Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

As promised, I put together the pattern for the crocheted toy bags that I’ve been making lately. This is the first pattern I’ve written, so bear with me and please let me know if you find any errors or if any of the directions are confusing. (more…)

Like most households with small children, the toy situation seems to get out of control fast. You somehow go from 0 to 1,000,000 toys in only a few short years! They multiply like a wet Mogwai and next thing you know you are constantly stepping on small sharp things and doing a monthly under-the-couch sweep of wayward balls and anything with wheels. You have entire sections of your home devoted to them and somehow they end up everywhere but there. You get so sick of putting things away that you eventually just get a huge bin that you throw everything into only to have your kid dump it out the minute you put the last toy away. Andrew said that one time he intentionally didn’t pick up after Quil just to see what the house would look like in one day. He said by mid-afternoon, it looked like someone had robbed the place. Drawers out, couch cushions overturned, cabinets open!

But one thing we learned with Quil is that he is pretty good about putting things away if each type of toy has its own container and not just one catch-all bin. We started off with just cloth bags that you sometimes get when you buy a pair of shoes. But we only had a couple of those. So I decided to start making some crocheted ones. Now he’s got bags for puzzle pieces, train sets, musical instruments, cars, and he can remember which ones go where for the most part.

Don’t get me wrong. His toys still get everywhere, but it does seem more manageable when everything has a designated bin/bag. I still need to make a few more, but these are super easy to make and work up pretty quick since I crochet three strands at once with a large hook. Check back later this week for a pattern if you are interested in making some for yourself.

The pattern is now available here.


Quil is approaching 8 months-old! I can’t believe how fast these past months have gone. I looked back at the pictures we’ve taken of him and realize there are so many baby projects that we never revisited after Q was born.

The co-sleeper is still attached to our bed and now that Q is sleeping in his crib (another project we never posted about!) I’ve gone back to using the co-sleeper as my nightstand. He slept in the co-sleeper for about two months before he grew out of it. One thing we learned—the wool side extenders weren’t necessary. They looked nice, but we ended up taking them out. He moved so little at that age and the co-sleeper was so close to the wall, there really wasn’t any possibility of him rolling out.

Here he is being cute! He slept on a Sassy Vented Sleeper Wedge (which I hear now is a no-no!) because he had reflux and having him on a incline helped.


Remember this guy?

In the months before Q was born, both Andrew and I had a surge of productivity. I think it was our collective subconscious preparing us for a drought. We’ve been fortunate that Q is a good sleeper now. After his bedtime and before he wakes is our free time and both Andrew and I have been able to work on some new projects.

I figured an update is in order for the projects that we worked on before Q arrived.

I should preface this update with the fact that the majority of the time Q wears Fuzzi Bunz cloth pocket diapers. We were lucky enough to have generous family and friends who bought us these fancy pants (since they can be on the pricey side).

In making the wool diaper covers I was preparing for the possibility that we might not be gifted any fancy diapers. In that case we would have to use the more cost friendly pre-fold cloth diapers that require a water resistant covering. There have been times when we ran out of the pocket diapers and had to use the pre-folds as a back up. Despite my initial skepticism, the wool covers work unbelievably well. The amazing thing about wool is that it repels water and absorbs moisture at the same time! If you want to read more about the wonders of wool, you can read more here.

Here is Q sporting a pair of diaper covers made from a repurposed wool sweater that I felted in the washing machine:

The crocheted cover and the knitted cover were also a success! The crocheted ones are still a bit large, but he’s already outgrown the Vanilla cover, so I’m in the process of knitting a larger size.


Andrew and Q are still sleeping (hooray!) so I figured I’d get in a quick post before the boys wake. This morning I was going through photos and found this little project that I never posted about.

I made this little guy for my friend’s son’s first birthday. The pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli’s Amiguri Two! and he turned out pretty dang cute!



Rainbow Dog

With all the Christmas gifts we’ve been posting, you may have thought we have been neglecting this little baby of homemade goods but don’t worry. We’ve been busy!

I still have the crocheting bug (to be honest, it’s just the easiest craft to do when I’m sitting in bed or away from home without access to my other projects). I really wish I knew how to knit! A couple people have generously offered to help me learn which I’m very thankful for. One of these days…

In the meantime, I made this crocheted dog (similar to the one I made before for my niece Layla) but with different colors.

This one is also not as long, which I think happened because I did my single crochet different on the one I made before. For Layla’s dog, I stitched in only the back loops which makes for a stretchier stitch. I also used different yarn for this one. Layla’s dog was made with Caron Simply Soft, which is 100% Acrylic, but still soft (hence the name). But for the new dog I used Red Heart Classic, which is also 100% Acryclic but pretty stiff and not so soft. However, it does hold it’s shape nicely. I’ve always had an aversion to Red Heart because it’s so synthetic that it actually squeaks when you crochet with it. But I guess it makes for a more durable toy and is super cheap.


Remember the little crocheted mushrooms for our baby that I posted about a little while back?

For Christmas, I made a big blue mushroom for our niece Layla! The red ones are the ones I made for our baby. I put them in the picture so you can see the size difference. Also, instead of stitching circles onto the cap I followed the original pattern and sewed felt circles on instead. I think I actually like the felt circles better!

I’m still hoping to one day make a BIG mushroom, but that will just have to wait.



Lady Cat Pillow

After seeing the cat pillow that I made for my co-worker’s niece, another of my co-workers requested one for her niece as well! She requested it a few months back and I hadn’t gotten around to making it until recently and I am very happy with how it turned out.

The first cat pillow was for an infant so I had to be sure everything was sewn down completely because I know babies have a tendency to tear things off and eat them! With this version, I could be a little more fancy with the details because my co-workers niece is a little bit older, beyond the eating things phase. I didn’t have to worry about all the edges being satin stitched so it was a little easier to make more complicated shapes.

I had complete creative freedom, but my co-worker’s one stipulation was it had to have a cat pattern on it somewhere. I was lucky to find this one! In case you were wondering, I’ve been using flannel, felt and polyfill for these recent pillows. But I’ve used many other fabrics in the past. I usually have a hard time coming up with ideas for the faces. There are just too many possibilities!


[Image via Condé Nast]

The past few weeks have been full of Christmas present making, birthday gift buying, baby stuff planning and baby shower invite designing!

We’ve been making the majority of our presents for a couple of years now; which is fun, budget-friendly, as well as, time consuming. In my family, we mainly do presents for the kids and just a gift exchange for the adults since there are so many of us. Andrew’s immediate family is smaller so we buy gifts, but we’ve also made gifts for them in the past.

This year we got an early start and many presents have already been completed. I’m really excited about them and want to post them but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for some people!

So instead I will post about a few of the gifts that we’ve made in the past years. You can read past posts about Christmas gifts here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Apron and cookbook for Monica: Designed and sewn by Andrew. Made from thrifted fabric.

Bag O’ Shapes for Arwen: Designed, sewn and screenprinted by myself and Andrew. Made from canvas, thrifted fabric, and polyfill. This is something that we eventually hope to make more and sell in our etsy shop.

Doll for Abigail: Based on this design from a Japanese craft book. Crocheted scarf and a skirt made from a doily.

Leg Warmers for Abigail: I designed and crocheted these, but it was difficult because I’ve never made a pair before and I didn’t have Abigail to try them on as I was making them.

Crocheted Bag for Mariela: I crocheted this from a free pattern that I found at JoAnn Fabrics. Made with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Naturals (you can find the pattern online here at the Bernat site, but you need to sign up for a free account.)




Surprise! Another crocheted toy for the baby!

This one though is not from the same pattern book as the others I’ve made recently. I found the pattern online here. But I only followed the pattern for the body/head part because I didn’t read the whole pattern before I started. I didn’t realize that the legs are knit and not crocheted and I don’t know how to knit! (Though I sorely want to learn.) So for the legs I just winged it and surprisingly they turned out better, in my opinion, than the ones in the original pattern.

How, you ask, do I have all this time to crochet? The answer is: It’s basketball season. The CAVS have been playing every other night it seems and after last season, and in my heightened state of emotions, I can’t seem to take the anxiety. So instead of actually watching the game, I crochet during the game so I don’t get so worked up. It’s been working out quite nicely. I finished two Christmas presents during the last two games!