Friday, April 7, 2017

It's April... really

Okay, this may be the latest in a month that I've posted my "Penguin Pail" list... shows how crazy April has been! I started out April sitting in the train station, waiting to take the 11:59 train (which didn't pull in until 12:25 am) to Indiana, to head up to Michigan to spend a long weekend with my daughter and her family, which includes my adorable little granddaughter, Aliya.

I got back home Tuesday night, and seems like life has been crazy busy since, trying to catch up at work, with tax stuff, with working on new, healthier habits, with life in general.

So, April will be a month of trying to get stuff DONE! Finish up a couple of orders, do the Crochet-Along challenge with One and Two Company, pull those "well, I got the first part done, but then I lost interest" projects from the depths of the craft room and get them DONE!

  1. Poppy Troll 
  2. One and Two Company CAL - Patch the Bear #1  
  3. One and Two Company CAL - Patch the Bear #2
  4. One and Two Company CAL - Patch the Bear #3
  5. Island Playset: make island, tree, 3-4 sea creatures (I made the Ocean base, now need to finish it up)
  6. Hedgehog (order for May birthday)
  7. Dino Boy 
  8. Purple Plane - body done - finish wings (started during trip)
  9. Butter Lamb - just embroider nose and mouth finished and sold already! 
  10. Farm Square - Green
  11. Farm Square - Brown

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March of the Penguin 2017

February flew right by. I did pretty well with my February goals, so I'm looking forward to bashing this March list to pieces! It's a varied and ambitious list! Things may be bumped, though, as I have two craft shows in March, and custom orders will jump to the top of my priority list!

1. DONE Finish the woodland-colored Hooded Owl Blanket I'm working on
                     3/1 Status: 32 of 44" of blanket done
             Finished 3/11

2. Test my pattern for the smaller sized bunny
3. DONE Finish Island Playset ocean base
4. DONE -Stick to yarn diet (stash beginning point 544 entries, 169.3 pounds)
(While I am telling myself NOT to purchase any yarn, I may be receiving another substantial yarn gift... so I'm not making any promises about diminishing size of my stash, knowing I may not be able to keep them!)
One large box and two bags of yarn to be inventoried, sorted into totes, and enjoyed! 
(once yarn was inventoried, my stash grew to 590 entries, 188.2 pounds)

5. Fill a Ziploc bag with scrap yarn and do a "finish it off" challenge (bag filled, let the challenge begin!) - DONE
Scrap bag ready to go! 27 ounces of scrap yarn!

Another doll finished off some scrap yarn

Scrap Yarn is down about 5 ounces, many thanks to Sir William the Wild!

About a dozen scrap projects completed (catnip toys not pictured), down to 12 ounces of yarn (3/11)

3/14 update on the scrap yarn challenge: down to 5.8 ounces, 15 projects completed!

3/20 - 20 projects completed, down to 2 ounces... almost done!

3/24 - Finished up the bag of yarn the night before my craft show, so I took this late-night flash picture, just in case I sold some of the items the next day. The snake on the left and the Ninja Turtle sold, and I used the Bills Fan (red, white and blue hair) as a door prize donation.

6. Make Max the Rhino (pattern I purchased, but didn't make!) (Max is getting bumped by a custom order for a Poppy the Troll doll, started 3/29)

7. Participate in the One and Two Company CAL for March (Felix the Dragon) DONE

8. Try making a felted bowl - DONE

9. DONE Do a weekly WIP Wednesday picture (shared on my Facebook page and Instagram) and participate in blog link-ups at least two times a week.
3/1 WIP Wednesday Pic. Owl Blanket, Ninja Turtle, Island Playset base

3/8 WIP Wednesday Pic - Almost done with both projects!

Here is one of the Blog Link-ups I participate in. And here is another!

3/22 WIP - Just one WIP. All the parts to Felix Dragon are done, just need to be sewn together! 

3/29 WIP - Actually, when I took the picture, I didn't have any projects on the hook, but I figured a picture of an empty chair would be boring, so I pulled a skein of yarn and the pattern for the project to be started after work! 

3/29 WIP Wednesday

10. DONE Complete at least 9 of the items on my "100 Rabbit Trails" list. Since #1 and #6 are on there, and #5 will certainly knock a few off, I think 9 items is attainable!
       1. TMNT Big Head Baby Doll (34)  2. Hedgehog (1)  3. Striped Snake (92)  4. Catnip Mice (96) 5. Woodland colors Hooded Owl Blanket (23), 6. Island Playset  (24) (base done), 7. Pink Dress BHBD (well, it was a bunny, and the pink part was her slip...) (40), 8. Farmer BHBD (42)... was a gift, so can't put a picture up yet. 9. Tiny Striped Turtle (91)
Used variegated yarn to make a tiny "striped" turtle #91
Hedgehog (#1) used up a lot of yarn scraps!
#34 - TMNT Big Head Baby Doll

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Hundred Rabbit Trails

The past week was all about the bunny. I have an outstanding order for two "Pretty Bunny" dolls using this pattern. It is one of the most challenging patterns I've worked on in a long time. The finished product is adorable, but these take forever to make! Let's just say that if I charged the same hourly rate I make as an office manager, this little cutie would be over $300! The three-layer dress, shoes made separately, huge ears, sculpted face... everything about her just took extra time! So, when I finished up the first bunny yesterday, I knew I should get started on the second one... but when I spend so much time focused on one project, I get a bit burned out, and start looking for something new to start. My mind keeps going down other rabbit trails... so I figured I'd give you a little taste of my trip down the rabbit trails.

Second bunny is done! Time to start down some rabbit trails!

As I finished up the bunny, I put the leftover yarn into the basket next to my chair. I had about one ounce of the blue yarn for the middle skirt left over.

Hmmm... what could I do with one ounce of leftover yarn? Maybe a hedgehog? No, I don't think I have a fun fur that would go well with it, and the yarn is dark enough that the embroidered eyes and nose might not show up all that well. Well, it might make a nice pair of pants for a little BHBD (Big Head Baby Doll)... like another try at the plumber design I've been working on. Or a little teddy bear, like Sam the Teddy Bear from One and Two Pattern company. 

Oh, boy, One and Two Company. That's a dozen rabbit trails by itself! Her patterns are incredible! There are a bunch of her patterns I've purchased and haven't done yet. They're at the top of my list: Duck Lovey, Zebra Hood, Max the Rhino, Striped Owl, Farm Playset. Then there are the patterns I've made before, but want to make again... because they (1) were so fun to make... Willa the Whale, Moose/Reindeer, Snowman, Scrappy Puppy...(2) sold quickly... Gus the Tractor, Doris the Cow, a mermaid, or (3) use up a yarn I bought just for that project, or yarn that I have sitting around...Bob the Turtle, Nuru the Unicorn, Rascal the Raccoon...and then there's the new Riley the Tiger pattern that just got released, complete with baseball cap, baseball bat and baseball. Adorable! I want to make one! 

Okay, back to my chair... when I put the yarn away, I notice that there were a few mostly-full skeins that could be returned to "inventory" (my storage totes of yarn). Putting them away, I see skeins of yarn that remind me of projects I would like to do with them. That fluffy purple yarn would make a cute troll doll... the green would make a cute frog. That soft variegated yarn is just right for that hooded owl blanket that's making the rounds on the internet now (or I could get back to the brown toned one that I started when I first bought the pattern!)  That blue blanket yarn would be a great base for the sea friends playset. There's some skin-tone yarn that would make a great BHBD. I wanted to make one with a penguin hat...and one with a bunny hat...and one with a frog hat...and one with a Pikachu hat. Oh, Pokemon... I need to make up some more Pokemon balls for the craft show in two weeks... and replace the Pikachu basket that I had displayed them in before I sold it! And I could make fingerless gloves in red and white with the Pokemon ball on them... Oh, and Minion fingerless gloves always sell quickly. I even have that pattern for Minion slippers! Where was I? Oh, big head baby dolls! Somebody posted a picture on Facebook today about how she used the pattern to make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... I should make a few of those! 

Oh, Facebook... that takes me down a bunch of rabbit trails! Cathy posted a picture of adorable unicorn stuffed animals. Must. Make. One. I won a free pattern for a Labrador Retriever lovey from a Facebook contest. I think my super adorable granddaughter could use a blanket that looks like her puppy friend Molly! Oh, and I just got a text message this morning where Aliya is cuddling a sock monkey doll. Maybe she should have a hat to match! Where was I? Oh, Facebook! Being in a group for people who make BHBD is dangerous...too many ideas floating around there! How about one with a Cookie Monster hat? Or an Elmo hat? Oh, I have some pink yarn left from the bunny that would make a cute pink dress on a doll! What about a ballerina? Or a farmer? Oh, wait! A scarecrow! Or a zombie... 

There are other Facebook pages that draw me in. The site that had the Pretty Bunny Amigurumi pattern has tons of free, adorable patterns. Oh, man, I want to make the Glamorous Monkey... and that little elephant that fits in the palm of your hand, Oh, there's a giraffe that has a heart on his belly! Sweet! There's a Hawaiian Minion! And some cute little foxes! And turtles that look like watermelon! 

And then there's Ravelry. It's a website for people who love to knit and crochet. You can look at patterns, keep track of your yarn / projects / patterns, make lists of stuff you want to make, chat with fellow crafters, etc. Definitely a place that produces rabbit trails... all I have to do is look at my Queue (patterns I've put onto a list to make later):
Cheeseburger Hat, Reggae Owl, Olaf doll, Funky Boots, Howie the Penguin, Penguin Mittens, Hi-Top Sneaker Slippers, Snoopy Doll...

One page (of five!) of my Ravelry library
Or I could look at my library of patterns I've downloaded: A pizza blanket, a cute owl that would work up fast, baby slippers that look ice skates, Southwest Cowl, Tigger lovey, Cool Shades Beanie (looks like sunglasses on the beanie!), Pippa the Penguin, Henry the Hound, Free Spirit Slipper Socks, Reindeer Hat, Baymax, Monsters Inc. Scarf, Chipmunk Hat, Purple Elephant, Big Head Baby Doll in a cute Holiday Hooded Cape, Fox scarf, monster truck slippers, Crocheted cupcakes, Minion in cap & gown, piglet lovey, seahorse, shark hat, Wonder Woman headband, valentine elephant, floppy bunny hooded cowl, Thomas the Tank Engine hat... so many patterns, so little time! Some patterns I've won through Facebook contests, others were free for a limited time. I just store them away in my library for times when I want to do something new.

And that list spins off other rabbit trails. The Pizza blanket makes me think of other adorable kids' blankets that I'd like to make with the thick chunky yarn that works up so fast and is so soft and cozy: there's an ice cream cone blanket, and a shark blanket, and a rocket ship! And a bumble bee and a dinosaur tail... I printed up a pattern for a panda blanket... and wondered if I could adapt it to look like a chipmunk blanket... Oh, well... ideas for those blankets are on hold until I get more sales, because the chunky yarn is expensive...

Oh, dear... before I go thinking about buying new yarn, I need to use up some of what I have on hand! 
Scrap Yarn Part One

Scrap Yarn Part 2

Scrap Yarn Part 3

Just looking around the house, there are bags and containers of scrap yarn. The leftovers from big projects tend to multiply like.... Rabbits! And that leads to more rabbit trails! What can I make with those leftover scraps? Hmmm... The Tiny Striped Turtle pattern is pretty popular. And when I've made striped snakes, they tend to sell well at craft shows. And there are some gorgeous granny square patterns at the Moogly website. I should make two squares a month, and by the end of the year, I would have an afghan! I printed out a pattern for a striped cardigan with super bulky yarn, figuring I could use multiple strands of scrap yarn, and actually make something for myself. Oh, and there's that ball of scrap yarn I was winding for a crazy pattern for a monster doll called "Inner Beast". I need to restock some catnip mice for upcoming craft shows... and my grandkitty really liked the catnip donut! I need to make a few more little monsters for the "mini critters" basket on my craft table. Maybe a few mini owls, I saw a pattern for a mini cat, too...

Well, there you have it! 100 rabbit trails! And I'm still thinking of a few others! In fact, I'm heading to the store to pick up two shades of cotton yarn to try out a design idea for a potholder...and that rabbit trail isn't even on the list! Let's see how many of these rabbit trails I can finish in 2017! 

1.       Hedgehog

2.       BHBD Plumber
3.       Sam the Teddy Bear
4.       Duck Lovey
5.       Zebra Hood
6.       Max the Rhino
7.       Striped Owl
8.       Farm Playset
9.       Willa the Whale
10.   Moose/Reindeer
11.   One and Two Snowman
12.   Scrappy Puppy
13.   Gus the Tractor
14.   Doris the Cow
15.   Marina Mermaid
16.   Bob the Turtle
17.   Nuru the Unicorn
18.   Rascal the Raccoon
19.   Riley the Tiger
20.   Purple Troll
21.   Frog doll
22.   Italia Hooded Owl Blanket
23.   Brown Hooded Owl Blanket
24.   Island playset 
25.   BHBD Penguin
26.   BHBD Bunny
27.   BHBD Frog
28.   BHBD Pikachu
29.   Pokemon balls
30.   Pikachu basket
31.   Pokemon gloves
32.   Minion gloves
33.   Minion slippers
35.   Cathy’s unicorn
36.   Molly blanket
37.   Sock monkey hat
38.   Cookie Monster BHBD
39.   Elmo BHBD
40.   Pink Dress BHBD
41.   Ballerina BHBD
42.   Farmer BHBD
43.   Scarecrow BHBD
44.   Zombie BHBD
45.   Glamorous Monkey
46.   Tiny Elephant
47.   Hawaiian Minion
48.   Amigurumi Today Foxes
49.   Amigurumi  Today Watermelon Turtles
50.   Cheeseburger Hat
51.   Reggae Owl
52.   Olaf doll
53.   Funky boots
54.   Howie the penguin
55.   Penguin Mittens
56.   Hi-Top Sneaker Slippers
57.   Snoopy Doll
58.   Pizza Blanket
59.   Sova Owl
60.   Baby Skate Slippers
61.   Southwest Cowl
62.   Tigger Lovey
63.   Cool Shades Beanie’
64.   Pippa the Penguin
65.   Henry the Hound
66.   Free Spirit Slipper Socks
67.   Reindeer Beanie
68.   Baymax
69.   Monsters Inc Scarf
70.   Chipmunk Hat
71.   Purple Elephant
72.   Holiday Hooded Cape for BHBD
73.   Fox Scarf
74.   Monster Truck Slippers
75.   Crocheted Cupcakes
76.   Graduate Minion
77.   Piglet Lovey
78.   Aurora the Seahorse
79.   Shark Hat
80.   Wonder Woman Headband
81.   Tons of Love Elephant
82.   Floppy Bunny Baby Hooded Cowl
83.   Thomas the Tank Engine Hat
84.   Ice Cream Cone blanket
85.   Shark Blanket
86.   Rocket Ship
87.   Bumble Bee Snuggle Sack
88.   Dinosaur Tail Snuggle Sack
89.   Panda Blanket
90.   Chipmunk blanket
91.   Tiny Striped Turtle
92.   Striped Snake
93.   Moogly square
94.   Bulky cardigan
95.   Inner Beast
96.   Catnip Mice
97.   Catnip Donut
98.   Mini Monster
99.   Mini Owl
100.                        Mini cat

First project finished after the bunnies...
A troll. Hmmm... I don't see "troll" on the list! The rabbit trails are multiplying!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What? February Already?

In a way, I say "January flew by way too fast..." 

But then I look at my list of January resolutions and see that I made excellent progress. So I plan on another ambitious month for February, with an order to be finished at the top of the list! It would be great to clear away even more projects from my list of works in progress, make a dent in the growing piles of scrap yarn, and get up to date with listing items in my Etsy and Storenvy shops. That's why I make these lists... so I can keep coming back to them, and get motivated to keep plugging away at what needs to be done! 

1. DONE. Finish order of two Pretty Bunnies pattern link

One down, one to go! 

2. DONE Finish hay square for farm playset (at upper left in 2/1/7 WIP pic). I need to add a couple of rows of "uncut hay" and make a few hay bales.
2/1/17 WIP Wednesday - 4 projects in the works! 

3. DONE Start ocean play set with blanket yarn for base - well, I only said "start", so doing five minutes of work means I can mark it as done, right?
4. Maybe Finish off at least one pound of scrap-buster projects  - maybe. Did five or six scrap projects. I didn't really keep track of weighing them.
5. Diminish yarn stash by three pounds **I think I'm going to have to admit defeat on this one, as I sort of added about nine pounds of yarn to my stash when I cataloged all the yarn given to me (see #9 below)
6. Make another One & Two Company pattern that I purchased, but never used 

    (Duck, Rhino, Owl or Zebra Hood) - Nope, moved to March list
7. DONE Finish Molly the Unicorn CAL 
Finished, listed, sold and on her way to California!

8. DONE Finish dinosaur cocoon set (bright blue in 2/1/17 picture above. Needs spikes and matching hat
9. DONE Enter new yarn gift into Ravelry stash. I have enough yarn to last me for two years, if I don't buy / receive any... which is HIGHLY unlikely! 

Rather than move these from NY to MI, a friend gave me this yarn.

10. DONE Participate in the One and Two Company February CAL 

11. DONE List turtle, baby blanket and doll with shark hat in my Etsy shop

Making myself a pair of super cozy slippers wasn't on my list, but I'm so glad I made them! They are so warm and cuddly!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Mindless Scrap Scarf

The idea for this scarf came about in the fall of 2016. I thought it would be a great project for taking with me in situations where I would be waiting (doctor's offices, car repair shop, dentist). I would tie together bits of scrap yarn, threading some big metal beads I had onto the yarn as I went. Then I would just cast on a scarf about 8" wide and knit until the ball of yarn was used up.

I ended up with a ball of yarn weighing about 7.5 ounces. It was mostly worsted weight yarn, although a little bit of Baby Clouds snuck in there, and on several occasions, I doubled up sport weight yarn. I cast 28 stitches onto size 10-1/2 needles and started knitting.

I got bored rather quickly. And I got orders. Lots and lots of orders. The ball of yarn and few inches of knitting that I had completed got put into a "project bag" and stashed away (probably when I was puppy-proofing the house for Christmas company).

Then came the wind storms of January 10. I came home from work, chilled from being out in the wind for just a few minutes, and put on a pot of decaf coffee, then went to change into my comfy "home clothes" (sweat pants and a threadbare old sweater). As I was changing my clothes, the light in the closet went out. Hmm... light bulb must have burned out. Oh, wait... the light in the bedroom is out, too. And I had turned the TV on, but it's not on. Power outage!

Coffee had finished brewing, so I settled into the semi-darkness with my cup of coffee and tried to figure out what I could do by candlelight. Counting rows and trying to read a pattern would be difficult. Then I remembered the scrap scarf. Perfect! I pulled out the project bag and got to work. Since it was just garter stitch, knitting each row, I could multi-task while working on it. I pulled up a book on my tablet's Kindle app and read as I knit. So I guess you could say I was knitting by Kindle light!

After one evening of knitting, ball was down to 3.5 ounces
Power was out until 7 PM, so I got in several hours of knitting. The ball was getting smaller, and I was getting excited about actually finishing up a project, so I kept knitting until bedtime.

The next morning, power went out again, so I got to work on the scarf more. Then I finished it that evening. I deliberately left all the yarn ends hanging out. It's just a funky, colorful, Bohemian look. Not for everybody, but I certainly had fun with it, and it's very warm and cozy to wear! It ended up about 5 feet long, so wearing it as an infinity scarf, I wrap it twice around my neck.

Step 1:
Wind a ball of scrap yarn, threading beads on as you go. I started and ended with black yarn, so that the seam of sewing the ends together wouldn't be as obvious.
My ball ended up at 7.5 ounces, with 12 beads (wish I would have added more).

Step 2:
Cast on 28 stitches on size 10.5 needles

Step 3:
Knit each row until you run out of yarn.

Step 4:
Sew ends together.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

January, A Clean Slate

I finished the last of my custom orders on December 31st, so started out 2017 with a clean slate.
5 Christmas stockings... done! 

Well, almost a clean slate. I still had six projects in various stages of completion in bags around the house. And a "hackathon" project I wanted to do (where you take a pattern and make hacks, or changes, to make it uniquely yours). And a laundry list of "gotta make that" projects. 

So, I came up with the following list of resolutions for January: 

Decrease stash by 3 pounds (starting at 164.04) (May be difficult, as a friend mentioned giving me yarn rather than packing it for a move). (Have met the goal, as of 1/25, but if I get a yarn "donation", that will change the status! 
This baby blanket worked up quickly, and reduced by 'stash" by 2 pounds! 

Get patterns sorted out (Took SEVERAL hours!) 
Finish 3 of 6 WIP - DONE... actually 4 of 6 are done! 
1. Tin Can Knits Hackathon 
My Hack: I used three strands of yarn (2 baby yarn, 1 worsted) rather than 1 strand of bulky.

2. Scrap Scarf 

Since this was mindless knitting, I got several hours done during a power outage! 

3. Hay Square 
4. Shark Hat 
5. Catasaurus 
6. Big Mermaid 
One and Two Company Nuru the Unicorn 
One and Two Company January CAL 

Scrap Turtle 

Mini Unicorn 

Mini Unicorn and Nuru

Cactus Pin Cushion

Mini Owl

Stick to $100/week grocery budget - Use what I have on hand! (Didn't do well the first week, doing better since then!)
Check balance of benefits card 
Cash in Ibotta cash (trying to get $4.75 more to cash out for $50 instead of $40)
Find another pretzel/cookie canister for scrap yarn 
Load the knitting needle pouch I was gifted, post picture with thank you 
Write thank you notes 
Hem pants 
Use the sculpty clay I bought to make a fancy crochet hook
List all amigurumi over $15 
List old pattern books on Listia 

January 31 update... I feel like I made good progress on my lists this month! Trying to decide on what to do for February!