Megan Recommends

Megan Recommends blog series

This is a blog series in which I tell you about random things I recommend you try – and they aren’t often ami related! Actually, this post is very food and drink oriented…I must have been hungry when I wrote it!

Universal Yums

My parents’ gift to my husband this past Christmas was a subscription to the monthly box Universal Yums. If you know someone who loves to try new foods (especially snacks) and travelling, this is a great gift!

Each month, they send you a fun box filled with snack foods (salty and sweet) from a particular country, and each month features a different country. Our first box in December was for the UK – and we got some pretty neat treats! I have been to the UK several times, and there were still items I had never seen before or tried.UniversalYums

Also included in each package is a fun little booklet that not only describes each item in the box (in a rather humorous way), but also includes fun facts and games about the country. At the end of the booklet, they also include a clue for what the next country will be.

You can find out more about the different subscription options, as well as what their past countries and goodies were on their website. They are based in the US, but do ship to other countries, including Canada.

David’s Tea nordic mugs

I love my tea time, and good tea isn’t complete without a great mug! I LOVE my nordic mug from David’s Tea. It is huge, comes with a great metal infuser that fits right inside, and has a really nice handle to hold (really, really, nice).

Each season David’s Tea (a Montreal based company!) introduces new designs for their signature mugs – it is always fun to see what they come up with next. Mine is one that changes colour when you pour hot water into it – changing each hot air balloon from a dark purple to a rainbow of colour.DavidTeaMug

My favourite current design is the one with the school of fish, that also changes colour. They also have some neat ones that you can draw on so you can design your own mug!

While you are shopping there, I also of course recommend their great teas, too!

Actifry

If you love fried food but are trying to eat more healthy (it is January, the month of resolutions!), then I recommend getting an Actifry by T-fal. This hand dandy appliance allows you to fry a bunch of crispy french fries using only 1 tablespoon of oil. The fries do indeed come out nice and crispy (especially if you choose a kind of potato that works well for fries), plus, you get to decide which oil to use and how much, unlike those pre-fried frozen variety.

Now I can’t lie, this machine is not cheap (we were lucky enough to get it as a gift), but I still think it is worth it. Not only can you make french fries, but also regular stir-fry, kale chips (my favourite), carrot fries (oh man – so good), etc. You can find recipes on the website for a variety of foods. I love how I can put all my veggies in it and just walk away and do something else while my dinner cooks, unlike cooking on the stove top. The machine does all the stirring for you (it has a an attachment that goes around and around the pan slowly, mixing things up), so you can just leave it and let it do its thing. Easy!

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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Yarn review: Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand

Yarn Review Vanna's Choice by @hookabeeWhat yarn do you use for amigurumi? You aren’t going to be wearing your amis; you may give them to kids, who aren’t always gentle with them; or they may just sit on your desk all day, keeping you company. The yarn you choose to make a garment is completely different from what you may choose to make your amigurumi. But at the same time, you also want to enjoy using the yarn when you are crocheting – you want it to feel good in your fingers, not split or fuzz up easily – or the experience of making the ami won’t be very enjoyable.

I think one of the most common fibers used to make amigurumi is acrylic – it is cheap, durable, washable, and comes in a wide variety of colours and textures. One of my go to acrylics is Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand.Vannas Choice Yarn review by @hookabee

When I first saw this yarn, I didn’t think there was an actual link between the Vanna White of the American game show Wheel of Fortune and this yarn. I thought it was just a coincidence, but no! This yarn actually is by THE Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune! Vanna loves to crochet and has been working with Lion Brand since 1985. You can watch her on YouTube talking about yarn and crochet, such as this one on how she learned to crochet. I don’t buy this yarn because it is her line, but I do find it interesting, and a little amusing!

What do I like about Vanna’s Choice yarn?

(1) Easy to find – You can find this yarn in most large retailers that have yarn, including Michael’s and Walmart, as well as multiple sites online. It is not exclusive to one store, so you can always get it when you need it.

(2) Good price – Though this yarn is more expensive than other acrylics, such as Red Heart Super Saver, it is still relatively cheap compared to other yarns, and I feel the higher price does give you a better quality yarn.

(3) Nice to crochet with – Compared to other, cheaper acrylics, I like the way Vanna’s Choice yarn feels in my hands when I am crocheting. It is soft and lofty with a bit of stretch – so it is enjoyable to work with. Compared to cotton (another popular fiber for amigurumi), which does not stretch, that slight give is nice when crocheting.

(4) Creates a good fabric for amigurumi – I really like the fabric that results when this yarn is crocheted into an ami, especially my large amis, because it is soft, squishy, and huggable. I find it doesn’t stretch as much as wool does, so keeps its shape better and results in smaller stitch holes. And while it is soft, it doesn’t pill or fuzz easily, so wears well with time.

(5) Not too much sheen – I sometimes go back and forth about whether I like my yarn to have a sheen, or shininess, to it or not, but Vanna’s Choice sheen is not over the top, so I don’t mind it! This also means it isn’t as slippy as other, more shiny acrylics, so knots and stitches stay put.

What don’t I like about Vanna’s Choice?

(1) Colour choices – Unless you can find the baby version of this yarn (which I can’t in stores here in Canada), there are not many bright and vibrant Vanna’s Choice colours. All the colours in the collection have been selected specifically to match each other really well, which is nice, but I find the tones limited. I love bright colours, and sometimes I find this yarn a little dull in that department – except the blue I use for Walden the narwhal! I could not find a nice bright, sunny yellow for Bobby the bee, or a nice Easter violet for Flora the bunny.Walden the Narwhal amigurumi crochet pattern by @hookabee crochet (www.hookabee.com) #crochet #amigurumi #narwhal #whale #pattern

(2) Inconsistencies – You have to be very careful and purchase enough yarn in one lot for a project because there is a noticeable difference between dye lots. I had bought blue for Walden on two different occasions and I could not use up the old yarn and combine it with the new skein I had purchased later because they were too different. There was not only a difference in colour, but also a slight difference in texture and feel. Also, make sure you read the label of each colour and confirm how much yardage you are getting per skein – some colours have less yardage than others!

(3) It’s acrylic – Despite all the qualities that I like above, Vanna’s Choice is still an acrylic yarn and has all the negative aspects of acrylic fibre – it isn’t environmentally friendly and does not have the same feel that a natural fibre has, and can still feel a little “plasticy” in comparison.

Do you use Vanna’s choice? Is there another acrylic yarn you prefer more? Or do you stay clear of acrylic yarn all together? I would love to hear from you!

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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Shrinking your amigurumi

I recently received a wonderful review for my big Bobby the bumble bee pattern from a fellow amigurumi designer, Mevlinn Gusick (you should check out her great work!):

This pattern was so easy to understand, the instructions for attaching the limbs could easily be the most detailed I have ever seen. The best part is how the pattern was originally created for worsted weight yarn and can make a bee up to 12 inches long but I used fingering weight yarn and ended up with this adorable mini bee instead.

Isn’t he cute! I was so delighted to see big Bobby in little form 🙂 All Mevlinn did to create this mini bee was use a finer weight yarn and a smaller hook – Bobby shrunk from being a foot long to being able to fit in her hand!

To create the big 12 inch Bobby you need to use worsted weight yarn and a 4 mm hook, but Mevlinn used fingering weight yarn and a 2.25 mm hook to make her smaller bee.

You can apply this technique to any amigurumi pattern to create mini versions of the original ami – simply use a finer yarn and smaller hook than the pattern calls for!

You can of course apply the same principles to make a bigger amigurumi, too. If you use a bulkier yarn and a larger hook than the pattern describes, you will make a larger ami.

In the images below you can see just how much of an effect yarn weight and hook size has on the size of a finished piece:The effects of hook and yarn size on finished amigurumi sizeBoth the circles above are the same in terms of number of rounds and stitches, but the green circle on the left is made using a bulkier weight yarn and a 5 mm hook, while the blue circle on the right is made with a finer weight yarn and a 3.25 mm hook.

Give it a go and experiment with different yarn weights and hook sizes using your favourite amigurumi patterns – you can create whole families of amis with little babies and big papas.

Not a fan of fingering weight yarn and tiny hooks but still want a little Bobby? You can always use my little bobby the bumble pattern, which still uses worsted weight yarn 🙂

Little Bobby the bumble bee amigurumi crochet pattern by @hookabee crochet (www.hookabee.com) #crochet #amigurumi #bumblebee #bee #pattern #stuffedanimal

 

Don’t forget to sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.

Until next time,

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