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!

 

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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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Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau

Book review

If you are a crocheter, I am certain that you have already seen the book, Animal Friends of Pica Pau. It has been all over social media! Countless crocheters are making the animals from its colorful pages.

(Link to the book –Animal Friends of Pica Pau: Gather All 20 Colorful Amigurumi Animal Characters)

I bought the book soon after it’s US release date in 2017. I was drawn to the unique characters on the cover and knew I had to have it. At the time I couldn’t even make amigurumi! I started with Victor Frog and so far I’ve made ten out of the twenty designs.

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This book is my go-to for inspiration and patterns. Yan Schenkel’s ability to design such unique and adorable creatures is incredible. The puffin pattern is one of my absolute favorites! Not only are her patterns adorable but they can stretch beginner and intermediate crocheters skills. I learned how to read color charts from making Bonny Puffin.

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Another one of my favorite designs is the panda. She is one of the easier patterns and I was able to complete her in half the time of other designs. Yan Schenkel’s ability to design animals with such personality is truly a gift.

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There is no way I could ever choose which one is my favorite and I look forward to making each and every animal! Do yourself a favor and buy this book!

Cha-Ching! How Much are Your Handmade Goods Worth?

Motivation Monday

When I first began selling  amigurumi I priced them around $25 and I was terrified I was ripping someone off. I felt so strange receiving money for something I had made and didn’t want to appear greedy. I quickly realized that my animals were worth more than that and I went up to $40! I thought no one would buy them for such an exorbitant amount, but they did. I began to realize if I wanted to be more serious about selling I needed to know their value.

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Pricing handmade items is difficult, really difficult. Not only do you have to consider your material costs and hours spent, but you likely have emotions tied up as well. For me, each piece I make is truly a labor of love. Each one becomes a character with a personality and a name specially chosen for him or her.

Because I know how attached I become to each animal,  I decided that a straight handmade formula would work best for me. I researched different ones and came across the one that made the most sense to me:

(Cost + Materials) x 2 = Total Price

Determining the materials part wasn’t too tricky. I took the price of the original skein of yarn and divided it by the number of ounces to determine the cost per ounce. Then  I used a food scale to weigh my leftover yarn so that I would know exactly how much I had used. I then added in the cost of small things like safety eyes, poly-fil stuffing, embroidery floss, etc. and gave them a round number, typically around $1. I then added up the ribbon and packaging box I used as well.

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The cost part is a little tricky. Cost needs to be what you want to pay yourself for making the item. I decided that my cost would depend on the project. An easy project might only be $15 for cost, while a complicated, time-consuming project would be $30.

Here’s an example of how this would work. Imagine I am making a squirrel and he’s not easy but not terribly difficult and my materials totaled $8.73.

Cost $20 + Materials $8.73 = $28.73 x 2 = $57.46 Total Price

But this formula began to bother me a bit. It didn’t take into account my hours or my skill. I did a little more research and came across a fantastic podcast from the Merriweather Council. One piece of advice Danielle gave stuck with me. She said to price items so that when you sell it you will be happy. That really resonated with me. I want to be happy when I hear the notification from Etsy that an item has sold.

But I needed something more concrete to use as a pricing model. I decided to time how long it actually took me to make an animal. I started with Percy the Pig. He took a staggering eight hours. I had severely underestimated how long my project actually took to crochet. The little backpack he carried took an additional two and a half hours! The entire project totaled ten and a half hours! Yikes! My pricing needs to take my time into consideration as well.

For now I’m pricing based on my time, not the difficulty level. I have decided on a price per hour that I feel my time is worth. It’s a very simple formula.

Time x Dollar Amount = Price

My pricing model will likely evolve over time but for now this seems fair to customers, but also for me as well. Ultimately you are the only one who can decide how much your items are worth, but do yourself a favor and do your homework! You are likely undercharging for your handmade treasures!

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How To Photograph Amigurumi

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Let me start off by letting you know right now that I am NOT an expert. I have absolutely zero training. I use an iPhone! I’m not smart enough to even use the DSLR camera that I have had for years! I even attempted a Craftsy class for digital photography and I literally could not understand what the man was trying to teach. I am a camera dummy.

But I consistently get compliments on my photography and I have learned a few things from trial and error.

  1. Use natural lighting! If you only do one thing, this is it! DO NOT USE artificial lighting, unless you are an expert, but then of course you wouldn’t be reading this! Don’t put amigurumi in direct sunlight, which creates really harsh shadows. Indirect sun is perfect, like near a window or in a spot with a little shade or cover.IMG_2954 (1)
  2. Look at what is in the background of your photo. Is there dirty laundry in the corner? Is the cat in the litter box to the side? Did your husband walk through the front door just as you were taking the perfect shot? Background matters. Make sure everything in your photo is styled perfectly. Trust me when I tell you that you would be horrified if you saw what was off to the side in my own photos!IMG_3807
  3. Edit your photos. Learn a little bit about photo editing. I use the free app, Snapseed. I don’t use filters, but I do use tools. I adjust for brightness, sharpness, shadows, etc. If you have good lighting your photos typically won’t need much editing.IMG_1858
  4. Style your photos to make them visually interesting. Play around with props and putting more than one amigurumi animal in a shot. Use what you already have around your home to make your photos more interesting.IMG_4019
  5. Practice, practice, practice. I take dozens more photos than I ever actually use. Train your eye by looking at good photography, not just of amigurumi. Have fun! Be silly and willing to try ridiculous things! You might just get the perfect shot!

You Can Make Amigurumi: A Tale of Two Walters

NOTE: My two classes at Cheers to Ewe are almost here! Last chance to sign up!

Crochet 101: August 11, 18, and 25 from 10:00 – 11:30

Victor Frog: August 11, 18, and 25 from 1:00 – 2:30

Check out this link for more info: Classes

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Please forgive my boldness, but I’m freakin’ proud of my new wolf, Walter. He turned out so darn cute! I love his sweet face and those perky little ears. And those mittens!!!!

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Above is a side-by-side photo of new Walter on the left and old Walter on the right. I made old Walter in January 2018 and new Walter in August 2018. That’s just eight months apart.

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You can see that old Walter is quite a bit bigger. You may be able to see that his stuffing can be seen through the large stitches on his legs.

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His nose is totally wonky! He has button eyes. His ears are floppy. He is squishy. Now don’t take me wrong. I still love Walter. His imperfections give him such personality! But as someone who likes to sell my creations, I need them to be a little more polished.

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New Walter is much more consistent throughout. The stitches are uniform. The color changes aren’t messy. His mittens actually fit and wont’ fall off. His nose is fairly even and joined more evenly.

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Amigurumi takes practice. Lots of practice. But I’m here to show you that after only eight months I improved. A lot! With practice also comes confidence. I am able to make patterns exactly as they are written or add my own embellishments.

I often hear people lament that they could never make amigurumi. Really they should say, they don’t want to make amigurumi. If someone with two working hands wants to make these animals there is no reason why they couldn’t. It will take practice, determination, and hard work. But they are SO worth it!