Best of Happy Handmade 2014 Part 6 – Inanimate objects

I have been posting pictures of my favorite custom orders and creations completed last year and here’s the final post – part six! If you missed my last five, be sure to go see the first (barn bag)second (dogs), third (Double Fine creations), fourth (animals), and fifth (characters) posts in the series.

Last year I made some fun and memorable inanimate objects. I forgot to take a picture of the s’more I made for the craft show, but I did capture this adorable toaster along with his happy toast buddy!15631936833_5745234b77_k

They also can morph into Christmas ornaments!toaster and toast

 

 

You can’t have toast in the morning without a cup of coffee. I made this mug for an amazing client who gave it as a gift to the owners of Hoboken Coffee. She even sent me a bag of Hoboken Coffee beans! <3

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From coffee mugs to electric guitars…I’ve always got a new crocheting adventure! DSC_0065 DSC_0057-001DSC_0063

The year 2014 was a great one for custom orders. Thank you to all my customers for the fun challenges. It’s often the things I have the hardest time making that I appreciate the most. Thanks to photography, I can continue to treasure these creations, too!

 

 

Best of 2014 Part 3 – Double Fine friends!

I have been posting pictures of my favorite custom orders completed last year and here’s part 3! If you missed my last two, be sure to go see the first (barn bag) and second (dogs) posts in the series.

My husband works for Double Fine Productions and, last year, I got to make this giant Two-Headed Baby (the company’s mascot!) Two-Headed Baby is definitely the largest and one of the most complicated amigurumi I’ve ever made. It was a fun challenge.Double FineTwo-Headed Baby

Last year, my husband got to work on a game prototype called Little Pink Best Buds (for Pendleton Ward’s Amnesia Fortnight game pitch) and I ended up making several of these Buds:DSC_0155DSC_0188-001Little Pink Best Buds

I also got to make this pair of zombies based on the two main characters from Dirt Nap, a web comic by Double Fine designer Gabe Cinquepalmi. The exposed chunk of brain is my favorite little detail… DSC_0056 DSC_0064

 

 

One more week!

I have one week until my California craft show debut at Patchwork Show Oakland in Jack London Square from 11am-5pm! All weekend I’ve been playing around with my table set-up and crafting some cute signage and tags to make my little booth stand out among the other 139 booths that will be there that day.

I haven’t posted in what has felt like forever. I’ve been steadily working my way through my long “to-crochet list,” a list that only seems to grow instead of shrink, a list that is difficult to prioritize as everyone likes something and I could crochet and put a Happy Handmade smile on just about anything! I’ve made a lot of new things and made some old favorites in different colors. We took a trip to a park today to photograph them before I (hopefully) sell them!

Here’s a small sampling of what you could see next Sunday afternoon:DSC_0210 DSC_0193  DSC_0178 DSC_0159 DSC_0149 DSC_0135 DSC_0100 DSC_0097

I’ll try to post another batch midway through the week! There are so many more!

Margot’s Woodland-Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Birthday season has hit! For the next three-four months, I will be in a constant state of distraction. Once I have a birthday theme in my head, I have a really hard time thinking about anything else. I find myself wanting to crochet some woodland creatures this week, so I thought I’d write up a little recap of Margot’s recent woodland-themed 2nd birthday party.

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Like most toddlers, my daughter loves animals. She also loves big slides…the bigger and steeper the better. She is a very brave little two-year-old. That’s why I chose to have her party at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo, the home of a really cute mini-zoo that houses mostly native woodland animals as well as a cool hands-on science center, extensive picnic spots, and a truly awesome playground that features a two (maybe three?) story metal tube slide. Perfect.

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I decided to have a morning party, mostly to honor toddler nap times. I was nervous about a morning party, due to my typical pre-party hysteria, but I did a little extra organizing  to prepare for a possible morning Mommy meltdown, and all went well. Instead, I had the meltdown late the night before when my handmade frittatas came out of the oven looking like ugly, rubbery, flying saucers. I ditched them and my husband ordered Panera catering which we picked up on the way to the park the next morning.

He loves me….and has come to expect this sort of foodtastrophe. There’s one for every party. I always have high hopes for my baking/cooking skills, but realize a little more every year that I should just stick to the birthday crafting and delegate food prep to others who may be a bit more capable…and focused.

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Luckily, the “cake,” which is usually the source of my agony, turned out really well! A few months back, Margot got her first taste of sticky buns at a Walt Disney World character breakfast and, I swear, I’ve never seen her more full of glee than while eating those things. She thought Tigger was terrible, but those sticky buns were amaaaazing. When I decided on having a picnic brunch at the park, I knew I had to make her sticky buns. That’s when I found recipes for these sticky bun cakes (otherwise known as monkey bread/rolls) all over Pinterest that use frozen yeast rolls, butterscotch pudding mix, butter and pecans that you let rise, bake for awhile and then flip upside down for the magical, gooey, gorgeous reveal. Margot’s sticky bun birthday “cake” turned out great, and looked cute, too, thanks to these free Woodland-themed printables I found and adapted for my purposes.

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I also used the free woodland animal themed ears that I attached pretty colored ribbon to for the kids (and grown-ups!) to wear at the party.

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I set out picnic blankets, a basket of books with woodland themes, and a couple stuffed woodland animals and it looked super cute.

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My husband and I had debated for a while about whether or not the sticky bun cake counted as a cake. He felt that a traditional cake or, at the least, cupcakes had to be present in order for a birthday party to feel like a birthday party. I felt like no one wanted toddlers to have cupcakes for breakfast and anything can feel like a cake if it has candles. We compromised. I made zucchini-carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting. Then I found this adorable idea for owl cupcakes here that I copied on the big muffins.

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I turned the mini-muffins into little flowers with loopy petals and candied sunflower seed centers. A box of bagels, a few quartered egg soufflees, and a big box of coffee from the on-the-fly Panera trip, and the brunch turned out to be really yummy and not super stressful.

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The kids played on the giant playground while the adults supervised and snacked.

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Then we sang to Margot (which, surprisingly, made her really uncomfortable), I blew out her candles for her, and we packed up for the trip to Curiodyssey so we could all see an actual owl, fox, coyote, badger, and other assorted animals.

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We even got to pet an opossum!

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She looked so much like my own Olivia!

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We looked for otters, but they were sleeping, so Margot took their place.

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We had a ton of fun playing in the science center, too!

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I was nervous about a party away from the house, but I was really pleased with it and think everyone had a great time. As usual, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of some of the cute party decor as I wanted to. Jhonen helped me string the Happy Birthday letters on the banner and assemble a 3D paper owl kit we got on clearance at Michaels. I printed out personalized woodland-themed bookmarks and tied them with ribbon to brown paper bags filled with woodland animal bath squirters, teddy grahams, and animal stickers. Each bookmark was a different animal and, all lined up together, they looked really cute, but I didn’t think to get a picture. Here’s Margot’s little bag, though.

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I was so happy with this party. It felt laid-back, comfortable, and fun. Most importantly of all, Margot seemed to love every minute and it made me so happy to see her enjoy her special day.

Margot at two years old

One of these years I WILL crochet thematically appropriate birthday favors. I will! One of these days I will also crochet both my kids an amigurumi to go with each themed birthday we’ve done. In that case, I need to make a couple bumblebees, an owl, a car, a volcano, and a fish.

All that thinking about woodland animals has me wanting to make a hedgehog, a fox (my favorite!), and a variety of owls. I’m hoping to work on at least one of those this week and, if I do, I’ll be sure to introduce it to you. I won’t make any promises, though, as I now have less than a month to plan Jhonen’s Volcano-themed 5th birthday party!

I really love planning birthday parties. Makes me think I should be doing more of it…

 

It’s Adventure Time!

How appropriate that, while on our first big adventure back to Florida since we moved away, I’d be asked to crochet Finn, Jake, and Lumpy Space Princess from one of our favorite TV shows, Adventure Time. If you’ve never watched it, you should give it a try. The show is incredibly charming and fun.

I had already crocheted these three characters before, but it had been a long time. In fact, Jake was one of the first things I ever crocheted. I realized a few weeks after I had finished that first Jake that I had crocheted the whole thing inside out! I made a Finn counterpart for Ben’s birthday one year, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with how he turned out either, so I was a little nervous about how I was going to improve upon both designs.

I was also incredibly nervous about our trip back to Florida. It was just me and the kids on the long flight there and back and I knew there would be a lot of scheduling and organizing upon our arrival as we wanted to see as many people as possible while we were there. I also knew there would be a lot of conflicting emotions and that it might be especially difficult for my son Jhonen who definitely misses his friends and family and the familiarity that comes with calling a place home for your entire life.

As usual, I didn’t really need to be nervous. The flight there went amazingly well. We enjoyed lots of Disney time, pool time, and family/friend time. We wore lots of sundresses, sunhats, and flip-flops. We rode horses, built sandcastles, posed for photos with Alice in Wonderland, and, lazed in a lazy river. We had so much fun spending time with the people we’ve missed for months, though I noticed Jhonen excitedly talking about his new California house and friends, too.

When we weren’t out on our adventures, I was crocheting these new Adventure Time buddies: Finn from Adventure Time!DSC_0093Jake from Adventure Time! Lumpy Space Princess Amigurumi   DSC_0113 It was hard to say our “until next times” to Florida, but we are happy to be back in California, a place that really is starting to feel like home. And just as we were settling back in on the West Coast, I had to ship my new and improved Finn, Jake, and Lumpy Space Princess right back East.

It was hard to say goodbye to them, too…though I hear they love their new home. And starting next week, Finn and Jake will join Lumpy Space Princess in my shop. Hopefully these guy’s counterparts are going to have tons of adventures with wonderful new people…from coast to coast.

Meet Brody the Surfing Frog!

Meet Brody! He’s lean, he’s green, he’s a surfing machine. At just over three inches tall, Brody is small of stature, but big and very brave of spirit. This little froggy surfer dude wears orange board shorts, always has his white surfboard at hand, and there’s a smile on his face every day…as long as there is sand beneath his…feet?

Brody, the kids, and I went to Crown Memorial State Beach recently. Being a Florida girl, it feels pretty weird to wear closed-toed shoes and sweatshirts to the beach, but there’s something charming about it, too. The kids got filthy, Brody enjoyed watching the parasurfers, and I took lots of pictures. We loved it.

DSC_0059DSC_0047-001DSC_0016  DSC_0056 DSC_0065  DSC_0068 DSC_0087 DSC_0089 DSC_01108748056721_031b18e061_b DSC_00668749182738_92d03eb997_b 8749183634_b7a515b32c_b Crown Memorial Beach Alameda8748062305_6427fb3881_bIn case you were wondering, under that volleyball net is the San Francisco skyline…something else I may never get used to. It still delights and surprises me every time I see it.

Brody flew across the country to Florida to check out Jacksonville’s warm waves. The kids and I will be headed that direction soon, too, on our first trip back since we moved. I look forward to digging my feet into that familiar, soft, white, Florida sand after kicking off a pair of flip-flops…but for those two weeks I’ll miss the California rocks and those misty, curving Bay area hills.

 

Latest Creations!

Amigurumi Elephant

Lately, I’ve made my usual elephants,  narwhals, and turtles and shipped them off to all corners of the United States. This week, I’m sending a pig to England!

Amigurumi BuddiesBut 2013 has started off with many other varied and unique custom order crocheted buddies – from Sprout Network favorites Star and Chica to crazy Starcraft creations like an Overlord and a Colossus to Bubba and Raiden, a pair of very special doggies. Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddy Starcraft Amigurumi Buddy Starcraft Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddies Amigurumi Buddy Amigurumi Buddy

I can’t believe it is already mid-March. I’m finding my business growing slowly, but still steadily. For the first time ever, I have 20 items for sale in my shop and I hope to have 25 up by the end of the month. I also hope to start posting a new amigurumi pattern for sale in my shop each month, something I’ve been wanting to do since I started this Etsy site. I have a hard time sitting down to the computer for long periods of time with two kids under 5 years old always needing me for…something! It’s a good thing crocheting is a portable hobby! Still, I have many patterns sitting on my computer written in my own weird shorthand, begging to be written out properly and shared.

And for my next custom order project, I have a very special albino alligator to create for a very special little birthday girl. It blows my mind when I think of how many little crocheted critters have been a part of so many people’s special celebrations. That’s the BEST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher Robin (and his silly old bear)

The request for a nine-inch-tall Christopher Robin made me smile. I have fond memories of my mother teaching me about pooh sticks and tiddly poms and Christopher Robin saying, “silly old bear.”  The excitement turned to nervousness when the reality set in that I had to somehow differentiate him as Christopher Robin vs. any other male figure.

I don’t make human figures often and any time I get a request to make one I get nervous. It’s weird. I don’t like painting or drawing portraits, either. In amigurumi world, though, humans pose all sorts of tricky problems. There are lots of ways to make hair, but they are all a little tedious and problematic. Embroider it? Knot it on? Crochet it?

Getting the right proportions are also really important, but hard to judge as you go. Are the legs a bit too long? The arms a bit too skinny? Plus, you have the debate about how cartoony vs. realistic to make the person. Should it actually have fingers? Should the legs start fat and get skinnier or the other way around?

Then you have to try and get it to stand on it’s own….or should it sit? Make a neck or don’t bother? Should clothes be part of the  body or separate from the body? How the heck am I supposed to make a V-neck??

I took a deep breath, stared at lots of pictures and made several to-scale drawings. By the end of the project, I had really learned a lot. Most of all, I learned to trust that I have finally gotten to the point where I can really make just about anything I set my mind to making!

I sat down one evening with the goal to get the right shaped head. That way, I could judge every other piece against the head size. I went to bed that night with a head – a head I was sure was all wrong. This was going to be impossible. How could I make him actually look like Christopher Robin? How can I impart youth into a crocheted person?

The next morning I thought, if starting with the head wasn’t going to work for me, then I’d start with the feet and build up from there. I worked on one shoe and, when I was finished with the shoe I found myself surprised and delighted by the result! From nothing, I ended up with this cute little loafer! I could have just made it bigger and Margot could have worn it! Then I thought, if I could do the shoe, then I can do the sock to go in it. Before I knew it, I had a sock! It was easy enough to stick a leg inside that sock and some shorts on top and I realized, I can do this! Why hadn’t I trusted that I would make this work? Why can’t I remember that I always make it work in the end? I was also glad for the extra practice making clothing that looks like it’s being worn (the sleeves go over the arms, the shorts go over the legs, etc.)

Even once I had the entire body finished, including that darn collar, I still looked at the smile-less head staring at me and worried. He still didn’t look like Christopher Robin. I actually had to tell myself to just go for it. Start some hair, increase when it feels right and decrease when it needs to be a little smaller. Before I knew it, this little boy had a full head of hair and had been transformed from Charlie Brown into Christopher Robin! It’s hard to stare at a blank head and imagine that it can turn into a cute little boy, but it just did. It sort of shocked me this time, I’ll be honest. The hair swoop was the definite crowning achievement.

Then came the final test. I stood him up (my heart pounding a bit faster than it should be considering we’re talking about amigurumi not, like, heart surgery). He stood! Without propping! Oh, happy day.

And, hopefully a happy birthday to a little girl turning three. I hope it’s something she cherishes, even if just for that day. It feels good to complete a project, proud of the result, but it feels especially good when you know the finished product has a good home to go to.

He also needed a little something, so I decided to make him a tiny Winnie-the-Pooh. He just didn’t seem to be complete without his Pooh-bear.

Final, and maybe most important note about this project, this Christopher Robin picture shows him standing in front of a watercolor painting I did years ago. I’ve been wanting to paint and create other mixed media backgrounds for my amigurumi creations for a long time, but just haven’t had the time or mindset to really go for it. I also wasn’t sure that they would look very good. At the last minute, before packaging up Christopher Robin, I remembered that picture of the forest I had painted and thought I’d use that as the Hundred Acre Wood. I am really excited by the result! I know that it will probably be a while before I can realistically commit to making my own photo backgrounds, but I now know that I definitely want to.