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Pattern Review – Lion Brand Graduation Bear

edit – 5/8/2015 –

So, when going through my blog, I realized that I posted a review on this twice. Oopsies!

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I am a total Lion Brand girl. I love their yarn. I love their patterns. I love their website as a whole. My craft room is just overflowing with Lion Brand yarns.

Now, having said that, I am a total sucker for Hobby Lobby brand Crafter’s Secret and I Love This Yarn when it comes to stuffed animals and baby photoprops.

But, blankets, clothes, scarves, gloves, that is all lion brand.

So, last year, I was bumming around trying to figure out what to make, when a friend mentioned her little sister was graduating from college. So, I had to make a teddy bear. I saw tons of great patterns on pinterest., but none were quite what I was looking for. So, I turned to my Lion Brand pattern app on my phone, and I found 3 killer graduation patterns. An owl, a teddy bear, and a bookworm. I love them all, but the teddy bear seemed to be the way to go.

This pattern works up really, really easily. And, because of the individual pieces, you can turn this bear into an anything bear. You can give him a baseball cap instead of a grad cap, or two ears instead, or long, flowing locks. This is a really, really simple pattern for learning the basics of making a teddy bear. This pattern is rated at easy, level 2. This is because of the sewing of all the limbs, hat, diploma, everything like that, and the facial embroidery.

Now, I do not use safety eyes or buttons on my stuffed animals. They scratch skin and can snag on things, fall off, and be a choking hazard for kids. So, I am embroider all of my faces. And really, I am getting worse as time goes on, not better. But, I am pretty proud of this guy’s face. I think it turned out well.

I also changed my tassel some, as I did not like the look of the frayed one. I just made a short chain, and tied it to the mortar board before attaching the board to the hat.

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Getting Organized

So, if you haven’t realized by now…I have issues. A lot of them. I am borderline OCD (I say borderline because I have never been diagnosed, but I am quite sure I am fully OCD) about a lot of things when it comes to organization and planning. I will actually have full on panic attacks when plans fall through or things are not planned out. But, only when it involves work or money. I am pretty laid back when it comes to going out, vacations, food…but for my day to day work, or anything involving money – like paying bills, I am almost crazy when it comes to organization. Maybe one day I will show you my super crazy excel spreadsheet that covers all of my monthly income, expenses, when it was paid, balances…it is crazy.

Well, as I was sitting around my house yesterday, thinking about this upcoming craft fair on May 2nd, I realized that I do not have nearly as much made as I had thought. So many of my pre-made items are for adults, and adults will definitely not be my target audience at the children’s festival! And so much of my stuff is winter! I am all set and ready to kill some late fall / early winter craft shows…but May in Southern California? No one is going to buy a scarf or gloves! And adults will not be shopping for themselves when they are in an area dedicated to kids and playing! I need to focus on stuffed animals, kids clothes, dress up clothes, that sort of stuff. Which I have known all along, and I was set on the “I am doing okay there”…until I looked at the count. How I will ever be ready, I have absolutely no idea. So, after spending about 10 minutes freaking out and nearly convincing myself that I should cancel, Stacey’s voice popped into my head again…make a plan. Write it down. Get organized. Be realistic. She actually wrote an entire blog on how to do that exactly…and it is worth a read, if you are like me at all, and get easily spooked.

So, I made a plan…and it looks like this.

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My plan is actually quite flexible. My personal days are all days that I have stuff scheduled and probably would be limited on any work I could actually do. And of course, given that my shop isn’t exactly doing amazing with sales (which you could totally help fix!), all of those days that are dedicated to Etsy orders are available to help finish up work from the day before.

So, while this plan will not 100% put me where I wanted to be, there aren’t enough hours for that considering I work full time, and so much overtime, it will put me much closer. And, it quelled the panic attack some. So, now to just make sure I stick to the plan and kick out a whole bunch of really awesome stuff in the next 2 months!

Wish me luck!

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Pattern Review – Graduation Bear from Lion Brand

So, I have had this best friend since I was about 2 years old. She has always been there, even though for the last 18 years we have lived at least 3,000 miles away from each other. Doesn’t mean anything to best friends. Well, her baby sister graduated college last year, and she asked me to make a grad bear for her sister. So, I searched and searched and searched all over the internet for a grad bear pattern. I could not find anything I liked. They all seemed so childish, like something you should give to a kid graduating kindergarten. But here was a young lady, 22 years old, getting ready to graduate from college. She needed a sweet, loving teddy bear that didn’t scream “I’m a toddler!”. Eventually, I found this killer pattern on Lion Brand’s pattern app. What is even better, they also have a worm and an owl on this app too. Yes they do. This pattern was super easy to work with as well.

This totally awesome graduation teddy bear came from this free pattern off the Lion Brand website

Now, I used red heart super saver yarn (I hate this yarn, despise it, it is awful. I try to never use it, but I have SO MUCH from my “super poor” days and back when I had no idea about quality of yarn…so I use it for free projects for family and friends in an effort to get rid of it!) instead of the Vanna’s Choice (which is great yarn!), but it turned out to be about the same size specified in the pattern. I have found Crafter’s Secret and I Love This Yarn gauge similar to RHSS, so those are inexpensive options as well, if you cannot afford the Vanna’s Choice (though lionbrand.com ALWAYS has some in their clearance section…that section is my favorite…50-75% off all sorts of yarn!)

I also did not use safety eyes, I embroidered the eyes on afterwards. I don’t like to use safety eyes because of the chance of a child getting ahold of the toy and eating them. Or a dog…my dogs would eat them if given the opportunity.

My biggest suggestion is to make the head and body last. I prefer to sew on the legs, arms, ears, cap whatever I can before I stuff and close the body. with this, I was able to sew everything on before I closed it, since you are starting at the head and working your way to the butt. I also sewed the diploma to the arm before I sewed on the arm.

The cool thing is that it is a really basic teddy bear pattern, that you can do 100 things with. You can give him two ears and put flowers or candy in his hand. You can give him one ear and put a camo ballcap on the other side. You can give him no ears and out a sunhat on him. I love versatile patterns that can be made into so many things.

Overall, I would give this pattern 4 stars, and say that “easy level 2” is a good rating for it. It is a good step up from really basic amigurumi. It is probably not the best pattern if it is you first time working in rounds or sewing on limbs. But, if you are familiar with rounds, if you have some decent sewing experience, make 100 of them. They are quick and easy. I think this one took about 2 hours to work up…and I am pretty sure about 40 minutes of that was me fumbling around trying to sew on the limbs…I suck at that part.

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Funky Finds – My First Craft Fair

Well…my first craft fair was a bust. 😦 Unfortunately, it was really rainy and awful the days leading up to the fair, it was raining the morning of the fair until about 10 minutes before it started…so that really hurt foot traffic. Plus, there seemed to be a lot of looky-loos walking around…people not interested in buying at all. Most of the vendors I spoke with didn’t even make their booth fee back, myself included. There were a couple vendors that did really well, but for the most part, the only sales people got were to other vendors.

We had two versions of our booth set-up…our initial morning set up, and then our set up after our friends arrived with some baskets and the like…and all of her creativity and design abilities. She definitely helped more than I could dream of.

My younger daughter ran around in her Halloween costume for a few hours, but then it got to be too warm, so she changed and we stuck the costume on the carrying case for our EZ-Up. The costume definitely brought a lot of attention to the booth, with several ladies talking about getting custom clothes and costumes done for their kids and asking for cards, so here’s to hoping that pans out.

I learned a valuable lesson about set-up; do not put your most expensive items out front! People kept walking by and looking at my cashmere scarf and leaving immediately after seeing the price, so we swapped it for a  cheaper scarf and then people would actually come into the booth. However, I was definitely overpriced for the market. There was another knitter / crocheter who is definitely a hobbyist, and not running a business, that was selling hats and scarves for about half of what I was; but hers were all acrylic, made of red heart super saver and the like; mine are wool blends and made from much more expensive yarn. So yea…definitely not my crowd. Everyone loved the stuffed animals, but would scoff at paying $10 for a  stuffed animal. I heard a lot of “I could get this at Walmart for $2!” It took some effort to hold my tongue and not respond with great things like, “And just imagine the little kid who made it probably got a whole $0.02 for the entire day!” People definitely don’t seem to see the skill, time, or money involved in crochet. They just think “yarn is cheap” (which it really isn’t, depending on the yarn!) and that anyone can make this stuff. I had about 5 ladies who ‘crochet’ (they can make a blanket with a straight single crochet all the way across and back) look at my daughter’s costume and comment with “that’s not that hard, I could make that” or told a friend who was inquiring about custom orders “don’t bother getting her card, I will make it for *insertchildnamehere*”. On the plus side, no one was obviously taking pictures, so I don’t actually think anyone will be studying too hard to replicate the costume. Not that I think anyone could. There are definitely people talented enough to do it….but I am not sure I could replicate it exactly. I made it up as I went along and stupidly did not write anything down about it!

Anyway, enough venting about how horribly rude people are at fairs. I did have a good time though, I definitely feel like I got a lot of exposure, I made a few vendor friends, and I found out about a few more fairs I want to do. I did sell my ten F-Bombs to my friends for their Christmas order. I also sold an octopus finger puppet and some toddler multi-color fingerless gloves. And I got the experience I needed to feel more confident about the fair I am doing in May; it is a MUCH larger event and I was slightly terrified. I now have my “inventory goal” list and am working on that after I finish the last of my Christmas orders.

No more vending plans until May. Then I have the Soka University International Festival in Irvine, Ca on May 2, then the BrewBQue in Norco, CA on May 30-31. I am really excited, and I feel like I will be much better prepared. And realistically, after that, I am going to focus on Halloween costumes, since that was my big seller this year, and then Christmas items. I have to be a lot more prepared next year, as I want to do several Christmastime craft fairs. 🙂

Anyway, I will be photographing and listing all the inventory that wasn’t already up in the shop this weekend. So keep an eye out! There is some really awesome stuff in there! Have a fantastic day!

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Almost Ready!

So…it is that time of year, the time of the craft fair. And while I was not prepared and ready to do too many of them, I am presently in mass chaos mode to get ready for the one tomorrow. It is my first, and I am sort of terrified! For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am absolutely awkward. I do well with dogs, I do well with little kids, I do well with yarn…I do not do well with people. I constantly feel like I am annoying them, or that they don’t get my jokes or humour. So, the thought of trying to sell to people face to face has me sweating bullets and sick to my stomach…I seriously have barely eaten the last three days, I am so nervous. Luckily, my fiancée, his younger daughter, and our best friends will be there to help…and they are all quite socially capable and fun to be around. So, I am hoping to maintain the quiet, mysterious, crafter’s aura, while they wow people and sparkle them into the booth. I am so, so, so grateful to have them all.

Funky Finds

I made Chris get up with me at 4am to do inventory and freak out about things that aren’t 100% finished. All of the stuff on the pillows to the left still need the ends sewn in…luckily that isn’t TOO long of a task, since I am stuck on a twelve hour day at work today. Everything else is ready to go…though that creepy rainbow bear might have his face cut off and be sold without a face. It is really the creepiest face I have ever seen. I also have one more elephant that is in pieces, he is ready, just needs to be sewn together…so yea…I have my work cut out for me tonight. Maybe I will just let them work the fair and I will take a nap.

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I have been so stressed out lately, trying to find a place to move to next month, trying to figure out how we are going to afford to move to a house with a yard that my dogs desperately need, working two jobs, figuring out how I can afford to quit one of them, trying to get the Etsy shop going, and preparing for this fair. I am utterly exhausted. And my poor doggies must think that I hate them. I have barely spent any time with them or played with them in over a week! I am such a terrible momma!