The Penguins have Landed!

PENGUINS are now available under The Chesnut Tree! They are made to order and come in the colors pictured.

penguin group

Each penguin is approximately 6″ high, made with screw-in child safety eyes, and comes with a removable scarf in a contrasting color of your choice. They are $14.99 each plus shipping ($7.65 for one penguin, $1 each additional), and you can choose to have your order gift wrapped for an additional $5. I will include a brief note inside the box as well (if you choose to leave one in the notes section of your order page.)

Get yours today! Order before December 10 to receive your items by Christmas.

penguins hanging around

P.S. – Be advised, however, that penguins are mischievous creatures and might be found exploring your house with their friends while you aren’t looking.

Under The Chesnut Tree

So about a month ago I finally got my online etsy.com store started, and I am proud to say that I have TWO items available for general sale!

(Only two? Yes, two. I know. But I’m also trying to finish special island orders and make Christmas presents for my own family and find a job with a regular paycheck, so just bear with me for a little while longer.)

For those of you who may not know already, I crochet blankets and stuffed toys of all kinds. Most of my items are made with children in mind, but would be wonderful gifts for anyone.

Currently looking for homes are Felix the Frog and a snuggly elephant lovey blanket (a blanket with the head and arms of an animal attached).

stuffed frog toy

Felix is 18″ tall when standing and 11″ tall sitting down. Felix is floppy, so he does not sit or stand on his own, but he does make a wonderful toy to be dragged around the house by a small child. He is made with acrylic yarn and high-quality cotton fiber stuffing, and has no buttons or choking hazards. He would be a wonderful, huggable playmate for any frog lover. His pattern is provided courtesy of designer Mari-Liis Lille (lilleliis).

Felix is available under The Chesnut Tree for $40.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

The elephant lovey blanket was actually an accident. Sort-of. I wanted to make an elephant blanket and I chose colors that complimented the animal… and then realized later I had essentially made an Alabama Crimson Tide blanket. Shame on me. (The colors in my family are more orange and white, if you know what I mean.)

Photo Oct 16, 8 46 26 PM elephant blanket

The blanket itself is gray, maroon and white and is 21″ square with a slight scallop ruffle around the edges. The elephant portion is 6″ high and is made with locking child-safety eyes for a realistic look without the choking hazard. This brave little elephant is afraid of nothing and will keep your little one safe in all conditions. Completely handmade, he is a wonderful keepsake and friend for the growing Alabama fan in your house.

This blanket is available under The Chesnut Tree for $60.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

I have a few other items listed but they are designated for special order pickup and are identified by the buyer’s name in the title. Those are custom orders from the island, so please admire them but allow their owners to order them first.

My shop also has a large blue “request custom order” button on the left side, so feel free to use that option to ask about special types of orders. I love creating new things and I will try to honor special requests as often as I can.

I try to keep costs realistic, however I know many will see the prices on the above items and think “Sixty bucks for a baby blanket? No way!”. But you do have to consider the time and effort put into making a unique handmade item. I do not add high profit markups to my items; I only charge for the materials used and the time put into creating the piece. Some items take longer to make than others, even though the finished product might turn out to be roughly the same size as another listing. It all depends on the techniques and materials used in its creation.

So please, before you shut down the idea of handmade gifts – either bought online or at a craft fair table – take a moment to think about the love and dedication that went into creating a one-of-a-kind piece that you or your child can treasure forever.

Thanks for reading, and please follow the bolded links to see what else is available under The Chesnut Tree. You can also follow my original crochet Facebook page at Chesnut Crochet Creations for updates.

My Masterpiece

My Masterpiece

Well, I am proud to announce that I have finished my greatest crochet masterpiece to date for my most supportive costumer – the Mister. So, after thousands of stitches and about 20 hours of work spread over eight days, I present to you… BOWSER!

Photo Aug 04, 12 03 30 PM

Bowser is the turtle enemy of Mario in all of the famous video games featuring the two characters and a host of their friends. The Mister always plays as Bowser when our friends get together for a Mario Kart game night, so when he found out a pattern existed to create the formidable snapping turtle, he was over the moon.

The pattern I used can be found for free here on Nanette Crochet’s blogspot. I made a few alternations to the original pattern, but since I haven’t discussed those revisions with the original creator I will not detail them here. However, they mostly revolve around creating Bowser’s tongue, teeth, claws, eyes and eyebrows, since those were originally done in felt, but I don’t have any felt so I created them from yarn like everything else.

My Bowser is made of 68 individual pieces (at last count), some of them only inches long and a few stitches wide, sewn together like an enormous 3D jigsaw puzzle that I, at times, thought would be impossible to complete.

His jaws and mouth alone are made up of 12 pieces (not including his four teeth or the green part of his head and horns shown in these pictures. Only the jaws.).

Photo Jul 31, 4 20 15 PM Photo Aug 04, 12 06 20 PM

His shell has a top and a bottom piece. He has eight hair pieces, two horns and eight spikes. His four arm bands are separate, his belly plate is separate from his body, and his red inner mouth is a different piece from the tan outer plate along his jaws.

Photo Aug 01, 9 41 02 PM

All body pieces before head and shell were attached

Photo Aug 01, 9 41 08 PM

Body with shell

Photo Aug 03, 4 57 04 PM

Hair pieces

Photo Aug 04, 12 03 53 PM

Finished product, showing claws, arm bands and eyes

Photo Aug 04, 12 03 13 PM

Close-up of his eyes. I am especially proud of these because it took almost an hour of trial-and-error to figure out how to create their iconic shape from stitches rather than felt pieces.

He is approximately 10 inches tall (not including his horns), 9 inches wide from hip to hip, 7.5 inches from the tip of his tail/shell to his belly, and 20 inches around (measuring over his shell and under his arms).

The Mister is impressed and, quite frankly, I am too. I know this is tooting my own horn in a major way, but I’ve never done anything this complex before and I’m incredibly proud of how well he turned out. I don’t want to do items like this on a regular basis, but knowing that I can is pretty cool. 

Photo Aug 04, 12 03 38 PM Photo Aug 04, 12 02 42 PM

What do you think? Is the husband worth it? I think so. 🙂 He’s excited to make all his friends jealous. 🙂

I should have gone to Hogwarts

My mom sent me this image today, and while I’ve seen it before, it hasn’t ever been quite as true as this past week. I know that those who can knit or crochet (which are not the same thing, by the way) are in the minority, so I don’t expect my customers to know the difference or to know how crocheting works. However, I’ve been amazed at some of the things I’ve been asked to make over the past few days. Great horned owls (for which there seem to be no patterns online), centipedes (which I refuse to make because “if I build it, they will come”), and a variety of strangely exotic birds, to name a few.

Now, I don’t have a problem when potential customers bring me a picture of a particular animal and ask if I can make it. I’m flattered, actually, that they have so much assumed faith in my abilities. However, it does start to be a problem when said customer refuses to accept that something just isn’t going to work. Either a pattern doesn’t exist (I can freehand somewhat but I need at least a basic starting shape.), I don’t have the materials and they aren’t willing to wait (we live in a third-world country, people. I don’t exactly have a Hobby Lobby.), or the animal doesn’t look EXACTLY like the real thing.

That’s been an issue lately – people seeming to think their products are going to be exact replicas rather than toys. It’s a stuffed animal! Not a die-cast mold of your beloved pet. I try to find a basic body shape that fits the pet’s breed and then match the color scheme as close to a picture as I can. That’s the best I can do. If you have some exotic breed of parrot with multicolored iridescent wings, and the best I can do is a basic parrot, that’s the best I can do. I am not going to use hundreds of brain cells to make one stitch at a time in different colors just to mimic this species’ wings. No amount of money that a student is willing to pay could cover that kind of stress.

(And another thing, if you think the price I quoted you is too high, just say no thanks and walk away. Don’t stand by my table for 20 minutes and complain loudly about how you can’t BELIEVE I would make it so expensive. I charge in local EC prices, which means I’m actually only making a third of that in US dollars. I do this for my own entertainment and hardly make any profit at all. So if you want to complain about it [and be the only person, I might add, because nobody else seems to think I charge too much], that’s your own cheap problem.)

Sometimes color schemes just aren’t feasible with a customer’s deadline. For example, 7th semester students have to have their orders done before finals because they leave the island for good after that, and I work with them as much as I can to finish everything they order before they leave. Sometimes a 7th semester student wants something that is possible, but not with the supplies I currently have. I would have to get the special supplies when I go home in August, at which point the customer will have already moved away. Therefore, that order isn’t possible for that particular person. People refuse to accept this. One customer asked if her family could bring the special yarn when they come to help her move…. the week before she leaves. I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to happen. I have suitcases to pack too, you know.

I really should have gone to Hogwarts, because people seem to think I can just wave my little crochet stick around and POOF! life-like yarn animals appear. I’m not complaining, per say, because I enjoy making all sorts of animals and I’m glad to be making a little bit of money; I’m more just voicing my amazement at some of the orders and questions that have come in. For the most part, however, my customer-base has been very excited and supportive of my products and I’ve gotten lots of good reviews and referrals. This month I’ve done a donkey, a pomeranian, a blanket with a monkey head, a regular baby blanket, six baby sea turtles and a giraffe, and I still have another donkey and a red panda to work on this week. Business is keeping my busy, so I always have that to be thankful for.

What magic have you been asked to perform lately?

Rush Orders

You really have to forgive me for being behind with my usual Monday post. I could make a lot of excuses, but the real reason is just that I never seem to know what day it is anymore. Our daily routine is a bit different with the Mister being a part-time student this semester, but I think he is gradually getting used to the details of being home during the day.

For example, he’s learned that you need to open both the top and bottom porch doors to get the most airflow through the house or it gets stuffy by about 10 a.m. And he’s learned that the dog will not poop while on her leash, even when she really, really needs to, so you have to wait until the yard is empty and then let her off long enough to get the job done before she explodes. He’s also found out that I keep the bedroom porch doors closed every other Monday morning so the pool maintenance people can check the pump without being eaten alive by our dog. It’s a long list of details that keep this place running peacefully.

I’ve been working on rush crochet creation orders for the past two weeks for a young lady who ordered six animals last semester before finding out that she has to return home for family reasons. She’s been very considerate – letting me know as soon as she found out when she would be leaving – and would still like to purchase as many of her animals as I can finish by the end of next week. Because she’s been such a good customer and hasn’t been demanding, like so many would be in this situation, I really want to get all her animals finished. Sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I finished #4 this morning and hope to start #5 in time to finish, but #6 – a barn owl – is definitely not going to be done. I feel badly about this, but I’ve been working hard on them and there’s only so many stitches I can do in a day.

Here are some pictures of what I’ve finished in the last two weeks. (Pattern links in the captions for those who might be interested.)

crochet turtle toy

Turtle with removable shell – next time I’ll use elastic bands or something instead of the button vest; that part was too complicated.

Elephant

Elephant – his back legs are weighted down with heavy metal buttons to help him stand up on his own without his head pulling him over.

This monkey lovey blanket – a combination of an animal head and a granny square baby blanket design – I did over a weekend in an effort to work on something different. I love how he turned out, and the young lady who ordered him has requested another!

monkey head for lovey blanket

Monkey head for lovey blanket

Coming down the pipe next are some Star Wars characters, a penguin, a donkey, a sea turtle and some cows. Wish me luck!

Lion Brand Giveaway!

Attention all crocheters!

Lion Brand Yarn is hosting a giveaway through allfreecrochet.com for three free skeins of Heartland yarn – made in America and named after national landmarks. I really like Lion Brand for blankets and throws because it has the strength of a regular worsted weight but is soft enough to cuddle up in. I’m dying to try a c2c (corner to corner) pattern style someday when I can make afghans again.

Enter for your chance to win at http://www.allfreecrochet.com/sweeps/Lion-Brand-Heartland-Yarn.

What have I gotten myself into….

Ok, so most of you have heard me talk about all the little Easter bunnies and chicks I’ve been crocheting for the RUSVM student community in recent weeks. Well, last Wednesday was adoption day, and even though all my animals had been pre-ordered, I still had a lot of people stop to ask about them and about placing orders for other animals.

I left campus Wednesday with about 9 new animal orders (some of them for Easter chicks and bunnies, which will be the last Easter chicks and bunnies I ever make. Ever.). Then Thursday I woke up and turned on my computer to find that the Chesnut Crochet Creations Facebook page had blown up overnight – literally doubling its “likes” – and my inbox was crammed with new order requests! I wasn’t able to close my Facebook or my Excel order spreadsheet (yes, it’s even come to that) all day long. Every single time I checked I had new orders and new requests for price estimates. Friday evening I actually had to post that I am no longer taking new orders until I can start to get a handle on what’s already come in.

Right now, looking at my list, I have three orders that have to be finished in the next three weeks (for graduating students) and 27 other animals to be finished throughout the year. 27!! That includes the four bunnies and four chicks that are repeated orders, but the other requests are at least spread out across a wide variety of projects. Here are just a few of the items that have been ordered so far.

Free pattern Olivier - ordered by Christine Caisse and Alison Palmer  Ravelry: Cutest Little Sperm Whale pattern by Patricia Castillo - ordered by Christine Caisse  Eduardo the donkey - ordered by Rosalba Oramas   Miss Giraffe amigurumi crochet pattern by StuffTheBody   Soren the Barn Owl - ordered by Christine Caisse and Polina Bazlova   Crochet Puppy - ordered by Karen Brown   Amigurumi Despicable Me Minion - FREE Crochet Pattern / Tutorial @dotti C C C McCoy

YES!! Someone has ordered a Minion!!! I am so excited about that one.

While the sheer number of orders has been a bit overwhelming, the individual projects themselves shouldn’t be too chaotic once I can actually get them started. The problem right now has been a lack of supplies, but I hope to be going craft shopping in town tomorrow to find colors for my most pressing orders and then Mom is sending me a giant duffle bag full of lush, beautiful yarny goodness in April, so that should cover a lot of what I need to get done.

So excited about this duffle bag. I might be more excited about the duffle bag than I am about April break itself. I might be more excited about the duffle bag than I’ve been excited about anything in a very long time. (Did I mention that I’m super pumped about a certain duffle bag?)

I’m grateful to have such a willing supplier, as well as several ladies from home that have gone through their own craft closets and sent my mother bags and boxes of yarn, ribbons, fabric scraps, buttons and a variety of other things to fuel my crochet animal obsession. I am very appreciative of all of you – you know who you are. 🙂 (Yarn is sold here, but in small quantities and very limited color choices, so shipments from home are vital to filling my orders.)

The students seem very excited about it, and while I was on campus Friday selling a rabbit to a pre-order customer, I had three different people approach me and ask if I am the “cute animal lady.” Apparently, I have a name now, which ranks me with the Bread Chick and the Cake Pop Momma (also self-employed campus novelties). It’s a real honor; it truly is.

I’m thankful that my Momma taught me how to crochet so many years ago and gave me the basic skills needed to expand into the “cute animal business.” I didn’t think I’d ever find anything to do here that would give me a sense of purpose and allow me to contribute financially to our family, but I’ve been blessed with a way to do both and I couldn’t be more grateful. I may not be making much money by U.S. standards, but as long as I can pay our electric bills and keep that much more money in our loan account, I’ll be happy.

There are even whispers in the works to open an Etsy shop, which is something a good friend suggested way back in the beginning before we ever moved here. This would be a mother/daughter endeavor and probably won’t happen until after the St. Kitts years are over, but if you can wait that long the Creech/Chesnut craft obsession might be available for sale in your area too. 🙂