Winter Color Inspiration

Lately I’ve been taking time to stop and really look at my surrounding. I’m beginning to see things I’ve never noticed before. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I appreciate the little things more. Maybe it’s because I bought a new camera recently and I’m looking for scenes to take photos of.  Winter has never been a season that I enjoyed or that sparked my imagination, but that is beginning to change. I’ve heard it said that inspiration is all around us and I’ve never been more convinced of that!

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Wolfgang is made with a heathered gray wool mix, mustard yellow, rust, moss green, and creamy white colors. The cowl is made from two Shalimar Yarns, one called Dirty Jeans and the other Merlin’s Beard!

Lately I’ve been leaning more and more toward colors found in the great outdoors for my amigurumi projects, and nature has produced a very wide variety indeed! I’ve even noticed how the seasons are affecting my color choices. Earlier this year I began making Pinterest boards of seasonal color palettes (you can find them here – Pinterest color boards) I appreciate that talented designers from so many different industries are adding them. You can find them for home decor or weddings and everything in between! Regardless of their original intent you can use them to help decide which colors to choose for your crochet projects. Brittany from Bhooked recently did a whole podcast about choosing colors and she had so many wonderful ideas! (you can find that podcast here – Bhooked – How to Pick Colors for Your Project)

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On our daily walk with my beloved dog, Jersey-boy, I began noticing how interesting and beautiful the “weeds” are! I had never taken the time to really look at them. This particular route isn’t very picturesque but once I stopped and noticed the individual plants I was mesmerized and started snapping photos. I have no idea what their scientific or common names are but these winter neutrals are giving me all the feels!! The creamy whites contrasted with rusty and grayish browns take my breath away!

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I have never seen such a bright white fungus before! I love how it pops against the dark wood of the fallen tree limb. 

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These leaves contain colors from light peach hues all the way to deep eggplant tones. I can just imagine these colors all together in a gorgeous crocheted blanket or scarf!

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I’m really enjoying all the green colors right now. I can’t get over how many different shades there are in one small photograph!

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What looks better than bright red and deep green together? I just love these berries and how saturated the color is on this plant. 

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I found one lingering dandelion and marveled at how bright and rich in color this little flower is!

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This was the perfect pinecone specimen. I cannot get over how many shades of brown are on one scale! There are deep rich nutmeg colors all the way up to a grayish white. 

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These fuzzy weeds are my absolute favorite. I see maroon and gold tones on some of the stalks. They are so delicate and brittle and have a beauty all their own. 

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I have long enjoyed these wildflowers that are so prolific on our roadsides here in North Carolina. They must be a very hardy species indeed to be still flowering all the way into December after several freezes. 

 

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These prickly weeds are also one of my favorites. The contrast of the beige tones and the dark green is brilliant! 

I’m trying to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. I’m trying to truly see things at a deeper level not just at the surface. Typically color is what inspires my projects from the very beginning stages of planning. Nature has quickly become my first resource for making those decisions and seasonal colors are even more inspirational! Browns, golds, grays, maroons, whites, blues and greens are all on my radar currently.

For my wolf amigurumi project, from my favorite book Animal Friends of Pica Pau (you can read more about that here – Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau) I decided to make him a traditional gray wolf with white accents, which is how he appears in the pattern book. Those colors are everywhere right now in my world, from the dark gray skies to the white fungus on the tree trunks. I also decided on the mustard yellow shirt which is also how he is featured in the book. For his cowl I chose white but decided to add a rusty brown and my favorite, moss green. I think the color combination is wonderful and could easily be found in the natural areas all around my home.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog post and would love to hear from you! Please comment below with your ideas! What are the winter colors from your neck of the woods? Are you inspired by nature’s palette?

 

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Christmas Shop Update!

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Sometimes I pretend that I have an actual little shop on some quaint street in a historic village. Can’t you just hear the little door bells jingle when you walk in? I imagine that it has creaky old wood floors and built in cubbies lining the walls. There would definitely be a sleepy calico kitty lying in the windowsill named Mr. Mittens. I would greet you with a big warm smile and welcome you right in saying, “Come in, come in! Get out of the cold and warm up by the fire!” Because of course there would be a big stone fireplace in the corner. Ok, I know it’s not practical to have an actual wood burning fireplace around all that yarn! But just humor me!!! But until that day comes I will just have to be satisfied with my little online Etsy shop and on Friday, December 7th I am reopening with five brand new animals!

Etsy Shop link

Crispin Coati

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Before making this wonderful pattern from the book, Animal Friends of Pica Pau: Gather All 20 Colorful Amigurumi Animal Characters, I had never heard of a coati before. Of course once I began crocheting this little cutie I had to know more about his species. They are also known as the hog-nosed coon and are members of the raccoon family. They hail from South and Central America and parts of Mexico. It was my first time making this pattern and I must admit that I will be making more coatis! The unusual color work on his face is quite striking. I used the heathered colors from Berrocco Vintage yarn which is a wool, acrylic, nylon blend. His long striped tail is definitely a realistic characteristic of coatis. I changed his outfit from the original in the pattern, which was a striped shirt and shorts. I kept the striped shirt but added a gorgeous Double V Stitch cowl in a brilliant moss green, that has flecks of yellow. I love how Crispin’s long snout and little smile give him such personality!

You can find out more about the yarns I am using and where to find them here – Comparing Cotton and Wool for Amigurumi

Rita Cheetah

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Rita was another first for me! I had never made the cheetah pattern from Animal Friends of Pica Pau before.  I crocheted her from one of my favorite fibers, Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran. Like the Berrocco Vintage yarn it is a blend of wool and acrylic, but it does not contain nylon. The colors are solids, not heathered, but come in SO many different gorgeous shades! Rita is taller than the other four amigurumi in the shop and has quite the striking figure. I love how the detail on her face and ears gives her such personality. She has a fierce but friendly countenance and her long legs give the impression that she’s as fast as her real life counterparts. Her sage green jumper dress compliments her mustard colored body and rose pink undershirt.

Detective Sherlock Hams

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Detective Hams played a pivotal role in solving the mystery involving Grunkle, the crocodile. (You can find the behind the scenes tell-all here) I absolutely love this pattern from Animal Friends of Pica Pau and have made it many times. I love how adding different clothes makes him look so different. I’ve even added a skirt and hair bow to make this little pig a “pigette” This time I added a cute navy and white striped shirt and brown shorts. I used the Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran for him and I always choose the shade Ballet Pink for the body. Sherlock’s little round tummy and big pointy ears make him all the more huggable! He even has a surprise curly pink tail in the back!

Francis Frog

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How stinking cute is Francis Frog? I just want to squeeze him!! This is another incredible pattern from Animal Friends of Pica Pau. This was the first pattern from the book that I ever made and I immediately fell in love. His adorable expression and big floppy yellow feet had me at “ribbit”! I also used the Paintbox Wool Mix Aran for Francis and this time I made him in a bright kelly green! He has two sturdy legs that allow him to stand completely on his own. His removable shorts reveal his white and red spotted underwear!  You can check out a photo of him in the Etsy shop listing in his skivvies on December 7th!

Wolfgang

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In my humble opinion, Wolfgang is the most spectacular of all the patterns in Animal Friends of Pica Pau. I have made him three times in total and I swear I like the pattern more each time. Wolfgang is made with the heathered yarns from Berrocco Vintage and I think he looks dashing. I added a striped cowl in burnt orange, white, and moss green colors. I think the contrast with the charcoal gray color of his body looks fabulous. The embroidered detail on his ears is such a beautiful touch and adds to his overall charm.

Thank you all so much for stopping by! I wish we really could sit down in my little cozy shop and have a cup of steaming hot tea together! Until then keep in touch!

 

Defaced: Justice for Grunkle

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Detective Sherlock Hams

This week we are welcoming Officer Sherlock Hams to guest post on the Le Petit Saint Crochet blog. He is recounting the terrible events of November 13, 2018.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” – Sherlock Holmes  – A Scandal in Bohemia

The call came in around 9:30 p.m. The muffled cries were difficult to interpret. The 911 dispatcher asked over and over, “Do you need police, fire , or ambulance?” Heavy breathing was the only sound coming through clearly. Law enforcement arrived at the residence at approximately 9:45 p.m. They knocked on the door of the quiet suburban home but the only response was the bark of dog. The back door was unlocked and as they quietly tiptoed into the house the canine greeted them with the friendly wag of her tail. The officers searched the downstairs and found nothing out of the ordinary. That all changed as they made their way upstairs. That’s when they called me, Detective Sherlock Hams.

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The team from left to right: Officer Crispin Coati, first on the scene. Rita Cheetach, police sketch artist, and Detective Sherlock Hams

It has been said that I am the best pig in all of law enforcement and I’ve earned that praise. Up until this case I had a 100% solve rate. No crime has ever gone unresolved under my watch, that is until now. Officer Crispin Coati called me at 9:52 p.m. and something about the sound of his voice gave me goosebumps. This was no ordinary crime. I arrived at the scene at 10:09 p.m. Nothing about the neighborhood, home, or interior suggested that such a heinous act had been committed.

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The gruesome crime scene

I followed Officer Coati up the stairs and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the mangled body of the victim. He was being attended by the paramedics and loaded up onto a stretcher. I leaned in close and whispered, “Who did this to you?” He could only point and gesticulate wildly with his hands. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to decipher his personal sign language. As they wheeled Grunkle away into the ambulance I  vowed that we would not stop until we uncovered the truth behind what happened to that innocent crocodile.

Officer Coati and I continued searching the house and found no one else at the residence and no forced entry points. This didn’t look like a typical burglary gone bad. This looked like a very personal attack. Whoever did this never wanted Grunkle to speak again. Several small pieces of green yarn were on the floor near where his body had been found. Pieces were found in other rooms with stuffing strewn down the stairs. This was worse than I had originally thought.

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Overhead shot of the gruesome crime scene.

As we were leaving the residence I saw the dog sitting on the couch. In that instance I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had something to do with the crime. Partly because she had green yarn stuck to her chin but partly because her grey eyes looked at me with what could only be called, proud accomplishment. I approached the canine cautiously and asked her where she had been during the attack. She just looked at me and panted. Her collar revealed her name was Pippa, but everything else about her screamed monster. I again questioned her whereabouts during the hours of 8:30 – 9:30 that evening. Nothing. With no other witnesses, this job was going to take everything I have ever learned about detective work. I would need to dig deep if I were to ever find justice for Grunkle.

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The suspect.

Back at the precinct I got to work immediately. I called in a special task force to assist me. We hired Rita Cheetah to sketch the crime scene to help us see the situation in a new light. We created a link chart on our main bulletin board to map the people, locations, motives, and opportunities of our case.  As the days wore on, more and more strings were added to create a complicated pattern in our attempt to answer the questions the public were demanding to know.

Unbeknownst to me at the time a female feline had been doing a little investigating of her own. Magik Kitty was a regular around my neck of the woods and was known to be quite close with Grunkle and my suspect, Pippa. If I had been aware of her snooping around I would have put a stop to it at once. Thank goodness that never happened.

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Magik Kitty

I spent hours pouring over this case. For days I barely slept or ate. I could not forget the horrifying scene that was Grunkle’s face or the haunting eyes of Pippa. On November 16th an anonymous tip came in that changed everything. The caller refused to share her name but everything about her story checked out. She claimed that Pippa had been in love with Grunkle for some time and was going to express her feelings the evening of November 13th. The caller alleged that when Grunkle refused her, Pippa had attacked. It was clear from the crime scene that Pippa had something to do with the attack, I now had evidence and that golden ticket, motive. I could finally make my arrest and start the formal interview process.

Interview with Pippa

Pippa was formally charged on November 19th at 8:42 p.m. As she was being handcuffed and hauled away into the paddy wagon, Magik Kitty arrived, breathing heavily. She was waving something in her little paw. “WAIT!!!!” she screeched!!!! “Pippa didn’t do it!!” She handed me a photo and began to tell her version of the night of November 13th. When my eyes took in the images of her photo, I unlocked Pippa’s cuffs and ripped up the arrest warrant.

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Evidence

From the moment she heard of Grunkle’s terrible incident, Magik Kitty believed in her heart that Pippa was not to blame. After the crime scene had been cleared she searched the room from top to bottom and found the evidence that would clear the poor dog, green yarn on the ceiling fan. Ever since Grunkle had gotten his little gray wings he had gone flying around the room. Every day he had been told not to fly in the bedroom where the ceiling fan was because if he were to become entangled in the blades it could cause serious injury. When Magik Kitty found the undeniable green yarn in that unusual spot she knew Pippa had not been the assailant, but the hero! The reason Pippa had green yarn stuck to her chin was because she was trying to help Grunkle! The heavy breathing on the phone was her attempt to alert authorities that help was needed.

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Magik Kitty for the win!

From that day forward Magik Kitty has been a detective in training and is showing real promise. She has the raw talent one rarely finds these days. The old timers say that the last time such a recruit came up the ranks he was a little pink piglet fresh from the farm with a funny name.

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The new investigative team

*Inspired by actual events

 

Trying not to be a Discouraged Maker this Holiday Season

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I’m trying not to be a discouraged maker this holiday season.

I read this blog post from the amazing Danielle at The Merriweather Council about staying sane as a maker during this hectic time of year. It totally resonated with me and I have a feeling that others will relate. Recently I have been comparing myself to the success I see in others and it can really pull the brakes on the momentum I have going on. Instead of focusing on what I have on my plate, I’ve been busy looking at everyone else’s and feeling quite sorry for myself.

I think I have split personality syndrome. On one side I am very creative, messy, and chill. Let’s call her Diana. Diana is fun and spontaneous. She doesn’t stick to a menu plan. She throws caution to the wind and tells the kids to get in the minivan because we’re heading to Chick-fil-A for dinner! Yeah, baby! My other side is organized, on time, and if I’m honest, a little intense. Let’s call her Karen. Karen never ever deviates from the plan. If Tuesdays are for tacos, then tacos will be had! Diana and Karen must not get along well because only one of them is in control of me at any given moment. If Diana is in control then my house looks like an episode right out of Hoarders but I’m happily crocheting amigurumi and can laugh off the chaos. If Karen is in charge then my house is tidy, we are on time and I get shit done.

Diana has definitely been in charge as of late and I have been in a super creative space. But because of that the holidays have snuck up on me and I’m not as prepared for them as I would like to be as a maker. Once I realized that it was only a few short weeks until Christmas, Karen pushed Diana out of the way and said she was taking over.

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Karen made a schedule so that the Etsy shop will be in full swing for the holidays. She put the Etsy shop on vacation mode and set the date to reopen on December 7th, plenty of time to ship everything before Christmas.

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The problem is that since Diana has been in charge for quite some time now, I’m not as prepared as I wish I could be. I am going to miss out on a big opportunity that presented itself  because I couldn’t be ready in time to take part in it. An awesome local antique mall (the largest in the southeast US) contacted me and offered me a table at their holiday Open House. To be able to stock an entire table I would need to have lots of animals and dolls ready made. Their Open House will welcome thousands of visitors from all over. As of writing this blog post I have a whopping total of two finished. You read that right…two. I can only make one to two animals per week and that’s if my tendonitis doesn’t start acting up (You can read more about that here: Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn) That was a big huge bummer. A big, huge, fat, hairy, wet bummer. Not a nice visual, huh?

I started to feel super down about my own abilities and limitations. Scrolling through Instagram only made me feel worse when I saw how well planned and organized so many other makers seem to be. They have been preparing for the holiday season for months, while Diana has been over here flitting around in her own head!

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From the Merriweather Council Blog

“If you feel like seemingly everyone else is killing it this weekend – like everyone else has stacks of packages to ship out, orders out their ears, and everything is going just swell for everyone but you – please know that EVERYONE is on their own track. Everyone has to stay in their lane at their pace and experience their own ups and downs whenever they come. And TRUST ME everyone has downs and ups. Everyone.” – Danielle Spurge

This is exactly how I have been feeling. Everyone else is killing it and here I am picking my nose in the corner. But her quote really resonated with me and allowed me to see that I’m on my own track. This is my first holiday season as a maker as an Etsy shopkeeper. I am currently on track to be able to reopen the shop in early December and I am ok with that. Do I wish I had done more? Yes. Do I wish Karen had been in charge instead of Diana for the past few months? Maybe. Diana is definitely way more fun!

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But here I am, the beginning of November, and I’m going to take Danielle’s advice and stay in my lane, quit worrying about how well everyone else seems to be doing, and make some damn cute amigurumi. (Blog post about how you can make amigurumi too: You Can Make Amigurumi: A Tale of Two Walters)

Next season I will be more prepared. I will start focusing on the holiday season beginning in the summer or at the latest September. I would love to do some handmade markets and especially the holiday Open House at the antique mall. That will take planning and I will be depending on Karen to get me there. But I’ll make sure Diana is waiting in the wings with a double margarita and a sombrero in hand when I’ve completed my task.

Are you a Diana, a Karen, or both? Or do you have a completely different persona? I would love to hear about it!

Voltaire and the One Negative Comment that Kept me up Until 2:00 a.m.

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(For more information about the patterns in the photo above please visit my Amigurumi Pattern Directory)

I try to respond to each comment left on my Instagram and Facebook posts. It is important to me that I answer those who take the time to write a comment or to ask a question. Recently someone left a message that left me feeling pretty crummy about myself as a maker and I didn’t know how to respond. I read the words over and over to make sure I was properly processing this person’s opinion of my work.  I honestly sat up until two o’clock in the morning thinking about her criticism and trying to determine whether or not it had any merit.

I am not above critique. I actually look forward to constructive criticism and find tremendous value in it. I believe in order to become a better crocheter and maker has, and will continue to take a lot of work. I completed the Craft Yarn Council’s program to become a Certified Crochet Instructor for that very reason. I signed up for the course to gain feedback, positive and negative. I received both and learned most from the critical commentary.

But that one unfriendly remark on my Instagram post helped me to see something in myself, so for that I am thankful.  I learned that I will fixate on one negative point and ignore all the good. My family has actually called me crazy for not selling some of the amigurumi I make because there is a flaw that no one but I can see. Once I see the defect I cannot unsee it!

While pondering over my hypersensitivity to negativity I remembered a quote from Voltaire who famously wrote,

“Perfection is the enemy of the good.”

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Light bulb moment! That’s exactly what I have been doing my entire life! Literally! I’ve let perfection become an idol and good is no longer good enough. So from this day forward I am vowing to myself to do things differently.

  1. The pursuit of perfection is bad.
  2. I will fail, and it will be ok.
  3. People will call out my weaknesses and I don’t have to obsess over it.
  4. Good is not just good, it’s great!

 

Amigurumi Pattern Directory

This is a running list of all the amigurumi patterns I have personally used and where to find them! I added my own photos of each recommendation so that you can see an example of the patterns these designers offer. Hope you all find this helpful! Updated on 9/27/18

Crochet/Amigurumi

1. Animal Friends of Pica Pau: Gather All 20 Colorful Amigurumi Animal Characters by Yan SchenkelIMG_3007

2. Cute Crocheted Animals: 10 Well-Dressed Friends to Make by Emma Varnam

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3. Little Owlet Shop

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4. Dudu Toy Factory

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5. Tiny Curl

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6. KikaliteIMG_4397

7. Amigurumibyguli

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Disclosure: Please note that two of the links above are affiliate links, and at no cost to you, I will earn a teeny, tiny commission if you decide to purchase them from Amazon. These are books that I know, love, and trust. I have and will continue to recommend them regardless of my affiliate relationship with Amazon. Thank you for supporting Le Petit Saint Crochet!

Comparing Cotton and Wool for Amigurumi

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I find the difference in these two puffins absolutely fascinating. Both amigurumi are made from yarn by the same manufacturer, Paintbox Yarns. The puffin on the left is made from their Cotton DK and the one on the right is from their Aran Wool Mix. The colors, textures, and sizes of each puffin depend on which yarn is used, which may seem obvious to some, but for me it is an interesting experiment.

For more information about the puffin patterns by Yan Schenkel,                    check out my blog post, Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau

I began making amigurumi with cotton yarn. I love the smooth texture it produces, but found that, by its nature, was causing problems with pain in my elbow. You can read more about that here: Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn

This particular cotton DK produces a more muted tone puffin. His colors aren’t as bright but have a beautiful softness to them. The grey on the left puffin is a shade lighter than on the right, but the coral colors on the beaks and feet are almost identical. In contrast, this wool yarn achieves deep, rich hues.

The texture difference between cotton and wool is what stands out the most to me. The cotton has a knobby quality, but is very smooth at the same time. The wool puffin on the right has a slightly fuzzy consistency, which I think adds to his charm. I find that the wool mix yarn leaves very few holes if any in the stitches. But with the cotton it is easier to see each individual stitch.

The size is what surprised me the most. I thought that changing from a DK weight yarn to an Aran weight yarn would lead to a much bigger difference in dimensions. In reality the wool puffin is a heftier bird than his cotton cousin, but not by much. Even though I eliminated one small section of the color-work on the neck, the height difference is much less than I would have predicted.

I have used other cotton yarns like Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton, which is a mercerized fiber and is much richer in color. It has a slight sheen to it and I especially like using it for projects that could use a little luster. For the wool, I am currently using a wool blend labeled Berroco Vintage which comes in solids and heathers. It is really soft, affordable, and washable!

Cotton and wool mix yarns both make wonderful amigurumi. The choice between the two really comes down to preference and budget. I would recommend any of the yarns I already mentioned and think they will make magnificent animals.

Below are a list of my favorite cotton and wool yarns that I have personally used.

My recommendations for cotton:                                                                                              •Cascade Ultra Pima                                                                                                                        •Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK

My recommendations for wool:                                                                                            • Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran                                                                                                    •Berroco Vintage Yarn

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