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Last Christmas I whipped up some of these adorable coffee sleeves as gifts and was delighted with how they turned out!  I recently pulled out the pattern again and thought I would blog about it since I love them so much :)
You might be wondering what crochet stitch this coffee sleeve uses since it has such a beautiful braided look: it’s actually the half double crochet!  Instead of crocheting in both the front and back loops, you crochet in the third loop (found below the back loop of half double crochets).  This free pattern is by “Frayed Knot" and is called the "15 Min Coffee Sleeve”- it’s true that it works up extremely quickly, and adding a button is such a cute touch.  So if you’re in a scramble for a quick handmade gift, check out this free pattern HERE!

Last Christmas I whipped up some of these adorable coffee sleeves as gifts and was delighted with how they turned out!  I recently pulled out the pattern again and thought I would blog about it since I love them so much :)

You might be wondering what crochet stitch this coffee sleeve uses since it has such a beautiful braided look: it’s actually the half double crochet!  Instead of crocheting in both the front and back loops, you crochet in the third loop (found below the back loop of half double crochets).  This free pattern is by “Frayed Knot" and is called the "15 Min Coffee Sleeve”- it’s true that it works up extremely quickly, and adding a button is such a cute touch.  So if you’re in a scramble for a quick handmade gift, check out this free pattern HERE!

Ikea LATT Hack

As Myla grows up, she is loving more and more activities such as colouring, playdough, kinetic sand, stickers and crafts.  I really wanted to get an inexpensive kids’ table and chair set so that she could have a suitable place to do all these activities!  While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I noticed a cute table and chair set in one of babybellykelli's photos.  I immediately asked her where she purchased it and was delighted when Kelli told me that it was actually from Ikea!  I quickly looked it up on-line and found out that the Ikea LATT was a great bargain ($19.99 USD/$26.99 CAD) as it comes with a table and two chairs.

While researching the LATT on-line, I discovered that this set is a very popular item to modify/hack with its simple base design and inexpensive price.  Without modification, the LATT is made of solid pine in a natural wood finish with a white fiberboard table top and seat (see original product and dimensions HERE).  There are tutorials on how to convert the table top into a chalkboard and a lego table, how to add cushioning to the seats, and how to add storage along the sides.  We decided that we wanted to add some cushioning to the seats so that it would be more comfortable for Myla and to add a fun print to this simple set.  We went out to Ikea to purchase the LATT and Ryan began building it…

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Ryan beveled the edges of the wood seat with a utility knife since we needed to accommodate for the added thickness of the fabric that would wrap around this piece later on…

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We purchased some 1/2” thick foam from a fabric store and ordered this beautiful chevron fabric from Spoonflower (called "BlueChevron" by "mrshervi").  We ordered it in the “Linen-Cotton Canvas” so that it was thicker and hardier.  

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Ryan measured out how much foam and material we needed for each seat and began cutting away…

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Next, he folded and hot glued the fabric over the foam and cardboard as depicted in the pictures below.  He also added white duct tape for added support.

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And here we are with a beautifully padded cushion!  I love how no sewing is required and how simple it is to add this modern chevron design to our chairs!  To secure this cushion to the plywood seat, Ryan used a spray adhesive.  

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Ryan also wanted to add plexiglass to the table top so that it would be very easy to wipe down and we could add pictures underneath for different themes or seasons depending on what we were working on with Myla!  He bought some plexiglass from the hardware store and cut it to the appropriate size.  

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Our modified LATT with cushioned chevron seats and a plexiglass table top was soon complete!

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There are tutorials on-line showing some beautifully painted and stained LATT’s as well (grey stains, gold-dipped chair and table legs), but we decided to keep it in the natural wood finish since it matches so well in our house.

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We had a blast choosing the fabric and are really happy with the one that we ordered.  You can have so much fun choosing coordinating paint colours and fabrics to really customize the LATT for your family!

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Here is a close-up of the corner of the table top!  Ryan cut tiny notches in the corners of the plexiglass so that it fit perfectly flush on the surface.

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We’ve placed our table and chair set near our window so that we get plenty of natural light, and it is a wonderfully bright space for Myla to work and play in!

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Myla’s eyes widened with delight when she first saw these little chairs and little table that were her size!  It’s adorable whenever we see her climb up on the chair by herself to get ready to do her activities.

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Right now she loves playing with playdough and using cutters to make different shapes and patterns!  I love how cute Myla looks with her feet dangling above the ground :)

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We love playing in this area, and in the future, Myla’s little sibling can sit on this other seat instead of me :)

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If you’re in the market for a children’s table and chair set, check out the Ikea LATT!  It’s inexpensive and lends itself well to being modified- just google or search for “Ikea LATT hack” on Pinterest and a multitude of tutorials will come up.  Adding the padded chevron cushions to the seats and plexiglass to the table top was quick and easy, and Ryan assembled and modified it all in one sitting!  Let us know what you think and if you have any other ideas of how the LATT can be modified :)

Cover of Dragon Feature

Hello my crafty friends!  As you all know, I love amigurumi, and it was my pleasure being featured in a wonderful amigurumi article found in Issue 20 of “Simply Crochet" magazine.  "We Love Amigurumi”, written by Judy Darley of Future Publishing, is about the joys of making amigurumi toys, and I am so honoured and happy that I could be a part of it!

I was interviewed alongside fellow amigurumi artists Maike van den Dries of the Netherlands and Mei Li Lee of Malaysia.  I really enjoyed reading this delightful article, seeing all the beautiful pictures, and hearing what Maike and Mei had to say as well.  In this “We Love Amigurumi" article, we talk about why we think amigurumi stands out from other kinds of toys, advice on getting started, amigurumi challenges, and what we all love about amigurumi!  It makes me so happy to see features such as these that promote amigurumi and introduce this beautiful art to people who may have never heard of it before!  Yay for amigurumi  

I am so honoured that Dragon is the cover photo of this article and that they included pics of my “Knotted Headband”, “Spring Bunnies”, “Cotton the Lamb”, and the “Fluff Bears: Coco & Mochi”!  If you’re interested in reading this article for yourself, you can buy digital copies of Simply Crochet magazine HERE and also find hard copies in Barnes & Nobles and Chapters Indigo stores!  Let me know if you end up picking up this issue and what you think!

[Note: When I first blogged about this feature, I had initially posted the entire article, but I have now taken it down since we don’t have legal permission- sorry about that!]

Yarn Ball & Crochet Hook Pin

During our California Blog Meet Up (read all about it HERE), we had a delightful pin exchange in which we prepared crafty pins ahead of time for each other!  As soon as fellow amigurumi artist Jo suggested that we do a pin exchange, I knew exactly what type of pin I wanted to make!

I love perusing Craftgawker, and there was a particular project that had caught my eye from December of last year.  Francesca of “Fall for DIY" had made some beautiful "DIY Monkey Fist Knot Earrings”, and I absolutely loved how they looked like little yarn balls!  For our pins, I thought it would be so cute to make a little yarn ball with a crochet hook similar to the one pictured in my blog logo!  In Francesca’s blog post on how to make her earrings HERE, she includes step-by-step instructions, and she also filmed an extremely helpful video entitled “How to Tie a Monkey Knot” HERE (I’ll embed the video at the end of this blog post too!).  Rather than reiterate her instructions, we recommend that you visit her blog post and watch the video to see how it’s made!  

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We searched for the perfect pink yarn, and we ended up going with Lion Brand Yarn’s “Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend in Gerbera Daisy”.  Ryan is actually the one who mastered the monkey fist knot, and to keep the yarn balls consistent and similar-sized, he made them all!  It was such a whirlwind leading up to our California trip since we were making our costumes for Anime Expo as well, and I am so thankful that I have such a supportive husband who helped me make these pins!  Here are some step-by-step photos showing how Ryan made our little yarn balls and crochet hooks :)

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We bought some brass jewelry pins from Michaels (came in a set of 10) and hot glued the little crochet balls onto the pins after tying the ends of yarn into a knot.  To make the crochet hooks, we used these ornament hooks that we purchased from Walmart a couple years ago (we have a large stash of these since we use them to hang the baubles from our white Christmas tree every year)!

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Ryan used pliers to shape the ends of the ornament hooks to resemble crochet hooks!  You may recall that we made a similar crochet hook for Mochi our Fluff Bear to hold (read about the making of our amigurumi Fluff Bears HERE)!

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Ryan placed the crochet hook through the yarn ball so that the yarn ball was at the bottom of the hook.  He then added some hot glue to the middle of the crochet hook and then slid the yarn ball upwards into the glue in order to secure the hook in place.  After each pin was complete, we mounted them on cardboard and were so excited to give these out at the meet up!

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To see the making of a monkey knot in action, please see this wonderful video below filmed by Francesca of “Fall For DIY”!  We paused this video many times as we followed along to learn how to make this special knot!

Here are some notes about making your own yarn ball:

- Instead of wrapping the yarn around the hand three times, we did it four times to make a bigger yarn ball (depends on thickness of yarn).

- Towards the end, try and pull each strand of yarn evenly and with consistent tension to make a uniform yarn ball.

- Don’t pull the strands of yarn too tight or else the yarn ball will be squished.

- Ryan made many “failed” monkey knots/yarn balls before getting the hang of it and achieving the right look, so just keep trying and practicing and don’t be discouraged!

These little yarn balls are so cute, and once you’ve mastered how to tie this special knot, they are inexpensive and relatively quick to make!  Wouldn’t yarn ball earrings or a yarn ball necklace pendant be the perfect gift for us yarn lovers?  The addition of the little crochet hook helps us proudly display the love of our craft too!  I hope you enjoyed reading about the making of our “Yarn Ball & Crochet Hook Pin" and I want to extend a big thank you to Francesca for inspiring this idea!  We are giving away one of these pins on my Instagram page (@AllAboutAmi) since we reached 5000 followers recently- if you would like to win one, just follow me on Instagram and leave a comment on the picture of the pin to enter!  Happy monkey knot and yarn ball making :)

Homespun Cover Siu Mai Amigurumi Feature

Remember the amigurumi siu mai I crocheted three years ago?  Recently they were featured in the July issue of “Homespun Magazine”, Australia’s leading monthly craft title!  Click on each pic above to get a closer look at each page :)  It’s neat how my little pork dumplings are getting some time to shine in the Land Down Under- have any of my Australian readers checked out “Homespun” before?  If you want to crochet your own expressive siu mai, be sure to visit the step-by-step blog post HERE and the very easy free pattern HERE!

California Blog Meet Up

We are back from our wonderful vacation in California!  We had so much fun attending the Anime Expo, going to Disneyland, and stuffing ourselves with delicious food.  One of the highlights of this trip was the blog meet-up that my fellow amigurumi artist Jo (of “A Morning Cup of Jo Creations”) and I organized to meet other crochet enthusiasts!  

We ended up holding this get-together in the very peaceful and beautiful Schabarum Park in Rowland Heights.  Some people who were interested in coming to the meet-up ended up not being able to make it since it was during the very busy Independence Day long weekend.  Others were attending the last day of Anime Expo or the location was a little too far out of Los Angeles for them.  We ended up with a smaller group, but this made the meet-up more intimate and personal which I really enjoyed!

Jo had the brilliant idea of having a handmade pin exchange so that we crafters could prepare something for the meet-up and come away with a variety of pins!  It was a lot of fun seeing what everybody made, from hand-stitched pins to cute crocheted stars!  Can you guess which one Jo made (it’s very reflective of her company name)?

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For our pin, Ryan and I ended up making this little yarn ball and crochet hook that resembles my logo!  I’ll do a full step-by-step blog post on the making of this pin so that you can make one for yourself if you’re interested!

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It was great meeting in the park because Myla could run around and be free!  She also really enjoyed looking at all the handmade pins and examining each of them!

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Being naturally introverted, I was both nervous and excited for the meet-up.  I enjoy talking with people one-on-one and was unsure how the larger group setting would be like.  Jo actually brought some board games and yarn, but we ended up just chatting for most of the time!  It felt very casual and relaxed as we talked about when we all started to crochet, how we got started, and traveling in general. Ryan is very extroverted so he really enjoyed the large group setting and getting to know everyone!

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It’s rare that we get to really sit down and talk with people when we travel (besides just chatting with people in passing), so it was wonderful being able to get to know some new people as well as meeting on-line friends in real life!  Despite our geographical differences, I thought it was so neat how our love of crochet and crafting united us all together.  We all came from different occupations, backgrounds and experiences, but our passion for crochet was such a unifying factor that helped lead us into other topics of conversation easily.  We had a good laugh about how there is no need for chunky cowls, hats and scarves in California since it’s always so sunny and beautiful there (as opposed to the frigid Canadian winters we experience).  

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Here are all the people who took time out of their busy schedules to meet up with Jo and I!  Love all the big smiles :)  We want to thank each and every person who came!  You made our trip to California very memorable, and it was so surreal meeting people who read my blog!  I know there were some of you who really wanted to come but were unable to for various reasons- we apologize that the timing couldn’t work out, but we hope we can meet you in the future!

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Besides Jo and I, there were two other crafters who have blogs!  Check out Amanda's “Crystal Panda" HERE (and photo credit to her for the last two photos of the collage below) and Peng's “Yarn Treasures" HERE!  I also want to give a shout-out to my brother Corey who came along with us on this trip (he’s a big Anime fan) and helped us take care of Myla so much, including at this meet up!

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Jo is such a talented artist who is also very passionate about her education and teaching!  She is very inspiring, and I am so happy that I could finally meet her in person after connecting with her for the past few years.  Thank you for helping me organize this meet-up, Jo!

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I am excited to share more about our trip to California, especially the Anime Expo!  We took a lot of photos of our cosplaying, and I can’t wait to show you what our experience was like!  Thanks again to those who came to the meet-up, and I really hope I can meet more of you in the future!

We’re heading off to California!  We are so excited to attend the Anime Expo, and we’ve had a lot of fun making a costume for Myla….here’s a sneak peek of it!  Do you know what she’s dressed up as?  I won’t be blogging for the next while, but when we come back, I can’t wait to show you the behind the scenes of the making of this costume as well as lots of photos from the Anime Expo and the Meet-up!  You can keep up with our adventures on Instagram (@AllAboutAmi)!  Be back soon ❤

We’re heading off to California!  We are so excited to attend the Anime Expo, and we’ve had a lot of fun making a costume for Myla….here’s a sneak peek of it!  Do you know what she’s dressed up as?  I won’t be blogging for the next while, but when we come back, I can’t wait to show you the behind the scenes of the making of this costume as well as lots of photos from the Anime Expo and the Meet-up!  You can keep up with our adventures on Instagram (@AllAboutAmi)!  Be back soon 

Owl Keychain

We know a little girl who absolutely ADORES owls: her bedroom is full of owl pillows, owl decals and owl stuffies, and she even wears owl hats as well!  I knew I wanted to crochet her an owl (I love it when little kids have such an absolute favourite animal), and I had the perfect pattern that I had always wanted to try out!

Josephine of “A Morning Cup of Jo Creations" designed a super cute FREE "Baby Owl Ornaments" pattern a year and a half ago.  I downloaded the free pattern on Ravelry (find it HERE) and was amazed by just how quick and easy this pattern is.  I love how pinching and closing up the top gives the curved look of the owl- so clever and simple!  Instead of making this owl an ornament, we attached it to a keychain so that the little girl could take it wherever she wanted by hanging it on her backpack or little purse!

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The details are so incredibly cute with the big white eyes and cute dainty yellow beak.  The placement of the eyes and beak is key to giving this owl its kawaii look, and I tried to make mine look as similar to Jo’s as possible- she provides great, detailed instructions!

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I think this owl keychain is so sweet, but you could be a super keener and start working on your Christmas ornaments too…December is half a year away!

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Just as Josephine says, once you’ve made one, it’s tempting to make more since they’re so cute and easy!  These are the baby owls that Josephine made in a rainbow of colours:

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Jo also offers a pattern for a bigger, palm-sized “Travel Owl Plush" that you can find for free HERE!

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I was so pleased with this owl keychain and how quickly we could whip it up, and I hope that the little girl will like it too!  Check out Jo’s Etsy store HERE to see more of her amazing designs.  ***ALSO, if you live in the Los Angeles area, Jo and I will be hosting a meet-up with other amigurumi and crochet enthusiasts in early July!  Read all about it HERE and RSVP using the Google form in that blog post.  Happy owl making!

Etsy Affiliate & Round-up

I recently received an e-mail from the Etsy team, inviting me to become an Etsy Canada affiliate!  I am excited to partner with Etsy because I adore browsing all the beautiful handmade items from around the world.  Basically how it works is that I link to Etsy products or shops that I love in my blog posts (which I already have done many times in the past), and if a reader makes a purchase based on that referral, then I will make a small commission.  I wanted to inform you all of this so that you know that all Etsy links found on my site will be affiliate links.  You can find so many creative, artistic people on Etsy who design and sell items that cannot be found in stores.  I thought I would do a round-up of all the Etsy shops that I have previously blogged about in case you haven’t heard of them!

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get is where I purchase my safety eyes for amigurumi.  When I first started crocheting my own stuffies, I excitedly went to my local Michaels to try and look for safety eyes.  I walked away disappointed and had to use beads in place of safety eyes for my first few projects.  I was delighted to find “6060" on Etsy as Clara, the shop owner, specializes in selling safety eyes and noses for amigurumi.  My safety eyes shipped extremely quickly, and I was very pleased with their quality.  I always try and keep 6, 9 and 12 mm safety eyes on hand so that they are ready to be used for any sized amigurumi I crochet.  Shipping to Canada has unfortunately gone up over the past while, but is very reasonable if you live within the US.  Clara has safety eyes in a wide variety of colours and sizes- check out her store HERE!

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I featured Sami and Marissa of “Momomints" in my first ever "Craft Chat" and was so excited to share their polymer clay and amigurumi work with you all!  Their Etsy shop is full of adorable items, including their Meowchi’s pictured above.  They also recently added this “DIY Amigurumi Crochet Sheep Kit" that includes almost all the material you need to make their very popular "Fluffie", including the yarn, safety eyes, stuffing, bell, and pattern (crochet hook and yarn hook not included).    We all know how hard it is to find the exact yarn that the designer used, and sometimes you don’t know what to do with the left-over yarn!  I think this convenient kit would make a really great gift for crafters!  Check out the Momomints store HERE and my Craft Chat with them HERE!

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I discovered Kris and Lorin’s “Two Girls Patterns" shop last fall when I was browsing for crocheted boots.  I was in awe of all their beautiful crocheted footwear designs that could be made for babies, toddlers and adults.  I was very impressed with their detailed, thorough instructions that included many helpful photos, and Kris and Lorin were always available for support through e-mail.  I crocheted these white "Furrylicious/Little Diva" boots for Myla (see step-by-step blog post HERE) and they served her well throughout the winter.  I crocheted the purple ones for Myla’s friend and sprayed them with Plasti Dip to give them more grip (read more about this HERE).  You can check out the Two Girls Patterns shop HERE and see all their great designs for yourself!

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I have been a fan of “Mikaylove" jewelry ever since my good friend Kay started her store a year and a half ago!  Since then, Kay has amassed a large following as people love her stylish, beautiful pieces.  Some of my favourite pieces are my "Cross Weave with Chain" bracelets and my "Braided Bracelet in Pink and Mint Green”.  For every purchase made, a portion is donated to charities that feed hungry children around the world.  Kay is such a devoted mother to her adorable daughter Mikayla (who inspired her to create her jewelry line), and I think it’s amazing how she has been able to channel her artistic skills and eye for design into her jewelry line!  Check out the Mikaylove store HERE and read my full Mikaylove blog post from November 2012 HERE!

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Lastly, I wanted to highlight “Yellow Heart Art" on Etsy, a store full of unique and quirky graphic art prints and cute sillhouette pillows for the home.  Leonora, the graphic designer behind “Yellow Heart Art" is the one who helped me design my logo, header and buttons for my blog redesign, and I’ve always loved her work since she opened her shop in January 2011 (the exact same time I started my blog!).  I love my "I Make Pretty Things All Day" print that I proudly display near my yarn shelf.  Leonora updated this print with a more modern feel in black and gold (check it out HERE).  Her prints are all so unique, humorous and full of beautiful typography and designs.  Check out Yellow Heart Art HERE to add some fun additions to your homes :)

I always enjoy learning about new handmade artisans and their work, so I hope you enjoyed this post too!  I look forward to featuring more Etsy artists in the future and spreading the word about handcrafted goods!

New Blog Redesign

Hey everyone!  Notice anything different around here?  As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I’ve been trying to revamp my blog and make it more unique and reflective of my own style!  I’m so excited to show you my newly updated blog and explain the process behind it!

I started “All About Ami" about three and a half years ago on tumblr, and I remember I was so excited to choose a blog template back then.  I ended up going with "Royal Ribbon”, a free template by Simon Fletcher designed in 2010, and I loved the clean grey and pink theme that looked very classy.  However, as time went on, I wished that I had a sidebar, and I found out that this could not be implemented easily if it was not a part of the theme.  I also came across many others who used the exact same theme as me, so I didn’t feel very unique!  I was itching to redesign my blog but it always seemed so daunting, especially for someone with very limited html knowledge!

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A couple of months ago I started looking into different tumblr themes to see what was out there.  I really wanted to stick with tumblr since it has been such a supportive community for me, but I was a bit dismayed that there seemed to be fewer options for blog templates and customization options compared to Blogspot or Wordpress.  However, I came across a tumblr theme that I really liked called “Atlantic Noir" designed by Style Hatch.  It’s a premium theme ($49) that allows for a lot of customization options.  I loved how it had the traditional blog look with the sidebar.  Ontop of that, Jonathan Moore, the founder and creative director of Style Hatch, was extremely quick and responsive to all my e-mails, so this gave me the confidence to go ahead with this theme since I knew I would have support!  This is what the default “Atlantic Noir” theme looks like:

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I purchased “Atlantic Noir” over the weekend, and I didn’t know that it would be implemented right away!  My heart skipped a beat and I tried to revert back to my old “Royal Ribbon” theme but alas, I could not find it as I do not think it is available anymore.  Trying not to panic, I quickly tried to work on all the changes little by little.  I actually started feeling nostalgic and missed my old template since I had used it for 3.5 years!  Thank goodness I had taken some screenshots last week so I could remember what it looked like!  If you visited my blog on Saturday evening, you may have seen some wonky things happening!  I changed the font and colours, deleted some items from the sidebar, and added my own background (check out “michLgstudios" on Etsy HERE for some beautiful blog backgrounds).  I was still waiting for my final graphics, so this is what my blog looked like without the header and welcome button:

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I hired Leonora of “Yellow Heart Art" to design my header, logo and buttons.  I love her work (check out her Etsy store HERE and her blog HERE) and am so happy with how everything turned out.  I wanted to have a pink, grey and gold colour palette as I think it looks very pretty and classy!  Below you can see how adding the header and welcome button changes so much!

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For my logo, I really wanted to incorporate a crochet hook and a ball of yarn.  I love what Leonora designed and how the strand of yarn is in the shape of a heart!  We also added some gold leaves to help frame the logo and tie in the colour scheme.

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For my header, I wanted to include a subheader/tagline saying “a crochet blog" in case people didn’t know what "All About Ami" was about!  The little sideways hearts also represent crochet stitches (like the ‘v’s consisting of a front and back loop) and I love how Leonora included them in the header and in my welcome button too!

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I wanted to have some sort of welcome button that also introduced myself in case people don’t click my “About Me” tab!  Many people still think my name is “Ami”, haha.  We’ve been meaning to take a new profile pic, but we haven’t had the time!  I’ll add an updated one once we’ve taken it :)

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Leonora also made these pretty pink social media buttons on my “Contact" page!  They’re actually not functional yet but I’m hoping they will be soon!

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I have had so much fun trying to redesign my blog and I am incredibly happy with how it has turned out!  I think it has an airy and elegant feel to it and is definitely more reflective of my style.  It’s been fun putting our own touches on it so now it does not look like any other blog!  I wanted to extend a big thank you to Leonora and Jonathan for all their help, and also to Ryan who has helped me envision this along the way!  There are still changes to be made, but I’m excited with how it’s coming along.  I would LOVE to hear your feedback about what you think of this new redesign!  Thanks so much for all your support throughout the years!

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