Best Custom Orders Ever

As we sprint into 2014, I am pausing to reflect on all of the creative people who have placed custom orders with me over the last year or two.  THANK YOU for challenging me, and for giving me something exciting to work on.  Because of you, I’ve been able to expand my skills so that I can look at a picture that you draw, or a vision that you have, and try to make it a reality for you.  I’ve also renewed my appreciation for the vast diversity and awesomeness of people.

2013: The Orange Rhino.

“Can you make me a rhinoceros that is kind of as big as your dog, but also orange, and a rhino?”  The about-to-be-a-grandmother was confounded by her daughter’s idea for a nursery, but was dedicated to getting the baby something that fit.  You can’t say no to that kind of love!

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2014:  Bat-Sheep.

“Can you make me a Rab-batman, the same size as your Batman bunny, like old-school Batman, only can you make it a sheep?”  I decided to make the both the headpiece and cape removable, so that it would be obvious that this was a sheep.  I mean, Bat-sheep might not be obvious to everybody.  After I sent him the first picture, he asked for the bat-symbol to be added.  My crocheting skills such as they are, I had to add the logo in felt.  I am particularly proud that Batsheep’s ears poke through the headpiece.  I don’t know the story behind this one but I feel that it must be amazing.  As someone who once also collected sheep, there was no way I was going to deny this order.

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Speaking of sheep:

2013: Golden Ram

“Can you make me a sheep like the sheep you have, only can you make it a ram with big golden horns?” Yes.  This being another Etsy custom order, I don’t know the story.  I am thinking of instituting a policy that if you make a custom request, you have to tell me why you want it.  I have a feeling the stories will all be great.

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2013:  Tigger.

I don’t generally make toys that look like things owned by companies that will sue me, but I know this requestor – he is an H&L regular – and I couldn’t say no.  I also was very challenged by this and wanted to see if I could replicate something just by looking at a picture.  I chose the Disney version, not the Milne version, just because it seemed to have more character (and color).  I was really proud of Tigger – fifteen pieces later, he looked close enough for me – and for our friend requesting it!

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2013: The Bison.

A very lovely mom requested a bison for her young tween son early last year.  Apparently he LOVES bisons.  I said yes and then immediately did a Google search because I wasn’t exactly sure if a bison was the same or different from a buffalo, and if it was, in what way.  I’m still not 100% confident that I know the difference, but I found a picture I thought I could replicate and delivered it – the son and mom approved!  A few months later the mom came back with the bison.  It has spent every night with her son as he slept, and the bison was looking pretty well-loved.  Dr. Hooked and Loopy tucked in some yarn ends that had gone astray and polished him up for continued loving.  Those are the best custom orders – the ones where you know you have made a kid happy.  That’s why we do it, folks!

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2013: Malcolm and Patches

I’ve already written about our friends Malcolm and Patches, but it’s worth another shout-out to V. Kuroji Patrick’s awesome custom request and his incredible characters.  Later in the year, we made a giant eggplant, starfruit, rhino, and carrot to tag along with Malcolm and Patrick to teach kids how to eat better, delicious food.  They’ve traveled farther than we have this year, I am sad to say!

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What custom orders will YOU have this year?

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Finally…Fall Fairs

Hello readers! It’s been a while.

Hooked and Loopy has had a FABULOUS summer!  

  • Our Washington Post-supported commuter paper, the Express, gave H&L a shout out in their article on local craft markets!  (and they are forgiven for referring to H&L stuff as knit rather than crocheted!)
  • First time filmmakers at Silver Spring’s Docs in Progress featured H&L’s awesome T-Rex (Julian) in their short video documentary about Fenton Street Market!

It’s almost made me forget that all I’ve been doing since the last fair at Fenton Street Market on July 13 is sit in on the couch and crochet.  I spent the summer turning into a mole person – hiding from the sun in a cool, cramped room, working to get to 100 different kinds of animals and creatures (made it!).  But it makes me think…

I Know It’s Not New Year’s, but I Need to Have Resolutions for Next Summer

1.  Get Out More.  I’m going to try to get out and do at least one fair a month – just to stay connected with people.  I miss interacting with the folks who come visit the Hooked and Loopy tent.  And without your feedback, there’s a high risk I’m going to crochet 50 chupacabras, which will live with me forever because nobody in their right mind wants a chupacabra.  (Attention:  please do not special order a chupacabra.)

2.  Stand Up and Walk Around at Least Once Every Crocheting Hour.  You know when you hit that age that if you sit down too long, when  you stand up, you hear a series of cracks and pops that wake up your sleeping child in the next room?  I bet I could keep the noise down if I walk around a bit every once in a while.

3.  Convince My Daughter That an Unpaid Internship with Hooked and Loopy Is an Awesome Summer Gig.  She’s nine.  She’s figured out that an unpaid internship just means “Mommy needs help and will only pay you in animals.”  She has returned the favor by making me an unpaid intern for her corner lemonade stand.  (I have been unable to convince her to pay me in lemonade.)

More Fairs, Please! 

Yes, it’s official – I’ve been in the workshop too long.  I am thrilled to have a fresh fall schedule with lots of opportunities to visit with you in September and October.  Visit the Calendar post to see the updates.  I am so excited about this summer’s creations (vampire bunnies, what???) that I am booking fairs like crazy to share them with you.

Let Me Know What You Think! What Should Hooked and Loopy Add to Our Zoo?

Seven Principles

Hello friends!

REALLY excited to write today.  A couple of weeks ago, I got a custom order from a local artist – author/illustrator V. Kuroji Patrick.  He wanted me to create 3D crocheted versions of his own characters.  He had seen my crocheted stuffed animals at Think Outside the Store in Silver Spring and I’d done a custom order for a friend of his at CREATE Arts Center in Silver Spring (a Wonder Bunny with caramel skin).

Malcolm and Patrick, he told me, look like this:

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Principle #1:  Sometimes I Should Take a Breath before I Say, “Sure, I’ll do it!”

I realized something about myself that day.  I am never going to say no to a challenge.  I believe that there is no problem I can’t solve, no challenge I can’t beat.  And that day, in the heat, my brain said, “Yes, you are going to do this for Kuroji.”  Was it because it was 98 degrees outside?  Maybe a little.  But I really thought I could – and should – do it.  It was a challenge! What could go wrong?

Principle #2:  Crochet Amigurumi is Anxious Business

I went out, got the yarn, brought it home, and stared at the characters on the page for hours.  I couldn’t screw this up.  Kuroji deserved the best I could do.  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this.  And it turns out, Kuroji also started questioning his order.  Holy smokes, I thought, I don’t know what I’m doing here.

Principle #3: Animals Are Different From People

I know this shouldn’t be a news flash to me.  Whether or not you believe we evolved from animals, we’re still really different – at least, in the amigurumi sense.  Would I have agreed so readily if I remembered that people don’t have paws – they have fingers?  And hair?  And clothes?  I couldn’t just stick a dinosaur head on a lion body and call it a day.  I was going to have to do some yarn sculpture here.

Principle #4: Making People Is Kind of Like Making the Six Million Dollar Man – Harder Than You Think

Pulling back the curtain a bit, because I know you all will forgive me, I had to play a little with this custom order.  Patrick’s fingers, at first, looked like curly fries.  Malcolm’s hairline was too high and he needed a dye job.  Patrick’s first set of eyes popped out of his head like HE had heatstroke.  And all I could think, as I took out and replaced each piece, was that I couldn’t give Kuroji something I wasn’t proud of.  He was too nice.  This job was too important to him.  And my pride wouldn’t let me give him something I knew I could have done better on.

Principle #5: It’s 100% OK To Obsess about a Custom Order and Wake Up At Night Thinking About It

One night, after struggling with the face, I woke up with one word on my lips: “FELT!”  Yes, my family does already think I am crazy, so everything is still fine on that front.

Principle #6:  The Money Is Great and Everything, But Really I Just Want To Make You Cry

I have heard many stories about people’s reactions to my creations.  My awesome girlfriend Amy gave a T-Rex to a little girl in her life, who instantly burst into tears.  My caramel-colored Wonder Bunny for a gal’s Indian friend (who is an actual Wonder Woman) made her cry.  This is what I want to have happen.  Because it’s about the relationship between the giver and the recipient, something that says, “You are special, I am giving you this to show you how much I care about you, someone spent hours and hours making this, this isn’t a throwaway gift.”  That’s something you can’t get from the dollar aisle at the Target.

Kuroji didn’t cry when we delivered the characters.

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But he did jump up and down!

Principle #7:  I Really Want to Make You Jump Up and Down

If you’re happy, I’m happy.

Survey Says…

My daughter surprised me with a fabulous development this evening when I picked her up from afterschool care.

Definitely More Initiative Than I Had at Age Eight

She had developed a survey and interviewed her friends at school and at aftercare.  The question:  Who is your favorite superhero?

And the winner is: Aquaman

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I know.  Weird, right?  There’s not even an Aquaman movie! Apparently the whole underwater breathing thing is a hotly coveted skill among third graders.

Second Place

Wonder Woman!

ImageI won’t state the obvious about women always being viewed as second best.  We should point out that she was a hero not just to the girls, but to several boys as well.  Smart boys!  This feminist icon just plain rocks.

Last Place

A tie.  Green Hornet and Flash. Maybe it’s the Christmas colors?

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Giraffe, Brando, and Dean on Wicker Chairs

Hello readers!  We’re going to try to be better about posting this year.  As the cartilage in our hands begins to disappear from our many hours of nightly crochet activities, we find that blogging fills the void and helps us continue to connect with these ridiculous animals.  Because of course that is totally normal.

On a visit to a Florida thrift shop we found these amazing wicker chairs that are perfect for our giraffes. And monkeys.  But mostly the giraffes. They’re kind of flinty and they aren’t moving.ImageAnd then we started thinking about whether or not other cool, obstinate folks spent any time in wicker chairs.  And immediately we found this:ImageWicker.  The most amazing material in the world.  Other than yarn. Obviously.

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The Countdown Begins

Hi everyone!

We’ve been like elves in the workshop, crocheting like mad to be able to offer you fresh new awesome amigurumi animals for the 2013 season.

What We’ve Been Up To

We’ve been experimenting with different patterns and options to give you the best possible version of every animal we carry.  Check out our new and improved sheep, giant monkey, teeny tiger, and striped octopus.

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Where To Find Us 

We are planning to be at Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring for opening day on April 27. Stay tuned to this space for confirmation.

New Year, New Animals!

Happy 2013, everyone!

We want to first THANK YOU for an amazing 2012 season!  We had so much fun at our street fairs and festivals and really loved meeting again with our returning customers.  Thank you so much for remembering us – and continuing to support us!  Thank you for being as excited as we were about the new animals!  And thank you for the stories you shared.

I loved hearing about the little girl who burst into tears when she got her T-Rex because she was so happy.

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We loved meeting the kids who brought their birthday money over and cleaned us out of our stock. “I’ll take a zebra and a duck and this crocodile and OMG you have a monkey!  I’ll take that… and…”

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Over the course of the season we went from having 20 types of animal friends with us, to now more than 50.  We have been motivated to keep going, crocheting till the wee hours of the morning, every night, because of you and your enthusiasm and support.  Thank you!

We won’t be out and about on the streets at fairs for a while, but you can find us at Pyramid Atlantic ArtSpring in Takoma Park, and soon at Think Outside the Store in Silver Spring.  And of course we are always available on Etsy.

We are launching new ventures this year.  Don’t miss out on seeing our line of birthday cards, available at Think Outside the Store in Silver Spring and on Etsy.

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