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!

 

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Self Care for Makers During the Busy Holiday Season

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I hope you won’t hate me when I tell you this…I don’t really like Christmas. The season feels like a pine scented F-5 tornado spewing candy canes and blinking lights all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas decor, holiday food, and candlelight church services. Did I mention cookies? I really really love Christmas cookies! What I don’t like are the expectations, the pressures, and the additional obligations that have become synonymous with this time of the year.

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This is my first holiday season as a maker and I am finding myself more stressed than in previous years, which I didn’t think was humanly possible.  I haven’t met the goals I made for myself (which I wrote about here  Trying not to be a Discouraged Maker this Holiday Season.) But recently the term “self care” has been coming at me from multiple directions and I’ve decided I better listen. In the past I thought that making myself a priority was selfish or something that should be addressed when everything else was done. I can hear Dr. Phil in the background yelling in his Texas drawl,

“How’s that working for ya?”

And to be perfectly honest, it isn’t working for me. The time to include some self care into my routine is vital, not only to my happiness, but to my productivity as well. I have a feeling you are the same way! Once this revelation really sunk in I began thinking about what fills me up, what energizes me and I created a list. Your’s may be completely different but my hope is that by sharing mine you might be inspired to think of ways you can care for yourself in a more mindful and purposeful way! And maybe, just maybe, it will help make this a more meaningful holiday season.

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  1. Getting outside – I find that getting some fresh air by either working in my yard or walking around my neighborhood helps clear my mind. Connecting with the outdoors for even just a half an hour does me a great deal of good.
  2. Cleaning my house – I have found that the dirtier my house is the worse I feel mentally. Even just spending a short time decluttering helps relieve my stressful thoughts.
  3. Staying off social media – Fasting from Facebook and Instagram for short periods of time really improves my outlook! I love social media and I have made so many wonderful connections but there are times that I need a little break.
  4. Spending time with family – playing board games or watching a movie all together gives me such a feeling of togetherness that helps me connect and remember what is really important to me.
  5. Work on a project that isn’t for the Etsy shop – knitting or embroidering something that is just for my enjoyment gives me a spark of creative energy.
  6. Yoga – I practiced yoga every single day in the year 2017 and it helped me get through a very difficult time (which you can read about here: Why I started crocheting and you should too!) I absolutely adore Yoga with Adriene and find that spending some time on the mat brings calmness into my mind and body.
  7. Reading a good book – There are very few things in life as enjoyable as a great book. I am currently reading a biography of Julia Child and listening to the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Gailbraith (aka J.K. Rowling).
  8. Lighting a candle – it is surprising how such a small thing can bring me a little brightness and light, literally and figuratively.
  9. Watching mindless TV – sometimes the very best thing for my mood is a little mindless fluff! Letting my brain turn off for an hour or so recharges my batteries and laughter truly is good medicine.

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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!