2018, the Year I Crocheted Tiny Sweaters

Enjoy this tiny sweater fashion show. So much tiny style!

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It’s been a full and busy year. Overwhelming at times. Crocheting tiny sweaters helped me through it all.

I really love miniature anything. At first, I didn’t know tiny sweaters were already a thing. Apparently, I stumbled into a “thing” by just having fun.

 “Just having fun is a worthwhile endeavor!” according to my sister, Judy. Guess I can go along with that. I feel happy each time I finish a tiny sweater and I think it’s because of how cute they are. In the last five years I’ve crocheted over 250 tiny sweater Christmas ornaments.

I started by checking out a few different free patterns before developing my own. If you like to crochet, click [here] for my easy and free instructions to make a tiny sweater.

Tiny Sweaters for Web Instructions

Tiny sweater ornaments in bright festive colors

After some refinement, I’m pleased with the shapes and proportions. Plus, now I’ve memorized the patterns. Not many things are as satisfying as being in that kind of flow.

Earlier this year I decided to crochet. To restock the popular and already sold out styles. That seemed reasonable. I didn’t expect it to take very long.

Then I got pulled into the rhythm of counting stitches. I find this very soothing. Meditative, even. A good enough reason to continue for a while. Maybe make a few extra.

Next I had cataract surgery on both eyes. This limited some activities while I waited for my vision to stabilize. Meanwhile, I had reading glasses that were the perfect strength for close-up work. Another reason to keep crocheting so I did. I love being still and productive at the same time. Crocheting lets me do that.

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Yarn to go

By summer I was getting on an airplane and flying to the mainland. Leaving behind my island home brings with it a certain amount of separation anxiety. It’s to be expected. I knew from my last trip I’d be happier if I had some yarn with me.

My brain had a lot of information to process with the multiple family reunions and reconnecting with old friends. Crocheting helped me feel grounded and resist the urge to fidget.

Once back home, more crocheting through the rest of the summer. It seems like several times I said was going to put my supplies away and then kept crocheting instead.

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In answer to the question, what have I been up to, lately?

Somebody should have stopped me right about here. I don’t know who “somebody” is, but I wish I did! I did not stop here. Nope. I still had a few styles I wanted to try.

One morning I got a text from Judy asking how was I doing? I had been pondering a question. So I texted back these two pictures of the natural white sweater and asked which bow she liked best.

“What if you added a belt?” she said, “Don’t decide now, just look at it.” Usually these things are decided by the materials I have on hand. This metallic silver trim goes perfectly with that over-the-top eyelash yarn. As a minimalist, I wouldn’t have instinctively added so many details but I love it! And I made several more just like it, too.

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Sweater ornament in natural white with metallic silver trim

It’s been so cool having a design consultant on staff. Especially since she’s proclaimed herself as one of my biggest fans. To prove her point, and without even thinking about it, she can rattle off a long list of my products that she owns (placemats, napkins, towels, wallets, jewelry, sleep masks, etc.). Thank you, Judy.

(And, yes, that’s a shameless plug for other items you may find at Alexis Art Studio.)

Our next design together was a his and hers sweater set. I’d been drawing a blank on what would make the perfect men’s style. That’s when Judy came up with the necktie idea. So cute and totally “crushed” the concept I was going for! She loved the prototype so much that she pre ordered four sets. That set me off on another crochet spree.

Later we played with a bow tie idea. We worked on it for a while, texting pictures and exchanging thoughts. After all that, I decided I liked the necktie better. It came to me in a moment and I just knew…

Repeating a great idea was going to feel better than introducing an okay idea just because it’s new. It’s one of my ongoing struggles as an artist. I’ve expended a lot of energy trying to be original all the time and finally realized it’s so unnecessary.

Making lots of sweaters also means making lots of little hangers. They’re bent from florists wire, one at a time. That’s why I’m so thankful for this jig that my husband made for me. I bend the wire around it to get the hangers a consistent size and shape.

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Jig and wire for making tiny hangers

Each sweater has a studio label inside with Made in Hawaii. Additional details about each ornament, the colors, and embellishments, are in the individual listings.

Oh, sure, yes. The thought did come to me a few times that I should stop. Making. Sweaters. But then the next thought was: I can only sell them if make them first. Because most of the work was in styles that I’ve sold before, I felt (pretty) confident that the extra inventory would be crowd pleasing.

Come check out the cute and happy tiny sweater Christmas ornaments in my etsy shop

Thank you!!

Alexis

PS: Might as well get some for yourself, too. More than once I’ve had buyers tell me they were planning to give them as gifts but couldn’t bear to part with them. Just sayin’!

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About Me

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Happy in my studio

A graphic design background puts a sense of proportion and order in all the things I make. When I can brighten your day with something I’ve made, that brightens my day, too. Thank you for being part of the joy!

Since opening my etsy shop in April of 2016 I have been focusing most of my attention there.

Everything you see in my etsy shop I make, one at a time. I… Can’t. Stop. Making things! I’m a little nuts about it, actually. This is a lifelong problem that started with my grandma teaching me how to crochet when I was 7 or 8. Which lead to knitting and then to sewing and so much more.

I’m going to create things no matter what. And I’m currently in the process of learning how to connect my things to the people who will really appreciate them (marketing).

I work in whatever medium is intriguing me at the moment. And I like to really dig into a project. For as long as the process fascinates me. For as long as I’m enjoying it and learning something. After that, I say no to boredom and stale ideas! That’s how I ended up with such a wacky and fun assortment of treasures. I would love to find homes for all of them.

There’ll be more. Always more. Including some surprises for you. And me, too!

About the Work

Through my etsy shop item descriptions, I get you some backstory on each piece. I try to explain the why of it, and sometimes also the how.

MY PROCESS. I have piles of fabric, stacks of patterns and paints, and tools stuffed into every corner. All mixed with things from my personal life. All in big heaps in small spaces. I have a friend who likes to picture me sitting at the sewing machine whipping up worlds of whimsy. Hold on to that image because that is the reality—it’s just hard to take a photo of it because of there are so many ideas laying around everywhere.

QUALITY. I do my very very best, always. I’m proud of my work which is good. The downside is that I nit pick and grab my seam ripper (and other tools of destruction and undoing) far more often than might be strictly necessary. What can I say? Tightly done construction is part of my look and style.

MINIMAL WASTE. That’s my mindset. I love working with beautiful new fabrics. I also love to upcycle and repurpose. To score great finds at garage sales and thrift stores. To use up every last scrap of fabric. Take apart old jewelry and repurpose beads. Cut up old books for collages, etc.

MINIMAL PACKAGING. Sometimes I sew studio labels into my pieces, other times I attach a tiny paper tag with my logo. I ship almost everything in a padded mailer with just a little bit of white tissue wrap.

Island inspired art and gifts hand made in Hawaii.
THANK YOU!
Alexis

Jewelry Play

Finished necklace.

Finished necklace.

For a while now I’ve been resisting making jewelry. Many dozens of excuses! Finally, I called a friend for help and I am so glad I did. Help was so important to get me past that stage of not even knowing what I kind of jewelry I wanted to make. Some excellent reading materials were provided to me and I studied them.

Here is a picture of the finished piece that I’m highlighting. Click on any picture for a larger view.

While looking through the jewelry supply catalog, I spotted a project I wanted to make. Picking a project to make got me past my instinct to design something. As much as I love designing, to get started I just wanted to practice the making. Sort of awkward anyway, to attempt to design something that I have no idea how to make. Something had to come first. And as it turns out, the design I liked determined the techniques I wanted to learn. Felt good to finally get off of square one.

Because the (two inch thick) catalog was a little dated, some of the supplies for my chosen project were sold out. Others cost more than what I cared to spend. This was perfect, it gave me the opportunity to make the necklace my own instead of following the design exactly. Win. The design appealed to me because I have a tendency to make things too even. This one is definitely apart from my usual rhythm. I’m not sure if I really love the asymmetry as much as I crave irregularity, but I’m getting that figured out.

After studying a photograph of the design I wanted to make, my wonderful wonderful friend, Charlene, combed through her collections and shot me back photographs of charms and ephemera curated just for my project. I was thrilled to choose several absolutely perfect pieces from her photos before I decided what I still had to purchase. I decided on several items from the materials list, relying on that information to get the correct gauges and sizes for this scale and type of project.

Me with Sissy and Buster.

Me with Sissy and Buster.

Before long, the day had arrived for me to pick up my tools and goodies and head on over to Charlene’s for my lesson. Here I am with the fur babies, Sissy and Buster. Miss Bird was feeling camera shy and declined to be photographed. In this picture I’m being given a nice pep talk by Charlene before we get started.

This project involved some wire wrapping which I’ve wanted to learn and assumed was way out of my reach. The wire wrapping lesson was so much fun. I wanted to wrap everything! Beforehand it seemed like a far away mystery but I was given some special secrets. Such as, in every project something is expendable. In this case, the wire is expendable!! Take off more than I need and toss the extra. Start over and don’t worry about saving the bent wire. Practice. At one point Charlene said, when I show you how to tighten the wires you are going to say “ohhhh” and she did and I said “ohhhh” right on cue, it was involuntary, really. We both laughed. Silliness.

In process.

In process.

After a few hours of advice and instruction, and several charms and components richer, I went home to assemble. I had been encouraged to expend wire and I did. It took several attempts at wrapping to feel that it had the look and security that I wanted. To achieve a stronger loop, I decided it was easier to use a double strand rather than a thicker wire, at least this time. I spent the rest of Friday afternoon wrapping and hooking dangles together. Rearranging the possibilities. I was surprised to discover it was 6:30 pm and I was still in the studio.

Beads and baubles.

Beads and baubles.

Saturday morning I sat down and got serious about the assembly. I don’t have much for process photos. I really didn’t know what the process was yet! In above photo, the main part of the necklace is completed and I am adding the dangles. Still deciding which parts to hook together. The beads are strung on a crimped beading wire. The rest is assembled with jump rings and other findings.

Here is a picture of some of the components I worked with. An assortment of bought, found, and made items were used. The large chain pictured is actually a lightweight nylon-covered rubber chain. Very easy on the neck. An assortment of jump rings, head pins and eye pins are what I used to assemble the necklace and dangles. In this project I used a variety of metal colors and I’m enjoying the the mix. Also, gotta love the many “antique” colored metals available, no polishing required.

There were some surprises. First, because I was facing the work, I made a mirror image of what I thought I was doing! Later, I discovered it makes a delightful little clinking noise when I put it on and move around. Like an itty bitty wind chime.

Below are some closeups of the dangles and wire-wrapped components.

Now I’ve decided that jewelry making is definitely going to be one of my things that I do. I love that it is a quiet job. No power tools. No chemicals. I get to take my time making decisions and can change my mind without leaving a trace of correction behind. (Even if I have to expend a few jump rings to get there.) It took several tries to get the dangles at the bottom to hang in the order I wanted them. I just kept taking the components apart and rearranging the findings until I was satisfied.

Even with all the fussing and re-doing, I wrapped it up Saturday afternoon and felt very good about the experience. I deeply appreciate having this clean studio to work in and clean tables to spread everything out onto. So many thanks go to my sweet husband who gave me the fabulous gift of this beautiful studio.

I’ve tidied up for now but am keeping the tools and supplies close by and dreaming up some new projects.

Thank you for reading my blog!
Aloha, Alexis