Monday, January 5, 2015

Yarn Explorations: Bernat Tizzy

Yarn comes in all colors, textures, and styles. It is made up of a ton of different fibers and fiber combinations. Today, more than ever, being allergic to wool doesn't make it impossible for someone to enjoy the fiber arts. Acrylics aren't the stiff and hard yarn anymore.  They can be soft and plush. Bamboo makes something durable and silky smooth. Artisans are doing wonderful things when dying the natural fibers. And even natural fiber markets are growing. It's amazing. 

Even though I crochet a lot I haven't really and truly explored the world of yarns. Not by fiber or thickness. I have dabbled here and there with a cotton or a bamboo but in general to be most cost effective I've used just the standard easy to find acrylic yarn. That's not to say there is anything wrong with that yarn. I love it. It's durable, soft, and comes in the most wonderful rainbow. 

However, this year one of my goals is to learn more about the fiber art world. One of those steps is to play with yarns. Thanks, to a wonderful donation, from a friend of a friend, I have gotten an entire yarn stash of different textures of yarns! To start off the year I'm playing with Bulky yarns. 

I have had needle sizes J - P for about 3 years now in my collection and up until November I could count on one hand the number of times I've used them for actual crocheting. They were mostly used to open stubborn packaging or scratch an itch I couldn't reach. All that has changed forever. 

I had a lot of fun with Bernat's Tizzy Yarn in November.

 At first I was still nervous as this style of yarn was all new to me. I'm a hesitant knitter. I can knit but it takes a while for a knitting project to reach the level of relaxation I get with crochet. Instead it requires me to concentrate and think quite a bit. That's not really that good when I'm also trying to multitask watching a movie, chatting with friends, and discussing the day with my hubby. So after a brief interlude of let me knit a sweater I went back to what I know well. Crochet! 

The project was a gift for a baby shower. And since we had no idea the future gender of the baby we chose a happy little frog theme. Originally I was going to knit a sweater, and do a hat and diaper cover. But as we just discussed, knitting wasn't an option. 

Using this yarn was interesting. It is luxuriously soft. To get a handle on it I first used it for a trim on the frog hat. And then I got brave and designed my own diaper cover. It's just a basic pull over hte diaper type but since I didn't have a pattern for a bulky yarn I was doing some guesswork. It looked like it came out alright. 

I also made some little frog toed booties and a blanket for it. (This is the work in progress shot of the booties.)

The heart of the blanket was entirely of the tizzy and that's when I really got to know that yarn. Man a blanket works up fast with a bulky yarn. Also because its bulky yarn you definitely need more skeins of it then of a smaller weight. I discovered that I was quite short on my amount of bulky so I trimmed it with the same green I used for the frog hat and a soft butter cream yellow. I wish I had thought ahead and taken more photographs. I do promise my friends to take more photographs of all projects this year! 

Some notes for the Tizzy. 

1. Pay attention to where you are hooking. It is hard to see the stitches and you can very very easily snag one of the extended loops when crocheting too quickly

2. It's soft and slightly addicting to feel.

3. I found it difficult to weave in ends but once done it hides just about everything in all its soft plushness. 

4. Whatever amount of skeins you think you need buy 2 more. Trust me. You can always use any extra as trim later. But its better to have and not need then need and not have. 

It was fun playing with this yarn and I would gladly do so again! Those larger hooks need a workout more often! 

***These are my personal opinions and review of this yarn. I received no request to nor compensation for this review. **

Monday, December 29, 2014

Thoughts of 2014 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Can you believe this year is almost done? It was one of those years that seemed to last forever and yet go by really fast. As it comes to a close I wanted to reflect on some of the things that have happened that made not only the Happy Hat Box possible but made this year what it was. 

First off some thanks!

  •  I'd like to thank my DH (dear husband) for his patience in my long nights of no sleep, the yarn bits everywhere, and the days where not even dishes got done because I was in the midst of a project. 
  • My cousin for her never-ending ball of green yarn that got me back in the yarn crafts. Also for taking the time out of her busy schedule to teach me the magic circle AND introducing me to (Awesome place, if you crochet and even knit, its a fun place to be.)
  • My mother-in-law that bought me my first giant ball of yellow yarn that was the inspiration for making the first minion hats. 
  • My friend at ThreeBdesigns for introducing me to the farmer's and crafter markets.
  • My mother for teaching me crochet. 
  • And my grandmother for being the voice in my head that says count Brie! Count! Otherwise you'll make another triangle and have to pick it apart again! 
  • And Finally my customers who not only buy the hats but share their happy smiles with me once they get them. It really makes me super glad when I see them happily wearing their new hats! 
I think that covers everyone. If I missed you I am sorry but know that you are appreciated too for all of your parts in this discovery process. It's been a journey and I wouldn't have gotten here without the support of those around me and the designers who willingly let me use their patterns and pick their brains for help! 

And boy did I need help at times. I've made some mistakes and learned some lessons. Next year I'll do my best to make different mistakes and learn new lessons. Isn't that the whole idea of it? 

So far in this short time I've learned: 

  • To be better organized
  • To write down new patterns and pattern changes as I go instead of waiting until the end.
  • To pay attention to what I'm doing
  • And never let a project go out of my hands until 100% finished, clean, and prepped. 
That was 2014 in a fairly brief nutshell. 2015 will be a new and exciting year. I'm going into it positive and goal driven in the hopes that it will be better than last year. I spent much of 2014 sick and my personal goal is to continue getting healthy and making more and more healthy choices. 

I am not usually a New Years Resolution sort of gal. I always feel like they are setting yourself up for failure. But I don't think its a bad thing if they are goals, reachable goals, for the new year. And I've been thinking of what I could do to improve The Happy Hat Box and I've made some small changes and goals. 

  1. Expand what I'm making. I love minion hats but I also want to try different projects and hopefully make them repeatable!
  2. Design my logo and get all my paperwork made up and done. This is a very important step if I'm going to start doing more shows. 
  3. Create a sign, an attractive but easy to set-up/tear down display, and all the parts and pieces for it
  4. Finish/Fix store 
  5. And most importantly, Blog more! So everyone knows what I'm up to.
Ok I think that's enough. If I add more I might get overwhelmed. So for now I'm going to continue my relaxation break into the New Year where I will start more of my goals! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The First Craft Show and Update!

Things have been quiet here at The Happy Hat Box. I wish I was a better or more active blogger but I'm just not. I like to post more important things though. Changes, updates, and things I've been trying. So be prepared for a slew of new posts over the next few days and even a revamp on the shop! 

This week I had my first craft show. Man was I busy busy busy making minions. At one point I felt like all these eyes were just watching me and staring as I crocheted, stitched, and added personality to all these little minion pals. It took me 3 days but at the end of them with only 15 hours of sleep under my belt (over the course of those 3 days) I had 30 different minion hats to take to the craft show. 

The show was a Christmas market in a small town here in Alberta. And as it was my first craft show I learned quite a few things and tips I'll pass on to anyone else. 

Tip #1: Sleep!!!! Ok so I was sick for the 3 weeks prior to the craft show when I was planning to do a majority of the personality process of the minion hats. Each hat is always slightly different. The eyes are about the only thing that don't vary that much but depending on eyelids, placement of pupils, or just how tired I am they do all come out different and makes for some fun. Then I usually do the mouth. Mouths are one of those things that vary. Sometimes I'll just stare at a hat for a while trying to see what personality those eyes are trying to get out. Then add the mouth. But the real final piece is the hair. I find that depending on how much, little, or where I put the hair really sets the whole thing off. Because I didn't get much crocheting done while sick, I ended up trying to do way too much the 3 nights before. So I was extremely tired and this led to tip #2. 

Tip# 2 - Organization. It really is key. At the show you have to set up and tear down rather quickly. It really does help to be organized. If a table is provided they usually are just folding plastic tables and you want to use a cloth that will help set off the items and draw customers to your booth.  I had some great ideas, and a lovely cloth. I didn't remember to bring any of them and thankfully my friend and craft neighbor had a spare cloth to loan me but honestly I truly truly need to be more organized. 

Tip# 3 - Branding. If you have a website, a blog, or even just a way to contact to get more orders from people who are thinking things over or just hey might want to pass it on you need branding. A sign, some business cards, or even just a little tag on your products can help get your brand out there. I forgot mine and didn't have time to make a sign. I will remember them next time though. 

Tip#4 - Bags and Change. Yeah yeah these should be obvious but remember NO SLEEP. So I left both of those at home. Thank goodness for my friend. She really really was a lifesaver! Oh and signing up for those cube smartphone credit card things is a good idea. Some people don't remember cash and no longer carry checks. Definitely something I want to look into getting myself if I start doing many many shows. 

Tip# 5 - FRIENDS! I can't express this enough. Times can get slow so talk to other vendors near you. Bring a friend and giggle. If you are happy and having fun people will start responding better to you. This isn't just be a cheesy sales clerk. Just be engaging and have a good time! That is what really made this a bunch of fun for me. I am great friends with Three B Design's creator. She and I shared a location and giggled our way through the 3 hour show and the 6 hour drive both ways! 

It was a great time and I'm hoping to do more again soon. I'd love to keep my stock fresh and do some new types of hats for each market. We'll see. The key here for me is to start small and feel out the places and keep the costs low until I can afford bigger or longer shows. And of course not to crochet myself into exhaustion and burn out. Yes, I love selling and making things that make people smile and be happy but I don't want to lose my own personal love of crocheting. 

But still, if any of you Edmontonians know of a small market that is around send me a note and I'll check it out to see if I can be there. If I start going to many I'll post a calendar so that we all know where The Happy Hat Box will be next! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maids Make Everything Cleaner!

Sometimes, when I look around our apartment I have two thoughts. I need a minion and I wish I had a maid. Now I'm lucky because there is only me and my DH here at the house but I gotta tell ya cleaning gets overwhelming, boring and exhausting. Who wants to clean when you could be crocheting awesome hats and binge-watching American Horror Story on TV. Sounds like a great idea to me! 

Buuuuuuuuuuut, yarn scraps land on the carpet, dishes will pile up, and lets not mention the laundry. How can two people wear so many clothes? Oh well, time to put the crochet hook down and get to cleaning. 

And boy do I need to clean. Last 2 weeks or so I hurt my arm and have been wandering around in a sling. Makes it hard to crochet but it really makes it hard to scrub dishes, haul laundry baskets, and vacuum. My DH works all day but he has been trying to help me by hauling things around and doing the heavy lifting. Through a regimen of rest and ice I've gotten it back under control and ready to work. 

Now I still wish for those house fairies but then I had a brilliant idea. How about a house minion! Or better yet,  a minion maid. So last night I finished up one of my favorite minion hats yet! A minion maid hat! Now in my cool dank basement I can keep my noggin warm and the hair out of my eyes as I vacuum to BANANA on my mp3 player! 

Need a little Minion Help around your house?? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bee-Doo! Bee-Doo! Bee-Doo!

In Despicable Me 2, this little minion grabbed our attention and our love. 

Gif and Image inside owned and © by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment

He has one job and by gum he is going to do it right! I love this little guy and Bee-Doo is probably my favorite new siren sound! 

Well of course for myself I had to have him for my minion hat! Out came my trusty Minion Hat Crochet Pattern .

I knew I wanted to make these sirens in red with silver rings. Unfortunately I'm still not electronically crafty enough to make them spin or glow but I used red and gray yarn and stuffed them with Polyfil so they'd hold their shape. 

Each little fellow has the happiest grin as you can imagine him calling out Bee-Doo! Bee-Doo! 

Now when I run around outside, I can do it in Bee-Doo Minion Style! 

Do you need a Bee-Doo Minion in your life? 

Girl Minions: Do They Exist?

Well after making some Blue Minions (insert Url to previous blog post). I thought and thought about whether there are any girl minions running around Gru's laboratory. All the ones we've seen were the males in drag. But in Despicable Me, Gru asks Phil how the kids are. If there are kids are there wives? 

So I thought about what a female minion would look like! They can't be all that different right? How about a little more hair and maybe pink or purple overalls instead of blue. Can they have blue eyes? Why not! 

So here is my take on a girl minion! 

I used the same Minion Pattern by Crochet Patterns by Jennifer for the basics of the hat and added similar adjustments. Each one has its own personality and brand of sass! Just like I imagine a girl minion would! 

Photos Copyrighted by Brie Wilkins © 2014
Photos Copyrighted by Brie Wilkins © 2014
Photos Copyrighted by Brie Wilkins © 2014

Do you want your own Minion Lady? 

The Minion Basics - Blue Minions

So I found this gigantic ball of yellow yarn around November 2013 and I knew I wanted to do something Minion like with it. It just screamed Minion to me. I grabbed it but I was still stymied about what to do with it beyond that. 

Thinking .... 

Thinking ...

Thinking ... 

And then I had it. What's a better gift to keep you warm in winter then a Minion Hat? But now I had to find how to do it. I searched and searched and there are plenty of options out there. Now I'm a beanie sort of person. I have nothing against ear flap hats at all. I just seem to really love a beanie, especially since most store bought beanies don't fit my head because of all of my lovely naturally curly hair! 

I came across a pattern in Ravelry  that had excellent Minion Hat choices with hats in all sizes! What fantastic news! Now I have never made a hat before this and it is quite a simple pattern that leaves you open to making many different choices. 

The pattern is available here: Minion Hat Pattern by Crochet Patterns by Jennifer  If you'd like to make your own minion hat. 

This was the idea behind the Blue Minions I've made! Each one is special and different, just like the real minions. 
Photos Copyright Brie Wilkins © 2014 
Photos Copyright Brie Wilkins © 2014
Photos Copyright Brie Wilkins © 2014

Do you like these Minions? Want one of your own?