Ami-Along 2018

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It’s that time of year again! This will be the the 4th annual summer ami-along and I am one of the participating designers this year. If you are new to the ami-along, basically it is a crochet and knitting event in which everyone who joins in makes amigurumi from the participating designers during the summer. This year there are 18 different designers taking part – so I am sure you will find something to make!

It all takes place on ravelry, so join the group, check out the patterns you can use by browsing the group’s pattern bundle, and get ready! One of the best parts? All the patterns, from all designers, will be on sale (25% off) starting before the event (June 25-July 8), so you have time to prepare. PLUS there are prizes. I will be giving away one of my handmade project bags.

I plan to make some little foods by Alyssa of Monster’s Toy Box (learn more about her in this interview!). I will start with her healthy snacks, and then move on to the garden (veggie) snacks. If I have time I will also make her munchie monster to eat them all! I just love these patterns. I have made some of them before for my neice and nephew (see photos below), but this time they will be for my son!

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Until next time,

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Megan Recommends

Megan Recommends blog series

In my “Megan Recommends” blog series I share with you things I have been loving lately, whether they be computer applications, movies, cooking tools, etc. In this instalment, I share with you some items that have been helping me calm my busy, often anxious, mind. If you need a little help with relaxing, maybe they will help you, too!

My big fancy day planner:

I tried using multiple different apps and calendars on my computer and phone to keep myself organized, plan my days, and get my ideas down, but I just wasn’t sticking with them and everything was just staying in my head. But, trying to keep all my plans and to-do lists in my head was not working so great either 😐

In comes a big and pretty planner! I went to Michael’s and purchased an actual paper planner (just like the good old days) and started using it to plan my weeks. My planner is a Happy Planner, which is a large line of planners with matching accessories (such as stickers, washi tape, and folders). I got my planner in July and it is for a year and a half (and are probably on sale now!), but you can also get ones that start in January and are for just a year. planner

The planners are pretty and functional on their own, so you don’t need all the ad-ons, but if they inspire you, then go for it! There are some folks out there that make absolutely beautiful planners – they really are works of art – but for me, just writing in the planner is enough of an investment. On Etsy you can find artists selling their own handmade planner accessories, such as stickers and bookmarks, so you can really make your planner unique. My friend Krystle of Heartsprinkle has started making some really adorable bee ones!

The Headspace app:

Headspace is a meditation app for your computer or phone. Now, don’t get scared away by the word “meditation”. This isn’t your stereotypical chanting, incense burning, cross-legged, gong banging meditation, but a down to earth, daily, mind calming practice for everyone.
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I have always liked the idea of meditating and thought maybe it would help my anxious monkey mind, but could never get into the habit of practising it daily – plus I always felt a little awkward doing it. But Andy Puddicombe, the creator and voice behind Headspace, makes meditation accessible to anyone. You can watch him talk about it in his TED talk.

The app gives you 10 free guided meditations that are just 10 minutes long, the first stepping stones to getting into the habit and learning what meditation is all about. Then you can subscribe to gain access to a variety of different guided meditations with different themes and lengths.

The app has cute little cartoon characters that star in short videos that guide you along in understanding the concepts of meditation, making the concepts easier to grasp, understand, and actually implement. Plus, you can have the app send you reminders each day to practice, as well as follow and encourage other friends who are enjoying the app with you. I highly recommend at least giving it a try and testing out those first 10 free sessions for yourself.

My gym membership:

Growing up I danced several times a week at a dance studio. I did tap, jazz, ballet, and modern. I was super active for hours each week. Then I went to university and I continued to take dance classes, as well as gym classes such as step class and kick boxing. I remained really active. Then I finished school and didn’t have access to a gym anymore, and the cardio sort of ended. I didn’t have that outlet of energy, that break from being stationary, anymore. Walking a lot wasn’t enough, I needed to sweat and get my heart pumping again! So I joined the YMCA (a popular gym found throughout North America).

I don’t enjoy running around a track or on a treadmill, or even running around the woods. I like to do cardio that makes me think, that has choreography, that gives me no choice but to think about the exercise, otherwise I would get totally lost. When walking or running my mind wanders (even when listening to a podcast or audiobook). So when I go to the Y, I am always there for a class with an instructor. Classes such as step or Zumba (a dance fitness class) keep me so engaged I am more mindful of the activity and my brain gets a break from my usual thoughts. There are of course the many physical benefits of exercise, but I actually started going to the gym again because I noticed a change in my mental state when I wasn’t going. If you also struggle with an overly anxious body or mind, give the gym a try, especially the super fun dance classes – everyone looks silly doing them, but everyone is focused on themselves anyway, so let loose!

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.

Until next time,
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My favourite free photo editing and graphic design sites

Megan Recommends blog seriesI have a MacBook, but it is showing its age and likes to be super slow and shut down programs in the middle of use (especially Photoshop!). I mostly use my little Acer Chromebook computer now, and I am loving it.

A Chromebook is basically a computer with a browser, and that is it. It is super affordable, super basic, and super fast (it turns on in seconds!). The only problem with a Chromebook is that I can’t download software to use on it, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. However, I still use my Chromebook for all my photo editing and graphic development for my website – I simply use all online tools, that are free! There are three websites that I use consistently:

Pixlr

My favourite website for editing photos is Pixlr. It is very similar to Photoshop, and has everything I need. I can resize the photos, change the brightness and contrast easily, as well as use a paintbrush to make clean solid white backgrounds (I use a method similar to Stacey of FreshStitches).

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A recent Instagram picture after editing with Pixlr.

The program is free, fast and I can easily download my finished photos to my Google drive when I am done. The only disadvantage is that there are advertisements on the side, which make the working area on the screen a little smaller, but it is still large enough for what I need. Or, of course, you can always pay to have an ad free experience.

Canva

For most of the graphics for my website, advertising, and CAL badges, I use the website Canva. This site is so fun to play around with. While there are features, fonts, and images that you have to pay for, you can do a lot for free (everything I have made has been free!). I can also upload my own images to to site and use them in my designs.

All my blog titles and graphics for my newsletter are made using Canva:

How to read amigurumi patterns by @hookabee

Press and Publications of hookabee crochet

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I created an account with Canva which allows me to save all my designs and go back to them whenever I want. I love that the site has pre-made templates for particular elements on different sites, such as social media, so you don’t have to look up what dimensions you should use. For example, there is already a template for an Etsy banner, so you just choose the Etsy banner and it is already the perfect size for your Etsy shop. They also have templates for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, as well as for blog posts, flyers, posters, cards, and invitations. It makes things so easy!

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is somewhat in between Pixlr and Canva – it is great for photo editing (but does not have all the tools Pixlr has), and it is also useful for graphic design (but has different features than Canva).

I use PicMonkey a lot for the images in my patterns and blog tutorials
– when I want to add text, arrows, or need to highlight certain stitches. It is also super easy to resize and round the corners of my images, as well as make collages.

Joined rounds in blo for amigurumi by hookabeearmattachmentantennaAttachment

So, those are the three programs I use on a daily basis for my photo editing and graphic design. I highly recommend all three of them – I cannot do everything using just one, but need all three in combination for my creations. Maybe try them out for your website or ravelry project pages!

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun, including exclusive interviews, sneak peeks, discounts, and links from around the web.
Until next time,
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