Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Crochet for Charity #1

It has always been my wish to do some charity work since years ago but wasn't into the idea of volunteering work.  I also have this dream that if I were to open a store selling food or a bakery, I will let the elderly eat free at my store and free bread/cakes at my bakery.  Well, that did not materialize... yet but I am still hopeful that one day that dream will come true.

On the other hand, something did happened unexpectedly and I had my wish to do some charity work.  Last year, a friend linked me up with a group of crocheters and knitters at Give a Little Warmth to make scarves and beanies for SWAN Fund, an organisation that collects donation for the needy, mainly in Thailand. 

I am so grateful to both my husband and son, they are so supportive when I said that I joined the group for a good cause.  They gave me time to myself when I mention to them that I am making scarves/beanie for SWAN Fund.  They even gave me suggestions on the design and color combinations.

It didn't take me long to join them, and in a span of months, I managed to make 6 scarves for both adults and kids in the midst of fulfilling my orders.  It was not a great contribution because some of them makes 50s or more in those months, they really have fast hands!

This year, they added beanies to the list, the group dived in to work almost immediately and the result was tremendous!  Some of them made as many as 50 beanies with almost the same amount of scarves!  Look at the many bags of beanies and scarves, all packed and ready to be sent to Thailand!

A friend blessed me with a few skein of printed yarns and I used them to make the 8 beanies below.  These are Marvel 4 Seasons 8 ply acrylic yarns, beautiful printed colors but some of them are of darker shades.  I didn't fancy dark colored beanie coz I wanted my beanie to be happy beanies with bright colors that brings a smile to the person wearing it.  Thus I double up the yarn and was amazed how differently it turned out to be when it's paired off with different solid color yarn!  I had such a wonderful time making these beanies because I never know how the whole thing will turn out till I finish the last stitch.

Here are the beanies I made, I put them on a Styrofoam head to show you how great they look on the head, gorgeous aren't they?

Adult's Beanie

Kids Beanie

This is an on going project by SWAN Fund, besides monetary donation, they also accept donation in kinds such as soft toys, clothes etc, great way to pass on the things that are still in good condition but you no longer needs them.

If you like to do your part too, you can contact them on the following links;


Alternatively, if you wish to contribute some yarns to me so that I can make scarves and beanies for them, do drop me an email at shopofcurios(at)gmail(dot)com or send me a private message in my facebook page here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fish Boxtroll & Boxtrolls Keychain

I have this girlfriend who has been throwing birthday parties for her girl with different themes every year for the past 8 years.  They are not simple themed parties with themed cakes and deco, it is complete with games and entertainment for every one.  It is actually one of the most look forward event for us every year and this year it is extra exciting because she approached me to be party of the party~  

In 2014, the 3D stop-motion movie Boxtrolls, a story based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow hit the screen.  Both of us, together with our kids, fell in love with these night creatures.  Thus, the birthday theme for this year is Boxtrolls!

I searched the web and came upon Little Black Marker and her Fish Boxtroll, she did an amazing job in creating Fish Boxtroll, however she uses other materials such as felt and cardboard to make up Fish's eyes and box, which I wasn't keen on coz I would like to keep it to yarn and crochet.

At that moment, I have no idea how I can replicate that, I took out the yarn, stared at it for seconds with ideas/methods racing through my mind and I started to visualize how I want the eye patch, eyes and box to look like.  Once I have that image, I held on to it and sets my hands working.  It turned out not too bad eh?  

The biggest satisfaction I had was the fish applique, I did not follow any pattern nor wrote it down before hand, I just did a mental pattern and made it, there were a couple minor mistakes where I have to frog it to redo again, 15mins later, the fish applique is done.  

I was contemplating whether to make the box in one piece or in 6 separate pieces, after thinking it through I decided on the latter.  I sew the pieces together with the same colored yarn with simple whip stitch, this creates a "fold" which makes it looks more like a box.  I didn't want Fish to have removeable box so I did not make his body, instead I made the head, arms and feet then sew them onto the box.

I used 4mm hook on acrylic 8 ply yarn, it turned out to be about 30cm from head to toe, a good size for the birthday girl to hug it to sleep.

My girlfriend wanted the little guests to have their own Boxtrolls too and so they each will have a Boxtroll keychains with their initials on it.  It took me quite some time to start doing these fellas because I couldn't find the RIGHT yarn, it's either of the wrong color tone or unsuitable yarn thickness till I chanced upon the jade colored cotton yarn from Daiso.  I was so happy that I almost jumped up with joy on the spot!  It almost match the color tone of Fish Boxtroll too! 

This Boxtroll keychain is my pattern, again mental pattern only; yes I have a habit of doing that which probably is not a good practice, I should try to pen it down some time soon, but they are simple basic stitches that not too complicated. As with Fish Boxtroll above, the box are 6 separate pieces sewn together for that "boxy" effect.  

Initially I wanted to make just "stick" arms and legs but it didn't feel right to me; injustices to these little fellas too, so I made fingers and thumb for them - don't they look cute?

Overall the whole thing turned out much better than I expected, from the feedback from my girlfriends and the mummy friends they love them too! 

I am very proud of myself with these Boxtrolls because this is my 2nd mental pattern (1st is a Batman keychain), it just makes my heart flutter with excitement knowing that there are 23 of them out there, showing off my creations to the rest of the world.

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If you see something in my blog that caught your eye, drop me an email to enquire about it.  I do pre-order and custom made orders too.  Send me an email to discuss on your requirements.  

Do follow us at instagram, facebook and Etsy shop.

Monday, July 4, 2016

National Reading Movement 2016 - Read More, Read Wisely, Read Together

We are a little bit slow, actually about 1 month slow but better slow than never take part in this meaningful initiative!

On 2nd June 2016 National Library Board (NLB) launched the National Reading Movement, a five-year initiative to promote reading in Singapore.

The launch also marks the start of a two-month pledging campaign that aims to encourage all to Read More by setting aside some time to read regularly, Read Widely by going beyond the usual genres and read in mother tongue languages, and to Read Together with family and friends.

In the months of June and July, following the launch of the National Reading Movement on 3 June 2016, the public can look forward to a wide range of reading programmes and activities at public libraries island-wide. They include the following;

Pledging Campaign 
3 June– 30 July 2016
The pledging campaign calls for all to pledge to Read More, Read Widely and Read Together. Members of the public can make their pledge to read by visiting www.nationalreadingmovement.sg.

Read! Fest 2016 
3 June – 30 July 2016
Read! Fest is NLB’s signature annual reading festival. Into its third edition this year, Read! Fest 2016 centres on the theme of ‘New Adventures’, with 175 programmes organised in three segments:

• “Meet: Readers and Writers” stimulates an appetite for reading via intimate exchanges with people who live, love and breathe books, including authors, poets and librarians.

• “Create: Literary Spaces” attracts attention to literature and spark curiosities about literature through book-based art programmes and more.

• “Explore: Beyond the Pages” brings readers to new spaces to bond over books and stimulates new reading experiences for both the avid and non-reader.

To promote reading in mother tongue languages, Read! Fest 2016 also features over 40 related programmes. This is double the number of mother tongue language programmes held at Read! Fest last year.

Download a copy of Read! Fest 2016 guide over here or visit NLB Calender of Events to see what is happening daily at our various public libraries over here.

Read for Books 
23 July – 30 July 2016
Read for Books is an initiative calling everyone to come together to read for a good cause. For every 10 people who read for 15 minutes, a book will be donated to NLB’s kidsREAD club beneficiaries from less privileged families:

• Read for Books @ The Plaza, NLB building and selected public libraries (30 July 2016) – for organised corporate groups and public onsite participation

• Read for Books @ Your Own Space (23 - 30 July 2016) – for individuals to read together and post a group photo on Facebook with the hashtag #readforbooks

• Read for Books @ Public Service (25 - 30 July 2016) – for public sector agencies to conduct learning journeys to NLB libraries and read

National Reading Day 
30 July 2016
The inaugural National Reading Day on 30 July 2016 will mark the start of an annual celebration of the joy and importance of reading. The public can look forward to read together as a nation, and participate in reading activities island-wide at all NLB libraries and the archives. The National Reading Day will fall on the last Saturday of every July. 

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The gang over at Shop of Curios are book lovers, we are excited about the National Reading Movement and we know we gotta join in and support this great initiative! We decided to host a month long giveaway at our blog from today till the National Reading Day on 30 July 2016~

Since we are good with our hands at making beautiful crochet creations, we would like to give away bookmarks to 5 lucky readers each week.  This means 20 bookworms will be receiving our handmade bookmarks!  However, this "lightbulb" only went "ting!" about an hour ago we did not have time to pick out all the bookmarks to make and giveaway.  We scoured the web quickly for ideas and chance upon the Cat In The Hat bookmark by Catina Anderson, we think this uberly cool bookmark will look great on any books, and by this I mean ANY books, kids or adults books.

We hope that our little giveaway will help to encourage people to read more and to make every one join in the National Reading Movement to Read More, Read Wisely and especially Read Together!

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Giveaway Details

Prize : 4 handmade crochet bookmarks, 5 winners each week for month of July 2016
Contest Ends : 30 July 2016 @ 2359hrs
Open : Singapore
How to Enter : Use the weekly Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and conditions of giveaway are as follow:
- To avoid being disqualified without prior notice for the giveaway, please read carefully the following and fulfill ALL the requirements stated.
- Read and fullfill all requirements stated in the Rafflecopter widget.
- Winners with the best answer will have higher chanced to win.
- Winners will be notified via email, please ensure you have provided a valid email.
- Winners will have 48 hours to respond by replying to our notification otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
- Prizes will be mailed out after giveaway ends.
- Only one winner per household.
- This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Week 1 - Cat In The Hat

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week 2 - Bumble Bee

I have a special love for anything that are bees (though not the real thing, got stung once and it was painful!) so it's natural that I wanted to include them in my first giveaway.  I found these Bumble Bees pattern by Yunie's and went ahead to make them almost without hesitation.  They are round (like Tsum Tsum) and really really adorable, I would love them to accompany me while I am lost in my books, at least they will lead me to honey and I won't go hungry *chuckles*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week 3 - Splat! Gecko

Geckos are not everyone's favourite amphibian but they sure look adorable when they are cuddle soft toys or in this case a bookmark.  This Gecko sure wished that his feet were faster to escaped being caught in between the pages of a Ranger's adventure.  Pattern taken from supergurumi, they have other patterns of flatten animal bookmarks too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week 4 - Flower Power

With the previous more complicated and unique bookmarks in this giveaway, I wanted to return to the basic, thus this exquisite flower bookmark by NoobCraft. I will make them in random colors and will also mail them randomly to the winners.  I think they will look great in any book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 26, 2016

3 Peas in Pod

This is the first vegetable that I crochet earlier this year, requested by a teacher who works with special needs children.  She showed me a picture of it taken from the web and I managed to find the pattern.  

These cute little Sweet Peas are by Ana Paula Rimoli and can be in her book Amigurumi Two! : Crocheted Toys for Me and You and Baby Too.  She has a lot of cute amigurumi in the book, you should really check it out if you want to make some cuddly bear or robots for your kids.

Purchase the book here

So, this teacher works with special needs children who are either austic, physically disabled or have speech difficulty.  In order to make communication easier she thought of these peas with different facial expressions, thus the Angry, Happy and Sad face, the children  could just hold the pea that best reflect their emotion at that moment.  Genius idea right!    As the teacher has no idea what is a suitable size, I made them big, as shown in the photo below.

This project was made using 100% acrylic yarn, I used safety eyes so there is no fear of them fall off the peas and ended up somewhere they shouldn't be (like in a child's mouth/nostril/throat/tummy), unless you really tug it with all your might and risk tearing the peas up.  I crocheted the cheeks too, didn't want to use fabric color nor felt for it.  Mouths are sewn on using 2ply yarns.

A couple of weeks later, this teacher contacted me again because one of the mum saw the peas and wanted it for her child.  She requested them to be of smaller size and with orange hats for all 3 peas.  I downsized them and these peas are about a child's palm size so it's easier for her to grasp and hold or even play with them.  The mum mentioned that the pod will be with her child every where  therefore I added a zip to keep the peas in the pod and a strap with button so that she can hang it on the bag etc.  Oh, did I mention that this was supposed to be a birthday gift for her child? *smile*

I love how my craft helps people in so many ways, makes me feel great every time I start a project.

I have not list this item in my Etsy store yet, if you are interested to get one, simply drop a comment in this blog post or send me an email to shopofcuiros(at)gmail(dot)com.

Disclaimer : This post contains affiliated links.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Couple of months ago, I received an order from a music teacher for a caterpillar in Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. I was very happy to receive such request because I am such an Eric Carle fan and his caterpillar is so adorable~ As I searched for the caterpillar pattern, I found out that there were so many The Very Hungry Caterpillar fans out there.  I finally settled for Britteny's Boutique's Hungry Caterpillar but made a little bit changes.  You can see her free pattern over here.

Britteny's caterpillar pattern is very simple, just a few balls for the body and head, the difficult part for me is to sew the body together and making them curve up correctly like Eric Carle's illustration.  It's challenging and the crafter perfectionist in me made me sew them a million more stitches so that the body stays in that way.  My poor fingers and thumbs were screaming "MURDER" because it's quite difficult to stick the needle in between 2 balls and try to pull the needle out from the other side.

Britteny uses felt for its eyes but I wanted to keep every thing crochet thus I crochet them instead.  Its just a simple sc around with increase sc to make them sort of longish shape.

I went to study Eric Carle's illustration of the caterpillar and decided to use 3 different shades of green yarns instead for its body.  I added more "hair" because me think it's a hairy caterpillar.

So far I have made 3 of this, each in different size and I never get too tired or bored making this.  The weaving in of the "hair" onto the body was a little therapeutic for me and I could do it while watching the tv.  I also find that by making the caterpillar with 2 strands of acrylic yarn gives it a sturdier and firm body, so it does not sort of droop down when you hold it at the tail end especially coz the head is slightly bigger and heavier.  Of course with the added strand means I just pushed the notch for sewing them together up 2 levels (can you hear my fingers and thumbs protesting???)

So what do you think of my caterpillar?  From the music teacher's feedback, the kids love the caterpillar and every one grabs for it when they are in class.  Aye!  Fighting over the caterpillar!  I think I better make another one so that there won't be any "wars" in class lol.

If you want to try making this caterpillar, the free pdf pattern by Britteny is above in this post.  If you rather I make this for you, simply drop me an email to place an order.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The 2nd Rebirth Story of Shop of Curios

I wrote this post in my other blog in 11 July 2014 to document the start of a journey, one that makes me turn to something that I love for survival.  2 years on, the shop has taken a few baby steps forward, not quite the dramatic success I was looking for initially, I am still struggling financially,.  Regretfully, things back home was not looking good at the moment and I have lesser time to crochet.

I have been contemplating on setting up a blog for my shop for the past year but was hesitant, because it has been challenging handling family, work and my other blog, I didn't want to add another blog to burden myself.  However, I was at a crossroad again recently and base on my past experience, every time I hit this I have an urge to do something drastic.  So instead of going online shopping crazy (no money to do that anyway) I decided to dive in and set up this blog.  Perhaps this is the "push" or "nudge" I need to get me going.

So here we are, a new blog for a new beginning, the 2nd Rebirth Story of my shop.

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I was chatting with an old friend recently and she suddenly mention that she is hitting mid life crisis - again... this is her 4th by the way.  And on every mid life crisis she went all out to do something drastic such as [Quote] change job...do crazy things....life changing... [Unquote].  She is not crazy! Oh No!  Definitely Not!  I think she just uses the term to put it across in a casual way that these are the time she felt her calling which she has to do something to it, despite the fact that she had to work real hard to achieve what she set out initially.  I admire her bravery and it has brought her to where she is now, happy and successful.  

I have heard my calling whispering in my ears many times during my life but like every one I chose to ignore it, focusing on the more essential things or people than to abandon them to follow my heart.  Earlier last month I was reading What Are You Waiting For?: Learn How to Rise to the Occasion of Your Life by Kristen Moeller and it struck a chord in me.
What are you waiting for? Do you find yourself waiting for the right moment? The ideal relationship? The perfect job? Are you waiting for your “real” life to begin? Do think that the gifts of life are right around the corner? That one day you will arrive and everything will be okay? Do you endlessly search, yet never seem to find? Through the sharing of authentic personal stories and profound life lessons, Kristen Moeller explores our pervasive human tendency to wait for life and to look outside ourselves for answers. So we don’t try; we give up. We sell out and we forget who we are. We are afraid to succeed, afraid to fail, and afraid to say we are afraid. But as Wayne Gretzky said, “You'll always miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don't take!” Kristen Moeller's mission in life is to inspire you to get on the path, move forward and take the shot.
At the same time, there were some drastic changes in my life that totally thrown me off everything and I have an urgent need to do something to get out of the situation but just wasn't sure what that SOMETHING is.  I went on with my daily stuffs with this nagging feeling, talking about this with my friends and one day I found the answer!

Long story short, I have been selling Dr Lily's Organic aloe vera gel since 2009 in facebook but I did not really give it the attention it deserved.  A few years later when Qoo10.sg started in Singapore I started a shop there to sell the aloe vera gel, again I did not put in enough effort to market it but luckily it ran on its own and I get sales trickling in slowly.

This time I decided to quit waiting for the right moment and to make a different, it's my turn to rise to the occasion! For a start I am going to try to be a little bit more aggressive in promoting the aloe vera gel.  At the same time I like to try to make some crafts to sell too.  I have been interested in sewing, crocheting and knitting during my younger days but having lost touch with crochet after so long, I thought I should tackle a simple project for a start.  So I googled for simple crochet patterns, couple of hours later I saw a lovely amirugumi owl template at A Morning Cup of Jo Creations and fell in love with it almost immediately!  After a handful of not so perfect owls that DinoBoy gladly added to the mountains of soft toys on his bed, I managed to made the first perfect owl (the grey owl in the 2nd photo below), which DinoPapa immediately said he wants it, I added the chain keyring and made it into a keychain. 

First batch of not-so-perfect Owls
(A) Baby Owl & (B) Mama Owl made by using A Morning Cup of Jo baby owl template
Next I decided to revamp my shop's name in facebook page and Qoo10 mini shop to signify a brand new start but couldn't think of a name. Along came my sis to the rescue and viola~ Shop of Curios is born! You can find us at Facebook and Instagram do stop by to check out the prices of the Dr Lily's aloe vera gel and the amigurumi owl keychains.  I hope to add more of my crochet works in the future and bring these cheerful little creatures into your heart~

In the meantime, I would appreciate if you can help me spread my shop's name to all your relatives and friends~  Follow us to get instant update of any new craft creations, products, great deals the minute I upload them~

Disclaimer : This post includes affiliated link.