Planning and Updating

Life has been extremely busy as of late, which has forced all of my craft plans to be on a small and slight hiatus. There are, among other things, a few personal issues I needed to work through, but even without that there has been a helluva lot of work stuff going on. I always seem to do my best crafting late at night when the entire world is asleep. This usually means that the house is also asleep (though no one but me and the cat are around right now). I’ve been working in regular job and doing an awful lot of Sub work (teaching). My regular job is very conducive to crafting in the wee hours… subbing, on the other hand, is not even remotely close to being forgiving about my wanting to be up until 4am watching Fringe and making cute things with yarn!

I also applied for grad school, and one of the worst things to happen was they lost all of my transcripts. I know, right? Most people in my social circle have heard me go on and on about this, because the entire thing makes absolutely no sense. I paid for rush processing… anyway. I spent a lot of money, all four of my transcripts were lost. So I had to order some more, wait for them to arrive TO ME… and then I drove them up myself. Even without all of the transcript madness, the thought of going to grad school has me in the verge of meltdown every other day.

I’ve been busting my butt to try to catch up on work with my real job… mind you there’s no such thing as “caught up”, and I understand this. But I wanted to get to a comfortable place where I wasn’t overwhelmed with any one aspect being neglected completely for another. I still occasionally forget some things, but I’ve got most of it under control… finally. So much so that I might even be able to take the day off I won at the last employee retreat!

Then there was this whole hair up my butt to do new crochet projects… not even KNIT projects. I really need to remember to be better about sharing my completed projects on the blog, but I’m forgetful when something isn’t either a) on my calendar or b) a routine thing. I’m going to definitely try to blog more often, but never any promises.

I also picked up a couple of new hobbies. A little backstory about the one is that I was invited into this private group on facebook. Mind you, I’m usually anti-anything Facebook. I’m there, and I use it, but I really hate the damn thing. And it’s really just a means to an end. But anyway. It had to do with making a Goal List. And sharing with others… for multiple reasons. On the one hand it forces you to be accountable for those easier to attain goals when other people are watching out and keeping track. On the other hand, you can pick up some pretty awesome ideas from other people participating. One of these happens to be to learn how to play the ukulele. For a hundred and one reasons other than the damn thing is cute as hell, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a stringed instrument. I don’t have the coordination to try the violin, and anyway… no effing frets! The guitar intimidates me**. Plus my teeny hands make it really hard for me to do a lot of the chords. I just don’t have the reach, and I get that funny cramp in the meaty part of the thumb. Ugh, So annoying. So… yeah. Ukulele. It showed up today. I should take pictures of it. It’s way cute. And purple. And a beginner ukulele. If I suck hardcore at playing I didn’t want to drop hundreds of dollars. That will come when I can play a proper song and NOT have it sound like I’m killing small animals.

Then there is the typewriter. I bought a manual typewriter. I don’t know where the idea came from (probably Fringe), but I got this hair up my butt that I needed a typewriter. I found one on craigslist for pretty cheap, went down to Sacramento to meet the guy and pick it up. It’s been tons of fun writing little journal entries on these smaller A5 sized sheets of paper, but also to write really short stories. Mostly because at first I figured I need to WRITE ALL OF THE THINGS (ala Hyperbole and a Half). Or that it needed to be amazing. So I decided to write short things I made up on the spot and go from there. I need to learn the rhythm and tempo of typing on a manual typewriter anyway.

I will say, between the ukulele and the typewriter, my fingers are screaming bloody murder over here. Good thing I’m right handed!

I will say this. I will get Madeline’s pattern written and up in the story sometime this weekend… with better pictures. And I will start work on the next free pattern. And work on another thing for a friend. Well dammit. I’ll get Madeline’s pattern written. That’s goal #1. After that… who knows. Maybe I’ll knit myself a damn house!

** Story about this… I had convinced a friend to give me some lessons, cause he is an ah-may-zing guitar and bass player. And I’m not kidding you, we sat there the entire time. Doing nothing. He needed me to strum, and I couldn’t do it. I felt like such an idiot. I couldn’t strum the guitar in front of another person. I felt stupid and foolish. And the guitar could eat me and my tiny little hands. I never brought my guitar over to his house again. I was far too terrified I’d make a fool of myself again. And realized I have horrific stage fright.

Needless to say, I sold my first pattern today, and I’m so very squee about it.

 


Free Pattern: Chomsky (now available)

Chomsky

Listing my pattern on etsy means that there was an awful lot of people who said some amazingly nice things to me. Most of them, of course, were my friends. Along with all of the usual I got a handful of suggestions as well. Some of them were ideas that I had thought about anyway, like writing some free patterns to offer here on the site. I also had a few requests for crochet patterns.

So I created Chomsky tonight to be a crochet pattern that I will be offering for free on the free patterns page or you can download him [here].

One of the best parts of coming up with patterns is thinking about how I want them to look. When Chomsky was originally designed I was sitting at Starbucks with one of my best friends enjoying a coffee (or two). I love doodling on my iPad, but I’m a terrible artist. Truly horrible. One of the best things about being terrible at drawing is that my knit and crochet little monster don’t need to be beautiful on paper… or screen. They only need to be feasibly transferable to yarn in some form or another.

Chomsky ended up being a bit darker in color than my original drawing, but I rather like the darker shade of yarn. I also wasn’t 100% sure how to make the feet work. I tried to crochet some more 3-D feet, but it just wasn’t working. Instead I ended up felting the yarn, so I gave up on crocheting some little feet… which really are more toes. Though I’m not disappointed by how his feet ended up after all.

This little guy is a pretty fast project. I almost want to try a different yarn and see if I can make him in a bigger size. Though I’m really loving my teeny little monsters.

Don’t be afraid to send a message with pictures of your completed Chomsky’s! I look forward to seeing what colors you’ve chosen!

 


Taking my Time

It’s difficult for me to remember when I used to just rush through making amis. I wanted them to be done and I didn’t care if it wasn’t perfect. Except, over many years I started to pride myself on the fact that it wasn’t how quickly I could produce a doll, but how lovely it was when I finished. And I wanted to know that my attention to detail meant I was creating a better quality product.

I do the largest portion of my creating late at night. I’m often so excited I break out the camera and try to go take some photos immediately. Except the pictures never turn out quite the way I want, but I make do. A little bit of playing around in photoshop and I can get them to be a little bit better.

Except they don’t look like the photos I see on etsy. Or ebay. Or craftgawker. And this bothers me.

So I googled how to take better photos and found a handful of really good ideas for transforming a box into a little macro photo studio. I also read few times that sunny days in the shade are the best. Except with it being the rainy season, even the sunny days tend to be rather windy. I’d prefer not to bother with the wind, but I do get some good sun in some rooms of the house. So maybe with the right equipment, and some ‘daylight’ bulbs for my desklamp, I might be able to produce some better photos without having to buy a new camera.

Here’s to hoping. I’m on my way to the craft store to pick up some supplies now.


Pepe is now on Sale!

So without further ado, I finally got Pepe’s PDF finished and listed on Etsy. I was kind of terrified and a little relieved. Pepe is also available for purchase through Ravelry, if you’d prefer to get it there.

 This is my first venture into selling patterns. Hopefully the momentum sticks and I’ll be motivated to not only design the others I’ve got sketches for, but to get them all typed up and ready. I learned a lot about creating this PDF for Pepe. I learned a lot about taking pictures (even bad ones). I learned about taking notes (as I stated in the previous post).

But most of all I’m looking forward to seeing more Pepe’s in different sizes and colors!


The creation of the first pattern for sale.

When I first started getting these brilliant ideas for various patterns, I always thought the hardest part was remembering to write down changes, and keep track of what I was doing. Since so much is largely experimental, I had to remember what I was doing and what I was changing. I’ve come to learn that the hardest thing is taking good pictures of your creation FOR the pattern.

When I first made Pepe, I took a few pictures on my iPhone, but I never expected those to actually be the photos used for the pattern. Especially since I took no shots of his tushy. And that I was playing around with HDR settings because I was taking the photos under some pretty shitty lighting. When I imported those same iPhone photos to my computer and got to look at them in Photoshop, I started to realize it was absolutely horrible. I tried playing around with hue, saturation, sharpness, etc, but not a single one of them actually was salvageable in their current state. So I dug out my digital camera (which I found absolutely amusing it was stashed with my sonic screwdrivers) and went to take some pictures. Except, I had no where to take them!

I went looking for a light colored sheet. And a place with some decent lighting. Something to help prop up the mini monsters. It became this whole process to get some decent pictures. I haven’t actually looked at them yet, since I felt this need to blog about it. But next on the list is to go through all of the new photos and see what I can use in the pattern (and whether or not I will have to take more).

I am thankful for a handful of things though. My notes. I had a bunch of extra notes, which helped make the writing of the pattern process go smoothly. Different colored pens. I started writing my pattern with the lightest color (a green), then used pink, blue, and black. This might sound kind of ridiculous, but when I was frogging bits and starting again, it meant I could make a few minutes and still be able to understand what I was writing because I knew what order the colored pens were used in. Extras and tidbits. I’m hoping that these will help make things easier on people who want to recreate Pepe in a similar way. I’m glad I took note of these things and how I achieved it.

I’m hoping to be able to get the pattern finished, ask a few friends to proof-read, and then post on etsy and ravelry by Friday.


To sell or not to sell

When it comes to designing stuff on your own, there comes a moment when you have to decide to either write down every single mistake and step, and then go through the process of typing it all into a pattern that might have some semblance of coherency. And then deciding on how and to whom to publish through. As a crafter, whenever I was stuck without a pattern for what I wanted, I just made it up. Sometimes this meant that things went horribly bad and I spent more time frogging projects than making projects. Other times I got lucky with what I was doing and it worked out really well.

Here’s an example of when it worked out well. A holiday Xmas wreath I made quite a few years ago for a silent auction at work. This was taken on a really crappy camera phone (nothing like the cameras available on even iPhones now). But this is an example of a time when my experimentation… just worked!

crochet wreath

I wish I had some photos of the failed experiments, but I don’t have any of those. Because who wants pictorial evidence of one’s failures?? Yeah, me either. Once I started making amigurumi dolls, I wanted to keep going. I wanted to make my own. I had all of these great plans to write patterns for these amazing ideas in my head! Unlike a million other creative outlets, crochet was something I was actually good at doing.

Mirella the bunny (named after a friend of mine, who would wear a dress like this in a heartbeat!). Another experiment where I took 2-4 different amigurumi patterns and worked/re-worked bits to fit into what I wanted/needed. She turned out well, better than I expected, but I stopped writing down what I was doing.

Mirella the Bunny

But I was lazy. And tired. And getting old. My hand were hurting after a couple of hours of working. What I wanted was to keep going and going, but my hands and wrists argued with me and chose otherwise. Enter: Knitting. Knitting has been amazing for creativity, as well as my hands and wrists. I don’t get the same pain crafting with needles as I did with crochet hooks. And so… the love began.

So, to make a really long story short, after working on many different Danger Crafts monster patterns, I decided that no only do I absolutely love making monsters, but I liked the knitting portion as well. And thus began the process of making dolls with knitting instead of crochet. I had only seen fairly ugly and unattractive dolls that were knit, and my brain just couldn’t understand how to get knitting to look good in smaller, more intricate patterns in the same way that crocheted dolls did. But Rebecca Danger’s monster dolls (and even her other animal dolls) are very cute. And definitely NOT ugly.

I don’t know where the idea for mini monsters was born. I think it was a little bit of making ornaments and the simplicity of it. The fact that it was a fast knit, and I was able to create an object, a finished object, in a couple of days. Before, like say, Mirella, it would take me at least 2 weeks to complete. I prefer the finished doll within a couple of day over weeks worth of work.

And so the mini monsters project was born. But now I’m stuck with a different dilemma. Do I type up the notes and patterns and offer them for sale? What do I offer for free to bring people to the site? I mean, it seems only fair that I should offer at least a handful of my patterns for anyone and everything. But at the same time I’d also like my time and energies to yield me a little bit of money.

So I’m stuck between trying to figure out which patterns I should sell for a small fee, and which patterns I should offer for free. Needless to say, that’s the only reason why Pepe‘s pattern is not up and available just yet. I also finished Madeline, but I’m saving those photos just now. I’ve got 4 more designs drawn and will likely spend the remainder of the week working on at least the two mini monsters patterns that I plan on offering for free. Until then I’m hoping I can remember to blog more often.


Pepe the Petite Knit Monster

A few months ago I bought a bunch of Danger Crafts patterns. I don’t remember if I got them from etsy or ravelry, but I made a bunch of them as gifts for various people. And then I got a wee bit burned out on them. I even have one half finished sitting on a table somewhere.

Brown Teddy Ornament

I also got to making some Teddy Ornaments as an Xmas gift. And it got me to thinking about smaller projects that were quicker to finish, but still really cute and adorable!
So I decided to start making some teeny monsters. Including the writing of the pattern! Which if you know me at all, you know that I always start with the best pattern-writing intentions… and almost always stop mid-way through and I give up on the taking notes bit. So, after quite a lot of experimentation, I came up with Pepe. He’s very cute, and I really like him. I hope other people do too.

Pepe waving

Here’s Pepe waving hello to everyone. I’m rather fond of his smirky face, and smudge.

Pepe in my hand

And here’s Pepe in my hand for sizing reference.

I still need to go through and type up the pattern, but I will likely get that done tomorrow sometime.


Finishing Projects

I have this terrible tendency to start projects and not finish them. When I went digging through my mostly packed boxes of yarn and projects (I was supposed to have moved months ago, but life prevented me from doing so) I came to realize just how many projects I start and don’t finish. There was one in particular I was looking for because I wanted to finish it up. It took me an hour of looking through boxes and bags before I found it. And in the process I found some 10+ other unfinished projects.

I’m hoping to get some of these projects finished over the coming days, in between all the new stuff I need to get started on.

Today I spent most of the day finishing up the knit monster twins. Their faces are glued on, and last thing I need to do is add some threading along the edges of the felt to keep those edges from coming up. One of the funniest photos I took was of the book and box smashing their faces with their legs sticking out.

Since all the knitting was done, I started up on another monster which is turning into a much cuter thing than I expected. The twins and the new one are for the kids of a friend (the older sister can’t get nothing just because of the new babies, right?!). After I finish up this monster I’m starting on WendyKnits’ Summer Mystery Shawlette.

I’m kind of excited. I’ve never participated in a mystery anything with regard to knitting, so this will be a fun project. Not to mention that I’ll get to use some of my stash yarn (since I have SO much of it).

I’ll share photos of all the monsters once mom, dad and babies have been able to see them all. Until then, I’ll try to get some photos of the other UFOs I’m getting finished.


First Monster Finished

I only took me a couple of days to complete the first Danger Crafts knit monster. My friends have all said wonderful things about it and I’ve even gotten a handful of requests for some to be made.

I took a couple of days off before starting the next one, and this guy is a beast!! 60 rows for the belly portion! He’s taking much longer to complete but I’ve discovered a handful of things while working on the new monster.

First: I can knit without looking at. My hands so long as it’s only knit stitches (and since I’m working in the round, the monster is done in stockinette). And Second: I can knit and read at the same time. This is amazing news, especially for doing redundant things like making big bellies. It does seem to slow my mnitting down a little bit, but I’m able to do two things at once. This is HUGE for me. I truly never thought I would be that knitting, believing that reading and knitting was an exaggeration. It really isn’t. And it’s really possible.

And now for Dot.

Dot the knit monster


Monsters and 3 Needle Bind-Off

The crafting has been slow going now that the weather has gotten warmer. I find myself out a little more, or playing video games. My friend and I decided that we would try to make some amiguruimi’s in preparation of Xmas time. Except that creating patterns are unpleasant and annoying. I end up jotting down everything, but never want to work in the details. So I’ve got a few patterns mostly finished. I also have a handful of others that are just ideas in the back of my mind.

Recently I decided to start knitting some dolls instead. Particularly Rebecca Danger‘s monster dolls. I’ve been wanting to make some of the adorable monsters from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and since S and I decided to take a break from the imopssible eye project (that’s worthy of another blog entry, to be honest).

I started late last night, after having been up for some 30+ hours and accomplished a foot. I knew that I wanted to get this adorable thing finished.

Monster head bind-off

I’ve never been the type to read ahead, so instead I jumped right in. I also had no idea what was going to happen when it came time to reaching the top of the head. But when I found myself at that part of the pattern I almost gasped. I needed to do a 3-needle bind-off. Shit.

Monster head

I don’t like not knowing everything, or being able to figure it out on my own. So this forced me to break out the iPad and do some searching. So a quick google search landed me at one of my favorite knitting sites because the videos are excellent. The casting off page at Knittinghelp.com gives the best videos of how to do this. And so, the top of my monster’s head is finished.

I’ve just started on one of the arms and can’t wait to finish this little guy off. Can’t wait.