My health is preventing me from working at the moment, so I'd like to use my time to help sick kids feel better, not with pills, but with crochet. Follow my journey on my blog ~

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comments still broken, sorry :(

And for some reason, Gmail is no longer sending me copies of the comments to my e-mail, so ... I've just noticed that a lot of my posts have new comments, but I can't see them :( I'm sorry if I missed answering something.  Please feel free to contact me on Crafts for a Cause or any of the other contact methods in the link to the right - I don't want to publish my e-mail on my blog because of spam, but if you click my profile, there's a link there.  I've tried looking around to see if there's a fix for it or a known cause, I haven't found anything - if anybody who reads this can think of a way to fix it, please let me know.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Need to Create

Brain has been behaving badly recently, my waking hours have been truly bizarre and rest doesn't come easily (typical with narcolepsy, but I'm looking into specifically why things have been more difficult lately with my various doctors.)  Following patterns for crafting has therefore been tricky, and I've caught myself falling back on things I don't need patterns for, like washcloths and small, improvised amigurumi.  But more than that, I've just been driven to create more of what is in my head, and less of what is already designed.  Of course, I then go back and stress over how to write the pattern - so I plan to be more disciplined from here on out and just write the pattern down as I go. Hopefully I'll get some new patterns up in the near future, possibly a Halloween themed one? Thoughts?

 I would really prefer to make money to support my project from pattern sales than from selling amigurumi, because I believe my time is better spent making items for donation than for sale - that being said, even though each doll I make is time consuming, each sale sponsors more dolls for donation, and I figure people might be looking for holiday gifts in the near future.  So I've done a little Etsy shop configuration, and here's what I've come up with for changes.

-Custom amigurumi are now $25 for a doll approx 4-6" - I am willing to ship internationally, just contact me beforehand so I can calculate the postage.  I currently have five available, I'll re-stock as necessary when those are done.  The time estimate is a bit long just in case I end up with all of the orders coming in at once, but realistically, it should be shorter.  Feel free to contact me if you need something quickly, chances are I'll be able to help.

If you want an amigurumi made from a specific pattern, I can do that - if I don't have the pattern in my library, I will purchase one if it will be suitable for making donated items later.  Please note, any pattern that states that items made from it are not to be sold is not eligible for this - such a statement is not legally binding, but I do choose to respect the wishes of the designers.

-Little Visitor dolls are now available in the shop for $12 in custom colors, each one comes with a top hat :)

-The Little Visitor pattern is still available as a PDF download for $3.00 on Etsy and Ravelry.  The $.50 follower discount still applies on Ravelry - contact me and I'll give you the coupon code.  I tested the pattern multiple times myself before publishing, so it should be correct.

-Smaller amigurumi (about 2-3") are also available for $12, contact me via private message to order.  I've stocked up on them with the intention to have them sold at a local shop, but as long as I still have them, they're up for grabs.

-I can also make baby items - I don't have the time to do large projects like blankets/clothes, but I can do hats and booties and other small items, including amigurumi that is more appropriate for baby gifts (made with cotton yarn, all one piece, etc).

Still trying to figure out how to replicate Sophie's dress, but that pattern should be drafted soon and ready for testing, after which the dolls made to test the pattern will be available for sale (since there are small pieces, I won't be donating those).

Click here to visit my Etsy shop (this link will take you to the store front, so you can see anything I might have added since I wrote this post originally)

I should have more project photos up soon, I keep forgetting to take photos while it's still light outside.

I hope you're all well and happy!  I plan to update the Crafts for a Cause page very soon, so stay tuned! :)  In the meantime, stay creative, and keep me posted on what you're working on!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

New! Etsy commissions and Instagram

Finally back home again, my little one is registered for school, and I think I've finally got a handle on all the craziness that has been happening - in order to keep supporting my donations project, I've opened up a few commissions on my Etsy shop.  Click here to view the listing.  Additional options and materials are also available, but I may have to buy the yarn, so I can give you a price quote upon request.  My Little Visitor pattern is for sale both on Etsy and Ravelry.  I tested the pattern five times before publishing, so it should be accurate.  Thanks to all of you for your support through everything, it has meant a lot to me.

Please note: my shipping estimates are ballpark, just in case something comes up.  I should really be able to get the items done sooner.  If you need them within a certain time frame or anything like that, please let me know.  I can also do smaller items, including your very own Little Visitor, for $15 plus shipping - send me an e-mail and I'll let you know what I have available - some of these are pre-made and ready to ship.  Every purchase from my shop helps me continue to purchase supplies for my donations project - feel free to share these links. :)  If they sell out, don't worry, I'll be re-listing soon.  I just want to make sure I have plenty of time to focus on my donations, since that's my main objective.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Summer!  Apologies for the slow updates, I hope to have more time to blog (and craft!) now that my son will be back in school.  You can also check out my Tumblr for more frequent updates, answers to crafting questions, and re-blogs of interesting craft-related things, as well as a few personal updates and gluten free recipes. :) I've posted some pictures from our recent family vacation as well ~ I try to keep this blog more streamlined, so be sure to check over there for more details!

I've also joined Instagram, where you can find some of my photos.  My username there is giveastitch if anyone would like to follow me.  I would love to see more updates from you, so please let me know if you have twitter, pinterest, tumblr, or any other sites that I subscribe to (there's a list on the right hand side of the page).  Just message me if I somehow missed following you back.

See you all soon! <3

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Opportunities Abound :)

Okay, by "abound," I really mean I have one.  But it seems like an abundance to me!

Sometime soon I'll be taking my items to show at a local shop, and hopefully I'll be able to sell some things there, which will be less of a hassle than selling online.

So I'm working on a new page to add to the right side of my blog giving links to all the amazing people who have allowed me to use their designs, I would really appreciate it if you guys would check them out - most of them offer free patterns, tutorials, all kinds of great things, so really! Check them out! :)

I'm also finishing up my last few donations to take to the hospital, so hopefully I'll be able to get that appointment set up shortly.  So excited ~ it feels amazing to be working!

PS - here's a rundown of all the amazing people who have helped me along the way, while I'm working on my master list:

Stilfel & Capra is a wonderful "art and ornament gallery" (I couldn't have said it better) near where I live.  Theresa was kind enough to help me find some local shops that might be interested in consignments.  Thanks a million!! If you're ever in the DC area, be sure to stop and pay them a visit, and leave plenty of time to look around (you'll probably end up staying longer than you plan to).

Amigurumi Credits:

LucyRavenscar gave me permission to use her adorable little amigurumi patterns to make items for sale-they're the perfect size!  Visit her blog at this link.  She has the most amazing patterns for sale in her Etsy shop, I can't wait to try them.

Many thanks to Mohu store for letting me use the adorable bee pattern!  The blog, the store, it's about the cutest thing I've ever seen, seriously... I squee every time I see a photo come up on my Tumblr dashboard.

Planet June has some adorable patterns, and thank you so much for allowing me to use them, they're so cute!  Definitely go see these, guys, she has free patterns and some for sale as well, and they're perfection.  I hope I can do them justice!

Josephine Wu is allowing me to use her designs, too, thanks so much!  I'm sure you've all heard of A Morning Cup of Joe Creations, I can't even tell you how cute these patterns are - I made the Levi the Baby Bear to donate a few weeks ago.  Here's a link to her Tumblr page! You can also find some of her patterns (including the bear!) in Zoomigurumi, one of my favorite amigurumi pattern books.

Credit for Baby Patterns

Many, many, many, many thanks to Teresa Richardson (aka Crochet Geek) for giving me permission to use her patterns - not only has she saved my bacon when I needed to learn to make baby things quickly, she also (unknowingly) taught me many of the crochet stitches I know over the last several months.  Check out her website for patterns, tutorials, basically anything I've ever needed to know about crochet, I've found here.

And more thanks are due to my newest friend in the crafting world, Cynthia (here's a link to her Etsy shop and her Ravelry designs) - I can't wait to make more of her things, expect to see photos up on my Tumblr soon!


I've met so many amazing people in my crafting escapades, I can't even tell you guys how much knowing you all has meant to me, how many of the items I've crafted wouldn't even exist had you not inspired me, how much the encouragement and support means when I'm having a bad day.  E-hugs to you all, and I'll see you around the web!

Monday, July 22, 2013

100 Follower Giveaway & Pattern Launch!

I'm selling my first pattern on Ravelry, starting today!  And to celebrate 100 Tumblr followers, you could win a free copy of the pattern! 

Anyone following me on Tumblr is also eligible to win one of the dolls I made to test the pattern.  The rest of the dolls will be sold on my Etsy site once the givaway ends.

Check out the giveaway!

Click here to purchase the pattern on Ravelry for $3.  If you follow me either here or on Tumblr, you can send me a message and I'll send you a coupon code for $.50 off!

I'm really excited about this, I hope it will help me keep my project on track.

Look at these little faces!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Looking and Learning

Right now there are a few things going on.

Looking for a local shop that would like to sell my crocheted items. I can do amigurumi (and am stocking up on miniatures to sell at some point), or commissions, whatever the shop is missing, I can make! I've already got permission from some of my very favorite amigurumi designers to use their designs to make things to sell! So excited! If anybody knows of a shop that would be willing to take my items, let me know. Everything comes with a tag that lists materials, gives credit to the designer, and has links to my sites so every customer will know their purchase benefits a good cause.

Also currently learning to knit. Off to a rough start (especially my fingertips!) First amigurumi is in progress though, and the first piece actually came out looking ... pretty normal. Think I need better needles though and I definitely need some double pointed ones. Knitting needs fancier tools than crochet, it seems. And sturdy hands, which... I do not yet have. Determination will not fail me though!

Thinking about signing up to teach a crochet class locally, it would give me a small amount of money to get knitting tools with. These little knitted animals must be added to my donation list, they're so soft and cute!

Hope you are all well, please don't forget to post about your crafts on the Crafts for a Cause page. Everyone seems to be shy so far ^_^ I would love to get to know everyone better!

I'll post again soon. Have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's happening ~

This is one of my ongoing projects : making the written pattern for Sophie the mouse.  I plan to have it up for sale in my Etsy shop sometime in the near future, since it has become necessary to raise funds to continue my donations project.  I'll be selling the dolls I make to test my pattern if you don't want to bother making one yourself.  I've also designed a tiny bunny amigurumi that I'll be selling a few of, each one will come with a little home (I'll post photos when I've finished the design for those).

Donations project is coming along, I've finished 12 now and have the thirteenth ready to start when my migraines stop cycling. I'm so excited!! :) I've sorted out materials for 14 & 15 and made tags for them, so hopefully I'll be able to deliver this whole lot soon!  So many amazing patterns out there and I am determined to make an entire zoo's worth and then some!

Don't forget to check my Tumblr for more frequent updates - I prefer to keep this blog "cleaner" and more specifically donations-related, Tumblr has a lot more general crafting, questions answered, personal posts, etc, and I post pictures of my finished projects (donations, gifts, all of them) when they're finished. I know some of you get e-mail updates when I post here, and I don't want to spam you too much ^_^

Thanks to all of you for continuing to read this - I've gotten more support on this project than I would ever have hoped for, and I'm so grateful!

You might also be interested in Crafts for a Cause if you're on Google+ - it's a small group for now but I hope it will keep growing! Don't be afraid to share what inspires you, it's often contagious and that's the sort of bug we all hope to catch. <3

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Now Pinterest!

So many neat places to find crafting stuff - finally made a profile on Pinterest!

Nothing much on there yet, I think tumblr will still get most of my attention, but maybe when I get the hang of it?  Anyway I've added it to my profiles on the "around the web" tab over there ----->
just in case you need it later :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tutorial: Braided tails that won't come loose

This is probably going to be my simplest tutorial yet - crafters rejoice, because it could be for knit OR crochet projects! Woohoo!

Here we have a fine example of a polyester-puffed pachyderm.  

Let's rewind a bit.

Here are the pre-assembled pieces.  The legs are the important part.  Before assembling your critter, make sure each leg has a long tail attached.

If you prefer to sew your animal together with separate threads, use a separate piece of yarn to sew each leg on.  Trust me, this is important.  These four yarn ends will eventually become the magically anchored tail!

When your animal has its limbs attached, use your hook or yarn needle to pull the tail ends of yarn through the "back end" as seen in this photo.  Make sure they all come through the same place.  In this tutorial, I needed extra yarn to sew one of the legs, so I had to make do with only three.

Ideally, you use the shortest length to tightly wrap at the base of the tail, so the other three pieces of yarn are pulled snugly through.  This will stop the braid from being pulled back into the body.  Once you've wrapped the yarn, simply tie a knot at the base of the tail (try to keep it underneath so it doesn't show) and tuck the yarn end back inside the body.  (If you end up with three pieces, skip this step).

Braid the three remaining pieces of yarn.  At the base of the braid, use the longest remaining thread to wind tightly at the bottom, this will keep the braid from coming unraveled.  Tie a tight knot on top of the wrapping.  Using a yarn needle or your hook, carefully weave the end of this thread back up through the braid, and pull it into the body so the end is hidden.  This keeps the braid extra secure.  Fray if desired.

If the third yarn end is too short to weave back through, that's okay - a knot really should hold pretty well.  It sometimes makes one of the three strands stick out a bit, as you can see in the photo on the left, but it's not obvious unless you're looking for it. :)

Notice that if you leave a long tail at the end of each leg for this purpose, you don't have to go back and weave in any ends later - just make your tail and you're done! This is also much easier than making a chain stitch tail, which can look awkward and be tricky to sew in place securely.  Bonus, it holds the legs on tightly and you don't have to worry about them getting loose or falling off.

To make a thicker tail or to make one without using yarn ends, cut six (or nine, or any multiple of three) lengths of yarn in the desired color and at the desired length.  Use your hook to pull them through two stitches that are centered on the back of the body.  Separate into sets of three, braid, and tie off as described above.

Please let me know if you have any questions or anything is unclear with this tutorial, I'd be happy to help!  My Google+ comments for my blog seem to be broken, but I do receive e-mails if you comment, and I'll respond by e-mail and fix anything that needs to be edited.  Thanks!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tumblr Time

Tumblr has finally realized that I am not a bot, so I'm actually able to tag things over there.  I'll be posting on that blog more often, so if you want more personal updates & partial projects & random nonsense, feel free to follow me over there.  I'll continue to keep this blog more specific & focused for those who don't want to be spammed constantly :) going to try to finish my tutorial tonight, but my phone camera seems a little picky about the lighting in here.  We will see how this goes.

My Tumblr, if you're interested. Also available under the "around the web" link over here ->

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to Make My Dad (or yours!)

Once I got my craft supplies back from the storage unit, I decided to make my dad for father's day!  Now you can too!  Here's how:

-3.75mm hook & 3.25mm hook
-9mm safety eyes, color of your choice
-small amount of cream colored medium weight yarn for head/hands
-colors of your choice for pants & shirt, scraps can be used!
-lace weight yarn or craft thread for hair & mouth
-felt & fabric glue for the tie



Round 1: With cream color: make your original foundation row with six stitches (chain 2, 6sc in first ch, or use the magic ring method).
Round 2: 2 sc in each stitch around (12 stitches)
Round 3: 2 sc in next stitch, sc in next stitch around (18 stitches)
Round 4: 2sc in next stitch, sc in next 2 stitches around (24 stitches)
Round 5: 2sc in next stitch, sc in next 3 stitches around (30 stitches)
Round 6: 2sc in nect stitch, sc in next 4 stitches around (36 stitches)
Round 7-9 sc around (36 stitches) *depending on your stitch size and how you want the finished product to look, add or subtract a row as necessary
Round 10: sc2tog, sc in next 4 stitches (around)

Attach safety eyes and sew on the hair, make the stitches slightly loose so they won't pull when you stuff the piece.  I used a satin stitch to make my dad's hairdo.

Round 11: sc2tog, sc in next 3 stitches (around)
Round 12: sc2tog, sc in next 2 stitches (around)

Start stuffing firmly.

Round 13: sc2tog, sc in next stitch (around)
Round 14: sc2tog until piece is closed up enough to tie off.  Hide the end of the tail of yarn inside the head. Sew on mouth with pink embroidery floss or craft thread.


Note: before you make the body, check my photo.  If you want your dad's body to be thinner or taller than mine, adjust your design accordingly by adding/subtracting rows & stitches. For a taller dad, increase both the pants and shirt rows by one or two.  I'd increase them equally so your dad looks proportionate - but you know best how your dad looks!

Round 1: With dark blue (or "pants" color), make your foundation row or six stitches.
Round 2-4 are worked just like the body.
Rounds 4-6 sc around

At round 7, change to light blue (or shirt color).  I used a lighter weight yarn, so I had to increase the number of stitches - I increased every other stitch to expand the body a little bit so he would have a rounder body - I just wanted the base to be sturdy so it would stand. If your dad is thin and you want to make his doll thin, you may want simply use medium weight yarn and keep the stitch count the same.

Round 8: sc around with shirt color

Round 9: at this point you want to start very slowly decreasing.  With the DK weight yarn, I decreased every sixth stitch around. Do whatever looks right so you have a nice, even taper (this can also be fixed with stuffing later.) 

Round 10: Continue decreasing, I decreased every 4th stitch.

Round 11: If your piece needs to taper more, decrease every few stitches around.  I just crocheted around for rows 11 & 12. 

Leave the top of the body open with a tail end of yarn still attached for sewing to the head later.  Leave unstuffed so you can sew the arms on easily.


Round 1: With cream yarn, make your initial row with 5 stitches.
Round 2: sc around (5 stitches)
Round 3: change to light blue (shirt color) and start using smaller hook, sc around (5 stitches)
Round 4-6 sc around. Leave a tail end and use it to sew the arms to the top row of the body.

Stuff the body firmly.  I put some plastic pellets in the bottom so it would be more stable when standing.  If you gave your dad extra thick or longer hair, you may need to put a coin or two or a marble into the bottom so it will stand up.  Sew body to head.

*Tie - make with felt and glue right at the top of the body.

And you're done! :) Please let me know how this pattern worked for you.  Happy crafting and happy fathers day to all the dads out there!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Amigurumi Basic Tutorial & Tips

I can't even begin to compare to the wonderful tutorials available on YouTube or the wealth of information that can be found on Ravelry or other blogs.  However, I would like to point out a few hints that I've found helpful - or which might help clarify some confusion for some of you.

* Tools

My favorite hooks by far are Clover brand.  I usually stick with 3.5 or 3.75mm for medium weight yarn.  Why Clover?  Because they're so much easier to work with than any other brand I've tried.  The hook slips very easily through loops without catching unwanted plies, and makes stitching nearly effortless.  Fewer mistakes, fewer snags, and the grip on the hook makes cramps less common.  I also have metal allergies, and the plastic hook removes the risk of a reaction to an alloy in the metal.

Vanna's Choice (by Lion Brand) is a pretty good weight for "medium" yarn.  It makes nice even stitches, comes in a good range of colors for making animals, and isn't rough.  Michael's brand is better value for the money, and is just as good.  I also like Caron Baby Soft for some projects, but use a slightly smaller hook, since it's not as "puffy" as the other brands I've mentioned.  It -says- it's medium weight, but the stitches come out much smaller--I would suggest sticking to one brand if you're just starting, for consistency.  You don't want to wind up with arms, legs, stripes or spots that are much smaller or larger than the rest of your piece.

Stitch markers are extremely useful for stitching in the round.  They mark where each round begins (or ends, depending on how you choose to do it).  If you lose your place, or need to re-do a round, you can tear out exactly the right number of stitches without losing your place.  Locking stitch markers are my favorite, I use Clover brand.  They won't fall out even if you bump or nudge them.  If you can't find them or don't want to buy these, you can use a small scrap of yarn (should probably be a different color so it doesn't blend in).  However, this scrap can leave fibers on your piece that are hard to get out, and a tail end of yarn can get caught and pulled out.

<-- Different types of Clover stitch markers.  The tiny one doesn't lock, but is very useful for smaller projects or at the start of a project where one of the bigger markers would get in the way.

The safety eyes I use most often are 6mm, but 9 and even 12mm are good to have on hand.  Black is widely available at craft stores, and you can get colorful ones for a somewhat higher price -- check Etsy for the best prices.  If the washers are difficult to get on (and they are,) try warming them gently.  I usually have a hot cup of tea near me, pushing the plastic washer against the side of the hot cup helps. **Remember if you use safety eyes, they need to be attached while you can still fit your fingers behind them to secure the washers.  It is often helpful to stuff the head before you put them on, to get a better idea of where they will be on the finished piece.  You can pull the stuffing out again if it will be in your way as you continue on.  If you forget to attach the safety eyes, you can embroider them or use buttons or beads.

Embroidering eyes can be difficult, but rewarding.  There is cheap bulk craft thread available, I use it all the time for decorations and embroidering details.  It can also be used with a tiny crochet hook to make things like tiny hats or scarves for your ami friends, if you're so inclined. Craft thread is twisted together and doesn't come apart in plies, I find it to be most useful.  Embroidery floss can also be used, but it's a little more high maintenance because the plies sometimes separate or don't pull through evenly. I also keep clear nylon sewing thread on hand for sewing on bead eyes or felt pieces for decoration.

Two sizes of needles can always be found in my kit.  Yarn needles are used to finish a piece or to help weaving in ends.  Tapestry needles with an eye large enough for a whole strand of craft thread/embroidery floss - with a sharp point is best - are used for details.  You may need a smaller needle to sew on beads or buttons, or felt accents.

I've never used a brand of stuffing other than Poly-Fil.  It has been reliable for me and is inexpensive.

* Beginning

 First you need your yarn and your hook.  Here I have Caron Baby Soft in a gray heather color (lost the label ages ago - sorry!) and a Clover hook, 3.75mm

 Confession, I use a double knot instead of a slipknot to begin.  Slipknots come loose for me and I always feel like things look lopsided when I tighten them back up.  Double knots should be snug but not tight.  I use the "chain 2 and single crochet (howevermany) into the second chain" method, so I actually make my founding stitches in this loop.  It loosens slightly as needed, but doesn't leave a large gap.

To make your first chain stitch, hold the yarn under your finger as you bring the yarn behind.  This will stop your original loop from twirling around endlessly.

[PS - I'm left handed so I'm sure this will look backwards for some (most?) of you.  Don't listen to those silly tutorials that say crochet right handed even if you're left handed -- I couldn't do it, and it would be silly to give up because someone claims you're doing it wrong !  Living in a right handed world, we're used to doing things backwards anyway, right??  There are video tutorials for lefties, too!  :)]

Keep your finger snugly against the yarn after it's wrapped, as you slide your knot up and over to make your first chain stitch.

(if you don't know how to do a basic chain stitch, I'd check out a video tutorial -- this is more of a hint about how to anchor the yarn so it doesn't slip.  I always have to see things done step by step to learn them...)

Here are the first two chains.  Next, you put the hook back through the first loop and make  howevermany single crochet to make round one of your piece, usually six. There are lots of good videos that show how to make the actual stitches -- I couldn't possibly show them properly in photographs. [Note-this is not the magic ring method.  There are videos for that available - I haven't found any visual difference in the finished piece, so I always begin this way.]

Textual instructions for a single crochet stitch - insert the hook back into the first loop, wrap the yarn, and pull that loop back through.  Wrap again, and slip the two lower loops over the top loop.  If you use this two chain method, you'll come to the end and see a sort of pseudo-stitch where the two original chains bend.  Some people say this counts as your first single crochet.  Personally, I make my sixth stitch over it--I think it looks more even that way.

This is the end of my first round.  I've marked each of the six stitches -- these are the loops you will put the hook through on the next round. For more information about loops, scroll down! :)

Always remember to count before you begin round 2... the first round is a terrible place to make a mistake. Note in the photo that the yarn gets held tightly in between rows so the stitches don't get loose.

The most important thing is to find what works best for you -- how you keep count, where you place your marker, etc.  This all seems very confusing at first, but it'll soon be second nature :)

When making amigurumi, the hook is smaller than what you would use with other types of crochet, and the stitches are a little tighter so that there are no gaps (Lacey shawls wouldn't be nearly so pretty if they were bunched together like an ami-animal, so this makes sense).  Note that your first two rounds shouldn't be too tight -- the piece will begin to curve, since you're making tube shapes or spheres.  You want to be able to bend your piece comfortably, which can be tricky with smaller pieces.  I make my stitches a little tighter than is required, in general, because my amis are designed to be played with, not to be displayed.  This makes my stitches a little less defined.  The type of yarn you use will also affect what your stitches look like.

*Stitch? Round? What?

 Here is the end of round three of my not-quite-elephant.  How do I know it's round three?  Count!  Some designs count the rounds differently, but I always start at the tiny circle in the middle as round one.  This is typically comprised of six single crochets in the beginning loop, but I've done as many as eight or as few as three.  For a bigger piece like the body or head, you will increase to make a gradually bigger circle.  When you start with six stitches, you increase by six each time as follows:

2nd round - 2 single crochet in each stitch
3rd round - 2 single crochet in one stitch, 1 single crochet in the next (repeat around)
4th round - 2 single crochet in one stitch, 1 single crochet in the next two stitches (around)

Note that the number of the row matches the number of stitches in a "set." This is helpful if you're making a large piece and don't want to keep referring to your design.  For example, for round 3, 2 single crochet in one stitch, 1 stitch in the next = 3.  I always think back to my days in band, the way you're taught to count the notes in a measure.  But of course, whatever way you come up with to remember is the best way, because you're the one who has to count!  If you're doing a very large number of stitches in a round, it might help to put the occasional stitch marker so you don't lose your place.

 These two photos show the way that the piece will begin to curve once you stop increasing your stitches.  When you increase, you'll end up with a disc, like in the pictures above.  In this piece, round 5 has the same number of stitches as round 6, etc.  You can see that it's becoming a tube shape.  To the right, you can see the end of my round.  I put the stitch markers in after I make my first stitch, so when I get back to it, I know where to stop.

<-- This shows the back of the work.  Some people get confused about which side goes out -- you can see these stitches are flatter and more square than the ones shown in the other photos, and the rows are not very clearly defined.  You can see much more obvious stitch increases and decreases on this side of the piece as well. If this is the side you like better though, show it proudly! Arguments can be made for the "right" and "wrong" way, but I'm a big fan of "do what makes you happy" -- it's the best way to learn and to come up with new ideas.

*Anatomy of a stitch! 

Every stitch has two loops, as you can see from the picture I took above where I put a square around each one.  The picture on the left shows my hook through both loops--most stitches will be worked through both loops.

Some stitches are marked "back loops only" (BLO) or "front loops only" (FLO) for various reasons.  I took some photos to help illustrate the difference below.

Back loop, pulled out a little bit - the loop on the inside or "back."  Stitches worked in the back loops are ONLY done in these stitches.  You will be able to see a line around your piece where the front loops are still showing.

                   Front loop only, over the hook ------->
These are the loops on the outside, or front of your finished piece.  If you're only working in the front loops, the back loops are left alone.

*Increasing, Decreasing, Shaping

I've already mentioned that the beginning of an amigurumi piece usually involves making a small round, and then increasing.  To increase, you put two stitches into a single stitch from the previous round.  This is usually done evenly around, to make a disc shape.  But what happens if you put all your stitch increases at the beginning of your round?  Well... 


You can see that the top of the piece is raised, where the bottom is flat.  In this case, it has been done on purpose to "shape" the piece... in this project, the body and head are worked together.  

So here you can see that the top has been opened up to create the top of the head, as the bottom of the piece starts to narrow for the neck.

...No offense, ma'am, but your elephant looks like a shoe.

In the wonderful world of amigurumi, the shape of the final piece has a lot to do with how the different rows of stitches pull on each other.  In the next few rows, that awkward looking top part will be pulled down and forward to make the top of the head, and then the whole thing will close at the front-middle of the head, as I make the trunk.  So now that we've seen what increasing does to the shape, what does decreasing do?

The easiest way to explain this effect is that an increase pushes the piece apart, or opens it, where decreasing pulls together or closes.  This is usually done by a stitch called "single crochet 2 together," often abbreviated as SC2TOG or DEC.  You begin the same way you would a single crochet, by putting the hook through the next stitch, wrapping the yarn and pulling a loop through.  You then put the hook down in the next stitch and pull up a second loop.  Wrap the yarn and pull over all three loopsWhen you do your next single crochet, you will notice that the stitches are now closer together, and it will pull a little bit. You can see this effect in the "heel" of the "elephant boot" above.

There will be times when you're following designs and you begin to wonder... could this possibly be right?  That boot sure doesn't look like an elephant.  But if you follow the directions carefully, you'll usually find that your finished piece resembles the original design (different people craft things differently, so don't be disappointed if it doesn't look exactly the same... that's what give finished pieces character!)

This is how it looked after a little more shaping, and a front view before I added the trunk (it had just finished eating a nice poly-fill meal).

... and done!

But what if it's all..... wrong?

If you got your increases and decreases in the wrong places on a shaped piece, it's possible for a finished product to look a little off.  This is pretty easy to avoid if you count and re-count your stitches after each round where shaping is important. If you end up with an extra stitch or are missing one, don't simply skip or decrease or increase to compensate--most designs will be okay if you're off by one, or even two, sometimes more.  A misplaced increase or decrease can cause more of a problem.  When I get the wrong number of stitches, I'll usually leave them as they are until the end--most pieces will end by decreasing repeatedly until it leaves a small enough gap to tie off.  If you really need to increase or decrease to correct a mistake, wait until you get to an area where it would blend in -- for example, the middle of the top of this piece would be a good place to add a stitch, while the bottom of the neck would be a good place to decrease.

If you  up with a lump, bump, or miscellaneous mistake, this can often be fixed with stuffing.  When stuffing, use small pieces and make sure to compress it firmly around the edges.  Once you finish off, you can mush your piece into shape--they're not very fragile.  You can make just about anything look lopsided with stuffing, so try to get a nice, even "spring" in your piece all around before fastening off.  Then you can work on pinching and pulling to get the final result.

Even if things don't go your way the first time, or two, or three, don't worry.  Crocheting gets easier the more you do it, and it's such a versatile craft.  The basic single crochet stitch changes only slightly to make the more complex, decorative stitches.  If the videos on YouTube and directions around the web aren't enough to help you along, ask at your local craft store or even at a craft fair--classes are pretty easy to find in most places, and most people I've met who craft are more than happy to share tips!  Ravelry makes it easy to ask questions of other stitch enthusiasts.  By learning to crochet, you're opening up a whole world of possibilities.

Design credit for the elephant: Easy Crochet Critters from Leisure Arts

[I think this is done for now, but still open to edits/clarification if needed - be sure to check out my other tutorials for making a braided tail & securing limbs to help you finish your piece!]

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Brief Hiatus

Sorry I've been gone - I haven't really known what to say these last few weeks.  Life has turned on its head, and it's getting precariously close to moving day... I'm trying to adjust and prepare.  I hope that I will be able to write again soon with more cheerful news. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Party Favors!

I've been stressing about recent events, haven't been able to sleep much... so I've been working on the party favors for my son's upcoming birthday party. He said he wanted me to make chicks for him, and thanks to the wonderful world of the interwebs, I was able to find a great pattern!
Gotta watch these little guys, their numbers may get out of control before I know it...

This free design can be found here:

I used medium worsted weight yarn and a size F (3.75 mm) hook.  I used safety eyes and embroidered the mouth... I'm really bad at French knots.

So cute!  I'll be making around a dozen.  If I have time, I'll probably find another design or two.  Probably won't have more than ten kids show up, so I should have time to make a little collection... especially since sleep isn't coming easily.

Just look at that face... :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tera Online Guild Project

Since so many of my guild members on Tera Online are creatively inclined, and since I am terrible at drawing, I decided to make each of my guild members' favorite animals, photograph them together, and then send them to their respective owners.  Anyone not comfortable giving an address (or too young, etc) will have their animal added to my donations, and those that receive an animal by mail will have a duplicate made and donated as well. :) Some of the patterns aren't ideal for donation, they might have small parts etc, and in that case I'll make a more suitable version of the same animal.  One for a friend, one for a stranger.

I've already finished my first animal (an alligator) and its duplicate -- beginning work on the second.

Found a pattern on Ravelry that I'll use to make a scarf for my very favorite brother :) he's too far away for me to give him a hug, so a scarf will have to do.

Multi-tasking is necessary for my scatterbrain lately.  Sorting, packing, cleaning, stitching.  Such is life!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Project Updates & More on Ravelry

For anyone who might be interested in following my projects more closely, seeing partially-finished pictures or seeing more specific information about the yarn that I use, my Ravelry site is for you!

You can find my profile here:

Stitchforgood on Ravelry

I'm also going to add a link to the sidebar so you can find it later.

This way I can add more pictures and projects that aren't part of my donations project without spamming blog entries :)

I should have more donation projects finished soon... meanwhile, the packing must continue...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cotton Addiction

 I went to my favorite yarn store today, Nature's Yarns in Fairfax.  Really good quality yarn, really pretty colors, always tempted to buy the whole store.  They have the best selection of high quality cotton yarn I've seen (along with a lot of other fibers--I tend to gravitate toward cotton). 

One of the books I got yesterday was Crocheted Bakemono (Monsters!) by  Lan-Anh Bui and Josephine Wan. Many of the patterns call for fun colors, which I don't often get to use because most of what I make are animals. 

The yarn usually comes twisted up, as you can see to the left and down below.  You can see the whole array of colors in a variegated or painted yarn design this way.  These particular yarns are Cascade brand Ultra Pima. (Except for the smaller skein up top there, which I'll explain later.) So soft!

 Got a nice pink-purple, dark teal, seafoam green (which looks grey in that picture, but it's not I promise ha-) and a sky blue.  They'll look great in any combination.
 I came home and wound them into center-pull skeins on my yarn winder.  It doesn't take very much time to do, but I find it sort of mesmerizing... the yarn swift spinning as the winder pulls it and twists it perfectly.  I used to hand-wind my yarn into balls, and sometimes I still do with the sari silk, but using the winder is a lot faster and prevents knotting in the process.
 All four colors together (you can see the seafoam color a bit better in this picture, but it doesn't do justice to the shine of the teal color).
And this little guy is an acrylic/cotton blend from Berroco.  It was so shiny that my camera didn't want to focus up close, but the colors are so amazing, I can't wait to find a project for this! :)

These yarns give excellent results in amigurumi... so far I've only tested it out in baby gifts for friends, but I'm very glad to have a larger supply now so that I can make some for my donations project.  It's so nice to work with... (grabs hook)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two for the road

Two more for the pile, tagged and ready to go!  :) Getting closer to my goal for my first donation drop-off.  Got some more books in the mail today and am very excited to try some of them out, who knows what will come next!

Still working out my upcoming housing situation... it appears that a house isn't in the cards, so I'm going to have to look into alternatives.  I definitely want to get these little guys to the hospital before I have to uproot.  More information when I have it ~

(Design credits: Puffy Pals by Sayjai for the frog, and the mini ami bunny from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Now on Tumblr

Introducing my new blog on Tumblr,

I hope that I will be able to spread more information about this project using different outlets, and I hope to be able to connect with others who share the same passion for crafting for good causes.  If you have a Tumblr account for a project similar to this one, please let me know so I can follow you there. I'll also be reblogging posts about good causes.  There will likely be more short updates on Tumblr as well, whereas I'll leave the more extensive posting to this blog.

Good things were meant to be shared! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Today is the first day of the dreaded four to six month separation.  I decided to make the most of it and get out of the house as much as I could -- usually I get tired very easily, but I've been working up to being out and about little by little.  The small one and I took a walk to get frozen yogurt.  Turned out there was an art festival being held down that way, so we wandered around and got lost in talent for awhile.  Then we got a ride to the other craft store to restore my supply of poly-fil, and then to the grocery store to stock up on supplies, where I found some new things to try.  I really am astounded at the gluten free selection these days.  And the man of the house isn't home to magically fit everything in the freezer... :(

New discovery for a quick meal... spinach-garlic gluten free sandwich wraps with guacamole and roast turkey.  Very satisfying.  Also brought home some kelp noodles out of curiosity.  Really not sure how that's going to go, but almost anything is edible with enough pesto sauce on it.

Have been learning to knot my own pearls by practicing on a bracelet... no way is it necessary to have this knotted individually but it's good practice.  I'm probably not doing it right... but... :) it looks pretty good anyway, I thought I would have messed up by now and be forced to cut the thing to bits.  Then again, I'm not even through the first of three strands yet.  Can't ever stay away from beading for too long, no matter how hard I try.  The shiny things, they call to me.

Back to working on pink bunny shortly, as soon as I make dinner.  There will probably be a nap involved in there somewhere, I probably over-taxed myself today... then again, how do you know your limits until you find them?  ...okay, that's a cop out for me.  Pushing things too far has been a bad habit, and I ought to take things a bit easier in general.  But today was stressful, and it's better to work the stress out than to dwell in it.  Same headache, but for a better reason.

Just got spammed with a text message coupon code after getting four gmail "codes" as though someone tried to reset my password (but no word from Google indicating someone really did try to access my account... and no indication of which account?)  So I'm confused.

Maybe it is time for that nap after all...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spreading the Word

I had to go to the craft store today to get more supplies, so while I was out I had my mom stop at a few local stores to drop off cards with this site on it.  I'm hoping that some employees who like crafting will see it, and maybe a few will even make items to donate!  I'd be happy to put them in with my own delivery, for those who don't want to go to the hospital themselves.  The important thing is that they get there!

I got a punch so that I could attach tags to each animal (not sophisticated, they're just my "business card" with my email and blog address, and information hand-written on the back).  Every one has an individual number so that I can keep track of what yarn I used to make the animal in case it needs to be repaired or replaced, and they have care instructions.  I also made sure to include design credits (although the back of the cards look a bit crowded).

I hope these little guys will find happy homes and bring smiles to the little ones who love them.  I made all the tags for the animals that are done.  It made my hand cramp a bit, but I think that's a good sign... means I've made a decent dent in my first delivery goal.  I'm so excited to make my first trip to drop them off! :)

Please remember to click +1 and share this blog with your friends.  You can also join my Google+ community, Crafts for a Cause.  The more people who know about this project, the more awareness will spread, and hopefully more people will choose to participate. Once I move, I'll be working on finding a place to hold meetings on a regular basis for people to stitch together.  I hope that the community will allow people to share ideas and inspiration about ways to give back, and maybe even connect with others locally -- if we all do what we can where we are, there will soon be many people donating across the country, and maybe even around the world.  That's the magic of the internet, let's use it for good!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tutorial: Finishing Amigurumi

I thought I'd share this with you guys, since I've figured it out recently myself.

I've always been a little nervous about my sewn on pieces coming loose somehow, even though they do feel tight when I pull on them.  I know some of my toys will go to children who will PLAY with them, and that kind of wear... well, I don't trust a simple "tuck the end in."  So I've devised this technique to more securely attach limbs, ears, etc.  This does require more than one "tail end" of an attached piece, but fortunately most pieces I've made do require more than one!

I hope this helps some of you.

Sew the pieces on securely.  Using your crochet hook, pull the tail end of both pieces through a single hole "across" from where the pieces are sewn.  Keep in mind that depending on how tightly you tie your knot, this may pull the two attached pieces toward each other slightly.  Note in my photo that I pulled the tails from the ears through the bottom of the neck.

 Tie a double knot snugly against the surface of the project (but not so tightly that it distorts the piece).  This will ensure that your stitches don't come loose, as well as making sure the tail ends of the yarn don't "pop out."
 Put your crochet hook through the piece, and wrap the tail ends of the yarn around the hook.  Carefully pull the knot underneath the surface, and "wriggle" the loop so that the knot gets embedded under the fiberfill (more important in pieces with larger gaps).  Cut the tail ends short, and continue to pull through until the ends disappear inside the body.

This is what the end result looks like -- no knot is visible!  If there is a small stretch in the hole you tied the knot in, it will even out if you rub the area gently with your finger.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Caught crafting again

And of course, after my previous musings on the animals that aren't yet included in my donations, I had to finally settle on...

...a hedgehog.

Design credit goes to Amy Gaines, from her book More Cute Little Animals to Crochet (Leisure Arts, 2010).  I have a lot of designs by Amy Gaines and they're all amazingly cute.  I never feel I can quite do them justice.  Sorry for the dark picture again.  Very, very, very early morning.  The little one was up several times in the night because of his allergies.  I got a second and third wind in there somewhere, and then just kept going.  It's fine with me though, when I have bad episodes it takes me forever to finish one thing, so I have to do what I can when I can.  One of his birthday presents was a trip to the circus, which is happening today... I'll get my chance to nap for a few hours while he's out, unless I get into another crafting frenzy. 

I'm all out of Keeping Up Appearances.  Got through the entire series already... guess I've learned all I can from Hyacinth for now.  I feel confident that I could hold an authentic candlelight supper, given the opportunity, even if I don't have any Royal Doulton with hand-painted periwinkles.  Such characters... I do love British television.

My craft box looks a little sad with no projects in it.  There's usually at least one thing partly complete in there... perhaps I'll just start another one... yes...

Friday, April 19, 2013

All but the tail

The frog is all done, and I managed to make the monkey arms and legs that match.  When I wake up, I'll just have to do the tail and stitch them to the rest of the body.  I've been watching Keeping Up Appearances and I work, picking up tips that I can implement when my world traveler gets home, for being a hostess and such when we have our house, ways to alienate neighbors... I'm not sure I could get my voice to be so grating, but I'll give it a go. 

Just two more days and then hopefully we can get this house hunt under way.  My son isn't too happy about having to move, but I hope he will feel better about it in time.  I'm not especially looking forward to the process myself, but it'll be better in the long run. 

Hmm, will also need an elephant in this animal mix of mine... I love it when I finish up the projects I'm working on, means I get to go dig through all my patterns and choose new ones to start on. Really tempted to mess around with some more wool yarn, it was so much fun making those koala bears.  They're a bit harder to shape, but for rounder creatures that's not a problem, and the end products are so squishable! 

Also must remember to get a hole punch and make a mini page on my blog for care instructions... I have some business cards with the URL and my e-mail in case of problems/questions, and I'll be writing the materials & any notes on the back.  My plan is to keep a careful log of all the animals I donate so I can give each one a number... then if an arm or leg falls off or they need a replacement, I'll know exactly what yarn I used and can make a (close) replica.  They don't fall apart easily, so if they do need fixing, it'll mean they're loved... and that's a good thing.  I'd certainly replace or repair them if needed! :) 

And now, I am tired, so off to bed I go.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pieces of Frog

Days and nights are backwards again, folks, and I haven't been able to get my stitches to gauge properly for the monkey limbs, so I decided to make a frog... got a bit caught up in it I guess (that and Mansfield Park on Netflix), finally noticed that it's 6:30 AM and probably time for me to get some sleep.  I think I'm addicted to Puffy Pals (having it on my Kindle is so convenient, and Sayjai makes her directions so easy that I can follow them even when half asleep).  I keep intending to do a variety, and so I have, but I keep coming back to the little round critters, and then I snap out of my crochet-daze and discover frog parts littering my lap.  I know it isn't easy being green, but you'll have to wait until later to be assembled, mister.  Even my stuffed animals look sleepy.  No, guys, that's not daylight... it's... light pollution... ?

In any case, I'll be up in a few hours.  I'm absolutely determined to finish my first delivery of donations before the move, which means before I have to pack up all the craft supplies, which means... well, lots of animal pieces on my lap over the next while.  Still missing from the collection (pile?) are a rabbit, bear, dog and cat.  Already have a lion, so for the sake of "oh my!" I may as well throw a tiger in the mix.  Then perhaps a duck, a duck and a goose.  I could go on, but I'll spare you... eventually I'll reach twenty or so, and I'll attempt to do it without causing you too many eye rolls along the way (although I've been told one should always make the best use of one's natural talents, and bad jokes are one of mine, especially when sleep deprived... consider yourselves warned, because there is not, as far as I know, an internet censor for those yet).

A few of my friends

Thought I'd snap a picture, bad lighting aside.  I've always loved stuffed animals, and I've kept collecting them over the years... I always think I'll stop, but they're just so sweet, and very comforting when I'm not well.  I've been curled up with them today.  I'll be on my own until Sunday, so they'll be keeping me company here.  
This puppy must have his place too, since he was brought from Switzerland last year, on the same business trip that calls away our fine breadwinner for the next few days.

I meant to sneak a little friend into his suitcase before he left, but got distracted and forgot.  And, to be fair, he didn't take a suitcase this time.  Carry on luggage only.  Less room for friends, how sad.

 And here are my little birds, always singing happily (when they're not squabbling... Calypso gets a little bit persistent sometimes, and Calliope will only put up with it for so long.)  They sing along with me when I sing to them, and they have their own favorite shows on Netflix (based around which ones have the best theme songs, of course).  I wish I could get better videos of them and their antics, they're so adorable.

 Calypso is here to the left, and Calliope is on the right in the picture above, and that's her squinting down below.  She's wary of the camera and everything that moves... she kept scrambling, so this was the best picture I could get.

These are my two darling guinea pigs, poor Charlie is no longer with us (the multicolored furry guy there).  Nelly is still going strong, even though he's starting to show his age, poor guy.  Not sure exactly how old they were when I adopted them, but they definitely qualify as "elderly."  Bit sad that Nelly is alone now, but the birds sing to him sometimes. Nelly is a lot more quiet than Charlie.  Together, I called them the "alarm pigs," because whenever anything was going on outside they'd start peeping madly.  Nelly only peeps when I come to visit him, or when the birds talk to him.  I'm sure he misses Charlie. :( we all do.

And here is my parents' dog, Pippin, making her derp face (best picture I have).  She's a husky mix, getting into her elder years.  Silly old thing but we love her.

And now I'm back to my handiwork ~