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:


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).

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.


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


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 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!

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Until next time,
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Review: HeartSprinkle Hooks and Stitch Markers

HeartSprinkleReviewNot long ago I was mailed two handmade crochet hooks by Krystle of HeartSprinkle. Krystle sculpts beautiful handles for metal crochet hooks using polymer clay. Her favourite hook to make is her signature honey bee hook, and I was lucky enough to receive two of them as a gift!

Krystle makes her handles on any brand of metal hook, so you can choose your favourite – whether it be a Susan Bates, Boye, or Clover Amour hook, she can make a unique personalized handle for it. I chose to have one handle made on a Susan Bates hook because I had never tried an in-line hook before, and one on my all time favourite Clover Amour hook.HeartSprinkleHooks

What I love most about these hooks are the small details. Each has a cute little bee with little translucent wings flying over hand painted clouds and flowers. The green around the flowers shimmers and there is a fun dotted trail leading from the bee’s hive to the bee. The end of the handle is stamped and imprinted with a letter indicating the hook size, plus there are additional imprints on the body of the handle: the hook size in mm and the HeartSprinkle logo.HookCollage

The handle is smooth and warm, so nice to hold. It is a large handle, so does take some getting used to if you are accustomed to holding only the thin metal hooks, but with time it feels natural to hold. Krystle has tested her handles for strength, so they will not break or crumble if they are mishandled (mine have survived a few drops off my desk onto hardwood floor!).

If you want to see the hook in action and up close, just watch one of my more recent tutorial videos: joined rounds in amigurumi, stripes in joined rounds, and joining legs in joined rounds.

Along with my two hooks, I also received a set of stitch markers. They are ADORABLE. One is a little bee, with a neat black bead for a head, a little beehive, and a small flower. All match perfectly with the bee hook design. Each has a lobster claw clasp, which I am not a huge fan of for amigurumi because they can be tricky to open and with amigurumi you need to move the marker a lot, but they work great if they are staying in one place for a while, or for my knitting (I hook them onto a ring marker for larger needles). Krystle also makes markers with a simpler hook which are easier to place and remove (see the heart marker below).StitchMarkers

Overall, the hooks and stitch markers are really fun to work with and make my time crocheting a little more special and personal. You can tell a lot of care went into making each item. Krystle is a great artist who obviously takes great pride in her work and has a true love for crochet – including a love for amigurumi! You can see more of her art work, not just polymer clay, on her Instagram – she creates adorable kawaii drawings, too.

If you want to learn more about Krystle and her work, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Etsy.  Have a special request? Just drop her a message on Etsy!

Krystle is my go to sponsor for my amigurumi CALs, so if you want to win a hook for yourself, stay tuned for news on the latest hookabee CALs and join in!

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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Yarn review: Canadiana by Patons

Patons Canadiana yarn review by hookabeeAcrylic yarns are some of the most popular yarns for making amigurumi – they are machine washable, cheap, and durable. Previously, I talked about my top acrylic yarn, Vanna’s Choice, but when I can’t find the right colour, I need to stray from this line and use something completely different.

Another acrylic yarn I like using is Canadiana by Patons. It is a lighter worsted weight yarn than other popular acrylics, like Red Heart Super Saver and Vanna’s Choice, so creates smaller amigurumi. You may need to go down in hook size if you are used to the heavier worsted weight acrylics.

What do I like about Canadiana yarn?

(1) Comes in a variety of bold colours – The main reason I will turn to Canadiana is because of the awesome colour selection. Not only is there a lot of choice, but the colours themselves are very bold and bright – great for amigurumi! There are solid colours, as well as variegated options. I was able to find the perfect Christmas colours for my Felix the Elf pattern.

Felix the Elf amigurumi pattern by @hookabee

(2) Easy to find and at a good price – Like Vanna’s Choice, you can find this yarn in a variety of stores, as well as on many websites online. This means you can use store coupons and sales to get it at a great price!

(3) Nice to crochet with – This yarn is soft and smooth, so is great to work with. It runs through your fingers nicely and has a bit of stretch for easy stitching.

(4) Creates a soft, stretchy fabric – Because of its softness and stretch, Canadiana makes really squishy and cuddly amigurumi. The stretch is also great when making my dog collar pattern, because the collar can slip over a dog’s head!Crochet spiked dog collar free pattern by @hookabee crochet ( #crochet #pattern #dogcollar #dogs #free #freepattern

(5) Machine washable and dryable – I have never machine washed my amis before, so I can’t say how this yarn actually holds up, but Patons claims it “washes and dries beautifully”, which is great if you are making your amigurumi for children.


What don’t I like about Canadiana?

(1) Shiny – If you like yarn with some sheen, then this trait would actually be a plus for you, but I am not a huge fan. While it isn’t as shiny as other acrylics out there, it has more sheen than Vanna’s Choice and the non-premium cheap acrylics. Because the shininess also makes the yarn somewhat slippery, knots may not hold as well with this yarn.

(2) Fuzzes easily – Likely a factor of this yarns smoothness, it also fuzzes up quite easily, so isn’t as durable. For some reason, I found the black to be especially bad for this…don’t know why!

(3) It’s acrylic – While acrylic yarn has its benefits, it also has features that aren’t so great. The production of acrylic yarn is not environmentally friendly, and it doesn’t have the same feel as real wool.Patons Canadiana yarn review by hookabeeHave you used Patons Canadiana yarn before? What do you think of it?

Don’t forget to 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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