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?

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.