Amigurumi 101: Part 2 – Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette

Amigurumi rhinoceros amongst plants, books, and colorful yarn!
Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette: Amigurumi 101 – Part 2

Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette

Are you caving in to the peer pressure? Have you dipped your toe into the incredible world of amigurumi yet? Before diving into Part 2, Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette, make sure you visit the last post. In Part 1 of Amigurumi 101 we discussed the most important skill you need to possess before crocheting your first toy. Not to be all doom and gloom, but seriously do not skip this step! I believe that if you skip this essential skill you are setting yourself up failure! And ain’t nobody got time for that!

How to Choose a Pattern

Choosing your first amigurumi pattern can be a daunting task. There are at least a hundred gazillion different ones, but I stopped counting after that. Lol! You may be wondering how to even find the perfect one. Or maybe you have chosen one but you aren’t sure if it’s too advanced.

Yarn color palette in light pink, oatmeal, navy, and fuchsia. Animal Friends of Pica Pau book open to otter pattern.
How to Choose an Amigurumi Pattern for Beginners

There are a few different characteristics of a finished toy that will give you clues as to whether it is beginner friendly or not. Although this isn’t a perfect process these suggestions will help guide you to make a more educated choice.

  1. Shapes – A beginner amigurumi pattern is simpler in shape. It doesn’t have a lot of increases and decreases that will end up frustrating you in the beginning. Look for toys that are totally adorable but aren’t super accurate or detailed.
  2. Color Changes – Next look at how many colors are in the pattern. If it mainly has one or two colors then that’s a clue that it will be more beginner friendly. Of course with any pattern you can choose whether or not to change colors. But make sure you will be happy with the finished result if you reduce or eliminate the color variation.
  3. Sewing – The fewer the pieces to sew on the simpler the pattern will be. Sewing on ears, snouts, arms, legs, heads…now multiple heads would be interesting…can make a pattern more complicated. Sewing on parts is one of the aspects of amigurumi that gets newbies a little flustered. It’s a skill that takes time and there’s just no way around that. Ultimately you will likely be happier if you stick to patterns that has less sewing at this point!

Beginner vs. Advanced Pattern

Adorable amigurumi fox and sweet little amigurumi bunny.
Advanced fox vs beginner bunny

Let’s take a look at these two adorable amigurumi patterns so that you can see exactly what I’m talking about!

Notice the difference in shapes between Benedict Bunny and Francesco Fox. At first glance you can see that Francesco is much more detailed than Benedict. That’s clue number one. Benedict’s shape is fairly uniform throughout. He doesn’t have a lot of complicated shaping to his head or body. Now compare that to Francesco. Look at his head. See how his cheeks puff out? Notice that Francesco has clothing, he has puffed sleeves (which is totally adorable in my humble opinion), and he has boots with socks. These are all more advanced skills. Now compare that to Benedict. He is basically buck naked! Hehe! There are no sleeves to fuss with or boots to worry about. He is quite basic.

Now also look at the differences in color. Benedict only has three different colors, one for the body, one for the ears, and one for the scarf. Simple, simple, simple. Francesco has multiple color changes throughout his body from his face, to his ears, to his arms. While it looks totally rad, it’s likely to be frustrating to the beginner.

Finally pay attention to how many parts there will be to sew on. Clothing in and of itself is typically a pretty big clue that the pattern will be more advanced. Francesco not only has clothing but arms, ears, snout, and legs to sew on. In contrast, Benedict only has arms and ears to sew on.

If you would like to try your hand at making my free pattern, Benedict Bunny, please click here!

Choosing the Color Palette

Open computer with Pinterest page full of color palettes.
How to Choose a Color Palette for Amigurumi

There is nothing more frustrating than choosing a pattern, crocheting your toy, and then discovering that you hate the colors you chose. I’ve been-there-done-that-got-the-T-shirt and that is precisely why I spend a good deal of time on this step. For some this will be an easy step because you already have a firm grasp on not only your color taste but on which palettes suit your fancy.

  1. Wardrobe and Home Decor Clues – take a look at your own closet and home decor choices. Do you naturally gravitate toward neutrals or are you bold with your color choices? Which colors spark joy and make you feel giddy with happiness?
  2. Warm or Cool Tones – I am a warm tones gal all the way, but to be honest I didn’t realize that about myself for some time. I chose yarn colors based on my preferences not even realizing there was a theme. Do you love cool blues and greens or are you a mustard yellow and peachy pink lover? Taking the time to work through your preferences will help insure that you love the finished product.
  3. Color InspirationPinterest has become a great resource for me when I am looking for color inspiration. I created aboard for all the color palettes I love. For example if I am going to make a teddy bear and I know the main color will be a medium brown, I search for color palettes with medium brown as one of the colors. Wedding planners and home decor experts have some of the best color palette pins!

Homework

Choosing a pattern and color palette for your first amigurumi project may seem a bit daunting but I hope my tips and tricks will be a good resource for you! For your homework this week I want you to find a good beginner pattern and gather your materials. I will leave links below for my some of my resources that may help you decide!

The Bitty Bunnies: Benedict and Beatrice

Amigurumi Pattern Directory

Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica PauY

Yarn Recommandations

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Believe, Bloom, and Balance: Cultivating Your Creative Potential

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance recently and how to attain it. As a creative person I find myself vacillating wildly between working with extreme focus or wandering aimlessly from one idea to the next. Although the past few months have been quite productive, I have felt a little like a chicken running around with its head cut off. Actually that’s not even an accurate description. A mutant, crazy eyed fowl jumping from one frying pan to another sounds more like it! But I’ve discovered an approach that is working for me and maybe it will help you too! I must believe and bloom to be able to achieve balance. This may sound like nonsense, but I love alliteration and I do have a point!

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Before we get down to the nitty gritty please print out your free Believe, Bloom, and Balance Worksheet. This will enable you to complete each exercise in real time.

Solution Seeking

I’m doing what I always do when I’m feeling out of sorts. I read blogs, listen to podcasts, and go inward. But if I’m honest I also do a smidge of complaining, mostly to my poor husband. Thank goodness his hearing isn’t always the best! But last month I read an interview that Black Sheep Wools did with Lucy from Attic 24 and I was struck with something she wrote. When asked “What direction do you see crochet going in the next 5 to 10 years?” She replied with an answer that has had me thinking ever since.

“Do you know what, I would be so, so happy if my own personal direction didn’t change too much in the next decade as I’m enjoying myself so much right now. I love the balance of my creative life, getting to crochet, design and write at a pace which suits me. I am very much a “go with the flow” type of person and don’t tend to plan much or have any great ambitions for the future. I love the luxury of living in the moment wherever possible, enjoying each day as it comes.”

Lucy – Attic 24

Free Pattern – The Bitty Bunnies: Benedict and Beatrice

Y’all! Seriously! I could not love this answer any more! #goals! This is an answer from a woman who seems to know who she is and where she is going in her crochet business and life. Lucy has been blogging for over a decade and I’m sure that her objectives have evolved over time, but her response has a solidness about it. It’s not wishy washy. It is clear and I couldn’t love it any more.

Based on that one little quote, that only contains four sentences, I have created a worksheet to help bring focus and clarity to our creative lives. It will help us not only stay on track, but keep our intentions clear and our sight focused.

Believe

First, we must Believe to help identify our purpose. You could substitute the word “dream” if that makes more sense

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Don’t abandon me now! This is where it starts to get good! I recently listened to an episode of the Goal Digger podcast with Jenna Kutcher and I literally had to pause it every few minutes just to digest her amazing information. The title was How Being Decisive Leads to Success. I am terrible at making decisions so I randomly clicked on the episode because the title caught my attention.

Jenna urged her listeners to imagine their perfect day. She encouraged us to dive headfirst into the minutea. Imagine what you’re wearing, where you are , and how you’re spending your time.

How do you want to feel each day? What do you plan to accomplish? What is the vision you have for your life? The more specific you can be here, the better off you’ll be. Close your eyes and visualize the perfect day, week, or month and think of the things it includes and what it definitely doesn’t include. How do you want to feel each day? What do you want to accomplish? What would be the end result for you of a successful, fulfilled day? I love to think about this often because how we spend our days is ultimately how we spend our lives.

Jenna Kutcher

Next, sit down and do this exercise on your worksheet. What does your perfect week look like? What are you spending your time doing? What are you wearing? Who are you with? How do you feel?

This is a powerful activity and will ultimately help you find the direction that will bring you the satisfaction and contentment in your creativity endeavors.

Bloom

Have you ever found yourself spending hours upon hours doing things that ultimately do not bring happiness? Have you ever wondered, how in the world did I get myself into this? Have you ever vowed that you would never commit to something only to find yourself saying yes to it again and again? I can totally relate and have vowed to do something about it.

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After completing the Believe exercise you are already to Bloom! Bloom is where we are going to put our dreams into reality. In the left column you are going to write out what activities you are going to say yes to. To use the phrase coined by Marie Kondo, we are going to ask ourselves if it sparks joy?

In the right column you are going to write what you know deep down in your heart is not right for you. This is the part that isn’t quite as easy. It’s hard to say no, especially when there are expectations from other people. It’s hard to let people down. It’s hard to live in fear that somehow we are going to miss out. But you will never live out your Believe dream if you don’t say no to something.

You also may be interested in my blog post Do it Scared: Explore Your Creativity!

Balance

Finally, balance is the sweet spot and it’s the one I struggle with the most. It’s not just an objective but a state of mind/being I want to reside in. For me balance would mean keeping my personal and business intentions clear and concise. No more feeling guilty for working on my crochet business too much or for not working on it enough. Balance means finding that luxurious flow of family, creativity, and work.

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In the Balance section of your worksheet we are going to put the Believe and Bloom segments to work. Here you are going to write out your personal Mission Statement right there on your worksheet. You are going to take the dream from your perfect day and combine it with your yes statements to create your individual proclamation.

This is the critical piece of the puzzle. Your mission statement will ultimately become your North Star. It is what will guide you when temptations knock at the door, showing you the way when the right decision doesn’t seem clear.

This has been an extremely useful exercise for myself and my hope is that you find value in it for yourself! Please leave a comment or suggestion you have for finding balance in your creative business and life! I would love to hear from you!

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!

Embroidery Pattern Directory

This is a running list of all the embroidery 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

Embroidery Patterns

1. Lolli and Grace

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2. LilliPopo

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3. Sloth Pattern from Cutesy Crafts (from Polka Dot Chair)

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Pass the Pumpkin Spice: Fall Planning for Crafters

 

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Fall is almost here and while everyone else is all about the pumpkin, I’m all about the planning! I am a planning enthusiast! I get high from checking off those carefully organized boxes! In my personal life my planning obsession has been out of necessity. I am the mother of four children, two of whom are now grown. My husband travels all over the world for his job and in the recent past was gone more days a year than he was home. I have been homeschooling since 1999, which is a full-time job! Plus I have a child with special needs, which means extra doctor visits and therapy sessions.

Tutu Tutorial

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I’ve been exactly the opposite in regards to my budding little crochet business. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants since it’s inception, creating what I want to create, when I want to create it. It has been working well up until this point. That flexibility has allowed my creativity to bloom and wander in different directions. But recently opportunities have come my way that I have not able to fully utilize because I haven’t had a plan. When you’re flying by the seat of your pants it’s hard to pull up the brakes and do things that require preparation.

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This month’s theme on the BHooked Podcast has been all about planning and I am loving it!! Brittany has great tips and wisdom beyond her years. One thing she encourages her listeners to do is set achievable goals. I have planned out my daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly objectives for Le Petit Saint Crochet.

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Daily goals:

  1. Post to Instagram and Facebook
  2. Interact on social media
  3. Exercise and stretch for tendonitis

Weekly goals:

  1. Write blog post
  2. Update Etsy shop announcement
  3. Fan Friday features on IG stories
  4. add pins to Pinterest

Bi-weekly goals:

  1. add new Etsy shop listing

Monthly goals:

  1. Batch photograph
  2. plan Etsy shop listings

Quarterly goals:

  1. Teach crochet class

I like having a plan but I’m not a fan of having each and every detail managed. I find that having the space to be creative and spontaneous is key for me. But I do like to have at least a rough outline of what goals I would like to achieve. My planner is full of the nitty-gritty details and ideas that pop into my head. I have learned the hard way that when inspiration hits I need to record it right away, otherwise I probably won’t remember it the next day!

 

How do you plan out your goals? Are you a detailed planner or a more spontaneous creator?