Monday, December 17, 2018

A Crochet Hookers Special Hooks ... What's your favorite?

I've done crochet now for nearly 10 years "full time" and as with any crocheter you will find that whatever type of projects you are on you will have one special size or hook that you will prefer more than others.

For amigurumi I tend to prefer G Hooks (4.0 mm).  Tighter stitches for smaller dolls or animals done in the round. G Hook is small but still rigid.  Occasionally, I will use D or F sizes but generally it's G. B Hook if I'm doing Barefoot Sandals or N Hook for my Jellyfish.

I have one favorite hook.  One hook that beats all my others. 
My I/9 Hook (5.50 mm) by Boye
My I Hook is more special to me than the others not because of the size, color, rigidity, etc but because it was a gift from a friend.

You see, I learned crochet when I was about 9 from my paternal grandmother.  My mom and dad had been divorced for a few years and she lived in another county so we didn't get to see her often. She was in her late 80s and early 90s, so tiny (literally her shoe size was 5) and frail. If she ever knew how to drive it was long before I knew her. She had a one bedroom apartment with a bible or two within every few feet.  Her daughter lived close by and would come over when she washed her super long hair and roll it all up into a bun with little waves on top.  She would crochet or make gingham pillows with beads and fabric and sell those at local shops for extra cash that she insisted on giving to her grandchildren, even when we'd run back inside and leave it on her table for her.  She had numerous children, grands, great grands and great-great grands when she passed at 99 years old. Literally, grands and greats numbered in the couple hundreds. She was our Mama King.

Mama King was very religious.  She only said one cuss word in the 18 years I knew her, she didn't watch anything that cursed or had anything hurtful or evil in it. She read her bible every day and prayed often all day long.  The most common things she'd say when she heard someone being nasty or shocking was "They Law". 

I always wanted to learn to crochet from her but many of the times we could go stay the night it was a late Saturday evening, we'd play with cousins on the front lawn and then go to church Sunday with her.  She didn't "work" on Sundays so for me to learn to crochet took many weekends of convincing.  She was afraid the Lord didn't look favorably on those that worked Sundays and her craft was her work.  One Sunday she taught me to chain.  I never could pick up the rest of it and finally just gave up. 

Many moons later I was married with kids of my own. We had moved many states away from most all of my family, the kids were in school but still elementary, I was depressed and anxiety ridden. A friend suggested I learn crochet or knit.  Several tens of youtube videos later and I was up and running.  I made all sorts of things and gave them away or sold them. At that point I also started my Etsy shop.  The woman in the apartment upstairs of us made me think a lot about my grandmother and my mom.  She was a tiny woman, living on her own away from her kids but she would go get her hair done and set, dressed so nice and always looked just lovely. She had the biggest kindest heart too. She loved visiting with the kids and I. If we saw Miss Janet outside with groceries we'd run out and help her.  Every Sunday we'd hear the sound of her heals clacking on the hardwood floor above us, ready to go to church.  Even when we moved back to my home town we'd send her packages. Janet and I mailed letters like old pen pals.  She moved to another apartment building and loved it there. 

One day I got a package from her with an old set of knitting needles and a single crochet hook.  I've never tried knitting but my mother in law use to so I left those with her to try ( of course she can't see well so they're still in an envelope over at her house ) but I kept Miss Janet's crochet hook. A very old, well loved, I/9-5.50mm Boye hook.

After a month had gone by I had not heard from Janet and began to worry.  I called her line and no answer. I wrote and no reply. I checked her local news papers and found her obituary.  I wrote a final letter to her son, who was easy enough to track down, and I told him how much she had meant to me and our little family, how thankful I was to have known her.  He sent me a photo of her and thanked me for chatting with her. She really loved it. She'd gotten ill and just couldn't shake it. 

This I Hook is my favorite.  It's my Janet.  It is a symbol of my grandmother who had worked long and hard raising a family by any means necessary with love and faith, a symbol of my mother who left this world too early who raised us the same way and Janet who had raised hers and helped me be a better person while raising mine.  I think of them often when I work.  Every project I do I fill with love and positive energy, thanks to the love I have received and want to share.

So this one is special.  I'm not sure I still have anyone stop by this blog but do you have any special hooks or needles that are special to you? Any yarn from your family that you've made something special with? I'd love to hear about it!

Blessed be!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Giant Squooshy Jellyfish

"This Jellyfish is Giant. No, really. It's bell is very nearly a foot tall and the Curly Q's make it nearly a full 3 feet in height! In circumference it's roughly 47 inches! That's a whole lot of squooshy, soft, snuggly goodness!"
~sayeth I, in my shop's listing.

This Jellyfish is a labor of love. Made with Baby Bee, Hobby Lobby, Adore-A-Ball Super Bulky (6) yarn. Generally, this particular brand of yarn only has 5 solid colors, Aqua Marbled, Angel, Toy Elephant, Baby's Blue and Pink-a-Boo.  It takes roughly 9 skeins, including the curly q's. I can get them done in a couple of days if I have no distractions but within a week.  I'm currently selling for $60 plus tax with free shipping.

If you're just looking for the pattern, you can find it in my shop : Giant Squooshy Jellyfish
and also in my Ravelry Shop

Friday, March 24, 2017

Huge Octopus Crochet: Crafting Trial and Errors

**Before I begin, All patterns for reference will be at the bottom of this post.**

It is not rare for me to get a request through Facebook to crochet something for a friend.  My actual @Home Ninja page on fb garners only a handful of folks looking but not buying.  Mostly it points to here or Etsy.  I've given some thought to putting everything on Ravelry because I just like the way they do their patterns in your library.  Updates are awesome.  However, most of what I have to sell is not patterns but completed items.  Still mulling that one over.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent me a private message asking if I could crochet a huge octopus.  Sure I can, why not?  I asked her if she really wanted it.  "Are you serious? I'm happy to make it but you know it'll cost like $40-60 just in materials. Do you really want this?"

Now, I know that sounds like a real a-hole thing to say but seriously, I get message after message or tag after tag of people who want me to see a picture of some amazing crochet work that they wouldn't pay for and don't want.  Sometimes it's knitting and not crochet.  I think it's awesome that my friends see these things and think of me. I do. However, sometimes it's like danging a carrot in front of a starving horse or asking your Avon Rep if she can get you some Pampered Chef.  I'm a crafter ya'll.  I'm broke.  I might spend $60 on yarn to make TONS of Messy Bun Hats (that didn't all sell) and only get paid for 1/2.  The other half I either wasn't paid for or they sit here waiting for someone to love them.  I spend two and sometimes three times what I bring in every year.

I'm not complaining! I love doing what I do. I love tinkering with yarn and coming up with new things. I mean, I've done my fair share of freebies because once they are done (whether they can afford it or not) I love to see my friends be happy with something I've made for them.  I love to crochet, it calms me when my anxiety is bonkers.  I know some of my SAHM friends can't really afford to pay me for a hat for them, a hat for a kiddo, gloves for someone or a  small toy.  I'm perfectly okay with saying, "I've got this one. Love ya'll!"

If I could have afforded the yarn to do it, I'd probably have said it for this one too. In fact, I still considered not charging her for it or only charging for supply reimbursement because 1)I love the crap out of her and 2)Sometimes it's the experience of getting to do an item that's new, different and fun that means more to me than the payment. (Thus why I'm a brokeass crochetionalist. Yep, just made that up.)

Back to the point at hand!
The picture my friend sent was by Mama Moseley Creations.  I went to her Facebook and to her Etsy shop and neither seemed to have a pattern for sale. (I checked it today and there's a pattern for sale now for only $3. If I'd have known that a couple of weeks ago ... ) So I did some other digging.  I found "Octopus" on  Yay me.  Well, yes and no.

Going back to Mama Moseley Creations I learned hers used an L hook (information I think she has since removed from her complete item and put into the pattern page) and ended up being 19" tall by 64" wide.  She used Bernat Blanket Yarn.  I'm familiar with it but have never used it.  I found the cost online.  I think mine did end up being a tad bit less expensive than what I found online.  I wish she had the pattern then because I'd have scooped it up in a heartbeat.  I greatly appreciate the free Jo-Ann pattern but as it turns out (after having read a blog post, again below, by Gleeful Things) that their pattern only had SIX legs, not eight.  Gleeful Things told me how to fix that, so I did. 

I followed most of the Jo-Ann pattern to the letter, with the only exception being, as Gleeful Things suggested, starting with 8 sts instead of 7 and the legs.  Oh the legs.  For the most part it was dead on.  There were some soulda-woulda-coulda's along the way but I think we all have that with any project.

For the Octopus:
I crochet tightly most of the time so I knew I'd need a larger hook. Even with a fatter blanket yarn.  I considered an M but settled on a P Hook, which actually worked out very very close in measurement to what Mama Moseley Creations had.  I used my I Hook here and there in place of a needle.

Bernat Blanket Yarn (108 yards per skein/150 g, Super Bulky) in Dark Grey (00044) -- Main color
Bernat Blanket Yarn (108 yards per skein/150 g, Super Bulky) in Light Teal (00734) -- Secondary color
Bernat Blanket Yarn (108 yards per skein/150 g, Super Bulky) in Vintage White (00006) -- Outline color
Bernat Blanket Yarn (108 yards per skein/150 g, Super Bulky) in Coal (00746) -- Iris color

We found our colors at the local Walmart (hate shopping there for yarn but the next nearest place is 24 miles and I don't currently have a car) and they turned out to be $3.94 each (plus tax).  I also needed almost 1 1/2 lb of fiber fill.  I wasn't sure what I'd need so I got the 3.1 lb bag which was $8.97.
What I needed was exactly 3 Dark Grey, 2 Light Teal, 1 Vintage White, 1 Coal and the fluff, so total came to $36.55 for all supplies.  I kept time for everything I did and for me to finish it, it came to appx 22 hours to complete.  For what I charged a friend, I made only a tad less than I spent and it did come to about $1.50 an hour. It was indeed rather low BUT did I mention she's awesome and I love her to bits?  :)

The project ended up taking me two weeks.  Well, two weeks tomorrow.

Done before underside of legs complete.
The Head:
The head of the octopus was fairly easy.  The first night I had the yarn I worked 4 solid hours and only needed 2 more hours to finish the head (one and a quarter skein grey). I did have to frog it when I was two hours in and had to redo it.  I didn't make a note of what hair-brained thing I'd done but it was something that bugged me enough I pulled it all out and began again.

I told the 11 year old I needed him to do this...for scale.
The Legs:
It was roughly one hour per leg. A little less once I had not distractions and got working on it.  Don't forget though, you're doing 16 legs.  Yeah 16.  You do 8 grey and once that's complete you do the underside (teal).  I was about on the 3rd leg when I completed that second skein and started the third.  I had two balls of grey when I finished the legs and used that for the eyelids.

The Eyes: 
The eyes were super simple.  You start with black, work out and then work back in again.  Before I did the last round, I turned the eye inside out, worked my yarn back up the back/inside to the iris and pulled the yarn through around the edges of the iris.  I did not have a needle on me large enough to use with blanket yarn so I used my handy I Hook.  I think now I should have done that a second time for smoother edges and less of a starburst effect.  In the center photo, you see, the eye on the left is finished, the one on the right is before.  Subtle, but noticeable difference.

The eye lids are just doing the eyeball halfway in grey.  With mine, however, once we stopped increasing and just went around for 3 rows I did two of those rows HDC instead of SC.  The last row I did SC, as instructed.  I like that it gave me more of a droopy eyelid.  It cracks me up.  I tinkered with where I wanted the eyelid to be, low or high on the eyeball.  I wasn't going to stitch them on but they were snug and would have been constantly pulling back so I did stitch them to the eye.  Stitch them in place when you are ready to do the belly/legs.

The Belly:
I completed the belly in teal and only did 8 rounds instead of 9...worked perfectly.  I didn't stitch it on until right before I did stitched the legs together/outlined them.

Legs becoming Tentacles:
I took one last picture before I began to stuff and stitch the legs.  I put the eyes where I wanted them and took a picture.  I could hardly stop laughing.  They were like googly eyes rolling around.  My only actual regret is that I should have done the outline stitching on the legs BEFORE I stuffed and put the belly on.  I'll tell you why.  When I did the legs, I did them so that some curled one direction while some curled the other way.  It's all in which side you are facing when you add the legs, top up or bottom up.  I didn't want them to all look identical.  Next time I might make the edging grey instead of teal but I would have needed a 4th skein of yarn.  As I said, I only had two small balls left before the eyelids and had a teeny bit left after.  I went down the wide side of the tentacles with white, at the end doing two at the top and one more for a more spiral effect.  I picked up the teal there, tied them in a knot, tucked it in and finished the inner/tighter part of the tentacle.  Once back at the octopus body, however, I had no where to hide the ends I'd tied off other than to tuck them into the fiberfill with my trusty I Hook.  I would do the belly the absolute last next time.

Final Thoughts:

  • As I said, I would have waited to stitch the belly until after I did the outline of the tentacles.  
  • I might have used the same top color, grey, around one side and just left the white.  Or maybe a darker/lighter grey instead of teal.  However, my friend requested one in the same colors Mama Moseley Creations had done hers in.  
  • I wish I'd have known about her pattern before I started.  I'd have paid the $3.  Maybe the time had lapsed and it just wasn't back up or perhaps I'd lost my mind and not seen it there. I don't know.  
  • I don't regret using a free pattern.  JoAnn's pattern is excellent for what I paid for it (you know, nothing) and as I said, Gleeful Things stated there were not enough legs, do one more stitch in the beginning...quick fix.
  • I know how much it costs now, how long it takes and why Mama Moseley Creations (MMC) charges $150 for her complete items.  It's hard work.  It's a heavy project, literally.  I was trying to do the legs and trying to reach for things on my desk.  It was like I was pregnant again with 10 extra pounds in the front I was like the marshmallow man.
  • When getting closer to the inner V section of the legs I switched out to the I Hook to get in there more easily.  I cut the yarn with enough length to finish off two SC and tie off at the body so I wouldn't have to wrestle the octopus and scissors.
  • The eyes I did have to go back and re tie down after I stitched them in place.  They move a little bit no matter where you put them. Somehow I'm not surprised that even a yarn animal rolls it's eyes at me.
Final measurements!
I'll let you check out what the final measurements were for MMC on her page below.  I don't remember and I've worked on this blog post since I started the octopus, adding over time.  I completed it today, photographed it (poorly) and went back through fixing this post.  I'm whooped.  All measurements are appx because it's hard to get a slippery octopus to stay still on a leather couch.  (When my uncle gave it to us he told us to keep it clean with leather wipes.  Sometimes it's like a slip'n'slide on that thing.)

With legs stretched loosely, the Huge Octopus is 54" in length.
Width of the head is 13" with a height of 17".  The circumference of the head being 37".  
Around the eyeball it is 13 1/2" and the legs themselves are 26" long.

Final Photos!!

Shots of the curl in the tentacles and where the colors changed at the tips.

The underside of the octopus.  Yep the underbelly of the beast.  And again, my beautiful boy.  He tried to hold it on his head because it would be hilarious but instead only managed to hold it in front of his face because it kept falling off.  Worth it. :D

Octopus -
Giant Amigurumi Octopus @ Gleeful Things
The photo sent to me was labeled as done by and you can find her here. Mama Moseley Creations
Bernat Blanket Yarn For colors and cost (even cheaper than I got locally but I didn't pay shipping on mine)

I think that's all!  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to look me up.  My FB links are on here, my email, comment below or send me a request in my Etsy store (also on the right).

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Love You For Your Mind!

Last night while messing around with yarn, again, I began thinking about fun things for Valentines Day.  I've already got some Rose Rings but haven't received any feedback on those.  I did go ahead and put them on Etsy but it's a flooded market right now so getting noticed isn't going to happen.  So, what to do, what to do for Valentines Day?

I'VE GOT IT!                   BRAINS!
I looked up a hilarious video by Chaotic Desk. Went over to her page, grabbed my I Love This Yarn, Stonewash Coraline and got at it!  The brain itself is only about 4 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and on the bottom is a small heart made from string and stitched on.  They are gently stitched together so you don't lose your mind. :D

Really though, who wouldn't love brains for Valentine's Day?  I mean, right?  Okay, so it's not your every day gift but you can give it to a guy or a gal.  School kids can give it to one another.  Anyone in the Science or Medical field would like it.  It's fun and super soft yarn!  If you want a chance at one, message me or head over to My Etsy Store!

**All items on my Etsy Shop through the end of February are FREE SHIPPING and I'm donating the profits toward my son and his class.  My son, 16, is in his high school's Advanced Choir and they are hoping to attend Festival Disney in April.  They've done a lot of fundraising and none of the appx 30 children are paid off enough to go. Anything would be appreciated. :D