Justifying Yarn Costs

Blogged under crochet and knitting by Tammy on Thursday 24 April 2014 at 4:16 pm

Making the leap from Red Heart Super Saver yarn to fancy-yarn from a “real” yarn shop is not an easy step for most yarn crafters. You feel like you have to justify the expense. I recently showed off this shawl to a small group of novice yarn crafters. I made it with a skein of  Heritage “Silk Paints” 85% Merion/15% silk that I picked up at a not-so-local yarn store, and I have been working on it off and on for many months. It is a very simple net and fan pattern, light-weight, and perfect for Florida weather. The pattern comes from Totally Simple Crochet: Over 30 Easy Projects for the Home and to Wear, which I adapted a little. The yarn cost about $10 for the skein, and I used just about every single inch of it for this shawl.

When queried about the yarn, I received a few “wow!” comments, as if I had really broken the bank on my fancy yarn purchase. Of course, newbies are afraid to work with good materials at first, and it is difficult for them to see the benefits of quality over quantity. But, here’s my deal with all of that: Not only did I end up with a very nice finished piece that I will wear and enjoy, but I had many hours of pleasure making it, which I think is very much worth $10. If I had gone to a movie, I would have spent at least that if not more, and my enjoyment would have lasted maybe 2 hours at the most.

I would never suggest anyone buy yarn she could not afford, but at the same time, I think it is worth thinking about the activities that you do spend your money on and compare. If you spend 10 hours on a project with yarn that cost you $10, then it is really just costing $1 an hour. To me, it completely justifies the expense.

Good-Bye Crochet Today! Hello Mollie Makes, Maybe?

Blogged under crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 19 April 2014 at 5:09 pm

I don’t have a lot of free time to read for pleasure, and there are just so many craft magazines out these days that I have cut way back on my subscriptions over the last few years. Besides the lack of time to read, I felt that I had to be more careful about how much I was spending on magazines too. I now subscribe to just 3 magazines: Stringing, Bead Style, and Crochet Today. Or I guess I should say that I “did” subscribe, as in past tense, to Crochet Today because it’s no longer being published per the letter I received today, which was stuck inside a plastic bag with a copy of Mollie Makes.

Admittedly, I have never been overly “wowed” by Crochet Today, but I usually could find one or two projects in there that I might make, and there were sometimes a few articles that were semi-interesting. Plus, for $10, it was a great price, and it did not have tons of reading for me to do (and feel guilty about not doing). Most other crochet magazines (I won’t name names) are either too “grandma-ish” or too advanced. So I will really miss this little magazine.

I’m flipping through my copy of Mollie Makes this afternoon. I believe I’ve seen this mentioned before online, but it is a British magazine and was not available (until I guess now) in the US. It’s cute, lots of color, and there are some crochet projects in here. In fact, there is an afghan pattern that I really like. I am not sure exactly what I think, and it looks like I will have a few more issues coming since this is now replacing my previous subscription to Crochet Today. Will I cough up $24.99 for a subscription later? I’m not sure.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Mollie Makes. Does it speak to you? Is it a little “too” retro?

Cute Crochet World Book Review

Blogged under Good Books, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 12 April 2014 at 2:53 pm

Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More by Suzann Thompson is published Lark and has a copyright date of May 2014. It retails for $17.95 (though, of course, you can get a discounted copy from Amazon.com). The book concentrates on making motifs and embellishment items, so the majority of the projects are two dimensional. They are made with the idea that you can then take them and add them to items like clothing and blankets or you can turn them into ornaments or jewelry items. There is a section in the book where the author gives lots of ideas for using the finished projects.

While I tend to prefer three dimensional projects, I have to say that I was impressed with the large number of projects in this book, over 50, as well as the variety. I’ve seen books like this before that are filled with one or two types of projects, like leaves and flowers, and that’s it. However, she has everything from cupcakes to mushrooms to televisions in here.

Most of the projects are small and not overly complicated, which means they are good short-term projects to attempt. Plus, another huge “pro” for these types of projects is the amount of yarn needed is minimal. In fact, if you are looking to bust out some stash or want to use up all those scraps you’ve been keeping because they were just too large to throw away, this is a good place to look for project ideas. For example, you could make some cute cupcakes using lots of different yarn colors and sew them (which is explained in the book) onto a pre-made baby blanket, and voila! You have a very fast baby shower gift that has a little hand-made quality to it.

i would feel comfortable recommending this book to anyone who already enjoys making embellishments, and I would even go so far to suggest beginners will enjoy this as well since none of the projects require a huge commitment as far as time.

Guess My Latest Project

Blogged under amigurumi, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Wednesday 2 April 2014 at 12:52 pm

I recently started another amigurumi project. Can you guess what I’m making?

Wizard of Oz Crochet Kit Giveaway & Review

Blogged under CFEs/Contests, Good Books, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Tuesday 25 March 2014 at 12:20 pm

I received an adorable crochet kit to review called The Wizard of Oz Crochet. It is produced by Thunder Bay Press and retails for $24.95; though, I saw it for sale as low as $14 on Amazon. The kit includes a 76 page book with 12 crochet patterns, a 4mm hook, two small balls of yarn (one gray one brown), a smaller amount of black yard, a little felt, stuffing, 2 pairs of safety eyes, and an embroidery needle. The 12 patterns include those for the Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy, Toto and a basket, Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch of the East (which is really a house with her legs sticking out from under it), the Wicked Witch of the West, a winged monkey, Glinda, the Wizard of Oz, ruby slippers, and a lolly pop kid. The supplies in the kit are supposed to be enough to make the Tin Man and the Lion.

So let me start with the pluses about this kit. First, it is so dang cute that I can’t stand it! Seriously! Who doesn’t love the Wizard of Oz? Then there are 12 patterns packed in the little book that is in the kit. If you purchased it at the $14 Amazon price, that is a deal, and then you also get supplies, so for the price, even considering the issues this kit has (which I will go into next) I think that is a great price. Another point of this kit that I like is the fact that the book has photos, not just written out patterns, so you get a little visual help. Finally, the finished characters are nice and big, not tiny like many amigurumi projects can be. For example, the Tin Man is 10 inches high when finished. I donate most of the toys I make, so kids actually play with them. For my purposes, then, tiny is not good since I want something large enough for a child to cuddle.

Now onto the minuses of this kit. According to the description on the box all of this comes in, this is “perfect for beginning crocheters.” While I think this kit is super adorable and would make a very cool gift for someone, I would never consider giving it to anyone who has not done a fair amount of amigurumi before. I looked over a few of the patterns, and probably the easiest would be the Tin Man and the Wicked Witch of the East, but even those I would not consider to be for a beginner. It is nice to have supplies ready to go in the kit, but the patterns call for worsted weight yarn, and to me the yarn in the kit is not thick enough to be consider worsted. I would say it is more sport weight. Finally, I did some looking around the web, and there are complaints that the patterns have errors in them. It is not necessarily unusual for crochet books to have errors, and most seasoned knitters and crocheters expect some errata to be published some time after a book comes out. However, so far the only errata I have found is from Makerknit.com’s blog. She bought the kit and made Dorothy, and she found a bunch of errors but was nice enough to publish the corrections on her blog. From what she said and from reading through a few of the patterns, it looks like the stitch counts included at the end of some of the rows is not correct. If you just ignore the number and follow the instructions, it works, but someone didn’t add up the stitches correctly when writing the patterns.

Okay, so like I said, I still like this kit, and I’m super thrilled that I get to give one away too! I know making crochet toys is not for everyone. Some think they are just too “fiddly,” but if you have some amigurumi experience and love the Wizard of Oz, then here is how you can win this book. Oh, and sorry, but I have to limit this to the continental US because of shipping costs (don’t hate on me hat on the PO!)

Here is how you can enter to win. Simply tell me who your favorite Wizard of Oz character is and why in the comments of this post. I will randomly pick a winner and send his/her name to the publisher who will ship out the kit. The deadline for entering is April 8, 2014. Make sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you, and I will give the winner 3 days to get back to me. And, of course, there is the usual “I’m not responsible for a darn thing contest gibberish so don’t sue me stuff.”

Book Review: Croceht at Play

Blogged under Good Books, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 15 February 2014 at 2:02 pm

Crochet at Play: Fun Hats, Scarves, Clothes, and Toys for Kids to Enjoy is published by Running Press and came out this past October. It’s written by Kat Goldin and focuses on fun patterns for babies and toddlers. It retails for $20 in the US and $23 in Canada, though the current Amazon price is about $15. There are 30 projects included, all of which vary as far as difficulty and size, but considering the number of projects, I think the price is pretty good.

The beginning part of the book covers a lot of crochet basics such as how to do the various stitches and techniques, starting with chain and moving up to working in the round. It also covers the “anatomy” of a stitch, which is a super important concept for beginners. While I did not see anything unusual in the illustrations for this section, I do think with maybe a few YouTube videos to supplement, a beginner could learn to crochet with this book. Plus, there are a lot of beginning level projects.

Beginning level projects (hats and wearable toys for example) are mixed also with a few more advanced ones, such as sweaters. These are marked mainly as “intermediate,” but I would say some of those (like the Wolf sweater) are probably more leaning towards the advanced level, just my opinion there. Many of the projects (like a number of the hats) are stitched using amigurumi style stitching in the round.

All of the projects are really super cute. They mix functionality with fun. For example, the Wolf sweater project I mentioned earlier has a hood with little wolf ears on it. The Baby Ballet Slippers project can be teamed up with the Tutu project. The Witch/Wizard/Princess hats are some examples of the easy design that a beginner could tackle, or if you are more experienced and need a quick gift for a new mom, who wouldn’t love a cute wizard hat?

I like that there is a good range of designs here (both for girls and boys), so you can make something fast and simple, or if you want to go all out, you can take on something more challenging. For anyone who regularly finds her/himself needing to whip up a baby gift, this would be a great book to have in your library. Your gifts would be easy to make but very unique and whimsical too.

A “Little” Afghan

Blogged under Finished Projects, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Monday 27 January 2014 at 10:01 am

As usual, I always have a number of craft projects going on, all in various stages. This weekend I realized that this small afghan I have been working on was super close to being finished, so I set all other projects aside and concentrated on it. The finished size is 34 inches by 41 inches, and it is made using Wool-Ease Thick and Quick and a size K crochet hook. It is all double crochet (6 rows for each color) with a single crochet boarder trim. The colorways I used are Grey Marble and Navy.

Originally, this started out as a stash busting project, but of course, I did not have as much of this yarn as I thought I had and ended up having to buy a few extra skeins to finish it. Each of the 6 row stripes requires almost one skein.

This was going to be a blanket mainly for Jasper, who is our oldest dog and sometimes has trouble getting up on the couch. We have various large dog beds on the floor too, along with another afghan I made for them awhile back, so I thought I should give him another blanket to use down there on those days when getting up on the couch is not possible.

But, Little had different plans. As soon as I set it on top of one of the dog beds, (and all the dogs had taken a look at it), he claimed it for his own and sat like an angel puppy on it almost the entire evening. This was after he had come close to destroying a second water pitcher and chewed up one of the baseboards. But, for a few hours, he was an angel.

Naw, I Don’t Need No Swift N Ball Winder

Blogged under Crafty Products, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 11 January 2014 at 5:19 pm

I keep telling myself that I do not need to spend the money on a swift and ball winder. Then every once in a awhile I have an unruly skein like I did today. I don’t even know how long it took me to finally wind this ball after I got it tangled at one point and had a pile of yarn barf to deal with. At least, I caught up on some podcasts.

The colorway is called “Metamorphosis,” and it’s the “Show Stopper” base, 80% superwash merino/10% nylon/10% cashmere from Leading Men Fibers. It is destined for fingerless gloves.

Ah, Alpaca Scarf

Blogged under Projects in Progress, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Sunday 17 November 2013 at 3:03 pm

Here is one of my latest projects. It’s just a simple crochet scarf using open stitch and some super soft baby alpaca. I have only been able to find this specific baby alpaca yarn at the Knit and Stitch Boutique in Cocoa Village, so I had to have my sister pick this up for me since I didn’t have time to go by the last time I was in town.

This is a special gift that I plan to give to my veterinarian. On one of my last visits as we were discussing safe cat toys (this is after she found a pony tail holder in my cat’s carrier and warned me nicely about how dangerous these are because animals will eat them and get them caught around their intestines), and I mentioned how I had made some mouse toys from alpaca yarn. She was surprised to learn that there was such a thing as alpaca yarn and told me how she was allergic to wool.

This vet and her entire office have gone above and beyond countless times for my animals and me as well. I could write a 5,000 word blog post about just that, so I made a mental note that I had to make her something out of alpaca, and of course, it had to be this specific kind from the Cocoa Village shop since it is ubber buttery soft! I know she does go up north now and then, but just in case she ever wants to wear it down here in Florida on the few cold days we have, I decided to make it using a very open style stitch because alpaca yarn is very warm. She is very petite, and I am going to make it long enough for her to double around her neck in case she ever wants to use it where it really gets cold.

Oh, and that adorable cupcake zipper pouch? I got that during the last Thirty-One outlet sale, which I have heard rumors may be popping up again in the next few months. I will definitely post about it on here when I get any details.

I haven’t decided if I am going to do a single crochet around the entire scarf or not. Some of that may depend on how much yarn I have left once I get the length that I want.

Baby Sweater Done!

Blogged under Finished Projects, crochet and knitting by Tammy on Saturday 17 August 2013 at 5:04 pm

It is done!!! The is the baby sweater I made while taking the Beyond the Rectangle crochet class on Craftsy.com. I am so happy that I not only finished the sweater but basically can check off another Craftsy class. I learn so much from these classes, and I like the fact that I can go back and revisit them whenever I want.

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