Time

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Today’s post is more announcement than crochet.

It has been a banner season for the ‘Toad. A good one. And after a flurry of activity, growth and profit, what is a business owner to do?

A bit of a rest is in order.

The well of creativity is run nearly dry. A brief sabbatical will fix that right up!

So the ‘Toad will be on hiatus pending several factors.

First, I shall treat myself to several neglected personal projects.

My 2017 Weather Afghan:

2) Several Sophie’s Universe

3) And something with these beauties

I shall begin at least one new project– probably more! 🙂

And finish a few special requests for friends, as gifts.

Last, but not least,

I shall reflect upon and evaluate the nature of my business.

Creativity, or profit? Design or production? Will I finally publish a few patterns? Or perhaps take the blog a new direction? We shall see!

Happy crocheting!

Let it snow. ❤

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Collection of Cuteness

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We finally have some significant snowfall here in the Midwest.

The spirit-breaking cold gave way to a few teaser days of warm (think fifty degrees following two weeks of negative five!) And then 36 hours of light, fluffy, pretty white stuff…

I decorate my home with the cutest little guys after Christmas– snowmen!

Gets me through until spring.

So as a tribute to the fluffy white stuff, here are some darling free patterns to make your own out of yarn. 🙂

Top Five Cutest Snowmen ❤

1. First, a classic from an amazing designer. Excellent free patterns and a multitude of adorable creations. I just love her work.

http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2013/11/crochet-snowman-pattern.html

2. Another great source for free patterns– Amigurumi Today. I made my first amigurumi, a little hippo, from this website. I love this guy’s earmuffs!

https://amigurumi.today/christmas-crochet-free-crochet-snowman-pattern/

3. This next one is so clever. I just love the look of this snowman afghan. What a fun design!

http://www.crochetforyoublog.com/2014/12/crochet-snowman-granny-square-and-blanket-pattern/

4. Or how about this one? A cup cozy! Quick and easy, this makes a fun gift or office accessory.

http://enchanted-ladybug.com/2016/11/free-crochet-snowman-coffee-cup-cozy-pattern.html

5. And finally, a flat one! No, he hasn’t melted, he’s an applique. 🙂 So cute for a blanket, stocking or garland. Also from Repeat Crafter Me…crochet away!

http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2017/11/crochet-snowman.html

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little adventure today! Snuggling on my couch with hook and yarn, watching the snow fall, is my favorite winter past-time.

Happy hooking!

New and Old

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I think I can breathe again.

Holiday madness (both work and at home) gave way to birthday festivities for two of four children and the gaggle of teens has just left the building…

My few hours of quiet are welcome. I thought they might never return. 🙂

Goodness knows we all need a bit of quiet and time of reflection; what better way to ring in the new?

New year, new hopes, new possibilities…

It was a good year here at the ‘Toad! Business gained traction and I learned new skills, gained many happy customers and found time to enjoy my day-job and family as well.

So here we are…the year in pictures. ❤

*Note: pattern links are not included. Many of my items are reverse-engineered, meaning I looked at a picture and made up the pattern myself. Photo captions include the necessary key words to Google a similar pattern, if you would like to make your own!

January

V-stitch hat

Virus shawl blanket

Temperature blanket

Baby Snowman hat

February

Beginning the Viking (had to design my own horns!)

The mermaid tail

Bumblebee baby gifts

Chromium star

The car blanket

More Viking…the beard

And the helmet

March

Pink monkey

Finished the Chromium star

April- no crochet 🙂

May

Started the little lion ripple

The sea turtle afghan

Beautiful shells for a sweet baby boy

And finished the Viking!

June

Created the little lion

Finished the sea turtles

And the ripple

And a baby fox set

July

A granny hexie of scrap yarn for me

Family items that needed repair

August

Twinkle Toes the unicorn

And a long-legged cat

September

An elephant teether

Candy corn hat

Infant pretties

A toy elephant

Hats for the bazaar

And another lion, so cute!

October

Monkey legs

Monster hats

Finished product!

More hats for the bazaar

A little pumpkin

Phew! Nearly there…

November

A little leaf for the pumpkin

A Christmas tree skirt

December

Monkey hat!

Kitty and a panda

Pastel monkeys

V-stitch bun hat

A Labrador retriever

And a baby white-tailed deer set with removable ruffle and bow ❤

Well, that’s a wrap, folks! How nice to see the year in review, as I often feel I haven’t accomplished much crochet time. I’d best get to work, as I have more monkeys to make!

A blessed New Year to you, and happy crocheting. ❤

Little Grrr

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It has been a month of family time, and little crochet!

July is like that.

And now we are counting down the days til school begins.

I do love fall. But not quite yet.

Today’s project share is my own design! I love custom commission work.

It started with a grandma. And a baby that wasn’t quite here yet. ❤

A lion, she said, and his name would be Leo.

I really couldn’t be more pleased with the results! But I did have a false start at the beginning.

I thought to chain and length and work around both sides in a bit of a rectangle. But it didn’t work the way I wanted, so I referred back to the pattern I was thinking of and started again.

There. A round bottom, that was better. Then I followed the pattern more closely for arms and legs. He worked up quickly.

Sewing them on is always a bit scary: a crooked or backward appendage can mean starting over, ugh!

These came out just right on the first try, happy day!

Now for the fun part, the MANE.

I knew I wanted to try the loop stitch, something I’d seen but hadn’t yet explored. Could I do it? Yes, thanks to YouTube. I found an excellent tutorial and away I went. I soon had a darling cap of curls for my little lion.

The face is another crucial stage. Every stitch affects the end result and expression. I chose a quiet afternoon and formed my design slowly.

Darling!

Now to manage attaching the head to neck. That one is tricky too!

Success! Now where did I put that hair?

Here it is! Sweet little lion. I felt a bit as if I had given birth.

Such a pleasure to create.

If you’ve stuck with me to the end, I’m happy to share the pattern used as a jumping off point! It can be found here, in a previous post:

https://thesparklytoad.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/maddys-dragon/

The only thing I changed was the head. I made another bottom instead of a dragon snout, then added a face, hee hee.

And the family was so kind as to send me a picture, once it had been gifted. What a darling boy!

Next week, the matching blanket! It is nice to fall back into routine after a busy, fun-filled summer. Ahhhhhh.

Happy hooking!

Sweet Monkey Business

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Today’s post feature another one of my favorite projects: an amigurumi.
Thanks to the great free patterns available on the internet, making your own crochet stuffed animals can be a breeze!

I had a custom design request for a little monkey to match  a sweet girl’s bedroom. Her grandmother had a Sparkly Toad creation for each of her other grandchildren, so of course she needed a gift for this child as well.

I love repeat business!

And I love crochet design, as you know. 🙂
Pinks and greens were the colors, so I choose some of my favorites from my stash and set to work.

All the parts disassembled make me feel a bit like Frankenstein…In a good way!

Once I passed a quiet afternoon in sewing, she was ready for her pictures.

I felt a little something extra was needed…So I added a sweet flower embellishment.

She is my own original pattern…I used my long-legged giraffe and a dragon head…Caron Simply Soft and an E hook (3.5mm)
There are several free patterns on Ravelry for long-legged amigurumi that have been published since I designed mine, or you may use the design I used for my original inspiration, found here:

http://www.yarnspirations.com/patterns/one-skein-bunny.html

I found this pattern came out too big for my liking, so reduced the stitches to make it smaller for my original giraffe. That one was made with Red Heart and an H hook, so this one is even smaller than those made with the heavier worsted weight yarn.

 And there she is. The little girl loved her.

And that is why I do what I do. 
Happy hooking!

Maddy’s Dragon

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And now for a trip down memory lane…

It was the dog days of summer. Hot and sunny. We loaded up the in-laws minivan and headed south, then east, to grandpa’s old stomping ground.

His cousin has spent the better part of two years planning afive generation family reunion!

And here we were.

Each branch of the family tree had been assigned a color, so we topped ourselves off in red t-shirts and headed to the hall to help set up.

My husband’s sweet cousin was expecting her first child. ❤

She had messaged me months ago with the cutest little dragon Ami picture, and asked if it was something I could make?

How could I refuse? I love a challenge, and I love taking requests. 🙂

Imagine my delight when I discovered the pattern was free, on Ravelry, and my further delight when it was one of those rare gems of pattern that one so rarely finds: well-written and of the “it looks so complex but is really quite easy to make” variety.

It was a triple blessing at that point– a new baby, and a free, quite do-able pattern.

Add in a trip to actually visit relations and deliver the gift in person, and life is good!

She wanted a little dragon in pink and green…And here it is.

It turned out just darling.

Here’s the pattern link:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bb-dragon
Now for those of you who are curious, I love the in-process photos, as the creature is becoming…

We begin with the parts:

And then a few more…

Now to sew. I love this little ridgeback!

And then the arms, the legs

The eyes were amazing. I really didn’t think I could do it…And then I couldn’t believe the difference they made, once attached, in bringing the little guy to life. I confess, I hot-glued them in place… Usually I hand-stitch everything, so the item is washable.

Now for the rest: ears, horns and… nostrils! Again, it was truly amazing as this character took shape in my hands. Each detail added so much.

And finished!

What a marvelous fiber adventure.

May you be blessed and crafty today.

Happy hooking!

Toad-ally Awesome

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Hello and hello!

Today is rather momentous in our little corner of the world here at The Sparkly Toad.

It is the last of our Tuesday afternoon posts.

I have made a bit of a change, you see. This time next week, I shall wear a different hat.

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You likely know (and appreciate) one or more various mothers, and all that they do. Cook, clean, garden, shop…I’ve often said that as a stay-at-home-mom it would be nice to have a cook, butler, maid and gardener! And let’s not forget chauffeur!

Nearly twenty years of it…it was the toughest job I ever loved. As they say: the days were long, but the years were short.

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And so I embark on an adventure never before seen in our little family…mama is going to work. Not just a job, either…a career!

The only downside (if there is one) is that I must give up my current position as stay-at-home/daycare-providing/homeschooling mom.

As much as I have loved pouring the majority of my time and energy into my family and seeing the excellent results, I am excited to have something new for me! I am going to be a teacher.

A real one. 🙂

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I am not sure I quite believe it yet. I’ve never had a career. And I have yet to determine where the ‘Toad posts fit into my new weekly schedule. I’ve been contemplating it most of the summer…narrowed it down to Sunday, Tuesday or perhaps Friday evening. We’ll see!

I make no promises. It is likely the transition will drain every creative bit of energy out of me for a minimum of six weeks. Or more.

So if you don’t hear from me for a spell, now you know.

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And enough of that. Onto today’s free pattern…

Newborn Frog Hat (Eyes)

With green yarn: 12 dc

In white: 12 hdc

Black button

Sew all three layers together, then attach to hat. It can be a trick to sew pieces together, especially when you want them to stand up. I take large stitches at the base of the eye (or ear) and that seems to do it. I also curve the piece in slightly and sew along it twice, across and then back again.

Hat base: I use Sarah’s basic hat pattern for all my hats. Her pattern can be found here: http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2012/09/crochet-owl-hat-pattern-in-newborn.html

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I love the clarity and simplicity of her patterns. I will warn you, I probably used half-double-crochet, not double crochet on my hat.

I do that without even meaning to.

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I made this set for a friend that was headed out of the country, or perhaps I would have embroidered a pink smile on Mr. Frog. It was a bit of a rush to finish all three pieces before his flight.

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Wishing every blessing on the birth of their upcoming baby…and happy hooking to all of you!

I hope to write again soon. 🙂