which direction I’m going to take but I know I’m going somewhere 🙂

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I’m also in the process of strengthening my backbone 🙂

Loose Limbs

Mini Me’s Surprise Sister So, while I was working on finishing Mini Me, who was planned, thought out, and carefully created, her little sister accidentally sprang into creation right alongside her. My project bag was littered with loose body parts (doll parts!). These parts have been hanging around for quite some time just waiting to be joined to some finished project. There was a head that turned out smaller than I wanted so I threw it in the bag. There were some arms and legs that I made for illustrative purposes for my book. I threw them in the bag too. I eventually decided to make a body for the head and got about halfway through it  and started something else so that was rattling around in the bag too.

limbs

Doll arm waving “hello”…why would anyone find this creepy!?

When I started working on Mini Me, I needed to use that skein of yarn that had that unfinished body attached to it. No problem, I thought. I could just use the other end of the skein to work on Mini Me. I’ve done this many times in the past so I pushed that half body to the side and created Mini Me. The more I pushed that half body to the side, the more it nagged me that it wasn’t finished. I blissfully ignored it when it was just hanging around in my bag but it could be ignored no more. Plus, my family was really getting creeped out seeing all those disembodied body parts floating around in my bag. Personally, I didn’t see the problem but I decided to try to finally make a home for all those parts. Once Mini Me was done, I finished the body attached to the other side of the skein. Turns out the body was thinner than I thought the head needed AND it was a different kind of yarn than I’d used tor the head (so the shade was slightly off). Wwwwellllll, I wasn’t about to make a new head for the new body – that would mean the “floating” head I had would still be cast off in the bag again – so I attached it anyway.

head and limbs

The head finally got her body. Those are her new legs next to her. Her ‘almost’ arms and legs are in the side bag at the bottom.

I pulled out the extra limbs I had, two arms and two legs, and realized the yarn for those matched the head but not the body and they were too short and fat for the accidentally-too-skinny body. I couldn’t do it. I could not bring myself to attach them to the body. I was already thinking the body was too skinny for the head and I just couldn’t add insult to injury by attaching short, stubby arms and legs too…I couldn’t do that to her (she might already have a complex). Instead, I made brand new arms and legs that fit better. Meanwhile, Mini Me was getting jealous because she was being ignored. She was still bald and naked and waiting for her clothes while I was tinkering with her unplanned sister. I have to admit that Mini Me is my favorite but I have hope for my “Frankendoll.” So now I have two dolls that have to be wigged and clothed and they don’t even like each other. I hope the rivalry ends once they realize I have room in my bag for both of them. I hope I can come to love my surprise doll as much as I love Mini Me but only project completion will tell.

sisters2

Now they are both indecent! But at least they’re pretending to love each other.

After all that, I still have disembodied body parts in my bag!

Work in Progress

I feel like I don’t have enough time to work on all the crochet projects I want to work on. I have two baby dolls I promised to make my mother in law, a doggie sweater for my daughter’s puppy and a doll that looks like me.

I also want to create a Frozen Elsa doll. I’ve had a lot of request for that so I definitely want to make one. I’m in the ‘imagining’ stage for that one. I’m picturing how big I want it to be, what yarns I might use, how to make the dress, which buttons I’ll pick for the eyes, which method I’ll use to shape the head and so on and so on 🙂

Today I’m working on my crochet doll look-alike. This is a doll I’m making so I can tighten up a pattern in a crochet book I’m writing. I want to make sure it works. It’s also going to have other uses to represent my book so it’s really important for this doll to come out right. I’m working on the head right now and I’m trying to select the perfect buttons for the eyes from my stash. I think I’ve narrowed it down to two sets. They are almost identical except for the size. One set is dark brown and the other black. I’ll decide which size is best when I finish the head so I can see which size works better. I’m leaning towards the dark brown ones so hopefully the finished piece can support the bigger eyes.

button eyes

I love the part where I get to go through my stash of buttons to select the prefect ‘eyes’ for the doll that’s about to be born.