Happy Yarn Mail April 2017 Review Update

hoop flowers

As promised, I have worked through the project in the April 2017 Happy Yarn Mail Box, and have some added notes for my original review.

April’s project is a Crochet Hoop Art Hydrangea.  The subscription box comes with written instructions, as well as a link to a YouTube video, which further explains the instructions.  The online video has had some issues with subscribers even accessing it, because of some confusing “is it lower case or upper case letters” in the url provided.  Perhaps the links should be directly emailed to the subscribers when their package is shipped?  I think that will save on a lot of frustration and confusion.

The main part of the project uses the mostly full skein of off white yarn.  I had plenty of this yarn to spare, even though I found myself needing to add an extra row to the project to make it fit correctly in the embroidery hoop.  I think I could easily make at least one more background with the leftover off white yarn.

The reason I had to add an extra row is because I am a very tight crocheter.  I think it must be from all of the amigurumis that I like to make, but I just think projects look cleaner and nicer with a tight tension, and bonus, that means I use less yarn.  For loose crocheters, you should still have plenty of yarn to finish at least one background.

I found that the written instructions left out some details that a beginner could be confused by.  I know I would have.  The video tutorial mentions the missing bits, but for people who may be crocheting on the go or who don’t have access to the video, it could be frustrating if you don’t naturally know how it should have been worded.

Attaching the background to the hoop is pretty simple, and is demonstrated in the video for those unable to imagine it.

Now, on to the flowers!

This is where I got extremely frustrated.  First of all, the hook size recommended for the flowers is not given in mm size.  Most of my hooks do not have the letters on them, so I am used to grabbing the hook by the recommended mm size.  The way this pattern is written, I ended up grabbing a hook that was far too big, wondering why it would be written this way and finishing the first flower before realizing I misread the hook size.

Frogged!

The hook size is mentioned more clearly in the video, so that is helpful.

Now, remember when I mentioned that I am a very tight crocheter?  This should have been super helpful when making the flowers, since such tiny amounts of yarn were given.  We were supposed to have enough yarn to make 2 white flowers, 2 dark blue flowers, and 11-12 light blue flowers.  In the video, it is even mentioned how she gave you extra light blue yarn to make as many extra little flowers as you like.

Let me tell you, it was a real struggle just getting the promised amount of flowers made!!  On the white flowers, it was so close, I was worried if I would have enough tail left to sew it to the project!  The dark blue left me the tinest bit longer of a tail on my second flower, and the light blue did not even have enough for me to finish the 11th flower.  I had to finish it with three petals instead of four, even though I made sure to leave very short tails for sewing, knowing that there was just not enough yarn.

That is such a huge bummer!  How stressful, worrying if you will have enough yarn to finish a project you paid so much for!

I also wish that the instruction booklet would mention the brand and exact color names of the included yarns, so that it is easy to buy more, in this case, just to finish the project!

In the video, when the flowers are attached, there is no sewing done at all, the tails are just fished through the project and tied together in knots on the back.  I found that for myself, it was easier to control the project if I did light sewing to each flower as I attached it, just tacking it into place.  I finished off tying the very short tails together as was done in the video tutorial.

When I did my box overview, I was confused by the trim and glue, thinking it was meant for the little plastic notions bag, since they were inside of it.  It is not mentioned at all in the instruction booklet, but the trim is for the outside ring of the hoop on your finished project.

Attaching the trim was simple, and the glue was a good, tacky quality that held the trim in place as I went around the hoop adding the finishing touch.  I wish there was about an inch more of the trim, just because I think it would have looked a little nicer if it had went completely around the hoop, but it is a cute detail that is a perfect finish to this cute project.

I absolutely love how the project turned out, and I have to admit that this is a very unique and fun new way to use and display crochet.  I am sad that the amount of yarn was off for the flowers, when it would have been easy and inexpensive enough to add a few more yards to the boxes, guaranteeing success for everyone.

I bought two more hoops, slightly smaller, to make two additional colors of flowers with yarn I already had.  I had plenty of the off white yarn from the box to do the two extra projects.  I purchased additional mini pom pom trim from Walmart.  I love how these look on my wall above my yarn collection!

This box is definitely overpriced, especially when the exclusive patterns show up for sale soon after the boxes are shipped out.  I still plan on testing a few more boxes to see if the value is improved and if the kinks are worked out, since this is a brand new box.

Stay tuned for May’s box and pattern review!  Happy crafting, friends!  🙂

 

Happy Yarn Mail April 2017 Review

I am a sucker for subscription boxes, and while there are several out there that cater to crafters and even yarn lovers, they are typically geared towards knitters and include patterns for projects I would never make.  Or they come with super expensive yarn that I would have trouble finding, never mind how impractical it would be for the projects I tend to make.

So when I heard about Happy Yarn Mail, and saw a preview of the first month’s box, I have to admit, I was pretty darn excited!  On the website, Happy Yarn Mail promises an exclusive crochet design each month, only for subscribers and designed especially for the box, all items needed to make the project minus the hook, an exclusive video tutorial for the pattern, and extra crochet freebies designed exclusively for subscribers.

The monthly box costs $29.95 plus shipping, which for me was almost $10, ouch.  I handed over my $40 and happily waited for my Happy Yarn Mail to arrive.

hym1

How stinkin’ pretty is that box?  I mean…….so cute!!!  It definitely made me smile, and looked super cute, waiting for me on my doorstep.

hym2

Inside was a pretty pop of hot pink tissue paper and a thank you note card.

hym3

Once you lift the tissue paper, you are greeted with your project for the month!

hym4

This month’s project is Crochet Hoop Art.  Included is one hoop, what looks like a full skein of Lion Brand yarn in an off white color, and then three tiny little hand rolled skeins of the colors needed to make the hydrangea flowers.  There were no labels on any of the yarn.  The extra gift this month is the little plastic notions bag, that comes with a tiny bottle of glue and a little sampling of fringe, I am guessing to wrap around the bag?

The instructions look to be well written, though I have not yet made the project.  I have never seen anything like this before, so it is definitely a unique idea!  And this pattern opens the door for so many other fun ideas you can make with the basic instructions given here.

My only problem with this box is the value.  For $40, I was underwhelmed.  Lets go over an estimated price list here.

*Lion Brand yarn is about $3.99 per skein.  The tiny mini skeins come nowhere near a full skein all added together, so I would value the amount of yarn in this box as $5.

*Embroidery hoops are really inexpensive unless you get into the higher end materials and finishes.  This is a basic, inexpensive model, so we’ll say it has a value rounded up to $3.

*Crochet Patterns are generally between $3-$5 on sites such as Etsy or Ravelry.  This is a pretty simple pattern, but it is printed in color for us, so let’s give it $4.

*Notions bag with glue and fringe.  This is a plastic material with a tiny amount of fringe and a tiny bottle of glue.  It’s cute, and nice to have everything you need to fancy up the little bag all ready for you.  At best, I would say we could value the whole set at $5.

With these values, it brings the total estimated value of the box to $17.  But we paid $30 for the box and an extra $10 for shipping.  Is this a good value at $40 per month?  I hate to say it, but I don’t think so.

I love the pretty box, I love the crochet theme, I love the projects I have seen so far, and I really love the whole idea.  But I think it needs to be priced better.  I would be happy paying $25 a month for this box, tops.  I know the estimated $17 value we gave it is definitely more than it cost to put it together because companies get things at discounts for buying in bulk.  And I realize this is a small business at the moment, put together by a blogger and crochet designer.

Also, the exclusive patterns that come in the box that aren’t available anywhere else?  March’s pattern is available for purchase through the owner’s Etsy shop.  For $4.99.  Umm…

Next month’s box has an add on item, a pretty crochet hook, that you can purchase in addition to the box or separately, in limited quantities.  The crafter behind the hooks has a horrible reputation online, of taking money and not delivering goods, so I would be wary of even purchasing the item.  I’m not sure if Happy Yarn Box already has the hooks in their possesion or not, but it sounds like it could be a nightmare.

I plan on trying a few more boxes to see if the value can be found, because like I said, I really do love everything about this box except for the high price tag!  Stay tuned for an update with the finished pattern and review on how it turned out, as well as a review for any other boxes I may purchase.

Check out Happy Yarn Mail for yourself by clicking HERE.

Did you get this box?  Or March’s box?  What did you think?

As I said, I paid for this box with my own money, and all opinions are honest and my own.  I have not been compensated in any way for this review.

 

Snowflakes For Sandy Hook

snowflakes
Time to break out the scissors and show off your mad snowflake making skills!
When school resumes for Sandy Hook, it will be in a new building. Parent-volunteers are working to ensure that the students are welcomed back by a winter wonderland with the entire school decorated with as many unique snowflakes as possible. We encourage senders to be as creative as possible, remembering that no two snowflakes are alike. Please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTSA at:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Donations will be accepted indefinitely to the Connecticut PTSA “Sandy Hook Fund” to provide ongoing support to the community. Please send checks to the Connecticut PTSA address listed above. Group fundraising projects may include walk-a-thons, spirits days, pajama days, etc., which may be scheduled at your convenience.

Donate via Paypal here: http://www.ctpta.org/About-CT-PTA/SANDY-HOOK-FUND.html

Pinterest Made Me Do It

Okay, so, I saw a similar, adorable idea for a new way to make a hand print turkey with the kids on Pinterest and decided that I had to do it.  My original plan was to do it with both Noah and Sara, my 3 year old and 1 year old.  Yeah, I has the crazy.

While I was happily crafting with Noah, Sara was destroying the house.  Emptying book shelves, screaming, crying, all in all, just being a butt.  It was around the time I got a face pat from a tiny hand covered in paint that I realized the insanity of the situation and came to my senses.  We finished Noah’s turkey, but Sara?  Yeah, maybe next year.  The novelty has officially worn off.

Here are the pictures of our craft.  I think it turned out super adorable, regardless of the mess.

We started with a plain piece of paper and four different colors of paint.  Technically, I only had red, green and yellow, so that orange is custom made using my amazing kindergarten acquired color mixing skillz.  Impressive, I know.

The Noah smiles get weirder, just wait.

Basically, you paint the kiddos hand and plop it on the paper.

You are going for a fan shape, the hand prints are going to be the turkey feathers.

Yes, that’s the face he makes when we tell him to smile.  Well, it’s the most normal of the faces he makes when we ask him to smile.

After the hand prints are all in place, wait for them to dry before adding the embellishments.  I used scrap book paper and a paper bag for the body and head and I actually cut the feet, beak, and gobbler out of the ads we used for our drop sheets.  I’m a handy girl, what can I say?  We had the googly eyes on hand, but I think you could cut them out too.

How cute, right?  I added his name and the year, and I *hope* to tackle this again next year.  It’s not hard at all, it’s quick, but it is messy and near impossible to do by yourself with more than one little bit running around.  Just sayin’.

Autumnal Candle Jar

I love candles.  So many candles come in really pretty jars these days.  It seems like a waste to just throw them away, so I decided to re-use one as a pretty, autumnal jar, to place an LED tealight in for a soft glow during the cool, fall months.  It is super easy, and I love re-purposing the jar.

Start with a clean jar, one with all the wax pulled out.  (You can freeze the leftover bits to easily scrape them out, if it’s giving you a hard time.)

Sometimes the labels peel off easily, but 100% of the time in my house, it’s a battle.  I peel off what I can and then use Oops to get the rest of the residue off.

For the next step, you need Mod Podge and I used some autumn colored leaves found at the dollar store.  I just pulled them off the stems and after applying a generous coat of Mod Podge to the inside of the jar, I placed the leaves pretty side down around the inside of the jar.  I wouldn’t use real leaves because I think they would eventually turn brown and ugly.  It looks a hot mess now, but wait until it dries.

Ta da!  A pretty, fall jar, perfect for a little flameless candle or even putting wrapped candies in.  Pretty spiffy, and it was made for pennies!

October in a Nutshell

I’ll admit, October flew by before I had a chance to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery much.  We filled every single moment we could with fall activities and decorating for Halloween.  Here are a handful of photos I intended to share throughout the month.  Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

 

Early in the month, we hit up the dollar stores for some inexpensive decorations and party supplies.  I added ribbons, bows and other glittery embellishments to make the inexpensive finds just a little more fabulous.

 

 

This wreath was a dollar, I just spray painted it black and added the roses, skull and ribbon for hanging.  You can never have too much glitter in my book.  Never.

 

I had fun with Bella’s hair for dance class in October.  Ever since I sent her to dance with Easter eggs in her hair for Easter, the staff kind of expects something out of the ordinary from us.  (I’ll rehash the Easter egg ‘do in the spring, I promise.)  This was simple, easy, and got alot of attention, which of course, Bella LOVES.

 

The extreme closeup of the Halloweenie mani kind of looks sloppy, but whatevs.  Do you know how hard it is to paint tiny, nibbled baby nails?  Yeah, kind of ridiculous.  It was still cute.  Just trust me on that.

 

To go with the festive mani, we did some fun makeup for her Girl Scout Halloween dance.  I used a liquid liner, which I regretted right away, but it was too late to turn back.  A pencil would have been much neater, but you get the idea.

 

You can’t drink regular old soda at a Halloween party!

 

We ate these yummy snakes, which are crescent rolls filled with cheese and lunch meats.

 

Creepy spider web bean dip!

 

That spider must have a sweet tooth.

 

My crew on Halloween!  Abe, Matt, Noah and I were all pirates.  Sara was Tinkerbell, and Isabella was Merida from Brave.

 

“Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you?”

That crazy display is at Grandpa’s house.  I have to say, I enjoyed having Abe home with us this Halloween season.  He is usually working on Halloween junk with my dad from about mid July up until minutes before Trick or Treaters start arriving at the haunted house they build.  With things being all weird with my dad, we had the luxury of extra time with Abe.  We all LOVED it!  Our plans are to make our own haunted house in our new home (fingers crossed) next year.  The kids already have all sorts of plans for spooky things, I think we will quickly build a reputation wherever we decide to move.  Well, besides the house with all the kids.

This weekend, I took Matt with me to do some clearance Halloween shopping.  We got a giant cart full of costumes and decorations for next year at 70% off!  It was a major score, and Matt being so Halloween obsessed, he was in heaven, filling the cart with all sorts of fun, creepy things.

Okay, Halloween is over and done.  Whew!

DIY Ballerina Tutu!

Since we have both an existing ballerina and a ballerina in training in our house, you can bet that tutu’s are in high demand!  Heck, they’re even fun just for dress up or grocery shopping!  What, you wouldn’t let your kid wear a tutu to the grocery store?  Come on now!  They’re only little for such a short time!  And also, there’s the whole picking and choosing your battles thing, soooo….

What if I told you that you could make your very own tutu for less than $3?  Sound crazy?  How about if I told you that it could be made out of these:

Yes.  Those are stretchy head bands and shower scrubbies.  Impossible you say?  Well then prepare to be amazed!

Start by taking apart the scrubbie.  It’s easy, I promise.  Once you have it apart, cut it into 18 inch lengths.  Here is where it gets super complicated and tricky.  Are you ready?

Tie the 18 inch lengths to a headband.  And that is it, folks.  You just made a tutu for your precious little ballerina for less than $3 and in less than 20 minutes.  Wanna do it again?

I color coordinated the head bands to the scrubbies, but you can live on the wild side if you like.  It will pretty much be covered up.  I used two scrubbies per tutu and they turned out plenty fluffy.

Two tutus!  Super easy, and super popular in the fancy ballerina circles.

Doesn’t she look ready for some grocery shopping?  Or dance class, whatever.  Seriously though, these are super easy, super cheap, and you will look like Supermom (or SuperDad) when you whip one up for your little one.

DIY Hair Clip Holder

I have a baby cousin that is about the same age as my Saraphina.  We just celebrated her birthday this past weekend, which was super fun.  I knew months ago that I wanted to make her a hair bow holder, even though, as I have come to recently find out she doesn’t like to keep things on her head.  D’oh!  But babies can be trained.  Mine are.  And some day, she will wear them.  And she will have a spiffy place to store them, because I am awesome.  And modest.  Very modest.

I started with a wooden plaque from Michaels.  I drilled a hole in it for the ribbon to hang it, and sanded it very smoothly.  Then I added a few layers of paint.

I chose some pretty scrap book paper and cut it just slightly smaller than the inside oval and then used Mod Podge to hold it in place.  (Note I use Mod Podge, not Modge Podge.  There is a difference.  Crazy, anal crafters never use Modge Podge.)

I added letters for her name, and then I added several more coats of Mod Podge.  Once dry, I added the cutie patootie little owl and flower as embellishments.  Her birthday party was owl themed, so it was a perfect fit!

I glued a ribbon to the back of the plaque for the hair clips to get clipped to and I also added a ribbon to the top for hanging purposes.

I think it turned out super cute!  I also made the little flower hair clips, including one with a “C” for Celia, and the others had pretty jewels.  The flower clips are super easy, I’ll have to put up a tutorial for them soon.  My girls wear them all the time.  With Sara, I just clip them to her head bands, because her hair isn’t quite long enough to hold the clips yet.  It will get there soon enough.

Pretty simple, but a nice little decorative way to store those hair clips.  I had fun making it, I hope little Celia enjoys it!