Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rilakkuma of Amigurumi

I ran across this time-lapse video showing how an amigurumi is made! It'll give you a little insight into how I make my toys. If nothing else, you get to enjoy a few minutes of quirky and cheerful music. :)

Gifts Galore

(December 2010)

                Ever since I starting making amigurumis, I haven’t bought my niece or nephew gifts. I thought my handmade toys were more special, tailor made to suit their personalities. Each gift giving event was a chance for me to show how much I love them.

                For Max’s Christmas present, I wanted something to reflect his love of flying machines. I had already made him a hot air balloon with a bear. To continue the collection, I made him an airplane. The pattern can be found in Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli. If there was enough room on the airplane’s tail wing, I would have added “Max Airline”.

                Chloe loves dogs. I think she believes she’s a puppy some of the time. I had gone on a buying spree and bought a whole bunch of Japanese amigurumi pattern books and one of them was Ami Ami Dogs, Volume 3. Inside was a pattern for a dog purse, which I named the Pooch Pouch. J The purse portion is actually the dogs head and then it has a tiny little body attached. The purse needed a lining so I went to the store to search for a cute fabric. I found the perfect one to make the inside of the purse match the outside. My sister tells me that Chloe keeps her money in her Pooch Pouch because it’s the safest place to keep her things!

                Usually I only make amigurumis for my niece and nephew, but when I ran across a pattern for Totoro by hellcat_heaven on, I had to make it for my twin sister. Suzi and I grew up watching Totoro and loving the movie. We had even gotten a toy making kit to make a giant Totoro, but the end result was a lumpy pillow thing that looked kind of like a Totoro. I think my crochet  version was more successful because Suzi immediately know what it was when she opened her gift!

                Some people have asked about the fruit bouquet in the background. It was from Edible Arrangements and was delicious! I highly recommend buying a bouquet for special occasions. Chloe couldn’t wait to each the chocolate-covered strawberries.

                Thanks again for joining me this week! See you next week!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Boy Who Loves Orange

(December 2010)

            After I posted the pictures of all the amigurumi I made for my nephew’s craft fair on Facebook, I got some great responses from my family and friends. One of the most enthusiastic responses was from my high school classmate Sharon and her son, Josh.

It turns out that Josh loves fruit, especially fruit with eyes! Sharon had glued some eyes on Josh’s plastic fruit toys, but they came off too easily. When Josh saw the pictures of my amigurumi fruit, he fell in love. Sharon contacted me and asked me if I could make an orange and a pineapple for her son. She also wondered if I could make a hippo, which I had never made before, but I saw it as my next challenge. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that.)

When I informed Sharon that I finished making the toys, she asked if she and Josh could come visit me in Irvine. Josh wanted to meet “the lady who makes the yarn fruit.” (That’s me!) We met one afternoon at 85C where I didn’t see Sharon at first, but I recognized Josh right away. I had already seen many pictures of him on Sharon’s Facebook page and he is just as cute in person as he is in the pictures. Sharon also looked exactly the same as she did in high school.

I have to say that Josh is one of the eloquent and curious little boys I’ve ever met. When I gave him the amigurumi orange, the first thing he said to me was, “My favorite color is orange!” He also told me the pineapple was for his new sister who’s still in his mom’s belly. :)

Sharon and I caught up since we haven’t seen each other since high school, but Josh and I also had some fun conversations. He asked me if I crocheted with a hook, how I was able to make the smile, how the eyes were able stay on the orange without falling off, and if I could teach him how to crochet!

                We didn’t get to spend too much time together since Sharon and Josh had to drive home for dinner, but I had a great time with Sharon and her precocious little boy. I invited them to my house where I showed Josh my crochet tools and he was able to make a few knots all by himself. I bet Josh could learn how to crochet very quickly and when he does, he'll be able to make his own produce section with eyes! :) 

                My experience with Sharon and Josh taught me that making amigurumis for myself and for other people are two difference things. If selling amigurumis mean that I'm making people happy and connecting with friends, then I'm in! Thanks again for joining me this week! See you next week!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

U900 - Diamond Head

U900 is a Japanese ukulele duo, but all their music videos feature two amigurumi animals: a black rabbit and an orange bear. If you love classic rock or crochet, you'll love their videos!

Check out the rest of U900's music videos!

My A-ha Moments (Part 2)

(September 2010)

After seeing the amigurumis I made for Fabiola’s baby shower, my sister, Suzi, asked me to participate in her son’s school Craft Fair Fundraiser. When Suzi first e-mailed me at the end of September, I was hesitant to accept because I had never made so many toys at one time, but I thought it would be a great challenge. I was ready to take my hobby more seriously, to see if I could possibly make it into a business and this was a chance for me to test out the waters.

During the next couple of weeks, I tried to get my hands on any patterns I could find. I had a set of toys I already liked to make, but I had to push myself and try out new patterns and techniques I hadn’t tried before. My goal was to make at least 30 various toys for the fundraiser. During my research, I found that there were hundreds of patterns available in books, magazines and online. I had to use my own sensibilities to decide which patterns would look good together, which colors matched, and most important of all, what was cute enough in my eyes. If I couldn’t find anything that matched what I liked, I had to make it up myself.

For two months straight, all I did was go to work, go home and crochet. It was an intense schedule, but I loved every minute of it. Sometimes, I wish I had less time at work and more time to crochet. I ended up with a nice little collection of amigurumis.

Little Bird pattern adapted from Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli.
Octopus pattern adapted from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli.

Mama Panda pattern from Crochet Today Magazine

Little Pig pattern from Lion Branch Yarn

Mama and baby Tortoise pattern adapted from Crochet Today Magazine

Cupcake and hot cocoa pattern from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli.

Ice Cream Cone pattern is mine.

Cup of Tea pattern is mine.

 Pear pattern from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli
Apple, pineapple, and orange patterns are mine.

Sun pattern from Crochet Today Magazine, “Happy Day mobile”.

Little Bird Mobile pattern adapted from Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli.
Hot Air Balloon and Bear pattern from Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli.

Lion pattern adapted from Crochet Today Magazine.

Before the Craft Fair, I had to choose a name for my table. I played around with a lot of different names and finally came up with Comfort Creatures. It was a play on the phrase “creatures of comfort” and I thought it described by creations pretty well. All the toys were considered “creatures” because of their eyes and smile and I hoped that they would bring comfort and joy to the people who receive them.

November 19 was D-Day! I took the day off of work to go to the Craft Fair and my husband and sister-in-law came with me for support and also to help as my sales team. The gym at my nephew’s elementary school was full of vendors already setting up when we arrived. I was a little intimidated because there were people who had professional looking set-ups. All I had was a red tablecloth that Suzi bought for me and a hand-made sign. I was relieved that I had made enough toys to cover the table.

We forgot to take a picture of the table when we first set up.
This was halfway through and most of the animals are gone.
At first, the fair was very slow. There were only a few people walking around but even then, I had some positive feedback. An older lady told me that her mother use to make crochet toys for her and that she was happy to see that someone still makes these toys. Some other people walking by thought the toys were cute and really like my company’s name.

Then at 2:30, school was let out. The kids brought their parents into the gym to check out the Craft Fair and then the craziness began. As soon as the kids saw the amigurumis they ran right over to the table. We were surrounded by kids, picking up the toys and playing with them. The parents were telling the kids not to touch, but I told them I didn’t mind at all. I wanted to see the kids playing and having fun with my toys.

The little birdies were the first to go, then the octopus and turtle were sold pretty quickly. Surprisingly, the fruit were not very popular with the kids. I thought they were cute, but I guess young kids’ aversion to fruits and veggies also extend to toy versions. 

The most memorable moment at the fair was this little girl who shyly walked up to my booth. Her mother encouraged her to look and to see which one she likes. This was going to be her Christmas present. The little girl looked up at her mom and said, “I can’t choose. I like them all!” Then she proceeded to cry and have a mini panic attack.
Jayson played his ukulele for the crowd.
In the end, I sold all but 6 of the toys. I already knew that the larger, more expensive toys would be harder to sell. Overall, the Craft Fair was a great experience from the beginning planning phases all way through to clean-up. I learned so much about the crafting business and also about myself. I was on a high for the rest of the night and the next few days. I know this Craft Fair was pretty small scale, but I had to start somewhere. This first taste of creation and selling had convinced me that I wanted to start my own business. There is a market out there for amigurumis. This was the beginning for Comfort Creatures!

Thanks again for joining me this week! See you again next week!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My A-ha Moments (Part 1)

(September 2010)

I was having fun with making amigurumis as a hobby, but never thought of it as a business venture. I didn’t realize there was a market for crocheted toys until I started getting requests from my family and friends. The idea a business was starting with a series of events…
My friend Fabiola was having a baby soon and she wanted me to make her a set of amigurumi animals to match the nursery she was planning for her baby.  Anyone who knows Fabiola knew that she is strictly against pink and blue, so we decided that her colors would be yellow and green. My plan was to make an assortment of small animals using only yellow, green, tan, and white yarns. As soon as I had my parameters, I started planning
In the end, I made 5 small animals for Sofia’s nursery (by then Fabiola knew she was having a girl). I also included a very happy looking sun in the present box because every baby deserves a bit of sunshine. Most of the patterns came from a magazine called Crochet Today, which happened to be featuring patterns for amigurumi animals that month. It was fate! The other patterns came from books by Ana Paula Rimoli, which I mentioned in my previous posts.

 Pattern from Crochet Today

 Pattern from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli

Pattern adapted from Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli

Pattern from Crochet Today 

Pattern from  Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paul Rimoli

Fabiola's Baby Shower Gift Box

Seeing the amigurumis I made for Fabiola’s Baby Shower inspired my sister to ask me to participate in her son’s school Craft Fair Fundraiser.  It was a small craft fair, but I had never made amigurumis on such a grand scale before, so I was hesitant at first, but I knew this was the challenge I was waiting for. This would let me jump from the fish bowl to the little pond. More on that next week in Part Two!

Thank you for joining me again this week! See you next week!