The Tooth Fairy

With young children in our home, we have had many visits from the tooth fairy! She comes in and spreads her sparkle and cheer after the trauma of a tooth coming out (I really think the tooth fairy should bring a treat to the parents too!). Anyway, I’m planning on trying to sell some products again at a market and have had this pattern for a little tooth fairy pillow stashed away for awhile (http://www.mooglyblog.com/crochet-tooth-pillow/). I really love the patterns found on Moogly. I have yet to find one that is too hard and they are often cute, quirky little things!

The market is going to be for parents with children and I thought that this product might be popular with a tooth losing crowd! I made a few up and love it! They’re easy to make, very colourful and customisable and quick! I’m looking forward to taking them and seeing if they sell or not! If they don’t, I know two little girls who will be claiming them!

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Turtle mania!

Life has been crazy lately! Very crazy! I have a number of projects that I’ve completed and am keen to share with you all but photographing them and getting them on the blog just seems to be an insurmountable task. So today, I am going to look back to an older project. My youngest daughter is not your conventional girly girl. She loves blue, dinosaurs and teenage mutant ninja turtles! I decided that I wanted to make her her own turtle to cuddle and love. I searched the internet and found a great pattern by wolf dreamer ( http://www.wolfdreameroth.com/2011/03/tmnt-michaelangelo.html). It was the most realistic pattern I could find and I loved it. So I set about making it. It was fiddly, with lots of little bits and pieces and I despaired of ever finishing it but I kept going and ended up with this critter. She loved him!

I vowed I would never make another. I went back on that. My daughter has a little friend who is just like her. I made her the same one for her birthday. I vowed that was the last one. Uh uh. My oldest daughter was invited to a birthday party for one of the boys in her class. His favourite turtle was Leonardo, so I had to alter the pattern myself to create his swords but I did an admirable job. He too loved his turtle. His Mum told me later that he said he was going to keep it as an heirloom for his children! What a sweetheart! That one was my last but I’m pretty proud of how they turned out!

Princess Present

I’m excited to share with you the first of my Christmas presents!  My sister is a fan of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (this made things easier as I was a Little Mermaid fan, so there was no fighting!).  I came across these Princess Dress Blankets (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/princess-dress-blanket-yellow) and I wanted to make one for her for Christmas.  As the yarn used is #4 weight, which is virtually impossible to get here, it took awhile to gather my supplies, but, finally, with the help of one of my American friends, I was able to get a contrasting gold that actually looked nice with the lemon and I was ready to begin.  It still took a little while before I could bring myself to start it – it seemed like a fairly big project, thus time-consuming and I just didn’t have the heart for it.  It eventually got to the point that if I didn’t get it started, I wasn’t going to get it finished for Christmas, so it was begun.  I started it numerous times, trying to get the sizing right and the colour placement.  I decided that I wanted to switch the colours up a bit from the original pattern so it was a more accurate match to the film.  Once I had all that figured out, the bodice worked up really quickly and I was encouraged that this project may not be as time-consuming as I had feared.  Then, I started the bodice.  Although the pattern repeats to a certain degree, it was not one that was a smooth repeat that got stuck in my head and I could power on with.  It was a fairly slow and laborious design that required a lot of concentration (a lot of frogging was involved!).  There is a mistake in there somewhere.  I can see it and, although it bothers me, I didn’t have the heart to frog back to it and fix it.  My sister is not a crocheter, so I know it isn’t going to bother her!  I read once in a book that mistakes make a piece unique – slightly different from all the others that people have made.  I’m going with that, and mine is unique!  Anyway, I finally finished it (the weather was warming up and I was glad to have it finished so I could concentrate on smaller things that were cooler to work on!) and I’m quite happy with the end result.  My sister was pleased with her present – she’s just going to have to wait awhile before she can use it (the weather here has been in the high 30 – 40 degrees Celsius for the last week and there’s not much relief in sight!).  P.S. the lady in the photo is not my sister!  She is a friend who was gracious enough to be a model for me!

Butterflies in my garden!

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After completing last year’s projects, I had one of those “I just don’t know what to do” slumps in my crochet.  I wandered around aimlessly looking at my yarn but not coming up with anything interesting to make that really inspired me.  Thankfully, that slump has passed!  I’ve already completed a few smaller projects that I am really looking forward to sharing with you – along with my Christmas projects.  I’m off to a successful start for the year!

In amongst all that I have a friend whose daughter had her birthday on the weekend.  It was early in the week when I had the thought that I had forgotten to buy a present.  This friend is one of those rare people who TRULY appreciates hand-made items, so I thought that I might make something for her.  The next question was what.  I didn’t have much time before the party, so it needed to be quick but also effective and interesting.  And then I remembered that I had seen these little critters by Lalylala (http://www.lalylala.com/).  I am not a butterfly lover (I hear you gasping – it’s a childhood trauma thing!) but I have always loved the electric blue of Ulysses butterflies, so I settled on this one.

It was so much fun to make.  It made up really quickly (so you felt you were getting somewhere) and the instructions were fairly easy to follow.  The only part I struggled a little on was the edging of the wings (and that was down to my left-handedness) otherwise, it made up just as the pattern said!

The part I love about it is that the hat and the wings come off, so you  can have a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly (there is a pattern for a cocoon but I didn’t have time to make that as well!).

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It’s such a sweet little thing and I’d definitely recommend her patterns!  I also gave the wings a quick blocking, and I had to include this picture because it looked like a museum specimen laid out!

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Scrub-a-dub-dub

Firstly, I think I need to let you know the results of my market entries.  Sadly, I had zero success.  I was trying to prepare myself for the fact that that could happen, but I think I was secretly hoping I’d sell at least one thing!  Anyway, I’ve tried it and have a better idea of what to do next time.  I was also told that not a lot of things sold – many people were looking but not buying, so it may have just been in the wrong market for the time.  But, failure teaches us things and I’ll be better equipped in the future!

Earlier this year, I wrote about my experiments with reusable dishcloths.  I’m still using them and still loving them.  My only problem was that I still needed to buy non-scratch scourers for cleaning my pots and pans.  I had been seeing “scrubby” yarn online for a while and this yarn seemed to be used to make just such a product, the only problem was it was very expensive – especially when you added in the shipping charge to Australia.  However, Lincraft finally started stocking their version of this yarn.  I bought some and made up a quick little flower dishcloth scrubby.  I haven’t photographed it, but it is probably the size of my palm.  It is not quite as effective as a store bought scourer, but it does do the job with just a little bit of elbow grease – and the benefit is that it is washable and reusable! So, when I’m scrubbing away and feeling a bit grumpy that I’m having to scrub so hard, I just remind myself of the environmental benefits of what I am using and my patience is restored!

I do also think that a bigger scrubby might be a little easier to handle.  I knitted up a Santa belly one for Christmas and will have to give it a go to see if the larger size is easier to use and if the knitted weave is better or worse that the crocheted one.

A lot of what we do as crafters and just in life is experimentation – trying different methods until we find the one that works just right for our own needs.  And when it involves crochet or knitting, I’m happy to experiment away as much as I can!!

 

The Santa Gnome

I’m discovering that it is difficult to run a blog about my crochet exploits around this time of year!  I’m busy working on teacher gifts and gifts for my family but none of them are completely finished and ready to be shared.  Life is also ramping up in it’s busyness.  I’m face painting more, leaving less free time in my week and there are even days when *gasp* I barely get to pick up my crochet hook at all (thankfully not too many of those – phew!).  However, I am plodding away on things – and lots of these gifts I won’t be able to share with you until after Christmas has passed as those recipients read this blog!

Today though, I thought I might share with you my Scandanavian Santa Gnome (https://www.1dogwoof.com/scandinavian-santa-gnome-amigurumi/).  He’s finished and I love him!  He is the perfect size to sit in my wreath, but he is weighted down with poly pellets and the jury is still out as to whether he will be too heavy and put too much pressure on the delicate foam and crochet wreath.

Once again, ChiWei has written a fabulous pattern, that was easy to follow and made making all the little bits a pleasure – until I got to the beard.  Oh my, how I hated that beard.  I thought it wouldn’t take too long, but splitting all of those pieces of yarn took F O R E V E R!  However, I am thrilled with the finished product and wouldn’t change a thing!

Christmas is fast approaching, and we are well on the way to being in the swing of things.  We’ve started listening to Christmas music, and our plans are to put the Christmas decorations up next weekend, so we are looking forward to that (especially my girls – it’s gonna be fun!) and our Santa Gnome will finally find his place in our home for the yule season!

Fidget Blanket

I was recemtly commissioned to make a fidget blanket for a lovely gentleman who is suffering from Dementure.  I’ve attempted something similar before but in a much smaller format for a child with Autism to use as a calming/sensory tool while sitting on the mat with the class.  Basically, they have both involved having different textures to feel and things that can be played with to keep minds and fingers busy.  This particualr client went out and bought the “fidgety” things that would be added on, and kept in mind the likes and interests of the recipient when they were choosing what would be added.  They also wanted to keep a Port Adelaide Football Club theme to it, so I chose white, black and teal yarn to construct the blanket.  It’s made using basic granny squares single crocheted together and is big enough to fit comfortably cover the legs and lap of a tall adult.  This will have an added benefit for the recipient in that it will keep them warm in the cooler evenings of the year.  I placed the fidget squares where they would comfortably sit in my lap and be the easiest to reach and use.  It has metal flowers that are textured and raised, an Eiffel Tower, buttons in different shapes and textures, soft tassels, beads on a string that can be manipulated and a stretchy dinosaur (because honestly, who doesn’t love a stretchy dinosaur?).  My children were somewhat disturbed when I was sewing the dinosaur on as he was skewered by the needle to pass the yarn through!!

These are definitely an interesting concept.  From feedback I have received, I know the fidget muff was very helpful to the young child at school, allowing them to participate with the class and to concentrate better on what the teacher was saying.  I can only hope that the blanket will also be very helpful for my latest client and bring some calming when agitation begins.  They are certainly becoming more popular and are a great resource in nursing homes.  I had some discussion with a friend of mine who has worked in this field for many years when I was beginning this project and her suggestions were very helpful.

There are many ideas for these out there on the internet.  My favourite one is a cat, but it is not a crocheted piece.  Perhaps I can see some pattern designing coming up in my future!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

For those of you that don’t know me personally, you couldn’t yet know how much I love Christmas.  It is my absolute favourite time of the year.  I think it took even my husband by surprise – he’d seen my parent’s home decorated for Christmas, and my sister’s home but when we married and celebrated our first Christmas in our own home, I don’t think he was quite prepared for the onslaught of Christmas cheer!  And having children has only made it worse.  They are old enough now to love decorating and they egg me on to get more decorations each year (I’m proud to be passing this Christmas spirit down to the next generation!).

However, being a face painter means that this time of year is also my busiest time of year, and to survive it all, I have to be super organised and think ahead about everything.  This year, I decided to make a wreath for our home.  My plan was to put it on the front door, but it gets a lot of sun, and I’m worried that it will fade and render all my hard work useless, so it’s final display place is still up for debate.

I got the basic idea and instructions from this Attic 24 post http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2012/12/christmas-wreath-ta-dah.html, where she covers a foam wreath and decorates it with Christmas bits and bobs.   I decided to go a little more traditional with my colours, and used the Kringle Sparkle yarn from Spotlight.  I’ve doubled the strands because it is quite a thin yarn (I’ve had this in my cupboard for a year or more and have been told that this year’s batch is a little thicker!).  I’m loving it so far.  It is so beautiful and sparkly and Christmassy!  My plan is to add a Scandanavian Santa Gnome (https://www.1dogwoof.com/scandinavian-santa-gnome-amigurumi/) and some holly etc. once the wreath is finished.  It is getting hard working on just the one project – I’m so tempted to put it aside and start on another (or I should finish another wip!), but I’m determined to finish it THIS Christmas, so that is spurring me on (and putting it out here will also hold me accountable!).

I’m quite excited to see how it will turn out!  It may have to feature in one of our Barbie escapades (we don’t do elf on a shelf – our Barbie dolls come alive during December!).  Are you thinking ahead for Christmas?  I’d love to see some of your Christmas projects (and get more ideas!).  Please share them in the comments, or on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thingsnicolemade/.

P.S.  I wasn’t expecting to finish this so quickly, but was so excited I had to add it to my post before it went live! I’ve finished covering the wreath and I’m stoked about how it’s turned out!

Showing your work

Have you ever thought about entering any of your work into a show?  It can be a scary thing, allowing others to look at and judge your work that you have put countless hours into, frogging and redoing until it is perfect.  Up until a few years ago, I hadn’t ever entered anything into a show.  I had thought about it but had never been brave enough to investigate how to go about it.  And then I made my Sophie’s Universe and I felt that that was a piece that just had to be seen.  Not because of my work but because the design is just so beautiful.  So, I found out how to enter the Royal Adelaide Show (our big state fair) and entered her.  She didn’t win, but I got some ribbons for some other pieces and my addiction to entering shows began.  I love it!  I love thinking about what to enter and looking for new, amazing designs to crochet.  I love delivering my pieces before the show has begun and seeing everything getting ready.  I love going to the show and looking at my work on display.  And, I love the expectation of waiting to see what the results are and if I earned a ribbon!

Last year, I entered both the Royal Adelaide Show and the Gawler Show (a smaller, country show).  The experience is very different with both shows.  The entry fees are higher for the Adelaide show, and so far, I haven’t won a first prize, which is the only real way of recovering your costs.  The Gawler show is smaller, but the entry fees are lower and so far, I have covered my costs of entering with my winnings, which makes it feel a bit more successful!

This year, due to me not paying close enough attention to the Adelaide show book, I only entered pieces in the Gawler show.  The staff at the show were absolutely fabulous as I realised I was going to be in Melbourne when I needed to drop things off and they were great about me dropping them off early.  As we literally swung past the show to collect my pieces on our way home from Melbourne, I had to wait until then to find out my results (one of my friends sent me pics of a couple of my results while we were away, but not all!).  It was exciting to collect them and find out that I had done really well this year!  Out of the six pieces entered, I earned 4 firsts, one second and a best exhibit for crochet (that I was totally not expecting!).  The prize from the best exhibit has allowed me to order some blocking wires that I have been eyeing off for awhile!  (Another review will be coming soon!).  I even won a trophy this year, as my Persian Tiles blanket came tied for first with another Persian Tiles blanket that the judges just couldn’t choose between!

If you have ever thought about it, but not had the confidence, I would suggest just going for it!  The worst that can happen is that you won’t win anything, and, although it is disappointing (I put hours into the baby pram cover and it didn’t place at all 😦 ), it is still a growing and learning experience, challenging you to find more unique and detailled pieces for next years’ show and to improve the quality and finish of your work.  I’d love to hear about your experiences entering shows!