Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Crocheted Characters

A while ago, I came up with a great idea for a birthday present for a friend called Steve.  So I made it for him and this is how it turned out:

Since Steve was in a band with a lot of my other friends, this first successful foray into the art of improvised amigurumi, spurred me on to make some more:

These consisted of most of the people in the rest of Steve's band Mambo con Rumbo (though the band line-up has changed a bit since then).

At this stage, there was still one important band member missing - and I'd already told him that he was impossible to make, but he looked so sad about it that I gave it a go anyway:

As it turned out that, either he wasn't impossible to make, or I am brilliant at crocheting.  I finished crocheting the band feeling proud of my wooly achievements and happy that I'd completed the challenge.

I toyed with the idea of whether I could make a crocheted anyone, but couldn't see how I'd make it into a feasible business if I didn't really know the people.

For a while, all was quiet on the crocheting front.  Until my boyfriend started complaining that he didn't have a little crocheted character.

"Well, you're not in a band are you?" I responded. "So you don't get one."

But when it got round to sorting out Christmas presents, I caved in and managed a pretty life-like representation of him too:

I'd posted all of these pictures on Facebook - mainly to show off my mean hook-based skills and gain admiration and respect from my friends.  

One day, one of my contacts -  a friend of a friend - contacted me on Facebook to ask if she could pay me to make some for an anniversary present for her boyfriend.  So I did, and it turns out I can do it if I don't really know the person too:

If you want one, get in touch and I'll see what I can do.

Also, if you can think of a name for a custom crocheted character type business, then shout it out.  In the meantime I'll be trading under the name of Mambo Delight.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A very shoe-y shoe bag

When I saw this fabric in my favourite fabric shop, I just had to buy it:

I resisted the temptation to make it into a dress, as suggested by my friend at Oakwood Aromatics and instead set about creating some lovely shoe bags.  They're only £12 each and two of them got snapped up almost as soon as I'd finished them.  Available from my Etsy shop.  Go on - treat yourself!

Saturday, 25 August 2012


When I was at Mambo City this year, I entered a prize draw - and then I won it!  Which is why I get to go to the Berlin Salsa congress in October.

I'm sharing a room with SalsaFeet who, as you'd expect with a name like that, has been buying new shoes like there's no tomorrow in preparation for our Berlin adventure.  I've pretty much accepted that I'll never be able to keep up on the shoe buying front now - but it doesn't stop that competitive edge from rearing it's ugly head from time to time and sending me straight across to ebay to see what sparkling beauties I can pick up on a budget.

This morning the Postman kindly dropped off a packet containing these:

"Oooooh", "Ahhhh" etc...

This is my first pair of Brillantes, and since they only seem to stock them up to a size 6 or 6.5 at the moment, it looks like poor SalsaFeet isn't going to get to review them with her marginally too large feet.

Brillante are another of those Hong Kong based companies - and unlike TPS, they don't seem to have a distribution hub in the UK -so your shoes come directly from Hong Kong. This can mean that it takes a a bit longer for them to get there.  Though saying that - it still took less than a week for mine to arrive.

In spite of the fact that they're currently cutting off the circulation to my big toes while I attempt to stretch them out a bit, I'm really pleased with them.  The pretty photos on their ebay listings aren't any exaggeration of what you get in real life and they come with a few little extras:

A pair of spare suede heel tips - not that the original ones on my shoes ever come off because I would never even dream of using my heels as breaks (ahem) - and this nicely branded shoe bag, which is a bit of a bummer because I'm in the business of making nice shoe bags.

On closer inspection the shoe bag isn't brilliantly made - the fabric is a bit plasticky - reminiscent of a cheap school satchel and I guess it would nicely trap that lovely after-dance shoe aroma inside.  It's not finished terribly well either - check out the zip placement:

So all in all you'd be better off with a nice breathable cotton Mambo Delight number!  

The design of the bag itself is a little more complex than the traditional drawstring bag - but I can really see the benefit of the zip pocket at the front so I'm tempted to experiment with some zips to see if I can come up with something similar.  Of course I've had a few ideas stacked up, just waiting to be sewn onto shoe bags for quite some time now, so I can't guarantee how fast that will happen. But I'm very open to my next project being to experiment with a different style of bag.  Any takers..?

I haven't taken my new shoes out for a spin yet, but if they hold up to a hardcore weekend at the Berlin Salsa Congress then I'll definitely buy from Brillante again.

As for those ladies with size 7s and larger - why not email Brillante and ask them about getting a larger size?  They seem to market themselves as a custom made shoe company and if you don't ask, you don't get!