Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Give Handmade | The gift of Giving

Don't forget to enter the contest 
of this blog's first ever giveaway of my "favorite things!!!" 
It ends TONIGHT at midnight EST so I can announce the winner TOMORROW on the blog!!!!

REMEMBER: You have to leave your comments on the original blog post that announced the contest found HERE VIA THIS LINK (click this to access it!!) in order to be officially entered and considered in the final count to be randomly chosen for the prize package. Don't forget that there are (2) ways to be entered in the giveaway and the cut off time/date is TONIGHT - Tuesday, Sept. 25th at midnight EST!!

******* Warning: This is a photo heavy posting not about classroom art education!!!*******

Something I really enjoy doing (but rarely get to do) is crocheting amigurumi. I fell into the artform when I was a new mother to my now four year old daughter and I needed something to do to pass the time and occupy my hands while I would wait for my little girl to wake up from naps to nurse in her infancy. (I have a hard time with NOT having something to occupy my hands at any given time)

I taught myself to crochet (after four years of my childhood best friend trying to teach me) in two weeks of watching youtube videos and reading online tutorials on other peoples' blogs because I was so enamored by amigurumi. (They are so charming!! How could anyone NOT fall in love with them.) I joined a social networking site that is purely meant to connect crafters of knitting and crochet called Ravelry.com.

My time when I was really into crocheting was before I was able to be an art teacher so I think doing such work fed my need to create. I started off with patterns but eventually learned that creating my own original works inspired by real objects was a lot more fulfilling for me. My first major undertaking ever without a pattern to guide me was this Thomas the Tank Engine for my daughter's first ever friend as a going away gift since he was leaving the daycare she attended when she was a baby.

The above took me so many hours and so much trial and error that I felt like a total champ when I was done and I become that much more inspired to try my hand at free-form soft sculpting more amigurumi toys. I naturally have an issue with following patterns/directions and so free-forming it really worked well for me. I would look at pictures of things online and then take what I like from multiple versions of an amigurumi idea and then try and make my own version of it. Below are some of my free-formed crocheting adventures.

Little girl elephant
Baby Harp Seal

Maryland girl crab

Baby Lamb doll

Little Girl giraffe without spots

"Sherman" the gnome (made this right around the time Gnomeo and Juliet came out in theaters)

A baby chick

I also made fun and silly hats (for novelty and amusement of my own) for my daughter. I have always been a HUGE fan of the Tom Arma babies in the face of what Anne Geddes was trying to do (Because come on! The Tom Arma ones are both hilarious and adorable all at the same time!!!) and making silly hats was my way of drawing inspiration from him. I have made hats for babies in the family but mostly I just make at least one hat for my daughter every year. It all started with the baby viking hat for me that I made for her around Easter.

And then it just took off from there. My personal rule for crochet has become that I don't do anything that can be functional (like sweaters or scarves or afghans) but I will do a hat if it can also be a little bit of silly art. My dream is to (at some point) crochet a yoda hat. Until then, this is all I have done so far. I have free-form crocheted all of the below.

Koala with red bow from two Christmases ago for my daughter  

Blue monkey hat with flaps for my daughter's cousin two Christmases ago

Aviator style hat with flaps and goggles in heart-shaped (to make it more "girly")

20s style clochette hat with a flower for a cousin's little girl

Pink pig hat made from variegated pink and orange chenille yarn 

I was making toys and hats long before my daughter learned to appreciate them and the other day (in her mess of a toy room) she came upon a little turtle I made for her long ago in one of my very first every amigurumi endeavours. It looked like this:

This was made with a pattern found HERE from when I was first learning to crochet
My daughter had no clue I made it and when I told her I did she was blown away!! And she she promptly asked me if I would make her a pink shelled turtle who could be the "mama" because the above is teeny-tiny and handheld. I could not say no to her sweet request and last night I finished this up for her just in time for her to take it to show-n-tell today at playschool.

Much larger than the original and went along with the idea of the original but it was free-formed really.

I cannot tell you just how delighted my daughter was when she woke up (EARLY at that!) to her new turtle. She, of course, didn't hesitate to ask me to make a purple one that could be the "daddy" turtle. I... well... I would like to make her another one but I don't know when it will happen. *shrug* I get bored with doing the same animal over again (especially when it immediately follows one I just did) and I might be more inclined to try my hand at making her an Olivia piglet doll instead seeing as how that is her latest obsession and I am very charmed with Olivia myself.

Anyway, I guess all of this is nothing more than me tripping myself down memory lane (so to speak) with all of my random crocheting adventures but I thought I would share it just the same since it's the latest in my effort to give handmade this year. I have actually tried to teach students to crochet to try and get a little bit of a fellowship group going at both schools I have taught at (in my career) but many of them don't seem to have the patience it takes to learn the craft and then perfect it in order to be able to make (especially free-form) any of the things I have shown you above. I do have one student who graduated last year and is bound and determined to learn eventually but mostly? I am on my own with my quiet obsession and adoration for crocheting purely for my own amusement and novelty. If you are into it though? You just consider joining ravelry!!!! (My username on there is stuffshemakes if you want to connect with me) in addition to leaving me a comment on this posting so that we can connect and maybe be "accountability partners" in our crocheting endeavors. It is the one thing that is such a great stress reliever for me and I know that I probably should do more of if I can help it. Perhaps it works that way for you as well and if we are both doing it together? Well, there are two less stressed people in the world.


  1. TURTLE TURTLE TURTLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) Love the turtles. I've been trying to talk one of my friends in making me a turtle hat for winter!!!! :) ha ha Take a lot of yarn for my big head!

    1. Crocheting just plain takes a lot of yarn. I have estimated that it takes probably thrice the amount of yarn to create something when compared with knitting. This is so stinky to me because (I think) crocheting is SO much faster and it is precisely this reason that I much prefer it. Some advice about getting a hat done for yourself: Use chenille yarn if you can!!! It is SO much nicer for hats/wearables than worsted wool. ;)

  2. Ummmm those are FLIPPIN PRECIOUS! I think I may need to commission you to make me a giraffe for my still-cookin second kiddo! ;)

    1. Ashley - Honestly I don't know if I would be able to make the giraffe again (in the same way especially) because I did not work with a pattern and the entire thing was totally soft sculpted with increases/decreases as I needed for it to happen. The way I do it is I sketch out multiple views of what I am going for and then I literally sculpt stitch-by-stitch. Someone once told me it was amazing that I do it like this but I personally find it a little annoying because then I can never make more versions of what I once did OR make patterns that can be sold! I am such a hack. Seriously.


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